Numbers 3Revised Standard Version (RSV)
The Sons of Aaron
3 These are the generations of Aaron and Moses at the time when the Lord spoke with Moses on Mount Sinai. 2 These are the names of the sons of Aaron: Nadab the first-born, and Abi′hu, Elea′zar, and Ith′amar; 3 these are the names of the sons of Aaron, the anointed priests, whom he ordained to minister in the priest’s office. 4 But Nadab and Abi′hu died before the Lord when they offered unholy fire before the Lord in the wilderness of Sinai; and they had no children. So Elea′zar and Ith′amar served as priests in the lifetime of Aaron their father.
The Duties of the Levites
5 And the Lord said to Moses, 6 “Bring the tribe of Levi near, and set them before Aaron the priest, that they may minister to him. 7 They shall perform duties for him and for the whole congregation before the tent of meeting, as they minister at the tabernacle; 8 they shall have charge of all the furnishings of the tent of meeting, and attend to the duties for the people of Israel as they minister at the tabernacle. 9 And you shall give the Levites to Aaron and his sons; they are wholly given to him from among the people of Israel. 10 And you shall appoint Aaron and his sons, and they shall attend to their priesthood; but if any one else comes near, he shall be put to death.”
11 And the Lord said to Moses, 12 “Behold, I have taken the Levites from among the people of Israel instead of every first-born that opens the womb among the people of Israel. The Levites shall be mine, 13 for all the first-born are mine; on the day that I slew all the first-born in the land of Egypt, I consecrated for my own all the first-born in Israel, both of man and of beast; they shall be mine: I am the Lord.”
A Census of the Levites
14 And the Lord said to Moses in the wilderness of Sinai, 15 “Number the sons of Levi, by fathers’ houses and by families; every male from a month old and upward you shall number.” 16 So Moses numbered them according to the word of the Lord, as he was commanded. 17 And these were the sons of Levi by their names: Gershon and Kohath and Merar′i. 18 And these are the names of the sons of Gershon by their families: Libni and Shim′e-i. 19 And the sons of Kohath by their families: Amram, Izhar, Hebron, and Uz′ziel. 20 And the sons of Merar′i by their families: Mahli and Mushi. These are the families of the Levites, by their fathers’ houses.
21 Of Gershon were the family of the Libnites and the family of the Shim′e-ites; these were the families of the Gershonites. 22 Their number according to the number of all the males from a month old and upward was[a] seven thousand five hundred. 23 The families of the Gershonites were to encamp behind the tabernacle on the west, 24 with Eli′asaph, the son of La′el as head of the fathers’ house of the Gershonites. 25 And the charge of the sons of Gershon in the tent of meeting was to be the tabernacle, the tent with its covering, the screen for the door of the tent of meeting, 26 the hangings of the court, the screen for the door of the court which is around the tabernacle and the altar, and its cords; all the service pertaining to these.
27 Of Kohath were the family of the Amramites, and the family of the Izhar′ites, and the family of the He′bronites, and the family of the Uzzie′lites; these are the families of the Ko′hathites. 28 According to the number of all the males, from a month old and upward, there were eight thousand six hundred, attending to the duties of the sanctuary. 29 The families of the sons of Kohath were to encamp on the south side of the tabernacle, 30 with Eli-za′phan the son of Uz′ziel as head of the fathers’ house of the families of the Ko′hathites. 31 And their charge was to be the ark, the table, the lampstand, the altars, the vessels of the sanctuary with which the priests minister, and the screen; all the service pertaining to these. 32 And Elea′zar the son of Aaron the priest was to be chief over the leaders of the Levites, and to have oversight of those who had charge of the sanctuary.
33 Of Merar′i were the family of the Mahlites and the family of the Mushites: these are the families of Merar′i. 34 Their number according to the number of all the males from a month old and upward was six thousand two hundred. 35 And the head of the fathers’ house of the families of Merar′i was Zu′riel the son of Ab′ihail; they were to encamp on the north side of the tabernacle. 36 And the appointed charge of the sons of Merar′i was to be the frames of the tabernacle, the bars, the pillars, the bases, and all their accessories; all the service pertaining to these; 37 also the pillars of the court round about, with their bases and pegs and cords.
38 And those to encamp before the tabernacle on the east, before the tent of meeting toward the sunrise, were Moses and Aaron and his sons, having charge of the rites within the sanctuary, whatever had to be done for the people of Israel; and any one else who came near was to be put to death. 39 All who were numbered of the Levites, whom Moses and Aaron numbered at the commandment of the Lord, by families, all the males from a month old and upward, were twenty-two thousand.
The Redemption of the Firstborn
40 And the Lord said to Moses, “Number all the first-born males of the people of Israel, from a month old and upward, taking their number by names. 41 And you shall take the Levites for me— I am the Lord—instead of all the first-born among the people of Israel, and the cattle of the Levites instead of all the firstlings among the cattle of the people of Israel.” 42 So Moses numbered all the first-born among the people of Israel, as the Lord commanded him. 43 And all the first-born males, according to the number of names, from a month old and upward as numbered were twenty-two thousand two hundred and seventy-three.
44 And the Lord said to Moses, 45 “Take the Levites instead of all the first-born among the people of Israel, and the cattle of the Levites instead of their cattle; and the Levites shall be mine: I am the Lord. 46 And for the redemption of the two hundred and seventy-three of the first-born of the people of Israel, over and above the number of the male Levites, 47 you shall take five shekels apiece; reckoning by the shekel of the sanctuary, the shekel of twenty gerahs, you shall take them, 48 and give the money by which the excess number of them is redeemed to Aaron and his sons.” 49 So Moses took the redemption money from those who were over and above those redeemed by the Levites; 50 from the first-born of the people of Israel he took the money, one thousand three hundred and sixty-five shekels, reckoned by the shekel of the sanctuary; 51 and Moses gave the redemption money to Aaron and his sons, according to the word of the Lord, as the Lord commanded Moses.