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Numbers 3-4Easy-to-Read Version (ERV)

Aaron’s Family, the Priests

This is the family history of Aaron and Moses at the time the Lord talked to Moses on Mount Sinai.

Aaron had four sons. Nadab was the firstborn son. Then there were Abihu, Eleazar, and Ithamar. These sons were the chosen[a] priests. They were given the special work of serving the Lord as priests. But Nadab and Abihu died while serving the Lord. They used fire that the Lord did not allow when they made an offering to him. So Nadab and Abihu died there, in the desert of Sinai. They had no sons, so Eleazar and Ithamar took their place and served the Lord as priests. This happened while their father Aaron was still alive.

Levites—the Priests’ Helpers

The Lord said to Moses, “Bring all the men from the tribe of Levi. Bring them to Aaron the priest. These men will be his helpers. The Levites will help him when he serves at the Meeting Tent. And they will help all the Israelites when they come to worship at the Holy Tent. The Israelites should protect everything in the Meeting Tent; it is their duty. But the Levites will serve the Israelites by caring for these things. This will be their way of serving at the Holy Tent.

“Give the Levites to Aaron and his sons. The Levites were chosen from all the Israelites to help Aaron and his sons.

10 “Appoint Aaron and his sons to be priests. They must do their duty and serve as priests. Anyone else who tries to come near the holy things[b] must be killed.”

11 The Lord also said to Moses, 12-13 “I destroyed all the firstborn in Egypt. At that time I chose all the firstborn from every family in Israel to be mine in a special way. That included all the firstborn men and animals. But now I am choosing the Levites to take their place. Now they will be my special servants. I, the Lord, give this command!”

14 The Lord again said to Moses in the desert of Sinai, 15 “Count all the families and family groups in the tribe of Levi. Count every man or boy who is one month old or older.” 16 So Moses obeyed the Lord. He counted them all.

17 Levi had three sons. Their names were Gershon, Kohath, and Merari.

18 Each son was the leader of several family groups.

The Gershon family groups were Libni and Shimei.

19 The Kohath family groups were Amram, Izhar, Hebron, and Uzziel.

20 The Merari family groups were Mahli and Mushi.

These are the families that belonged to Levi’s family group.

21 The families of Libni and Shimei belonged to the family of Gershon. They were the Gershonite family groups. 22 There were 7500 men and boys over one month old in these two family groups. 23 The Gershonite family groups were told to camp in the west. They made their camp behind the Holy Tent. 24 The leader of the family groups of the Gershonites was Eliasaph son of Lael. 25 In the Meeting Tent, the Gershonites had the job of taking care of the Holy Tent, the outer tent, and the covering. They also took care of the curtain at the entrance of the Meeting Tent. 26 They cared for the curtain in the courtyard. And they cared for the curtain at the entrance of the courtyard. This courtyard was around the Holy Tent and the altar. And they cared for the ropes and for everything that was used with the curtains.

27 The families of Amram, Izhar, Hebron, and Uzziel belonged to the family of Kohath. They were the Kohathite family groups. 28 In this family group there were 8300[c] men and boys a month old or over. The Kohathites were given the job of taking care of the things in the Holy Place. 29 The Kohathite family groups were given the area to the south of the Holy Tent. This was the area where they camped. 30 The leader of the Kohathite family groups was Elizaphan son of Uzziel. 31 Their job was to take care of the Holy Box, the table, the lampstand, the altars, and the dishes of the Holy Place. They also cared for the curtain and all the things that were used with the curtain.

32 The leader over the leaders of the Levites was Eleazar son of Aaron the priest. Eleazar was in charge of everyone who took care of the holy things.

33-34 The family groups of Mahli and Mushi belonged to the Merari family. There were 6200 men and boys who were one month old or older in the Mahli family group. 35 The leader of the Merari family group was Zuriel son of Abihail. This family group was given the area to the north of the Holy Tent. This is the area where they camped. 36 The people from the Merari family were given the job of caring for the frames of the Holy Tent. They cared for all the braces, posts, bases, and everything that was used with the frames of the Holy Tent. 37 They also cared for all the posts in the courtyard around the Holy Tent. This included all the bases, tent pegs, and ropes.

38 Moses, Aaron, and his sons camped east of the Holy Tent, in front of the Meeting Tent. They were given the work of caring for the Holy Place. They did this for all the Israelites. Anyone else who came near the Holy Place was to be killed.

39 The Lord commanded Moses and Aaron to count all the men and boys one month old or older in Levi’s family group. The total number was 22,000.

Levites Take the Place of the Firstborn

40 The Lord said to Moses, “Count all the firstborn men and boys in Israel who are at least one month old. Write their names on a list. 41 I am the Lord. I will take the Levites instead of all the firstborn men and boys of Israel. I will also take the animals from the Levites instead of taking all the firstborn animals from the other people in Israel.”

42 So Moses did what the Lord commanded. He counted all the firstborn children of the Israelites. 43 He listed all the firstborn men and boys who were one month old or older. There were 22,273 names on that list.

44 The Lord also said to Moses, 45 “I, the Lord, give this command: ‘Take the Levites instead of all the firstborn men from the other families of Israel. And I will take the animals of the Levites instead of the animals of the other people. The Levites are mine. 46 There are 22,000 Levites, but there are 22,273 firstborn sons from the other families. This leaves 273 more firstborn sons than Levites. 47 Using the official measure, collect five shekels[d] of silver for each of the 273 people. (The shekel by the official measure weighs 20 gerahs.[e]) Collect that silver from the Israelites. 48 Give the silver to Aaron and his sons as payment for the 273 Israelites.’”

49 There were not enough Levites to take the place of all the men from the other family groups, so Moses gathered the money for them. 50 Moses collected the silver from the firstborn men of the Israelites. He collected 1365 shekels[f] of silver, using the official measure. 51 Moses obeyed the Lord’s command and gave the silver to Aaron and his sons. He did it just as the Lord had told him.

The Jobs of the Kohath Family

The Lord said to Moses and Aaron, “Count the men in the families of the Kohath family group. (The Kohath family group is a part of Levi’s family group.) Count all the men from 30 to 50 years old who come to serve. These men will work in the Meeting Tent. Their job is to take care of the most holy things in the Meeting Tent.

“When the Israelites travel to a new place, Aaron and his sons must go into the Meeting Tent and take down the curtain and cover the Box of the Agreement with it. Then they must cover all of this with covering made from fine leather. Then they must spread the solid blue cloth over the leather and put the poles in the rings on the Holy Box.

“Then they must spread a blue cloth over the holy table. Then they must put the plates, spoons, bowls, and the jars for drink offerings on the table. Put the special bread on the table. Then you must put a red cloth over all these things, cover everything with fine leather, and put the poles in the rings of the table.

“Then they must cover the lampstand and its lamps with a blue cloth. They must also cover all the things used to keep the lamps burning and all the jars of oil that are used in the lamps. 10 Then wrap everything in fine leather. Then they must put all these things on poles used for carrying them.

11 “They must spread a blue cloth over the golden altar. They must cover that with fine leather. Then they must put the poles for carrying it in the rings on the altar.

12 “Then they must gather together all the special things that are used for worship in the Holy Place. They must gather them together and wrap them in a blue cloth. Then they must cover that with fine leather. They must put these things on a frame for carrying them.

13 “They must clean the ashes out of the bronze altar and spread a purple cloth over it. 14 Then they must gather together all the things that are used for worship at the altar. These are the firepans, forks, shovels, and the bowls. They must put these things on the bronze altar. Then they must spread a covering of fine leather over the altar and put the poles for carrying it in the rings on the altar.

15 “Aaron and his sons must finish covering all the holy things in the Holy Place. Then the men from the Kohath family can go in and begin carrying these things. In this way they will not touch the holy things and die.

16 “Eleazar son of Aaron the priest will be responsible for the Holy Tent. He will be responsible for everything in it, including the holy things. He will be responsible for the oil for the lamp, the sweet-smelling incense, the daily offering,[g] and the anointing oil.”

17 The Lord said to Moses and Aaron, 18 “Be careful! Don’t let these Kohathite men be destroyed. 19 You must do these things so that the Kohathite men can go near the most holy things and not die. Aaron and his sons must go in and show each Kohathite man what to do and what to carry. 20 If you don’t do this, the Kohathite men might go in and look at the holy things. If they look at these things, even for a moment, they must die.”

The Jobs of the Gershon Family

21 The Lord said to Moses, 22 “Count all the people of the Gershon family. List them by family and family group. 23 Count all the men who are from 30 to 50 years old who come to serve. These men will have the job of caring for the Meeting Tent.

24 “This is what the Gershonite family must do and the things they must carry: 25 They must carry the curtains of the Holy Tent, the Meeting Tent, its covering, and the covering made from fine leather. They must also carry the curtain at the entrance of the Meeting Tent. 26 They must carry the curtains of the courtyard that are around the Holy Tent and the altar. And they must carry the curtain for the entrance of the courtyard. They must also carry all the ropes and all the things that are used with the curtains. The Gershonite men will be responsible for anything that needs to be done with these things. 27 Aaron and his sons will watch all the work that is done. Everything the Gershonites carry and the other work they do will be watched by Aaron and his sons. You must tell them what they are responsible for carrying. 28 This is the work that the men of the Gershonite family group must do for the Meeting Tent. Ithamar son of Aaron the priest will be responsible for their work.”

The Jobs of the Merari Family

29 “Count all the men in the families and family groups in the Merari family group. 30 Count all the men who are from 30 to 50 years old and come to serve. These men will do a special work for the Meeting Tent. 31 When you travel, it is their job to carry the frames of the Meeting Tent. They must carry the braces, the posts, and the bases. 32 They must also carry the posts that are around the courtyard. They must carry the bases, the tent pegs, the ropes, and everything that is used for the poles around the courtyard. List the names and tell each man exactly what he must carry. 33 This is what the people from the Merari family will do to serve in the work for the Meeting Tent. Ithamar son of Aaron the priest will be responsible for their work.”

The Levite Families

34 Moses, Aaron, and the leaders of the Israelites counted the Kohathites. They counted them by families and family groups. 35 They counted all the men from 30 to 50 years old who were able to serve. These men were given special work to do for the Meeting Tent.

36 There were 2750 men in the Kohath family group who were qualified to do this work. 37 So these men from the Kohath family group were given their special work to do for the Meeting Tent. Moses and Aaron did this the way the Lord had told Moses to do.

38 Also, the Gershonite family group was counted. 39 All the men from 30 to 50 years old who qualified to serve were counted. These men were given their special work to do for the Meeting Tent. 40 There were 2630 men in the families of the Gershon family group who were qualified. 41 So these men from the Gershon family group were given their special work to do for the Meeting Tent. Moses and Aaron did this the way the Lord had told Moses to do.

42 Also, the men in the families and family groups of the Merari family were counted. 43 All the men from 30 to 50 years old who qualified to serve were counted. These men were given their special work to do for the Meeting Tent. 44 There were 3200 men in the families of the Merari family group who were qualified. 45 So these men from the Merari family group were given their special work. Moses and Aaron did this the way the Lord told Moses to do.

46 So Moses, Aaron, and the leaders of the Israelites counted all the people in Levi’s family group. They had counted each family and each family group. 47 All the men between the ages of 30 and 50 who qualified to serve were counted. These men were given a special work to do for the Meeting Tent. They did the work of carrying the Meeting Tent when they traveled. 48 The total number was 8580. 49 Each man was counted just as the Lord commanded Moses. Each man was given his own work and told what he must carry just as the Lord had said.

Footnotes:

  1. Numbers 3:3 chosen Or “anointed.” See “anoint” in the Word List.
  2. Numbers 3:10 tries … holy things Or “tries to serve as a priest.”
  3. Numbers 3:28 8300 Some copies of the ancient Greek version have “8300.” The Hebrew copies have “8600.” See Num. 3:22, 28, 34, 39.
  4. Numbers 3:47 five shekels 2 ounces (57.5 g).
  5. Numbers 3:47 gerahs 1/50 of an ounce (.6 g).
  6. Numbers 3:50 1365 shekels 35 pounds (15.7 kg).
  7. Numbers 4:16 daily offering Offerings that were made twice each day as a gift to God.
Easy-to-Read Version (ERV)

Copyright © 2006 by Bible League International

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