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Numbers 4 Good News Translation (GNT)

The Duties of the Levite Clan of Kohath

The Lord told Moses to take a census of the Levite clan of Kohath by subclans and families, and to register all the men between the ages of thirty and fifty who were qualified to work in the Tent of the Lord's presence. Their service involves the most holy things.

The Lord gave Moses the following instructions. When it is time to break camp, Aaron and his sons shall enter the Tent, take down the curtain in front of the Covenant Box, and cover the Box with it. They shall put a fine leather cover over it, spread a cloth of solid blue on top, and then insert the carrying poles.

They shall spread a blue cloth over the table for the bread offered to the Lord and put on it the dishes, the incense bowls, the offering bowls, and the jars for the wine offering. There shall always be bread on the table. They shall spread a red cloth over all of this, put a fine leather cover over it, and then insert the carrying poles.

They shall take a blue cloth and cover the lampstand, with its lamps, tongs, trays, and all the olive oil containers. 10 They shall wrap it and all its equipment in a fine leather cover and place it on a carrying frame.

11 Next they shall spread a blue cloth over the gold altar, put a fine leather cover over it, and then insert the carrying poles. 12 They shall take all the utensils used in the Holy Place, wrap them in a blue cloth, put a fine leather cover over them, and place them on a carrying frame. 13 They shall remove the greasy ashes from the altar and spread a purple cloth over it. 14 They shall put on it all the equipment used in the service at the altar: fire pans, hooks, shovels, and basins. Then they shall put a fine leather cover over it and insert the carrying poles. 15 When it is time to break camp, the clan of Kohath shall come to carry the sacred objects only after Aaron and his sons have finished covering them and all their equipment. The Kohath clan must not touch the sacred objects, or they will die.

These are the responsibilities of the Kohath clan whenever the Tent is moved.

16 Eleazar son of Aaron the priest shall be responsible for the whole Tent and for the oil for the lamps, the incense, the grain offerings, the anointing oil, and everything else in the Tent that has been consecrated to the Lord.

17 The Lord said to Moses and Aaron, 18 “Do not let the clan of Kohath 19 be killed by coming near these most sacred objects. To prevent this from happening, Aaron and his sons shall go in and assign each man his task and tell him what to carry. 20 But if the Kohathites enter the Tent and see the priests preparing the sacred objects for moving,[a] they will die.”

The Duties of the Levite Clan of Gershon

21 The Lord told Moses 22 to take a census of the Levite clan of Gershon by subclans and families, 23 and to register all the men between the ages of thirty and fifty who were qualified to work in the Tent of the Lord's presence. 24 They shall be responsible for carrying the following objects: 25 the Tent, its inner cover, its outer cover, the fine leather cover on top of it, the curtain for the entrance, 26 the curtains and ropes for the court that is around the Tent and the altar, the curtains for the entrance of the court, and all the fittings used in setting up these objects. They shall perform all the tasks required for these things. 27 Moses and Aaron shall see to it that the Gershonites perform all the duties and carry everything that Aaron and his sons assign to them. 28 These are the responsibilities of the Gershon clan in the Tent; they shall carry them out under the direction of Ithamar son of Aaron the priest.

The Duties of the Levite Clan of Merari

29 The Lord told Moses to take a census of the Levite clan of Merari by subclans and families, 30 and to register all the men between the ages of thirty and fifty who were qualified to work in the Tent of the Lord's presence. 31 They shall be responsible for carrying the frames, bars, posts, and bases of the Tent, 32 and the posts, bases, pegs, and ropes of the court around the Tent, with all the fittings used in setting them up. Each man will be responsible for carrying specific items. 33 These are the responsibilities of the Merari clan in their service in the Tent; they shall carry them out under the direction of Ithamar son of Aaron the priest.

The Census of the Levites

34-48 Following the Lord's command, Moses, Aaron, and the leaders of the community took a census of the three Levite clans, Kohath, Gershon, and Merari. They did this by subclans and families and registered all the men between the ages of thirty and fifty who were qualified to work in the Tent of the Lord's presence, as follows:

ClanNumber
Kohath2,750
Gershon2,630
Merari3,200
Total:8,580

49 Each man was registered as the Lord had commanded Moses; and at the command of the Lord given through Moses, each man was assigned responsibility for his task of serving or carrying.

Footnotes:

  1. Numbers 4:20 see … moving; or see the sacred objects even for a moment.
Good News Translation (GNT)

Copyright © 1992 by American Bible Society

Numbers 4 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

The Kohathites

The Lord spoke to Moses and Aaron, saying: Take a census of the Kohathites separate from the other Levites, by their clans and their ancestral houses, from thirty years old up to fifty years old, all who qualify to do work relating to the tent of meeting. The service of the Kohathites relating to the tent of meeting concerns the most holy things.

When the camp is to set out, Aaron and his sons shall go in and take down the screening curtain, and cover the ark of the covenant[a] with it; then they shall put on it a covering of fine leather,[b] and spread over that a cloth all of blue, and shall put its poles in place. Over the table of the bread of the Presence they shall spread a blue cloth, and put on it the plates, the dishes for incense, the bowls, and the flagons for the drink offering; the regular bread also shall be on it; then they shall spread over them a crimson cloth, and cover it with a covering of fine leather,[c] and shall put its poles in place. They shall take a blue cloth, and cover the lampstand for the light, with its lamps, its snuffers, its trays, and all the vessels for oil with which it is supplied; 10 and they shall put it with all its utensils in a covering of fine leather,[d] and put it on the carrying frame. 11 Over the golden altar they shall spread a blue cloth, and cover it with a covering of fine leather,[e] and shall put its poles in place; 12 and they shall take all the utensils of the service that are used in the sanctuary, and put them in a blue cloth, and cover them with a covering of fine leather,[f] and put them on the carrying frame. 13 They shall take away the ashes from the altar, and spread a purple cloth over it; 14 and they shall put on it all the utensils of the altar, which are used for the service there, the firepans, the forks, the shovels, and the basins, all the utensils of the altar; and they shall spread on it a covering of fine leather,[g] and shall put its poles in place. 15 When Aaron and his sons have finished covering the sanctuary and all the furnishings of the sanctuary, as the camp sets out, after that the Kohathites shall come to carry these, but they must not touch the holy things, or they will die. These are the things of the tent of meeting that the Kohathites are to carry.

16 Eleazar son of Aaron the priest shall have charge of the oil for the light, the fragrant incense, the regular grain offering, and the anointing oil, the oversight of all the tabernacle and all that is in it, in the sanctuary and in its utensils.

17 Then the Lord spoke to Moses and Aaron, saying: 18 You must not let the tribe of the clans of the Kohathites be destroyed from among the Levites. 19 This is how you must deal with them in order that they may live and not die when they come near to the most holy things: Aaron and his sons shall go in and assign each to a particular task or burden. 20 But the Kohathites[h] must not go in to look on the holy things even for a moment; otherwise they will die.

The Gershonites and Merarites

21 Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying: 22 Take a census of the Gershonites also, by their ancestral houses and by their clans; 23 from thirty years old up to fifty years old you shall enroll them, all who qualify to do work in the tent of meeting. 24 This is the service of the clans of the Gershonites, in serving and bearing burdens: 25 They shall carry the curtains of the tabernacle, and the tent of meeting with its covering, and the outer covering of fine leather[i] that is on top of it, and the screen for the entrance of the tent of meeting, 26 and the hangings of the court, and the screen for the entrance of the gate of the court that is around the tabernacle and the altar, and their cords, and all the equipment for their service; and they shall do all that needs to be done with regard to them. 27 All the service of the Gershonites shall be at the command of Aaron and his sons, in all that they are to carry, and in all that they have to do; and you shall assign to their charge all that they are to carry. 28 This is the service of the clans of the Gershonites relating to the tent of meeting, and their responsibilities are to be under the oversight of Ithamar son of Aaron the priest.

29 As for the Merarites, you shall enroll them by their clans and their ancestral houses; 30 from thirty years old up to fifty years old you shall enroll them, everyone who qualifies to do the work of the tent of meeting. 31 This is what they are charged to carry, as the whole of their service in the tent of meeting: the frames of the tabernacle, with its bars, pillars, and bases, 32 and the pillars of the court all around with their bases, pegs, and cords, with all their equipment and all their related service; and you shall assign by name the objects that they are required to carry. 33 This is the service of the clans of the Merarites, the whole of their service relating to the tent of meeting, under the hand of Ithamar son of Aaron the priest.

Census of the Levites

34 So Moses and Aaron and the leaders of the congregation enrolled the Kohathites, by their clans and their ancestral houses, 35 from thirty years old up to fifty years old, everyone who qualified for work relating to the tent of meeting; 36 and their enrollment by clans was two thousand seven hundred fifty. 37 This was the enrollment of the clans of the Kohathites, all who served at the tent of meeting, whom Moses and Aaron enrolled according to the commandment of the Lord by Moses.

38 The enrollment of the Gershonites, by their clans and their ancestral houses, 39 from thirty years old up to fifty years old, everyone who qualified for work relating to the tent of meeting— 40 their enrollment by their clans and their ancestral houses was two thousand six hundred thirty. 41 This was the enrollment of the clans of the Gershonites, all who served at the tent of meeting, whom Moses and Aaron enrolled according to the commandment of the Lord.

42 The enrollment of the clans of the Merarites, by their clans and their ancestral houses, 43 from thirty years old up to fifty years old, everyone who qualified for work relating to the tent of meeting— 44 their enrollment by their clans was three thousand two hundred. 45 This is the enrollment of the clans of the Merarites, whom Moses and Aaron enrolled according to the commandment of the Lord by Moses.

46 All those who were enrolled of the Levites, whom Moses and Aaron and the leaders of Israel enrolled, by their clans and their ancestral houses, 47 from thirty years old up to fifty years old, everyone who qualified to do the work of service and the work of bearing burdens relating to the tent of meeting, 48 their enrollment was eight thousand five hundred eighty. 49 According to the commandment of the Lord through Moses they were appointed to their several tasks of serving or carrying; thus they were enrolled by him, as the Lord commanded Moses.

Footnotes:

  1. Numbers 4:5 Or treaty, or testimony; Heb eduth
  2. Numbers 4:6 Meaning of Heb uncertain
  3. Numbers 4:8 Meaning of Heb uncertain
  4. Numbers 4:10 Meaning of Heb uncertain
  5. Numbers 4:11 Meaning of Heb uncertain
  6. Numbers 4:12 Meaning of Heb uncertain
  7. Numbers 4:14 Meaning of Heb uncertain
  8. Numbers 4:20 Heb they
  9. Numbers 4:25 Meaning of Heb uncertain
New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Numbers 4 Complete Jewish Bible (CJB)

(vii) Adonai said to Moshe and Aharon, “Take a census of the descendants of K’hat, who are among the descendants of Levi, by clans and families, all those from thirty to fifty years old; these will enter the corps doing the work in the tent of meeting.

“Here is how the descendants of K’hat are to serve in the tent of meeting and deal with the especially holy things: when the time comes to break camp, Aharon is to go in with his sons, take down the curtain which serves as a screen, and cover the ark of the testimony with it. On that they are to place a covering of fine leather, and on top of that spread an all-blue cloth. Then they are to insert the carrying-poles. On the table of showbread they are to spread a blue cloth and place on it the dishes, incense pans, offering bowls and pitchers. The perpetual bread is to remain on the table. They are to spread on these things a scarlet cloth, cover them with a covering of fine leather and insert the poles. They are to take a blue cloth and cover the menorah for the light, its lamps, its tongs, its trays and the jars used to add oil to it. 10 They are to wrap it and all its accessories in fine leather and place them on a carrying-frame. 11 On the gold altar they are to spread a blue cloth, cover it with a covering of fine leather and insert its carrying-poles. 12 They are to take all the utensils they use when serving in the sanctuary and put them in a blue cloth, cover them with fine leather and place them on a carrying-frame. 13 After removing the greasy ashes from the altar, they are to spread a purple cloth over it 14 and place on it all the utensils required for their altar service — the fire pans, meat-hooks, shovels, basins and other utensils for the altar. Then they are to spread over it a fine leather covering and insert its carrying-poles. 15 When Aharon and his sons have finished covering the holy furnishings and all the holy utensils, when the camp is about to move forward, then the descendants of K’hat are to come and carry them. But they are not to touch the holy things, so that they won’t die. These things are the responsibility of the descendants of K’hat in the tent of meeting.

16 “El‘azar the son of Aharon the cohen is to be responsible for the oil for the light, the fragrant incense, the continuing grain offering and the anointing oil. He is to be in charge of the entire tabernacle and everything in it, including the sanctuary and its furnishings.”

(Maftir) 17 Adonai said to Moshe and Aharon, 18 “Do not cut off the clan of K’hat from among the L’vi’im; 19 rather, do this for them, so that they will live and not die: when they approach the especially holy things, Aharon and his sons are to go in — and you are to assign each one his task; 20 but the descendants of K’hat are not to go in and look at the holy things as they are being covered; if they do, they will die.”

Haftarah B’midbar: Hoshea (Hosea) 2:1(1:10)–2:22(20)

B’rit Hadashah suggested readings for Parashah B’midbar: Luke 2:1–7; 1 Corinthians 12:12–31

Parashah 35: Naso (Take) 4:21–7:89

21 Adonai said to Moshe, 22 “Take a census of the descendants of Gershon also, by clans and families; 23 count all those between thirty and fifty years old, all who will enter the corps doing the work of serving in the tent of meeting.

24 “The Gershon families are to be responsible for serving and for transporting loads. 25 They are to carry the curtains of the tabernacle, the tent of meeting, its covering, the fine leather covering above it, the screen for the entrance to the tent of meeting, 26 the tapestries for the courtyard, and the screen for the entrance to the courtyard by the tabernacle and around the altar, along with the ropes and all the utensils they need for their service; and they are to do the work connected with these things. 27 Aharon and his sons are to supervise all the work of the Gershon clan in transporting loads and serving, and to assign them who is to carry what. 28 This is how the Gershon families are to serve in the tent of meeting, and they are to be under the direction of Itamar the son of Aharon the cohen.

29 “As for the descendants of M’rari, take a census by clans and families 30 of all those between thirty and fifty years old, all who will be in the corps doing the work of serving in the tent of meeting.

31 “Their service for the tent of meeting will be to carry the frames, crossbars, posts and sockets of the tabernacle; 32 also the posts for the surrounding courtyard, with their sockets, tent pegs, ropes and other accessories, and everything having to do with their service. You are to assign particular loads to specific persons by name. 33 This is how the M’rari families are to serve in the tent of meeting, directed by Itamar the son of Aharon the cohen.”

(S: ii) 34 Moshe, Aharon and the community leaders took a census of the descendants of K’hat by their clans and families, 35 all those between thirty and fifty years old who were part of the corps serving in the tent of meeting. 36 Registered by their families, they numbered 2,750. 37 These are the ones counted from the K’hat families of all those serving in the tent of meeting, whom Moshe and Aharon enumerated, in keeping with the order given by Adonai through Moshe.

(A: ii) 38 The census of the descendants of Gershon, by their clans and families, 39 all those between thirty and fifty years old who were part of the corps serving in the tent of meeting, 40 yielded 2,630, registered by their clans and families. 41 These are the ones counted from the families of the descendants of Gershon of all those serving in the tent of meeting, whom Moshe and Aharon enumerated, in keeping with the order given by Adonai.

42 The census of the families of the descendants of M’rari, by their clans and families, 43 all those between thirty and fifty years old who were part of the corps serving in the tent of meeting, 44 yielded 3,200, registered by their families. 45 These are the ones counted from the families of the descendants of M’rari, whom Moshe and Aharon enumerated, in keeping with the order given by Adonai through Moshe.

46 The census of the L’vi’im, whom Moshe, Aharon and the leaders of Isra’el enumerated by their clans and families, 47 all those between thirty and fifty years old who were part of those working to serve and working to carry loads in the tent of meeting, 48 yielded a total of 8,580 persons.

49 According to Adonai’s order they were appointed by Moshe, each one to his specific service or work. They were also enumerated, as Adonai had ordered Moshe.

Complete Jewish Bible (CJB)

Copyright © 1998 by David H. Stern. All rights reserved.

Numbers 4 The Message (MSG)

Duties of the Kohathites

1-3 God spoke to Moses and Aaron. He said, “Number the Kohathite line of Levites by clan and family. Count all the men from thirty to fifty years of age, all who enter the ministry to work in the Tent of Meeting.

“This is the assigned work of the Kohathites in the Tent of Meeting: care of the most holy things.

5-6 “When the camp is ready to set out, Aaron and his sons are to go in and take down the covering curtain and cover the Chest of The Testimony with it. Then they are to cover this with a dolphin skin, spread a solid blue cloth on top, and insert the poles.

7-8 “Then they are to spread a blue cloth on the Table of the Presence and set the Table with plates, incense dishes, bowls, and jugs for drink offerings. The bread that is always there stays on the Table. They are to cover these with a scarlet cloth, and on top of that spread the dolphin skin, and insert the poles.

9-10 “They are to use a blue cloth to cover the light-giving Lampstand and the lamps, snuffers, trays, and the oil jars that go with it. Then they are to wrap it all in a covering of dolphin skin and place it on a carrying frame.

11 “They are to spread a blue cloth over the Gold Altar and cover it with dolphin skins and place it on a carrying frame.

12 “They are to take all the articles used in ministering in the Sanctuary, wrap them in a blue cloth, cover them with dolphin skins, and place them on a carrying frame.

13-14 “They are to remove the ashes from the Altar and spread a purple cloth over it. They are to place on it all the articles used in ministering at the Altar—firepans, forks, shovels, bowls; everything used at the Altar—place them on the Altar, cover it with the dolphin skins, and insert the poles.

15 “When Aaron and his sons have finished covering the holy furnishings and all the holy articles, and the camp is ready to set out, the Kohathites are to come and do the carrying. But they must not touch the holy things or they will die. The Kohathites are in charge of carrying all the things that are in the Tent of Meeting.

16 “Eleazar son of Aaron the priest, is to be in charge of the oil for the light, the fragrant incense, the regular Grain-Offering, and the anointing oil. He is to be in charge of the entire Dwelling and everything in it, including its holy furnishings and articles.”

17-20 God spoke to Moses and Aaron, “Don’t let the tribal families of the Kohathites be destroyed from among the Levites. Protect them so they will live and not die when they come near the most holy things. To protect them, Aaron and his sons are to precede them into the Sanctuary and assign each man his task and what he is to carry. But the Kohathites themselves must not go in to look at the holy things, not even a glance at them, or they will die.”

Duties of the Gershonites

21-23 God spoke to Moses: “Number the Gershonites by tribes according to their ancestral families. Count all the men from thirty to fifty years of age who enter the ministry of work in the Tent of Meeting.

24-28 “The Gershonites by family and clan will serve by carrying heavy loads: the curtains of the Sanctuary and the Tent of Meeting; the covering of the Tent and the outer covering of dolphin skins; the screens for the entrance to the Tent; the cords; and all the equipment used in its ministries. The Gershonites have the job of doing the work connected with these things. All their work of lifting and carrying and moving is to be done under the supervision of Aaron and his sons. Assign them specifically what they are to carry. This is the work of the Gershonite clans at the Tent of Meeting. Ithamar son of Aaron the priest is to supervise their work.

Duties of the Merarites

29-30 “Number the Merarites by their ancestral families. Count all the men from thirty to fifty years of age who enter the ministry of work at the Tent of Meeting.

31-33 “This is their assigned duty as they go to work at the Tent of Meeting: to carry the frames of The Dwelling, its crossbars, posts, and bases, as well as the posts of the surrounding Courtyard with their bases, tent pegs, cords, and all the equipment related to their use. Assign to each man exactly what he is to carry. This is the ministry of the Merarite clans as they work at the Tent of Meeting under the supervision of Ithamar son of Aaron the priest.”

34-37 Moses, Aaron, and the leaders of the congregation counted the Kohathites by clan and family. All the men from thirty to fifty years of age who came to serve in the work in the Tent of Meeting, counted by clans, were 2,750. This was the total from the Kohathite clans who served in the Tent of Meeting. Moses and Aaron counted them just as God had commanded through Moses.

38-41 The Gershonites were counted by clan and family. All the men from thirty to fifty years of age who came to serve in the work in the Tent of Meeting, counted by clan and family, were 2,630. This was the total from the Gershonite clans who served in the Tent of Meeting. Moses and Aaron counted them just as God had commanded.

42-45 The Merarites were counted by clan and family. All the men from thirty to fifty years of age who came to serve in the work in the Tent of Meeting, counted by clan, were 3,200. This was the total from the Merarite clans. Moses and Aaron counted them just as God had commanded through Moses.

46-49 So Moses and Aaron and the leaders of Israel counted all the Levites by clan and family. All the men from thirty to fifty years of age who came to do the work of serving and carrying the Tent of Meeting numbered 8,580. At God’s command through Moses, each man was assigned his work and told what to carry.

And that’s the story of their numbering, as God commanded Moses.

The Message (MSG)

Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson

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