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Series Theme: FRAMEWORKS: Numbers

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FRAMEWORKS: Numbers 4 : The Levite Clans

 

Part 1.2: Ch.3 & 4: The Levites & their Roles

Ch.3: Introducing the Levites
Ch.4: The Levite Clans

 

FRAMEWORKS: Numbers 4 : The Levite Clans

 

Part A: The Work to be done by each clan

v.1-4 The Kohathites' Service

v.5-14 The Priests to Cover the Furniture, Utensils etc

v.15-20 The Kohathites to carry the covered items

v.21-24 The Gershonites' Service

v.25-28 The Gershonites to carry the Tent, Curtains etc.

v.29-33 The Merarites to Carry the structure

Part B: The Number of each clan available to serve

v.34-37 The Numbering of the Kohathites

v.38-41 The Numbering of the Gershonites

v.42-45 The Numbering of the Merarites

v.46-49 The Levite Men available for service

 

[Preliminary Notes: When we examine the breakdown of the Chapter it is very straight forward:

Verses 1 to 33 cover the work of each of the three clans of Levi in carrying the Tabernacle. Note in particular that Moses and Aaron were to completely cover up all the furniture & utensils so that the carriers cannot actually see these holy things. Even in moving the Tabernacle the concept of holiness is kept to the fore. The servants, the Levites, are not to have access to the holy, only Moses & Aaron.

Verses 34 to 49 are a second census of the Levites, but now only including men between 30 and 50 who are available to serve.

This chapter is all about the service of moving the Tabernacle.

To help the reader be clear on names here, we provide the following reminder:

 

Father

Sons

Role

Aaron

(Nadab Abihu), Eleazar and Ithamar.

Priests

Levi

Gershon, Kohath and Merari.

Tabernacle carriers

 

v.1-4 The Kohathites' Service

 

1 The Lord said to Moses and Aaron:

2 “Take a census of the Kohathite branch of the Levites by their clans and families.

3 Count all the men from thirty to fifty years of age who come to serve in the work at the tent of meeting.

4 “This is the work of the Kohathites at the tent of meeting: the care of the most holy things.

 

[Notes: A call to number the middle-age males of Kohathite clan whose role was to move the furniture and utensils of the Tabernacle. Although Kohath was the middle son, the fact that his clan has to carry the holy things from within the Tabernacle, means his clan is listed first.]

 

 

v.5-14 The Priests to Cover the Furniture, Utensils etc

 

5 When the camp is to move, Aaron and his sons are to go in and take down the shielding curtain and put it over the ark of the covenant law.

6 Then they are to cover the curtain with a durable leather, spread a cloth of solid blue over that and put the poles in place.

7 “Over the table of the Presence they are to spread a blue cloth and put on it the plates, dishes and bowls, and the jars for drink offerings; the bread that is continually there is to remain on it.

8 They are to spread a scarlet cloth over them, cover that with the durable leather and put the poles in place.

9 “They are to take a blue cloth and cover the lampstand that is for light, together with its lamps, its wick trimmers and trays, and all its jars for the olive oil used to supply it.

10 Then they are to wrap it and all its accessories in a covering of the durable leather and put it on a carrying frame.

11 “Over the gold altar [of incense] they are to spread a blue cloth and cover that with the durable leather and put the poles in place.

12 “They are to take all the articles used for ministering in the sanctuary, wrap them in a blue cloth, cover that with the durable leather and put them on a carrying frame.

13 “They are to remove the ashes from the bronze altar and spread a purple cloth over it.

14 Then they are to place on it all the utensils used for ministering at the altar, including the firepans, meat forks, shovels and sprinkling bowls. Over it they are to spread a covering of the durable leather and put the poles in place.

 

[Notes: Before the Levites are allowed to move the furniture and utensils, Aaron and his sons, the other priests, are to cover them all up, hidden from sight.]

 

 

v.15-20 The Kohathites to carry the covered items

 

15 “After Aaron and his sons have finished covering the holy furnishings and all the holy articles, and when the camp is ready to move, only then are the Kohathites to come and do the carrying. But they must not touch the holy things or they will die. The Kohathites are to carry those things that are in the tent of meeting.

16 “Eleazar son of Aaron, the priest, is to have 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 tabernacle and everything in it, including its holy furnishings and articles.”

17 The Lord said to Moses and Aaron,

18 “See that the Kohathite tribal clans are not destroyed from among the Levites.

19 So that they may live and not die when they come near the most holy things, do this for them: Aaron and his sons are to go into the sanctuary and assign to each man his work and what he is to carry.

20 But the Kohathites must not go in to look at the holy things, even for a moment, or they will die.”

 

[Notes: Here are strong words about the Levites NOT actually touching the holy things from inside the Tabernacle, as noted above. Only the priests [Aaron and his two sons] could touch them or even see them. Eleazar [Aaron's third son, the first of the two surviving sons] gets a second mention [see also 3:32] as having the overall oversight of the Levites as they handle the Tabernacle at each move.]

 

 

v.21-24 The Gershonites' Service

 

21 The Lord said to Moses,

22 “Take a census also of the Gershonites by their families and clans.

23 Count all the men from thirty to fifty years of age who come to serve in the work at the tent of meeting.

24 “This is the service of the Gershonite clans in their carrying and their other work:

 

[Notes: The middle aged males of the clan of the oldest son, Gershon, are to be counted.]

 

 

v.25-28 The Gershonites to carry the Tent, Curtains etc.

 

25 They are to carry the curtains of the tabernacle, that is, the tent of meeting, its covering and its outer covering of durable leather, the curtains for the entrance to the tent of meeting,

26 the curtains of the courtyard surrounding the tabernacle and altar, the curtain for the entrance to the courtyard, the ropes and all the equipment used in the service of the tent. The Gershonites are to do all that needs to be done with these things.

27 All their service, whether carrying or doing other work, is to be done under the direction of Aaron and his sons. You shall assign to them as their responsibility all they are to carry.

28 This is the service of the Gershonite clans at the tent of meeting. Their duties are to be under the direction of Ithamar son of Aaron, the priest.

 

[Notes: Their role is to carry all the Tabernacle coverings. Their particular duties are to be overseen by Aaron's youngest son, Ithamar.]

 

 

v.29-33 The Merarites to Carry the Structure

 

29 “Count the Merarites by their clans and families.

30 Count all the men from thirty to fifty years of age who come to serve in the work at the tent of meeting.

31 As part of all their service at the tent, they are to carry the frames of the tabernacle, its crossbars, posts and bases,

32 as well as the posts of the surrounding courtyard with their bases, tent pegs, ropes, all their equipment and everything related to their use. Assign to each man the specific things he is to carry.

33 This is the service of the Merarite clans as they work at the tent of meeting under the direction of Ithamar son of Aaron, the priest.”

 

[Notes: The middle aged males of the clan of the youngest son of Levi, Merari, are to be counted, whose role is to carry the structural member of the Tabernacle. Again they are to be overseen by Ithamar, Aaron's youngest son.]

 

 

v.34-37 The Numbering of the Kohathites

 

34 Moses, Aaron and the leaders of the community counted the Kohathites by their clans and families.

35 All the men from thirty to fifty years of age who came to serve in the work at the tent of meeting,

36 counted by clans, were 2,750.

37 This was the total of all those in the Kohathite clans who served at the tent of meeting. Moses and Aaron counted them according to the Lord 's command through Moses.

 

[Notes: The middle aged men to serve from the clan of the second son of Levi are counted.]

 

 

v.38-41 The Numbering of the Gershonites

 

38 The Gershonites were counted by their clans and families.

39 All the men from thirty to fifty years of age who came to serve in the work at the tent of meeting,

40 counted by their clans and families, were 2,630.

41 This was the total of those in the Gershonite clans who served at the tent of meeting. Moses and Aaron counted them according to the Lord 's command.

 

[Notes: The middle aged men to serve from the clan of the oldest son of Levi are counted.]

 

 

v.42-45 The Numbering of the Merarites

 

42 The Merarites were counted by their clans and families.

43 All the men from thirty to fifty years of age who came to serve in the work at the tent of meeting,

44 counted by their clans, were 3,200.

45 This was the total of those in the Merarite clans. Moses and Aaron counted them according to the Lord 's command through Moses.

 

[Notes: The middle aged men to serve from the clan of the youngest son of Levi are counted.]

 

 

v.46-49 The Levite Men available for service

 

46 So Moses, Aaron and the leaders of Israel counted all the Levites by their clans and families.

47 All the men from thirty to fifty years of age who came to do the work of serving and carrying the tent of meeting

48  numbered 8,580 .

49 At the Lord 's command through Moses, each was assigned his work and told what to carry.

Thus they were counted, as the Lord commanded Moses.

 

[Notes: The total number middle aged men to serve from the clans of Levi are counted.]

   

 

CONTINUE TO CHAPTER 5