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scripture

 

CHAPTER 4

Duties Further Defined. 1The LORD said to Moses and Aaron: 2Take a census among the Levites of the Kohathites, by clans and ancestral houses, 3all between thirty* and fifty years of age, who will join the personnel for doing tasks in the tent of meeting.a

4This is the task of the Kohathites in the tent of meeting: the most sacred objects. 5In breaking camp, Aaron and his sons shall go in and take down the screening curtain* and cover the ark of the covenant with it. 6Over these they shall put a cover of yellow-orange skin, and on top of this spread an all-violet cloth and put the poles in place. 7On the table of the Presence they shall spread a violet cloth and put on it the plates and cups, as well as the bowls and pitchers for libations; the established bread offering shall remain on the table. 8Over these they shall spread a scarlet cloth and cover it with a covering of yellow-orange skin, and put the poles in place. 9They shall use a violet cloth to cover the menorah of the light with its lamps, tongs, and trays, as well as the various containers of oil from which it is supplied. 10The menorah with all its utensils they shall then put in a covering of yellow-orange skin, and place on a litter. 11Over the golden altar* they shall spread a violet cloth, and cover this also with a covering of yellow-orange skin, and put the poles in place. 12Taking the utensils of the sanctuary service, they shall put them all in violet cloth and cover them with a covering of yellow-orange skin. They shall then place them on a litter. 13After cleansing the altar* of its ashes, they shall spread a purple cloth over it. 14On this they shall put all the utensils with which it is served: the fire pans, forks,* shovels, basins, and all the utensils of the altar. They shall then spread a covering of yellow-orange skin over this, and put the poles in place.

15Only after Aaron and his sons have finished covering the sacred objects and all their utensils on breaking camp, can the Kohathites enter to carry them. But they shall not touch the sacred objects; if they do they will die.b These, then, are the objects in the tent of meeting that the Kohathites shall carry.

16Eleazar, son of Aaron the priest, shall be in charge of the oil for the light, the fragrant incense, the established grain offering, and the anointing oil. He shall be in charge of the whole tabernacle with all the sacred objects and utensils that are in it.

17The LORD said to Moses and Aaron: 18Do not let the group of Kohathite clans perish from among the Levites. 19That they may live and not die when they approach the most sacred objects, this is what you shall do for them: Aaron and his sons shall go in and assign to each of them his task and what he must carry; 20but the Kohathites shall not go in to look upon the sacred objects even for an instant, or they will die.c

21The LORD said to Moses: 22Take a census of the Gershonites also, by ancestral houses and clans, 23enrolling all between thirty and fifty years of age who will join the personnel to do the work in the tent of meeting. 24This is the task of the clans of the Gershonites, what they must do and what they must carry: 25they shall carry the curtains of the tabernacle, the tent of meeting with its covering and the outer wrapping of yellow-orange skin, the curtain at the entrance of the tent of meeting, 26the hangings of the court, the curtain at the entrance to the gate of the court that encloses both the tabernacle and the altar, together with their ropes and all other objects necessary for their use. Whatever is to be done to maintain these things, they shall do. 27The service of the Gershonites shall be entirely under the direction of Aaron and his sons, with regard to what they must carry and what they must do; you shall list for them by name what they are to carry. 28This, then, is the task of the clans of the Gershonites in the tent of meeting; and they shall be under the supervision of Ithamar, son of Aaron the priest.

29The Merarites, too, you shall enroll by clans and ancestral houses, 30enrolling all between thirty and fifty years of age who will join the personnel to maintain the tent of meeting. 31d This is what they shall be responsible for carrying, with respect to all their service in the tent of meeting: the boards of the tabernacle with its bars, columns and pedestals, 32and the columns of the surrounding court with their pedestals, pegs and ropes, including all their accessories and everything for their maintenance. You shall list by name the objects they shall be responsible for carrying. 33This, then, is the task of the clans of the Merarites with respect to all their service in the tent of meeting under the supervision of Ithamar, son of Aaron the priest.

Number of Adult Levites. 34So Moses and Aaron and the leaders of the community enrolled the Kohathites, by clans and ancestral houses, 35all between thirty and fifty years of age who will join the personnel to work in the tent of meeting; 36their enrollment by clans was two thousand seven hundred and fifty. 37Such was the enrollment of the clans of the Kohathites, everyone who was to serve in the tent of meeting, whom Moses enrolled, together with Aaron, as the LORD directed through Moses.

38As for the enrollment of the Gershonites, by clans and ancestral houses, 39all between thirty and fifty years of age who will join the personnel to work in the tent of meeting— 40their enrollment by clans and ancestral houses was two thousand six hundred and thirty. 41Such was the enrollment of the clans of the Gershonites, everyone who was to serve in the tent of meeting, whom Moses enrolled, together with Aaron, as the LORD directed.

42As for the enrollment of the clans of the Merarites, by clans and ancestral houses, 43all from thirty up to fifty years of age who will join the personnel to work in the tent of meeting— 44their enrollment by clans was three thousand two hundred. 45Such was the enrollment of the clans of the Merarites, whom Moses enrolled, together with Aaron, as the LORD directed through Moses.

46As for the total enrollment of the Levites, which Moses and Aaron and the Israelite leaders had made, by clans and ancestral houses, 47all between thirty and fifty years of age who were to undertake tasks of service or transport for the tent of meeting— 48their total enrollment was eight thousand five hundred and eighty. 49As the LORD directed through Moses, they gave each of them their assignments for service and for transport; just as the LORD had commanded Moses.

* [4:3] Thirty: according to other passages the Levites began to serve when they were twenty-five (8:24) or even only twenty years old (1 Chr 23:24, 27; 2 Chr 31:17; Ezr 3:8; but cf. 1 Chr 23:3).

* [4:5] The screening curtain: the veil between the inner and the outer rooms of the sanctuary. Cf. Ex 26:3133.

* [4:11] The golden altar: the altar of incense. Cf. Ex 30:16.

* [4:13] The altar: the bronze altar for animal sacrifices. Cf. Ex 27:18.

* [4:14] Forks: used in turning over the sacrificed animal on the fire of the altar. Basins: to receive the sacrificial blood; cf. Zec 9:15.

a. [4:3] Nm 8:24; 1 Chr 23:2427.

b. [4:15] 2 Sm 6:67; 1 Chr 13:910.

c. [4:20] 1 Sm 6:1920.

d. [4:31] Nm 3:3637.






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