Chapter 4

NUMBERS CHAPTER 4

Duties of the Kohathites

    • The Lord told Moses and Aaron to take a census of the Kohathite clans listing all men aged 30- 50 years who were qualified to work at the Tabernacle.

    • The Kohathites would be responsible for the most sacred objects in the Tabernacle. When the Israelites were about to move, Aaron and his sons would go into the Tabernacle and take down the inner curtain and cover the Ark of the Covenant with it. Over this was placed a covering made of goat skin and on top of this a blue cloth. They would then place the carrying poles in the Ark so that it could be transported.

      • I have noticed that different translations give different types of animal skin to cover the inner curtain over the Ark- some say badger, some goat, some manatee…

    • Next, Aaron and his sons would cover the table of the Bread of the Presence with blue cloth and place the items sitting on the table (bowls, ladles, jars, bread) on top of the blue cloth. Then they would cover all these with a scarlet cloth, followed by a goatskin covering, after which they would insert the poles for transport.

    • Next, Aaron and his sons would cover the lampstand and its items (lamps, snuffers, trays, etc) with blue cloth followed by goatskin- all of these would be placed in a bundle on the carrying frame.

    • Next, they would cover the incense altar with blue cloth followed by goatskin after which they would insert the poles for transport. All the remaining utensils in the sanctuary would be wrapped in blue cloth and then goatskin and placed on the carrying frame.

    • Next, Aaron and his sons would take the ashes out of the bronze altar for sacrifices and cover the altar with purple cloth. All the altar utensils (firepans, meatforks, basins, etc) would be placed on the cloth and covered with goatskin after which the poles for transport would be inserted.

    • At this point, the camp was ready to move and the Kohathites would come and carry these things which Aaron and his sons had covered and packed to the next destination. The Kohathites were not to touch any of the holy objects or they would die.

    • Aaron’s son Eleazar was in charge of the lamp oil, incense, daily grain offering, and anointing oil as well as supervising the Kohathites in moving the Tabernacle and everything in it.

    • The Lord told Moses and Aaron not to allow the Kohathites to be wiped out from among the Levites. Aaron and his sons must always cover the holy objects just as had been commanded so that the Kohathites would not touch them when they came to move them. Aaron and his sons were always to go in with them and individually give each man his specific duty or load. The Kohathites could never go into the sanctuary and see the uncovered objects even for a moment or they would die.

Duties of the Gershonites

    • The Lord told Moses to take a census of the Gershonite clans listing all men age 30-50 years who were qualified to work at the Tabernacle.

    • The Gershonites would be responsible for transporting the Tabernacle curtains, the Tabernacle itself with all its coverings, the curtains that make up the courtyard walls, the ropes, and all equipment related to their use. The Gershonites would be directed in their duties by Aaron and his sons- each individual would be assigned a load. Ithamar was specifically responsible for supervising the Gershonites.

Duties of the Merarites

    • A census was also to be taken of the Merarite clans listing men aged 30 to 50 years who were qualified to work at the Tabernacle.

    • The Merarites were responsible for carrying the Tabernacle supports- the crossbars, posts, bases, tent pegs, ropes, and all equipment related to these things. Each Merarite would be assigned a particular load. Ithamar was responsible for supervising the Merarites.

Summary of the Census

    • Moses, Aaron, and the leaders of the community conducted the census as commanded. The total number of eligible Kohathite men was 2,750. The total number of eligible Gershonite men was 2,630. The total number of eligible Merarite men was 3,200. All together the total was 8,580.

  • It is worthy of note that these Levites, although they were all equally consecrated to God, had not all exactly the same work to perform. God is not the God of all uniformity. There is a wondrous unity of plan and design in all that he does, but there is also an equally marvelous variety.” (Spurgeon)

  • David Guzik writes, “ Paul says the church is to work like a body – many parts, looking different, doing different jobs, meeting different needs, some more visible, some less, but all essential – and all with the same DNA code…Much trouble is caused in the service of the Lord by those who desire a different calling than they have, or who are jealous of those who have a different calling, or by those who exalt one calling and abase another. Everyone has a place and a job, and all can set themselves to do it.