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The Tribe of Levi Is Registered and Assigned Duties

This is the list of Aaron and Moses’ descendants at the time when the Lord spoke to Moses on Mount Sinai.

The names of Aaron’s sons are Nadab (the firstborn), Abihu, Eleazar, and Ithamar. These are the names of Aaron’s sons, the anointed priests, who were ordained to serve as priests. Nadab and Abihu died in the Lord’s presence because they offered unauthorized fire in his presence in the Desert of Sinai. They had no children. So only Eleazar and Ithamar served as priests during the lifetime of their father Aaron.

The Lord said to Moses, “Bring the tribe of Levi, and have them stand in front of the priest Aaron to assist him. They will work for him and the whole community in front of the tent of meeting, doing what needs to be done for the inner tent. They will take care of all the furnishings in the tent of meeting and work for the Israelites, doing what needs to be done for the inner tent. Give the Levites to Aaron and his sons. The Levites will be the only Israelites given to them. 10 Appoint Aaron and his sons to serve as priests. Anyone else who tries to do the priests’ duties must be put to death.”

11 The Lord said to Moses, 12 “Out of all the Israelites, I have taken the Levites to be substitutes for every firstborn male offspring among them. The Levites are mine, 13 because every firstborn is mine. The day I killed every firstborn male in Egypt, I set apart as holy every firstborn in Israel, whether human or animal. They will be mine. I am the Lord.”

14 The Lord said to Moses in the Desert of Sinai, 15 “Count the Levites by households and families. Count every male who is at least one month old.” 16 So Moses did what the Lord said and registered them as he had been commanded.

17 Gershon, Kohath, and Merari were the sons of Levi.

18 Libni and Shimei were the sons of Gershon. Their families were named after them.

19 Amram, Izhar, Hebron, and Uzziel were the sons of Kohath. Their families were named after them.

20 Mahli and Mushi were the sons of Merari. Their families were named after them.

These were the households of Levite families.

21 To Gershon belonged the families descended from Libni and Shimei. These were the families descended from Gershon. 22 The total number of all the males at least one month old was 7,500. 23 The families descended from Gershon put up their tents on the west side behind the tent of meeting. 24 The leader of the Gershonite households was Eliasaph, son of Lael. 25 At the tent of meeting the Gershonites were in charge of the inner tent, the outer tent and cover, the screen for the entrance to the tent of meeting, 26 the curtains for the courtyard, the screen for the entrance to the courtyard that surrounds the inner tent and the altar, and the ropes. They took care of all these things.

27 To Kohath belonged the families descended from Amram, Izhar, Hebron, and Uzziel. These were the families descended from Kohath. 28 The number of all the males at least one month old was 8,600. They were in charge of the holy place. 29 The families descended from Kohath put up their tents on the south side of the tent of meeting. 30 The leader of the Kohathite families and households was Elizaphan, son of Uzziel. 31 They were in charge of the ark, the table, the lamp stand, the altars, the utensils used in the holy place, and the screen. They took care of all these things.

32 The chief leader of the Levites was Eleazar, son of the priest Aaron. It was Eleazar’s duty to supervise those who were in charge of the holy place.

33 To Merari belonged the families descended from Mahli and Mushi. These were the families descended from Merari. 34 The total number of all the males at least one month old was 6,200. 35 The leader of the Merarite families and households was Zuriel, son of Abihail. They put up their tents on the north side of the tent of meeting. 36 It was the duty of the Merarites to be in charge of the framework of the inner tent, the crossbars, posts, sockets, and all the equipment. They took care of all these things. 37 They also took care of the posts for the surrounding courtyard, the bases, pegs, and ropes.

38 Moses, Aaron, and his sons put up their tents on the east side in front of the tent of meeting. They were in charge of the holy place on behalf of the Israelites. Anyone else who tried to do the Levites’ duties had to be put to death.

39 The grand total of Levites that Moses and Aaron counted at the Lord’s command, by families, every male who was at least one month old, was 22,000.

40 The Lord said to Moses, “Register every firstborn male of the Israelites who is at least one month old, and make a list of their names. 41 I am the Lord. Take the Levites for me to be substitutes for all firstborn Israelites. Also take the animals of the Levites to be substitutes for all firstborn animals of the Israelites.”

42 So Moses registered all the firstborn Israelites as the Lord commanded him. 43 The total of all the firstborn males at least one month old was 22,273. They were listed by name.

44 The Lord said to Moses, 45 “Take the Levites to be substitutes for all the firstborn Israelites and the animals of the Levites to be substitutes for their animals. The Levites will be mine. I am the Lord. 46 There are 273 more firstborn male Israelites than there are Levites. 47 It will cost you two ounces of silver per person (using the standard weight of the holy place) to buy them back. 48 Give the silver to Aaron and his sons. It will buy back those Israelites who outnumber the Levites.”

49 So Moses took this ransom money from the Israelites who outnumbered the Levites. 50 The silver Moses collected for the firstborn Israelites weighed 34 pounds, using the standard weight of the holy place. 51 Then Moses did what the Lord said and gave Aaron and his sons this ransom money as he had been commanded.

The Levites

This is the account of the family of Aaron and Moses(A) at the time the Lord spoke to Moses at Mount Sinai.(B)

The names of the sons of Aaron were Nadab the firstborn(C) and Abihu, Eleazar and Ithamar.(D) Those were the names of Aaron’s sons, the anointed priests,(E) who were ordained to serve as priests. Nadab and Abihu, however, died before the Lord(F) when they made an offering with unauthorized fire before him in the Desert of Sinai.(G) They had no sons, so Eleazar and Ithamar(H) served as priests during the lifetime of their father Aaron.(I)

The Lord said to Moses, “Bring the tribe of Levi(J) and present them to Aaron the priest to assist him.(K) They are to perform duties for him and for the whole community(L) at the tent of meeting by doing the work(M) of the tabernacle. They are to take care of all the furnishings of the tent of meeting, fulfilling the obligations of the Israelites by doing the work of the tabernacle. Give the Levites to Aaron and his sons;(N) they are the Israelites who are to be given wholly to him.[a] 10 Appoint Aaron(O) and his sons to serve as priests;(P) anyone else who approaches the sanctuary is to be put to death.”(Q)

11 The Lord also said to Moses, 12 “I have taken the Levites(R) from among the Israelites in place of the first male offspring(S) of every Israelite woman. The Levites are mine,(T) 13 for all the firstborn are mine.(U) When I struck down all the firstborn in Egypt, I set apart for myself every firstborn in Israel, whether human or animal. They are to be mine. I am the Lord.”(V)

14 The Lord said to Moses in the Desert of Sinai,(W) 15 “Count(X) the Levites by their families and clans. Count every male a month old or more.”(Y) 16 So Moses counted them, as he was commanded by the word of the Lord.

17 These were the names of the sons of Levi:(Z)

Gershon,(AA) Kohath(AB) and Merari.(AC)

18 These were the names of the Gershonite clans:

Libni and Shimei.(AD)

19 The Kohathite clans:

Amram, Izhar, Hebron and Uzziel.(AE)

20 The Merarite clans:(AF)

Mahli and Mushi.(AG)

These were the Levite clans, according to their families.

21 To Gershon(AH) belonged the clans of the Libnites and Shimeites;(AI) these were the Gershonite clans. 22 The number of all the males a month old or more who were counted was 7,500. 23 The Gershonite clans were to camp on the west, behind the tabernacle.(AJ) 24 The leader of the families of the Gershonites was Eliasaph son of Lael. 25 At the tent of meeting the Gershonites were responsible for the care of the tabernacle(AK) and tent, its coverings,(AL) the curtain at the entrance(AM) to the tent of meeting,(AN) 26 the curtains of the courtyard(AO), the curtain at the entrance to the courtyard surrounding the tabernacle and altar,(AP) and the ropes(AQ)—and everything(AR) related to their use.

27 To Kohath(AS) belonged the clans of the Amramites, Izharites, Hebronites and Uzzielites;(AT) these were the Kohathite(AU) clans. 28 The number of all the males a month old or more(AV) was 8,600.[b] The Kohathites were responsible(AW) for the care of the sanctuary.(AX) 29 The Kohathite clans were to camp on the south side(AY) of the tabernacle. 30 The leader of the families of the Kohathite clans was Elizaphan(AZ) son of Uzziel. 31 They were responsible for the care of the ark,(BA) the table,(BB) the lampstand,(BC) the altars,(BD) the articles(BE) of the sanctuary used in ministering, the curtain,(BF) and everything related to their use.(BG) 32 The chief leader of the Levites was Eleazar(BH) son of Aaron, the priest. He was appointed over those who were responsible(BI) for the care of the sanctuary.(BJ)

33 To Merari belonged the clans of the Mahlites and the Mushites;(BK) these were the Merarite clans.(BL) 34 The number of all the males a month old or more(BM) who were counted was 6,200. 35 The leader of the families of the Merarite clans was Zuriel son of Abihail; they were to camp on the north side of the tabernacle.(BN) 36 The Merarites were appointed(BO) to take care of the frames of the tabernacle,(BP) its crossbars,(BQ) posts,(BR) bases, all its equipment, and everything related to their use,(BS) 37 as well as the posts of the surrounding courtyard(BT) with their bases, tent pegs(BU) and ropes.

38 Moses and Aaron and his sons were to camp to the east(BV) of the tabernacle, toward the sunrise, in front of the tent of meeting.(BW) They were responsible for the care of the sanctuary(BX) on behalf of the Israelites. Anyone else who approached the sanctuary was to be put to death.(BY)

39 The total number of Levites counted(BZ) at the Lord’s command by Moses and Aaron according to their clans, including every male a month old or more, was 22,000.(CA)

40 The Lord said to Moses, “Count all the firstborn Israelite males who are a month old or more(CB) and make a list of their names.(CC) 41 Take the Levites for me in place of all the firstborn of the Israelites,(CD) and the livestock of the Levites in place of all the firstborn of the livestock of the Israelites. I am the Lord.”(CE)

42 So Moses counted all the firstborn of the Israelites, as the Lord commanded him. 43 The total number of firstborn males a month old or more,(CF) listed by name, was 22,273.(CG)

44 The Lord also said to Moses, 45 “Take the Levites in place of all the firstborn of Israel, and the livestock of the Levites in place of their livestock. The Levites are to be mine.(CH) I am the Lord.(CI) 46 To redeem(CJ) the 273 firstborn Israelites who exceed the number of the Levites, 47 collect five shekels[c](CK) for each one, according to the sanctuary shekel,(CL) which weighs twenty gerahs.(CM) 48 Give the money for the redemption(CN) of the additional Israelites to Aaron and his sons.”(CO)

49 So Moses collected the redemption money(CP) from those who exceeded the number redeemed by the Levites. 50 From the firstborn of the Israelites(CQ) he collected silver weighing 1,365 shekels,[d](CR) according to the sanctuary shekel. 51 Moses gave the redemption money to Aaron and his sons, as he was commanded by the word of the Lord.

Footnotes

  1. Numbers 3:9 Most manuscripts of the Masoretic Text; some manuscripts of the Masoretic Text, Samaritan Pentateuch and Septuagint (see also 8:16) to me
  2. Numbers 3:28 Hebrew; some Septuagint manuscripts 8,300
  3. Numbers 3:47 That is, about 2 ounces or about 58 grams
  4. Numbers 3:50 That is, about 35 pounds or about 16 kilograms

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