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Numbers 4 New American Bible (Revised Edition) (NABRE)

Chapter 4

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

This is the task of the Kohathites in the tent of meeting: the most sacred objects. In breaking camp, Aaron and his sons shall go in and take down the screening curtain[b] and cover the ark of the covenant with it. Over 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. On 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. Over these they shall spread a scarlet cloth and cover it with a covering of yellow-orange skin, and put the poles in place. They 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. 10 The menorah with all its utensils they shall then put in a covering of yellow-orange skin, and place on a litter. 11 Over the golden altar[c] they shall spread a violet cloth, and cover this also with a covering of yellow-orange skin, and put the poles in place. 12 Taking 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. 13 After cleansing the altar[d] of its ashes, they shall spread a purple cloth over it. 14 On this they shall put all the utensils with which it is served: the fire pans, forks,[e] 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.

15 Only 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. These, then, are the objects in the tent of meeting that the Kohathites shall carry.

16 Eleazar, 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.

17 The Lord said to Moses and Aaron: 18 Do not let the group of Kohathite clans perish from among the Levites. 19 That 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; 20 but the Kohathites shall not go in to look upon the sacred objects even for an instant, or they will die.

21 The Lord said to Moses: 22 Take a census of the Gershonites also, by ancestral houses and clans, 23 enrolling all between thirty and fifty years of age who will join the personnel to do the work in the tent of meeting. 24 This is the task of the clans of the Gershonites, what they must do and what they must carry: 25 they 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, 26 the 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. 27 The 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. 28 This, 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.

29 The Merarites, too, you shall enroll by clans and ancestral houses, 30 enrolling all between thirty and fifty years of age who will join the personnel to maintain the tent of meeting. 31 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, 32 and 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. 33 This, 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. 34 So Moses and Aaron and the leaders of the community enrolled the Kohathites, by clans and ancestral houses, 35 all between thirty and fifty years of age who will join the personnel to work in the tent of meeting; 36 their enrollment by clans was two thousand seven hundred and fifty. 37 Such 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.

38 As for the enrollment of the Gershonites, by clans and ancestral houses, 39 all between thirty and fifty years of age who will join the personnel to work in the tent of meeting— 40 their enrollment by clans and ancestral houses was two thousand six hundred and thirty. 41 Such 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.

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

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

Footnotes:

  1. 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).
  2. 4:5 The screening curtain: the veil between the inner and the outer rooms of the sanctuary. Cf. Ex 26:31–33.
  3. 4:11 The golden altar: the altar of incense. Cf. Ex 30:1–6.
  4. 4:13 The altar: the bronze altar for animal sacrifices. Cf. Ex 27:1–8.
  5. 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.
New American Bible (Revised Edition) (NABRE)

Scripture texts, prefaces, introductions, footnotes and cross references used in this work are taken from the New American Bible, revised edition © 2010, 1991, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Inc., Washington, DC All Rights Reserved. No part of this work may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the copyright owner.

Numbers 4 New International Version (NIV)

The Kohathites

The Lord said to Moses and Aaron: “Take a census of the Kohathite branch of the Levites by their clans and families. Count all the men from thirty to fifty years of age who come to serve in the work at the tent of meeting.

“This is the work of the Kohathites at the tent of meeting: the care of the most holy things. 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. Then they are to cover the curtain with a durable leather,[a] spread a cloth of solid blue over that and put the poles in place.

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

“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 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.

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.”

The Gershonites

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: 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.

The Merarites

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.”

The Numbering of the Levite Clans

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.

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.

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.

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.

Footnotes:

  1. Numbers 4:6 Possibly the hides of large aquatic mammals; also in verses 8, 10, 11, 12, 14 and 25
New International Version (NIV)

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