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Numbers 3 The Voice (VOICE)

At that time (when the Eternal One spoke with Moses on Mount Sinai), the lineage of Aaron and Moses went like this: Aaron’s sons were Nadab (the eldest), Abihu, Eleazar, and Ithamar— actually, they were his sons who were anointed as priests, who were supposed to work as priests. But Nadab and Abihu perished in the presence of the Eternal when they failed to follow God’s instructions and offered profane fire at Sinai. They didn’t have any children. The other two, Eleazar and Ithamar, carried on as priests for Aaron’s lifetime.

Then the Eternal One told Moses,

Eternal One: Summon the Levi tribe, and send them to Aaron, the priest. They are to serve him and all the people in front of the tent of the congregation. They are to do the work for the tent, My sacred dwelling place. They are in charge of the tent’s furnishings. Their work in service to the congregation tent is on behalf of the people of Israel. These Levites are to be given exclusively to Aaron and Aaron’s sons. 10 Aaron and his descendants alone are the priests. If any outsider gets involved, he will be killed.

11 And the Eternal One spoke later to Moses.

Eternal One: 12-13 As you know, all firstborn children of each woman belong to Me. I made that clear when I killed all the Egyptian firstborn but spared Israel and its animals, setting them apart just for Me. But rather than giving all Israel’s firstborn to Me, I accept the Levites as a substitute. They will be Mine. I am the Eternal One.

The Levites as a whole are given into religious service sacrificing the animals and serving in the congregation tent rather than taking all the firstborn males, as was done with the livestock. To have drawn the servants of the Lord from the entire nation would have resulted in great disruption of each of the families and tribes.

14 God formerly gave these instructions to Moses in the wild desert area of Sinai.

Eternal One: 15 Organize the male Levites (including infants, one month old and older) by their clans and extended families.

16 So Moses did just as the Eternal One told him. 17 Levi’s three sons were Gershon, Kohath, and Merari. 18 Gershon’s sons, by their clans, were Libni and Shimei. 19 Kohath’s sons, by their clans, were Amram, Izhar, Hebron, and Uzziel. 20 Merari’s sons, by their clans, were Mahli and Mushi. These, remember, are specifically the Levite clans by their extended families.

21 So within Gershon were the Libnite and Shimeite clans. 22 Counting just the males one month old and older, 7,500 were organized. 23 They camped in the area behind the congregation tent on the west. 24 Eliasaph (Lael’s son) served as head of the Gershonite extended family. 25 Their jobs were to take care of everything related to the congregation tent, both the place of revelation and its covering, the screen for the congregation tent’s entrance, 26 the curtains for the court surrounding the place of revelation and the altar, its entrance screen, the ropes, and anything else for the tent.

27 Within Kohath were the Amramite, Izharite, Hebronite, and Uzzielite clans. 28 Counting just the males one month old and older, there were 8,600[a] who worked for the sacred place. 29 They camped on the south side of the congregation tent. 30 Uzziel’s son, Elizaphan, was their head. 31 These Kohathites were to take care of everything associated with the chest, the table, the lampstand, the altars, and the furnishings of the sanctuary that the priests use, the screen, and anything else inside the sacred place. 32 Priest Aaron’s son, Eleazar, was head of the Levite leaders. He was in charge of overseeing the people who took care of the sacred place.

33 Within Merari were the Mahlite and Mushite clans, 34 of whom 6,200 males one month or older were organized. 35 Abihail’s son, Zuriel, was their leader. They were instructed to camp on the northern side of the tent area, 36 and their work was to maintain the planks of the tent, its bars, posts, and sockets; plus all the furnishings and any other wood items; 37 as well as the posts surrounding the courtyard together with their sockets, pegs, and ropes.

38 Moses, Aaron, and Aaron’s sons camped in front of the congregation tent, on the east facing sunrise, where they worked according to the needs of the sanctuary and on behalf of the Israelites. If an outsider trespassed in this area, he would be killed. 39-45 The total number of Levites whom Moses and Aaron organized, according to the Eternal’s command, were 22,273. These males, one month or older, Moses listed by name.

The Eternal One told Moses,

Eternal One (to Moses): As a substitute for all the Israelite firstborn children and animals (as all of them are Mine), take all the Levites and all the Levites’ animals, which shall belong to Me.[b] 46 But because there are 273 more Israelite firstborn children than there are Levites, you shall pay a substitute price: 47 five shekels for each (calculated by the sanctuary weight, which is 35 pounds to the shekel), 48 and give that money as a substitute price to Aaron and Aaron’s sons.

49-51 So Moses did all that concerning the substitute price, just as the Eternal commanded, and it amounted to 47,775 pounds of metal.

Footnotes:

  1. 3:28 Some Greek manuscripts read “8,300.”
  2. 3:39-45 These verses have been rearranged for clarity because of repetition in the Hebrew.
The Voice (VOICE)

The Voice Bible Copyright © 2012 Thomas Nelson, Inc. The Voice™ translation © 2012 Ecclesia Bible Society All rights reserved.

Numbers 3 New International Version (NIV)

The Levites

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

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

The Lord said to Moses, “Bring the tribe of Levi and present them to Aaron the priest to assist him. They are to perform duties for him and for the whole community at the tent of meeting by doing the work 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; they are the Israelites who are to be given wholly to him.[a] 10 Appoint Aaron and his sons to serve as priests; anyone else who approaches the sanctuary is to be put to death.”

11 The Lord also said to Moses, 12 “I have taken the Levites from among the Israelites in place of the first male offspring of every Israelite woman. The Levites are mine, 13 for all the firstborn are mine. 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.”

14 The Lord said to Moses in the Desert of Sinai, 15 “Count the Levites by their families and clans. Count every male a month old or more.” 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:

Gershon, Kohath and Merari.

18 These were the names of the Gershonite clans:

Libni and Shimei.

19 The Kohathite clans:

Amram, Izhar, Hebron and Uzziel.

20 The Merarite clans:

Mahli and Mushi.

These were the Levite clans, according to their families.

21 To Gershon belonged the clans of the Libnites and Shimeites; 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. 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 and tent, its coverings, the curtain at the entrance to the tent of meeting, 26 the curtains of the courtyard, the curtain at the entrance to the courtyard surrounding the tabernacle and altar, and the ropes—and everything related to their use.

27 To Kohath belonged the clans of the Amramites, Izharites, Hebronites and Uzzielites; these were the Kohathite clans. 28 The number of all the males a month old or more was 8,600.[b] The Kohathites were responsible for the care of the sanctuary. 29 The Kohathite clans were to camp on the south side of the tabernacle. 30 The leader of the families of the Kohathite clans was Elizaphan son of Uzziel. 31 They were responsible for the care of the ark, the table, the lampstand, the altars, the articles of the sanctuary used in ministering, the curtain, and everything related to their use. 32 The chief leader of the Levites was Eleazar son of Aaron, the priest. He was appointed over those who were responsible for the care of the sanctuary.

33 To Merari belonged the clans of the Mahlites and the Mushites; these were the Merarite clans. 34 The number of all the males a month old or more 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. 36 The Merarites were appointed to take care of the frames of the tabernacle, its crossbars, posts, bases, all its equipment, and everything related to their use, 37 as well as the posts of the surrounding courtyard with their bases, tent pegs and ropes.

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

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

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

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, listed by name, was 22,273.

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. I am the Lord. 46 To redeem the 273 firstborn Israelites who exceed the number of the Levites, 47 collect five shekels[c] for each one, according to the sanctuary shekel, which weighs twenty gerahs. 48 Give the money for the redemption of the additional Israelites to Aaron and his sons.”

49 So Moses collected the redemption money from those who exceeded the number redeemed by the Levites. 50 From the firstborn of the Israelites he collected silver weighing 1,365 shekels,[d] 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
New International Version (NIV)

Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

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