Census of the Levites (Num 3:14-3:39)

“Then Yahweh spoke to Moses in the wilderness of Sinai.  ‘Enroll the Levites by ancestral houses and by clams.  You shall enroll every male from a month old and upward.’   So Moses enrolled them according to the word of Yahweh as he was commanded.  The following were the sons of Levi, by their names: Gershon, Kohath and Merari.   These are the names of the sons of Gershon by their clans: Libni and Shimei.  The sons of Kohath by their clans: Amram, Izhar, Hebron, and Uzziel.   The sons of Merari by their clans: Mahli and Mushi.  These are the clans of the Levites, by their ancestral houses.

Now Yahweh asks Moses to take a special census of the Levites.  The three sons of Levi with their sons were already listed in Exodus, chapter 6:

1) Gershon – Libni and Shimei;

2) Kohath – Amram, Izhar, Hebron, and Uzziel;

3) Merari – Mali and Mushi.

“To Gershon belonged the clan of the Libnites and the clan of the Shimeites.  These were the clans of the Gershonites.  Their enrollment, counting all the males from a month old and upward was seven thousand five hundred.  The clans of the Gershonites were to camp behind the tabernacle on the west, with Eliasaph son of Lael as head of the ancestral house of the Gershonites.  The responsibility of the sons of Gershon in the tent of meeting was to be the tabernacle, the tent with its covering, the screen for the entrance of the tent of meeting, the hangings of the court, the screen for the entrance of the court that is around the tabernacle and the altar, and its cords.  This includes all the service pertaining to these.”

There were two clans of Gershon: the Libnites and the Shimeites.  This census counted any male above the age of one month old so that there were 7,500 in this group. The Gershonites camped behind the tabernacle on the west side.  Eliasaph son of Lael was head of the ancestral house of the Gershonites. They were in charge of:

1)      The tabernacle;

2)      The tent and its covering;

3)      The screen for the entrance of the tent of meeting;

4)      The hangings of the court;

5)      The screen for entrance of the court;

6)      The cords;

7)      All the service pertaining to these items.

“To Kohath belonged the clan of the Amramites, the clan of the Izharites, the clan of the Hebronites, and the clan of the Uzzielites.  These are the clans of the Kohathites.   Counting all the males from a month old and upward, there were eight thousand six hundred, attending to the duties of the sanctuary.  The clans of the Kohathites were to camp on the south side of the tabernacle, with Elizaphan son of Uzziel as head of the ancestral house of the Kohathites.  Their responsibility was to be the ark, the table, the lamp stand, the altars, the vessels of the sanctuary with which the priests minister, and the screen.  This includes all the service pertaining to these.  Eleazar son of Aaron the priest was to be chief over the leaders of the Levites, and to have oversight of those who had charge of the sanctuary.”

There were four clans of Kohath: the Amramites, the Izharites, the Hebronites, and the Uzzielites that totaled 8,600 men over one month old. The Kohathites camped on the south side of the tabernacle.  Elizaphan, son of Uzziel was the head of the ancestral house of the Kohathites.  However, Eleazar, son of Aaron, was the chief of the leaders of the Levites and in charge of the sanctuary, over his cousin Elizaphan. According to Exodus, chapter 6, Aaron and Moses were the sons of Amram, so that the other sons of Kohath would have been their uncles.  This group was in charge of:

1)      The ark;

2)      The table;

3)      The lamp stand;

4)      The altars;

5)      The vessels of the sanctuary;

6)      And the screen;

7)      All the service pertaining to these items.

To Merari belonged the clan of the Mahlites and the clan of the Mushites.  These are the families of Merari.   Their enrollment, counting all the males from a month old and upward was six thousand two hundred.  The head of the ancestral house of the clans of Merari was Zuriel son of Abihail.  They were to camp on the north side of the tabernacle.  The responsibility assigned to the sons of Merari was to be about the frames of the tabernacle, the bars, the pillars, the bases, and all their accessories.  This includes all the service pertaining to these.  They were also responsible for the pillars of the court all around, with their bases, pegs, and cords.”

There were two clans of Merari: the Mahlites and the Mushites.  This census counted any male above the age of one month old.  There were 6,200 in this group.  The Merarites camped on the north side of the tabernacle.  Zuriel son of Abihail was in charge of the Merarites who were in charge of:

1)      The frames of the tabernacle;

2)      The bars;

3)      The pillars;

4)      The bases;

5)      All the accessories;

6)      The pillars of the court;

7)      Bases, pegs, and cords;

8)      All the service pertaining to these items.

“Those who were to camp in front of the tabernacle on the east, that is in front of the tent of meeting toward the east,  were Moses and Aaron and Aaron’s sons.  They were in charge of the rites within the sanctuary, whatever had to be done for the Israelites.  Any outsider who came near was to be put to death.  The total enrollment of the Levites, whom Moses and Aaron enrolled at the commandment of Yahweh by their clans, all the males from a month old and upward, was twenty-two thousand.”

On the east side, or the front of the tabernacle, Moses, Aaron, and his sons camped since they were in charge of the rites within the sanctuary.  In total, there were 22,000 Levites right around the meeting tent.