New International Reader's Version

Numbers 4

The Families of Kohath

1The Lord said to Moses and Aaron, “Count the Levites who belong to the families of Kohath. Make a list of them family by family. Count all the men 30 to 50 years old. Those are the men who must come and serve at the tent of meeting.

“Here is the work the men of Kohath must do at the tent of meeting. They must take care of the things that are very holy. When the camp is ready to move, Aaron and his sons must go into the tent. They must take down the curtain that hides the ark where the tablets of the covenant law are kept. They must cover the ark with the curtain. Then they must cover that with strong leather. They must spread a solid blue cloth over the leather. And they must put the poles in place.

“They must spread a blue cloth over the table for the holy bread. They must put the plates, dishes and bowls on the cloth. They must also put the jars for drink offerings on it. The bread that is always kept there must remain on it. They must spread a bright red cloth over everything. Then they must cover that with the strong leather. And they must put the poles of the table in place.

“They must get a blue cloth. With it they must cover the lampstand that gives light. They must also cover its lamps, trays and wick cutters. And they must cover all its jars. The jars are for the olive oil used in the lampstand. 10 Then Aaron and his sons must wrap the lampstand and all the things used with it. They must cover it with the strong leather. And they must put it on a frame to carry it.

11 “They must spread a blue cloth over the gold altar for burning incense. They must cover that with the strong leather. And they must put the poles of the altar in place.

12 “They must get all the things used for serving in the sacred tent. They must wrap them in a blue cloth. They must cover that with the strong leather. Then they must put those things on a frame to carry them.

13 “They must remove the ashes from the bronze altar for burnt offerings. They must spread a purple cloth over it. 14 Then they must place all the tools on it. The tools are used for serving at the altar. They include the pans for carrying ashes. They also include the meat forks, shovels and sprinkling bowls. Aaron and his sons must cover the altar with the strong leather. And they must put its poles in place.

15 “Aaron and his sons must cover all the holy things that belong to the holy tent. Only then are the men of Kohath to come and carry everything. They must do so only when the camp is ready to move. But they must not touch the holy things. If they do, they will die. The men of Kohath must carry everything in the tent of meeting.

16 “Eleazar the priest will be in charge of the olive oil for the light. He is the son of Aaron. Eleazar will be in charge of the sweet-smelling incense. He will be in charge of the regular grain offering and the anointing oil. He will be in charge of the entire holy tent. He will also be in charge of everything in it. That includes all the things that belong to the tent.”

17 The Lord spoke to Moses and Aaron. He said, 18 “Make sure that the Kohath families are not destroyed from among the Levites. 19 I want them to live and not die when they come near the very holy things. So here is what you must do for them. Aaron and his sons must go into the sacred tent and tell each man what to do. They must tell each man what to carry. 20 But the men of Kohath must not go in and look at the holy things. They must not look at them even for a moment. If they do, they will die.”

The Families of Gershon

21 The Lord said to Moses, 22 “Count the families of Gershon. Make a list of them family by family. 23 Count all the men 30 to 50 years old. Those are the men who must come and serve at the tent of meeting.

24 “Here is how the families of Gershon must serve. They must carry things. 25 They must carry the curtains of the holy tent of meeting. They must carry its covering and the outside covering of strong leather. They must carry the curtains that cover the entrance to the tent of meeting. 26 They must carry the curtains of the courtyard. The courtyard is all around the holy tent and altar. They must carry the curtain for the entrance. They must carry the ropes. They must also carry all the supplies used for any purpose in the tent. The families of Gershon must do everything that needs to be done with those things. 27 All their work must be done under the direction of Aaron and his sons. That includes carrying and everything else they do. Aaron and his sons must tell them what to carry. And that will be their work. 28 It is what the families of Gershon must do at the tent of meeting. They must work under the direction of Ithamar the priest. He is the son of Aaron.

The Families of Merari

29 “Count the families of Merari. Count them family by family. 30 Count all the men 30 to 50 years old. Those are the men who must come and serve at the tent of meeting. 31 Here is the work they must do at the tent of meeting. They must carry the frames of the holy tent. They must carry its crossbars, posts and bases. 32 They must also carry the posts of the courtyard. The courtyard is all around the holy tent. And they must carry the bases for the posts as well as their tent stakes and ropes. They must also carry all the supplies and everything connected with their use. Tell each man exactly what to carry. 33 That is the work the families of Merari must do at the tent of meeting. They must work under the direction of Ithamar the priest. He is the son of Aaron.”

Counting the Families of the Levites

34 Moses, Aaron and the leaders of the community counted the men of Kohath. They counted them family by family.

35 They counted all the men from 30 to 50 years old. They were the men who came and served at the tent of meeting. 36 There were 2,750 men. They were counted family by family. 37 That was the total of all the men in the families of Kohath who served at the tent of meeting. Moses and Aaron counted them. They did just as the Lord had commanded through Moses.

38 The men of Gershon were counted family by family.

39 All the men from 30 to 50 years old were counted. They were the men who came and served at the tent of meeting. 40 There were 2,630 men. They were counted family by family. 41 That was the total of the men in the families of Gershon who served at the tent of meeting. Moses and Aaron counted them. They did just as the Lord had commanded.

42 The men of Merari were counted family by family.

43 All the men from 30 to 50 years old were counted. They were the men who came and served at the tent of meeting. 44 There were 3,200 men. They were counted family by family. 45 That was the total of the men in the families of Merari. Moses and Aaron counted them. They did just as the Lord had commanded through Moses.

46 So Moses and Aaron counted all the Levites. The leaders of Israel helped them. They counted the Levites family by family. 47 All the men from 30 to 50 years old were counted. They were the men who came and served at the tent of meeting. They were also supposed to carry it. 48 The total number of men was 8,580. 49 Everything was done as the Lord had commanded through Moses. Each man was given his work. And each one was told what to carry.

So they were counted, just as the Lord had commanded Moses.