Bible Study Feb. 25

Numbers 3 may contain the most important item in the Israel camp that is the tent of meeting.  – the tabernacle that housed the holy presence of the Lord.

Chapter 3 –

So it follows that the most important assignments any Israelite could have were those that pertained to the worship in the care of the structure. Before the nation departed Moses assigned duties of the tabernacle to the Levites.

The first of the Israelites to be listed were Aaron and his four sons, the anointed priests, who were ordained to serve. Two of his sons had died when they offered unauthorized fire before the Lord in the Wilderness of Sinai.

God directed Moses to bring the tribe of Levi near and present them to the high priest Aaron to assist him.

When it came time to count the Levites and assign their duties and positions they were divided according to Levi’s sons by name: Gershon, Kohath, and Merari who were also heads of the clans (3:19-20). They were responsible for the tabernacle, the tent, the covering, the screen for the entrance to the tent of meeting.

Next came the Kohathites who camped on the south side their duties involved the furnishings of the tabernacle, including the ark, the table, the lampstand, the altars, the sanctuary utensils…and the screen.

The third group of Levites consisted of the Merarite camp who camped on the north side of the tabernacle. Their responsibilities were to dismantle, carry, and set up the tabernacles’ wooden framework all other wood and metal items to connect it.

The east side of the tabernacle occupied by Moses, Aaron, and his sons the priests who had overall responsibility for ministry of the tabernacle.

The next thing the Lord commanded of Moses was to number every firstborn male of the sons of Israel from a month old and upward and make a list of their names.  The reason for this was that the LORD told Moses to take the Levites for Me, I am the Lord. Taking the Levites for the LORD meant that they belonged to Him and were dedicated to lifetime service to Him.

The number “22,273” referred to those firstborn males born after the tribe of Levi was designated as set apart to the LORD, or perhaps after the redemption requirement was given after the first Passover in Egypt.

The LORD then instructed Moses concerning the ransom of the 273 of the firstborn of the sons of Israel who are in excess beyond the Levites. The Levites numbered 22,000 (v. 39), leaving an excess of 273. The 22,000 were to be redeemed man for man with 22,000 male Levites. That left 273 firstborn unredeemed. God will now make provision for them in order to redeem these men from service in the sanctuary. This provision would maintain family unity while fully satisfying the legal requirement for the firstborn to be sanctified unto the LORD.

In order to sanctify the 273 firstborn who did not have a Levite male to substitute for them, the LORD required a ransom. The assigned ransom was for the people to pay five shekels apiece, per head.

Now that the ransom had been collected, Moses gave the ransom money to Aaron and to his sons, and he did this at the command of the Lord, just as the Lord had commanded Moses. Moses once again obeyed the word of the LORD explicitly. In this instance the people also obeyed the LORD’s command.

Chapter 4 –

Those performing the service were men between the ages of 30 and 50. In order to determine who they were a census was taken. The Kohathites were responsible for transporting the most holy objects.

The Gershonites were in charge of the cloth and leather parts of the tabernacle including the curtains, , the screen, the hangings of the courtyard along with all the equipment for service.

The Merarites were heavy haulers transporting the wooden and metal parts for the tabernacle over which the cloth and leather hangings were hung. This group was led by Ithamar.

 When the census was taken there was more than enough Levites to share the work.  

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