Numbers 4:21-49

Duties of the Gershonites

21 Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, 22 “Take [m]a census of the sons of Gershon [n]also, by their fathers’ households, by their families; 23 from thirty years and upward to fifty years old, you shall [o]number them; all who enter to perform the service to do the work in the tent of meeting. 24 This is the service of the families of the Gershonites, in serving and in carrying: 25 they shall carry the curtains of the tabernacle and the tent of meeting with its covering and the covering of porpoise skin that is on top of it, and the screen for the doorway of the tent of meeting,26 and the hangings of the court, and the screen for the doorway of the gate of the court which is around the tabernacle and the altar, and their cords and all the equipment for their service; and all that is to be done, [p]they shall perform. 27 All the service of the sons of the Gershonites, in all their loads and in all their work, shall be performed at the [q]command of Aaron and his sons; and you shall assign to them as a duty all their loads. 28 This is the service of the families of the sons of the Gershonites in the tent of meeting, and their duties shall be [r]under the direction of Ithamar the son of Aaron the priest.

Duties of the Merarites

29 As for the sons of Merari, you shall number them by their families, by their fathers’ households; 30 from thirty years and upward even to fifty years old, you shall number them, everyone who enters the service to do the work of the tent of meeting. 31 Now this is the duty of their loads, for all their service in the tent of meeting: the boards of the tabernacle and its bars and its pillars and its [s]sockets,32 and the pillars around the court and their [t]sockets and their pegs and their cords, with all their equipment and with all their service; and you shall assign each man by name the items [u]he is to carry. 33 This is the service of the families of the sons of Merari, according to all their service in the tent of meeting, [v]under the direction of Ithamar the son of Aaron the priest.”

34 So Moses and Aaron and the leaders of the congregation numbered the sons of the Kohathites by their families and by their fathers’ households, 35 from thirty years and upward even to fifty years old, everyone who entered the service for work in the tent of meeting. 36 Their numbered men by their families were 2,750. 37 These are the numbered men of the Kohathite families, everyone who was serving in the tent of meeting, whom Moses and Aaron numbered according to the [w]commandment of the Lord [x]through Moses.

38 The numbered men of the sons of Gershon by their families and by their fathers’ households, 39 from thirty years and upward even to fifty years old, everyone who entered the service for work in the tent of meeting. 40 Their numbered men by their families, by their fathers’ households, were 2,630. 41 These are the numbered men of the families of the sons of Gershon, everyone who was serving in the tent of meeting, whom Moses and Aaron numbered according to the [y]commandment of the Lord.

42 The numbered men of the families of the sons of Merari by their families, by their fathers’ households, 43 from thirty years and upward even to fifty years old, everyone who entered the service for work in the tent of meeting. 44 Their numbered men by their families were 3,200. 45 These are the numbered men of the families of the sons of Merari, whom Moses and Aaron numbered according to the [z]commandment of the Lord [aa]through Moses.

46 All the numbered men of the Levites, whom Moses and Aaron and the leaders of Israel numbered, by their families and by their fathers’ households, 47 from thirty years and upward even to fifty years old, everyone who could enter to do the work of service and the work of carrying in the tent of meeting. 48 Their numbered men were 8,580. 49 According to the [ab]commandment of the Lord [ac]through Moses, they were numbered, everyone by his serving or carrying; thus these were his numbered men, just as the Lord had commanded Moses.

In all this numbering, one thing stands out to me. Each man was assigned by name what he was to carry or how he was to serve. The Levites, while they were set apart for service to God, were not quite the same as the priests (so far as I know). The priest seem to have been dependent on the sacrifices of the people for their provisions, but the Levites would still own land, still have to work that land to provide, and thus they were more like part-time ministers.

Their main exclusion was that they were not to fight in battle. But each was assigned by name the task he was to do for service in the tabernacle. It is a reminder that God knows each of us by name, and whatever we do in life, he has a task for each of us. There are no exclusions, God wants to use each of us in His Kingdom, and wants to know each of us personally. Never forget how much he knows you, and seek to know Him better.

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