Numbers 3

1This is the family history of Aaron and Moses at the time the Lord talked to Moses on Mount Sinai. 2Aaron had four sons. Nadab was the firstborn son. Then there were Abihu, Eleazar, and Ithamar. 3These sons were the chosen priests. These sons were given the special work of serving the Lord as priests. 4But Nadab and Abihu died ˻because they sinned˼ while serving the Lord. They used fire that the Lord did not allow when they made an offering to the Lord. So Nadab and Abihu died there, in the Sinai desert. They had no sons, so Eleazar and Ithamar took their place and served the Lord as priests. This happened while their father Aaron was still alive. 5The Lord said to Moses, 6“Bring all the men from Levi’s family group. Bring them to Aaron the priest. Those men will be Aaron’s helpers. 7The Levites will help Aaron when he serves at the Meeting Tent. And the Levites will help all the people ˻of Israel˼ when they come to worship at the Holy Tent. 8The people of Israel should protect all the things in the Meeting Tent; it is their duty. But the Levites will serve the people of Israel by caring for these things. This will be their way of worshiping at the Holy Tent. 9“Give the Levites to Aaron and his sons. The Levites were chosen from all the people of Israel to help Aaron and his sons. 10“Appoint Aaron and his sons to be priests. They must do their duty and serve as priests. Any other person who tries to come near the holy things must be killed.” 11The Lord also said to Moses, 12“˻I told you that every family of Israel must give their firstborn son to me˼—but now I am choosing the Levites to serve me. They will be mine. So all the other people of Israel will not have to give their firstborn sons to me. 13“When you were in Egypt, I killed all the firstborn children of the Egyptians. At that time, I took all of the firstborn children of Israel to be mine. All of the firstborn children and all the firstborn animals are mine. ˻But now I am giving your firstborn children back to you, and I am making the Levites mine.˼ I am the Lord.” 14The Lord again talked to Moses in the Sinai desert. The Lord said, 15“Count all the families and family groups in Levi’s family group. Count every man or boy that is a month old or older.” 16So Moses obeyed the Lord. He counted them all. 17Levi had three sons. Their names were: Gershon, Kohath, and Merari. 18Each son was the leader of several family groups. The Gershon family groups were: Libni and Shimei. 19The Kohath family groups were: Amram, Izhar, Hebron, and Uzziel. 20The Merari family groups were: Mahli and Mushi. Those are the families that belonged to Levi’s family group. 21The families of Libni and Shimei belonged to the family of Gershon. They were the Gershonite family groups. 22There were 7,500 men and boys over one month old in these two family groups. 23The Gershonite family groups were told to camp in the west. They made their camp behind the Holy Tent. 24The leader of the family groups of the Gershonite people was Eliasaph son of Lael. 25In the Meeting Tent, the Gershonite people had the job of taking care of the Holy Tent, the outer tent, and the covering. They also took care of the curtain at the entrance of the Meeting Tent. 26They cared for the curtain in the courtyard. And they cared for the curtain at the entrance of the courtyard. This courtyard was around the Holy Tent and the altar. And they cared for the ropes and for everything that was used with the curtains. 27The families of Amram, Izhar, Hebron, and Uzziel, belonged to the family of Kohath. They were the Kohathite family groups. 28In this family group there were 8,300 men and boys a month old or over. The Kohathite people were given the job of taking care of ˻the things in˼ the holy place. 29The Kohathite family groups were given the area to the south of the Holy Tent. This was the area where they camped. 30The leader of the Kohathite family groups was Elizaphan son of Uzziel. 31Their job was to take care of the Holy Box, the table, the lampstand, the altars, and the dishes of the Holy Place. They also cared for the curtain and all the things that were used with the curtain. 32The leader over the leaders of the Levite people was Eleazar son of Aaron the priest. Eleazar was in charge of all the people that took care of the holy things. 33- 34The family groups of Mahli and Mushi belonged to the Merari family. There were 6,200 men and boys that were one month old or older in the Mahli family group. 35The leader of the Merari family group was Zuriel son of Abihail. This family group was given the area to the north of the Holy Tent. This is the area where they camped. 36The people from the Merari family were given the job of caring for the frames of the Holy Tent. They cared for all the braces, posts, bases, and everything that was used with the frames of the Holy Tent. 37They also cared for all the posts in the courtyard around the Holy Tent. This included all the bases, tent pegs, and ropes. 38Moses, Aaron, and his sons camped east of the Holy Tent, in front of the Meeting Tent. They were given the work of caring for the Holy Place. They did this for all the people of Israel. Any other person who came near the Holy Place was to be killed. 39The Lord commanded Moses and Aaron to count all the men and boys one month old or older in Levi’s family group. The total number was 22,000. 40The Lord said to Moses, “Count all the firstborn men and boys in Israel who are at least one month old. Write their names on a list. 41˻In the past I said that˼ I would take all the firstborn men and boys of Israel. But now I, the Lord, will take the Levites. I will also take the firstborn animals from the Levites instead of taking all the firstborn animals from the other people in Israel.” 42So Moses did what the Lord commanded. Moses counted all the firstborn children of the people of Israel. 43Moses listed all the firstborn men and boys that were one month old or older. There were 22,273 names on that list. 44The Lord also said to Moses, 45“I, the Lord, give this command: 'Take the Levites instead of all the firstborn men from the other families of Israel. And I will take the animals of the Levites instead of the animals of the other people. The Levites are mine. 46There are 22,000 Levites, but there are 22,273 firstborn sons from the other families. This leaves 273 more firstborn sons than Levites. 47Using the official measure, collect five shekels of silver for each of the 273 people. (The shekel by the official measure weighs 20 gerahs.) Collect that silver from the people of Israel. 48Give that silver to Aaron and his sons. It is the payment for the 273 people of Israel.’” 49There were not enough Levites to take the place of 273 men from the other family groups. So Moses gathered the money for those 273 men. 50Moses collected the silver from the firstborn men of the people of Israel. He collected 1,365 shekels of silver, using the official measure. 51Moses obeyed the Lord. Moses gave the silver to Aaron and his sons just like the Lord commanded.

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