Thursday, April 18, 2013

Numbers 3:1-4:49


Exempted from military service, the Levites, divided into 3 branches consisting of 8 clans, are counted in a census for their service to the Tabernacle. Each branch of Levites is assigned a set of duties and a campsite on an inner ring surrounding the Tabernacle. (See the illustration accompany my last post).

In Numbers 3:40 ff. Moses, at the Lord's command, conducts a census of the Levites aged 1 month and up and the Israelite firstborn males, aged 1 month and up. YHWH had claimed all the firstborn Israelites as his personal possession after the Passover. Now God exchanges the Levites for the firstborns. The accounting shows that there are 273 more firstborns than there are Levites. These must be redeemed at the rate of 5 silver shekels per firstborn. 273 x 5 silver shekels = beau coup dinero.*

Okay, it actually equals 1365 shekels of silver (Verse 50).

In chapter 4 the duties of the various Levite clans are spelled out in greater detail. The Kohathite clans are responsible to transport the most holy furnishings. It is interesting to note the precautions taken to keep them from actually seeing the ark of the covenant. Levite men aged 30-50 years are counted, presumably because these were the years of their service.

*First person to identify this (admittedly obscure) reference wins the whole intertubes and my undying respect. 

Next: Numbers 5-6

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