These also are the generations of Aaron and Moses in the day that the LORD spake with Moses in mount Sinai.
And these are the names of the sons of Aaron; Nadab the firstborn, and Abihu, Eleazar, and Ithamar.
These are the names of the sons of Aaron, the priests which were anointed, whom he consecrated to minister in the priest's office.
whom he consecrated
Heb. whose hand he filled.
And Nadab and Abihu died before the LORD, when they offered strange fire before the LORD, in the wilderness of Sinai, and they had no children: and Eleazar and Ithamar ministered in the priest's office in the sight of Aaron their father.
Bring the tribe of Levi near, and present them before Aaron the priest, that they may minister unto him.
And they shall keep his charge, and the charge of the whole congregation before the tabernacle of the congregation, to do the service of the tabernacle.
to do the
And they shall keep all the instruments of the tabernacle of the congregation, and the charge of the children of Israel, to do the service of the tabernacle.
And thou shalt give the Levites unto Aaron and to his sons: they are wholly given unto him out of the children of Israel.
And thou shalt appoint Aaron and his sons, and they shall wait on their priest's office: and the stranger that cometh nigh shall be put to death.
and the stranger
And I, behold, I have taken the Levites from among the children of Israel instead of all the firstborn that openeth the matrix among the children of Israel: therefore the Levites shall be mine;
Because all the firstborn are mine; for on the day that I smote all the firstborn in the land of Egypt I hallowed unto me all the firstborn in Israel, both man and beast: mine shall they be: I am the LORD.
on the day
Number the children of Levi after the house of their fathers, by their families: every male from a month old and upward shalt thou number them.
And Moses numbered them according to the word of the LORD, as he was commanded.
And these were the sons of Levi by their names; Gershon, and Kohath, and Merari.
And these are the names of the sons of Gershon by their families; Libni, and Shimei.
And the sons of Kohath by their families; Amram, and Izehar, Hebron, and Uzziel.
And the sons of Merari by their families; Mahli, and Mushi. These are the families of the Levites according to the house of their fathers.
Those that were numbered of them, according to the number of all the males, from a month old and upward, even those that were numbered of them were seven thousand and five hundred.
from a month old
The males of all the other tribes were numbered from twenty years old and upwards; but, had the Levites been numbered in this way, they would not have been nearly equal in number to the first-born of the twelve tribes. Add to this, that as there must have been first-born of all ages in the other tribes, it was necessary that the Levites, who were to be their substitutes, should also be of all ages; and it appears to have been partly on this ground, that the Levites were numbered from a month old and upwards.
The families of the Gershonites shall pitch behind the tabernacle westward.
And the charge of the sons of Gershon in the tabernacle of the congregation shall be the tabernacle, and the tent, the covering thereof, and the hanging for the door of the tabernacle of the congregation,
From this and the next chapter, we see the very severe labour which the Levites were to perform, while the journeyings of the Israelites lasted. When we consider, that there was not less than 14 tons 266 lbs. of metal employed in the tabernacle, (see note on Ex 38:24,) besides the immense weight of the skins, hangings, cords, boards, and posts, we shall find it was no easy matter to transport this moveable temple from place to place. The Gershonites, who were 7,500 in number had to carry the tent, coverings, vail, hangings of the court, cords, etc. (ver. 25, 26); the Kohathites, who were 8,600, the ark, table, candlestick, altars, and instruments of the sanctuary (ver. 31); and the Merarites, who were 6,200, the boards, bars, sockets, and all matters connected with these belonging to the tabernacle, with the pillars of the court, their sockets, pins, and cords (ver. 36, 37).
the tabernacle and
and the hanging
And the hangings of the court, and the curtain for the door of the court, which is by the tabernacle, and by the altar round about, and the cords of it for all the service thereof.
And of Kohath was the family of the Amramites, and the family of the Izeharites, and the family of the Hebronites, and the family of the Uzzielites: these are the families of the Kohathites.
In the number of all the males, from a month old and upward, were eight thousand and six hundred, keeping the charge of the sanctuary.
The families of the sons of Kohath shall pitch on the side of the tabernacle southward.
And their charge shall be the ark, and the table, and the candlestick, and the altars, and the vessels of the sanctuary wherewith they minister, and the hanging, and all the service thereof.
and the hanging
And Eleazar the son of Aaron the priest shall be chief over the chief of the Levites, and have the oversight of them that keep the charge of the sanctuary.
Of Merari was the family of the Mahlites, and the family of the Mushites: these are the families of Merari.
And those that were numbered of them, according to the number of all the males, from a month old and upward, were six thousand and two hundred.
And the chief of the house of the father of the families of Merari was Zuriel the son of Abihail: these shall pitch on the side of the tabernacle northward.
And under the custody and charge of the sons of Merari shall be the boards of the tabernacle, and the bars thereof, and the pillars thereof, and the sockets thereof, and all the vessels thereof, and all that serveth thereto,
under the custody and charge
Heb. the office of the charge. the boards.
But those that encamp before the tabernacle toward the east, even before the tabernacle of the congregation eastward, shall be Moses, and Aaron and his sons, keeping the charge of the sanctuary for the charge of the children of Israel; and the stranger that cometh nigh shall be put to death.
for the charge
All that were numbered of the Levites, which Moses and Aaron numbered at the commandment of the LORD, throughout their families, all the males from a month old and upward, were twenty and two thousand.
The word [w'hrn] we‰haron, and "Aaron," has a point over each of its letters, probably designed as a mark of spuriousness. The word is wanting in the Samaritan, Syriac, and Coptic, and also in eight of Dr. Kennicott's and in four of De Rossi's MSS. Moses alone, as Houbigant observes, was commanded to number the Levites, (ver. 5, 11, 40, 44, 51:) for as the money with which the first-born were redeemed was to be paid to Aaron and his sons, (ver. 48,) it was decent that he, whose advantage it was that the number of the first-born should exceed, should not be authorized to take that number himself. twenty and two thousand. This total does not agree with the particulars; for the Gershonites were 7,500, the Kohathites 8,600, and the Merarites 6,200, which make a total of 22,300. Several methods of solving this difficulty have been proposed by learned men. Houbigant supposes there is an error in the enumeration of the Kohathites in ver. 28; the numeral shesh, "six," being written instead of shalosh, "three," before "hundred." Dr. Kennicott's mode of reconciling the discrepancy, however, is the most simple. He supposes that an error has crept into the number of the Gershonites in ver. 22, where instead of 7,500 we should read 7,200, as [k] caph final, which stands for 500, might have been easily mistaken for [r] resh, 200. (Dr. Kennicott on the Hebrew Text, vol. II. p. 212.) Either of these modes will equally reconcile the difference.
And the LORD said unto Moses, Number all the firstborn of the males of the children of Israel from a month old and upward, and take the number of their names.
And thou shalt take the Levites for me (I am the LORD) instead of all the firstborn among the children of Israel; and the cattle of the Levites instead of all the firstlings among the cattle of the children of Israel.
Take the Levites instead of all the firstborn among the children of Israel, and the cattle of the Levites instead of their cattle; and the Levites shall be mine: I am the LORD.
And for those that are to be redeemed of the two hundred and threescore and thirteen of the firstborn of the children of Israel, which are more than the Levites;
the two hundred
As the number of the Levites was 22,000, and the first-born males of the Israelites were 22,273, there were therefore 372 more of the latter than of the former, which are here ordered to be redeemed. The price of redemption is fixed at five shekels, or about 15s. each, in ver 47. This money, amounting to 1,365 shekels, equal to £204. 15s. English, was taken of the first-born. There is some difficulty, however, in determining which of the first-born should be redeemed by paying this sum, and which should be exchanged for the Levites; for every Israelite, no doubt, would rather have his first-born redeemed by a Levite, than pay five shekels; and yet some of them must have incurred this expense. Rabbi Solomon Jarchi says, to prevent contention, Moses took 22,000 slips of parchment, and wrote on each a son of Levi, and 273 more, on which he wrote five shekels; then putting them in an urn, and shaking them together, he ordered every one of the first-born to draw out a slip. If he drew out one with the first inscription, he said to him, a Levite hath redeemed thee: but if he drew out one of the latter, he said, pay the price. This is pronounced by Dr. A. Clarke to be a stupid, silly tale; but when we know that the determination by lot was used among the Israelites, it does not seem improbable that it was now resorted to, though we cannot vouch for the accuracy of the detail. This species of redeeming men is referred to by St. Peter in his 1st Epistle, ch. 1:18, 19.
Thou shalt even take five shekels apiece by the poll, after the shekel of the sanctuary shalt thou take them: (the shekel is twenty gerahs:)
Of the firstborn of the children of Israel took he the money; a thousand three hundred and threescore and five shekels, after the shekel of the sanctuary:
And Moses gave the money of them that were redeemed unto Aaron and to his sons, according to the word of the LORD, as the LORD commanded Moses.