The Sons of Aaron. 1These are the offspring of Aaron and Moses at the time the LORD spoke to Moses on Mount Sinai. 2These are the names of Aaron’s sons: Nadab, the firstborn, Abihu, Eleazar, and Ithamar.a 3These are the names of Aaron’s sons, the anointed priests whom he ordained to serve as priests. 4But Nadab and Abihu diedb in the presence of the LORD when they offered unauthorized fire before the LORD in the wilderness of Sinai; and they left no sons. So only Eleazar and Ithamar served as priests during the lifetime of their father Aaron.
Levites in Place of the Firstborn. 5Now the LORD said to Moses: 6Summon the tribe of Levi and station them before Aaron the priest to serve him.c 7They shall discharge his obligations and those of the whole community before the tent of meetingd by maintaining the tabernacle. 8They shall have responsibility for all the furnishings of the tent of meeting and discharge the obligations of the Israelites by maintaining the tabernacle. 9You shall assign the Levites to Aaron and his sons;e they have been assigned unconditionally to him from among the Israelites. 10But you will appoint only Aaron and his descendants to exercise the priesthood.f Any unauthorized person who comes near shall be put to death.
11The LORD said to Moses: 12I hereby take the Levites from the Israelites in place of every firstborn that opens the womb among the Israelites.g The Levites, therefore, are mine, 13because every firstborn is mine. When I struck down all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, I consecrated to me every firstborn in Israel, human being and beast alike. They belong to me; I am the LORD.
Census of the Levites. 14The LORD said to Moses in the wilderness of Sinai: 15Enroll the Levites by their ancestral houses and clans, enrolling every male of a month or more.h 16Moses, therefore, enrolled them at the direction of the LORD, just as the LORD had charged.
17i These were the sons of Levi by name: Gershon, Kohath and Merari. 18These were the names of the sons of Gershon, by their clans: Libni and Shimei. 19The sons of Kohath, by their clans, were Amram, Izhar, Hebron and Uzziel. 20The sons of Merari, by their clans, were Mahli and Mushi. These were the clans of the Levites by their ancestral houses.
Duties of the Levitical Clans. 21To Gershon belonged the clan of the Libnites and the clan of the Shimeites; these were the clans of the Gershonites. 22Their enrollment, registering every male of a month or more, was seven thousand five hundred. 23The clans of the Gershonites camped behind the tabernacle, to the west. 24The leader of the ancestral house of the Gershonites was Eliasaph, son of Lael. 25j At the tent of meeting their responsibility was the tabernacle:* the tent and its covering, the curtain at the entrance of the tent of meeting, 26the hangings of the court, the curtain at the entrance of the court enclosing both the tabernacle and the altar, and the ropes—whatever pertained to their maintenance.
27To Kohath belonged the clans of the Amramites, the Izharites, the Hebronites, and the Uzzielites; these were the clans of the Kohathites. 28Their enrollment, registering every male of a month or more, was eight thousand three hundred. They were the ones who performed the duties of the sanctuary. 29The clans of the Kohathites camped on the south side of the tabernacle. 30And the leader of their ancestral house of the clan of the Kohathites was Elizaphan, son of Uzziel. 31Their responsibility was the ark, the table, the menorah, the altars, the utensils of the sanctuary with which the priests minister, the veil, and everything pertaining to their maintenance.* 32The chief of the leaders of the Levites, however, was Eleazar, son of Aaron the priest; he was in charge of those who performed the duties of the sanctuary.
33To Merari belonged the clans of the Mahlites and the Mushites; these were the clans of Merari. 34Their enrollment, registering every male of a month or more, was six thousand two hundred. 35The leader of the ancestral house of the clans of Merari was Zuriel, son of Abihail. They camped at the north side of the tabernacle. 36* The Merarites were assigned responsibility for the boards of the tabernacle, its bars, columns, pedestals, and all its fittings—and everything pertaining to their maintenance, 37as well as the columns of the surrounding court with their pedestals, pegs and ropes.
38East of the tabernacle, that is, in front of the tent of meeting, toward the sunrise, were camped Moses and Aaron and the latter’s sons, performing the duties of the sanctuary incumbent upon the Israelites. Any unauthorized person who came near was to be put to death.
39The total enrollment of the Levites whom Moses and Aaron enrolled at the direction of the LORD, by clans, every male a month old or more, was twenty-two thousand.
Census and Ransom of Firstborn. 40The LORD then said to Moses: Enroll every firstborn male of the Israelites a month old or more, and count the number of their names. 41Then take the Levites for me—I am the LORD—in place of all the firstborn of the Israelites, as well as the Levites’ cattle, in place of all the firstborn among the cattle of the Israelites. 42So Moses enrolled all the firstborn of the Israelites, as the LORD had commanded him. 43All the firstborn males, registered by name, of a month or more, numbered twenty-two thousand two hundred and seventy-three.
44The LORD said to Moses: 45Take the Levites in place of all the firstborn of the Israelites, and the Levites’ cattle in place of their cattle, that the Levites may belong to me. I am the LORD. 46As a redemption-price for the two hundred and seventy-three firstborn of the Israelites over and above the number of the Levites, 47you shall take five shekels for each individual, according to the sanctuary shekel, twenty gerahs to the shekel.k 48Give this money to Aaron and his sons as a redemption-price for the extra number. 49So Moses took the redemption money for those over and above the ones redeemed by the Levites. 50From the firstborn of the Israelites he took the money, one thousand three hundred and sixty-five shekels according to the sanctuary shekel. 51He then gave this redemption money to Aaron and his sons, at the direction of the LORD, just as the LORD had commanded Moses.
* [3:25–26] The Gershonites had two wagons for transporting these things; cf. 7:7. For a description of the tabernacle, see Ex 26:1–6; the tent, Ex 26:7–13; its covering, Ex 26:14; the curtain at the entrance, Ex 26:36; the hangings of the court, Ex 27:9–15; the curtain at the entrance of the court, Ex 27:16; the ropes of the tabernacle, Ex 35:18.
* [3:31] The Kohathites had to carry these sacred objects on their shoulders; cf. 7:9. For a description of the ark, see Ex 25:10–22; the table, Ex 25:23–30; the menorah, Ex 25:31–40; the altars, Ex 27:1–8; 30:1–10.
* [3:36–37] The Merarites had four wagons for transporting this heavy material; cf. 7:8. For a description of the boards, bars, etc., of the tabernacle, see Ex 26:15–30; the columns, pedestals, etc., of the court, Ex 27:9–19.
a. [3:2] Ex 6:23; 1 Chr 24:1.
b. [3:4] Nm 26:61; Lv 10:1–2; 1 Chr 24:2.
g. [3:12–13] Nm 3:41; 8:16–18; Ex 13:2, 12, 15.
i. [3:17–20] Nm 26:57; Gn 46:11; Ex 6:16–19; 1 Chr 6:1–2, 16–19.
j. [3:25–26] Ex 26:7, 14, 36; 36:14.