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Bible Commentaries

Smith's Bible Commentary

Numbers 3

Verses 1-51

Chapter 3

Now in chapter three, God had Moses set out the tribe of Levi into three major families: the family of Gershon, the family of Kohath and Merari. And so the Levites were divided into the three major family groupings. Verse ten,

Thou shalt appoint Aaron and his sons, they shall wait in the priest's office: the stranger [shall not] who tries to come near will be put to death ( Numbers 3:10 ).

Verse twelve,

And I have taken the Levites from among the children of Israel instead of the firstborn that opens the matrix even among the children of Israel: therefore the Levites are mine ( Numbers 3:12 ):

Now after God destroyed the first born in Egypt he said "all of the firstborn are mine, they belong to me." Now God has chosen the tribe of Levi instead of the firstborn. And that is instead of every family committing their firstborn unto the priesthood now God has chosen one tribe, the tribe of Levi. It is to be the priestly tribe; and as I say, to be divided into the three basic families.

Verse fifteen:

Number the children of Levi after the house of their fathers, by their families: every male from a month old upward shalt thou number ( Numbers 3:15 )

So instead of the twenty years of age like in the other tribes, they were to count all of the males from a month old, older. And these are the names of the sons of Gershon and then of Kohath and then Merari in eighteen, nineteen and twenty and it names the family heads of these men.

Now of the family of Gershon there were seven thousand five hundred males. They were to encamp next to the tabernacle on the west side. Of the family of Kohath-Well first of all, their job when they-when they would have to move, would be the tent and the covering and the hangings for the door and the hangings of the court and the curtain of the door of the court, which is by the tabernacle, and all the round-about and the cords of it; they were to carry these portions of the tabernacle.

Next the family of Kohath and today we have the Kohan's, which do trace their ancestry, or seek to at least, to the tribe of Kohath. And so you have the rabbi's the Kohan's are of this priestly tribe of Kohath. And of the Kohan's or Kohath's there were eight thousand six hundred. They were to pitch on the south side of the tabernacle, and it was their duty to carry the ark, the table, the candlestick, the altars and the vessels of the sanctuary, the hangings and the services of them.

And of the tribe of Merari ( Numbers 3:33 ),

Verse thirty-three:

there were six thousand two hundred. They were to camp on the north, immediately next to the tent, the tabernacle. And it was their duty to carry the boards, and the bars, and the pillars and the sockets and the vessels and all of that service, and the pillars of the court round about, and their sockets and pins and cords. But those that encamp before the tabernacle toward the east, even before the tabernacle of the congregation, shall be Moses, and Aaron and his sons ( Numbers 3:34-38 ),

So we get now another view of the camp of Israel. For immediately to the west of the tabernacle, camping next to it were the tribe-or were the tribe of Levi, but the family of Gershon. And then immediately to the south was the family of Kohan. To the north was the family of Merari. And then right in front of the entrance to the east side was Moses and Aaron and his sons. And thus, you see now if you were in a helicopter looking down on the camp of Israel, this is the kind of a view that you would get of the camp. As the tabernacle is right in the center, the tribe of Levi encamped immediately about it and then the twelve tribes on out around the camp further out.

Now those that were numbered of the Levites, which Moses and Aaron numbered at the command of the LORD, throughout their families, all the males from a month old and upward, were twenty-two thousand ( Numbers 3:39 ).

Now, because the Lord said the first born are mine and they numbered all of the male Levites; there're twenty-two thousand. God wants to make sure he gets a fair deal.

So he said,

Now number all the firstborn throughout all of Israel ( Numbers 3:40 )

And so they numbered the firstborn throughout all of Israel and there were twenty-two thousand two hundred and seventy-three. God said, "I'm short" because there were only twenty-two thousand. So he's short two hundred and seventy-three. So he said, "you're going to have to buy the two hundred and seventy-three. So charge five shekels of silver for the two hundred and seventy-three and give it to Aaron because I'm short that many. I should have, if he took all the firstborn, twenty-two thousand two hundred and seventy-three. Only twenty-two thousand of the Levites, so you owe me two hundred and seventy-three, so charged at the rate of five shekels of silver. They brought the silver and redeemed those two hundred and seventy-three from the Lord and gave the money to Aaron.

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Copyright © 2014, Calvary Chapel of Costa Mesa, Ca.
Bibliographical Information
Smith, Charles Ward. "Commentary on Numbers 3". "Smith's Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/csc/numbers-3.html. 2014.