We’re now a few chapters into the book of Numbers and we’ve had plenty of numbers. We’ve seen the numbers on the size of the Israeli army and the size of the Levites who are not in the army but in charge of God’s stuff (e.g. tents, tabernacle, etc.). Chapter 4 brings us the Kohathites.
“Take a census of the Kohathite branch of the Levites by their clans and families. Count all the men from thirty to fifty years of age who come to serve in the work at the tent of meeting.” – Numbers 4:2-3
The Kohathites are a group within the Levites.
“This is the work of the Kohathites at the tent of meeting: the care of the most holy things.” – Numbers 4:4
The Kohathites, like all Levites, are in charge of God’s stuff, but have the charge of taking care of the most holy of God’s stuff. The next several verses are specific instructions on how to pack items when the Israelites are on the move.
“After Aaron and his sons have finished covering the holy furnishings and all the holy articles, and when the camp is ready to move, only then are the Kohathites to come and do the carrying. But they must not touch the holy things or they will die. The Kohathites are to carry those things that are in the tent of meeting.” – Numbers 4:15
God has never hid his jealousy, I’ll give Him that. Touch His stuff and you die!!!
“See that the Kohathite tribal clans are not destroyed from among the Levites. So that they may live and not die when they come near the most holy things, do this for them: Aaron and his sons are to go into the sanctuary and assign to each man his work and what he is to carry. But the Kohathites must not go in to look at the holy things, even for a moment, or they will die.” – Numbers 4:18-20
Or, I don’t know, God could not set ridiculous rules and as a result, stop the destruction of the Kohathites! Not only can they not touch God’s stuff, they can’t even look at it! Simply looking at God’s stuff is punishable by death!!! Following this, Numbers 4 briefly discusses the Gershonites, who carry God’s curtains, and the Merarites, who carry the tabernacle’s frames.
“All the men from thirty to fifty years of age who came to serve in the work at the tent of meeting, counted by clans, were 2,750.” – Numbers 4:35-36
This puts in perspective how many people (Kohathites) were in charge of God’s most holy stuff.
“The Gershonites were counted by their clans and families. All the men from thirty to fifty years of age who came to serve in the work at the tent of meeting, counted by their clans and families, were 2,630.” – Numbers 4:38-40
That’s a lot of people carrying curtains!!! Granted, there are a few other items, like ropes and the tent covering they are to carry, but that’s still a lot of people!
“The Merarites were counted by their clans and families. All the men from thirty to fifty years of age who came to serve in the work at the tent of meeting, counted by their clans, were 3,200.” – Numbers 4:42-44
I imagine tent frames are heavier, so it might makes sense that there are more Merarites than Gershonites.
So what did we learn in Numbers 4? We learned about the different groups of Levites who are in charge of different aspects of moving God’s stuff when the Israelites are on the move. We also learned that one must not touch God’s stuff or He will kill you. This is a jealous God after all. We also learned that you can’t even look at God’s stuff. Accidentally look at it, even if you don’t touch it, and you are also dead, according to God. Remember, however, that God loves you. 🙂
Coming Soon: Numbers – Chapter 5: The Purity of the Camp