The Duties of the Kohathite Clans
Whenever the Tabernacle was moved, the Kohathites carried the most holy things–the ark of the covenant, the lampstands, and the tables.
1The LORD told Moses and Aaron:
2-3Find out how many men between the ages of thirty and fifty are in the four Levite clans of Kohath. Count only those who are able to work at the sacred tent.
4The Kohathites will be responsible for carrying the sacred objects used in worship at the sacred tent. 5When the Israelites are ready to move their camp, Aaron and his sons will enter the tent and take down the curtain that separates the sacred chest from the rest of the tent. They will cover the chest with this curtain, 6and then with a piece of fine leather, and cover it all with a solid blue cloth. After this they will put the carrying poles in place.
7Next, Aaron and his sons will use another blue cloth to cover the table for the sacred bread. On the cloth they will place the dishes, the bowls for incense, the cups, the jugs for wine, as well as the bread itself. 8They are to cover all of this with a bright red cloth, and then with a piece of fine leather, before putting the carrying poles in place. 9With another blue cloth they will cover the lampstand, along with the lamps, the lamp snuffers, the fire pans, and the jars of oil for the lamps. 10All of this will then be covered with a piece of fine leather and placed on a carrying frame.
11The gold incense altar is to be covered with a blue cloth, and then with a piece of fine leather, before its carrying poles are put in place. 12Next, Aaron and his sons will take blue cloth and wrap all the objects used in worship at the sacred tent. These will need to be covered with a piece of fine leather, then placed on a carrying frame.
13They are to remove the ashes from the bronze altar and cover it with a purple cloth. 14On that cloth will be placed the utensils used at the altar, including the fire pans, the meat forks, the shovels, and the sprinkling bowls. All of this will then be covered with a piece of fine leather, before the carrying poles are put in place.
15When the camp is ready to be moved, the Kohathites will be responsible for carrying the sacred objects and the furnishings of the sacred tent. But Aaron and his sons must have already covered those things so the Kohathites won’t touch them and die.
2 Samuel 6:1-7 (NIV)
The Ark Brought to Jerusalem
David again brought together out of Israel chosen men, thirty thousand in all. He and all his men set out from Baalah of Judah to bring up from there the ark of God, which is called by the Name, the name of the LORD Almighty, who is enthroned between the cherubim that are on the ark. They set the ark of God on a new cart and brought it from the house of Abinadab, which was on the hill. Uzzah and Ahio, sons of Abinadab, were guiding the new cart with the ark of God on it, and Ahio was walking in front of it. David and the whole house of Israel were celebrating with all their might before the LORD, with songs and with harps, lyres, tambourines, sistrums and cymbals.
When they came to the threshing floor of Nacon, Uzzah reached out and took hold of the ark of God, because the oxen stumbled. The LORD’s anger burned against Uzzah because of his irreverent act; therefore God struck him down and he died there beside the ark of God.
16Eleazar son of Aaron the priest will be in charge of the oil for the lamps, the sweet-smelling incense, the grain for the sacrifices, and the olive oil used for dedications and ordinations. Eleazar is responsible for seeing that the sacred tent, its furnishings, and the sacred objects are taken care of.
from Whispers of His Power,
by Amy Carmichael
Numbers 4:16 — And to the office of Eleazar the son of Aaron the priest pertaineth . . . the oversight of all the tabernacle, and of all that therein is, in the sanctuary, and in the vessels thereof.
Psalm 138:3 — In the day when I cried Thou answeredst me, and strengthenedst me with strength in my soul.
Numbers 4 is one of the many chapters in the Bible which hallows detail. “The oversight of the tabernacle and of all that therein is” included such detail as the naming of the separate instruments used. There is something very loving in the way burden-bearing is recognized as part of service–Aaron and his sons were to appoint them every one to his service and to his burden (Numbers 4:19). The God with whom we have to do is a God who understands.
Are you burdened in your service today because of the continual necessity of looking after details? In work of every sort there are a thousand tiny things which do not seem to matter, and yet matter very much. Indeed there is nothing, except things concerning our own comfort or desires, about which we can say, “It doesn’t matter.”
How can our spirit be kept fresh and sweet and buoyant and tireless? A quick look up, “O Lord, Thou knowest,” will restore us. In the day–in the moment–when I cried Thou answeredst me, and strengthenedst me with strength in my soul.
17-20The Kohathites must not go near or even look at the sacred objects until Aaron and his sons have covered those objects. If they do, their entire clan will be wiped out. So make sure that Aaron and his sons go into the tent with them and tell them what to carry.
The Duties of the Gershonite Clans
Every time the Tabernacle was moved, the Gershonites took the curtains down, and then put them back up.
21The LORD said to Moses:
22-23Find out how many men between the ages of thirty and fifty are in the two Levite clans of Gershon. Count only those who are able to work at the sacred tent.
24The Gershonites will be responsible 25for carrying the curtains of the sacred tent, its two outer coverings, the curtain for the entrance to the tent, 26the curtains hanging around the courtyard of the tent, and the curtain and ropes for the entrance to the courtyard. The Gershonites are to do whatever needs to be done to take care of these things, 27and they will carry them wherever Aaron and his sons tell them to. 28These are the duties of the Gershonites at the sacred tent, and Ithamar son of Aaron will make sure they do their work.
The Duties of the Merarite Clans
The Merarites moved the poles, pegs, ropes, and so on, of the Tent of Meeting.
29-30The LORD said:
Moses, find out how many men between thirty and fifty are in the two Levite clans of Merari, but count only those who are able to work at the sacred tent.
31The Merarites will be responsible for carrying the frames of the tent and its other pieces, including the bars, the posts, the stands, 32as well as the posts that support the courtyard, together with their stands, tent pegs, and ropes. The Merarites are to be told exactly what objects they are to carry, 33and Ithamar son of Aaron will make sure they do their work.
The Levites Are Counted Again
34-49Moses, Aaron, and the other Israelite leaders obeyed the LORD and counted the Levi tribe by families and clans, to find out how many men there were between the ages of thirty and fifty who could work at the sacred tent. There were two thousand seven hundred fifty Kohathites, two thousand six hundred thirty Gershonites, and three thousand two hundred Merarites, making a total of eight thousand five hundred eighty. Then they were all assigned their duties.
Each of these had a role to play in doing the work of tabernacle, and God made them all dependent on each other to do that work.
Charles Haddon Spurgeon wrote, “It is worthy of note that these Levites, although they were all equally consecrated to God, had not all exactly the same work to perform. God is not the God of all uniformity. There is a wondrous unity of plan and design in all that he does, but there is also an equally marvelous variety.”
Paul says the church is to work like a body — many parts, looking different, doing different jobs, meeting different needs, some more visible, some less, but all essential — and all with the same DNA code.
Much trouble is caused in the service of the Lord by those who desire a different calling than they have, or who are jealous of those who have a different calling, or by those who exalt one calling and abase another. Everyone has a place and a job, and all can set themselves to do it.
HERE is a song about fulfilling our calling and desiring to do God’s will — nothing more, nothing less, nothing else. “Audience of One” by Big Daddy Weave.
Contemporary English Version (CEV) Copyright © 1995 by American Bible Society
Images courtesy of: