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Numbers Chapter 4
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Deuteronomy

Duties for Kehoth
4:1 God spoke to Moses and Aaron, saying:
4:2 Take a [special] census of the descendants of Kehoth among the Levites. [Take it] by families, following the paternal line.
4:3 [It shall include] those from 30 to 50 years old, all who enter service to work in the Communion Tent.
4:4 The following is the service of Kehoth's descendants in the Communion Tent. It is the holy of holies.
4:5 When the camp is about to travel, Aaron and his sons shall come and take down the partition drape, using it to cover the Ark of Testimony.
4:6 They shall then place a cover of blue-processed skins over it, and on top of that, a cloth of pure sky blue wool. They shall then put its carrying poles in place.
4:7 They shall spread a sky blue cloth over the inner table. Then they shall set in place on it the bread forms, incense bowls, half tubes, and covering side frames, so that the bread can remain [on the table] constantly.
4:8 Over it all, they shall place a crimson wool cloth, and cover it with a case of blue-processed skins. They shall then put its carrying poles in place.
4:9 They shall take a cloth of sky blue wool, and cover the menorah lamp along with its oil cups, wick tongs, ash scoops and the oil containers used for it.
4:10 [The menorah] and all its utensils shall be placed in a case of blue-processed skins, and placed on a carrying frame.
4:11 They shall spread a sky blue wool cloth on the golden altar, and then cover it with a case of blue-processed skins. They shall then set its carrying poles in place.
4:12 They shall take all the sanctuary's service utensils, and place them on a sky blue wool cloth. They shall then be covered with a case of blue-processed skins, and placed on a carrying frame.
4:13 They shall remove all the ashes from the [sacrificial] altar, and place a dark red cloth over it.
4:14 They shall place on it all the utensils that are used for its service, such as the fire pans, flesh pokers, scoops, and sacrificial basins- all the altar's utensils. They shall then cover it [all] with a case of blue-processed skins, and set its carrying poles in place.
4:15 Aaron and his sons shall thus finish covering the sacred [furniture] and all the sanctuary utensils, so that the camp can begin its journey. [Only after the priests are finished] shall the Kehothites come to carry [these items], so that they not die when they touch the sacred objects.

The above is what the Kehothites must carry for the Communion Tent.

4:16 [This shall be] under the direction of Eleazar, son of Aaron the priest, [along with] the illuminating oil, the perfume incense, the meal offerings for the daily sacrifice, and the anointing oil. [He shall also be in] charge of the entire Tabernacle, and all its sacred furniture and utensils.

Precautions for the Kehothites
4:17 God spoke to Moses and Aaron, saying:
4:18 Do not cause the Kehothites to become extinct among the Levites.
4:19 This is what you must do so that they survive, and not die when they come into the Holy of Holies. Aaron and his sons shall first come and arrange each thing so that every [Kehothite] can perform his service, carrying his load.
4:20 [The Kehothites] will then not come and see the sacred [furniture] being packed, and they will not die.

Duties of Gershon
4:21 God spoke to Moses, saying:
4:22 Also take a census of Gershon's descendants by families, following the paternal line.
4:23 Take a tally of those from 30 to 50 years old, all who are fit for duty in the Communion Tent's service.
4:24 The Gershonite family shall serve by maintaining and carrying as follows:
4:25 They shall carry the Tabernacle's tapestries, the Communion Tent, the roof, the over-roof of blue processed skins that is above it, the drape at the Communion Tent entrance,
4:26 the enclosure's hangings, the drape at the entrance to the enclosure around the Tabernacle and altar, the guy-ropes, all their appropriate tools, and everything necessary for their maintenance.
4:27 All the carrying and maintenance service of the Gershonites shall be under the supervision of Aaron and his sons. [The Gershonites] shall have fixed appointments for everything they carry.
4:28 The above is the Gershonite family's service for the Communion Tent. Their duties shall be under the supervision of Ithamar, son of Aaron the priest.

Duties of Merari; Tally of Kehoth
4:29 Take a tally of Merari's descendants by family, following the paternal line.
4:30 Take the tally of those from 30 to 50 years old, all who are fit for duty in the Communion Tent's service.
4:31 They shall be entrusted to carry and maintain the following items in the Communion Tent: the beams, crossbars, pillars and bases of the Tabernacle;
4:32 the pillars of the surrounding enclosure, their bases, stakes and guy-ropes, all their tools, and all their maintenance equipment. They shall be appointed by name to carry all the articles with which they are entrusted.
4:33 The above is the work comprising the entire service of Merari's descendants in the Communion Tent. It shall be under the direction of Ithamar, son of Aaron the priest.
4:34 Moses, Aaron and the communal leaders took a tally of the descendants of the Kehothites by family, following the paternal line,
4:35 and including everyone from 30 to 50 years old who was fit for duty in the Communion Tent's service.
4:36 Their tally by families was 2750.
4:37 This was the complete tally of the Kehothite family, for all who served in the Communion Tent, as taken by Moses and Aaron. It was done as God had directed Moses.

Tally of Gershon and Merari
4:38 [This was] the tally of Gershon's descendants by families, following the paternal line
4:39 and including everyone from 30 to 50 years old who was fit for duty in the Communion Tent's service.
4:40 Their tally by families, following the paternal line, was 2630.
4:41 This was the complete tally of all who served in the Communion Tent from the descendants of Gershon. The tally was taken by Moses and Aaron as God had directed.
4:42 [This was] the tally of Merari's descendants by families, following the paternal line
4:43 and including everyone from 30 to 50 years old who was fit for duty in the Communion Tent's service.
4:44 Their tally by families was 3200.
4:45 This was the complete tally of the families of Merari's descendants. The tally was taken by Moses and Aaron as God had directed Moses.
4:46 [This is] the entire tally that Moses, Aaron and the communal leaders took of the Levites. [It was] by families following the paternal line,
4:47 including everyone from 30 to 50 years old who was fit for duty in the Communion Tent's service.
4:48 Their tally was 8580.
4:49 They were thus counted by Moses at God's bidding, each individual according to his service, what he would carry, and his appointed task, as God had commanded Moses.



Commentary:

special
  (Rashi). See Numbers 4:36.

partition drape
  The drape over the Holy of Holies. See Numbers 3:31.

blue processed skins
  Tachash in Hebrew. See note on Exodus 25:5.

put its carrying poles in place
  See Numbers 4:8, 4:11, 4:14. In other cases, the Torah means that the poles had been removed, and replaced, but in the case of the ark, the poles were not to be removed (Exodus 25:15). Therefore, in the case of the ark, the poles were merely adjusted (Baaley Tosafoth; Ramban; Meiri on Yoma 72a). Others say that the rings were placed into slots in the poles, so that they would not slip (Chizzkuni). Others say that there was one set of decorative poles that could not be removed, and another set that were used to move the ark (Tosafoth, Yoma 72a, s.v. Kethiv; see note on Exodus 25:12). Others say that the poles were moved from the top rings to the bottom rings when the ark was carried (Ibn Ezra on Exodus 25:12). According to others, the poles were now set in place on the shoulders of the Levites (Ibn Ezra).

inner table
  Since there were other tables outside for the sacrifices (Ibn Ezra; Chizzkuni). Or, 'showbread table' (Targum).

bread forms...
  See Exodus 25:29.

case
  See Numbers 4:10. Or, 'covering'.

wick tongs...
  See Exodus 29:38.

oil containers...
  Mentioned here for the first time.

carrying frame
  Mot in Hebrew. It was carried on the frame, not hanging from it (Chizzkuni). See Numbers 13:23.

sacrificial
  (Rashi).

dark red
  Argaman in Hebrew, see Exodus 25:4. This would appear to indicate that the dark red variety was less costly than the sky blue dye.

fire pans...
  See Exodus 27:3.

furniture
  The ark and golden altar (Rashi).

This shall be
  (Rashi).

daily sacrifice
  See Exodus 29:40, Numbers 28:5.

being packed
  (Targum; Rashi; Saadia; Ibn Ezra). Bala in Hebrew, literally meaning 'swallowed'. Or, 'when the sanctuary is taken apart' (Ibn Ezra; Rashbam), 'when the most holy is revealed' (Ibn Ezra; Ramban); 'if they take an instantaneous glance' (BeMidbar Rabbah 5:9; Tanchuma, VaYakhel 7; HaKethav VeHaKabbalah; Septuagint); or, 'steal a glance' (cf. Ramban; Sanhedrin 81b).

Communion Tent
  The goats' wool over-tent (Rashi).

roof
  Of reddened rams' skins (Rashi).

fixed appointments...
  By name (Septuagint). Or, 'You keep a tally of everything they carry to safeguard it' (Saadia; Chizzkuni). Or, 'Place them in charge, to entrust them with all that they carry'.





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