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Numbers Chapter 3
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Genealogy of Aaron
3:1 These are the chronicles of Aaron and Moses on the day that God spoke to Moses at Mount Sinai:
3:2 These are the names of Aaron's sons: Nadav (the first-born), Avihu, Eleazar and Ithamar.
3:3 These are the names of Aaron's sons who were the anointed priests, installed to serve.
3:4 Nadav and Avihu died before God when they offered unauthorized fire to God in the Sinai Desert. They had no children. Thus, [only] Eleazar and Ithamar served as priests during their father Aaron's lifetime.

Status of the Levites
3:5 God spoke to Moses, saying:
3:6 Bring forth the tribe of Levi, and present it to Aaron the priest, so that [its members] shall serve him.
3:7 They shall safeguard My trust and the trust of the entire community involving the Communion Tent, performing any necessary service in the Tabernacle.
3:8 They shall guard all the Communion Tent's furniture, along with [everything else] that the Israelites have entrusted for the Tabernacle's service.
3:9 Give special instructions to Aaron and his descendants. They are his gift from the Israelites.
3:10 Give special instructions to Aaron and his descendants that they safeguard their priesthood. Any non-priest who participates shall die.

In Place of the First-Born
3:11 God spoke to Moses, saying:
3:12 I have separated the Levites from the [other] Israelites so that they may take the place of all the first-born (who initiate the womb) among the Israelites, and the Levites shall be Mine.
3:13 This is because every first-born became Mine on the day I killed all the first-born in Egypt. I then sanctified to Myself every first-born in Israel, man and beast alike, [and] they shall remain Mine. I am God.

Census of the Levites: Gershon
3:14 God spoke to Moses in the Sinai Desert [and] said,
3:15 'Take a tally of the Levites, family by family, according to their paternal lines. Count every male over one month old'.
3:16 Moses numbered them at God's command, as he had been instructed.
3:17 By name, the sons of Levi were Gershon, Kehoth and Merari.
3:18 The sons of Gershon heading families were Livni and Shimi.
3:19 The sons of Kehoth heading families were Amram, Yitzhar, Hebron, and Uzziel.
3:20 The sons of Merari heading families were Machli and Mushi.

These are the Levite families according to their paternal lines:

3:21 For Gershon there was the Livnite family and the Shimite family. These were the Gershonite families.
3:22 Numbering every male over one month old, their tally was 7500.
3:23 The Gershonite family shall camp to the west, toward the back of the Tabernacle.
3:24 Paternal leader of the Gershonites was Elyassaf son of La-el.
3:25 The task of the descendants of Gershon involving the Communion Tent shall be the Tabernacle [tapestries], the over-tent, its roof, the drapes at the Communion Tent entrance,
3:26 the enclosure's hangings, the drape at the entrance of the enclosure surrounding the Tabernacle and altar, and the ropes, as well as all the work involving [these items].

Kehoth and Merari
3:27 For Kehoth, there was the Amramite family, the Yitzharite family, the Hebronite family, and the Uzzielite family. All these were the Kehothite families.
3:28 The count of every male over one month old was 8600.

They were in charge of the sacred articles.

3:29 The family of Kehoth's descendants shall camp to the south side of the Tabernacle.
3:30 Paternal leader of the Kehothite family is Eltzafan son of Uzziel.
3:31 Their charge shall be the ark, the table, the menorah, the [two] altars, the sacred utensils for [all] these, the [partition] drape, and all the work involving these [items].
3:32 The one in charge of the Levites' leaders shall be Eleazar, son of Aaron the priest. He shall be in charge of safeguarding the trust of the sacred articles.
3:33 For Merari, there was the Machli family and the Mushi family. These were the families of Merari.
3:34 Their tally, numbering every male over one month old, was 6200.
3:35 Paternal leader of the families of Merari was Tzuriel son of Avichail. They shall camp to the north side of the Tabernacle.
3:36 The appointed task of the descendants of Merari shall include the beams, crossbars, pillars and bases of the Tabernacle, all its utensils, and the associated work,
3:37 as well as the pillars, bases, stakes and ropes of the surrounding enclosure.
3:38 Camping to the east, in front of the Tabernacle, shall be Moses and Aaron and his sons, those who keep charge of the sanctuary as a trust for the Israelites. Any unauthorized person who includes himself shall die.
3:39 The entire tally of the Levites was made by Moses and Aaron by families. There were 22,000 males over one month old.

Census of the First-Born
3:40 God said to Moses, 'Make a tally of the male first-born among the Israelites who are over one month old, and take a census of their names.
3:41 Take the Levites to Me (I am God) in place of all the Israelite male first-born. [Also take] the Levites' animals in place of the Israelites' first-born animals.'
3:42 Moses made a tally of all the first-born male Israelites, as God had commanded him.
3:43 According to the number of their names, the tally of all the first-born over one month old was 22,273.

Substituting the Levites
3:44 God spoke to Moses, saying:
3:45 Take the Levites in place of all the male first-born Israelites. [Also take] the Levites' livestock in place of [the Israelites' first-born] animals. The Levites shall become Mine. I am God.
3:46 [Also take] a redemption for the 273 individuals by which the first-born outnumber the Levites.
3:47 This shall be 5 shekels for each individual, according to the sanctuary standard, where the shekel is 20 gerahs.
3:48 Give the silver to Aaron and his sons as a redemption for [the first-born who are] in excess [of the Levites].
3:49 Moses took the redemption money for those who were left over [after the majority of first-born] had been redeemed by the Levites.
3:50 The silver that he took from the first-born Israelites consisted of 1365 sanctuary shekels.
3:51 Moses gave the silver for those who were redeemed to Aaron and his sons at God's command. [It was all done] as God had commanded Moses.


  See Exodus 6:23.

Nadav and Avihu died...
  Leviticus 10:1,2.

  (Rashi). Literally, 'on the face of'.

who initiate the womb
  See Exodus 13:2.

the sons of Levi were...
  See Genesis 46:11, Exodus 6:16.

The sons of Gershon...
  See Exodus 6:17-19.

  Chevron in Hebrew; same as the city name.

  See Exodus 26:1. (Rashi).

  See Exodus 35:18.

all the work...
  (See Ibn Ezra). Cf. 4:26.

  Literally, Azzielite or Ozzielite.

sacred articles
  See Numbers 3:32.

  See Exodus 6:22.

partition drape
  The cloth partition before the Holy of Holies (Rashi).

sacred articles
  (Septuagint). Or, 'sanctuary'.

  This is an exact count, as we see in Numbers 3:46. If the number from the sub-tribes of Gershon, Kehoth and Merari are added, however, the total is 22,300, so that 300 are missing. According to tradition, the 300 were first-born Levites, who could not redeem first-born Israelites (Bekhoroth 5a; Rashi).

  It is significant to note that the first-born comprised only one out of 27 Israelites. If the fact that they were numbered from only one month is taken into account, while the count of 603,550 is for those over 20 years old, it comes out that the first-born were approximately one out of 45. This may be because the Israelites had huge families in Egypt (see Rashi on Exodus 1:7). It is also possible that many first-born did not observe the first Passover and died in Egypt. Another possibility is that the first-born of many families were girls.

273 individuals
  Because there were 22,273 first-born and 22,000 Levites.

5 shekels
  This is the amount for the redemption of a first-born son; see Numbers 3:47, 18:15; Leviticus 27:6.

the shekel is 20 gerahs
  See Exodus 30:13, Leviticus 27:25, Numbers 18:16, Ezekiel 45:12.

the silver...
  Or, 'the redemption money'.

after the majority...
  (cf. Rashi).

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