"Take a census1 of the Kohathite branch of the Levites by their clans and families.
Count2 all the men from thirty to fifty years of age3 who come to serve in the work in the Tent of Meeting.
"This is the work4 of the Kohathites5 in the Tent of Meeting: the care of the most holy things.65
When the camp is to move,7 Aaron and his sons are to go in and take down the shielding curtain8 and cover the ark of the Testimony with it.96
Then they are to cover this with hides of sea cows,a10 spread a cloth of solid blue over that and put the poles11 in place.
"Over the table of the Presence12 they are to spread a blue cloth and put on it the plates, dishes and bowls, and the jars for drink offerings;13 the bread that is continually there14 is to remain on it.
Over these they are to spread a scarlet cloth, cover that with hides of sea cows and put its poles15 in place.
"They are to take a blue cloth and cover the lampstand that is for light, together with its lamps, its wick trimmers and trays,16 and all its jars for the oil used to supply it.
Then they are to wrap it and all its accessories in a covering of hides of sea cows and put it on a carrying frame.1711
"Over the gold altar18 they are to spread a blue cloth and cover that with hides of sea cows and put its poles19 in place.
"They are to take all the articles20 used for ministering in the sanctuary, wrap them in a blue cloth, cover that with hides of sea cows and put them on a carrying frame.2113
"They are to remove the ashes22 from the bronze altar23 and spread a purple cloth over it.
Then they are to place on it all the utensils24 used for ministering at the altar, including the firepans,25 meat forks,26 shovels27 and sprinkling bowls.28 Over it they are to spread a covering of hides of sea cows and put its poles29 in place.
"After Aaron and his sons have finished covering the holy furnishings and all the holy articles, and when the camp is ready to move,30 the Kohathites31 are to come to do the carrying.32 But they must not touch the holy things33 or they will die.3435 The Kohathites are to carry those things that are in the Tent of Meeting.
"Eleazar36 son of Aaron, the priest, is to have charge of the oil for the light,37 the fragrant incense,38 the regular grain offering39 and the anointing oil. He is to be in charge of the entire tabernacle and everything in it, including its holy furnishings and articles."
The LORD said to Moses and Aaron,
"See that the Kohathite tribal clans are not cut off from the Levites.
So that they may live and not die when they come near the most holy things,40 do this for them: Aaron and his sons41 are to go into the sanctuary and assign to each man his work and what he is to carry.4220
But the Kohathites must not go in to look43 at the holy things, even for a moment, or they will die."