And Moses and Aaron, and the chief of the congregation,
numbered the sons of the Kohathites
Perhaps these chiefs were the same with those who were concerned with Moses and Aaron in numbering all the tribes whose names were given, ( Numbers 1:5-16 ) ; the Kohathites are begun with, according to the divine direction, and then the Gershonites and Merarites in their order; and in ( Numbers 4:34-48 ) is only an account of the numbering of each of them, as ordered by the Lord, and this account is expressed in the same terms in them all; there remains nothing to be observed but the particular sums of each of them, the number of the Kohathites from thirty years old even to fifty, men able and fit for business, were 2750, ( Numbers 4:36 ) ; whereas their number from a month old were 8600, ( Numbers 3:28 ) ; so that not a third part of them were at an age for service: the number of the Gershonites were 2630, ( Numbers 4:40 ) ; whose number of males in all were 7500, ( Numbers 3:22 ) ; so that they were rather more than a third part who were able-bodied then and fit for business; and the number of the Merarites were 3200, ( Numbers 4:44 ) ; and as the number of males of a month old and upwards were 6200, ( Numbers 3:34 ) ; there were more than half of them able and fit men for service; in which, as Ainsworth observes, may be seen the wisdom of divine Providence, that whereas the service of the Kohathites and Gershonites were the lightest, and what was committed to them the easiest of carriage, they had the fewer hands of able men to be employed, though their numbers of individuals were the greatest; and the Merarites, who had the smallest number of males, yet having the heaviest work to do in carrying burdens, loading and unloading wagons, were superior to the rest in their number of able bodied men; and thus God makes good his promise, that as the day of his people is, their strength shall be; whatever work and service God calls men to, he will fit them for it: the sum total of the Levites, in the several divisions of them, who were between: thirty and fifty years of age, in which they performed their office, was 8580, ( Numbers 4:48 ) ; a small number, as the above writer observes, of such as warred the spiritual warfare in the sanctuary of God, when the tribe of Judah afforded 74,600 for the outward warfare.
after their families, and after the house of their fathers;
(See Gill on Numbers 4:2).