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Numbers 3 (New International Reader's Version)

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The Levites

1 Here is the story of the family of Aaron and Moses. It belongs to the time when the LORD talked with Moses on Mount Sinai. 2 Aaron's oldest son was Nadab. His other sons were Abihu, Eleazar and Ithamar. 3 Those were the names of Aaron's sons. They were the anointed priests. They were prepared to serve the LORD as priests. 4 But Nadab and Abihu made an offering to the LORD by using fire that wasn't allowed. So they fell dead in front of him. That happened in the Desert of Sinai. They didn't have any sons. Only Eleazar and Ithamar served as priests while their father Aaron was living. 5 The LORD spoke to Moses. He said, 6 "Bring the men of the tribe of Levi to the priest Aaron. They will help him. 7 They must work at the Tent of Meeting for Aaron and for the whole community. They must do what needs to be done at the holy tent. 8 They must take care of everything that is connected with the Tent of Meeting. When they do, they are acting for all of the people of Israel. 9 Give the Levites to Aaron and his sons. They are the men of Israel who must be given completely to him. 10 "Appoint Aaron and his sons to serve as priests. Anyone else who approaches the sacred tent must be put to death." 11 The LORD also said to Moses, 12 "I have taken the Levites from among the people of Israel. I have taken them in place of the oldest son who is born to each woman in Israel. The Levites belong to me. 13 That is because every male that is born first to a mother is mine. In Egypt I struck down all of the males that were born first. I did it when I set apart for myself every male that is born first to a mother in Israel. That is true for men and animals alike. They belong to me. I am the Lord." 14 The LORD spoke to Moses in the Desert of Sinai. He said, 15 "Count the Levites by their family groups. Count every male who is a month old or more." 16 So Moses counted them. He did just as the word of the LORD had commanded him. 17 The sons of Levi were Gershon, Kohath and Merari. 18 The major families from Gershon were Libni and Shimei. 19 The major families from Kohath were Amram, Izhar, Hebron and Uzziel. 20 The major families from Merari were Mahli and Mushi. Those were the major families of the Levites. 21 The families of Libni and Shimei belonged to the family of Gershon. 22 All of the males who were a month old or more were counted. There were 7,500 of them. 23 The families of Gershon had to camp on the west side. They had to camp behind the holy tent. 24 The leader of the families of Gershon was Eliasaph, the son of Lael. 25 Here are the duties of the families of Gershon at the Tent of Meeting. They were held accountable for taking care of the holy tent and its coverings. They took care of the curtain at the entrance to the Tent of Meeting. 26 They took care of the curtains of the courtyard. They took care of the curtain at the entrance to the courtyard. The courtyard was all around the holy tent and altar. They also took care of the ropes. In fact, they had to take care of everything that was connected with the use of all of those things. 27 The families of Amram, Izhar, Hebron and Uzziel belonged to the family of Kohath. 28 All of the males who were a month old or more were counted. There were 8,600 of them. The families of Kohath were held accountable for taking care of the sacred tent. 29 They had to camp on the south side of the holy tent. 30 The leader of the families of Kohath was Elizaphan, the son of Uzziel. 31 They were held accountable for taking care of the ark of the covenant. They took care of the table for the holy bread. They took care of the lampstand and the two altars. They took care of the articles that were used for serving in the sacred tent. They also took care of the inner curtain. In fact, they had to take care of everything that was connected with the use of all of those things. 32 The chief leader of the Levites was Eleazar. He was the son of the priest Aaron. Eleazar was appointed over those who were held accountable for taking care of the sacred tent. 33 The families of Mahli and Mushi belonged to the family of Merari. 34 All of the males who were a month old or more were counted. There were 6,200 of them. 35 The leader of the families of Merari was Zuriel, the son of Abihail. They had to camp on the north side of the holy tent. 36 They were appointed to take care of the frames of the tent. They took care of its crossbars, posts and bases. They took care of all of its supplies. In fact, they had to take care of everything that was connected with the use of all of those things. 37 They also took care of the posts of the courtyard that was around the holy tent. And they took care of the bases, tent stakes and ropes. 38 Moses, Aaron and Aaron's sons had to camp to the east of the holy tent. They had to camp toward the sunrise in front of the Tent of Meeting. They were held accountable for taking care of the sacred tent. They had to do it for the people of Israel. Anyone else who approached the tent would be put to death. 39 The total number of the Levites was 22,000. They were counted family by family. Every male who was a month old or more was counted. Moses and Aaron counted them, just as the LORD had commanded. 40 The LORD said to Moses, "Count the males among the people of Israel who were the oldest sons born in their families. Count all those who are a month old or more. Make a list of their names. 41 Take the Levites for me in their place. And take the livestock of the Levites in place of all of the male animals in Israel that were born first to their mothers. I am the Lord." 42 So Moses counted all of the oldest sons in Israel. He did just as the LORD had commanded him. 43 There were 22,273 of those sons who were a month old or more. They were listed by name. 44 The LORD also said to Moses, 45 "Take the Levites in place of all the males who were born first in Israel. Also take the livestock of the Levites in place of the livestock of Israel. The Levites belong to me. I am the Lord. 46 "But there are 273 more males who were born first in Israel than there are male Levites. 47 Collect two ounces of silver for each of them. Weigh it out in keeping with the standard weights that are used in the sacred tent. 48 Give the silver to Aaron and his sons. It will buy the freedom of the additional sons in Israel." 49 So Moses collected the silver from the additional sons in Israel to buy their freedom. The Levites took the place of all of the others. 50 Moses collected 35 pounds of silver. It was weighed out in keeping with the weights that are used in the sacred tent. Moses collected it from the oldest sons in Israel. 51 He gave the silver to Aaron and his sons. He did just as the LORD had commanded him.
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