Bamidbar 3

1 These also are the toldot of Aharon and Moshe in the yom that Hashem spoke with Moshe in Mt. Sinai.
2 And these are the shmot of the Bnei Aharon: Nadav the bechor, and Avihu, Eleazar, and Itamar [Vayikra 10].
3 These are the shmot of the Bnei Aharon, the kohanim hameshuchim whose hand he filled [i.e., ordained] to be kohen [Shemot 29; Vayikra 8].
4 And Nadav and Avihu died before Hashem, when they offered eish zarah (unauthorized fire) before Hashem, in the midbar of Sinai, and they had no children; and Eleazar and Itamar ministered in the kohen’s office in the sight of Aharon their av [Vayikra 10].
5 And Hashem spoke unto Moshe, saying,
6 Bring the tribe of Levi near [i.e., present them as offerings are presented], and present them before Aharon HaKohen, that they may minister unto him [i.e., help, be of service to him].
7 And they [the Levi’im] shall be shomer mishmeret (watch the watch, keep the guard duty) for him and for the mishmeret kol HaEdah (duty of the whole Congregation) before the Ohel Mo’ed, to do avodat HaMishkan (the work, service of the Mishkan).
8 And they shall be shomer mishmeret over kol klei Ohel Mo’ed (all the vessels, furnishings of the Ohel Mo’ed) for the Bnei Yisroel, doing the avodat HaMishkan (work of the Mishkan).
9 And thou shalt give the Levi’im unto Aharon and to his banim; they are wholly given unto him from among the Bnei Yisroel.
10 And thou shalt appoint Aharon and his banim; they shall be shomer to watch over their kehunah; the zar that encroach shall be put to death.
11 And Hashem spoke unto Moshe, saying,
12 And I, hinei, I have taken the Levi’im from among the Bnei Yisroel instead of all the bechor that openeth the womb among the Bnei Yisroel; therefore the Levi’im shall be Mine;
13 Because all the bechor are Mine; for on the yom that I struck down all the bechor in Eretz Mitzrayim I set apart as kodesh unto Me all the bechor in Yisroel, both man and beast: Mine shall they be: I am Hashem.
14 And Hashem spoke unto Moshe in the midbar of Sinai, saying,
15 Count the Bnei Levi by the bais of their avot, by their mishpekhot; every zachar from a month old and upward shalt thou number them.
16 And Moshe numbered them according to the command of Hashem, as he had been commanded.
17 And these were the Bnei Levi by their shmot: Gershon, Kehat, and Merari.
18 And these are the shmot of the Bnei Gershon by their mishpekhot: Livni, and Shimei.
19 And the Bnei Kehat by their mishpekhot: Amram, Yitzhar, Chevron, and Uzziel.
20 And the Bnei Merari by their mishpekhot: Machli and Mushi. These are the mishpekhot of the Levi’im according to the bais of their avot.
21 To Gershon belonged the mishpakhat of the Livni and the mishpakhat of the Shimi: these are the mishpekhot of the Gershoni.
22 Those that were numbered of them, according to the number of kol zachar (all the males), from a month old and upward, even those that were numbered of them were seven thousand and five hundred.
23 The mishpekhot of the Gershoni shall encamp behind the Mishkan westward.
24 And the Nasi of the bais av of the Gershoni shall be Elyasaph ben Lael.
25 And the mishmeret of the Bnei Gershon in the Ohel Mo’ed is as follows: the Mishkan, and the Ohel, the covering thereof, and the curtain at the entrance of the Ohel Mo’ed,
26 And the curtains of the khatzer, and the curtain for the entrance of the khatzer, which is around the Mishkan, and around the mizbe’ach; and the cords of it for kol avodah thereof.
27 And to Kehat belonged the mishpakhat of the Amrami, and the mishpakhat of the Yitzhari, and the mishpakhat of the Chevroni, and the mishpakhat of the Uzzieli: these are the mishpekhot of the Kehati.
28 In the number of all the zachar, from a month old and upward, were eight thousand and six hundred, shomrei mishmeret haKodesh.
29 The mishpekhot of the Bnei Kehat shall encamp on the southward side of the Mishkan.
30 And the Nasi bais av of the mishpekhot of the Kehati shall be Elitzaphan ben Uzziel.
31 And their guard duty shall be: the Aron and the Shulchan, and the Menorah, and the Mizbechot, and the vessels of HaKodesh (the Holy Place) wherewith they minister, and the curtain, and all the avodah thereof.
32 And Eleazar ben Aharon HaKohen shall be Nasi over the Nasi’ei HaLevi’im, and have the oversight of them that do guard duty over HaKodesh (the Holy Place).
33 To Merari belonged the mishpakhat of the Mahli, and the mishpakhat of the Mushi: these are the mishpekhot of Merari.
34 And those that were counted of them, according to the number of all the zachar, from a month old and upward, were six thousand and two hundred.
35 And the Nasi bais av of the mishpekhot of Merari was Tzuriel ben Avichayil; these shall encamp on the side of the Mishkan northward.
36 And under the guard duty charge of the Bnei Merari shall be: the frames of the Mishkan, and the crossbars thereof, and the pillars thereof, and the bases thereof, and all the vessels thereof, and all that serveth thereto,
37 And the pillars of the khatzer round about, and their bases, and their pegs, and their cords.
38 And those that encamp in front of the Mishkan toward the east, even in front of the Ohel Mo’ed eastward, shall be Moshe, and Aharon and his banim, shomrim mishmeret HaMikdash (standing guard duty over the holy area) on behalf of the Bnei Yisroel; and the zar that shall encroach shall be put to death.
39 All that were counted of the Levi’im, which Moshe and Aharon numbered at the command of Hashem, by their mishpekhot, all the zakhar from a month old and upward, were twenty and two thousand.
40 And Hashem said unto Moshe, Count all the bechor of the zakhar of the Bnei Yisroel from a month old and upward, and calculate the total by their shmot.
41 And thou shalt take the Levi’im for Me—I am Hashem—instead of all the bechor among the Bnei Yisroel; and the cattle of the Levi’im instead of all the firstlings among the cattle of the Bnei Yisroel.
42 And Moshe counted, as Hashem commanded him, all the bechor among the Bnei Yisroel.
43 And it came about that all the bechor zakhar by the number of shmot, from a month old and upward, of those that were numbered of them, were twenty and two thousand two hundred and threescore and thirteen.
44 And Hashem spoke unto Moshe, saying,
45 Take the Levi’im instead of all the bechor among the Bnei Yisroel, and the cattle of the Levi’im instead of their cattle; and the Levi’im shall be Mine: I am Hashem.
46 And for those that are to be redeemed of the two hundred and threescore and thirteen of the bechor of the Bnei Yisroel, which are more than the Levi’im;
47 Thou shalt even take five shekels for each one individually, after the shekel of HaKodesh shalt thou take them (the shekel is twenty gerahs) [Vayikra 27:6];
48 And thou shalt give the kesef, wherewith those over and above them [the Levi’im] is to be redeemed, unto Aharon and to his banim.
49 And Moshe took the kesef hapidyom of them that were over and above them that were redeemed by the Levi’im;
50 Of the bechor of the Bnei Yisroel collected he the kesef; a thousand three hundred and threescore and five shekels, after the shekel of HaKodesh;
51 And Moshe gave the kesef hapidyom unto Aharon and to his banim, according to the command of Hashem, as Hashem commanded Moshe.

Bamidbar 3 Commentary

Chapter 3

The sons of Aaron, The Levites taken instead of the first-born. (1-13) The Levites numbered by their families, Their duties. (14-39) The first-born are numbered. (40-51)

Verses 1-13 There was much work belonging to the priests' office, and there were now only Aaron and his two sons to do it; God appoints the Levites to attend them. Those whom God finds work for, he will find help for. The Levites were taken instead of the first-born. When He that made us, saves us, as the first-born of Israel were saved, we are laid under further obligations to serve him faithfully. God's right to us by redemption, confirms the right he has to us by creation.

Verses 14-39 The Levites were in three classes, according to the sons of Levi; Gershon, Kohath, and Merari; and these were subdivided into families. The posterity of Moses were not at all honoured or privileged, but stood upon the level with other Levites; thus it was plain, that Moses did not seek the advancement of his own family, or to secure any honours to it. The tribe of Levi was by much the least of all the tribes. God's chosen are but a little flock in comparison with the world.

Verses 40-51 The number of the first-born, and that of the Levites, came near to each other. Known unto God are all his works beforehand; there is an exact proportion between them, and so it will appear, when they are compared together. The small number of first-born, over and above the number of the Levites, were to be redeemed, and the redemption-money given to Aaron. The church is called the church of the first-born, which is redeemed, not as they were, with silver and gold; but, being devoted by sin to the justice of God, is ransomed with the precious blood of the Son of God. All men are the Lord's by creation, and all true christians are his by redemption. Each should know his own post and duty; nor can any service required by such a Master be rightly accounted mean or hard.

Chapter Summary

INTRODUCTION TO NUMBERS 3

In this chapter an account is given of the genealogy of the priests and Levites, and of the gift of the Levites to the priests, of the numbering of them, and the service they were to perform; and first of the priests, the sons of Aaron, Nu 3:1-4; and then of the Levites, as given unto them, to wait upon them, and assist them, Nu 3:5-10; and these were taken instead of the firstborn, Nu 3:11-13; and ordered to be numbered, which was done accordingly by their families, Nu 3:14-20; and the sum of each is given, and the particular work assigned to them; of the Gershonites, Nu 3:21-26; of the Kohathites, Nu 3:27-32; of the Merarites, Nu 3:33-38; the sum total of them is given, Nu 3:39; then the firstborn of the children of Israel, from a month old are ordered to be numbered, and were, Nu 3:40-43; and these appearing to be more in number than the Levites, by two hundred seventy three a direction is given that the two hundred seventy three should be redeemed at the rate of five, shekels apiece, and the money paid to Aaron and his sons, Nu 3:44-48; which was accordingly done, Nu 3:49-51.

Bamidbar 3 Commentaries