Numbers 4:1-15 The Lord then asks Moses and Aaron to count the Kohathites from 30 to 50 years of age to perform the work assigned to them. After Aaron and his sons pack up the Most Holy things, the Kohathites will the carry the items as they march.
Notes: This second census of the Levites determined those who would carry the tabernacle on the coming journey to Canaan. Only those between the ages of 30 and 50 were called by the Lord for this task. The Kohathites carried the furnishings of the tabernacle only after they had been covered by Aaron and his sons. If the Kohathites touched or saw any of the holy things, they would die. If someone looks at God, he will die, and because these items share this intense divine holiness, they could prove equally lethal.
Numbers 4:16-20 Eleazar, the son of Aaron, shall be in charge of the oil for the light, the incense, grain offering, and anointing oil. He shall oversight of the whole tabernacle. The Lord then instructed Moses and Aaron to teach the Kohathites their exact tasks lest they should defile themselves and be put to death, for the Lord does not want the Kohathites destroyed.
Numbers 4:21-28 The Lord then asks Moses and Aaron to count the Gershonites from 30 to 50 years of age to perform the work assigned to them. They shall carry the coverings of the tabernacle. Their guard duty is to be under the direction of Ithamar, the other son of Aaron.
Notes: The coverings were to be transported in two oxcarts.
Numbers 4:29-33 The Lord then asks Moses and Aaron to count the Merarites from 30 to 50 years of age to perform the work assigned to them. They shall carry the frame of the tabernacle. Their duty is to be under the direction of Ithamar, the other son of Aaron.
Notes: The frames were to be transported in four oxcarts.
Numbers 4:34-49 The total number of Kohathites, 30 to 50 years of age was 2,750, the Gershonites numbered 2,630, and the Merarites numbered 3,200. The total number to be placed in direct service was 8,580 Levites for service of the tabernacle.
Notes: This chapter again shows preparations being made for the march into Canaan. It underlines once again the dangerous holiness of God: he cannot be approached casually. It also emphasizes the importance of the ministry of the Levites, who make possible the transport of the tabernacle to the land and who guard it from intrusion.