The Holy Bible – Knox Translation
The Book of Numbers
Aaron and Moses had already sons to succeed them at the time when the Lord spoke to Moses on Sinai;
and these were the names of Aaron’s sons, Nadab, his first-born, then Abiu, Eleazar and Ithamar.
All these sons of Aaron were anointed priests, their hands enriched and consecrated for priestly duties,
but Nadab and Abiu, who offered unhallowed fire in the Lord’s presence, died there in the desert of Sinai without issue; it was only Eleazar and Ithamar that performed the duties of the priesthood now, under the eye of Aaron their father.
And now the Lord gave Moses this command,
Dedicate the tribe of Levi to me, and bid them wait on the pleasure of Aaron, the high priest; doing him service and keeping watch,
carrying out the duties that belong to public worship before the tabernacle,
keeping safe, too, the appurtenances of the tabernacle, and attending to its needs.
Thou shalt put the Levites at the disposal of
Aaron and his sons, to whom the Israelites have assigned them; but it is to Aaron and his sons that thou wilt entrust the priestly office. No one else must minister there, on pain of death.
This, too, the Lord said to Moses,
Among all the sons of Israel, I have singled out the Levites to be my own, in lieu of those first-born Israelites that handsel the womb;
all first-born things belong to me. Ever since I smote the first-born in the land of Egypt, I have claimed the eldest birth, whether of man or of beast, as forfeit; forfeit to me, the Lord.
And while they were still in the desert of Sinai, the Lord bade Moses
register the sons of Levi by their households and their families, all of them that were more than a month old.
So Moses made a register, as the Lord had bidden him;
giving the names of Levi’s sons in their order, Gerson, Caath and Merari;
then the sons of Gerson, Lebni and Semei,
the sons of Caath, Amram, Jessar, Hebron and Oziel
and the sons of Merari, Moholi and Musi.
The two families that came down from Gerson through Lebni and Semei
amounting to seven thousand five hundred males, above the age of a month;
these were to encamp behind the tabernacle, to the west,
under Eliasaph the son of Lael.
The parts of the tabernacle which were to be in their charge
were the tent itself and its canopy, and the screen stretched over the doorway by which the tabernacle was entered; the curtains for the court, and the hanging at the entrance to the court, with all that belongs to the service of the altar;✻ the tabernacle ropes, too, and its appurtenances in general.
The race of Caath, comprising the families that were named after Amram, Jesaar, Hebron and Oziel,
which counted eight thousand six hundred males above a month old, were in charge of the sanctuary.
They were to encamp south of it,
under Elisaphan the son of Oziel,
and have the keeping of the ark, the table, the lamp-stand, the altars, the vessels for worship in the sanctuary, the veil, and all other such furniture.
These guardians of the sanctuary had the chief of all the Levites at their head, Eleazar, son of the high priest Aaron.
The two families of Merari’s line, named after Moholi and Musi,
counting six thousand two hundred males above a month old,
were to encamp on the north, under Suriel the son of Abihaiel.
They were to guard the frames and poles of the tabernacle, the posts with their sockets, and all that went with such an office;
the posts of the outer court, too, with their sockets, the pegs and the ropes.
In front of the tabernacle, that is, on the east, Moses and Aaron were to encamp with their sons, keeping guard over the sanctuary in the midst of the Israelite people; it was death for any other to come near it.
The whole strength of the Levites, all the families registered at the Lord’s command by Moses and Aaron, was twenty-two thousand males above a month old.✻
And now the Lord said to Moses, Count up all the male first-born in Israel who are more than a month old, and find their number.
I must have a Levite for every male in Israel; it is the Lord’s due. And they must have cattle to match in number all the first-born cattle the Israelites possess.
So Moses counted the first-born of Israel, as the Lord bade him,
and found that there were twenty-two thousand two hundred and seventy-three such persons.
And the Lord said to Moses,
Set apart the Levites to be my own, instead of the first-born Israelites, and the cattle of the Levites to be mine, instead of the first-born cattle; it is the Lord’s due.
Meanwhile, here are two hundred and seventy-three first-born who have no Levites to match their number; for these, ransom must be paid.
Claim five silver pieces, by sanctuary reckoning, for each of them, (the silver piece is worth twenty pence),
and pay the money to Aaron and his sons, as the ransom for the first-born who are left over.
So Moses took ransom for those who were left out of the count when the Levites stood as ransom
for the first-born sons of Israel, a thousand three hundred and sixty-five silver pieces by sanctuary reckoning;
and these he paid over to Aaron and his sons as the Lord had bidden him.
The Holy Bible