Numbers 1:1 – 4:20
HaShem spoke to Moses in the Sinai Desert, in the Communion Tent on the first day of the second month in the second year of the Exodus, saying: Take a census of the entire Israelite community. Do it by families following the paternal line, according to the names of each male, taken individually. You and Aaron shall take a tally of them by their divisions counting every male over the age of 20 years is who is fit for service. Alongside you there will be one man from each tribe, and he will be the head of his paternal line.
These are the names of the men who will assist you:
For Reuben, Elizur son of Shedey-ur.
For Simeon, Shelumiel son of Tzuri-shaddai.
For Judah, Nachshon son of Aminadav.
For Issachar, Nethanel son of Tzuar.
For Zebulun, Eliav son of Khelon.
For Josephs sons: For Ephraim, Elishama son Amihud.
For Menasseh, Gamliel son of Padah-tzur.
For Benjamin, Avidan son of Gid’oni.
For Dan, Achiezer, son of Ami-shaddai.
For Asher, Pag’iel son of Akhran.
For Gad, Elyassaf son od D’euel.
For Naphtali, Achira son of Eynan.
These are the communal representatives, the princes of their paternal tribes and leaders of Israel’s thousands. Moses and Aaron took aside these men whose names had been designated. They assembled the entire community on the first day of the second month, and all the people were registered by ancestry according to their paternal families. All those over 20 years old were counted individually by name.
In this way, Moses took a tally of the Israelites in the Sinai Desert as HaShem had commanded him. (Note: all the numbers except those ending in 50 are rounded to the nearest hundred).
The result for the descendants of Reuben, Israel’s first born, was 46,500
For the descendants of Simeon: The tally was 59,300.
For the descendants of Gad: The tally for the tribe of Gad was 45,650
For the descendants of Judah: The tally was 74,600.
For the descendants of Issachar: The tally was 54,400.
For the descendants of Zebulun: The tally was 57,400.
The tally for the tribe of Ephraim was 40,500.
The tally for Menasseh was 32,200.
The tally for Benjamin was 35,400.
The tally for the tribe of Dan was 62,700.
The tally for the tribe of Asher was 41,500.
The tally for the tribe of Naphtali was 53,400.
These are the tallies made by Moses, Aaron and the twelve men who were princes of Israel, one from each paternal family. The entire tally was 603,550. However, the men who were Levites according to their father’s tribe were not tallied together with the other Israelites.
HaShem spoke to Moses, saying: Do not take a tally or census of the Levites together with the other Israelites. Put the Levites in charge of the Tabernacle of Testimony, all its furniture, and everything pertaining to it. They shall carry the Tabernacle and all its furniture, and they will serve in it. They shall therefore camp around the Tabernacle. When the Tabernacle is moved, the Levites shall take it down, and when it is to remain in one place they shall set it up. Any non-Levite who participates will die. When the Israelites camp, each individual will be in his own camp, each one designated by the banner for its division. The Levites, however, will camp around the Tabernacle of Testimony, so that there will not be any divine anger directed against the Israelites. It will be the Levites who safeguard the trust of the Tabernacle of Testimony. The Israelites did all the HaShem commanded Moses, and they did it exactly.
HaShem spoke to Moses and Aaron saying: The Israelites will camp with each person near the banner having his paternal family’s insignia. They will camp at a specified distance around the Communion Tent. (This distance is 2000 cubits, or 7/16 mile.)
Camping to the East (the direction of sunrise) will be the divisions under the banner of Judah. The leader of Judah’s descendants was Nachshon, son of Aminadav. The tally of his divisions was 74,600. Camping near him will be the tribe of Issachar, and the leader of Issacher’s descendants was Nethanel son of Tzuar. The tally of his divisions was 54,400. With them will be the tribe of Zebulun, and the leader of Zebulun’s descendants was Eliav son of Chelon. The tally of his division was 57,400. The entire tally for the divisions in Judah’s camps was therefore 186,400. The divisions under the banner of Reuben’s camp will be to the South. The leader of Reuben’s descendants was Elizur son of Shedey-ur. The tally of his division was 46,500. Camping near him will be the tribe of Simeon, and the leader of Simeon’s descendants was Shelumiel son of Tzuri-shaddai. The tally of his division was 59,300. With them will be the tribe of Gad, and the leader of Gad’s descendants was Elyassaf son of Reuel. The count of his division was 45,650 The entire tally for the divisions in Reuben’s camp was therefore 151,450. On the march they will go second.
On The March
On the march, the Communion Tent and the camp of the Levites will then proceed. They will be in the middle of the other camps. The people will travel in the same way that they camp. Each person will be in his place, according to each one’s banner. The divisions under the banner of Ephraim’s camp will be to the West. The leader of Ephraim’s descendants was Elishama son of Amihud. The tally for his division was 40,500.
Near him will be the tribe of Menasseh, and the leader of Menasseh’s descendants was Gamliel son of Petakh-tzur. The tally for his division was 32,200. With them will be the tribe of Benjamin, and the leader of Benjamin’s descendants was Avidan son of Gid’oni. The tally for his division was 35,400. The entire count for the divisions of Ephraim’s camp was therefore 108,100. On the march, they will go third.
The divisions under the banner of Dan’s camp will be to the North. The leader of Dan’s descendants was Achiezer son of Ami-shaddai. The tally of his division was 62,700. Camping near him will be the tribe of Asher, and the leader of Asher’s descendants was Pag’iel son of Akhron. The tally for his divisions was 41,500.
With them will be the tribe of Naphtali, and the leader of Naphtali’s descendants was Achira son of Eynan. The tally for his division was 53,400. The entire tally for Dan’s camp was therefore 157,600. On the march they will be the last of the banners. These then are the tallies of the Israelites according to their paternal families. The tally for all the camps in all divisions was 603,500.
The Levites were not registered among the rest of the Israelites, as HaShem had commanded Moses. The Israelites did all the HaShem had commanded Moses. They camped under their banners in the commanded manner, and each person traveled in a similar manner with his family, according to his paternal line. These are the chronicles of Aaron and Moses on the day that HaShem spoke to Moses at Mount Sinai.
These are the names of Aaron’s sons: Nadav (the first-born), Avihu, Eleazar and Ithamar. These are the names of Aaron’s sons who were the anointed priests, installed to serve. Nadav and Avihu died in front of HaShem when they offered an unauthorized fire to HaShem in the Sinai Desert. They had no children. Therefore, only Eleazar and Ithamar served as priests during their father Aaron’s lifetime.
Status of the Levites
HaShem spoke to Moses, saying: Bring the tribe of Levi, and present it to Aaron the priest, so that its members will serve him. The will safeguard My trust and the trust of the entire community involving the Communion Tent, performing any necessary service in the Tabernacle. They will guard all the Communion Tent’s furniture, along with everything else that the Israelites have entrusted for the Tabernacle’s service. Give the Levites over to Aaron and his descendants. They are his gift from the Israelites. Give special instructions to Aaron and his descendants that they safeguard their priesthood. Any non-priest who participates will die.
HaShem spoke to Moses saying: I have separated the Levites from the other Israelites so that they may take place of all the first-born among the Israelites, and the Levites will be mine. This is because every first-born became mine on the day I killed all the first-born of Egypt. I then made Myself sacred to every first-born in Israel, human and animal alike, and they will stay Mine. I am HaShem.
Census of the Levites
Shem spoke to Moses in the Sinai Desert and said, “Take a tally of the Levites, family by family, according to their paternal lines. Count every male over one month old.” Moses numbered them at HaShem’s command, as he had been instructed.
By name, the sons of Levi were Gershon, Kehoth and Merari. The sons of Gershon heading families were Livni and Shimi.
The sons of Kehoth heading families were Amram, Ytzhar, Hebron and Uziel.
The sons of Merari heading families were Machli and Mushi.
These are the Levite families according to their paternal lines: For Gershon there was the Livnite family and the Shimite family. These were the Gershonite families. Numbering every male over one month old, their tally was 7,500. The Gershonite family will camp to the West, toward the back of the Tabernacle.
Paternal leader of the Gershonites was Elyassaf son La-el. The task of the descendants of Gershon involving the Communion Tent will be the Tabernacle tapestries, the over-tent, its roof, the drapes at the Communion Tent entrance, the enclosure’s hangings, the drape at the entrance of the enclosure surrounding the Tabernacle and altar, and the ropes, as well as all the work involving these items. For Kehoth, there was the Amramite family, the Yitzharite family, the Hebronite family, and the Uzielite family. All these were the Keholite families. The count of every male over one month old was 86,00. They were in charge of the sacred articles.
The family of Kehoth’s descendants will camp to the South side of the Tabernacle. Paternal leader of the Kehothite family is Eltzafan son of Uziel. Their charge will be the ark, the table, the menorah, the two altars, the sacred utensils for all these the partition drape, and all the work involving these items. The one in charge of the Levites’ leaders will be Eleazar, son of Aaron the priest. He will be in charge of safeguarding the trust of the sacred articles. For Merari, there was the Machli family and the Mushi family. These were the families of Merari. Their talyy, numbering every male over one month old, was 6,200. Paternal leader of the families of Merari was Tzuriel son of Avichail. They will camp to the North side of the Tabernacle. The appointed task of the descendants of Merari will include the beams, crossbars, pillars, and bases of the Tabernacle, all its utensils, and the associated work, as well as the pillars, bases, stakes and ropes of the surrounding enclosure.
Camping to the East, in front of the Tabernacle, will be Moses and Aaron and his sons, those who keep charge of the sanctuary s a trust for the Israelites. Any unauthorized person who includes himself will die. The entire tally of the Levites was made by Moses and Aaron by families. There were 22,000 males over one month old.
HaShem said to Moses, “Make a tally of the male first-born among the Israelites who are over one month old, and take a census of their names. Take the Levites to Me (I am HaShem) in place of the Israelites’ first-born animals.” Moses made a tally of all the first-born male Israelites, as HaShem had commanded him. According to the number of their names, the tally of all the first-born over one month old was 22,273.
HaShem spoke to Moses, saying: Take the Levites in place of all the male first-born Israelites. Also take the Levites’ livestock in place of the Israelites’ first-born animals. The Levites will in this way become Mine. I am HaShem. Also take a redemption (release by purchase) for the 273 individuals by which the first-born outnumber the Levites. This will be 5 shekels for each individual, according to the sanctuary standard, where the shekel is 20 gerahs. Give the silver to Aaron and his sons as a redemption for the first-born who are in excess of the Levites. Moses took the redemption money for those who were left over after the majority of first-born had been released by the Levites. The silver that he took from the first-born Israelites consisted of 1,365 sanctuary shekels.
Moses gave the silver for those who were released to Aaron and his sons at HaShem’s command. It was all done as HaShem commanded Moses.
Census of Kehoth
HaShem spoke to Moses and Aaron, saying: Take a special census of the descendants of Kehoth among the Levites. Take it by families, following the paternal line. It will include those from 30 to 50 years old , and all who enter service to work in the Communion Tent. The following is the service of Kehoth’s descendants in the Communion Tent. It is holy of holies.
Duties of the Kehoth
When the camp is about to travel, Aaron and his sons will come and take down the partition drape, using it to cover the Ark of Testimony. It will then place a cover of blue-processed skins over it, and on top of that, a cloth of pure sky blue wool. They will then put its carrying poles in place.
They will take a cloth of sky blue cloth over the inner table. Then they will set in place on it the bread forms, incense bowls, half tubes, and covering side frames, so that the bread can stay on the table all the time. Over it all, they will place a crimson wool cloth, and cover it with a case of blue-processed skins. They will then put its carrying poles in place. They will take a cloth of sky blue wool, and cover the menorah lamp along with its oil cups, wick tongs, ash scoops and the oil containers used for it.
The menorah and all its utensils will be placed in a case of blue processed skins, and placed on a carrying frame. They will take all the sanctuary’s service utensils, and place them on a sky blue wool cloth. They will then be covered with a case of blue-processed skins, and placed on a carrying frame.
They will remove all the ashes from the altar, and put a red cloth over it. They will on it all the utensils that are used for its service, such as the fire pans, flesh pokers, scoops, and sacrificial (for sacrifice) basins—all the altar’s utensils. They will then cover it all with a case of blue-processed skins, and set its carrying poles in place. Aaron and his sons will, in this way, finish covering the holy furniture and all the sanctuary utensils, so that the camp can begin its journey. Only after the priests are finished will the Kehothites come to carry these items, so that they do not die when they touch the holy objects. The above is what the Kehothites must carry for the Communion Tent priest, along with the illuminating oil, the perfume incense, the meal offerings for the daily sacrifice, and the anointing oil. He will also be in charge of the entire Tabernacle, and all its sacred furniture and utensils.
HaShem spoke to Moses and Aaron, saying: Do not cause the Kehothites to become extinct among the Levites. This is what you must do so that they survive, and not die when they come into the Holy of Holies. Aaron and his sons will first come and arrange each thing so that every Kehothite can perform his service, carrying his load. The Kehothites will then not come and see the holy furniture being packed, and they will not die.
This week’s Parsha takes a census of all of the tribes and the Levites along with other groups.
This week’s Haftara starts off “The number of the Children of Israel shall be like the sand in the sea, which can not be measured or counted…” The Torah and Haftara show us that our numbers are strong and part of our legacy.
- Thirty-Fourth of 54 Sedras in the Torah
- Written on 263 lines in the Sefer Torah
- 159 P’sukim (verses)
- 1,823 words
- 7,393 letters
Next week’s Parashat: Naso