Numbers 3:1-51


This chapter looks upon Israel as one family, and Levi will be counted as the firstborn.  So in this chapter, the redemption of all the first born of Israel takes place.  The key verse is verse 11-13.


I.    Verse 1-4 - The generations of Aaron and Moses.

A.     None of Moses sons played a role in Israel.  He did have sons.

1.       Ex. 4:24-26 states, “And it came to pass by the way in the inn, that the LORD met him, and sought to kill him. 25 Then Zipporah took a sharp stone, and cut off the foreskin of her son, and cast it at his feet, and said, Surely a bloody husband art thou to me. 26 So he let him go: then she said, A bloody husband thou art, because of the circumcision.” 

2.       Exodus 4:20 records that Moses took his wife and his sons (plural), therefore we know that Moses had more than one son.

3.       I Chronicles 23:15  “The sons of Moses were, Gershom, and Eliezer.”

4.       I Chronicles 26:24 reveals “And Shebuel the son of Gershom, the son of Moses, was ruler of the treasures.” 

B.     Aaron had four sons anointed to be priests, but Nadab and Abihu died when they offered strange fire before the Lord (Lev. 10:1,2).  They had no children, therefore, the work of the Lord must be carried on by the other two sons, Eleazar and Ithamar.


II.    Verse 5-10 - The Tribe of Levi is set aside to minister to Aaron the High Priest.  (This decree will carry forward to all generations.)

A.     The chain of command is: (See verse 23)

1.       Aaron and Moses.

2.       Eleazar the son of Aaron.

3.       The chief of the Levites.

4.       The Levites.

B.     Aaron and his sons will fill the office of priest.

C.     The tribe of Levi will serve in the Tabernacle, under Aaron, or whoever is High Priest.

1.       They shall keep all the parts of the Tabernacle in its rightful place.

2.       They shall instruct the entire congregation concerning their part of the worship.  (The Levites shall take care of the sacrifices brought by the congregation.)


III.    Verse 11-13 - The firstborn is the Lord's.

A.     All the firstborn of the heathen actually belong to the Lord.

B.     God could have taken every firstborn of all Israel to Himself, but instead of breaking up families, He'll leave all families intact and take the Tribe of Levi to Himself.


IV.    Verse 14-51 - The procedure of numbering the firstborn.

A.     Verse 14-20 - Levi males to be numbered from one month old and upward (one month is a good time to begin serving the Lord.)

1.       Many of these are infants and cannot serve in the temple, but they are still counted as valuable as one that serves.

a.      This is a good lesson for us.

b.      Often, we believe that a person is only as valuable as his work, but this is not what God says.

c.      When people are young, God still considers them valuable in his service.

d.      When the become old, God still considers the valuable enough to be redeemed.

2.       According to Number 4:47,48, “From thirty years old and upward even unto fifty years old, every one that came to do the service of the ministry, and the service of the burden in the tabernacle of the congregation, 48 Even those that were numbered of them, were eight thousand and five hundred and fourscore.”  Only 8,000 Levites served in the temple.

3.       This means that 14,300 (22,300 minus 8,000) Levites were ineligible for service.

4.       These would be Levites under the age of 30 and over the age of 50, the infirm, crippled, and otherwise ineligible.

B.     The families are:

1.       Verse 22 - Gershon - 7,500 pitch on the west side of the tabernacle (verse 29) and take care of: See verse 26,27. (More detailed description in 4:21-28.)

a.      Libni.

b.      Shimei.

2.       Verse 28 - Kohath - 8,600 pitch on the south side of the Tabernacle (verse 29) and take care of: See verse 31.  (More detailed description in 4:1-20.)

a.      Amram.

b.      Izehar.

c.      Hebron.

d.      Uzziel.

3.       Verse 34 - Merari - 6,200 pitch on the north side of the Tabernacle (verse 35) and take care of: See verse 36,37.  (More detailed description in 4:29-33.)

a.      Mabli.

b.      Mushi.

C.     Verse 38 - Moses, Aaron and his sons shall camp on the east side of the camp.

1.       Any stranger there shall be put to death.

2.       The chain of command is reaffirmed.

D.     Verse 39 - The number of Levites to be redeemed is 22,000.  The actual number (Gershon - 7,500 + Kohath - 8,600 + Merari - 6,200 = 22,300) is 300 more.

1.       It is supposed that the 300 are those firstborn Levites who do not need to be redeemed, therefore they are not included in the final count.

2.       There is no record, as far as I know, that gives this information.

E.      Verse 40-43 - The firstborn males of all Israel from one month and upward is 22,273.

1.       The 273 Israelites who are not redeemed by the Levites are redeemed at five shekels apiece.

2.       273 X 5 shekels = 1,365 (verse 50).

3.       Aaron and his sons receive the money.

4.       Verse 49 describes where the ransomed money came from.

a.      “And Moses took the redemption money of them that were over and above them that were redeemed by the Levites:”

b.      It appears the 273 of the firstborn of all the tribes of Israel gave the money.

c.      Exactly how the money was collected, how much each person gave, and how it was determined who would give the money is not stated.

d.      It is enough to know it was done.