After Moses anointed and consecrated the tabernacle and all of the items inside it, the leaders of the tribes of Israel made offerings. “And they brought their offering before the Lord, six covered carts and twelve oxen, a cart for every two of the leaders, and for each one an ox; and they presented them before the tabernacle.”
“Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, ‘Accept these from them, that they may be used in doing the work of the tabernacle of meeting; and you shall give them to the Levites, to every man according to his service.’” The Levites are responsible for the care and transportation of the tabernacle. The Lord is going to break the Levite tribe down into Levitival clans and assign responsibility and care for the tabernacle per Levitical clan: Kohathites, Gershonites, and Merarites from the three sons of Levi, Kohath, Gershon, and Merari (Genesis 11). Moses and his siblings, Aaron and Miriam, are descendants of Kohath (1 Chronicles 6:2-3). The Lord has assigned Aaron and his sons as priests but the other Levites are also assigned work for the tabernacle. Today Moses gives to the Levites – “Two carts and four oxen he gave to the sons of Gershon, according to their service; and four carts and eight oxen he gave to the sons of Merari, according to their service, under the authority of Ithamar the son of Aaron the priest. But to the sons of Kohath he gave none, because theirs was the service of the holy things, which they carried on their shoulders.”
The Lord will explain further the duties of each Levitical clan when we get to Numbers 4 but basically the Kohathites will be responsible for carrying the holy items of the sanctuary, the Gershonites will carry the sanctuary coverings, and the Merarites will carry the pillars, frames, pegs, bases, and cords for the tent of meeting. The Kohathites are not given oxen because the holy things of the tabernacle are to be carried on poles on their shoulders. We will learn that the Kohathites have a very high pressure job because if they even touch the holy items that will be covered by Aaron and his sons they will die (Numbers 4:15). The fact that they will die if they touch the holy items highlights God’s holiness and our need for a mediator. Aaron and his sons will serve as the temporary mediators before the arrival of Jesus Christ, the final Mediator.
Moses then takes up a second offering. The Lord tells Moses that the twelve leaders of the twelve tribes of Israel are to bring gifts, one on each day for twelve days, with all bringing the exact same gifts. Alright, so all of these names can get really confusing. Let’s break down the twelve tribes of Israel because if Jacob had twelve sons and the Levites aren’t supposed to be counted among the twelve tribes, how do we still have twelve tribes?! 🧐 Here is a list in the order mentioned in today’s reading:
Levi – Leah’s son (not counted)
1) Judah – Leah’s son
2) Issachar – Leah’s son
3) Zebulun – Leah’s son
4) Reuben – Leah’s son
5) Simeon – Leah’s son
6) Gad – Leah’s servant’s son
7) Ephraim – Joseph’s son, Rachel’s grandson
8) Manasseh – Joseph’s son, Rachel’s grandson
9) Benjamin – Rachel’s son
10) Dan – Rachel’s servant’s son
11) Asher – Leah’s servant’s son
12) Naphtali – Rachel’s servant’s son
Before Jacob died, he took Joseph’s two sons, Ephraim and Manasseh, to be as if they were his sons (Genesis 48:5). We see that played out as Joseph’s sons are two of the twelve tribes of Israel.
Tomorrow the children of Israel celebrate their second Passover. Keep reading.