From today’s reading in Tyndale’s One Year Chronological Bible dated 2/15:

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 will divide the Levite tribe into Levitical clans. Each Levitical clan – the Kohathites, Gershonites, and Merarites from the three sons of Levi – Kohath, Gershon, and Merari (Genesis 11) – will be assigned particular responsibilities and care for the Tabernacle. 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 further explain the duties of each Levitical clan in Numbers 4. But in simple terms, 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 each day for twelve days, with all bringing exactly the same gifts. So 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? Remember on Jacob’s deathbed he told Joseph that his two sons, Ephraim and Manasseh, would be like his own (Genesis 48:5). So 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

Tomorrow the children of Israel celebrate their second Passover, so keep reading. (Numbers 7:1-89)

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