Take the sum of the sons of Kohath from among the sons of Levi, after their families, by the house of their fathers,
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(2) Of the sons of Kohath . . . —Kohath appears to have been the second son of Levi (Numbers 3:17), but the Kohathites here stand first because Moses and Aaron belonged to them, and it was their office to bear the Ark.Numbers 3:43. The cattle of the Levites was doubtless taken in the gross as an equivalent for the first-born cattle of the other tribes, which of course, no less than the first-born of men, belonged to the Lord; and in future would have to be redeemed Numbers 18:15; Deuteronomy 15:19.
even unto fifty—The term prescribed for active duty was a period of twenty years, at the end of which they were exempted from the physical labors of the office, though still expected to attend in the tabernacle (Nu 8:26).
all that enter into the host—so called from their number, the order and discipline maintained through their ranks, and their special duty as guards of the tabernacle. The Hebrew word, however, signifies also a station or office; and hence the passage may be rendered, "All that enter into the sacerdotal office" (Nu 4:23).
after their families, by the house of their fathers; as many as were of the age after mentioned; and the reason why they began with Kohath, and not Gershon, the eldest son, as in the former numbering, was; not as Aben Ezra suggests, because of Moses and Aaron, who sprung from him, for that, if it had any strength in it, would have held good before; but rather, as Chaskuni and others, because the Kohathites carried the ark and other holy things; though the true reason seems to be, because of the order observed in taking down the tabernacle, and removing the parts of it, and the things in it; and it was most proper and reasonable, when they were about to take it down, first to take out the ark, table, &c. which was the business of the Kohathites to carry; next to take down the curtains, coverings, and hangings for the tabernacle and court, and the doors thereof, which were the charge of the Merarites; wherefore, in this order the sum out of each of them fit for business were ordered to be numbered.Take the sum of the sons of Kohath from among the sons of Levi, after their families, by the house of their fathers,
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)Verse 2. - Take the sum of the sons of Kohath. The Levites having been separated from the other tribes, the Kohathites are now to be separated from amongst the other Levites for the most honourable and sacred duties. To them the preference was given presumably because the priests were Kohathites. Numbers 3:41 and Numbers 3:44-45 from Numbers 3:11-13, and to adopt the latter in their stead for the service at the sanctuary (on Numbers 3:41 and Numbers 3:45, cf. Numbers 3:11-13). The number of the first-born of the twelve tribes amounted to 22,273 of a month old and upwards (Numbers 3:43). Of this number 22,000 were exchanged for the 22,000 Levites, and the cattle of the Levites were also set against the first-born of the cattle of the tribes of Israel, though without their being numbered and exchanged head for head. In Numbers 3:44 and Numbers 3:45 the command of God concerning the adoption of the Levites is repeated, for the purpose of adding the further instructions with regard to the 273, the number by which the first-born of the tribes exceeded those of the Levites. "And as for the redemption of the 273 (lit., the 273 to be redeemed) of the first-born of the children of Israel which were more than the Levites, thou shalt take five shekels a head," etc. This was the general price established by the law for the redemption of the first-born of men (see Numbers 18:16). On the sacred shekel, see at Exodus 30:13. The redemption money for 273 first-born, in all 1365 shekels, was to be paid to Aaron and his sons as compensation for the persons who properly belonged to Jehovah, and had been appointed as first-born for the service of the priests.
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