Numbers 4:34
And Moses and Aaron and the chief of the congregation numbered the sons of the Kohathites after their families, and after the house of their fathers,
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4:34-49 God so ordered it, that though the Merarites were the fewest in number, yet they should have most able men among them; for whatever service God calls men to, he will furnish them for it, give strength in proportion to the work, and grace sufficient. The least of the tribes had many more able men than the Levites: those who engage in the service of this world, are many more than those devoted to the service of God. May our souls be wholly devoted to his service.By name ye shall reckon the instruments - Or, assign them to their bearers singly, and "by name." These "instruments" comprised the heavier parts of the tabernacle; and the order seems intended to prevent individual Merarites choosing their own burden, and so throwing more than the proper share on others. 34-49. Moses and Aaron and the chief of the congregation numbered the sons of the Kohathites, &c.—This enumeration was made on a different principle from that which is recorded in the preceding chapter [Nu 3:15]. That was confined to the males from a month old and upward, while this was extended to all capable of service in the three classes of the Levitical tribe. In considering their relative numbers, the wisdom of Divine Providence appears in arranging that, whereas in the Kohathites and Gershonites, whose burdens were few and easier, there were but about a third part of them which were fit for service; the Merarites, whose burdens were more and heavier, had above one half of them fit for this work [Poole]. The small population of this tribe, so inferior to that of the other tribes, is attempted to be explained (see on [61]Nu 3:39). No text from Poole on this verse. And Moses and Aaron, and the chief of the congregation,

numbered the sons of the Kohathites,.... Perhaps these chiefs were the same with those who were concerned with Moses and Aaron in numbering all the tribes whose names were given, Numbers 1:5; the Kohathites are begun with, according to the divine direction, and then the Gershonites and Merarites in their order; and in Numbers 4:34 is only an account of the numbering of each of them, as ordered by the Lord, and this account is expressed in the same terms in them all; there remains nothing to be observed but the particular sums of each of them, the number of the Kohathites from thirty years old even to fifty, men able and fit for business, were 2750, Numbers 4:36; whereas their number from a month old were 8600, Numbers 3:28; so that not a third part of them were at an age for service: the number of the Gershonites were 2630, Numbers 4:40; whose number of males in all were 7500, Numbers 3:22; so that they were rather more than a third part who were able-bodied then and fit for business; and the number of the Merarites were 3200, Numbers 4:44; and as the number of males of a month old and upwards were 6200, Numbers 3:34; there were more than half of them able and fit men for service; in which, as Ainsworth observes, may be seen the wisdom of divine Providence, that whereas the service of the Kohathites and Gershonites were the lightest, and what was committed to them the easiest of carriage, they had the fewer hands of able men to be employed, though their numbers of individuals were the greatest; and the Merarites, who had the smallest number of males, yet having the heaviest work to do in carrying burdens, loading and unloading wagons, were superior to the rest in their number of able bodied men; and thus God makes good his promise, that as the day of his people is, their strength shall be; whatever work and service God calls men to, he will fit them for it: the sum total of the Levites, in the several divisions of them, who were between: thirty and fifty years of age, in which they performed their office, was 8580, Numbers 4:48; a small number, as the above writer observes, of such as warred the spiritual warfare in the sanctuary of God, when the tribe of Judah afforded 74,600 for the outward warfare.

after their families, and after the house of their fathers; See Gill on Numbers 4:2.

And Moses and Aaron and the chief of the congregation numbered the sons of the Kohathites after their families, and after the house of their fathers,
34–49. A detailed statement that Moses and Aaron numbered the men between the ages of 30 and 50 in the three Levitical families, as had been commanded."Their charge (mishmereth) is in the hand of Ithamar," i.e., is to be carried out under his superintendence (cf. Exodus 38:21).
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