That's a lot of shekels.

Adventures with Moses in the Wilderness –


Numbers 4:21-49, Duties of the Gershonites and Merarites
Numbers 5:1-10, Miscellaneous Rules
Numbers 5:11-31, Jealousy and Unfaithfulness
Numbers 6:1-21, Nazirites
Numbers 7:1-89, Offerings of the Chiefs of the Tribes

More Adventures with Moses in the Wilderness

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Ark of the Covenant and Priests. Click to enlarge. See below for provenance.
Numbers 4:21-49, Duties of the Gershonites and Merarites (10/31/11)

There were 8,580 Levites working in the Tent of Meeting.  That was a big organization, and like all big organizations, they had to have some structure.  Just as big corporations, military branches, or government departments divide their structure along the lines of who is doing what, the Levites had specific duties depending on what clan they belonged to.

Verse Clan Sons Age 30 to 50 Able to Do the Work in the Tent of Meeting
34-37 Kohathites 2,750
38-41 Gershonites 2,630
42-45 Merarites 3,200
46-48 Total 8,580

Numbers 5:1-10, Miscellaneous Rules (11/1/11)

This morning in Sunday School, fellow-reader Sara P. was talking about goal-setting.  She said that a co-worker has clients write a check to their least-favorite organization, with the understanding that if goals are not met, the check will be mailed.  The idea is that not meeting the goals will have concrete, immediate costs.  

I suspect that when we think about making up for a sin, we tend to think first of asking God for forgiveness, and second (maybe) about asking for forgiveness from the person whom we have wronged.  However, there is a third important component of making up for sin, and that is restitution.  In God’s eyes, if you steal a sheep and eat it, saying you are sorry – either to God or to the owner of the sheep – isn’t enough.  You must pay back the sheep to the owner, with 20% interest, and in most cases you must make an additional sin offering to God out of your own flock. 

God’s point is that sin is serious.  Sin is costly.  Think about the cost before you commit the sin.

Numbers 5:11-31, Jealousy and Unfaithfulness (11/2/11)

In Strong Poison, by Dorothy Sayers, the lead character says, “The advantage seems to be with the person who gets jealous first.”  Ms. Sayers wrote a fair amount of Christian literature, so it’s entirely possible that her character was basing his observation on today’s reading. 

This law has always seemed to me to be hard cheese for the woman – with or without sin, with or without evidence, her jealous husband can take her in and have her undergo trial by ordeal.  The good news is that she can actually be found innocent and live to tell the story.  In most trials by ordeal that I’ve read about, if you survive, it’s a sure sign of guilt, and you are executed.  Again we see that the Law was progressive for its time and place.

Numbers 6:1-21, Nazirites (11/3/11)

The Israelites were supposed to be separate – separate from the other peoples of Egypt, Canaan, Syria, Assyria, Babylon, Greece, and Rome.  They were separate from the gods, the customs, and the foods of these other peoples.  They were, or became, separate ethnically, because intermarriage with other peoples was forbidden.  And the most separate Israelites of all were the Nazirites.  The purpose of the Nazirite vow is debated, but probably one of their functions was to act as a visible reminder to the Israelites of the importance of being holy, being clean, and being separate for God.

Numbers 6:22-27, The Aaronic Blessing (11/4/11)

Have you heard the expression, “He’s got all the words, but he doesn’t know the music”?

Most church services normally end with a benediction, that is, a blessing on the congregation pronounced by the pastor.  I dare say the most commonly used benediction, and definitely the best known, is the Aaronic benediction, usually as follows:

The LORD bless you and keep you;
The LORD make his face to shine upon you and be gracious unto you;
The LORD lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.

It is in the super-well-known passages, like this one, the 23rd Psalm, or 1 Corinthians 13, that differences among translations are most obvious.  When you get your good, modern translation with study notes, check some of these passages before you buy. The meaning will be the same, but whether you will read your new Bible depends on how you like the music.

Numbers 7:1-89, Offerings of the Chiefs of the Tribes (11/7/11)

It must be exciting to see a place of worship appear where there was nothing but bare land.  I don’t suppose very many of us have been fortunate enough to participate in the construction and equipping of a new church building from scratch, but at least we’d have a good idea of what was needed in the way of spaces for worship, Sunday School, and fellowship; of Bibles, hymnals, and reference books; of telephones and computers; and of banners and candles.

The children of Israel came out of Egypt without ever having seen a place of worship for their own God; however, Moses had a vision – both literally and figuratively.  He and the leaders of the tribes knew it would take more than enthusiasm to transform the tabernacle from a vision to a reality:  it would take manpower and materiel.  The Levites supplied the manpower, and the remaining tribes supplied the materiel.

Verses Day, Name Chief of Tribe of… 130-shekel silver plate + 70-shekel silver basin, both full of best meal mixed with oil for a meal offering 10-shekel gold spoon, full of spice for burning 1 young ox, 1 male sheep, & 1 he-lamb for a burnt offering 1 male goat for a sin offering 2 oxen, 5 male sheep, 5 he-goats, & 5 he-lambs for a peace offering
12-17 1, Nahshon son of Amminadab Judah X X X X X
18-23 2, Nethanel son of Zuar Issachar X X X X X
24-29 3, Eliab son of Helon Zebulun X X X X X
30-35 4, Elizur son of Shedeur Reuben X X X X X
36-41 5, Shelumiel son of Zurishaddai Simeon X X X X X
42-47 6, Eliasaph son of Reuel Gad X X X X X
48-53 7, Elishama son of Ammihud Ephraim X X X X X
54-59 8, Gamaliel son of Pedahzur Manasseh X X X X X
60-65 9, Abidan son of Gideoni Benjamin X X X X X
66-71 10, Ahiezer son of Ammishaddai Dan X X X X X
72-77 11, Pagiel son of Ochran Asher X X X X X
78-83 12, Ahira son of Enan Naphtali X X X X X
84—89a Subtotal 12, 130-shekel silver plates; 12, 70-shekel silver basins 12, 10-shekel gold spoons
Total 2,400 Shekels 120 shekels 12 oxen, 12 male sheep, 12 he-lambs 12 male goats 24 oxen, 60 male sheep, 60 he-goats, 60 he-lambs

89  And when Moses went into the Tent of meeting to have talk with him, then the Voice came to his ears from over the cover which was on the ark of witness, from between the two winged ones. And he had talk with him.

More Adventures with Moses in the Wilderness
Census and Organization
The Order of March
Failure to Enter Canaan
Laws and Consequences
Complaints in the Desert
Balaam and Barak
Almost Ready to Leave
Scheduled Sacrifices
Getting Close to Canaan
Home at Last!

Copyright 2011, 2012 by Regina L. Hunter. All rights reserved.

The illustration of the Ark of the Covenant and priests performing their duties is from the Binns family Bible, now in the private collection of Regina Hunter.

Opinions expressed on this page are solely those of the author, Regina Hunter, and may or may not be shared by the sponsors or the Bible-study participants.  Thanks to the Holy Spirit for any useful ideas presented here, and thanks to all the readers for their support and enthusiasm.  All errors are, of course, the sole responsibility of the author.

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