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Numbers 4:21-28

Context
The Service of the Gershonites

4:21 Then the Lord spoke to Moses: 4:22 “Also take a census of the Gershonites, by their clans and by their families. 4:23 You must number them from thirty years old and upward to fifty years old, all who enter the company to do the work of the tent of meeting. 4:24 This is the service of the families of Gershonites, as they serve 1  and carry it. 4:25 They must carry the curtains for the tabernacle and the tent of meeting with its covering, the covering of fine leather that is over it, the curtains for the entrance of the tent of meeting, 4:26 the hangings for the courtyard, the curtain for the entrance of the gate of the court, 2  which is around the tabernacle and the altar, and their ropes, along with all the furnishings for their service and everything that is made for them. So they are to serve. 3 

4:27 “All the service of the Gershonites, whether 4  carrying loads 5  or for any of their work, will be at the direction of 6  Aaron and his sons. You will assign them all their tasks 7  as their responsibility. 4:28 This is the service of the families of the Gershonites concerning the tent of meeting. Their responsibilities will be under the authority 8  of Ithamar son of Aaron the priest. 9 

1 tn The two forms are the infinitive construct and then the noun: “to serve and for the burden.” They are to serve and they are to take the responsibility. The infinitive is explaining the verb.

2 tc This whole clause is not in the Greek text; it is likely missing due to homoioteleuton.

3 tn The work of these people would have been very demanding, since the size and weight of the various curtains and courtyard hangings would have been great. For a detailed discussion of these, see the notes in the book of Exodus on the construction of the items.

4 tn The term “whether” is supplied to introduce the enumerated parts of the explanatory phrase.

5 tn Here again is the use of the noun “burden” in the sense of the loads they were to carry (see the use of carts in Num 7:7).

6 tn The expression is literally “upon/at the mouth of” (עַל־פִּי, ’al-pi); it means that the work of these men would be under the direct orders of Aaron and his sons.

7 tn Or “burden.”

8 tn Or “the direction” (NASB, TEV); Heb “under/by the hand of.” The word “hand” is often used idiomatically for “power” or “authority.” So also in vv. 33, 37, 45, 48.

9 sn The material here suggests that Eleazar had heavier responsibilities than Ithamar, Aaron’s fourth and youngest son. It is the first indication that the Zadokite Levites would take precedence over the Ithamar Levites (see 1 Chr 24:3-6).



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