The Levites


Read Numbers 3:3-37.

After the children of Israel had left Egypt and crossed the Red Sea, God called Moses up to Mount Sinai to receive the Ten Commandments and the pattern of the Tabernacle from God. Whilst Moses was away, a critical problem of idolatry came among the children of Israel, who remained down on the Plain.

The tribe of Levi showed itself to be definitely on the Lord’s side at that time. Exodus 32:25-28. Levi was the tribe to which both Moses and Aaron belonged. As a result of their taking sides with the Lord, the tribe of Levi ‘the Levites’ was selected to take care of the Tabernacle of the Testimony, Exodus 38:21.

As a whole, the Levites became responsible for ‘the service of the work of the Tent of Meeting’; the Tabernacle, ‘Count all the men from thirty to fifty years of age who come to serve in the work at the tent of meeting.’ Numbers 4:3.

The Hebrew word translated service also means ‘warfare’. Therefore, their ‘service’ in the Tabernacle was a figure of spiritual warfare; as at the golden calf incident, the Levites were on the Lord’s side. Exodus 32:25-28.

Levi had had three sons, Gershon, Kohath and Merari. The Levites’ work was partitioned according to their families:

The family of Gershon were responsible for carrying and setting up the curtains of the Outer Court, the Coverings of the Tabernacle, the curtain Door to the Sanctuary, the curtain Door to the Outer Court, together with all the ropes and fixings required for securing these curtains. Numbers 3:25-26.

The family of Merari were responsible for carrying and setting up the Boards, the Bars and the Pillars and Sockets of the Outer Court. Numbers 3:36-37.

The family of Kohath were responsible for carrying and placing the Ark of the Covenant, the Veil, the Golden Incense Altar, the Lampstand, the Showbread Table, the Laver and the Burnt Offering Altar, together with all the utensils these required. Numbers 3:31.

The children of Israel knew when it was time to move on in their journey through the wilderness, because the pillar of cloud, by day or fire, by night would move as a signal leading them. The Levites would dismantle the Tabernacle, carry it to the destination, determined by the pillar of cloud and fire and then reassemble it at the new location.

When the Tabernacle was reared up at a new location, God commanded that the tribes settled around it in a specific order. Numbers 2:1-34.

On the East side:

Judah, Issachar and Zebulun.

On the South side:

Reuben, Simeon and Gad.

On the West side:

Ephraim and Manasseh (the sons of Joseph) and Benjamin.

On the North side:

Dan, Asher and Naphtali.

The Levites were to encamp all the way around the Tabernacle, Numbers 1:53.



"Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will."

Romans 12:2