This week’s parasha is entitled Nasso, meaning “lift up” and it covers Numbers, chapter 4:23 through 7:89. This parasha gives us several subjects to look at, however, we will only be focusing on the priest and the transportation of the Tabernacle and its contents.
Only males from the tribe of Levi were permitted to hold priestly office. The Israeli priesthood consisted of two orders, or divisions, the priests and the Levites. While the term “Levite” may refer to the entire Hebrew priesthood, technically the priests were only descendants of Aaron. One from among the Aaronic lineage was chosen and ordained high priest for life. Specifically, the Levites were non-Aaronic descendants of Levi who functioned in the service of the sanctuary in subordinate roles.
Three clans or subdivisions of Levites are recognized in the Old Testament, taking their names from the three sons of Levi: Gershon, Kohath, and Merari. The service of moving the Tabernacle was given to the Levites (who were not priests). They were divided into three groups, the Gershonites, Kohathites and the Meraites and were given their assignments as to what part of the Tabernacle they were to move.
The age of all the workers was between 30 and 50 years. This meant that they would be mature and physically strong to do the work.
The descendants of Kohath camped on the south side of the Tabernacle and had 7,500 men in service to Adonai and they were responsible for moving the Tabernacle furniture, the ark, the table of showbread, the candlestick, the golden altar of incense, the vessels of the sanctuary, and the curtain that formed the visibly beautiful inner ceiling. The Kohathites carried the furnishings “only” after they had been covered by Aaron and his sons. If the looked Kohathites upon any of the holy things uncovered they would die.
Not only were the Kohathites not to see the furniture uncovered, but they were not even to touch the furniture. Of course, they would touch the poles that were put into the rings of some of the furniture for carrying it, but other than that, they were not to touch any of the sacred furniture lest they die.
Here we can see the deep fear and respect for the sacred, which is very different from today where people have very little respect for holy and sacred things.
The Gershonites numbered 2,630 men old enough to serve Adonai. They camped at the west end of the Tabernacle and their responsibility was to transport the three outside coverings and related equipment; for this work they were given two carts and four oxen. Their responsibilities included moving the things on the outside of the Tabernacle.
The Meraites assignments were to transport all the structural components, including sockets, pins, etc. Like the Gershonites, the Meraites responsibilities also concerned the less sacred parts of the Tabernacle, than did the responsibilities of the Kohathites.
The two living sons of Aaron (Eleazar and Ithamar) were given the responsibility of overseeing the moving of the Tabernacle. Extended orders were given to Eleazar. He was the supervisor over the moving of the furniture of the Tabernacle and his duties also included the worship at the Tabernacle. More attention is given to Eleazar in his supervisory position than to Ithamar because Eleazar’s responsibilities included the more sacred part of the Tabernacle than that of Ithamar. Eleazar’s higher position explains why he was the son of Aaron who succeeded Aaron as high priest when Aaron died.
A few thoughts in closing. God, our Father, has called all who are called by HHHhhhhhhhhis Name, to labor in His kingdom, and for His glory.
Our labor is no less important than the priests of old. Our burden is to pick up our cross and follow Messiah, die to self, carry the bloodstained banner, labor in the Word, be light to a dark world, give ourselves completely to prayer and intercession, and to be faithful and obedient to all things our heavenly Father has said.
Charles Spurgeon once said, “O how I wish that every member in today’s church were like the laborers of old. And that every member occupied himself in that to which God has appointed him.
But there are some who want to do what they cannot do, and those who do not care to do what they can do.”
Brother’s and sister’s let us always try to do the things that we can do for God and let’s do them in a careful, loving and worshipful manner.