Commentary on Parashat Bamidbar, Numbers 1:1 - 4:20
1. According to the instructions for taking a census, who was to be counted?
2. How did Moses and Aaron know who to choose as heads of tribes and how many were to be selected?
3. How many Israelites over the age of 20 years were counted and what were they selected to do?
4. What special duty was given to the Levites?
5. How were the Levites counted?
6. Who were the five families appointed to surround the Tent of Meeting?
7. Aaron and his sons were appointed as what? What was the relationship between the Levites and the Kohanim (priests)?
8. The Levites were selected rather than whom to serve God, and what was the rationale for this?
9. How were first-born sons redeemed? Were all the first-borns redeemed?
10. Who was appointed to receive the redemption money of the first-borns?
1. The census counted all males 20 years and older who were able to go to war; this excluded the infirm, aged, and maimed (1:2-3).
2. God told them the names of the heads of the tribes. There were twelve heads selected–one for each tribe (1:4-17).
3. 603,550 men were counted to go to war, or to fight if necessary (1:45-46).
4. The Levites were appointed to do the service of the Tabernacle; to minister unto Aaron and his sons (1:50).
5. Every Levite male was counted, from age one month and up (3:15).
6. The five families appointed to surround the tent of meeting were the Merarites, Gershonites, Kohathites, and the families of Eleazar and Ithamar (3:4,18-20).
7. Aaron and his sons were priests. The role of the Levites was to take care of the priests (3:3).
8. The Levites were selected to serve God, rather than the male first-borns. The first-born were chosen as God’s special ones in Egypt when the first born of all the Egyptians were killed. When the first-borns sinned by participating in the worship of the golden calf, they were replaced by the Levites who received their special priestly privileges (3:12).
9. The first 22,000 were redeemed, each one according to one of the 22,000 Levites. The extra 273 first-borns that had no corresponding Levite had to pay 5 shekels each to be redeemed. First-born Levites did not have to be redeemed (3:46-50).
10. Moses gave the redemption money to Aaron and his sons as commanded by God (3:51).
Provided by special arrangement with the Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies.