“To Kohath belonged the clans of the Amramites, Izharites, Hebronites and Uzzielites; these were the Kohathite clans. The number of all the males a month old or more was 8,600. The Kohathites were responsible for the care of the sanctuary. The Kohathite clans were to camp on the south side of the tabernacle. The leader of the families of the Kohathite clans was Elizaphan son of Uzziel. They were responsible for the care of the ark, the table, the lampstand, the altars, the articles of the sanctuary used in ministering, the curtain,and everything related to their use.“-Numbers 3:27-31
From verse 27 we are introduced to the four clans of Kohath and the duties they will be responsible for at the Tabernacle which consists of caring for all of the following:
-Ark of the Covenant
-Table of Shewbread
-Golden Altar of Incense
-Ritual utensils (fire pans, golden pitchers etc.)
Caring for these items represented the highest duties among the non-priestly Levites.
The sons of Gershon which we studied yesterday cared for the things outside the tent but the sons of Kohath cared for the things inside the tent.
They were one step closer to God’s HOLINESS than the sons of Gershon and this was also reflected in where they were positioned, the south side around the Tabernacle (the 2nd most prestigious spot).
Again, I would be remiss if I didn’t remind you that at Sinai God divided the Levites into two groups: Priests and common Levites (non-priests).
The common or non-priestly Levites were responsible for all of the manual labor or blue collar work connected to the Tabernacle.
And the Priestly Levites did the type of work we would expect a priest to do like teaching and interpreting the Law and officiating over the sacrifices.
While from a genealogical perspective all Levites come from the tribe of Levi, it was only Aaron’s descendants who God chose and elevated above the others to be His Priests at the Tabernacle.
And it was only from Aaron’s line that the High Priest was to come.
Keep that point in mind because it will become very important moving forward.
Just understand this, when the Bible uses the term “Levites“, 99% of the time it is referring to the common blue collar, non-priestly Levites.
And on the other side of the coin, when the Bible uses the term “priests“, it NEVER includes the non-priestly common Levites.
Now some of you may be thinking, then what do you make of the expression “Levite Priests” which we’ll encounter numerous times in the Scriptures?
The answer to that is that the phrase “Levite Priests” is to serve as a reminder to the reader of Scripture that the only legitimate priesthood on this planet comes from the Tribe of Levi.
Not understanding the difference between the common Levites and the priestly Levites is a common mistake Christian commentators often make.
This leads to all kinds of misunderstandings concerning what really went on around the Tabernacle.