Okay, this time, God wants the census to get even more micro. He tells Moses and Aaron to just count up the number of Levites from thirty to fifty years old because these are the guys who are able to work in the tabernacle.
The descendants of Kohath, Gershon, and Merari are all gonna get assigned some specific jobs around the movement of the tabernacle.
And, boy, believe us when we say things are about to get really nit-picky here.
First, Aaron and his sons will go inside the tabernacle and basically prepare the super holy things for travel. Only they get to see and touch them and everything has to be wrapped and packaged in a certain way. After all, you can't just take sacred objects that contain the very presence of God himself and toss them all into a flimsy cardboard box for easy moving.
After Aaron and his boys have gone through this whole long drawn out process, the Kohathites will be responsible for carrying these things through the wilderness. But whatever you do, Kohathites, don't touch these items! Don't even look at them or you will die!
Uh-huh. This is serious business.
The Gershonites will be responsible for carrying the tent covering, the curtains, screens, and any other fabrics that make up the tabernacle. Ithamar will be their direct boss in all this. Hopefully, he won't make them do any TPS reports.
As for the Merarites, they get to carry tent poles, pillars, and all kinds of structural doodads that make up the tabernacle. Again, they'll be reporting to Ithamar.
So Moses and Aaron count everyone up and get 8,580 strapping men ready for some heavy lifting duty.
With every tent pole and candlestick accounted for, the Israelites are ready to set off on their journey to the Promised Land. Yay, road trip!