Numbers 4:21-4:49

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Sedra Ba Midbar ends at verse 20; Sedra 2, Naso begins at verse 21, hence my splitting of this chapter into two. The sedra contains Numbers 4:21 – 5:31


Chapter 4 (cont)



4:21 VA YEDABER YHVH EL MOSHEH LEMOR

וַיְדַבֵּר יְהוָה אֶל מֹשֶׁה לֵּאמֹר

KJ (King James translation): And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,

BN (BibleNet translation): Then YHVH spoke to Mosheh, saying



4:22 NASO ET ROSH BENEY GERSHON GAM HEM LE VEIT AVOTAM LE MISHPECHOTAM

נָשֹׂא אֶת רֹאשׁ בְּנֵי גֵרְשׁוֹן גַּם הֵם לְבֵית אֲבֹתָם לְמִשְׁפְּחֹתָם

KJ: Take also the sum of the sons of Gershon, throughout the houses of their fathers, by their families;

BN: Count also the sum of the Beney Gershon, by their clans and by their families


4:23 MI BEN SHELOSHIM SHANAH VA MA'LAH AD BEN CHAMISHIM SHANAH TIPHKOD OTAM KAL HA BA LITSVO TSAVA LA'AVOD AVODAH BE OHEL MO'ED

מִבֶּן שְׁלֹשִׁים שָׁנָה וָמַעְלָה עַד בֶּן חֲמִשִּׁים שָׁנָה תִּפְקֹד אוֹתָם כָּל הַבָּא לִצְבֹא צָבָא לַעֲבֹד עֲבֹדָה בְּאֹהֶל מוֹעֵד

KJ: From thirty years old and upward until fifty years old shalt thou number them; all that enter in to perform the service, to do the work in the tabernacle of the congregation.

BN: From thirty years old and upward, until fifty years old, you shall count them, every one who is being recruited into service, to undertake the work in the tabernacle of the congregation.


The Beney Kehat were also counted up to age 50 (Numbers 4:3) - was this then the compulsory retirement age in those days? Life expectancy was much shorter, though Methuselah managed rather more years than this.


4:24 ZOT AVODAT MISHPECHOT HA GERSHUNI LA'AVOD U LE MASA

זֹאת עֲבֹדַת מִשְׁפְּחֹת הַגֵּרְשֻׁנִּי לַעֲבֹד וּלְמַשָּׂא 

KJ: This is the service of the families of the Gershonites, to serve, and for burdens:

BN: These are the appointed tasks of the Gershuni clan, their duties and their responsibilities 


I really don't like the translation of LA'AVOD, in this context, as "to serve", nor MASA as "burdens".


4:25 VE NASU ET YERIYOT HA MISHKAN VE ET OHEL MO'ED MICHSEHU U MICHSEH HA TACHASH ASHER ALAV MI LEMA'LAH VE ET MASACH PETACH OHEL MO'ED

וְנָשְׂאוּ אֶת יְרִיעֹת הַמִּשְׁכָּן וְאֶת אֹהֶל מוֹעֵד מִכְסֵהוּ וּמִכְסֵה הַתַּחַשׁ אֲשֶׁר עָלָיו מִלְמָעְלָה וְאֶת מָסַךְ פֶּתַח אֹהֶל מוֹעֵד 

KJ: And they shall bear the curtains of the tabernacle, and the tabernacle of the congregation, his covering, and the covering of the badgers' skins that is above upon it, and the hanging for the door of the tabernacle of the congregation,

BN: They shall carry the curtains of the tabernacle, and the tabernacle of the congregation, its covering, and the covering of badgers' skins that is over the top of it, and the hanging for the door of the tabernacle of the congregation


4:26 VE ET KAL'EY HE CHATSER VE ET MASACH PETACH SHA'AR HE CHATSER ASHER AL HA MISHKAN VE AL HA MIZBE'ACH SAVIV VE ET MEYTREYHEM VE ET KOL KELEY AVODATAM VE ET KOL ASHER YE'ASEH LAHEM VE AVADU

וְאֵת קַלְעֵי הֶחָצֵר וְאֶת מָסַךְ פֶּתַח שַׁעַר הֶחָצֵר אֲשֶׁר עַל הַמִּשְׁכָּן וְעַל הַמִּזְבֵּחַ סָבִיב וְאֵת מֵיתְרֵיהֶם וְאֶת כָּל כְּלֵי עֲבֹדָתָם וְאֵת כָּל אֲשֶׁר יֵעָשֶׂה לָהֶם וְעָבָדוּ

KJ: And the hangings of the court, and the hanging for the door of the gate of the court, which is by the tabernacle and by the altar round about, and their cords, and all the instruments of their service, and all that is made for them: so shall they serve.

BN: And the hangings of the court, and the hanging for the door of the gate of the court - the one beside the tabernacle - and the hangings around the altar, and their cords, and all the instruments of their service, and all that is made for them: so shall they serve.


4:27 AL PI AHARON U VANAV TIHEYEH KOL AVODAT BENEY HA GERSHUNI LE CHOL MASA'AM U LE CHOL AVODATAM U PHEKADETEM ALEYHEM BE MISHMERET ET KOL MASA'AM

עַל פִּי אַהֲרֹן וּבָנָיו תִּהְיֶה כָּל עֲבֹדַת בְּנֵי הַגֵּרְשֻׁנִּי לְכָל מַשָּׂאָם וּלְכֹל עֲבֹדָתָם וּפְקַדְתֶּם עֲלֵהֶם בְּמִשְׁמֶרֶת אֵת כָּל מַשָּׂאָם 

KJ: At the appointment of Aaron and his sons shall be all the service of the sons of the Gershonites, in all their burdens, and in all their service: and ye shall appoint unto them in charge all their burdens.

BN: At the command of Aharon and his sons shall be all the service of the sons of the Gershuni, in all their duties, and in all their service: and you shall supervise them in the carrying out of all their tasks.


PHEKADETEM: Again the double usage of "count" and "appoint".


4:28 ZOT AVODAT MISHPECHOT BENEY HA GERSHUNI BE OHEL MO'ED U MISHMARTAM BE YAD ITAMAR BEN AHARON HA KOHEN

זֹאת עֲבֹדַת מִשְׁפְּחֹת בְּנֵי הַגֵּרְשֻׁנִּי בְּאֹהֶל מוֹעֵד וּמִשְׁמַרְתָּם בְּיַד אִיתָמָר בֶּן אַהֲרֹן הַכֹּהֵן

KJ: This is the service of the families of the sons of Gershon in the tabernacle of the congregation: and their charge shall be under the hand of Ithamar the son of Aaron the priest.

BN: This is the service of the families of the sons of the Gershuni in the tabernacle of the congregation: and their charge shall be under the hand of Itamar ben Aharon the priest.


This constant use of the word AVODAH in a manner that clearly is not "slavery", must cause us to reconsider the status of the Habiru in Mitsrayim previously.


4:29 BENEY MERARI LE MISHPECHOTAM LE VEIT AVOTAM TIPHKOD OTAM

בְּנֵי מְרָרִי לְמִשְׁפְּחֹתָם לְבֵית אֲבֹתָם תִּפְקֹד אֹתָם

KJ: As for the sons of Merari, thou shalt number them after their families, by the house of their fathers;

BN: As for the Beney Merari, you shall count them by their families, by their clans


4:30 MI BEN SHELOSHIM SHANAH VA MA'LAH VE AD BEN CHAMISHIM SHANAH TIPHKEDEM KOL HA BA LA TSAVA LA'AVOD ET AVODAT OHEL MO'ED

מִבֶּן שְׁלֹשִׁים שָׁנָה וָמַעְלָה וְעַד בֶּן חֲמִשִּׁים שָׁנָה תִּפְקְדֵם כָּל הַבָּא לַצָּבָא לַעֲבֹד אֶת עֲבֹדַת אֹהֶל מוֹעֵד

KJ: From thirty years old and upward even unto fifty years old shalt thou number them, every one that entereth into the service, to do the work of the tabernacle of the congregation.

BN: From thirty years old and upward, to fifty years of age, you shall number them, every one that enters into service, to undertake the work of the tabernacle of the congregation.


4:31 VE ZOT MISHMERET MASA'AM LE CHOL AVODATAM BE OHEL MO'ED KARSHEY HA MISHKAN U VERICHAV VE AMUDAV VA ADANAV

וְזֹאת מִשְׁמֶרֶת מַשָּׂאָם לְכָל עֲבֹדָתָם בְּאֹהֶל מוֹעֵד קַרְשֵׁי הַמִּשְׁכָּן וּבְרִיחָיו וְעַמּוּדָיו וַאֲדָנָיו

KJ: And this is the charge of their burden, according to all their service in the tabernacle of the congregation; the boards of the tabernacle, and the bars thereof, and the pillars thereof, and sockets thereof,

BN: And this is the inventory of their duties, according to all their service in the tabernacle of the congregation; the boards of the tabernacle, and its bars, and its pillars, and its sockets


4:32 VE AMUDEY HE CHATSER SAVIV VE ADNEYHEM VI YITEDOTAM U MEYTREYHEM LE CHOL KELEYHEM U LE CHOL AVODATAM U VE SHEMOT TIPHKEDU ET KELEY MISHMERET MASA'AM

וְעַמּוּדֵי הֶחָצֵר סָבִיב וְאַדְנֵיהֶם וִיתֵדֹתָם וּמֵיתְרֵיהֶם לְכָל כְּלֵיהֶם וּלְכֹל עֲבֹדָתָם וּבְשֵׁמֹת תִּפְקְדוּ אֶת כְּלֵי מִשְׁמֶרֶת מַשָּׂאָם

KJ: And the pillars of the court round about, and their sockets, and their pins, and their cords, with all their instruments, and with all their service: and by name ye shall reckon the instruments of the charge of their burden.

BN: And the pillars that surround the court, and their sockets, and their pins, and their cords, with all their instruments, and with all their service: and by name you shall reckon the instruments of the charge of their burden.


I think that this last is a requirement to have a checklist, so that items can be signed off to confirm they have been completed. I am not sure how this would have been achieved in a world before alphabets and without papyrus.


4:33 ZOT AVODAT MISHPECHOT BENEY MERARI LE CHOL AVODATAM BE OHEL MO'ED BE YAD ITAMAR BEN AHARON HA KOHEN

זֹאת עֲבֹדַת מִשְׁפְּחֹת בְּנֵי מְרָרִי לְכָל עֲבֹדָתָם בְּאֹהֶל מוֹעֵד בְּיַד אִיתָמָר בֶּן אַהֲרֹן הַכֹּהֵן

KJ: This is the service of the families of the sons of Merari, according to all their service, in the tabernacle of the congregation, under the hand of Ithamar the son of Aaron the priest.

BN: These are the duties of the clans of the Beney Merari, according to all their service, in the tabernacle of the congregation, under the supervision of Itamar ben Aharon the Kohen.


4:34 VA YIPHKOD MOSHEH VE AHARON U NESIYEH HA EDAH ET BENEY HA KEHATI LE MISHPECHOTAM U LE VEIT AVOTAM

וַיִּפְקֹד מֹשֶׁה וְאַהֲרֹן וּנְשִׂיאֵי הָעֵדָה אֶת בְּנֵי הַקְּהָתִי לְמִשְׁפְּחֹתָם וּלְבֵית אֲבֹתָם

KJ: And Moses and Aaron and the chief of the congregation numbered the sons of the Kohathites after their families, and after the house of their fathers,

BN: And Mosheh and Aharon and the chiefs of the congregation numbered the Beney Kehat after their families, and after their clans


4:35 MI BEN SHELOSHIM SHANAH VA MA'LAH VE AD BEN CHAMISHIM SHANAH KOL HA BA LA TSAVA LA AVODAH BE OHEL MO'ED

מִבֶּן שְׁלֹשִׁים שָׁנָה וָמַעְלָה וְעַד בֶּן חֲמִשִּׁים שָׁנָה כָּל הַבָּא לַצָּבָא לַעֲבֹדָה בְּאֹהֶל מוֹעֵד

KJ: From thirty years old and upward even unto fifty years old, every one that entereth into the service, for the work in the tabernacle of the congregation:

BN: From thirty years old and upward, to fifty years of age, every one who entered into service for the work of the congregation in the tabernacle


4:36 VA YIHEYU PHEKUDEYHEM LE MISHPECHOTAM ALAPHAYIM SHEVA ME'OT VA CHAMISHIM

וַיִּהְיוּ פְקֻדֵיהֶם לְמִשְׁפְּחֹתָם אַלְפַּיִם שְׁבַע מֵאוֹת וַחֲמִשִּׁים 

KJ: And those that were numbered of them by their families were two thousand seven hundred and fifty.

BN: And those that were numbered of them by their families were two thousand, seven hundred and fifty.


Which does seem like an unnecessarily large number of people for what is essentially a very low-level job. Even sharing out all the individual tasks, and rotating them on a daily basis...


4:37 ELEH PHEKUDEY MISHPECHOT HA KEHATI KOL HA OVED BE OHEL MO'ED ASHER PAKAD MOSHEH VE AHARON AL PI YHVH BE YAD MOSHEH

אֵלֶּה פְקוּדֵי מִשְׁפְּחֹת הַקְּהָתִי כָּל הָעֹבֵד בְּאֹהֶל מוֹעֵד אֲשֶׁר פָּקַד מֹשֶׁה וְאַהֲרֹן עַל פִּי יְהוָה בְּיַד מֹשֶׁה

KJ: These were they that were numbered of the families of the Kohathites, all that might do service in the tabernacle of the congregation, which Moses and Aaron did number according to the commandment of the LORD by the hand of Moses.

BN: This was the total counted among the Beney Kehat, all who were eligible to undertake service in the tabernacle of the congregation, who Mosheh and Aharon counted, on the instruction of YHVH, under the supervision of Mosheh.


4:38 U PHEKUDEY BENEY GERSHON LE MISHPECHOTAM U LE VEIT AVOTAM

וּפְקוּדֵי בְּנֵי גֵרְשׁוֹן לְמִשְׁפְּחוֹתָם וּלְבֵית אֲבֹתָם

KJ: And those that were numbered of the sons of Gershon, throughout their families, and by the house of their fathers,

BN: And those that were numbered of the Beney Gershon, throughout their families, and by their clans


4:39 MI BEN SHELOSHIM SHANAH VA MA'LAH VE AD BEN CHAMISHIM SHANAH KOL HA BA LA TSAVA LA AVODAH BE OHEL MO'ED

מִבֶּן שְׁלֹשִׁים שָׁנָה וָמַעְלָה וְעַד בֶּן חֲמִשִּׁים שָׁנָה כָּל הַבָּא לַצָּבָא לַעֲבֹדָה בְּאֹהֶל מוֹעֵד

KJ: From thirty years old and upward even unto fifty years old, every one that entereth into the service, for the work in the tabernacle of the congregation,

BN: From thirty years old and upward, to fifty years of age, every one who was eligible to enter into service, to undertake the work of the congregation in the tabernacle


4:40 VA YIHEYU PEKUDEYHEM LE MISHPECHOTAM LE VEIT AVOTAM ALPAYIM VE SHESH ME'OT U SHELOSHIM

וַיִּהְיוּ פְּקֻדֵיהֶם לְמִשְׁפְּחֹתָם לְבֵית אֲבֹתָם אַלְפַּיִם וְשֵׁשׁ מֵאוֹת וּשְׁלֹשִׁים

KJ: Even those that were numbered of them, throughout their families, by the house of their fathers, were two thousand and six hundred and thirty.

BN: Even those that were numbered of them, by their families, by their clans, were two thousand, six hundred and thirty.


4:41 ELEH PHEKUDEY MISHPECHOT BENEY GERSHON KOL HA OVED BE OHEL MO'ED ASHER PAKAD MOSHEH VE AHARON AL PI YHVH

אֵלֶּה פְקוּדֵי מִשְׁפְּחֹת בְּנֵי גֵרְשׁוֹן כָּל הָעֹבֵד בְּאֹהֶל מוֹעֵד אֲשֶׁר פָּקַד מֹשֶׁה וְאַהֲרֹן עַל-פִּי יְהוָה

KJ: These are they that were numbered of the families of the sons of Gershon, of all that might do service in the tabernacle of the congregation, whom Moses and Aaron did number according to the commandment of the LORD.

BN: These are they that were numbered of the families of the Beney Gershon, of all that might undertake the service of the congregation in the tabernacle, who Mosheh and Aharon counted, on the instruction of YHVH.


4:42 U PHEKUDEY MISHPECHOT BENEY MERARI LE MISHPECHOTAM LE VEIT AVOTAM

וּפְקוּדֵי מִשְׁפְּחֹת בְּנֵי מְרָרִי לְמִשְׁפְּחֹתָם לְבֵית אֲבֹתָם

KJ: And those that were numbered of the families of the sons of Merari, throughout their families, by the house of their fathers,

BN: And those that were numbered of the families of the Bene Merari, by their families, by their clans


4:43 MI BEN SHELOSHIM SHANAH VA MA'LAH VE AD BEN CHAMISHIM SHANAH KOL HA BA LA TSAVA LA AVODAT BE OHEL MO'ED

מִבֶּן שְׁלֹשִׁים שָׁנָה וָמַעְלָה וְעַד בֶּן חֲמִשִּׁים שָׁנָה כָּל הַבָּא לַצָּבָא לַעֲבֹדָה בְּאֹהֶל מוֹעֵד

KJ: From thirty years old and upward even unto fifty years old, every one that entereth into the service, for the work in the tabernacle of the congregation,

BN: From thirty years old and upward, to fifty years old, every one that enters into service for the work of the congregation in the tabernacle


4:44 VA YIHEYU PHEKUDEYHEM LE MISHPECHOTAM SHELOSHET ALAPHIM U MATAYIM

וַיִּהְיוּ פְקֻדֵיהֶם לְמִשְׁפְּחֹתָם שְׁלֹשֶׁת אֲלָפִים וּמָאתָיִם

KJ: Even those that were numbered of them after their families, were three thousand and two hundred.

BN: Those of them that were counted, by their families, were three thousand, two hundred.


4:45 ELEH PHEKUDEY MISHPECHOT BENEY MERARI ASHER PAKAD MOSHEH VE AHARON AL PI YHVH BE YAD MOSHEH

אֵלֶּה פְקוּדֵי מִשְׁפְּחֹת בְּנֵי מְרָרִי אֲשֶׁר פָּקַד מֹשֶׁה וְאַהֲרֹן עַל פִּי יְהוָה בְּיַדמֹשֶׁה

KJ: These be those that were numbered of the families of the sons of Merari, whom Moses and Aaron numbered according to the word of the LORD by the hand of Moses.

BN: These are those that were numbered of the families of the Beney Merari, who Mosheh and Aharon counted, on the instruction of YHVH, under the supervision of Mosheh.


On this occasion the verse ends with BE YAD MOSHEH, where verse 41, for example, does not.


4:46 KOL HA PEKUDIM ASHER PAKAD MOSHEH VE AHARON VE NESIYEY YISRA-EL ET HA LEVIYIM LE MISHPECHOTAM U LE VEIT AVOTAM

כָּל הַפְּקֻדִים אֲשֶׁר פָּקַד מֹשֶׁה וְאַהֲרֹן וּנְשִׂיאֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל אֶת הַלְוִיִּם לְמִשְׁפְּחֹתָם וּלְבֵית אֲבֹתָם

KJ: All those that were numbered of the Levites, whom Moses and Aaron and the chief of Israel numbered, after their families, and after the house of their fathers,

BN: All those that were numbered of the Leviyim, whom Mosheh and Aharon and the chiefs of Yisra-El counted, by their families, and by their clans


4:47 MI BEN SHELOSHIM SHANAH VA MA'LAH VE AD BEN CHAMISHIM SHANAH KOL HA BA LA'AVOD AVODAT AVODAH VA AVODAH MASA BE OHEL MO'ED

מִבֶּן שְׁלֹשִׁים שָׁנָה וָמַעְלָה וְעַד בֶּן חֲמִשִּׁים שָׁנָה כָּל הַבָּא לַעֲבֹד עֲבֹדַת עֲבֹדָה וַעֲבֹדַת מַשָּׂא בְּאֹהֶל מוֹעֵד

KJ: From thirty years old and upward even unto fifty years old, every one that came to do the service of the ministry, and the service of the burden in the tabernacle of the congregation,

BN: From thirty years old and upward, to fifty years of age, every one that came to undertake the service of the ministry, and the service of the tasks in the tabernacle of the congregation.


The work of the worship (of the service of the slavery); in the end this particular piece of word-play, irresistible even to so puritanical and straight-laced a figure as the Redactor, becomes so complex in its layers of meaning that the question of slavery in Mitsrayim (Egypt) becomes contraversial.


4:48 VA YIHEYU PEKUDEYHEM SHEMONAT ALAPHIM VA CHAMESH ME'OT U SHEMONIM

וַיִּהְיוּ פְּקֻדֵיהֶם שְׁמֹנַת אֲלָפִים וַחֲמֵשׁ מֵאוֹת וּשְׁמֹנִים

KJ: Even those that were numbered of them, were eight thousand and five hundred and fourscore.

BN: And those of them that were numbered were eight thousand, five hundred and eighty


4:49 AL PI YHVH PAKAD OTAM BE YAD MOSHEH ISH ISH AL AVODATO VE AL MASAV U PHEKUDAV ASHER TSIVAH YHVH ET MOSHEH


עַל פִּי יְהוָה פָּקַד אוֹתָם בְּיַד מֹשֶׁה אִישׁ אִישׁ עַל עֲבֹדָתוֹ וְעַל מַשָּׂאוֹ וּפְקֻדָיו אֲשֶׁר צִוָּה יְהוָה אֶת מֹשֶׁה

KJ: According to the commandment of the LORD they were numbered by the hand of Moses, every one according to his service, and according to his burden: thus were they numbered of him, as the LORD commanded Moses.

BN: On the instruction of YHVH they were counted, under the supervision of Mosheh, every one according to his service, and according to his allocated tasks; thus were they numbered, as YHVH Lord instructed Mosheh.





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