Numbers 7

Numbers 7 has Moses preparing the Levites for the work of caring for the tabernacle.  “On the day when Moses had finished setting up the tabernacle and had anointed and consecrated it with all its furnishings and had anointed and consecrated the altar”.  As soon as Moses had set up God’s Tent, he dedicated it to the LORD. He dedicated everything, the altar, the furniture and all the equipment. Then the 12 leaders of Israel’s tribes came to God’s Tent. They brought gifts for the LORD. These men were the leaders of the people whom they had counted. They brought 6 strong carts and 12 oxen. There was a cart from every two leaders and an ox from every leader.

These carts and oxen were provided to the Levite clans that were taking care of the tabernacle.  One got two, another four of the carts but “to the sons of Kohath he gave none, because they were charged with the service of the holy things that had to be carried on the shoulder”.  The other two clans had to do the heavy lifting and moving.  The clan of Kohath carried the fragile things from inside the tabernacle and they were not to be hauled but carried on their shoulders.

The balance of the chapter lists the gifts that were to be brought by the twelve different tribal leaders:

  • A plate and a basin that people had made from silver. The plate weighed 1.5 kilograms. The basin weighed almost 1 kilogram. Both the plate and the basin had grain offerings in them, of flour and oil.
  • A small dish that people had made from gold. It was full of incense.
  • A young bull, an adult male sheep and a male sheep that was a year old. These were for the burnt offerings.
  • A male goat for the sin offering.
  • Two bulls, 5 adult male sheep, 5 male goats, and 5 male sheep that were one year old. These were for the peace offerings.

Each gave the same gifts.

Here is the list of leaders and the order in which they gave their gifts.  They happened on different days in this order:

  1. Nahshon (Amminadab’s son) from Judah’s tribe.
  2. Nethanel (Zuar’s son) from Issachar’s tribe.
  3. Eliab (Helon’s son) from Zebulun’s tribe.
  4. Elizur (Shedeur’s son) from Reuben’s tribe.
  5. Shelumiel (Zurishaddai’s son) from Simeon’s tribe.
  6. Eliasaph (Deuel’s son) from Gad’s tribe.
  7. Elishama (Ammihud’s son) from Ephraim’s tribe.
  8. Gamaliel (Pedahzur’s son) from Manasseh’s tribe.
  9. Abidan (Gideoni’s son) from Benjamin’s tribe.
  10. Ahiezer (Ammishaddai’s son) from Dan’s tribe.
  11. Pagiel (Ocran’s son) from Asher’s tribe.
  12. Ahira (Enan’s son) from Naphtali’s tribe.

This is the longest chapter in the Old Testament, apart from Psalm 119.  The gifts and offerings were very expensive. But the leaders were happy to give them. The Hebrew word for offering is from a word that means ‘to come near’ to someone or something. When the leaders brought gifts to God’s Tent, they brought them near to God.

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