Responsibilities of the Kehat Family

May 17, 2015

וַיְדַבֵּר יְהֹוָה אֶל־מֹשֶׁה וְאֶל־אַהֲרֹן לֵאמֹר׃

Hashem spoke to Moshe and Aharon, saying:

Numbers 4:1

וְלֹא־יָבֹאוּ לִרְאוֹת כְּבַלַּע אֶת־הַקֹּדֶשׁ וָמֵתוּ׃

But let not [the Kohathites] go inside and witness the dismantling of the sanctuary, lest they die.

Numbers 4:20

Having been counted for redemption purposes, the Levites are now recounted for work, from the age of thirty to fifty. While Gershon and Merari’s responsibilities will be elaborated upon next week, our portion ends with the details of Kehat’s work.


The members of Kehat are in charge of the holiest vessels of the Tabernacle. These include the Ark of the Covenant, the Table of the Showbread, the Menorah and the altars. Aaron and his sons, who are also descendents or Kehat, are instructed to cover these holy vessels so that the members of the family do not come in direct contact with the intensity of that holiness and thereby get harmed. Although in charge of transporting the holiest vessels, the members of Kehat are still not permitted to see inside the Holy of Holies. When Aaron and his sons are done, the members of Kehat are commanded to transport them, each one appointed to a specific duty by the priests. Aaron’s son Eleazar is to supervise the transport of  the Menorah oil, incense, the meal offering and the anointing oil. He is also in charge of the overall effort.


God warns Moses and Aaron not to “cut…off the tribe of the families of the Kohathites from among the Levites” by being careless with covering the vessels or keeping the people out of the Holy of Holies. According to the Israel Bible, this shows that not only does God care for each of us, He holds us responsible for the well-being of one another, as well.


Virtual Classroom Discussion

Why do you think the service of the Levites is limited to the ages of 30-50?

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