1 The sons of Levi; Gershon, Kohath, and Merari.

Old Covenant of the Kingdom

The Mosaic code was the covenant of the kingdom of God for 1617 years, exclusive of the 70 years in Babylon. The Twelve Tribes received it under the Levitical Priesthood, (Heb. 7:11.) which was imperfect, and therefore destined to be changed at some future period. Hence this change would necessitate also a change of the Covenant.-verse 12.

The Levitical Priesthood

This was constituted after the law of a carnal commandment...The office [of high priest] was held for life but the service of the ordinary priests only for a term of years. The Levitical Priesthood was changeable, being left of one to another. Hence, it is said to be, with father, with mother, and with pedigree, having beginning of days and end of life.

the Levites were employed in the lower services in the temple by which they were distinguished from the priests. They obeyed the Aaronites or higher officials in the ministrations of the temple, and sung and played on instruments in the daily service.

They studied the law, and were the ordinary judges of the country; but subordinate to the priests. It was contrary to the law, and punishable with death, for the priests to officiate without washing their hands and their feet in the laver of brass between the altar and temple. These washings were imposed "till the time of emendation."

Herald of the Kingdom and Age to Come, Sept 1851

3 And the children of Amram; Aaron, and Moses, and Miriam.

The sons also of Aaron; Nadab, and Abihu, Eleazar, and Ithamar.

Aaron was called of God to be the first High Priest of the nation; and the office was perpetuated in his family so long as the Mosaic covenant should continue the constitution of the kingdom. The office was held for life. The priests who officiated at the altar, and in the Holy, and Most Holy, were Aaron and his sons, or their descendants.

..The High Priest was at the head of all religious affairs, and was the ordinary judge of all difficulties thereto belonging, and even of the general justice and judgment of the nation. He only had the privilege of entering the Most Holy apartment of the Temple once a year, on the day of solemn expiation, to make atonement for the sins of the whole nation.

The priests of the House of Aaron served immediately at the altar, killed, skinned, and offered the sacrifices. They kept up a perpetual fire on the altar of burnt sacrifices, and in the lamps of the golden candlestick in the holy apartment of the Temple.

They kneaded the loaves of shew-bread, baked them, offered them on the golden table, and changed them every sabbath day. Every day, night and morning, a priest appointed by casting of lots at the beginning of the week, brought into the holy place a smoking censer of incense, and set it on the golden altar, called the altar of incense.

A principal employment of the priests next to attending to the sacrifices, and the temple service, was the instruction of the people, and the deciding of controversies.

"For the priest's lips should keep knowledge, and they should seek the law at his mouth; for he is the messenger of the Lord of hosts."-Mal. 2:7.

In time of war their duty was to carry the ark of the covenant, to consult the Lord, to sound the holy trumpets, and to encourage the army.

Herald of the Kingdom and Age to Come, Sept 1851

33 And these are they that waited with their children. Of the sons of the Kohathites: Heman a singer, the son of Joel, the son of Shemuel,

When the tabernacle was set up in Shiloh, 18 the work of the Levites changed, since the Kohathites would no longer be needed to carry the ark and other items on their journeys. But that concern for the ark, which they had borne throughout the wilderness, remained the spiritual focus of the family. Even in later times, they never forgot the charge, and were there to act when the sacredness of the ark was under threat. 19 (1 Chronicles 6:34-36).

At such times, it was clear that their role was distinctly more than ceremonial. But with the tabernacle settled in its own place, there came other responsibilities for a more permanent system of worship. There were many tasks which needed to be fulfilled, as the spiritual calendar of the nation, codified in the Law of Moses, began its yearly rhythm.

The Kohathites were responsible for matters which all stood related to the holiness of the sanctuary and the worship of God. Such was the importance of their labour that the Kohathites came under the direct supervision of the High Priest elect, who superintended their work. 20

Many and varied were the tasks which fell to the family of Kohath. Some had charge of all the temple vessels, caring for them in their use, and accounting for their tally. Others were involved with the instruments of the sanctuary to ensure that they were always on hand.

Some within the family were responsible for all the holy ingredients to be used in the holy offerings. The fine flour, the oil, the wine, the frankincense, the spices all came under the watchful eye of Kohathite ministers. The cooking of the meal offerings, and even the weekly shewbread was theirs to prepare. 21

Each branch of the house of Levi provided singers for the sanctuary, and there was a Kohathite choir who offered praise in subsequent generations. 22

The family were evidently faithful in their execution of these tasks. So dedicated was their spirit, that David 23 confirm them in their duties for the much greater tasks of the temple worship which began in Solomon's day. But the greatest charge of the Kohathites lay in being made the guardians of the thresholds of the tabernacle. 24

Their appointment to this role came long before the days of David and even of Elkanah, dating back to the time when Eleazar, the son of Aaron, was High Priest and Phinehas his son was the High Priest elect. As their most illustrious preceptor, Phinehas imbued them with a strong sense of responsibility, and what it truly meant to be the guardians of the house. Under his tutelage, they learned to be zealous for God's honour, to be faithful guardians'of the Lord's holiness, and the dedicated upholders of the purity of His sanctuary. 25

Samuel and David would later determine that these Kohathite guardians of the thresholds should continue to fulfil their role in the temple service. 26 So devoted were they to this charge, that they chose to lodge round about the house, to be on hand at all times to attend to the opening and the closing of the doors. It was the highest honour to which they would be appointed, and the standard of their household ever after. 27

Bro Roger Lewis - Handmaid of the Highest

18 Joshua 18:1.

19 Both the tragedy of Uzzah in David's time (1 Chronicles 15:2,3,15,26), and the idolatry of Manasseh (2 Chronicles 33:4,7) before Josiah's reign (2 Chronicles 35: 2,3) gave evidence that Kohath had stepped forward to fulfil their ancient role, when occasion required.

20 Eieazar presided over their charge from the outset of the tabernacle service (Numbers 3:30-32).

21 This catalogue of duties evidently fell to their lot from the earliest of times (1 Chronicles 9:23-33).

22 Kohathite singers were seen in the times of several later kings: David (1 Chronicles 15:16,17), Jehoshaphat (2 Chronicles 20:19), and Josiah (2 Chronicles 34:12). But the offering of praise to God must have begun much earlier in the nation's history as an essential part of worship. The Levites would always have been to the forefront of this matter of sanctuary service.

23 David's confirmation of these to continue in the offices they had previously held, was presumably because of the faithful discharge of their duties (1 Chronicles 23:26-29). The context of the passage clearly refers to Kohathite Levites in particular.

24 The record in Chronicles (which concerns those returning from the captivity), indicated that the task of being keepers of the thresholds belonged to Kohathites. But the record was careful to note that this appointment came, not in the days of Solomon's temple, but during the earlier period of tabernacle worship (1 Chronicles 9:19,21).

25 Phinehas himself was zealous for God's honour and holiness at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation (Numbers 25:6-13). There was no better example of guardianship to inspire the Kohathites. His charge over Kohath (1 Chronicles 9:20) is rendered the more remarkable by the fact that he is the only High Priest elect singled out as having been over them. Clearly, his example inspired the household through their future generations.

26 Kohathite doorkeepers were established in their office by Samuel because of their continued faithfulness (1 Chronicles 9:22). Given his own outstanding example of being a diligent guardian of the door (1 Samuel 3:15), this was an affirmation of the high regard in which they were held.

27 The spirit of being the guardians of the threshold was the essence of one of their most famous family psalms (Psalm 84:10).