14. AT THE COMMAND OF HASHEM, BY
THEIR FAMILIES, ALL MALES FROM A MONTH OLD AND UPWARD, WERE TWENTY AND TWO
You will find(5) that the tribe of Levi, in the detailed
numbering, consisted of twenty-two thousand and three hundred. For there were
three(6) families - Gershon, Kohat, and Merari.(7)
Now if you take each family separately and compute the
figures in it--seven thousand and five hundred,(8) eight thousand and six
hundred for Kohat, six thousand and two hundred for Merari-the total for all
amounts to twenty-two thousand and three hundred. Yet when the Levi'im are
counted all together, their numbers are given as twenty-two thousand: where
were the three hundred?
The detailed numbers were in fact given in order to make
known how many there were in each family. But a sum total of twenty-two
thousand, a reduction of three hundred from the real figure, is given because
this numbering was in order to compare them with the number of firstborn for
the purpose of redeeming the firstborn Yisra'elites. He deducted from their
number three hundred who were firstborn belonging to the Levi'im, because one
firstborn cannot redeem another firstborn.
For this reason there are twenty-two thousand and three
hundred in the numbering of the families, and twenty-two thousand in the total
used for the redemption of the firstborn Yisra'elim.
(5) Cf. infra, 4:9.
(6) So Rash.; cur. ed. ' four’.
(7) Emended with Rash.; cur. ed. add ‘and Moshe’.
(8) Text as emended according to Rash.; cur. ed. ‘eight hundred’.