Chapter 3- God tells Moses and Aaron that the Levites will minister to the tabernacle and the needs of the priests. A list is given of the heads of households amongst the Levites, their populations, where they were to camp, and their duties. All firstborn children, human and animal, belong to God, but instead of them having to serve God directly, the Levites will serve in their stead.
It’s very convenient that the number of firstborn sons and the number of male Levites was so very similar: 22 thousand male Levites vs 22,273 firstborn sons in Israel. That works out suspiciously well, although the Bible does say that the extra 273 had to give 5 shekels to Aaron to “redeem” themselves from their first son duties, since there wasn’t a Levite to replace them.
Again, only the males are important, although this time it’s all males 1 month and older. So, it’s good to see children and elderly getting some representation (as long as they posses a penis, of course).
This chapter also repeats twice the threat of death for any non-Levite who messes with the tabernacle. God means business.
Chapter 4- When it’s time to move camp, Aaron and his sons should cover the ark, altar, utensils, etc with cloth and badger skins, and put them on poles for carrying. The Kohathites are tasked with carry the items, but anyone who watches them being wrapped or touches the items directly while carrying will die. The Gershonites will carry the tabernacle curtains, hangings and doors. The Merarites will carry the poles, pillars, boards, etc.
Men between ages 30-50 from these sub-sets of the tribe of Levi were numbered in a census, and there were 8,580 of them. This tabernacle must have been ginormous to require 8.5 thousand moving men!
I was curious about that business with the badger skins. Are there even badgers in that part of the world? According to this map on wikipedia showing the ranges of different badger species, there are none in Egypt, but honey badgers can be found in Saudi Arabia, Israel and Iraq, and European badgers in parts of Syria and Lebanon. So, that meets my fact-checking approval. It’s possible they really had access to badger skins.