Bible Answer

Explain Numbers 4:12

Can you please help me understand Numbers 4, particularly verse 12.

In the first half of Numbers 4 we read about the requirements for the priests moving the camp of Israel. The Kohathites ("descendants" or "sons of Kohath")—who included Moses, Aaron, and the priests—were in charge of the tabernacle furniture ("furnishings"), including the ark. God told them how to prepare the various pieces of furniture for travel, and how to "carry" them. The priests (Aaron and his sons) wrapped the articles of furniture, except the laver, in various, specially prescribed scarlet and blue cloths, or porpoise skins.  Then, the other Kohathites carried them. It is to be noted that the ark was to have the blue ("violet") cloth placed over the skins [v. 6], not under as with the other holy things (vv. 7- 10). By such means the ark could be distinguished in the march (10:33).

Touching a holy piece of furniture, or even looking at one, would result in certain death ("so that they will not touch the holy objects and die . . . they shall not go in to see the holy objects even for a moment, or they will die"; vv. 15, 20).