In Numbers 4:1-20, God goes into more detail about how the Kohathites are to care for and move about the furniture in the Tabernacle. Note that in the previous listing, God mentioned the Gershonites before the Kohathites, but is now the order is reversed. We might think this is a flaw, but our feeble minds obviously canít understand why changing the order in lists is more efficient than maintaining a constant order throughout. Boy are we dumb!
Anyway, God goes into detail with all the various types of things in the tabernacle, the bread that canít be eaten, the incense that canít be worn, the flesh hooks for moving carcasses, and the various other objects that any sane and not-at-all-psychopathic deity would demand. All of these things are to first be covered by Aaronís sons with colorful linens and then badger skins, or, as modern translations say, dugong skins. Thatís right, translators canít tell the difference between dugongs and badgers, two completely different animals! They may have failed to translate tachash, but donít you worry, they totally got all the rest of the words right!
After the priests cover all the furniture, the Kohathites are expected to pick up and move everything through the desert, including even the Ark of the Covenant. But of course, they arenít allowed to touch any of these holy things or God will murder them. I donít think theyíre expected to learn telepathy in order to accomplish this feat, but rather, they can touch the cloth coverings, but not the gold furniture underneath. Of course, if the coverings were to suddenly slip off, and a Kohathite accidentally brushed the object with their hands, DEATH!
God specifically says that all Kohathites between the ages of 30 and 50 are expected to help move everything. Okay, now I know back then people didnít live nearly as long as they do now, but really, when you have 8,600 men in your tribe, a fair amount of them are going to fit into this age bracket. In fact, the upcoming Numbers 4:36 gives the precise count: 2,750! Does it really take that many men to move the contents of the tabernacle? Not the tent or its poles mind you, just the six items in the tabernacle (Ark, bread table, incense altar, menorah, basin, and sacrificial grill, and their utensils). Doesnít 458 men per piece of furniture seem like a bit of overkill? How silly would it look watching all those men each trying to get a hand on the menorah?