Now it gets a bit more interesting because of an obvious error, pointed out by Edward Falzon. The total number of males in the Levite clan (v 39) is incorrect ie the math is wrong. Gershonite 7500 + Kohathite 8600 + Merarite 6200 = 22,300, not 22,000.
Then, based on this faulty math, the people have to pay a sort of fine (can anyone explain why?) to ‘redeem’ the number of first-born sons in excess of the number of Levite males. There were 22, 273 first-born sons, so the fine was paid on 273 of them, which they would not have had to pay if the math had been correct. Bet you can’t guess who the fine was paid to – Aaron (the priest, what a surprise again!)
What struck me as peculiar about this chapter is the large groups of men assigned to minor tasks. For example, the Gershonite clan, with 2630 males eligible to serve in the tabernacle, was assigned to care for the tent with its coverings, curtains, and ropes. Kind of reminds me of the old jokes about how many (insert ethnic slur here)’s it takes to (insert common simple task). I mean, really, even if it’s a big tent, it can’t take thousands of men to look after it.
And no sloughing off work! Screw up by even accidentally touching a sacred object and you die an instant death! (verses 15 and 20). Yahweh was certainly not a kindly taskmaster.