New Defender's Study Bible Notes
4:2 Take the sum. This census was supplementary to that described in Numbers 3, to obtain the number of Levites, age thirty to fifty, available for work in the tabernacle, with each of the three families (Kohath, Gershon, Merari) assigned to specific tasks. The resulting number turned out to be 8580 men (Numbers 3:47,48).
4:3 into the host. The term “host” means “army.” Thus the Levites were considered as much a part of God’s army as those who would fight the coming battles (note I Samuel 30:24).
4:16 office of Eleazar. Eleazar, “chief over the chief of the Levites” (Numbers 3:32) is mentioned along with the duties of the Kohathites, since he was of that family. However, as son of Aaron, he was a priest, and so had special duties distinct from those of the other Kohathites.
4:23 perform the service. The Hebrew word here rendered “perform” is also frequently translated “fight” or “war.” This is another military metaphor for the service of the tabernacle.