Kohath was the second son of Levi (Gen. xlvi. 11; Ex. vi. 16; Num. iii. 17; I Chron. vi. 1) and progenitor of the Levitical division of the Kohathites. Born in the land of Canaan, he was one of those who went with Jacob to Egypt (Gen. xlvi. 8, 11), where he died at the age of 133, leaving four sons (Ex. vi. 18). The division of the Kohathites was more important than the other two Levitical divisions. Even when wandering in the wilderness, the Kohathites were divided into four families (Num. iii. 27); the whole number of their males over a month old was 8,600 (ib. iii. 28) and from thirty to fifty years of age, 2,750 (ib. iv. 2, 3, 36). To them was entrusted the transportation of the sanctuary and its furniture (ib. iii. 31, iv. 4-15), a very honorable office, and one in which great precautions had to be taken not to touch the objects carried (ib. iv. 15, 18-20). In the camp their position was south of the Tabernacle (iii. 28); and when journeying they preceded the Gershonites (ib. iv.; Josh. xxi.). Owing to the great holiness of their burden, the Kohathites carried it upon their shoulders (Num. vii. 9). In the wilderness their chief was Elizaphan ben Uzziel (ib. iii. 30). After the settlement of the Israelites in the land of Canaan, thirteen cities out of Judah, Simeon, and Benjamin were allotted to the priests, descendants of Kohath (Josh. xxi. 4, 13-19), and ten others out of Ephraim, Dan, and western Manasseh to the rest of the Kohathites (ib. xxi. 5, 20-26; I Chron. vi. 57-61, 67-70).

Besides Moses and Aaron, there were other eminent Kohathites; e.g., the prophet Samuel and his grandson Heman. In David's division of the Levites into groups, descendants of the four Kohathite families are mentioned as heads of fathers' houses (I Chron. xxiii. 12-20). They are described also as taking part in the Temple service in the time of Jehoshaphat (II Chron. xx. 19) and as cooperating in the cleansing of the Temple in the reign of Hezekiah (ib. xxix. 12, 14). There is no mention of the Kohathites after the Exile.

E. G. H. M. Sel.
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