Kohath was the son of Levi. It fell to the descendants of Levi to transport the ark of the covenant, along with the lampstands and other tabernacle accessories. When the Hebrew camp was ready to move and the tabernacle needed to be transported, God entrusted Kohath’s family with the care of the most holy things.
Num.4.4 “This is the assigned work of the Kohathites in the Tent of Meeting: care of the most holy things.”
Though their job required them to transport these holy items, they were prohibited from physically touching them.
Numbers 4:15 reads, “And when Aaron and his sons have finished covering the sanctuary and all the furnishings of the sanctuary, as the camp sets out, after that the sons of Kohath shall come to carry these, but they must not touch the holy things, lest they die” (Numbers 4:15 ESV).
Carrying these special items wasn’t easy. Considered too holy to be shuttled by a wagon or cart, these heavy golden objects were supported by beams and then carried between the shoulders of the men of this family (see Numbers 7:9). God instructed the Kohathites to demonstrate the utmost reverence and respect as they completed their task, indicating that even leering at the items inappropriately could result in His judgment (Numbers 4:20).
When the Hebrew people settled the Promised Land, Joshua rewarded Kohath’s family for their faithful service through the years. As their reward, they were the first Levites to receive towns in which to settle (Joshua 21:4). Though Kohath never knew it, his service yielded an immense privilege for the descendants that came behind him.
The legacy of the Kohathites continued through their service to Judah’s monarchy. David organized them (as found in 1Chronicles 23:12; 24:20–25), they worshipped along with Jehoshaphat (2 Chronicles 20:19), and Hezekiah commissioned them during the cleansing of the temple (2 Chronicles 29:12, 14).