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Recall that originally the First Born
served as priests. After the sin of the Golden calf the
first born were replaced by the Levites. The Bible at Nu0339
tells us that there were 22,000 Levites. But if we subtotal all
the Levite tribes we find 22,300 Levites. Rashi explains that
there were in fact 22,000 nonfirstborn levites, since the 300
first born levites replaced themselves. There were 22,273 first born.
Hence the 22,000 Levites could replace all but 273 first born. These
273 first born had to be redeemed with five dollars per person.
These details are summarized in the spreadsheet below. This is a good
example of the spreadsheet method since Rashi literally uses a spreadsheet
structure to illuminate the verses. Note particularly the column labeled Source.
Here each comment is either a verse or some derived mathematical computation. These derived
mathematical computations are in fact the contents of the Rashi comments. The spreadsheet
below simply makes the Rashis clearer and more obvious.
Line Item

Count of

Verse

Count

Source

Line 1

Gershon

Nu0322

7,600

Verse

Line 2

Kehath

Nu0328

5,600

Verse

Line 3

Merari

Nu0333

6,200

Verse

Line 4

All Levites

'

22,300

Total #1#3

Line 5

All [Non 1stBorn] Levites: Verse Subtotal

Nu0339b

22,000

Verse

Line 6

1st Born Levites

'

300

Inference: Line #4  #5

Line 7

1st Born Israelites

Nu0343

22,273

Verse

Line 8

Unpaired 1st BornLevite

Nu0346a

273

Verse: Line #7  #5

Advanced Rashi: Rashi makes some additional clarifications
one of which is surprisingly modern.

There were 22,000 Levites and 22,273 firstborn.
 The 22,000 first born were redeemed by the 22,000 Levites.
 The remaining 273 firstborn were redeemed at $5 per person, resulting
in a collection of $5 x 273 = $1365.
 Moses distributed 22,273 bags. 22,000 were labeled, "Redemption by Levite
replacement," while 273 were labeled, "Kindly place $5 in the bag to redeem yourself."
By using this random bag method Moses achieved equity and fairness in selecting
273 firstborn to give $5. [Such allocation methods are in fact very modern in flavor.]

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