The descendants of Gershon, or Gershom, the first named of the three sons of Levi, through his two sons Libni and Shimei. (1 Chron. 6:1, 16, 17) The Gershonites constituted one of the three great divisions of the Levites. At the first census in the wilderness they numbered 7,500 males from a month old and upward. Those from thirty to fifty years of age who served at the tabernacle numbered 2,630 males. (Num. 3:21, 22; 4:38-41) The service of the Gershonites in the wilderness included caring for the tent cloths of the tabernacle and the tent of meeting, the screen of the entrance of the tent of meeting, the hangings of the courtyard and the screen of the courtyard entrance. (Num. 3:23-26; 4:21-28) In the camp in the wilderness their place was on the W side of the tabernacle. Behind them, at a distance from the tabernacle, camped the three-tribe division of Ephraim. (Num. 3:23; 2:18) When the chieftains of Israel presented six covered wagons and twelve bulls for tabernacle service, Moses gave two wagons and four bulls to the sons of Gershon. (Num. 7:1-7) When moving camp the Gershonites marched with the Merarites between the leading three-tribe divisions of Judah and the three-tribe division of Reuben.—Num. 10:14-20.
The Gershonites were allotted thirteen cities with pasture grounds in the territories of Manasseh, Issachar, Asher, and Naphtali. Kedesh, in Galilee, and Golan, in Bashan, allotted to them, were two of the nation’s six cities of refuge. (Josh. 21:27-33) When David reorganized the Levites, special singing, treasury and other duties were given to some of the Gershonites. (1 Chron. 6:31, 32, 39-43; 23:4-11; 26:21, 22) Gershonites were among the Levites who engaged in the work of cleansing the temple in the days of King Hezekiah.—2 Chron. 29:12-17.