Exodus 29-32 Common English Bible (CEB)
Instructions for the priests’ ordination
29 Now this is what you should do to make them holy in order to serve me as priests. Take a young bull and two flawless rams. 2 Take unleavened bread, unleavened flatbread made with oil, and unleavened wafers spread with oil. Make them out of high-quality wheat flour. 3 Put them all in one basket and present them in the basket along with the bull and the two rams. 4 Present Aaron and his sons at the entrance to the meeting tent and wash them with water. 5 Then take the priestly clothes and put them on Aaron: the tunic, the vest’s robe, the vest itself, and the chest pendant. Put the vest on him with the vest’s belt. 6 Set the turban on his head and place the holy crown on the turban. 7 Take the anointing oil and pour it on his head to anoint him. 8 Then present his sons and put the tunics on them. 9 Tighten the sashes on them, on both Aaron and his sons. Wrap the turbans on their heads. It will be a permanent regulation that the duties of priesthood belong to them. In this way, you will ordain Aaron and his sons.
10 Present the bull at the front of the meeting tent. Aaron and his sons will lay their hands on the bull’s head. 11 Then slaughter the bull in the Lord’s presence at the meeting tent’s entrance. 12 Take some of the bull’s blood and smear it on the altar’s horns with your finger. Pour out the rest of the blood at the altar’s base. 13 Then take all the fat that covers the inner organs, the lobe of the liver, and the two kidneys along with the fat that is on them, and burn them up in smoke on the altar. 14 Burn the rest of the meat of the bull, its hide, and the intestines with their contents with a fire outside the camp. It is a purification offering.
15 Choose one of the rams, and have Aaron and his sons lay their hands on the ram’s head. 16 Then slaughter the ram. Take its blood and throw it against all the altar’s sides. 17 Cut up the ram into parts. Wash its inner organs and legs, and put them together with its parts and its head. 18 Then turn the entire ram into smoke by burning it on the altar. It is an entirely burned offering for the Lord, a soothing smell, a food gift for the Lord.
19 Take the second ram, and have Aaron and his sons lay their hands on the ram’s head. 20 Slaughter the ram. Take some of its blood and smear it on the right earlobes of Aaron and his sons, on the thumbs of their right hands, and on the big toes of their right feet. Throw the rest of the blood against all the altar’s sides. 21 Then take some of the blood on the altar and some of the anointing oil and sprinkle them on Aaron and on his clothes and on his sons and on his sons’ clothes. In this way, Aaron, his sons, and all their priestly garments will be holy.
22 Take the fatty parts of the ram: the fat tail, the fat around the inner organs, the lobe of the liver, the two kidneys with the fat around them, and the right thigh (because it is a ram for ordination). 23 Add one loaf of bread, one flatbread made with oil, and one wafer from the basket of unleavened bread that was presented to the Lord. 24 Place all of these in the hands of Aaron and his sons, and lift them as an uplifted offering in the Lord’s presence. 25 Then take them from their hands and turn them into smoke by burning them on the altar with the entirely burned offering as a soothing smell in the Lord’s presence. It is a food gift for the Lord.
26 Take the breast of the ram for Aaron’s ordination and lift it as an uplifted offering in the Lord’s presence. It will be your portion. 27 Make holy the breast that was lifted for the uplifted offering and the thigh that was raised for the gift offering from the ram for the ordination. They belong to Aaron and his sons. 28 Those parts will be given to Aaron and his sons from the Israelites as a permanent provision, because they are a gift offering. They will be a gift offering from the Israelites, their gift offering to the Lord from their well-being sacrifices.
29 Aaron’s holy clothes should be passed on to his sons after him. His sons should be anointed in them and ordained in them. 30 The son who is priest in his place should wear them seven days when he comes into the meeting tent to minister in the sanctuary.
31 Take the ram for the ordination and boil its meat in a holy place. 32 Aaron and his sons will eat the ram’s meat and the bread that is in the basket at the meeting tent’s entrance. 33 They alone should eat the food that was used to purify them, to ordain them, and to make them holy. No one else should eat it because it is holy. 34 If any meat for the ordination or any of the bread is left over until morning, then you should burn the leftovers with fire. It shouldn’t be eaten because it’s holy.
35 Treat Aaron and his sons just as I have commanded you. Ordain them for seven days. 36 Every day you should offer a bull as a purification offering for reconciliation. You should remove the sin from the altar through a ritual of reconciliation, and you should anoint the altar to make it holy. 37 Seven days you should perform the ritual of reconciliation for the altar and make it holy. In this way, the altar will become most holy, and whatever touches the altar will also become holy.
Instructions for daily entirely burned offerings
38 Now this is what you should offer on the altar: two one-year-old lambs regularly every day. 39 Offer one lamb in the morning and offer the other lamb at twilight. 40 With the first lamb, add one-tenth of a measure of the high-quality flour mixed with a quarter of a hin[a] of oil from crushed olives and a quarter of a hin of wine for a drink offering. 41 With the second lamb offered at twilight, again include a grain offering and its drink offering as in the morning as a soothing smell, a gift offering for the Lord. 42 This should be the regular entirely burned offering in every generation at the meeting tent’s entrance in the Lord’s presence. There I will meet with you, and there I will speak to you. 43 I will meet with the Israelites there, and it will be made holy by my glorious presence. 44 I will make the meeting tent and the altar holy. Likewise, I will make Aaron and his sons holy to serve me as priests. 45 I will be at home among the Israelites, and I will be their God. 46 They will know that I am the Lord their God, who brought them out of the land of Egypt so that I could make a home among them. I am the Lord their God.
Instructions for the incense altar
30 Make an acacia-wood altar for burning incense. 2 The altar should be square, eighteen inches long and eighteen inches wide. It should be three feet high. Its horns should be permanently attached. 3 Cover the altar with pure gold, including its top, all its sides, and its horns. You should also make a gold molding all around it. 4 Make two gold rings and attach them under the molding on two opposite sides of the altar. They will house the poles used to carry the altar. 5 Make acacia-wood poles and cover them with gold. 6 Place the incense altar in front of the veil that hangs before the chest containing the covenant, in front of the cover that is on top of the covenant document where I will meet with you. 7 Aaron will burn sweet-smelling incense on the incense altar every morning when he takes care of the lamps. 8 And again when Aaron lights the lamps at twilight, he will burn incense. It should be a regular incense offering in the Lord’s presence in every generation. 9 Don’t offer the wrong incense on the altar or an entirely burned offering or a grain offering. Don’t pour a drink offering on it. 10 Once a year Aaron should perform a ritual of reconciliation on its horns with the blood of the purification offering for reconciliation. Once a year in every generation he should perform a ritual of reconciliation at the altar. It is most holy to the Lord.
Census and compensation
11 The Lord spoke to Moses: 12 When you take a census of the Israelites to count them, each of them should pay compensation for their life to the Lord when they are counted. Then no plague will descend on them when they are counted. 13 Every one who is counted should pay a half shekel according to the official shekel of the sanctuary (the shekel is twenty gerahs). The half shekel is a gift offering to the Lord. 14 Every one who is counted, from 20 years old and above, should present a gift offering to the Lord. 15 When you bring this gift offering to the Lord to pay compensation for your lives, the rich shouldn’t give more and the poor shouldn’t give less than the half shekel. 16 Take the compensation money from the Israelites and use it to support the service of the meeting tent. It will serve for the Israelites as a reminder in the Lord’s presence of the compensation paid for your lives.
Instructions for the washbasin
17 The Lord spoke to Moses: 18 Make a copper basin for washing along with its copper stand. Put it between the meeting tent and the altar, and put water in it. 19 Aaron and his sons will use it to wash their hands and their feet. 20 When they go into the meeting tent or approach the altar to minister and to offer a food gift to the Lord, they must wash with water so that they don’t die. 21 They must wash their hands and their feet so that they don’t die. This will be a permanent regulation for them, for Aaron and his descendants in every generation.
Instructions for oil and incense
22 The Lord spoke to Moses: 23 Now take for yourself high-quality spices: five hundred weight of solid myrrh; half as much of sweet-smelling cinnamon, that is, two hundred fifty; two hundred fifty weight of sweet-smelling cane; 24 five hundred of cassia—measured by the sanctuary shekel—and a hin[b] of olive oil. 25 Prepare a holy anointing oil, blending them like a skilled perfume maker to produce the holy anointing oil. 26 Use it to anoint the meeting tent, the chest containing the covenant, 27 the table and all its equipment, the lampstand and its equipment, the incense altar, 28 the altar for entirely burned offerings and all its equipment, and the washbasin with its stand. 29 Make them holy so that they may be perfectly holy. Whatever touches them will become holy. 30 Then anoint Aaron and his sons and make them holy to serve me as priests. 31 Say to the Israelites: This will be my holy anointing oil in every generation. 32 Don’t allow anyone else to use this oil. Don’t make another oil like it by using the same formula. This oil is holy, and you should regard it as holy. 33 Whoever blends an oil like it or whoever uses the oil on someone else will be cut off from the people.
34 The Lord said to Moses: Take an equal amount of each of these spices: gum resin, onycha, galbanum, and pure frankincense. 35 Like a skilled perfume maker, carefully blend them together and make incense, seasoned with salt, pure and holy. 36 Beat some of it into a fine powder and put part of it in front of the covenant document in the meeting tent where I will meet with you. You should regard it as perfectly holy. 37 When you make incense according to this formula, you shouldn’t make any of it for your own use. You should regard it as holy to the Lord. 38 Whoever makes incense with this same formula to enjoy its fragrance will be cut off from the people.
Construction leaders: Bezalel and Oholiab
31 The Lord spoke to Moses: 2 Look, I have chosen Bezalel, Uri’s son and Hur’s grandson from the tribe of Judah. 3 I have filled him with the divine spirit, with skill, ability, and knowledge for every kind of work. 4 He will be able to create designs; do metalwork in gold, silver, and copper; 5 cut stones for setting; carve wood; and do every kind of work. 6 I have also appointed with him Oholiab, Ahisamach’s son from the tribe of Dan. To all who are skillful, I have given the skill to make everything that I have commanded you: 7 the meeting tent, the chest containing the covenant, the cover that is on top of it, all the tent’s furnishings, 8 the table and its equipment, the pure lampstand with all its equipment, the incense altar, 9 the altar for entirely burned offerings with all its equipment, the washbasin with its stand, 10 the woven clothing, the holy clothes for Aaron the priest and for his sons for their service as priests, 11 the anointing oil, and the sweet-smelling incense for the sanctuary. They will do just as I have commanded you.
Instructions for keeping the Sabbath
12 The Lord said to Moses: 13 Tell the Israelites: “Be sure to keep my sabbaths, because the Sabbath is a sign between me and you in every generation so you will know that I am the Lord who makes you holy. 14 Keep the Sabbath, because it is holy for you. Everyone who violates the Sabbath will be put to death. Whoever does any work on the Sabbath, that person will be cut off from the people. 15 Do your work for six days. But the seventh day is a Sabbath of complete rest that is holy to the Lord. Whoever does any work on the Sabbath day will be put to death. 16 The Israelites should keep the Sabbath. They should observe the Sabbath in every generation as a covenant for all time. 17 It is a sign forever between me and the Israelites that in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, and on the seventh day the Lord rested and was refreshed.”
18 When God finished speaking with Moses on Mount Sinai, God gave him the two covenant tablets, the stone tablets written by God’s finger.
Worshipping the gold bull calf
32 The people saw that Moses was taking a long time to come down from the mountain. They gathered around Aaron and said to him, “Come on! Make us gods[c] who can lead us. As for this man Moses who brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we don’t have a clue what has happened to him.”
2 Aaron said to them, “All right, take out the gold rings from the ears of your wives, your sons, and your daughters, and bring them to me.” 3 So all the people took out the gold rings from their ears and brought them to Aaron. 4 He collected them and tied them up in a cloth.[d] Then he made a metal image of a bull calf, and the people declared, “These are your gods, Israel, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt!”
5 When Aaron saw this, he built an altar in front of the calf. Then Aaron announced, “Tomorrow will be a festival to the Lord!” 6 They got up early the next day and offered up entirely burned offerings and brought well-being sacrifices. The people sat down to eat and drink and then got up to celebrate.
7 The Lord spoke to Moses: “Hurry up and go down! Your people, whom you brought up out of the land of Egypt, are ruining everything! 8 They’ve already abandoned the path that I commanded. They have made a metal bull calf for themselves. They’ve bowed down to it and offered sacrifices to it and declared, ‘These are your gods, Israel, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt!’” 9 The Lord said to Moses, “I’ve been watching these people, and I’ve seen how stubborn they are. 10 Now leave me alone! Let my fury burn and devour them. Then I’ll make a great nation out of you.”
11 But Moses pleaded with the Lord his God, “Lord, why does your fury burn against your own people, whom you brought out of the land of Egypt with great power and amazing force? 12 Why should the Egyptians say, ‘He had an evil plan to take the people out and kill them in the mountains and so wipe them off the earth’? Calm down your fierce anger. Change your mind about doing terrible things to your own people. 13 Remember Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, your servants, whom you yourself promised, ‘I’ll make your descendants as many as the stars in the sky. And I’ve promised to give your descendants this whole land to possess for all time.’” 14 Then the Lord changed his mind about the terrible things he said he would do to his people.
15 Moses then turned around and came down the mountain. He carried the two covenant tablets in his hands. The tablets were written on both sides, front and back. 16 The tablets were God’s own work. What was written there was God’s own writing inscribed on the tablets. 17 When Joshua heard the noise of the people as they shouted, he said to Moses, “It sounds like war in the camp.”
18 But Moses said,
“It isn’t the sound of a victory song.
19 When he got near the camp and saw the bull calf and the dancing, Moses was furious. He hurled the tablets down and shattered them in pieces at the foot of the mountain. 20 He took the calf that they had made and burned it in a fire. Then he ground it down to crushed powder, scattered it on the water, and made the Israelites drink it.
21 Moses said to Aaron, “What did these people do to you that you led them to commit such a terrible sin?”
22 Aaron replied, “Don’t get angry with me, sir. You know yourself that these people are out of control.[e] 23 They said to me, ‘Make us gods who can lead us. As for this man Moses who brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we don’t have a clue what has happened to him.’ 24 So I said to them, ‘Whoever has gold, take it off!’ So they gave it to me, I threw it into the fire, and out came this bull calf!”
25 Moses saw that the people were out of control because Aaron had let them get out of control, making them an easy target for their enemies. 26 So Moses stood at the camp’s gate and said, “Whoever is on the Lord’s side, come to me!” All the Levites gathered around him. 27 Moses said to them, “This is what the Lord, Israel’s God, says: Each of you, strap on your sword! Go back and forth from one end of the camp to the other. Each of you, kill your brother, your friend, and your neighbor!” 28 The Levites did as Moses commanded. About three thousand people were killed that day. 29 Moses said, “Today you’ve been ordained to the Lord, each one of you at the cost of a son or a brother. Today you’ve gained a special blessing for yourselves.”
30 The next day Moses said to the people, “You’ve committed a terrible sin. So now I will go up to the Lord. Maybe I can arrange reconciliation on account of your sin.” 31 So Moses went back to the Lord and said, “Oh, what a terrible sin these people have committed! They made for themselves gods[f] of gold. 32 But now, please forgive their sin! And if not, then wipe me out of your scroll that you’ve written.”
33 But the Lord said to Moses, “The ones I’ll wipe out of my scroll are those who sinned against me. 34 Now go and lead the people to the place I described to you. My messenger here will go in front of you. When the day of reckoning comes, I’ll count their sin against them.” 35 Then the Lord sent a plague on the people because of what they did with the bull calf that Aaron made.