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Numbers 18-19 New American Bible (Revised Edition) (NABRE)

Chapter 18

The Lord said to Aaron:[a] You and your sons as well as your ancestral house with you[b] shall be responsible for any sin with respect to the sanctuary; but only you and your sons with you shall be responsible for any sin with respect to your priesthood. You shall also present with you your kinsmen of the tribe of Levi, your ancestral tribe, that they may be joined to you[c] and assist you, while you and your sons with you are in front of the tent of the covenant. They shall discharge your obligations and those with respect to the whole tent; however, they shall not come near the utensils of the sanctuary or the altar, or else both they and you will die. They will be joined to you to perform the duties associated with the tent of meeting, all the labor pertaining to the tent. But no unauthorized person[d] shall come near you. You shall perform the duties of the sanctuary and of the altar, that wrath may not fall again upon the Israelites.

I hereby take your kinsmen, the Levites, from among the Israelites; they are a gift to you, dedicated to the Lord for the labor they perform for the tent of meeting. But you and your sons with you must take care to exercise your priesthood in whatever concerns the altar and the area within the veil.[e] I give you your priesthood as a gift. Any unauthorized person who comes near shall be put to death.

The Priests’ Share of the Sacrifices. The Lord said to Aaron:[f] I hereby give to you charge of the contributions made to me, including the various holy offerings of the Israelites; I assign them to you and to your sons as a perquisite, a perpetual due. This is what you shall have from the oblations that are most holy: every offering of theirs—namely, all their grain offerings, purification offerings, and reparation offerings which they must return to me—shall be most holy for you and for your sons. 10 You shall eat them in a most holy place;[g] every male may partake of them. As holy, they belong to you.

11 This also you shall have: the contributions that are their gifts, including the elevated offering[h] of the Israelites; I assign them to you and to your sons and daughters with you as a perpetual due. All in your household who are clean may eat them. 12 I also assign to you all the best of the new oil and of the new wine and grain that they give to the Lord as their first produce that has been processed. 13 The first-ripened fruits of whatever is in their land, which they bring to the Lord, shall be yours; all of your household who are clean may eat them. 14 Whatever is under the ban[i] in Israel shall be yours. 15 Every living thing that opens the womb, human being and beast alike, such as are to be offered to the Lord, shall be yours; but you must redeem the firstborn of human beings, as well as redeem the firstborn of unclean animals. 16 For the redemption price of a son, when he is a month old, you shall pay the equivalent of five silver shekels according to the sanctuary shekel, that is, twenty gerahs. 17 But the firstborn of cattle, or the firstborn of sheep or the firstborn of goats you shall not redeem; they are holy. Their blood you must splash on the altar and their fat you must burn as an oblation of pleasing aroma to the Lord. 18 Their meat, however, shall be yours, just as the brisket of the elevated offering and the right thigh belong to you. 19 As a perpetual due I assign to you and to your sons and daughters with you all the contributions of holy things which the Israelites set aside for the Lord; this is a covenant of salt[j] to last forever before the Lord, for you and for your descendants with you. 20 Then the Lord said to Aaron:[k] You shall not have any heritage in their land nor hold any portion among them; I will be your portion and your heritage among the Israelites.

Tithes Due the Levites. 21 To the Levites, however, I hereby assign all tithes in Israel as their heritage in recompense for the labor they perform, the labor pertaining to the tent of meeting. 22 The Israelites may no longer approach the tent of meeting, thereby incurring the penalty of death. 23 Only the Levites are to perform the labor pertaining to the tent of meeting, and they shall incur the penalty for the Israelites’ sin;[l] this is a permanent statute for all your generations. But they shall not have any heritage among the Israelites, 24 for I have assigned to the Levites as their heritage the tithes which the Israelites put aside as a contribution to the Lord. That is why I have said, they will not have any heritage among the Israelites.

Tithes Paid by the Levites. 25 The Lord said to Moses: 26 Speak to the Levites and say to them: When you take from the Israelites the tithes I have assigned you from them as your heritage, you are to make a contribution from them to the Lord, a tithe of the tithe; 27 and your contribution will be credited to you as if it were grain from the threshing floor or new wine from the vat. 28 Thus you too shall make a contribution to the Lord from all the tithes you take from the Israelites, handing over to Aaron the priest the contribution to the Lord. 29 From all the gifts to you, you shall make every contribution due to the Lord—from their best parts, that is the part to be consecrated from them.

30 Say to them also: Once you have made your contribution from the best part, the rest of the tithe will be credited to the Levites as if it were produce of the threshing floor or the produce of the vat. 31 You and your households may eat it anywhere, since it is your recompense in exchange for labor in the tent of meeting. 32 You will incur no punishment when you contribute the best part of it. But do not profane the holy offerings of the Israelites or else you shall die.

Chapter 19

Ashes of the Red Heifer. The Lord spoke to Moses and Aaron: This is the statute for the ritual which the Lord has commanded. Tell the Israelites to procure for you a red heifer without defect and free from every blemish and on which no yoke has ever been laid. You will give it to Eleazar the priest, and it will be led outside the camp[m] and slaughtered in his presence. Eleazar the priest will take some of its blood on his finger and sprinkle it seven times toward the front of the tent of meeting.[n] Then the heifer will be burned in his sight; it will be burned with its hide and flesh, its blood and dung; and the priest will take cedar wood, hyssop and scarlet yarn and throw them into the fire in which the heifer is being burned. The priest shall then wash his garments and bathe his body in water, afterward he may enter the camp. The priest remains unclean until the evening. Likewise, the one who burned the heifer shall wash his garments in water, bathe his body in water, and be unclean until evening. Then somebody who is clean shall gather up the ashes of the heifer and deposit them in a clean place outside the camp. There they are to be kept to prepare purification water for the Israelite community. This is a purification offering. 10 The one who has gathered up the ashes of the heifer shall also wash his garments and be unclean until evening. This is a permanent statute, both for the Israelites and for the alien residing among them.

Use of the Ashes. 11 Those who touch the corpse of any human being will be unclean for seven days; 12 they shall purify themselves with the water on the third and on the seventh day, and then be clean. But if they fail to purify themselves on the third and on the seventh day, they will not become clean. 13 Those who touch the corpse of a human being who dies and who fail to purify themselves defile the tabernacle of the Lord and these persons shall be cut off from Israel. Since the purification water has not been splashed over them, they remain unclean: their uncleanness is still on them.

14 This is the ritual: When someone dies in a tent, everyone who enters the tent, as well as everyone already in it, will be unclean for seven days; 15 and every open vessel with its lid unfastened will be unclean. 16 Moreover, everyone who in the open country touches a person who has been slain by the sword or who has died naturally, or who touches a human bone or a grave, will be unclean for seven days. 17 For anyone who is thus unclean, ashes shall be taken from the burnt purification offering, and spring water will be poured on them from a vessel. 18 Then someone who is clean will take hyssop, dip it in this water, and sprinkle it on the tent and on all the vessels and persons that were in it, or on the one who touched the bone, the slain person or the other corpse, or the grave. 19 The clean will sprinkle the unclean on the third and on the seventh day, and thus purify them on the seventh day. Then they will wash their garments and bathe in water, and in the evening be clean. 20 [o]Those who become unclean and fail to purify themselves—those people will be cut off from the assembly, because they defile the sanctuary of the Lord. The purification water has not been splashed over them; they remain unclean. 21 This will be a permanent statute for you.

Those who sprinkle the purification water will wash their garments, and those who come in contact with the purification water will be unclean until evening. 22 Moreover, anything that the unclean person touches becomes unclean itself, and the one who touches such a person becomes unclean until evening.

Footnotes:

  1. 18:1–3 This law, which kept unqualified persons from contact with holy things, is in response to the Israelites’ cry in 17:28. It is followed by other laws concerning priests and Levites.
  2. 18:1 With you: not only in the present but also those of his house in the future.
  3. 18:2 Be joined to you: in Hebrew a pun on the popular etymology of the name “Levi.” Cf. Gn 29:34.
  4. 18:4 Unauthorized person: here, “one who is not a Levite”; in v. 7, “one who is not a priest.”
  5. 18:7 Veil: the outer veil, or “curtain,” is probably meant.
  6. 18:8–10 Two classes of offerings are here distinguished: the most holy offering, which only the male members of the priestly families could eat (vv. 8–10), and the other offerings, which the women of the priestly families could eat (vv. 11–19).
  7. 18:10 In a most holy place: in the court of the tabernacle, according to Lv 6:9, 19.
  8. 18:11 Elevated offering: this included the brisket and right thigh (v. 18), the shoulder of the peace offering (Lv 7:30–34), and portions of the nazirite sacrifice (Nm 6:19–20). With you: see note on v. 1. Aaron had no daughters; see also v. 19.
  9. 18:14 Under the ban: in Hebrew, herem, which means here “set aside from profane use and made sacred to the Lord.” Cf. Lv 27:21, 28.
  10. 18:19 A covenant of salt: cf. 2 Chr 13:5. The reference may perhaps be to the preservative power of salt (cf. Mt 5:13); but more likely the phrase refers to the custom of eating salt together to render a contract unbreakable. See note on Lv 2:13.
  11. 18:20 The priests and Levites were forbidden to own hereditary land such as the other Israelites possessed; therefore in the allotment of the land (chap. 34) they did not receive any portion of it. Certain cities, however, were assigned to them for their residence; cf. 35:1–8.
  12. 18:23 Incur the penalty for the Israelites’ sin: the Levites are responsible for protecting the sanctuary from illegitimate encroachment and in this sense pay the penalty for the Israelites’ iniquity. This responds further to the fears of the people expressed in 17:27–28.
  13. 19:3 Outside the camp: several early Christian writers saw in this a prefiguring of the sacrificial death of Jesus outside the walls of Jerusalem; cf. Jn 19:20; Hb 13:12; in the purifying water, into which the ashes of the red heifer were put, they saw a type of the water of Baptism.
  14. 19:4 Toward the front of the tent of meeting: since the tabernacle faced the east (Ex 26:15–30), the killing of the heifer would take place east of the camp; in later times it was done on the Mount of Olives, east of the Temple.
  15. 19:20 Ritual uncleanness is, as it were, contagious; so also sacredness; see note on 17:3.
New American Bible (Revised Edition) (NABRE)

Scripture texts, prefaces, introductions, footnotes and cross references used in this work are taken from the New American Bible, revised edition © 2010, 1991, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Inc., Washington, DC All Rights Reserved. No part of this work may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the copyright owner.

Psalm 78:36-72 New American Bible (Revised Edition) (NABRE)

36 But they deceived him with their mouths,
    lied to him with their tongues.
37 Their hearts were not constant toward him;
    they were not faithful to his covenant.
38 [a]But God being compassionate forgave their sin;
    he did not utterly destroy them.
Time and again he turned back his anger,
    unwilling to unleash all his rage.
39 He remembered that they were flesh,
    a breath that passes on and does not return.

III

A

40 How often they rebelled against God in the wilderness,
    grieved him in the wasteland.
41 Again and again they tested God,
    provoked the Holy One of Israel.
42 They did not remember his power,
    the day he redeemed them from the foe,
43 [b]When he performed his signs in Egypt,
    his wonders in the plain of Zoan.
44 God turned their rivers to blood;
    their streams they could not drink.
45 He sent swarms of insects that devoured them,
    frogs that destroyed them.
46 He gave their harvest to the caterpillar,
    the fruits of their labor to the locust.
47 He killed their vines with hail,
    their sycamores with frost.
48 He exposed their cattle to plague,
    their flocks to pestilence.
49 He let loose against them the heat of his anger,
    wrath, fury, and distress,
    a band of deadly messengers.
50 He cleared a path for his anger;
    he did not spare them from death,
    but delivered their animals to the plague.
51 He struck all the firstborn of Egypt,
    the first fruits of their vigor in the tents of Ham.
52 Then God led forth his people like sheep,
    guided them like a flock through the wilderness.
53 He led them on secure and unafraid,
    while the sea enveloped their enemies.
54 And he brought them to his holy mountain,
    the hill his right hand had won.
55 He drove out the nations before them,
    allotted them as their inherited portion,
    and settled in their tents the tribes of Israel.

B

56 But they tested and rebelled against God Most High,
    his decrees they did not observe.
57 They turned disloyal, faithless like their ancestors;
    they proved false like a slack bow.
58 They enraged him with their high places,
    and with their idols provoked him[c] to jealous anger.

C

59 God heard and grew angry;
    he rejected Israel completely.
60 He forsook the shrine at Shiloh,[d]
    the tent he set up among human beings.
61 He gave up his might into captivity,
    his glorious ark into the hands of the foe.
62 God delivered his people to the sword;
    he was enraged against his heritage.
63 Fire consumed their young men;
    their young women heard no wedding songs.
64 Their priests fell by the sword;
    their widows made no lamentation.

D

65 Then the Lord awoke as from sleep,
    like a warrior shouting from the effects of wine.
66 He put his foes to flight;
    everlasting shame he dealt them.
67 He rejected the tent of Joseph,
    chose not the tribe of Ephraim.
68 [e]God chose the tribe of Judah,
    Mount Zion which he loved.
69 He built his shrine like the heavens,
    like the earth which he founded forever.
70 He chose David his servant,
    took him from the sheepfolds.
71 From tending ewes God brought him,
    to shepherd Jacob, his people,
    Israel, his heritage.
72 He shepherded them with a pure heart;
    with skilled hands he guided them.

Footnotes:

  1. 78:38 God is always ready to forgive and begin anew, as in choosing Zion and David (Ps 78:65–72).
  2. 78:43–55 Ex 7–12 records ten plagues. Here there are six divine attacks upon Egypt; the seventh climactic act is God’s bringing Israel to the holy land.
  3. 78:58 Provoked him: lit., “made him jealous.”
  4. 78:60 Shiloh: an important shrine in the north prior to Jerusalem. Despite its holy status, it was destroyed (Ps 78:60–64; cf. Jer 7:12, 14).
  5. 78:68, 70 God’s ultimate offer of mercy to the sinful, helpless people is Zion and the Davidic king.
New American Bible (Revised Edition) (NABRE)

Scripture texts, prefaces, introductions, footnotes and cross references used in this work are taken from the New American Bible, revised edition © 2010, 1991, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Inc., Washington, DC All Rights Reserved. No part of this work may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the copyright owner.

Acts 14 New American Bible (Revised Edition) (NABRE)

Chapter 14

Paul and Barnabas at Iconium. In Iconium they entered the Jewish synagogue together and spoke in such a way that a great number of both Jews and Greeks came to believe, although the disbelieving Jews stirred up and poisoned the minds of the Gentiles against the brothers. So they stayed for a considerable period, speaking out boldly for the Lord, who confirmed the word about his grace by granting signs and wonders to occur through their hands. The people of the city were divided: some were with the Jews; others, with the apostles. When there was an attempt by both the Gentiles and the Jews, together with their leaders, to attack and stone them, they realized it and fled to the Lycaonian cities of Lystra and Derbe and to the surrounding countryside, where they continued to proclaim the good news.

Paul and Barnabas at Lystra. [a]At Lystra there was a crippled man, lame from birth, who had never walked. He listened to Paul speaking, who looked intently at him, saw that he had the faith to be healed, 10 and called out in a loud voice, “Stand up straight on your feet.” He jumped up and began to walk about. 11 When the crowds saw what Paul had done, they cried out in Lycaonian, “The gods have come down to us in human form.” 12 They called Barnabas “Zeus”[b] and Paul “Hermes,” because he was the chief speaker. 13 And the priest of Zeus, whose temple was at the entrance to the city, brought oxen and garlands to the gates, for he together with the people intended to offer sacrifice.

14 The apostles Barnabas and Paul tore their garments[c] when they heard this and rushed out into the crowd, shouting, 15 [d]“Men, why are you doing this? We are of the same nature as you, human beings. We proclaim to you good news that you should turn from these idols to the living God, ‘who made heaven and earth and sea and all that is in them.’ 16 In past generations he allowed all Gentiles to go their own ways; 17 yet, in bestowing his goodness, he did not leave himself without witness, for he gave you rains from heaven and fruitful seasons, and filled you with nourishment and gladness for your hearts.” 18 Even with these words, they scarcely restrained the crowds from offering sacrifice to them.

19 However, some Jews from Antioch and Iconium arrived and won over the crowds. They stoned Paul and dragged him out of the city, supposing that he was dead. 20 But when the disciples gathered around him, he got up and entered the city. On the following day he left with Barnabas for Derbe.

End of the First Mission. 21 After they had proclaimed the good news to that city and made a considerable number of disciples, they returned to Lystra and to Iconium and to Antioch. 22 They strengthened the spirits of the disciples and exhorted them to persevere in the faith, saying, “It is necessary for us to undergo many hardships to enter the kingdom of God.” 23 They appointed presbyters[e] for them in each church and, with prayer and fasting, commended them to the Lord in whom they had put their faith. 24 Then they traveled through Pisidia and reached Pamphylia. 25 After proclaiming the word at Perga they went down to Attalia. 26 From there they sailed to Antioch, where they had been commended to the grace of God for the work they had now accomplished. 27 And when they arrived, they called the church together and reported what God had done with them and how he had opened the door of faith to the Gentiles. 28 Then they spent no little time with the disciples.

Footnotes:

  1. 14:8–18 In an effort to convince his hearers that the divine power works through his word, Paul cures the cripple. However, the pagan tradition of the occasional appearance of gods among human beings leads the people astray in interpreting the miracle. The incident reveals the cultural difficulties with which the church had to cope. Note the similarity of the miracle worked here by Paul to the one performed by Peter in Acts 3:2–10.
  2. 14:12 Zeus…Hermes: in Greek religion, Zeus was the chief of the Olympian gods, the “father of gods and men”; Hermes was a son of Zeus and was usually identified as the herald and messenger of the gods.
  3. 14:14 Tore their garments: a gesture of protest.
  4. 14:15–17 This is the first speech of Paul to Gentiles recorded by Luke in Acts (cf. Acts 17:22–31). Rather than showing how Christianity is the logical outgrowth of Judaism, as he does in speeches before Jews, Luke says that God excuses past Gentile ignorance and then presents a natural theology arguing for the recognition of God’s existence and presence through his activity in natural phenomena.
  5. 14:23 They appointed presbyters: the communities are given their own religious leaders by the traveling missionaries. The structure in these churches is patterned on the model of the Jerusalem community (Acts 11:30; 15:2, 5, 22; 21:18).
New American Bible (Revised Edition) (NABRE)

Scripture texts, prefaces, introductions, footnotes and cross references used in this work are taken from the New American Bible, revised edition © 2010, 1991, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Inc., Washington, DC All Rights Reserved. No part of this work may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the copyright owner.

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