Bible Book List

Numbers 20-21 New American Bible (Revised Edition) (NABRE)

Chapter 20[a]

Death of Miriam. The Israelites, the whole community, arrived in the wilderness of Zin[b] in the first month, and the people stayed at Kadesh. It was here that Miriam died, and here that she was buried.

Need for Water at Kadesh. Since the community had no water, they held an assembly against Moses and Aaron. The people quarreled with Moses, exclaiming, “Would that we had perished when our kindred perished before the Lord! Why have you brought the Lord’s assembly into this wilderness for us and our livestock to die here? Why have you brought us up out of Egypt, only to bring us to this wretched place? It is not a place for grain nor figs nor vines nor pomegranates! And there is no water to drink!” But Moses and Aaron went away from the assembly to the entrance of the tent of meeting, where they fell prostrate.

Sin of Moses and Aaron. Then the glory of the Lord appeared to them, and the Lord said to Moses: Take the staff and assemble the community, you and Aaron your brother, and in their presence command the rock to yield its waters. Thereby you will bring forth water from the rock for them, and supply the community and their livestock with water. So Moses took the staff from its place before the Lord, as he was ordered. 10 Then Moses and Aaron gathered the assembly in front of the rock, where he said to them, “Just listen, you rebels! Are we to produce water for you out of this rock?” 11 Then, raising his hand, Moses struck the rock twice[c] with his staff, and water came out in abundance, and the community and their livestock drank. 12 [d]But the Lord said to Moses and Aaron: Because you did not have confidence in me, to acknowledge my holiness before the Israelites, therefore you shall not lead this assembly into the land I have given them.

13 These are the waters of Meribah, where the Israelites quarreled with the Lord, and through which he displayed his holiness.

Edom’s Refusal. 14 From Kadesh Moses sent messengers to the king of Edom: “Thus says your brother Israel:[e] You know of all the hardships that have befallen us, 15 how our ancestors went down to Egypt, and we stayed in Egypt a long time, and the Egyptians treated us and our ancestors harshly. 16 When we cried to the Lord, he heard our cry and sent an angel who led us out of Egypt. Now here we are at Kadesh, a town at the edge of your territory. 17 Please let us pass through your land. We will not cross any fields or vineyards, nor drink any well water, but we will go straight along the King’s Highway[f] without turning to the right or to the left, until we have passed through your territory.”

18 But Edom answered him, “You shall not pass through here; if you do, I will advance against you with the sword.” 19 The Israelites said to him, “We will go up along the highway. If we or our livestock drink any of your water, we will pay for it. It is nothing—just let us pass through on foot.” 20 But Edom replied, “You shall not pass through,” and advanced against them with a large and heavily armed force. 21 Therefore, since Edom refused to let Israel pass through their territory, Israel turned away from them.

Death of Aaron. 22 Setting out from Kadesh, the Israelites, the whole community, came to Mount Hor.[g] 23 There at Mount Hor, on the border of the land of Edom, the Lord said to Moses and Aaron: 24 Let Aaron be gathered to his people, for he shall not enter the land I have given to the Israelites, because you both rebelled against my directions at the waters of Meribah. 25 Take Aaron and Eleazar his son and bring them up on Mount Hor. 26 Then strip Aaron of his garments and put them on Eleazar, his son; but there Aaron shall be gathered up in death.

27 Moses did as the Lord commanded. When they had climbed Mount Hor in view of the whole community, 28 Moses stripped Aaron of his garments and put them on Eleazar his son. Then Aaron died there on top of the mountain. When Moses and Eleazar came down from the mountain, 29 all the community understood that Aaron had breathed his last; and for thirty days the whole house of Israel mourned Aaron.

Chapter 21

Victory over Arad. When the Canaanite, the king of Arad,[h] who ruled over the Negeb, heard that the Israelites were coming along the way of Atharim, he engaged Israel in battle and took some of them captive. Israel then made this vow to the Lord: “If you deliver this people into my hand, I will put their cities under the ban.” The Lord paid attention to Israel and delivered up the Canaanites, and they put them and their cities under the ban. Hence that place was named Hormah.[i]

The Bronze Serpent. From Mount Hor they set out by way of the Red Sea, to bypass the land of Edom, but the people’s patience was worn out by the journey; so the people complained against God and Moses, “Why have you brought us up from Egypt to die in the wilderness, where there is no food or water? We are disgusted with this wretched food!”[j]

So the Lord sent among the people seraph[k] serpents, which bit the people so that many of the Israelites died. Then the people came to Moses and said, “We have sinned in complaining against the Lord and you. Pray to the Lord to take the serpents from us.” So Moses prayed for the people, and the Lord said to Moses: Make a seraph and mount it on a pole, and everyone who has been bitten will look at it and recover.[l] Accordingly Moses made a bronze serpent[m] and mounted it on a pole, and whenever the serpent bit someone, the person looked at the bronze serpent and recovered.

Journey Around Moab. 10 The Israelites moved on and encamped in Oboth. 11 Then they moved on from Oboth and encamped in Iye-abarim[n] in the wilderness facing Moab on the east. 12 Moving on from there, they encamped in the Wadi Zered. 13 Moving on from there, they encamped on the other side of the Arnon, in the wilderness that extends from the territory of the Amorites; for the Arnon forms Moab’s boundary, between Moab and the Amorites. 14 Hence it is said in the “Book of the Wars of the Lord”:[o]

“Waheb in Suphah and the wadies,
15     Arnon and the wadi gorges
That reach back toward the site of Ar[p]
    and lean against the border of Moab.”

16 From there they went to Beer,[q] which is the well of which the Lord said to Moses, Gather the people together so that I may give them water. 17 Then Israel sang this song:

Spring up, O well!—so sing to it—
18 The well that the princes sank,
    that the nobles of the people dug,
With their scepters and their staffs—
    from the wilderness, a gift.

19 From Beer to Nahaliel, from Nahaliel to Bamoth, 20 from Bamoth to the valley in the country of Moab at the headland of Pisgah that overlooks Jeshimon.[r]

Victory over Sihon. 21 Now Israel sent messengers to Sihon, king of the Amorites, with the message, 22 “Let us pass through your land. We will not turn aside into any field or vineyard, nor will we drink any well water, but we will go straight along the King’s Highway until we have passed through your territory.” 23 Sihon, however, would not permit Israel to pass through his territory, but mustered all his forces and advanced against Israel into the wilderness. When he reached Jahaz, he engaged Israel in battle. 24 But Israel put him to the sword, and took possession of his land from the Arnon to the Jabbok and as far as Jazer of the Ammonites, for Jazer is the boundary of the Ammonites. 25 Israel seized all the towns here, and Israel settled in all the towns of the Amorites, in Heshbon and all its dependencies. 26 For Heshbon was the city of Sihon, king of the Amorites, who had fought against the former king of Moab and had taken all his land from him as far as the Arnon. 27 That is why the poets say:

“Come to Heshbon, let it be rebuilt,
    let Sihon’s city be firmly constructed.
28 For fire went forth from Heshbon
    and a blaze from the city of Sihon;
It consumed Ar of Moab
    and swallowed up the high places of the Arnon.
29 Woe to you, Moab!
    You are no more, people of Chemosh![s]
He let his sons become fugitives
    and his daughters be taken captive by the Amorite king Sihon.
30 From Heshbon to Dibon their dominion is no more;
    Ar is laid waste; fires blaze as far as Medeba.”

31 So Israel settled in the land of the Amorites. 32 Moses sent spies to Jazer; and the Israelites captured it with its dependencies and dispossessed the Amorites who were there.

Victory over Og. 33 Then they turned and went up along the road to Bashan. But Og, king of Bashan, advanced against them with all his forces to give battle at Edrei. 34 The Lord, however, said to Moses: Do not fear him; for into your hand I deliver him with all his forces and his land. You will do to him as you did to Sihon, king of the Amorites, who reigned in Heshbon. 35 So they struck him down with his sons and all his forces, until not a survivor was left to him, and they took possession of his land.


  1. 20:1–29 In this chapter the deaths of the three wilderness leaders are either intimated or explicitly reported: Miriam, v. 1; Moses, v. 12; Aaron, vv. 12, 22–29.
  2. 20:1 The wilderness of Zin: a barren region with a few good oases, southwest of the Dead Sea. See note on 13:21. The first month: we would expect the mention also of the day and of the year (after the exodus) when this took place; cf. similar dates in 1:1; 10:11; 33:38; Dt 1:3. Here the full date is left unspecified. According to one chronology, the Israelites arrived in Kadesh in the third year after the exodus (cf. Dt 1:46). But the itinerary in chap. 33 would suggest the fortieth year, the year in which Aaron died (33:38).
  3. 20:11 Twice: perhaps because he did not have sufficient faith to work the wonder with the first blow. Cf. v. 12.
  4. 20:12–13 What lay behind Moses and Aaron’s lack of confidence is not made explicit in the text. Holiness: an allusion to the name of the place, Kadesh, which means “holy, sanctified, sacred.” Meribah means “contention.” Cf. Ex 17:7.
  5. 20:14 Your brother Israel: according to biblical tradition, the Edomites were descended from Esau, the brother of Jacob. Their country, to the southeast of the Dead Sea, was also known as Seir; cf. Gn 25:24–26; 36:1, 8–9.
  6. 20:17 The King’s Highway: an important highway, running north and south along the plateau east of the Dead Sea. In ancient times it was much used by caravans and armies; later it was improved by the Romans, and large stretches of it are still clearly recognizable.
  7. 20:22 Mount Hor: not definitively identified, but probably to be sought in the vicinity of Kadesh. According to Dt 10:6, Aaron died at Moserah (cf. “Moseroth” in Nm 33:30–31), which is apparently the name of the region in which Mount Hor is situated.
  8. 21:1–3 The account of this episode seems to be a later insertion here, since logically v. 4 belongs immediately after 20:29. Perhaps this is the same event as that mentioned in Jgs 1:16–17.
  9. 21:3 Hormah: related to the Hebrew word herem, meaning “put under the ban.” See notes on 14:45; 18:14.
  10. 21:5 This wretched food: apparently the manna is meant.
  11. 21:6 Seraph: the Hebrew name for a certain species of venomous snake; etymologically the word might signify “the fiery one.” Compare the winged throne guardians in Is 6:2, 6; see also Is 14:29; 30:6.
  12. 21:8 Everyone who has been bitten will look at it and recover: in the Gospel of John this scene is regarded as a type for the crucifixion of Jesus (Jn 3:14–15).
  13. 21:9 King Hezekiah, in his efforts to reform Israelite worship, “smashed the bronze serpent Moses had made” (2 Kgs 18:4).
  14. 21:11 Iye-abarim: probably means “the ruins in the Abarim (Mountains).” See note on 27:12.
  15. 21:14 The “Book of the Wars of the Lord: an ancient collection of Israelite songs, now lost. Waheb in Suphah: since neither place is mentioned elsewhere, it is uncertain whether these Hebrew words are to be considered as place names; some Hebrew words, now lost, must have preceded this phrase.
  16. 21:15 Ar: a city or district in Moab, located on the Arnon; see v. 28; Dt 2:18.
  17. 21:16 Beer: “a well,” here used as a place name.
  18. 21:20 Jeshimon: “the wasteland”; in 1 Sm 23:19, 24 and 26:1, 3, this is the wilderness of Judah on the western side of the Dead Sea, but here and in Nm 23:28, it seems to refer to the southern end of the Jordan valley where Beth-jeshimoth was situated.
  19. 21:29 Chemosh: the chief god of the Moabites, mentioned in the famous inscription of Mesha, king of Moab, who ruled at the same time as the Omrides in Israel. Cf. 1 Kgs 11:7, 33; 2 Kgs 23:13; Jer 48:7, 13.
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 79 New American Bible (Revised Edition) (NABRE)

Psalm 79[a]

A Prayer for Jerusalem

A psalm of Asaph.


O God, the nations have invaded your inheritance;
    they have defiled your holy temple;
    they have laid Jerusalem in ruins.
They have left the corpses of your servants
    as food for the birds of the sky,
    the flesh of those devoted to you for the beasts of the earth.
They have poured out their blood like water
    all around Jerusalem,
    and no one is left to do the burying.
We have become the reproach of our neighbors,
    the scorn and derision of those around us.


How long, Lord? Will you be angry forever?
    Will your jealous anger keep burning like fire?
Pour out your wrath on nations that do not recognize you,
    on kingdoms that do not call on your name,
For they have devoured Jacob,
    laid waste his dwelling place.
Do not remember against us the iniquities of our forefathers;
    let your compassion move quickly ahead of us,
    for we have been brought very low.


Help us, God our savior,
    on account of the glory of your name.
Deliver us, pardon our sins
    for your name’s sake.
10 Why should the nations say,
    “Where is their God?”
Before our eyes make known to the nations
    that you avenge the blood of your servants which has been poured out.


11 Let the groaning of the imprisoned come in before you;
    in accord with the greatness of your arm
    preserve those doomed to die.
12 Turn back sevenfold into the bosom of our neighbors
    the insult with which they insulted you, Lord.
13 Then we, your people, the sheep of your pasture,
    will give thanks to you forever;
    from generation to generation
    we will recount your praise.


  1. Psalm 79 A communal lament complaining that the nations have defiled the Temple and murdered the holy people, leaving their corpses unburied (Ps 79:1–4). The occasion is probably the destruction of Jerusalem by the Babylonian army in 587 B.C. The people ask how long the withdrawal of divine favor will last (Ps 79:5), pray for action now (Ps 79:6–7), and admit that their own sins have brought about the catastrophe (Ps 79:8–9). They seek to persuade God to act for reasons of honor: the nations who do not call upon the Name are running amok (Ps 79:6); the divine honor is compromised (Ps 79:1, 10, 12); God’s own servants suffer (Ps 79:2–4, 11).
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 15:1-21 New American Bible (Revised Edition) (NABRE)

Chapter 15

Council of Jerusalem. [a]Some who had come down from Judea were instructing the brothers, “Unless you are circumcised according to the Mosaic practice, you cannot be saved.”[b] Because there arose no little dissension and debate by Paul and Barnabas with them, it was decided that Paul, Barnabas, and some of the others should go up to Jerusalem to the apostles and presbyters about this question. They were sent on their journey by the church, and passed through Phoenicia and Samaria telling of the conversion of the Gentiles, and brought great joy to all the brothers. When they arrived in Jerusalem, they were welcomed by the church, as well as by the apostles and the presbyters, and they reported what God had done with them. But some from the party of the Pharisees who had become believers stood up and said, “It is necessary to circumcise them and direct them to observe the Mosaic law.”

[c]The apostles and the presbyters met together to see about this matter. [d]After much debate had taken place, Peter got up and said to them, “My brothers, you are well aware that from early days God made his choice among you that through my mouth the Gentiles would hear the word of the gospel and believe. And God, who knows the heart, bore witness by granting them the holy Spirit just as he did us. He made no distinction between us and them, for by faith he purified their hearts. 10 Why, then, are you now putting God to the test by placing on the shoulders of the disciples a yoke that neither our ancestors nor we have been able to bear? 11 On the contrary, we believe that we are saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus, in the same way as they.”[e] 12 The whole assembly fell silent, and they listened while Paul and Barnabas described the signs and wonders God had worked among the Gentiles through them.

James on Dietary Law. 13 [f]After they had fallen silent, James responded, “My brothers, listen to me. 14 Symeon[g] has described how God first concerned himself with acquiring from among the Gentiles a people for his name. 15 The words of the prophets agree with this, as is written:

16 ‘After this I shall return
    and rebuild the fallen hut of David;
from its ruins I shall rebuild it
    and raise it up again,
17 so that the rest of humanity may seek out the Lord,
    even all the Gentiles on whom my name is invoked.
Thus says the Lord who accomplishes these things,
18     known from of old.’

19 It is my judgment, therefore, that we ought to stop troubling the Gentiles who turn to God, 20 but tell them by letter to avoid pollution from idols, unlawful marriage, the meat of strangled animals, and blood. 21 For Moses, for generations now, has had those who proclaim him in every town, as he has been read in the synagogues every sabbath.”


  1. 15:1–35 The Jerusalem “Council” marks the official rejection of the rigid view that Gentile converts were obliged to observe the Mosaic law completely. From here to the end of Acts, Paul and the Gentile mission become the focus of Luke’s writing.
  2. 15:1–5 When some of the converted Pharisees of Jerusalem discover the results of the first missionary journey of Paul, they urge that the Gentiles be taught to follow the Mosaic law. Recognizing the authority of the Jerusalem church, Paul and Barnabas go there to settle the question of whether Gentiles can embrace a form of Christianity that does not include this obligation.
  3. 15:6–12 The gathering is possibly the same as that recalled by Paul in Gal 2:1–10. Note that in Acts 15:2 it is only the apostles and presbyters, a small group, with whom Paul and Barnabas are to meet. Here Luke gives the meeting a public character because he wishes to emphasize its doctrinal significance (see Acts 15:22).
  4. 15:7–11 Paul’s refusal to impose the Mosaic law on the Gentile Christians is supported by Peter on the ground that within his own experience God bestowed the holy Spirit upon Cornelius and his household without preconditions concerning the adoption of the Mosaic law (see Acts 10:44–47).
  5. 15:11 In support of Paul, Peter formulates the fundamental meaning of the gospel: that all are invited to be saved through faith in the power of Christ.
  6. 15:13–35 Some scholars think that this apostolic decree suggested by James, the immediate leader of the Jerusalem community, derives from another historical occasion than the meeting in question. This seems to be the case if the meeting is the same as the one related in Gal 2:1–10. According to that account, nothing was imposed upon Gentile Christians in respect to Mosaic law; whereas the decree instructs Gentile Christians of mixed communities to abstain from meats sacrificed to idols and from blood-meats, and to avoid marriage within forbidden degrees of consanguinity and affinity (Lv 18), all of which practices were especially abhorrent to Jews. Luke seems to have telescoped two originally independent incidents here: the first a Jerusalem “Council” that dealt with the question of circumcision, and the second a Jerusalem decree dealing mainly with Gentile observance of dietary laws (see Acts 21:25 where Paul seems to be learning of the decree for the first time).
  7. 15:14 Symeon: elsewhere in Acts he is called either Peter or Simon. The presence of the name Symeon here suggests that, in the source Luke is using for this part of the Jerusalem “Council” incident, the name may have originally referred to someone other than Peter (see Acts 13:1 where the Antiochene Symeon Niger is mentioned). As the text now stands, however, it is undoubtedly a reference to Simon Peter (Acts 15:7).
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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