The Levites

This is the account of the family of Aaron and Moses(A) at the time the Lord spoke to Moses at Mount Sinai.(B)

The names of the sons of Aaron were Nadab the firstborn(C) and Abihu, Eleazar and Ithamar.(D) Those were the names of Aaron’s sons, the anointed priests,(E) who were ordained to serve as priests. Nadab and Abihu, however, died before the Lord(F) when they made an offering with unauthorized fire before him in the Desert of Sinai.(G) They had no sons, so Eleazar and Ithamar(H) served as priests during the lifetime of their father Aaron.(I)

The Lord said to Moses, “Bring the tribe of Levi(J) and present them to Aaron the priest to assist him.(K) They are to perform duties for him and for the whole community(L) at the tent of meeting by doing the work(M) of the tabernacle. They are to take care of all the furnishings of the tent of meeting, fulfilling the obligations of the Israelites by doing the work of the tabernacle. Give the Levites to Aaron and his sons;(N) they are the Israelites who are to be given wholly to him.[a] 10 Appoint Aaron(O) and his sons to serve as priests;(P) anyone else who approaches the sanctuary is to be put to death.”(Q)

11 The Lord also said to Moses, 12 “I have taken the Levites(R) from among the Israelites in place of the first male offspring(S) of every Israelite woman. The Levites are mine,(T) 13 for all the firstborn are mine.(U) When I struck down all the firstborn in Egypt, I set apart for myself every firstborn in Israel, whether human or animal. They are to be mine. I am the Lord.”(V)

14 The Lord said to Moses in the Desert of Sinai,(W) 15 “Count(X) the Levites by their families and clans. Count every male a month old or more.”(Y) 16 So Moses counted them, as he was commanded by the word of the Lord.

17 These were the names of the sons of Levi:(Z)

Gershon,(AA) Kohath(AB) and Merari.(AC)

18 These were the names of the Gershonite clans:

Libni and Shimei.(AD)

19 The Kohathite clans:

Amram, Izhar, Hebron and Uzziel.(AE)

20 The Merarite clans:(AF)

Mahli and Mushi.(AG)

These were the Levite clans, according to their families.

21 To Gershon(AH) belonged the clans of the Libnites and Shimeites;(AI) these were the Gershonite clans. 22 The number of all the males a month old or more who were counted was 7,500. 23 The Gershonite clans were to camp on the west, behind the tabernacle.(AJ) 24 The leader of the families of the Gershonites was Eliasaph son of Lael. 25 At the tent of meeting the Gershonites were responsible for the care of the tabernacle(AK) and tent, its coverings,(AL) the curtain at the entrance(AM) to the tent of meeting,(AN) 26 the curtains of the courtyard(AO), the curtain at the entrance to the courtyard surrounding the tabernacle and altar,(AP) and the ropes(AQ)—and everything(AR) related to their use.

27 To Kohath(AS) belonged the clans of the Amramites, Izharites, Hebronites and Uzzielites;(AT) these were the Kohathite(AU) clans. 28 The number of all the males a month old or more(AV) was 8,600.[b] The Kohathites were responsible(AW) for the care of the sanctuary.(AX) 29 The Kohathite clans were to camp on the south side(AY) of the tabernacle. 30 The leader of the families of the Kohathite clans was Elizaphan(AZ) son of Uzziel. 31 They were responsible for the care of the ark,(BA) the table,(BB) the lampstand,(BC) the altars,(BD) the articles(BE) of the sanctuary used in ministering, the curtain,(BF) and everything related to their use.(BG) 32 The chief leader of the Levites was Eleazar(BH) son of Aaron, the priest. He was appointed over those who were responsible(BI) for the care of the sanctuary.(BJ)

33 To Merari belonged the clans of the Mahlites and the Mushites;(BK) these were the Merarite clans.(BL) 34 The number of all the males a month old or more(BM) who were counted was 6,200. 35 The leader of the families of the Merarite clans was Zuriel son of Abihail; they were to camp on the north side of the tabernacle.(BN) 36 The Merarites were appointed(BO) to take care of the frames of the tabernacle,(BP) its crossbars,(BQ) posts,(BR) bases, all its equipment, and everything related to their use,(BS) 37 as well as the posts of the surrounding courtyard(BT) with their bases, tent pegs(BU) and ropes.

38 Moses and Aaron and his sons were to camp to the east(BV) of the tabernacle, toward the sunrise, in front of the tent of meeting.(BW) They were responsible for the care of the sanctuary(BX) on behalf of the Israelites. Anyone else who approached the sanctuary was to be put to death.(BY)

39 The total number of Levites counted(BZ) at the Lord’s command by Moses and Aaron according to their clans, including every male a month old or more, was 22,000.(CA)

40 The Lord said to Moses, “Count all the firstborn Israelite males who are a month old or more(CB) and make a list of their names.(CC) 41 Take the Levites for me in place of all the firstborn of the Israelites,(CD) and the livestock of the Levites in place of all the firstborn of the livestock of the Israelites. I am the Lord.”(CE)

42 So Moses counted all the firstborn of the Israelites, as the Lord commanded him. 43 The total number of firstborn males a month old or more,(CF) listed by name, was 22,273.(CG)

44 The Lord also said to Moses, 45 “Take the Levites in place of all the firstborn of Israel, and the livestock of the Levites in place of their livestock. The Levites are to be mine.(CH) I am the Lord.(CI) 46 To redeem(CJ) the 273 firstborn Israelites who exceed the number of the Levites, 47 collect five shekels[c](CK) for each one, according to the sanctuary shekel,(CL) which weighs twenty gerahs.(CM) 48 Give the money for the redemption(CN) of the additional Israelites to Aaron and his sons.”(CO)

49 So Moses collected the redemption money(CP) from those who exceeded the number redeemed by the Levites. 50 From the firstborn of the Israelites(CQ) he collected silver weighing 1,365 shekels,[d](CR) according to the sanctuary shekel. 51 Moses gave the redemption money to Aaron and his sons, as he was commanded by the word of the Lord.

The Kohathites

The Lord said to Moses and Aaron: “Take a census(CS) of the Kohathite branch of the Levites by their clans and families. Count(CT) all the men from thirty to fifty years of age(CU) who come to serve in the work at the tent of meeting.

“This is the work(CV) of the Kohathites(CW) at the tent of meeting: the care of the most holy things.(CX) When the camp is to move,(CY) Aaron and his sons are to go in and take down the shielding curtain(CZ) and put it over the ark of the covenant law.(DA) Then they are to cover the curtain with a durable leather,[e](DB) spread a cloth of solid blue over that and put the poles(DC) in place.

“Over the table of the Presence(DD) they are to spread a blue cloth and put on it the plates, dishes and bowls, and the jars for drink offerings;(DE) the bread that is continually there(DF) is to remain on it. They are to spread a scarlet cloth over them, cover that with the durable leather and put the poles(DG) in place.

“They are to take a blue cloth and cover the lampstand that is for light, together with its lamps, its wick trimmers and trays,(DH) and all its jars for the olive oil used to supply it. 10 Then they are to wrap it and all its accessories in a covering of the durable leather and put it on a carrying frame.(DI)

11 “Over the gold altar(DJ) they are to spread a blue cloth and cover that with the durable leather and put the poles(DK) in place.

12 “They are to take all the articles(DL) used for ministering in the sanctuary, wrap them in a blue cloth, cover that with the durable leather and put them on a carrying frame.(DM)

13 “They are to remove the ashes(DN) from the bronze altar(DO) and spread a purple cloth over it. 14 Then they are to place on it all the utensils(DP) used for ministering at the altar, including the firepans,(DQ) meat forks,(DR) shovels(DS) and sprinkling bowls.(DT) Over it they are to spread a covering of the durable leather and put the poles(DU) in place.

15 “After Aaron and his sons have finished covering the holy furnishings and all the holy articles, and when the camp is ready to move,(DV) only then are the Kohathites(DW) to come and do the carrying.(DX) But they must not touch the holy things(DY) or they will die.(DZ) The Kohathites are to carry those things that are in the tent of meeting.

16 “Eleazar(EA) son of Aaron, the priest, is to have charge of the oil for the light,(EB) the fragrant incense,(EC) the regular grain offering(ED) and the anointing oil. He is to be in charge of the entire tabernacle and everything in it, including its holy furnishings and articles.”

17 The Lord said to Moses and Aaron, 18 “See that the Kohathite tribal clans are not destroyed from among the Levites. 19 So that they may live and not die when they come near the most holy things,(EE) do this for them: Aaron and his sons(EF) are to go into the sanctuary and assign to each man his work and what he is to carry.(EG) 20 But the Kohathites must not go in to look(EH) at the holy things, even for a moment, or they will die.”

The Gershonites

21 The Lord said to Moses, 22 “Take a census also of the Gershonites by their families and clans. 23 Count all the men from thirty to fifty years of age(EI) who come to serve in the work at the tent of meeting.

24 “This is the service of the Gershonite clans in their carrying and their other work: 25 They are to carry the curtains of the tabernacle,(EJ) that is, the tent of meeting,(EK) its covering(EL) and its outer covering of durable leather, the curtains for the entrance to the tent of meeting, 26 the curtains of the courtyard surrounding the tabernacle and altar,(EM) the curtain for the entrance to the courtyard,(EN) the ropes and all the equipment(EO) used in the service of the tent. The Gershonites are to do all that needs to be done with these things. 27 All their service, whether carrying or doing other work, is to be done under the direction of Aaron and his sons.(EP) You shall assign to them as their responsibility(EQ) all they are to carry. 28 This is the service of the Gershonite clans(ER) at the tent of meeting. Their duties are to be under the direction of Ithamar(ES) son of Aaron, the priest.

The Merarites

29 “Count(ET) the Merarites by their clans and families.(EU) 30 Count all the men from thirty to fifty years of age who come to serve in the work at the tent of meeting. 31 As part of all their service at the tent, they are to carry the frames of the tabernacle, its crossbars, posts and bases,(EV) 32 as well as the posts of the surrounding courtyard with their bases, tent pegs, ropes,(EW) all their equipment and everything related to their use. Assign to each man the specific things he is to carry. 33 This is the service of the Merarite clans as they work at the tent of meeting under the direction of Ithamar(EX) son of Aaron, the priest.”

The Numbering of the Levite Clans

34 Moses, Aaron and the leaders of the community counted the Kohathites(EY) by their clans and families. 35 All the men from thirty to fifty years of age(EZ) who came to serve in the work at the tent of meeting, 36 counted by clans, were 2,750. 37 This was the total of all those in the Kohathite clans(FA) who served at the tent of meeting. Moses and Aaron counted them according to the Lord’s command through Moses.

38 The Gershonites(FB) were counted by their clans and families. 39 All the men from thirty to fifty years of age who came to serve in the work at the tent of meeting, 40 counted by their clans and families, were 2,630. 41 This was the total of those in the Gershonite clans who served at the tent of meeting. Moses and Aaron counted them according to the Lord’s command.

42 The Merarites were counted by their clans and families. 43 All the men from thirty to fifty years of age(FC) who came to serve in the work at the tent of meeting, 44 counted by their clans, were 3,200. 45 This was the total of those in the Merarite clans.(FD) Moses and Aaron counted them according to the Lord’s command through Moses.

46 So Moses, Aaron and the leaders of Israel counted(FE) all the Levites by their clans and families. 47 All the men from thirty to fifty years of age(FF) who came to do the work of serving and carrying the tent of meeting 48 numbered 8,580.(FG) 49 At the Lord’s command through Moses, each was assigned his work and told what to carry.

Thus they were counted,(FH) as the Lord commanded Moses.


  1. Numbers 3:9 Most manuscripts of the Masoretic Text; some manuscripts of the Masoretic Text, Samaritan Pentateuch and Septuagint (see also 8:16) to me
  2. Numbers 3:28 Hebrew; some Septuagint manuscripts 8,300
  3. Numbers 3:47 That is, about 2 ounces or about 58 grams
  4. Numbers 3:50 That is, about 35 pounds or about 16 kilograms
  5. Numbers 4:6 Possibly the hides of large aquatic mammals; also in verses 8, 10, 11, 12, 14 and 25

The Nazirite

The Lord said to Moses, “Speak to the Israelites and say to them: ‘If a man or woman wants to make a special vow(A), a vow of dedication(B) to the Lord as a Nazirite,(C) they must abstain from wine(D) and other fermented drink and must not drink vinegar(E) made from wine or other fermented drink. They must not drink grape juice or eat grapes(F) or raisins. As long as they remain under their Nazirite vow, they must not eat anything that comes from the grapevine, not even the seeds or skins.

“‘During the entire period of their Nazirite vow, no razor(G) may be used on their head.(H) They must be holy until the period of their dedication to the Lord is over; they must let their hair grow long.

“‘Throughout the period of their dedication to the Lord, the Nazirite must not go near a dead body.(I) Even if their own father or mother or brother or sister dies, they must not make themselves ceremonially unclean(J) on account of them, because the symbol of their dedication to God is on their head. Throughout the period of their dedication, they are consecrated to the Lord.

“‘If someone dies suddenly in the Nazirite’s presence, thus defiling the hair that symbolizes their dedication,(K) they must shave their head on the seventh day—the day of their cleansing.(L) 10 Then on the eighth day(M) they must bring two doves or two young pigeons(N) to the priest at the entrance to the tent of meeting.(O) 11 The priest is to offer one as a sin offering[a](P) and the other as a burnt offering(Q) to make atonement(R) for the Nazirite because they sinned by being in the presence of the dead body. That same day they are to consecrate their head again. 12 They must rededicate themselves to the Lord for the same period of dedication and must bring a year-old male lamb(S) as a guilt offering.(T) The previous days do not count, because they became defiled during their period of dedication.

13 “‘Now this is the law of the Nazirite when the period of their dedication is over.(U) They are to be brought to the entrance to the tent of meeting.(V) 14 There they are to present their offerings to the Lord: a year-old male lamb without defect(W) for a burnt offering, a year-old ewe lamb without defect for a sin offering,(X) a ram(Y) without defect for a fellowship offering,(Z) 15 together with their grain offerings(AA) and drink offerings,(AB) and a basket of bread made with the finest flour and without yeast—thick loaves with olive oil mixed in, and thin loaves brushed with olive oil.(AC)

16 “‘The priest is to present all these(AD) before the Lord(AE) and make the sin offering and the burnt offering.(AF) 17 He is to present the basket of unleavened bread and is to sacrifice the ram as a fellowship offering(AG) to the Lord, together with its grain offering(AH) and drink offering.(AI)

18 “‘Then at the entrance to the tent of meeting, the Nazirite must shave off the hair that symbolizes their dedication.(AJ) They are to take the hair and put it in the fire that is under the sacrifice of the fellowship offering.

19 “‘After the Nazirite has shaved off the hair that symbolizes their dedication, the priest is to place in their hands a boiled shoulder of the ram, and one thick loaf and one thin loaf from the basket, both made without yeast.(AK) 20 The priest shall then wave these before the Lord as a wave offering;(AL) they are holy(AM) and belong to the priest, together with the breast that was waved and the thigh that was presented.(AN) After that, the Nazirite may drink wine.(AO)

21 “‘This is the law of the Nazirite(AP) who vows offerings to the Lord in accordance with their dedication, in addition to whatever else they can afford. They must fulfill the vows(AQ) they have made, according to the law of the Nazirite.’”

The Priestly Blessing

22 The Lord said to Moses, 23 “Tell Aaron and his sons, ‘This is how you are to bless(AR) the Israelites. Say to them:

24 “‘“The Lord bless you(AS)
    and keep you;(AT)
25 the Lord make his face shine on you(AU)
    and be gracious to you;(AV)
26 the Lord turn his face(AW) toward you
    and give you peace.(AX)”’

27 “So they will put my name(AY) on the Israelites, and I will bless them.”


  1. Numbers 6:11 Or purification offering; also in verses 14 and 16

Fire From the Lord

11 Now the people complained(A) about their hardships in the hearing of the Lord,(B) and when he heard them his anger was aroused.(C) Then fire from the Lord burned among them(D) and consumed(E) some of the outskirts of the camp. When the people cried out to Moses, he prayed(F) to the Lord(G) and the fire died down. So that place was called Taberah,[a](H) because fire from the Lord had burned among them.(I)

Quail From the Lord

The rabble with them began to crave other food,(J) and again the Israelites started wailing(K) and said, “If only we had meat to eat! We remember the fish we ate in Egypt at no cost—also the cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions and garlic.(L) But now we have lost our appetite; we never see anything but this manna!(M)

The manna was like coriander seed(N) and looked like resin.(O) The people went around gathering it,(P) and then ground it in a hand mill or crushed it in a mortar. They cooked it in a pot or made it into loaves. And it tasted like something made with olive oil. When the dew(Q) settled on the camp at night, the manna also came down.

10 Moses heard the people of every family wailing(R) at the entrance to their tents. The Lord became exceedingly angry, and Moses was troubled. 11 He asked the Lord, “Why have you brought this trouble(S) on your servant? What have I done to displease you that you put the burden of all these people on me?(T) 12 Did I conceive all these people? Did I give them birth? Why do you tell me to carry them in my arms, as a nurse carries an infant,(U) to the land you promised on oath(V) to their ancestors?(W) 13 Where can I get meat for all these people?(X) They keep wailing to me, ‘Give us meat to eat!’ 14 I cannot carry all these people by myself; the burden is too heavy for me.(Y) 15 If this is how you are going to treat me, please go ahead and kill me(Z)—if I have found favor in your eyes—and do not let me face my own ruin.”

16 The Lord said to Moses: “Bring me seventy of Israel’s elders(AA) who are known to you as leaders and officials among the people.(AB) Have them come to the tent of meeting,(AC) that they may stand there with you. 17 I will come down and speak with you(AD) there, and I will take some of the power of the Spirit that is on you and put it on them.(AE) They will share the burden of the people with you so that you will not have to carry it alone.(AF)

18 “Tell the people: ‘Consecrate yourselves(AG) in preparation for tomorrow, when you will eat meat. The Lord heard you when you wailed,(AH) “If only we had meat to eat! We were better off in Egypt!”(AI) Now the Lord will give you meat,(AJ) and you will eat it. 19 You will not eat it for just one day, or two days, or five, ten or twenty days, 20 but for a whole month—until it comes out of your nostrils and you loathe it(AK)—because you have rejected the Lord,(AL) who is among you, and have wailed before him, saying, “Why did we ever leave Egypt?”’”(AM)

21 But Moses said, “Here I am among six hundred thousand men(AN) on foot, and you say, ‘I will give them meat to eat for a whole month!’ 22 Would they have enough if flocks and herds were slaughtered for them? Would they have enough if all the fish in the sea were caught for them?”(AO)

23 The Lord answered Moses, “Is the Lord’s arm too short?(AP) Now you will see whether or not what I say will come true for you.(AQ)

24 So Moses went out and told the people what the Lord had said. He brought together seventy of their elders and had them stand around the tent. 25 Then the Lord came down in the cloud(AR) and spoke with him,(AS) and he took some of the power of the Spirit(AT) that was on him and put it on the seventy elders.(AU) When the Spirit rested on them, they prophesied(AV)—but did not do so again.

26 However, two men, whose names were Eldad and Medad, had remained in the camp. They were listed among the elders, but did not go out to the tent. Yet the Spirit also rested on them,(AW) and they prophesied in the camp. 27 A young man ran and told Moses, “Eldad and Medad are prophesying in the camp.”

28 Joshua son of Nun,(AX) who had been Moses’ aide(AY) since youth, spoke up and said, “Moses, my lord, stop them!”(AZ)

29 But Moses replied, “Are you jealous for my sake? I wish that all the Lord’s people were prophets(BA) and that the Lord would put his Spirit(BB) on them!”(BC) 30 Then Moses and the elders of Israel returned to the camp.

31 Now a wind went out from the Lord and drove quail(BD) in from the sea. It scattered them up to two cubits[b] deep all around the camp, as far as a day’s walk in any direction. 32 All that day and night and all the next day the people went out and gathered quail. No one gathered less than ten homers.[c] Then they spread them out all around the camp. 33 But while the meat was still between their teeth(BE) and before it could be consumed, the anger(BF) of the Lord burned against the people, and he struck them with a severe plague.(BG) 34 Therefore the place was named Kibroth Hattaavah,[d](BH) because there they buried the people who had craved other food.

35 From Kibroth Hattaavah the people traveled to Hazeroth(BI) and stayed there.

Miriam and Aaron Oppose Moses

12 Miriam(BJ) and Aaron began to talk against Moses because of his Cushite wife,(BK) for he had married a Cushite. “Has the Lord spoken only through Moses?” they asked. “Hasn’t he also spoken through us?”(BL) And the Lord heard this.(BM)

(Now Moses was a very humble man,(BN) more humble than anyone else on the face of the earth.)

At once the Lord said to Moses, Aaron and Miriam, “Come out to the tent of meeting, all three of you.” So the three of them went out. Then the Lord came down in a pillar of cloud;(BO) he stood at the entrance to the tent and summoned Aaron and Miriam. When the two of them stepped forward, he said, “Listen to my words:

“When there is a prophet among you,
    I, the Lord, reveal(BP) myself to them in visions,(BQ)
    I speak to them in dreams.(BR)
But this is not true of my servant Moses;(BS)
    he is faithful in all my house.(BT)
With him I speak face to face,
    clearly and not in riddles;(BU)
    he sees the form of the Lord.(BV)
Why then were you not afraid
    to speak against my servant Moses?”(BW)

The anger of the Lord burned against them,(BX) and he left them.(BY)

10 When the cloud lifted from above the tent,(BZ) Miriam’s skin was leprous[e]—it became as white as snow.(CA) Aaron turned toward her and saw that she had a defiling skin disease,(CB) 11 and he said to Moses, “Please, my lord, I ask you not to hold against us the sin we have so foolishly committed.(CC) 12 Do not let her be like a stillborn infant coming from its mother’s womb with its flesh half eaten away.”

13 So Moses cried out to the Lord, “Please, God, heal her!(CD)

14 The Lord replied to Moses, “If her father had spit in her face,(CE) would she not have been in disgrace for seven days? Confine her outside the camp(CF) for seven days; after that she can be brought back.” 15 So Miriam was confined outside the camp(CG) for seven days,(CH) and the people did not move on till she was brought back.

16 After that, the people left Hazeroth(CI) and encamped in the Desert of Paran.(CJ)

Exploring Canaan

13 The Lord said to Moses, “Send some men to explore(CK) the land of Canaan,(CL) which I am giving to the Israelites.(CM) From each ancestral tribe(CN) send one of its leaders.”

So at the Lord’s command Moses sent them out from the Desert of Paran. All of them were leaders of the Israelites.(CO) These are their names:

from the tribe of Reuben, Shammua son of Zakkur;

from the tribe of Simeon, Shaphat son of Hori;

from the tribe of Judah, Caleb son of Jephunneh;(CP)

from the tribe of Issachar, Igal son of Joseph;

from the tribe of Ephraim, Hoshea son of Nun;(CQ)

from the tribe of Benjamin, Palti son of Raphu;

10 from the tribe of Zebulun, Gaddiel son of Sodi;

11 from the tribe of Manasseh (a tribe of Joseph), Gaddi son of Susi;

12 from the tribe of Dan, Ammiel son of Gemalli;

13 from the tribe of Asher, Sethur son of Michael;

14 from the tribe of Naphtali, Nahbi son of Vophsi;

15 from the tribe of Gad, Geuel son of Maki.

16 These are the names of the men Moses sent to explore(CR) the land. (Moses gave Hoshea son of Nun(CS) the name Joshua.)(CT)

17 When Moses sent them to explore Canaan,(CU) he said, “Go up through the Negev(CV) and on into the hill country.(CW) 18 See what the land is like and whether the people who live there are strong or weak, few or many. 19 What kind of land do they live in? Is it good or bad? What kind of towns do they live in? Are they unwalled or fortified? 20 How is the soil? Is it fertile or poor? Are there trees in it or not? Do your best to bring back some of the fruit of the land.(CX)” (It was the season for the first ripe grapes.)(CY)

21 So they went up and explored the land from the Desert of Zin(CZ) as far as Rehob,(DA) toward Lebo Hamath.(DB) 22 They went up through the Negev and came to Hebron,(DC) where Ahiman, Sheshai and Talmai,(DD) the descendants of Anak,(DE) lived. (Hebron had been built seven years before Zoan in Egypt.)(DF) 23 When they reached the Valley of Eshkol,[f](DG) they cut off a branch bearing a single cluster of grapes. Two of them carried it on a pole between them, along with some pomegranates(DH) and figs.(DI) 24 That place was called the Valley of Eshkol because of the cluster of grapes the Israelites cut off there. 25 At the end of forty days(DJ) they returned from exploring the land.(DK)

Report on the Exploration

26 They came back to Moses and Aaron and the whole Israelite community at Kadesh(DL) in the Desert of Paran.(DM) There they reported to them(DN) and to the whole assembly and showed them the fruit of the land.(DO) 27 They gave Moses this account: “We went into the land to which you sent us, and it does flow with milk and honey!(DP) Here is its fruit.(DQ) 28 But the people who live there are powerful, and the cities are fortified and very large.(DR) We even saw descendants of Anak(DS) there.(DT) 29 The Amalekites(DU) live in the Negev; the Hittites,(DV) Jebusites(DW) and Amorites(DX) live in the hill country;(DY) and the Canaanites(DZ) live near the sea and along the Jordan.(EA)

30 Then Caleb(EB) silenced the people before Moses and said, “We should go up and take possession of the land, for we can certainly do it.”

31 But the men who had gone up with him said, “We can’t attack those people; they are stronger than we are.”(EC) 32 And they spread among the Israelites a bad report(ED) about the land they had explored. They said, “The land we explored devours(EE) those living in it. All the people we saw there are of great size.(EF) 33 We saw the Nephilim(EG) there (the descendants of Anak(EH) come from the Nephilim). We seemed like grasshoppers(EI) in our own eyes, and we looked the same to them.”

The People Rebel

14 That night all the members of the community raised their voices and wept aloud.(EJ) All the Israelites grumbled(EK) against Moses and Aaron, and the whole assembly said to them, “If only we had died in Egypt!(EL) Or in this wilderness!(EM) Why is the Lord bringing us to this land only to let us fall by the sword?(EN) Our wives and children(EO) will be taken as plunder.(EP) Wouldn’t it be better for us to go back to Egypt?(EQ) And they said to each other, “We should choose a leader and go back to Egypt.(ER)

Then Moses and Aaron fell facedown(ES) in front of the whole Israelite assembly(ET) gathered there. Joshua son of Nun(EU) and Caleb son of Jephunneh, who were among those who had explored the land, tore their clothes(EV) and said to the entire Israelite assembly, “The land we passed through and explored is exceedingly good.(EW) If the Lord is pleased with us,(EX) he will lead us into that land, a land flowing with milk and honey,(EY) and will give it to us.(EZ) Only do not rebel(FA) against the Lord. And do not be afraid(FB) of the people of the land,(FC) because we will devour them. Their protection is gone, but the Lord is with(FD) us.(FE) Do not be afraid of them.”(FF)

10 But the whole assembly talked about stoning(FG) them. Then the glory of the Lord(FH) appeared at the tent of meeting to all the Israelites. 11 The Lord said to Moses, “How long will these people treat me with contempt?(FI) How long will they refuse to believe in me,(FJ) in spite of all the signs(FK) I have performed among them? 12 I will strike them down with a plague(FL) and destroy them, but I will make you into a nation(FM) greater and stronger than they.”(FN)

13 Moses said to the Lord, “Then the Egyptians will hear about it! By your power you brought these people up from among them.(FO) 14 And they will tell the inhabitants of this land about it. They have already heard(FP) that you, Lord, are with these people(FQ) and that you, Lord, have been seen face to face,(FR) that your cloud stays over them,(FS) and that you go before them in a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night.(FT) 15 If you put all these people to death, leaving none alive, the nations who have heard this report about you will say, 16 ‘The Lord was not able to bring these people into the land he promised them on oath,(FU) so he slaughtered them in the wilderness.’(FV)

17 “Now may the Lord’s strength be displayed, just as you have declared: 18 ‘The Lord is slow to anger, abounding in love and forgiving sin and rebellion.(FW) Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished; he punishes the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation.’(FX) 19 In accordance with your great love, forgive(FY) the sin of these people,(FZ) just as you have pardoned them from the time they left Egypt until now.”(GA)

20 The Lord replied, “I have forgiven them,(GB) as you asked. 21 Nevertheless, as surely as I live(GC) and as surely as the glory of the Lord(GD) fills the whole earth,(GE) 22 not one of those who saw my glory and the signs(GF) I performed in Egypt and in the wilderness but who disobeyed me and tested me ten times(GG) 23 not one of them will ever see the land I promised on oath(GH) to their ancestors. No one who has treated me with contempt(GI) will ever see it.(GJ) 24 But because my servant Caleb(GK) has a different spirit and follows me wholeheartedly,(GL) I will bring him into the land he went to, and his descendants will inherit it.(GM) 25 Since the Amalekites(GN) and the Canaanites(GO) are living in the valleys, turn(GP) back tomorrow and set out toward the desert along the route to the Red Sea.[g](GQ)

26 The Lord said to Moses and Aaron: 27 “How long will this wicked community grumble against me? I have heard the complaints of these grumbling Israelites.(GR) 28 So tell them, ‘As surely as I live,(GS) declares the Lord, I will do to you(GT) the very thing I heard you say: 29 In this wilderness your bodies will fall(GU)—every one of you twenty years old or more(GV) who was counted in the census(GW) and who has grumbled against me. 30 Not one of you will enter the land(GX) I swore with uplifted hand(GY) to make your home, except Caleb son of Jephunneh(GZ) and Joshua son of Nun.(HA) 31 As for your children that you said would be taken as plunder, I will bring them in to enjoy the land you have rejected.(HB) 32 But as for you, your bodies will fall(HC) in this wilderness. 33 Your children will be shepherds here for forty years,(HD) suffering for your unfaithfulness, until the last of your bodies lies in the wilderness. 34 For forty years(HE)—one year for each of the forty days you explored the land(HF)—you will suffer for your sins and know what it is like to have me against you.’ 35 I, the Lord, have spoken, and I will surely do these things(HG) to this whole wicked community, which has banded together against me. They will meet their end in this wilderness; here they will die.(HH)

36 So the men Moses had sent(HI) to explore the land, who returned and made the whole community grumble(HJ) against him by spreading a bad report(HK) about it— 37 these men who were responsible for spreading the bad report(HL) about the land were struck down and died of a plague(HM) before the Lord. 38 Of the men who went to explore the land,(HN) only Joshua son of Nun and Caleb son of Jephunneh survived.(HO)

39 When Moses reported this(HP) to all the Israelites, they mourned(HQ) bitterly.


  1. Numbers 11:3 Taberah means burning.
  2. Numbers 11:31 That is, about 3 feet or about 90 centimeters
  3. Numbers 11:32 That is, possibly about 1 3/4 tons or about 1.6 metric tons
  4. Numbers 11:34 Kibroth Hattaavah means graves of craving.
  5. Numbers 12:10 The Hebrew for leprous was used for various diseases affecting the skin.
  6. Numbers 13:23 Eshkol means cluster; also in verse 24.
  7. Numbers 14:25 Or the Sea of Reeds