Numbers 30-36 Contemporary English Version (CEV)
Making Promises to the Lord
30 The Lord told Moses to say to Israel’s tribal leaders:
2 When one of you men makes a promise to the Lord,[a] you must keep your word.
3 Suppose a young woman who is still living with her parents makes a promise to the Lord. 4 If her father hears about it and says nothing, she must keep her promise. 5 But if he hears about it and objects, then she no longer has to keep her promise. The Lord will forgive her, because her father did not agree with the promise.
6-7 Suppose a woman makes a promise to the Lord and then gets married. If her husband later hears about the promise but says nothing, she must do what she said, whether she meant it or not. 8 But if her husband hears about the promise and objects, she no longer has to keep it, and the Lord will forgive her.
9 Widows and divorced women must keep every promise they make to the Lord.
10 Suppose a married woman makes a promise to the Lord. 11 If her husband hears about the promise and says nothing, she must do what she said. 12 But if he hears about the promise and does object, she no longer has to keep it. The Lord will forgive her, because her husband would not allow her to keep the promise. 13 Her husband has the final say about any promises she makes to the Lord. 14 If her husband hears about a promise and says nothing about it for a whole day, she must do what she said—since he did not object, the promise must be kept. 15 But if he waits until the next day to stop her from keeping her promise, he is the one who must be punished.
16 These are the laws that the Lord gave Moses about husbands and wives, and about young daughters who still live at home.
Israel’s War against Midian
31 The Lord said to Moses, 2 “Before you die, make sure that the Midianites are punished for what they did to Israel.”[b]
3 Then Moses told the people, “The Lord wants to punish the Midianites. So have our men prepare for battle. 4 Each tribe will send a thousand men to fight.”
5 Twelve thousand men were picked from the tribes of Israel, and after they were prepared for battle, 6 Moses sent them off to war. Phinehas the son of Eleazar went with them and took along some things from the sacred tent[c] and the trumpets for sounding the battle signal.
7 The Israelites fought against the Midianites, just as the Lord had commanded Moses. They killed all the men, 8 including Balaam son of Beor and the five Midianite kings, Evi, Rekem, Zur, Hur, and Reba. 9 The Israelites captured every woman and child, then led away the Midianites' cattle and sheep, and took everything else that belonged to them. 10 They also burned down the Midianite towns and villages.
11 Israel’s soldiers gathered together everything they had taken from the Midianites, including the captives and the animals. 12-13 Then they returned to their own camp in the hills of Moab across the Jordan River from Jericho, where Moses, Eleazar, and the other Israelite leaders met the troops outside camp.
14 Moses became angry with the army commanders 15 and said, “I can’t believe you let the women live! 16 They are the ones who followed Balaam’s advice and invited our people to worship the god Baal Peor. That’s why the Lord punished us by killing so many of our people. 17 You must put to death every boy and all the women who have ever had sex. 18 But do not kill the young women who have never had sex. You may keep them for yourselves.”
19 Then Moses said to the soldiers, “If you killed anyone or touched a dead body, you are unclean and have to stay outside the camp for seven days. On the third and seventh days, you must go through a ceremony to make yourselves and your captives clean. 20 Then wash your clothes and anything made from animal skin, goat’s hair, or wood.”
21-23 Eleazar then explained, “If you need to purify something that won’t burn, such as gold, silver, bronze, iron, tin, or lead, you must first place it in a hot fire. After you take it out, sprinkle it with the water that purifies. Everything else should only be sprinkled with the water. Do all of this, just as the Lord commanded Moses. 24 Wash your clothes on the seventh day, and after that, you will be clean and may return to the camp.”
Everything Taken from the Midianites Is Divided
25 The Lord told Moses:
26-27 Make a list of everything taken from the Midianites, including the captives and the animals. Then divide them between the soldiers and the rest of the people. Eleazar the priest and the family leaders will help you.
28-29 From the half that belongs to the soldiers, set aside for the Lord one out of every five hundred people or animals and give these to Eleazar.
30 From the half that belongs to the people, set aside one out of every fifty and give these to the Levites in charge of the sacred tent.
31 Moses and Eleazar followed the Lord’s instructions 32-35 and listed everything that had been taken from the Midianites. The list included 675,000 sheep and goats, 72,000 cattle, 61,000 donkeys, and 32,000 young women who had never had sex.
36-47 Each half included 337,500 sheep and goats, 36,000 cattle, 30,500 donkeys, and 16,000 young women. From the half that belonged to the soldiers, Moses counted out 675 sheep and goats, 72 cattle, 61 donkeys, and 32 women and gave them to Eleazar to be dedicated to the Lord. Then from the half that belonged to the people, Moses set aside one out of every fifty animals and women, as the Lord had said, and gave them to the Levites.
48 The army commanders went to Moses 49 and said, “Sir, we have counted our troops, and not one soldier is missing. 50 So we want to give the Lord all the gold jewelry we took from the Midianites. It’s our gift to him for watching over us and our troops.”
51 Moses and Eleazar accepted the jewelry from the commanders, 52 and its total weight was over four hundred pounds. 53 This did not include the things that the soldiers had kept for themselves. 54 So Moses and Eleazar placed the gold in the Lord’s sacred tent to remind Israel of what had happened.[d]
Land East of the Jordan River Is Settled
32 The tribes of Reuben and Gad owned a lot of cattle and sheep, and they saw that the regions of Jazer and Gilead had good pastureland. 2 So they went to Moses, Eleazar, and the other leaders of Israel and said, 3-4 “The Lord has helped us capture the land around the towns of Ataroth, Dibon, Jazer, Nimrah, Heshbon, Elealeh, Sebam, Nebo, and Beon. That’s good pastureland, and since we own cattle and sheep, 5 would you let us stay here east of the Jordan River and have this land as our own?”
6 Moses answered:
You mean you’d stay here while the rest of the Israelites go into battle? 7 If you did that, it would discourage the others from crossing over into the land the Lord promised them. 8 This is exactly what happened when I sent your ancestors from Kadesh-Barnea to explore the land. 9 They went as far as Eshcol Valley, then returned and told the people that we should not enter it. 10 The Lord became very angry. 11 And he said that no one who was twenty years or older when they left Egypt would enter the land he had promised to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Not one of those people believed in the Lord’s power, 12 except Caleb and Joshua.[e] They remained faithful to the Lord, 13 but he was so angry with the others that he forced them to wander around in the desert forty years. By that time everyone who had sinned against him had died.
14 Now you people of Reuben and Gad are doing the same thing and making the Lord even angrier. 15 If you reject the Lord, he will once again abandon his people and leave them here in the desert. And you will be to blame!
16 The men from Reuben and Gad replied:
Let us build places to keep our sheep and goats, and towns for our wives and children, 17 where they can stay and be safe. Then we’ll prepare to fight and lead the other tribes into battle. 18 We will stay with them until they have settled in their own tribal lands. 19 The land on this side of the Jordan River will be ours, so we won’t expect to receive any on the other side.
20 Moses said:
You promised that you would be ready to fight for the Lord. 21 You also agreed to cross the Jordan and stay with the rest of the Israelites, until the Lord forces our enemies out of the land. If you do these things, 22 then after the Lord helps Israel capture the land, you can return to your own land. You will no longer have to stay with the others. 23 But if you don’t keep your promise, you will sin against the Lord and be punished.
24 Go ahead and build towns for your wives and children, and places for your sheep and goats. Just be sure to do what you have promised.
25 The men from Reuben and Gad answered:
Sir, we will do just what you have said. 26 Our wives and children and sheep and cattle will stay here in the towns in Gilead. 27 But those of us who are prepared for battle will cross the Jordan and fight for the Lord.
28 Then Moses said to Eleazar, Joshua, and the family leaders, 29 “Make sure that the tribes of Gad and Reuben prepare for battle and cross the Jordan River with you. If they do, then after the land is in your control, give them the region of Gilead as their tribal land. 30 But if they break their promise, they will receive land on the other side of the Jordan, like the rest of the tribes.”
31 The tribes of Gad and Reuben replied, “We are your servants and will do whatever the Lord has commanded. 32 We will cross the Jordan River, ready to fight for the Lord in Canaan. But the land we will inherit as our own will be on this side of the river.”
33 So Moses gave the tribes of Gad, Reuben, and half of Manasseh[f] the territory and towns that King Sihon the Amorite had ruled, as well as the territory and towns that King Og of Bashan had ruled.[g]
34 The tribe of Gad rebuilt the towns of Dibon, Ataroth, Aroer, 35 Atroth-Shophan, Jazer, Jogbehah, 36 Beth-Nimrah, and Beth-Haran. They built walls around them and also built places to keep their sheep and goats.
37 The tribe of Reuben rebuilt Heshbon, Elealeh, Kiriathaim, 38 Sibmah, as well as the towns that used to be known as Nebo and Baal-Meon. They renamed all those places.
39 The clan of Machir from the tribe of East Manasseh went to the region of Gilead, captured its towns, and forced out the Amorites. 40 So Moses gave the Machirites the region of Gilead, and they settled there.
41 Jair from the Manasseh tribe captured villages and renamed them “Villages of Jair.”[h]
42 Nobah captured the town of Kenath with its villages and renamed it Nobah.
Israel’s Journey from Egypt to Moab
33 As Israel traveled from Egypt under the command of Moses and Aaron, 2 Moses kept a list of the places they camped, just as the Lord had instructed. Here is the record of their journey:
3-4 Israel left the Egyptian city of Rameses on the fifteenth day of the first month.[i] This was the day after the Lord had punished Egypt’s gods by killing the first-born sons in every Egyptian family. So while the Egyptians were burying the bodies, they watched the Israelites proudly[j] leave their country.
5 After the Israelites left Rameses, they camped at Succoth, 6 and from there, they moved their camp to Etham on the edge of the desert. 7 Then they turned back toward Pi-Hahiroth, east of Baal-Zephon, and camped near Migdol. 8 They left Pi-Hahiroth,[k] crossed the Red Sea,[l] then walked three days into the Etham Desert and camped at Marah. 9 Next, they camped at Elim, where there were twelve springs of water and seventy palm trees. 10 They left Elim and camped near the Red Sea,[m] 11 then turned east and camped along the western edge of the Sinai Desert.[n] 12-14 From there they went to Dophkah, Alush, and Rephidim, where they had no water.[o] 15 They left Rephidim and finally reached the Sinai Desert.
16-36 As Israel traveled from the Sinai Desert to Kadesh in the Zin Desert, they camped at Kibroth-Hattaavah, Hazeroth, Rithmah, Rimmon-Perez, Libnah, Rissah, Kehelathah, Mount Shepher, Haradah, Makheloth, Tahath, Terah, Mithkah, Hashmonah, Moseroth, Bene-Jaakan, Hor-Haggidgad, Jotbathah, Abronah, Ezion-Geber, and finally Kadesh. 37 When they left Kadesh, they came to Mount Hor, on the border of Edom.
38 That’s where the Lord commanded Aaron the priest to go to the top of the mountain. Aaron died there on the first day of the fifth month,[p] forty years after the Israelites left Egypt. 39 He was one hundred twenty-three years old at the time.
40 It was then that the Canaanite king of Arad, who lived in the Southern Desert of Canaan, heard that Israel was headed that way.
41-47 The Israelites left Mount Hor and headed toward Moab. Along the way, they camped at Zalmonah, Punon, Oboth, Iye-Abarim in the territory of Moab, Dibon-Gad, Almon-Diblathaim, at a place near Mount Nebo in the Abarim Mountains, 48 and finally in the lowlands of Moab across the Jordan River from Jericho. 49 Their camp stretched from Beth-Jeshimoth to Acacia.
The Lord’s Command To Conquer Canaan
50 While Israel was camped in the lowlands of Moab across the Jordan River from Jericho, the Lord told Moses 51 to give the people of Israel this message:
When you cross the Jordan River and enter Canaan, 52 you must force out the people living there. Destroy their idols and tear down their altars. 53 Then settle in the land—I have given it to you as your own.
54 I will show you[q] how to divide the land among the tribes, according to the number of clans in each one, so that the larger tribes will have more land than the smaller ones.
55 If you don’t force out all the people there, they will be like pointed sticks in your eyes and thorns in your back. They will always be trouble for you, 56 and I will treat you as cruelly as I planned on treating them.
34 The Lord told Moses 2 to tell the people of Israel that their land in Canaan would have the following borders:
3 The southern border will be the Zin Desert and the northwest part of Edom. This border will begin at the south end of the Dead Sea. 4 It will go west from there, but will turn southward to include Scorpion Pass, the village of Zin, and the town of Kadesh-Barnea. From there, the border will continue to Hazar-Addar and on to Azmon. 5 It will run along the Egyptian Gorge and end at the Mediterranean Sea.
6 The western border will be the Mediterranean Sea.
7 The northern border will begin at the Mediterranean, then continue eastward to Mount Hor.[r] 8 After that, it will run to Lebo-Hamath and across to Zedad, which is the northern edge of your land. 9 From Zedad, the border will continue east to Ziphron and end at Hazar-Enan.
10 The eastern border will begin at Hazar-Enan in the north, then run south to Shepham, 11 and on down to Riblah on the east side of Ain. From there, it will go south to the eastern hills of Lake Galilee,[s] 12 then follow the Jordan River down to the north end of the Dead Sea.
The land within those four borders will belong to you.
13 Then Moses told the people, “You will receive the land inside these borders. It will be yours, but the Lord has commanded you to divide it among the nine and a half tribes. 14 The tribes of Reuben, Gad, and East Manasseh have already been given their land 15 across from Jericho, east of the Jordan River.”
The Leaders Who Will Divide the Land
16 The Lord said to Moses, 17 “Eleazar the priest and Joshua son of Nun will divide the land for the Israelites. 18 One leader from each tribe will help them, 19-28 and here is the list of their names:
Caleb son of Jephunneh
29 These are the men the Lord commanded to help Eleazar and Joshua divide the land for the Israelites.
The Towns for the Levites
35 While the people of Israel were still camped in the lowlands of Moab across the Jordan River from Jericho, the Lord told Moses 2 to say to them:
When you receive your tribal lands, you must give towns and pastures to the Levi tribe. 3 That way, the Levites will have towns to live in and pastures for their animals. 4-5 The pasture around each of these towns must be in the shape of a square, with the town itself in the center. The pasture is to measure three thousand feet on each side, with fifteen hundred feet of land outside each of the town walls. This will be the Levites' pastureland.
6 Six of the towns you give them will be Safe Towns where a person who has accidentally killed someone can run for protection. But you will also give the Levites forty-two other towns, 7 so they will have a total of forty-eight towns with their surrounding pastures.
8 Since the towns for the Levites must come from Israel’s own tribal lands, the larger tribes will give more towns than the smaller ones.
The Safe Towns
9 The Lord then told Moses 10 to tell the people of Israel:
After you have crossed the Jordan River and are settled in Canaan, 11 choose Safe Towns, where a person who has accidentally killed someone can run for protection. 12 If the victim’s relatives think it was murder, they might try to take revenge.[t] Anyone accused of murder can run to one of these Safe Towns for protection and not be killed before a trial is held.
13 There are to be six of these Safe Towns, 14 three on each side of the Jordan River. 15 They will be places of protection for anyone who lives in Israel and accidentally kills someone.
Laws about Murder and Accidental Killing
The Lord said:
16-18 Suppose you hit someone with a piece of iron or a large stone or a dangerous wooden tool. If that person dies, then you are a murderer and must be put to death 19 by one of the victim’s relatives. [u] He will take revenge for his relative’s death as soon as he finds you.
20-21 Or suppose you get angry and kill someone by pushing or hitting or by throwing something. You are a murderer and must be put to death by one of the victim’s relatives.
22-24 But if you are not angry and accidentally kill someone in any of these ways, the townspeople must hold a trial and decide if you are guilty. 25 If they decide that you are innocent, you will be protected from the victim’s relative and sent to stay in one of the Safe Towns until the high priest dies. 26 But if you ever leave the Safe Town 27 and are killed by the victim’s relative, he cannot be punished for killing you. 28 You must stay inside the town until the high priest dies; only then can you go back home.
29 The community of Israel must always obey these laws.
30 Death is the penalty for murder. But no one accused of murder can be put to death unless there are at least two witnesses to the crime. 31 You cannot give someone money to escape the death penalty; you must pay with your own life! 32 And if you have been proven innocent of murder and are living in a Safe Town, you cannot pay to go back home; you must stay there until the high priest dies.
33-34 I, the Lord, live among you people of Israel, so your land must be kept pure. But when a murder takes place, blood pollutes the land, and it becomes unclean. If that happens, the murderer must be put to death, so the land will be clean again. Keep murder out of Israel!
The Laws about Married Women and Land
36 One day the family leaders from the Gilead clan of the Manasseh tribe went to Moses and the other family leaders of Israel 2 and said, “Sir, the Lord has said that he will show[v] what land each tribe will receive as their own. And the Lord has commanded you to give the daughters of our relative Zelophehad[w] the land that he would have received. 3 But if they marry men from other tribes of Israel, the land they receive will become part of that tribe’s inheritance and will no longer belong to us. 4 Even when land is returned to its original owner in the Year of Celebration,[x] we will not get back Zelophehad’s land—it will belong to the tribe into which his daughters married.”
5 So Moses told the people that the Lord had said:
These men from the Manasseh tribe are right. 6 I will allow Zelophehad’s daughters to marry anyone, as long as those men belong to one of the clans of the Manasseh tribe.
7 Tribal land must not be given to another tribe—it will remain the property of the tribe that received it. 8-9 In the future, any daughter who inherits land must marry someone from her own tribe. Israel’s tribal land is never to be passed from one tribe to another.
10-11 Mahlah, Tirzah, Hoglah, Milcah, and Noah the daughters of Zelophehad obeyed the Lord and married their uncles' sons 12 and remained part of the Manasseh tribe. So their land stayed in their father’s clan.
13 These are the laws that the Lord gave to Moses and the Israelites while they were camped in the lowlands of Moab across the Jordan River from Jericho.
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