Numbers 7-14 Contemporary English Version (CEV)
The Leaders Bring Gifts to the Sacred Tent
7 When Moses had finished setting up the sacred tent, he dedicated it to the Lord, together with its furnishings, the altar, and its equipment. 2 Then the twelve tribal leaders of Israel, the same men who had been in charge of counting the people,[a] came to the tent 3 with gifts for the Lord. They brought six strong carts and twelve oxen—one ox from each leader and a cart from every two.
4 The Lord said to Moses, 5 “Accept these gifts, so the Levites can use them here at the sacred tent for carrying the sacred things.”
6 Then Moses took the carts and oxen and gave them to the Levites, 7-8 who were under the leadership of Ithamar son of Aaron. Moses gave two carts and four oxen to the Gershonites for their work, and four carts and eight oxen to the Merarites for their work. 9 But Moses did not give any to the Kohathites, because they were in charge of the sacred objects that had to be carried on their shoulders.
10 On the day the altar was dedicated, the twelve leaders brought offerings for its dedication. 11 The Lord said to Moses, “Each day one leader is to give his offering for the dedication.”
12-83 So each leader brought the following gifts:
a silver bowl that weighed over three pounds and a silver sprinkling bowl weighing almost two pounds, both of them filled with flour and olive oil as grain sacrifices and weighed according to the official standards;
a small gold dish filled with incense;
a young bull, a full-grown ram, and a year-old ram as sacrifices to please the Lord;[b]
a goat[c] as a sacrifice for sin;
and two bulls, five full-grown rams, five goats, and five rams a year old as sacrifices to ask the Lord’s blessing.[d]
The tribal leaders brought their gifts and offerings in the following order:
On the first day
84-88 And so when the altar was dedicated to the Lord, these twelve leaders brought the following gifts:
twelve silver bowls and twelve silver sprinkling bowls, weighing a total of about sixty pounds, according to the official standards;
twelve gold dishes filled with incense and weighing about three pounds;
twelve bulls, twelve full-grown rams, and twelve rams a year old as sacrifices to please the Lord, along with the proper grain sacrifices;
twelve goats as sacrifices for sin;
and twenty-four bulls, sixty full-grown rams, sixty goats, and sixty rams a year old as sacrifices to ask the Lord’s blessing.
89 Whenever Moses needed to talk with the Lord, he went into the sacred tent, where he heard the Lord’s voice coming from between the two winged creatures above the lid of the sacred chest.
Aaron Puts the Gold Lamps in Place
8 The Lord said to Moses, 2 “Tell Aaron to put the seven lamps on the lampstand so they shine toward the front.”
3 Aaron obeyed and placed the lamps as he was told. 4 The lampstand was made of hammered gold from its base to the decorative flowers on top, exactly like the pattern the Lord had described to Moses.
Instructions for Ordaining the Levites
5 The Lord said to Moses:
6 The Levites must be acceptable to me before they begin working at the sacred tent. So separate them from the rest of the Israelites 7 and sprinkle them with the water that washes away their sins. Then have them shave their entire bodies and wash their clothes.
8 They are to bring a bull and its proper grain sacrifice of flour mixed with olive oil. And they must bring a second bull as a sacrifice for sin.
9 Then you, Moses, will call together all the people of Israel and have the Levites go to my sacred tent, 10 where the people will place their hands on them. 11 Aaron will present the Levites to me as a gift from the people, so that the Levites will do my work.
12 After this, the Levites are to place their hands on the heads of the bulls. Then one of the bulls will be sacrificed for the forgiveness of sin, and the other to make sure that I am pleased. 13 The Levites will stand at my altar in front of Aaron and his sons, who will then dedicate the Levites to me.
14 This ceremony will show that the Levites are different from the other Israelites and belong to me in a special way. 15 After they have been made acceptable and have been dedicated, they will be allowed to work at my sacred tent. 16 They are mine and will take the place of the first-born Israelite sons. 17 When I killed the oldest sons of the Egyptians, I decided that the first-born sons in each Israelite family would be mine, as well as every first-born male from their flocks and herds. 18 But now I have chosen these Levites as substitutes for the first-born sons, 19 and I have given them as gifts to Aaron and his sons to serve at the sacred tent. I will hold them responsible for what happens to anyone who gets too close to the sacred tent.[e]
The Levites Are Dedicated to the Lord
20 Moses, Aaron, and the other Israelites made sure that the Levites did everything the Lord had commanded. 21 The Levites sprinkled themselves with the water of forgiveness and washed their clothes. Then Aaron brought them to the altar and offered sacrifices to forgive their sins and make them acceptable to the Lord. 22 After this, the Levites worked at the sacred tent as assistants to Aaron and his sons, just as the Lord had commanded.
23 The Lord also told Moses, 24-25 “Levites who are between the ages of twenty-five and fifty can work at my sacred tent. But once they turn fifty, they must retire. 26 They may help the other Levites in their duties, but they must no longer be responsible for any work themselves. Remember this when you assign their duties.”
Regulations for Celebrating Passover
9 During the first month of Israel’s second year in the Sinai Desert,[f] the Lord had told Moses 2 to say to the people, “Celebrate Passover 3 in the evening of the fourteenth day of this month[g] and do it by following all the regulations.” 4-5 Moses told the people what the Lord had said, and they celebrated Passover there in the desert in the evening of the fourteenth day of the first month.
6 Some people in Israel’s camp had touched a dead body and had become unfit to worship the Lord, and they could not celebrate Passover. But they asked Moses and Aaron, 7 “Even though we have touched a dead body, why can’t we celebrate Passover and offer sacrifices to the Lord at the same time as everyone else?”
8 Moses said, “Wait here while I go into the sacred tent and find out what the Lord says about this.”
9 The Lord then told Moses 10 to say to the community of Israel:
If any of you or your descendants touch a dead body and become unfit to worship me, or if you are away on a long journey, you may still celebrate Passover. 11 But it must be done in the second month,[h] in the evening of the fourteenth day. Eat the Passover lamb with thin bread and bitter herbs, 12 and don’t leave any of it until morning or break any of the animal’s bones. Be sure to follow these regulations.
13 But if any of you refuse to celebrate Passover when you are not away on a journey, you will no longer belong to my people. You will be punished because you did not offer sacrifices to me at the proper time.
14 Anyone, including foreigners who live among you, can celebrate Passover, if they follow all the regulations.
The Cloud over the Sacred Tent
15-16 As soon as the sacred tent was set up,[i] a thick cloud appeared and covered it. The cloud was there each day, and during the night, a fire could be seen in it. 17-19 The Lord used this cloud to tell the Israelites when to move their camp and where to set it up again. As long as the cloud covered the tent, the Israelites did not break camp. But when the cloud moved, they followed it, and wherever it stopped, they camped and stayed there, 20-22 whether it was only one night, a few days, a month, or even a year. As long as the cloud remained over the tent, the Israelites stayed where they were. But when the cloud moved, so did the Israelites. 23 They obeyed the Lord’s commands and went wherever he directed Moses.
The Silver Trumpets
10 The Lord told Moses:
2 Have someone make two trumpets out of hammered silver. These will be used to call the people together and to give the signal for moving your camp. 3 If both trumpets are blown, everyone is to meet with you at the entrance to the sacred tent. 4 But if just one is blown, only the twelve tribal leaders need to come together.
5-6 Give a signal on a trumpet when it is time to break camp. The first blast will be the signal for the tribes camped on the east side, and the second blast will be the signal for those on the south. 7 But when you want everyone to come together, sound a different signal on the trumpet. 8 The priests of Aaron’s family will be the ones to blow the trumpets, and this law will never change.
9 Whenever you go into battle against an enemy attacking your land, give a warning signal on the trumpets. Then I, the Lord, will hear it and rescue you. 10 During the celebration of the New Moon Festival and other religious festivals, sound the trumpets while you offer sacrifices. This will be a reminder that I am the Lord your God.
The Israelites Begin Their Journey
11 On the twentieth day of the second month[j] of that same year, the cloud over the sacred tent moved on. 12 So the Israelites broke camp and left the Sinai Desert. And some time later, the cloud stopped in the Paran Desert.[k] 13 This was the first time the Lord had told Moses to command the people of Israel to move on.
14 Judah and the tribes that camped alongside it marched out first, carrying their banner. Nahshon son of Amminadab was the leader of the Judah tribe, 15 Nethanel son of Zuar was the leader of the Issachar tribe, 16 and Eliab son of Helon was the leader of the Zebulun tribe.
17 The sacred tent had been taken down, and the Gershonites and the Merarites carried it, marching behind the Judah camp.
18 Reuben and the tribes that camped alongside it marched out second, carrying their banner. Elizur son of Shedeur was the leader of the Reuben tribe, 19 Shelumiel son of Zurishaddai was the leader of the Simeon tribe, 20 and Eliasaph son of Deuel was the leader of the Gad tribe.
21 Next were the Kohathites, carrying the objects for the sacred tent, which was to be set up before they arrived at the new camp.
22 Ephraim and the tribes that camped alongside it marched next, carrying their banner. Elishama son of Ammihud was the leader of the Ephraim tribe, 23 Gamaliel son of Pedahzur was the leader of the Manasseh tribe, 24 and Abidan son of Gideoni was the leader of the Benjamin tribe.
25 Dan and the tribes that camped alongside it were to protect the Israelites against an attack from behind, and so they marched last, carrying their banner. Ahiezer son of Ammishaddai was the leader of the tribe of Dan, 26 Pagiel son of Ochran was the leader of the Asher tribe, 27 and Ahira son of Enan was the leader of the Naphtali tribe.
28 This was the order in which the Israelites marched each time they moved their camp.
29 Hobab[l] the Midianite, the father-in-law of Moses, was there. And Moses said to him, “We’re leaving for the place the Lord has promised us. He has said that all will go well for us. So come along, and we will make sure that all goes well for you.”
30 “No, I won’t go,” Hobab answered. “I’m returning home to be with my own people.”
31 “Please go with us!” Moses said. “You can be our guide because you know the places to camp in the desert. 32 Besides that, if you go, we will give you a share of the good things the Lord gives us.”
33 The people of Israel began their journey from Mount Sinai.[m] They traveled three days, and the Levites who carried the sacred chest led the way, so the Lord could show them where to camp. 34 And the cloud always stayed with them.
35 Each day as the Israelites began their journey, Moses would pray, “Our Lord, defeat your enemies and make them run!” 36 And when they stopped to set up camp, he would pray, “Our Lord, stay close to Israel’s thousands and thousands of people.”
The Israelites Complain
11 One day the Israelites started complaining about their troubles. The Lord heard them and became so angry that he destroyed the outer edges of their camp with fire.
2 When the people begged Moses to help, he prayed, and the fire went out. 3 They named the place “Burning,”[n] because in his anger the Lord had set their camp on fire.
The People Grumble about Being Hungry
4 One day some worthless foreigners among the Israelites became greedy for food, and even the Israelites themselves began moaning, “We don’t have any meat! 5 In Egypt we could eat all the fish we wanted, and there were cucumbers, melons, onions, and garlic. 6 But we’re starving out here, and the only food we have is this manna.”
7 The manna was like small whitish seeds 8-9 and tasted like something baked with sweet olive oil. It appeared at night with the dew. In the morning the people would collect the manna, grind or crush it into flour, then boil it and make it into thin wafers.
10 The Israelites stood around their tents complaining. Moses heard them and was upset that they had made the Lord angry. 11 He prayed:
I am your servant, Lord, so why are you doing this to me? What have I done to deserve this? You’ve made me responsible for all these people, 12 but they’re not my children. You told me to nurse them along and to carry them to the land you promised their ancestors. 13 They keep whining for meat, but where can I get meat for them? 14 This job is too much for me. How can I take care of all these people by myself? 15 If this is the way you’re going to treat me, just kill me now and end my miserable life!
Seventy Leaders Are Chosen To Help Moses
16 The Lord said to Moses:
Choose seventy of Israel’s respected leaders and go with them to the sacred tent. 17 While I am talking with you there, I will give them some of your authority, so they can share responsibility for my people. You will no longer have to care for them by yourself.
18 As for the Israelites, I have heard them complaining about not having meat and about being better off in Egypt. So tell them to make themselves acceptable to me, because tomorrow they will have meat. 19-20 In fact, they will have meat day after day for a whole month—not just a few days, or even ten or twenty. They turned against me and wanted to return to Egypt. Now they will eat meat until they get sick of it.
21 Moses replied, “At least six hundred thousand grown men are here with me. How can you say there will be enough meat to feed them and their families for a whole month? 22 Even if we butchered all of our sheep and cattle, or caught every fish in the sea, we wouldn’t have enough to feed them.”
23 The Lord answered, “I can do anything! Watch and you’ll see my words come true.”
24 Moses told the people what the Lord had said. Then he chose seventy respected leaders and went with them to the sacred tent. While the leaders stood in a circle around the tent, Moses went inside, 25 and the Lord spoke with him. Then the Lord took some authority[o] from Moses and gave it to the seventy leaders. And when the Lord’s Spirit took control of them, they started shouting like prophets. But they did it only this one time.
26 Eldad and Medad were two leaders who had not gone to the tent. But when the Spirit took control of them, they began shouting like prophets right there in camp. 27 A boy ran to Moses and told him about Eldad and Medad.
28 Joshua[p] was there helping Moses, as he had done since he was young. And he said to Moses, “Sir, you must stop them!”
29 But Moses replied, “Are you concerned what this might do to me? I wish the Lord would give his Spirit to all his people so everyone could be a prophet.” 30 Then Moses and the seventy leaders went back to camp.
The Lord Sends Quails
31 Some time later the Lord sent a strong wind that blew quails in from the sea until Israel’s camp was completely surrounded with birds, piled up about three feet high for miles in every direction. 32 The people picked up quails for two days—each person filled at least fifty bushels. Then they spread them out to dry. 33 But before the meat could be eaten, the Lord became angry and sent a disease through the camp.
34 After they had buried the people who had been so greedy for meat, they called the place “Graves for the Greedy.”[q]
35 Israel then broke camp and traveled to Hazeroth.
Miriam and Aaron Are Jealous of Moses
12 1-3 Although Moses was the most humble person in all the world, Miriam and Aaron started complaining, “Moses had no right to marry that woman from Ethiopia![r] Who does he think he is? The Lord has spoken to us, not just to him.”
The Lord heard their complaint 4 and told Moses, Aaron, and Miriam to come to the entrance of the sacred tent. 5 There the Lord appeared in a cloud and told Aaron and Miriam to come closer. 6 Then after commanding them to listen carefully, he said:
“I, the Lord, speak to prophets
9 The Lord became angry at Aaron and Miriam. And after the Lord left 10 and the cloud disappeared from over the sacred tent, Miriam’s skin turned white with leprosy.[s] When Aaron saw what had happened to her, 11 he said to Moses, “Sir, please don’t punish us for doing such a foolish thing. 12 Don’t let Miriam’s flesh rot away like a child born dead!”
13 Moses prayed, “Lord God, please heal her.”
14 But the Lord replied, “Miriam would be disgraced for seven days if her father had punished her by spitting in her face. So make her stay outside the camp for seven days, before coming back.”
15 The people of Israel did not move their camp until Miriam returned seven days later. 16 Then they left Hazeroth and set up camp in the Paran Desert.
Twelve Men Are Sent into Canaan
13 The Lord said to Moses, 2 “Choose a leader from each tribe and send them into Canaan to explore the land I am giving you.”
3 So Moses sent twelve tribal leaders from Israel’s camp in the Paran Desert 4-16 with orders to explore the land of Canaan. And here are their names:
Shammua son of Zaccur
17 Before Moses sent them into Canaan, he said:
After you go through the Southern Desert of Canaan, continue north into the hill country 18 and find out what those regions are like. Be sure to remember how many people live there, how strong they are, 19-20 and if they live in open towns or walled cities. See if the land is good for growing crops and find out what kinds of trees grow there. It’s time for grapes to ripen, so try to bring back some of the fruit that grows there.
21 The twelve men left to explore Canaan from the Zin Desert in the south all the way to the town of Rehob near Lebo-Hamath in the north. 22 As they went through the Southern Desert, they came to the town of Hebron, which was seven years older than the Egyptian town of Zoan. In Hebron, they saw the three Anakim[u] clans of Ahiman, Sheshai, and Talmai. 23-24 When they got to Bunch Valley,[v] they cut off a branch with such a huge bunch of grapes, that it took two men to carry it on a pole. That’s why the place was called Bunch Valley. Along with the grapes, they also took back pomegranates[w] and figs.
The Men Report Back to the People
25 After exploring the land of Canaan forty days, 26 the twelve men returned to Kadesh in the Paran Desert and told Moses, Aaron, and the people what they had seen. They showed them the fruit 27 and said:
Look at this fruit! The land we explored is rich with milk and honey. 28 But the people who live there are strong, and their cities are large and walled. We even saw the three Anakim[x] clans. 29 Besides that, the Amalekites live in the Southern Desert; the Hittites, Jebusites, and Amorites are in the hill country; and the Canaanites[y] live along the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River.
30 Caleb calmed down the crowd and said, “Let’s go and take the land. I know we can do it!”
31 But the other men replied, “Those people are much too strong for us.” 32 Then they started spreading rumors and saying, “We won’t be able to grow anything in that soil. And the people are like giants. 33 In fact, we saw the Nephilim who are the ancestors of the Anakim. They were so big that we felt as small as grasshoppers.”
The Israelites Rebel against Moses
14 After the Israelites heard the report from the twelve men who had explored Canaan, the people cried all night 2 and complained to Moses and Aaron, “We wish we had died in Egypt or somewhere out here in the desert! 3 Is the Lord leading us into Canaan, just to have us killed and our women and children captured? We’d be better off in Egypt.” 4 Then they said to one another, “Let’s choose our own leader and go back.”
5 Moses and Aaron bowed down to pray in front of the crowd. 6 Joshua and Caleb tore their clothes in sorrow 7 and said:
We saw the land ourselves, and it’s very good. 8 If we obey the Lord, he will surely give us that land rich with milk and honey. 9 So don’t rebel. We have no reason to be afraid of the people who live there. The Lord is on our side, and they won’t stand a chance against us!
10 The crowd threatened to stone Moses and Aaron to death. But just then, the Lord appeared in a cloud at the sacred tent.
Moses Prays for the People
11 The Lord said to Moses, “I have done great things for these people, and they still reject me by refusing to believe in my power. 12 So they will no longer be my people. I will destroy them, but I will make you the ancestor of a nation even stronger than theirs.”
13-16 Moses replied:
With your mighty power you rescued your people from Egypt, so please don’t destroy us here in the desert. If you do, the Egyptians will hear about it and tell the people of Canaan. Those Canaanites already know that we are your people, and that we see you face to face. And they have heard how you lead us with a thick cloud during the day and flaming fire at night. But if you kill us, they will claim it was because you weren’t powerful enough to lead us into Canaan as you promised.
17 Show us your great power, Lord. You promised 18 that you love to show mercy and kindness. And you said that you are very patient, but that you will punish everyone guilty of doing wrong—not only them but their children and grandchildren as well.
19 You are merciful, and you treat people better than they deserve. So please forgive these people, just as you have forgiven them ever since they left Egypt.
20 Then the Lord said to Moses:
In answer to your prayer, I do forgive them. 21 But as surely as I live and my power has no limit, 22-23 I swear that not one of these Israelites will enter the land I promised to give their ancestors. These people have seen my power in Egypt and in the desert, but they will never see Canaan. They have disobeyed and tested me too many times.
24 But my servant Caleb isn’t like the others. So because he has faith in me, I will allow him to cross into Canaan, and his descendants will settle there.
The Israelites Are Punished for Complaining
26 The Lord told Moses and Aaron 27-28 to give this message to the people of Israel:
You sinful people have complained against me too many times! Now I swear by my own life that I will give you exactly what you wanted.[ab] 29 You will die right here in the desert, and your dead bodies will cover the ground. You have insulted me, and none of you men who are over twenty years old 30 will enter the land that I solemnly promised to give you as your own—only Caleb and Joshua[ac] will go in.
31 You were worried that your own children would be captured. But I, the Lord, will let them enter the land you have rejected. 32 You will die here in the desert! 33 Your children will wander around in this desert forty years, suffering because of your sins, until all of you are dead. 34 I will cruelly punish you every day for the next forty years—one year for each day that the land was explored. 35 You sinful people who ganged up against me will die here in the desert.
36 Ten of the men sent to explore the land had brought back bad news and had made the people complain against the Lord. 37 So he sent a deadly disease that killed those men, 38 but he let Joshua and Caleb live.
The Israelites Fail To Enter Canaan
39 The people of Israel were very sad after Moses gave them the Lord’s message. 40 So they got up early the next morning and got ready to head toward the hill country of Canaan. They said, “We were wrong to complain about the Lord. Let’s go into the land that he promised us.”
41 But Moses replied, “You’re disobeying the Lord! Your plan won’t work, 42-43 so don’t even try it. The Lord refuses to help you, because you turned your backs on him. The Amalekites and the Canaanites are your enemies, and they will attack and defeat you.”
44 But the Israelites ignored Moses[ad] and marched toward the hill country, even though the sacred chest and Moses did not go with them. 45 The Amalekites and the Canaanites came down from the hill country, defeated the Israelites, and chased them as far as the town of Hormah.
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