8 1-2 God spoke to Moses: “Tell Aaron, Install the seven lamps so they will throw light in front of the Lampstand.”
3-4 Aaron did just that. He installed the lamps so they threw light in front of the Lampstand, as God had instructed Moses. The Lampstand was made of hammered gold from its stem to its petals. It was made precisely to the design God had shown Moses.
Purifying the Levites
5-7 God spoke to Moses: “Take the Levites from the midst of the People of Israel and purify them for doing God’s work. This is the way you will do it: Sprinkle water of absolution on them; have them shave their entire bodies; have them scrub their clothes. Then they will have purified themselves.
8-11 “Have them take a young bull with its accompanying Grain-Offering of fine flour mixed with oil, plus a second young bull for an Absolution-Offering. Bring the Levites to the front of the Tent of Meeting and gather the entire community of Israel. Present the Levites before God as the People of Israel lay their hands on them. Aaron will present the Levites before God as a Wave-Offering from the People of Israel so that they will be ready to do God’s work.
12-14 “Have the Levites place their hands on the heads of the bulls, selecting one for the Absolution-Offering and another for the Whole-Burnt-Offering to God to make atonement for the Levites. Then have the Levites stand in front of Aaron and his sons and present them as a Wave-Offering to God. This is the procedure for setting apart the Levites from the rest of the People of Israel; the Levites are exclusively for my use.
15-19 “After you have purified the Levites and presented them as a Wave-Offering to God, they can go to work in the Tent of Meeting. The Levites have been selected out of the People of Israel for my exclusive use; they function in place of every firstborn male born to an Israelite woman. Every firstborn male in Israel, animal or human, is set apart for my use. When I struck down all the firstborn of Egypt, I consecrated them for my holy uses. But now I take the Levites as stand-ins in place of every firstborn son in Israel, selected out of the People of Israel, and I have given the Levites to Aaron and his sons to do all the work involved in the Tent of Meeting on behalf of all the People of Israel and to make atonement for them so that nothing bad will happen to them when they approach the Sanctuary.”
20-22 Moses, Aaron, and the entire community of the People of Israel carried out these procedures with the Levites, just as God had commanded Moses. The Levites purified themselves and scrubbed their clothes. Then Aaron presented them as a Wave-Offering before God and made atonement for them to purify them. Only then did the Levites go to work at the Tent of Meeting. Aaron and his sons supervised them following the directions God had given.
23-26 God spoke to Moses: “These are your instructions regarding the Levites: At the age of twenty-five they will join the workforce in the Tent of Meeting; at the age of fifty they must retire from the work. They can assist their brothers in the tasks in the Tent of Meeting, but they are not permitted to do the actual work themselves. These are the ground rules for the work of the Levites.”
9 1-3 God spoke to Moses in the Wilderness of Sinai in the first month of the second year after leaving Egypt: “Have the People of Israel celebrate Passover at the set time. Celebrate it on schedule, on the evening of the fourteenth day of this month, following all the rules and procedures.”
4-5 Moses told the People of Israel to celebrate the Passover and they did—in the Wilderness of Sinai at evening of the fourteenth day of the first month. The People of Israel did it all just as God had commanded Moses.
6-7 But some of them couldn’t celebrate the Passover on the assigned day because they were ritually unclean on account of a corpse. So they presented themselves before Moses and Aaron on Passover and told Moses, “We have become ritually unclean because of a corpse, but why should we be barred from bringing God’s offering along with other Israelites on the day set for Passover?”
8 Moses said, “Give me some time; I’ll find out what God says in your circumstances.”
9-12 God spoke to Moses: “Tell the People of Israel, If one or another of you is ritually unclean because of a corpse, or you happen to be off on a long trip, you may still celebrate God’s Passover. But celebrate it on the fourteenth day of the second month at evening. Eat the lamb together with unraised bread and bitter herbs. Don’t leave any of it until morning. Don’t break any of its bones. Follow all the procedures.
13 “But a man who is ritually clean and is not off on a trip and still fails to celebrate the Passover must be cut off from his people because he did not present God’s offering at the set time. That man will pay for his sin.
14 “Any foreigner living among you who wants to celebrate God’s Passover is welcome to do it, but he must follow all the rules and procedures. The same procedures go for both foreigner and native-born.”
15-16 The day The Dwelling was set up, the Cloud covered The Dwelling of the Tent of Testimony. From sunset until daybreak it was over The Dwelling. It looked like fire. It was like that all the time, the Cloud over The Dwelling and at night looking like fire.
17-23 When the Cloud lifted above the Tent, the People of Israel marched out; and when the Cloud descended the people camped. The People of Israel marched at God’s command and they camped at his command. As long as the Cloud was over The Dwelling, they camped. Even when the Cloud hovered over The Dwelling for many days, they honored God’s command and wouldn’t march. They stayed in camp, obedient to God’s command, as long as the Cloud was over The Dwelling, but the moment God issued orders they marched. If the Cloud stayed only from sunset to daybreak and then lifted at daybreak, they marched. Night or day, it made no difference—when the Cloud lifted, they marched. It made no difference whether the Cloud hovered over The Dwelling for two days or a month or a year, as long as the Cloud was there, they were there. And when the Cloud went up, they got up and marched. They camped at God’s command and they marched at God’s command. They lived obediently by God’s orders as delivered by Moses.
The Two Bugles
10 1-3 God spoke to Moses: “Make two bugles of hammered silver. Use them to call the congregation together and give marching orders to the camps. When you blow them, the whole community will meet you at the entrance of the Tent of Meeting.
4-7 “When a bugle gives a single, short blast, that’s the signal for the leaders, the heads of the clans, to assemble. When it gives a long blast, that’s the signal to march. At the first blast the tribes who were camped on the east set out. At the second blast the camps on the south set out. The long blasts are the signals to march. The bugle call that gathers the assembly is different from the signal to march.
8-10 “The sons of Aaron, the priests, are in charge of blowing the bugles; it’s their assigned duty down through the generations. When you go to war against an aggressor, blow a long blast on the bugle so that God will notice you and deliver you from your enemies. Also at times of celebration, at the appointed feasts and New Moon festivals, blow the bugles over your Whole-Burnt-Offerings and Peace-Offerings: they will keep your attention on God. I am God, your God.”
The March from Sinai to Paran
11-13 In the second year, on the twentieth day of the second month, the Cloud went up from over The Dwelling of The Testimony. At that the People of Israel set out on their travels from the Wilderness of Sinai until the Cloud finally settled in the Wilderness of Paran. They began their march at the command of God through Moses.
14-17 The flag of the camp of Judah led the way, rank after rank under the command of Nahshon son of Amminadab. Nethanel son of Zuar commanded the forces of the tribe of Issachar, and Eliab son of Helon commanded the forces of the tribe of Zebulun. As soon as The Dwelling was taken down, the Gershonites and the Merarites set out, carrying The Dwelling.
18-21 The flag of the camp of Reuben was next with Elizur son of Shedeur in command. Shelumiel son of Zurishaddai commanded the forces of the tribe of Simeon; Eliasaph son of Deuel commanded the forces of the tribe of Gad. Then the Kohathites left, carrying the holy things. By the time they arrived The Dwelling would be set up.
22-24 The flag of the tribe of Ephraim moved out next, commanded by Elishama son of Ammihud. Gamaliel son of Pedahzur commanded the forces of the tribe of Manasseh; Abidan son of Gideoni commanded the forces of the tribe of Benjamin.
25-27 Finally, under the flag of the tribe of Dan, the rear guard of all the camps marched out with Ahiezer son of Ammishaddai in command. Pagiel son of Ocran commanded the forces of the tribe of Asher; Ahira son of Enan commanded the forces of the tribe of Naphtali.
28 These were the marching units of the People of Israel. They were on their way.
29 Moses said to his brother-in-law Hobab son of Reuel the Midianite, Moses’ father-in-law, “We’re marching to the place about which God promised, ‘I’ll give it to you.’ Come with us; we’ll treat you well. God has promised good things for Israel.”
30 But Hobab said, “I’m not coming; I’m going back home to my own country, to my own family.”
31-32 Moses countered, “Don’t leave us. You know all the best places to camp in the wilderness. We need your eyes. If you come with us, we’ll make sure that you share in all the good things God will do for us.”
33-36 And so off they marched. From the Mountain of God they marched three days with the Chest of the Covenant of God in the lead to scout out a campsite. The Cloud of God was above them by day when they marched from the camp. With the Chest leading the way, Moses would say,
Get up, God!
Put down your enemies!
Chase those who hate you to the hills!
And when the Chest was set down, he would say,
Rest with us, God,
Stay with the many,
Many thousands of Israel.