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The People Complain Again

14 That night all the people in the camp began shouting loudly. The Israelites complained against Moses and Aaron. All the people came together and said to Moses and Aaron, “We should have died in Egypt or in the desert. Did the Lord bring us to this new land to be killed in war? The enemy will kill us and take our wives and children! It would be better for us to go back to Egypt.”

Then the people said to each other, “Let’s choose another leader and go back to Egypt.”

Moses and Aaron bowed low to the ground in front of all the people gathered there. Joshua and Caleb became very upset. (Joshua son of Nun and Caleb son of Jephunneh were two of the men who explored the land.) These two men said to all the Israelites gathered there, “The land that we saw is very good. It is a land filled with many good things. If the Lord is pleased with us, he will lead us into that land. And he will give that land to us. So don’t turn against the Lord! Don’t be afraid of the people in that land. We can defeat them. They have no protection, nothing to keep them safe. But we have the Lord with us, so don’t be afraid!”

10 All the people began talking about killing Joshua and Caleb with stones. But the Glory of the Lord appeared over the Meeting Tent where all the people could see it. 11 The Lord spoke to Moses and said, “How long will these people continue to turn against me? They show that they don’t trust me or believe in my power, in spite of the many miracles I have done among them. 12 I will kill them all with a terrible sickness. I will destroy them, and I will use you to make another nation. Your nation will be greater and stronger than these people.”

13 Then Moses said to the Lord, “If you do that, the Egyptians will hear about it! They know that you used your great power to bring your people out of Egypt. 14 The Egyptians have already told the people in Canaan about it. They already know you are the Lord. They know that you are with your people. They know that the people saw you. Those people know about the special cloud. They know you use the cloud to lead your people during the day. And they know the cloud becomes a fire to lead your people at night. 15 So you must not kill these people now. If you kill them, all the nations who have heard about your power will say, 16 ‘The Lord was not able to bring them into the land he promised them. So he killed them in the desert.’

17 “So now, Lord, show your strength! Show it the way you said you would. 18 You said, ‘The Lord is slow to become angry. He is full of great love. He forgives[a] those who are guilty and break the law. But he always punishes those who are guilty. He punishes them, and he also punishes their children, their grandchildren, and even their great-grandchildren for those bad things.’ 19 Now, show your great love to these people. Forgive their sin. Forgive them the same way you have been forgiving them since the time they left Egypt until now.”

20 The Lord answered, “Yes, I will forgive the people as you asked. 21 But I tell you the truth. As surely as I live and as surely as the Glory of the Lord fills the whole earth, I make you this promise: 22 None of the people I led out of Egypt will ever see the land of Canaan. They saw my glory and the great signs that I did in Egypt and in the desert. But they disobeyed me and tested me ten times. 23 I promised their ancestors that I would give them that land. But none of those people who turned against me will ever enter that land! 24 But my servant Caleb was different. He follows me completely. So I will bring him into the land that he has already seen, and his people will get that land. 25 The Amalekites and the Canaanites are living in the valley. So tomorrow you must leave this place. Go back to the desert on the road to the Red Sea.”

The Lord Punishes the People

26 The Lord said to Moses and Aaron, 27 “How long will these evil people continue to complain against me? I have heard their complaints and their griping. 28 So tell them, ‘The Lord says that he will surely do all those things to you that you complained about. This is what will happen to you: 29 You will die in this desert. Every person who is 20 years old or older and was counted as one of my people will die. You complained against me. 30 So none of you will ever enter and live in the land that I promised to give you. Only Caleb son of Jephunneh and Joshua son of Nun will enter that land. 31 You were afraid and complained that your enemies in that new land would take your children away from you. But I tell you that I will bring them into the land. They will enjoy what you refused to accept. 32 As for you people, you will die in this desert.

33 “‘Your children will wander around like shepherds here in the desert for 40 years. They will suffer because you were not faithful to me. They must suffer until all of you lie dead in the desert. 34 For 40 years you will suffer for your sins. (That is one year for each of the 40 days that the men explored the land.) You will know that it is a terrible thing for me to be against you.’

35 “I am the Lord, and I have spoken. And I promise that I will do these things to all these evil people. They have come together against me. So they will all die here in this desert.”

36 The men Moses sent to explore the new land were the ones who came back complaining about him to all the Israelites. They said that the people were not strong enough to enter that land. 37 The men were responsible for spreading the trouble among the Israelites. So the Lord caused a sickness to kill all those men. 38 But Joshua son of Nun and Caleb son of Jephunneh were among the men who were sent out to explore the land. They are the only ones who did not get the sickness that caused the others to die.

The People Try to Go Into Canaan

39 When Moses told the Israelites this, they were very sad. 40 Early the next morning the people started to go up to the high hill country. They said, “We have sinned. We are sorry that we did not trust the Lord. We will go to the place that the Lord promised.”

41 But Moses said, “Why are you not obeying the Lord’s command? You will not be successful! 42 Don’t go into that land. The Lord is not with you, so your enemies will easily defeat you. 43 The Amalekites and Canaanites will fight against you there. You have turned away from the Lord, so he will not be with you when you fight them. And you will all be killed in battle.”

44 But the people did not believe Moses. They went toward the high hill country. But Moses and the Box of the Lord’s Agreement did not go with the people. 45 The Amalekites and the Canaanites living in the hill country came down and attacked the Israelites and easily defeated them and chased them all the way to Hormah.

Rules About Sacrifices

15 The Lord said to Moses, “Speak to the Israelites and say to them: I am giving you a land to be your home. When you enter that land, you must give special gifts to the Lord. Their smell will please the Lord. You will use your cattle, sheep, and goats for burnt offerings, sacrifices, special promises, special gifts, fellowship offerings, or at your special festivals.

“At the time someone brings their offering, they must also give a grain offering to the Lord. The grain offering will be 8 cups[b] of fine flour mixed with 1 quart[c] of olive oil. Each time you offer a lamb as a burnt offering or sacrifice, you must also prepare a quart of wine as a drink offering.

“If you are giving a ram, you must also prepare a grain offering. This grain offering should be 16 cups[d] of fine flour mixed with 1 1/4 quarts[e] of olive oil. And you must prepare 1 1/4 quarts of wine as a drink offering. Its smell will please the Lord.

“You might prepare a young bull as a burnt offering, a sacrifice, a fellowship offering, or to keep a special promise to the Lord. At that time you must also bring a grain offering with the bull. That grain offering should be 24 cups[f] of fine flour mixed with 2 quarts[g] of olive oil. 10 Also bring 2 quarts of wine as a drink offering as a sweet-smelling gift to the Lord. 11 Each bull or ram, or lamb or young goat that you give must be prepared in this way. 12 Do this for every one of these animals that you give.

13 “This is the way every citizen of Israel must give gifts to please the Lord. 14 Foreigners will live among you. If they give gifts to please the Lord, they must offer them the same way you do. 15 The same rules will be for everyone—the Israelites and the foreigners living among you. This law will continue forever. You and the people living among you will be the same before the Lord. 16 This means that you must follow the same laws and the same rules. These laws and rules are for you Israelites and for the other people who are living among you.”

17 The Lord said to Moses, 18 “Tell the Israelites this: I am taking you to another land. 19 When you eat the food that grows in that land, you must give part of that food as an offering to the Lord. 20 You will gather grain and grind it into flour to make dough for bread. You must give the first bread from that flour as a gift to the Lord. It will be like the grain offering that comes from the threshing floor. 21 You and all your descendants must give part of the first dough you make from that flour as a gift to the Lord.

22 “As you try to obey all the commands that the Lord gave Moses, you might fail and make a mistake. 23 The Lord gave you those commands through Moses, and they have been in effect from the day they were given throughout the generations until today. 24 If you made this mistake where everyone could see it, the whole community must offer a young bull as a burnt offering, as a sweet-smelling gift to the Lord. You must also offer the grain offering and the drink offering with the bull. And you must also give a male goat as a sin offering.

25 “So the priest will make the whole community of Israel pure, and they will be forgiven for the mistake they made. Since they made the mistake, they must bring a gift and a sin offering to the Lord. 26 Then the whole community of Israel and any foreigners among them will be forgiven for the mistake.

27 “But if only one person makes a mistake and sins, that person must bring a female goat that is one year old. That goat will be the sin offering. 28 The priest will make purification before the Lord for the one who sinned, and that person will be forgiven. 29 This law is for everyone who makes a mistake and sins. The same law is for the people born in the family of Israel and for the foreigners living among you.

30 “If someone sins and knows they are doing wrong, they are rebelling against the Lord. They must be separated from their people. The same law applies to citizens of Israel and to foreigners living among you. 31 They thought the Lord’s word was not important, so they broke his commands. That is why they must be separated from their people—they must bear the responsibility for their guilt.”

A Man Works on the Day of Rest

32 While the Israelites were in the desert, some of them saw a man gathering firewood on the Sabbath day. 33 The people who saw him gathering the wood brought him to Moses and Aaron and the whole community of Israel. 34 They guarded the man carefully because they did not know how they should punish him.

35 Then the Lord said to Moses, “The man must die. All the people must throw stones at him outside the camp.” 36 So the people took him outside the camp and killed him with stones. They did this just as the Lord commanded Moses.

A Way to Remember God’s Commands

37 The Lord said to Moses, 38 “Speak to the Israelites. Tell them this: Tie several pieces of thread together and tie them in the corner of your clothes. Put a piece of blue thread in each one of these tassels. You must wear these things now and forever. 39 You will be able to look at these tassels and remember all the commands that the Lord has given you. Then you will obey the commands. You will not do wrong by forgetting about the commands and doing the things that your own bodies and eyes want. 40 You will remember to obey all my commands. Then you will be God’s special people. 41 I am the Lord your God. I am the one who brought you out of Egypt. I did this to be your God. I am the Lord your God.”


  1. Numbers 14:18 forgives Or “spares.”
  2. Numbers 15:4 8 cups Literally, “1/10 of an ephah” (2.2 l).
  3. Numbers 15:4 1 quart Literally, “1/4 hin” (.8 l).
  4. Numbers 15:6 16 cups Literally, “2/10 of an ephah” (4.4 l).
  5. Numbers 15:6 1 1/4 quarts Literally, “1/3 hin” (1 l).
  6. Numbers 15:9 24 cups Literally, “3/10 of an ephah” (6.6 l).
  7. Numbers 15:9 2 quarts Literally, “1/2 hin” (1.6 l).

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