8 The Lord said to Moses, 2 “Tell Aaron to put the seven lamps in the place I showed you. These lamps will light the area in front of the lampstand.”
3 Aaron did this. He put the lamps in the right place so that they lighted the area in front of the lampstand. He obeyed the command that the Lord gave Moses. 4 This is how the lampstand was made: It was made from hammered gold, all the way from the gold base at the bottom to the gold flowers at the top. It looked just like the pattern that the Lord had shown to Moses.
Dedicating the Levites
5 The Lord said to Moses, 6 “Separate the Levites from the other Israelites. Make these Levites clean. 7 This is what you should do to make them clean: Sprinkle the special water from the sin offering[a] on them. This water will make them clean. Then they must shave their bodies and wash their clothes. This will make their bodies clean.
8 “They must take a young bull and the grain offering that must be offered with it. This grain offering will be flour mixed with oil. Then take another young bull for a sin offering. 9 Bring the Levites to the area in front of the Meeting Tent. Then bring all the Israelites together at that place. 10 Bring the Levites before the Lord. The Israelites will put their hands on them.[b] 11 Aaron will give the Levites to the Lord as an offering from the Israelites. Then the Levites will be ready to do their special work for the Lord.
12 “Tell the Levites to put their hands on the heads of the bulls. One bull will be a sin offering and the other bull will be used as a burnt offering to the Lord. These offerings will make the Levites pure. 13 Tell the Levites to stand in front of Aaron and his sons. Then give the Levites to the Lord. They will be like an offering. 14 This will make the Levites holy. They will be different from the other Israelites. The Levites will belong to me.
15 “So make the Levites pure and give them to the Lord as a special offering.[c] After you do this, they can come and do their work at the Meeting Tent. 16 The Israelites will give me the Levites. They will belong to me. In the past I told every Israelite family to give me their firstborn son. But now I am taking the Levites in place of these firstborn sons from the other families in Israel. 17 Every firstborn in Israel—man or animal—is mine, because I killed all the firstborn children and animals in Egypt. And I chose to take the firstborn sons to belong to me. 18 But now I will take the Levites in their place. I will take the Levites in place of all the firstborn sons from the other families in Israel. 19 I chose the Levites from among all the Israelites. And I give them as gifts to Aaron and his sons. I want them to do the work at the Meeting Tent. They will serve for all the Israelites. They will help make the sacrifices that make the Israelites pure. Then no great sickness or trouble will come to the Israelites when they come near the holy place.”
20 So Moses, Aaron, and all the Israelites obeyed the Lord. They did with the Levites everything that the Lord commanded Moses. 21 The Levites washed themselves and their clothes. Then Aaron gave them to the Lord as special offerings. Aaron gave the offerings that covered their sins and made them pure. 22 After that the Levites came to the Meeting Tent to do their work. Aaron and his sons watched them. They were responsible for the work of the Levites. Aaron and his sons did what the Lord commanded Moses.
23 Then the Lord said to Moses, 24 “This is a special command for the Levites: Every Levite man who is 25 years old or older must come and share in the work at the Meeting Tent. 25 But when a man is 50 years old, he will retire from this hard work. 26 Men who are at least 50 years old will be on duty to help their brothers, but they will not do the work themselves. That is what you must do for the Levites so that they can do their duty.”
9 The Lord spoke to Moses in the desert of Sinai. This was during the first month of the second year after the Israelites came out of Egypt. He said to Moses, 2 “Tell the Israelites to celebrate Passover at the chosen time. 3 They must eat the Passover meal just before dark on the 14th day of this month. They must do this at the chosen time, and they must follow all the rules about Passover.”
4 So Moses told the Israelites to celebrate Passover. 5 The people did this in the desert of Sinai just before dark on the 14th day of the first month. The Israelites did everything just as the Lord commanded Moses.
6 But some of the people could not celebrate Passover that day. They were unclean because they had touched a dead body. So they went to Moses and Aaron that day 7 and said to Moses, “We touched a dead body and became unclean. But why must we be kept from offering our gifts to the Lord at the chosen time with the rest of the Israelites?”
8 Moses said to them, “I will ask the Lord what he says about this.”
9 Then the Lord said to Moses, 10 “Tell the Israelites this: It might happen sometimes that you or your descendants cannot celebrate the Lord’s Passover at the right time. Someone might be unclean because they touched a dead body, or they might be away on a trip. They will still be able to celebrate Passover at another time. 11 They must celebrate Passover just before dark on the 14th day of the second month. At that time they must eat the lamb, the bread made without yeast, and the bitter herbs. 12 They must not leave any of that food until the next morning. And they must not break any of the bones of the lamb. They must follow all the rules about Passover. 13 But anyone who is able must celebrate Passover at the right time. If they are clean and they are not away on a trip, there is no excuse for them not to do it. If they don’t celebrate Passover at the right time, they must be separated from their people. They are guilty and must be punished, because they did not give the Lord his gift at the right time.
14 “A foreigner living among you might want to share in the Lord’s Passover with you. This is allowed, but that person must follow all the rules about Passover. The same rules are for everyone.”
The Cloud and the Fire
15 On the day the Holy Tent, the Tent of the Agreement, was set up, a cloud covered it. At night the cloud over the Holy Tent looked like fire. 16 The cloud stayed over the Holy Tent all the time. And at night the cloud looked like fire. 17 When the cloud moved from its place over the Holy Tent, the Israelites followed it. When the cloud stopped, that is the place where the Israelites camped. 18 This was the way the Lord showed the Israelites when to move and when to stop and set up camp. While the cloud stayed over the Holy Tent, the people continued to camp in that same place. 19 Sometimes the cloud would stay over the Holy Tent for a long time. The Israelites obeyed the Lord and did not move. 20 Sometimes the cloud was over the Holy Tent for only a few days. So the people obeyed the Lord’s command—they followed the cloud when it moved. 21 Sometimes the cloud stayed only during the night—the next morning the cloud moved. So the people gathered their things and followed it. If the cloud moved, during the day or during the night, they followed it. 22 If the cloud stayed over the Holy Tent for two days, a month, or a year, the people stayed at that place. They did not leave until the cloud moved. When the cloud rose from its place and moved, they also moved. 23 So the people obeyed the Lord’s commands. They camped when the Lord told them to, and they moved when he told them to. They watched carefully and obeyed the Lord’s commands to Moses.
The Silver Trumpets
10 The Lord said to Moses, 2 “Make two trumpets. Use silver and hammer it to make the trumpets. These trumpets will be for calling the people together and for telling them when it is time to move the camp. 3 If you blow long blasts on both trumpets, all the people must meet together at the entrance of the Meeting Tent. 4 But if you blow long blasts on only one trumpet, only the leaders will come to meet with you. (These are the leaders of the twelve tribes of Israel.)
5 “Short blasts on the trumpets will be the way to tell the people to move the camp. The first time you blow a short blast on the trumpets, the tribes camping on the east side of the Meeting Tent must begin to move. 6 The second time you blow a short blast on the trumpets, the tribes camping on the south side of the Meeting Tent will begin to move. 7 But if you want to gather the people together for a special meeting, blow the trumpets in a different way—blow a long steady blast on the trumpets. 8 Only Aaron’s sons, the priests, should blow the trumpets. This is a law for you that will continue forever, for generations to come.
9 “If you are fighting an enemy in your own land, blow loudly on the trumpets before you go to fight them. The Lord your God will hear you, and he will save you from your enemies. 10 Also blow these trumpets for your special meetings, New Moon celebrations, and all your happy times together. Blow the trumpets when you give your burnt offerings and fellowship offerings. This will be a special way for your God to remember you. I command you to do this; I am the Lord your God.”
The Israelites Move Their Camp
11 On the 20th day of the second month of the second year after the Israelites left Egypt, the cloud rose from above the Tent of the Agreement. 12 So the Israelites began their journey. They left the desert of Sinai and traveled until the cloud stopped in the desert of Paran. 13 This was the first time the people moved their camp. They moved it the way the Lord commanded Moses.
14 The three divisions from Judah’s camp went first. They traveled under their flag. The first group was the tribe of Judah. Nahshon son of Amminadab was the commander of that group. 15 Next came the tribe of Issachar. Nethanel son of Zuar was the commander of that group. 16 And then came the tribe of Zebulun. Eliab son of Helon was the commander of that group.
17 Then the Holy Tent was taken down. And the men from the Gershon and the Merari families carried the Holy Tent. So the people from these families were next in line.
18 Then came the three divisions from Reuben’s camp. They traveled under their flag. The first group was the tribe of Reuben. Elizur son of Shedeur was the commander of that group. 19 Next came the tribe of Simeon. Shelumiel son of Zurishaddai was the commander of that group. 20 And then came the tribe of Gad. Eliasaph son of Deuel[d] was the commander of that group. 21 Then came the Kohath family. They carried the holy things from inside the Holy Tent. These people came at this time so that the other people could set up the Holy Tent and make it ready at the new camp before these people arrived.
22 Next came the three groups from Ephraim’s camp. They traveled under their flag. The first group was the tribe of Ephraim. Elishama son of Ammihud was the commander of that group. 23 Next came the tribe of Manasseh. Gamaliel son of Pedahzur was the commander of that group. 24 Then came the tribe of Benjamin. Abidan son of Gideoni was the commander of that group.
25 The last three tribes in the line were the rear guard for all the other tribes. These were the groups from Dan’s camp. They traveled under their flag. The first group was the tribe of Dan. Ahiezer son of Ammishaddai was their commander. 26 Next came the tribe of Asher. Pagiel son of Ocran was the commander of that group. 27 Then came the tribe of Naphtali. Ahira son of Enan was the commander of that group. 28 That was the way the Israelites marched when they moved from place to place.
29 Hobab was the son of Reuel, the Midianite. (Reuel was Moses’ father-in-law.) Moses said to Hobab, “We are traveling to the land that the Lord promised to give to us. Come with us and we will be good to you. The Lord has promised good things to the Israelites.”
30 But Hobab answered, “No, I will not go with you. I will go back to my homeland and to my own people.”
31 Then Moses said, “Please don’t leave us. You know more about the desert than we do. You can be our guide. 32 If you come with us, we will share with you all the good things that the Lord gives us.”
33 So they began traveling from the mountain of the Lord. The priests took the Box of the Lord’s Agreement and walked in front of the people. They carried the Holy Box for three days, looking for a place to camp. 34 The Lord’s cloud was over them every day. And when they left their camp every morning, the cloud was there to lead them.
35 When the people lifted the Holy Box to move the camp, Moses always said,
“Get up, Lord!
May your enemies be scattered.
May your enemies run away from you.”
36 And when the Holy Box was put in its place, Moses always said,
“Come back, Lord,
to the millions of Israelites.”
- Numbers 8:7 water from the sin offering In this water were the ashes from the red cow that had been burned on the altar as a sin offering.
- Numbers 8:10 put their hands on them This showed that the people shared in appointing the Levites to their special work.
- Numbers 8:15 special offering Literally, “a lifted offering.” Also in verse 21.
- Numbers 10:20 Deuel Or “Reuel.”