Numbers 14-15 Contemporary English Version (CEV)
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.[c] 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[d] 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[e] 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.
Laws about Sacrifices
15 The Lord told Moses 2 to give the Israelites the following laws about offering sacrifices:
3 Bulls or rams or goats[f] are the animals that you may burn on the altar as sacrifices to please me.[g] You may also offer sacrifices voluntarily or because you made a promise, or because they are part of your regular religious ceremonies. The smell of the smoke from these sacrifices is pleasing to me.
4-5 If you sacrifice a young ram or goat, you must also offer two pounds of your finest flour mixed with a quart of olive oil as a grain sacrifice. A quart of wine must also be poured on the altar.
6-7 And if the animal is a full-grown ram, you must offer four pounds of flour mixed with one and a half quarts of olive oil. One and a half quarts of wine must also be poured on the altar. The smell of this smoke is pleasing to me.
8 If a bull is offered as a sacrifice to please me or to ask my blessing,[h] 9 you must offer six pounds of flour mixed with two quarts of olive oil. 10 Two quarts of wine must also be poured on the altar. The smell of this smoke is pleasing to me.
11-13 If you are a native Israelite, you must obey these rules each time you offer a bull, a ram, or a goat as a sacrifice. 14 And the foreigners who live among you must also follow these rules. 15-16 This law will never change. I am the Lord, and I consider all people the same, whether they are Israelites or foreigners living among you.
17-19 When you eat food in the land that I am giving you, remember to set aside some of it as an offering to me. 20 From the first batch of bread dough that you make after each new grain harvest, make a loaf of bread and offer it to me, just as you offer grain. 21 All your descendants must follow this law and offer part of the first batch of bread dough.
22-23 The Lord also told Moses to tell the people what must be done if they ever disobey his laws:
24 If all of you disobey one of my laws without meaning to, you must offer a bull as a sacrifice to please me, together with a grain sacrifice, a wine offering, and a goat as a sacrifice for sin. 25 Then the priest will pray and ask me to forgive you. And since you did not mean to do wrong, and you offered sacrifices, 26 the sin of everyone—both Israelites and foreigners among you—will be forgiven.
27 But if one of you does wrong without meaning to, you must sacrifice a year-old female goat as a sacrifice for sin. 28 The priest will then ask me to forgive you, and your sin will be forgiven.
29 The law will be the same for anyone who does wrong without meaning to, whether an Israelite or a foreigner living among you.
30-31 But if one of you does wrong on purpose, whether Israelite or foreigner, you have sinned against me by disobeying my laws. You will be sent away and will no longer live among the people of Israel.
A Man Put to Death for Gathering Firewood on the Sabbath
32 Once, while the Israelites were traveling through the desert, a man was caught gathering firewood on the Sabbath.[i] 33 He was taken to Moses, Aaron, and the rest of the community. 34 But no one knew what to do with him, so he was not allowed to leave.
35 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Tell the people to take that man outside the camp and stone him to death!” 36 So he was killed, just as the Lord had commanded Moses.
The Tassels on the People’s Clothes
37 The Lord told Moses 38 to say to the people of Israel, “Sew tassels onto the bottom edge of your clothes and tie a purple string to each tassel. 39-40 These will remind you that you must obey my laws and teachings. And when you do, you will be dedicated to me and won’t follow your own sinful desires. 41 I am the Lord your God who led you out of Egypt.”
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