Numbers 17-19 The Message (MSG)
17 1-5 God spoke to Moses: “Speak to the People of Israel. Get staffs from them—twelve staffs in all, one from the leader of each of their ancestral tribes. Write each man’s name on his staff. Start with Aaron; write Aaron’s name on the staff of Levi and then proceed with the rest, a staff for the leader of each ancestral tribe. Now lay them out in the Tent of Meeting in front of The Testimony where I keep appointments with you. What will happen next is this: The staff of the man I choose will sprout. I’m going to put a stop to this endless grumbling by the People of Israel against you.”
6-7 Moses spoke to the People of Israel. Their leaders handed over twelve staffs, one for the leader of each tribe. And Aaron’s staff was one of them. Moses laid out the staffs before God in the Tent of Testimony.
8-9 Moses walked into the Tent of Testimony the next day and saw that Aaron’s staff, the staff of the tribe of Levi, had in fact sprouted—buds, blossoms, and even ripe almonds! Moses brought out all the staffs from God’s presence and presented them to the People of Israel. They took a good look. Each leader took the staff with his name on it.
10 God said to Moses, “Return Aaron’s staff to the front of The Testimony. Keep it there as a sign to rebels. This will put a stop to the grumbling against me and save their lives.”
11 Moses did just as God commanded him.
12-13 The People of Israel said to Moses, “We’re as good as dead. This is our death sentence. Anyone who even gets close to The Dwelling of God is as good as dead. Are we all doomed?”
Duties in the Tent of Testimony
18 1-4 God said to Aaron, “You and your sons, along with your father’s family, are responsible for taking care of sins having to do with the Sanctuary; you and your sons are also responsible for sins involving the priesthood. So enlist your brothers of the tribe of Levi to join you and assist you and your sons in your duties in the Tent of Testimony. They will report to you as they go about their duties related to the Tent, but they must not have anything to do with the holy things of the Altar under penalty of death—both they and you will die! They are to work with you in taking care of the Tent of Meeting, whatever work is involved in the Tent. Outsiders are not allowed to help you.
5-7 “Your job is to take care of the Sanctuary and the Altar so that there will be no more outbreaks of anger on the People of Israel. I personally have picked your brothers, the Levites, from Israel as a whole. I’m giving them to you as a gift, a gift of God, to help with the work of the Tent of Meeting. But only you and your sons may serve as priests, working around the Altar and inside the curtain. The work of the priesthood is my exclusive gift to you; it cannot be delegated—anyone else who invades the Sanctuary will be executed.”
8-10 God spoke to Aaron, “I am personally putting you in charge of my contributions, all the holy gifts I get from the People of Israel. I am turning them over to you and your children for your personal use. This is the standing rule. You and your sons get what’s left from the offerings, whatever hasn’t been totally burned up on the Altar—the leftovers from Grain-Offerings, Absolution-Offerings, and Compensation-Offerings. Eat it reverently; it is most holy; every male may eat it. Treat it as holy.
11-13 “You also get the Wave-Offerings from the People of Israel. I present them to you and your sons and daughters as a gift. This is the standing rule. Anyone in your household who is ritually clean may eat it. I also give you all the best olive oil, the best new wine, and the grain that is offered to God as the firstfruits of their harvest—all the firstfruits they offer to God are yours. Anyone in your household who is ritually clean may eat it.
14-16 “You get every Totally-Devoted gift. Every firstborn that is offered to God, whether animal or person, is yours. Except you don’t get the firstborn itself, but its redemption price; firstborn humans and ritually clean animals are bought back and you get the redemption price. When the firstborn is a month old it must be redeemed at the redemption price of five shekels of silver, using the standard of the Sanctuary shekel, which weighs twenty gerahs.
17-19 “On the other hand, you don’t redeem a firstborn ox, sheep, or goat—they are holy. Instead splash their blood on the Altar and burn their fat as a Fire-Gift, a pleasing fragrance to God. But you get the meat, just as you get the breast from the Wave-Offering and the right thigh. All the holy offerings that the People of Israel set aside for God, I’m turning over to you and your children. That’s the standard rule and includes both you and your children—a Covenant-of-Salt, eternal and unchangeable before God.”
20 God said to Aaron, “You won’t get any inheritance in land, not so much as a small plot of ground: I am your plot of ground, I am your inheritance among the People of Israel.
21-24 “I’m giving the Levites all the tithes of Israel as their pay for the work they do in the Tent of Meeting. Starting now, the rest of the People of Israel cannot wander in and out of the Tent of Meeting; they’ll be penalized for their sin and the penalty is death. It’s the Levites and only the Levites who are to work in the Tent of Meeting and they are responsible for anything that goes wrong. This is the regular rule for all time. They get no inheritance among the People of Israel; instead I turn over to them the tithes that the People of Israel present as an offering to God. That’s why I give the ruling: They are to receive no land-inheritance among the People of Israel.”
25-29 God spoke to Moses: “Speak to the Levites. Tell them, When you get the tithe from the People of Israel, the inheritance that I have assigned to you, you must tithe that tithe and present it as an offering to God. Your offerings will be treated the same as other people’s gifts of grain from the threshing floor or wine from the wine vat. This is your procedure for making offerings to God from all the tithes you get from the People of Israel: give God’s portion from these tithes to Aaron the priest. Make sure that God’s portion is the best and holiest of everything you get.
30-32 “Tell the Levites, When you offer the best part, the rest will be treated the same as grain from the threshing floor or wine from the wine vat that others give. You and your households are free to eat the rest of it anytime and anyplace—it’s your wages for your work at the Tent of Meeting. By offering the best part, you’ll avoid guilt, you won’t desecrate the holy offerings of the People of Israel, and you won’t die.”
The Red Cow
19 1-4 God spoke to Moses and Aaron: “This is the rule from the Revelation that God commands: Tell the People of Israel to get a red cow, a healthy specimen, ritually clean, that has never been in harness. Present it to Eleazar the priest, then take it outside the camp and butcher it while he looks on. Eleazar will take some of the blood on his finger and splash it seven times in the direction of the Tent of Meeting.
5-8 “Then under Eleazar’s supervision burn the cow, the whole thing—hide, meat, blood, even its dung. The priest then will take a stick of cedar, some sprigs of hyssop, and a piece of scarlet material and throw them on the burning cow. Afterwards the priest must wash his clothes and bathe well with water. He can then come into the camp but he remains ritually unclean until evening. The man who burns the cow must also wash his clothes and bathe with water. He also is unclean until evening.
9 “Then a man who is ritually clean will gather the ashes of the cow and place them in a ritually clean place outside the camp. The congregation of Israel will keep them to use in the Water-of-Cleansing, an Absolution-Offering.
10 “The man who gathered up the ashes must scrub his clothes; he is ritually unclean until evening. This is to be a standing rule for both native-born Israelites and foreigners living among them.
11-13 “Anyone who touches a dead body is ritually unclean for seven days. He must purify himself with the Water-of-Cleansing on the third day; on the seventh day he will be clean. But if he doesn’t follow the procedures for the third and seventh days, he won’t be clean. Anyone who touches the dead body of anyone and doesn’t get cleansed desecrates God’s Dwelling and is to be excommunicated. For as long as the Water-of-Cleansing has not been sprinkled on him, he remains ritually unclean.
14-15 “This is the rule for someone who dies in his tent: Anyone who enters the tent or is already in the tent is ritually unclean for seven days, and every open container without a lid is unclean.
16-21 “Anyone out in the open field who touches a corpse, whether dead from violent or natural causes, or a human bone or a grave is unclean for seven days. For this unclean person, take some ashes from the burned Absolution-Offering and add some fresh water to it in a bowl. Find a ritually clean man to dip a sprig of hyssop into the water and sprinkle the tent and all its furnishings, the persons who were in the tent, the one who touched the bones of the person who was killed or died a natural death, and whoever may have touched a grave. Then he is to sprinkle the unclean person on the third and seventh days. On the seventh day he is considered cleansed. The cleansed person must then scrub his clothes and take a bath; by evening he is clean. But if an unclean person does not go through these cleansing procedures, he must be excommunicated from the community; he has desecrated the Sanctuary of God. The Water-of-Cleansing has not been sprinkled on him and he is ritually unclean. This is the standing rule for these cases.
“The man who sprinkles the Water-of-Cleansing has to scrub his clothes; anyone else who touched the Water-of-Cleansing is also ritually unclean until evening.
22 “Anything the ritually unclean man touches becomes unclean, and the person who touches what he touched is unclean until evening.”
Mark 6:30-56 The Message (MSG)
Supper for Five Thousand
30-31 The apostles then rendezvoused with Jesus and reported on all that they had done and taught. Jesus said, “Come off by yourselves; let’s take a break and get a little rest.” For there was constant coming and going. They didn’t even have time to eat.
32-34 So they got in the boat and went off to a remote place by themselves. Someone saw them going and the word got around. From the surrounding towns people went out on foot, running, and got there ahead of them. When Jesus arrived, he saw this huge crowd. At the sight of them, his heart broke—like sheep with no shepherd they were. He went right to work teaching them.
35-36 When his disciples thought this had gone on long enough—it was now quite late in the day—they interrupted: “We are a long way out in the country, and it’s very late. Pronounce a benediction and send these folks off so they can get some supper.”
37 Jesus said, “You do it. Fix supper for them.”
They replied, “Are you serious? You want us to go spend a fortune on food for their supper?”
38 But he was quite serious. “How many loaves of bread do you have? Take an inventory.”
That didn’t take long. “Five,” they said, “plus two fish.”
39-44 Jesus got them all to sit down in groups of fifty or a hundred—they looked like a patchwork quilt of wildflowers spread out on the green grass! He took the five loaves and two fish, lifted his face to heaven in prayer, blessed, broke, and gave the bread to the disciples, and the disciples in turn gave it to the people. He did the same with the fish. They all ate their fill. The disciples gathered twelve baskets of leftovers. More than five thousand were at the supper.
Walking on the Sea
45-46 As soon as the meal was finished, Jesus insisted that the disciples get in the boat and go on ahead across to Bethsaida while he dismissed the congregation. After sending them off, he climbed a mountain to pray.
47-49 Late at night, the boat was far out at sea; Jesus was still by himself on land. He could see his men struggling with the oars, the wind having come up against them. At about four o’clock in the morning, Jesus came toward them, walking on the sea. He intended to go right by them. But when they saw him walking on the sea, they thought it was a ghost and screamed, scared out of their wits.
50-52 Jesus was quick to comfort them: “Courage! It’s me. Don’t be afraid.” As soon as he climbed into the boat, the wind died down. They were stunned, shaking their heads, wondering what was going on. They didn’t understand what he had done at the supper. None of this had yet penetrated their hearts.
53-56 They beached the boat at Gennesaret and tied up at the landing. As soon as they got out of the boat, word got around fast. People ran this way and that, bringing their sick on stretchers to where they heard he was. Wherever he went, village or town or country crossroads, they brought their sick to the marketplace and begged him to let them touch the edge of his coat—that’s all. And whoever touched him became well.