Numbers 20-22 The Message (MSG)
20 In the first month, the entire company of the People of Israel arrived in the Wilderness of Zin. The people stayed in Kadesh.
Miriam died there, and she was buried.
2-5 There was no water there for the community, so they ganged up on Moses and Aaron. They attacked Moses: “We wish we’d died when the rest of our brothers died before God. Why did you haul this congregation of God out here into this wilderness to die, people and cattle alike? And why did you take us out of Egypt in the first place, dragging us into this miserable country? No grain, no figs, no grapevines, no pomegranates—and now not even any water!”
6 Moses and Aaron walked from the assembled congregation to the Tent of Meeting and threw themselves facedown on the ground. And they saw the Glory of God.
7-8 God spoke to Moses: “Take the staff. Assemble the community, you and your brother Aaron. Speak to that rock that’s right in front of them and it will give water. You will bring water out of the rock for them; congregation and cattle will both drink.”
9-10 Moses took the staff away from God’s presence, as commanded. He and Aaron rounded up the whole congregation in front of the rock. Moses spoke: “Listen, rebels! Do we have to bring water out of this rock for you?”
11 With that Moses raised his arm and slammed his staff against the rock—once, twice. Water poured out. Congregation and cattle drank.
12 God said to Moses and Aaron, “Because you didn’t trust me, didn’t treat me with holy reverence in front of the People of Israel, you two aren’t going to lead this company into the land that I am giving them.”
13 These were the Waters of Meribah (Bickering) where the People of Israel bickered with God, and he revealed himself as holy.
14-16 Moses sent emissaries from Kadesh to the king of Edom with this message: “A message from your brother Israel: You are familiar with all the trouble we’ve run into. Our ancestors went down to Egypt and lived there a long time. The Egyptians viciously abused both us and our ancestors. But when we cried out for help to God, he heard our cry. He sent an angel and got us out of Egypt. And now here we are at Kadesh, a town at the border of your land.
17 “Will you give us permission to cut across your land? We won’t trespass through your fields or orchards and we won’t drink out of your wells; we’ll keep to the main road, the King’s Road, straying neither right nor left until we’ve crossed your border.”
18 The king of Edom answered, “Not on your life. If you so much as set a foot on my land, I’ll kill you.”
19 The People of Israel said, “Look, we’ll stay on the main road. If we or our animals drink any water, we’ll pay you for it. We’re harmless—just a company of footsore travelers.”
20-21 He answered again: “No. You may not come through.” And Edom came out and blocked the way with a crowd of people brandishing weapons. Edom refused to let them cross through his land. So Israel had to detour around him.
22 The People of Israel, the entire company, set out from Kadesh and traveled to Mount Hor.
23-26 God said to Moses and Aaron at Mount Hor at the border of Edom, “It’s time for Aaron to be gathered into the company of his ancestors. He will not enter the land I am giving to the People of Israel because you both rebelled against my orders at the Waters of Meribah. So take Aaron and his son Eleazar and lead them up Mount Hor. Remove Aaron’s clothes from him and put them on his son Eleazar. Aaron will be gathered there; Aaron will die.”
27-29 Moses obeyed God’s command. They climbed Mount Hor as the whole congregation watched. Moses took off Aaron’s clothes and put them on his son Eleazar. Aaron died on top of the mountain. Then Moses and Eleazar came down from the mountain. The whole congregation, getting the news that Aaron had died, went into thirty days of mourning for him.
21 The Canaanite king of Arad, ruling in the Negev, heard that Israel was advancing up the road to Atharim. He attacked Israel and took prisoners of war.
2 Israel vowed a vow to God: “If you will give this people into our power, we’ll destroy their towns and present the ruins to you as a holy destruction.”
3 God listened to Israel’s prayer and gave them the Canaanites. They destroyed both them and their towns, a holy destruction. They named the place Hormah (Holy Destruction).
The Snake of Fiery Copper
4-5 They set out from Mount Hor along the Red Sea Road, a detour around the land of Edom. The people became irritable and cross as they traveled. They spoke out against God and Moses: “Why did you drag us out of Egypt to die in this godforsaken country? No decent food; no water—we can’t stomach this stuff any longer.”
6-7 So God sent poisonous snakes among the people; they bit them and many in Israel died. The people came to Moses and said, “We sinned when we spoke out against God and you. Pray to God; ask him to take these snakes from us.”
Moses prayed for the people.
8 God said to Moses, “Make a snake and put it on a flagpole: Whoever is bitten and looks at it will live.”
9 So Moses made a snake of fiery copper and put it on top of a flagpole. Anyone bitten by a snake who then looked at the copper snake lived.
Camping on the Way to Moab
10-15 The People of Israel set out and camped at Oboth. They left Oboth and camped at Iye Abarim in the wilderness that faces Moab on the east. They went from there and pitched camp in the Zered Valley. Their next camp was alongside the Arnon River, which marks the border between Amorite country and Moab. The Book of the Wars of God refers to this place:
Waheb in Suphah,
16-18 They went on to Beer (The Well), where God said to Moses, “Gather the people; I’ll give them water.” That’s where Israel sang this song:
19-20 From the wilderness their route went from Mattanah to Nahaliel to Bamoth (The Heights) to the valley that opens into the fields of Moab from where Pisgah (The Summit) rises and overlooks Jeshimon (Wasteland).
21-22 Israel sent emissaries to Sihon, king of the Amorites, saying, “Let us cross your land. We won’t trespass into your fields or drink water in your vineyards. We’ll keep to the main road, the King’s Road, until we’re through your land.”
23-27 But Sihon wouldn’t let Israel go through. Instead he got his army together and marched into the wilderness to fight Israel. At Jahaz he attacked Israel. But Israel fought hard, beat him soundly, and took possession of his land from the Arnon all the way to the Jabbok right up to the Ammonite border. They stopped there because the Ammonite border was fortified. Israel took and occupied all the Amorite cities, including Heshbon and all its surrounding villages. Heshbon was the capital city of Sihon king of the Amorites. He had attacked the former king of Moab and captured all his land as far north as the river Arnon. That is why the folk singers sing,
Come to Heshbon to rebuild the city,
28-29 Fire once poured out of Heshbon,
30 Oh, but we finished them off:
31-32 Israel moved in and lived in Amorite country. Moses sent men to scout out Jazer. They captured its villages and drove away the Amorites who lived there.
33 Then they turned north on the road to Bashan. Og king of Bashan marched out with his entire army to meet Moses in battle at Edrei.
34 God said to Moses, “Don’t be afraid of him. I’m making a present of him to you, him and all his people and his land. Treat him the same as Sihon king of the Amorites who ruled in Heshbon.”
35 So they attacked him, his sons, and all the people—there was not a single survivor. Israel took the land.
22 The People of Israel marched on and camped on the Plains of Moab at Jordan-Jericho.
2-3 Balak son of Zippor learned of all that Israel had done to the Amorites. The people of Moab were in a total panic because of Israel. There were so many of them! They were terrorized.
4-5 Moab spoke to the leaders of Midian: “Look, this mob is going to clean us out—a bunch of crows picking a carcass clean.”
Balak son of Zippor, who was king of Moab at that time, sent emissaries to get Balaam son of Beor, who lived at Pethor on the banks of the Euphrates River, his homeland.
5-6 Balak’s emissaries said, “Look. A people has come up out of Egypt, and they’re all over the place! And they’re pressing hard on me. Come and curse them for me—they’re too much for me. Maybe then I can beat them; we’ll attack and drive them out of the country. You have a reputation: Those you bless stay blessed; those you curse stay cursed.”
7-8 The leaders of Moab and Midian were soon on their way, with the fee for the cursing tucked safely in their wallets. When they got to Balaam, they gave him Balak’s message.
“Stay here for the night,” Balaam said. “In the morning I’ll deliver the answer that God gives me.”
The Moabite nobles stayed with him.
9 Then God came to Balaam. He asked, “So who are these men here with you?”
10-11 Balaam answered, “Balak son of Zippor, king of Moab, sent them with a message: ‘Look, the people that came up out of Egypt are all over the place! Come and curse them for me. Maybe then I’ll be able to attack and drive them out of the country.’”
12 God said to Balaam, “Don’t go with them. And don’t curse the others—they are a blessed people.”
13 The next morning Balaam got up and told Balak’s nobles, “Go back home; God refuses to give me permission to go with you.”
14 So the Moabite nobles left, came back to Balak, and said, “Balaam wouldn’t come with us.”
15-17 Balak sent another group of nobles, higher ranking and more distinguished. They came to Balaam and said, “Balak son of Zippor says, ‘Please, don’t refuse to come to me. I will honor and reward you lavishly—anything you tell me to do, I’ll do; I’ll pay anything—only come and curse this people.’”
18-19 Balaam answered Balak’s servants: “Even if Balak gave me his house stuffed with silver and gold, I wouldn’t be able to defy the orders of my God to do anything, whether big or little. But come along and stay with me tonight as the others did; I’ll see what God will say to me this time.”
20 God came to Balaam that night and said, “Since these men have come all this way to see you, go ahead and go with them. But make sure you do absolutely nothing other than what I tell you.”
21-23 Balaam got up in the morning, saddled his donkey, and went off with the noblemen from Moab. As he was going, though, God’s anger flared. The angel of God stood in the road to block his way. Balaam was riding his donkey, accompanied by his two servants. When the donkey saw the angel blocking the road and brandishing a sword, she veered off the road into the ditch. Balaam beat the donkey and got her back on the road.
24-25 But as they were going through a vineyard, with a fence on either side, the donkey again saw God’s angel blocking the way and veered into the fence, crushing Balaam’s foot against the fence. Balaam hit her again.
26-27 God’s angel blocked the way yet again—a very narrow passage this time; there was no getting through on the right or left. Seeing the angel, Balaam’s donkey sat down under him. Balaam lost his temper; he beat the donkey with his stick.
28 Then God gave speech to the donkey. She said to Balaam: “What have I ever done to you that you have beat me these three times?”
29 Balaam said, “Because you’ve been playing games with me! If I had a sword I would have killed you by now.”
30 The donkey said to Balaam, “Am I not your trusty donkey on whom you’ve ridden for years right up until now? Have I ever done anything like this to you before? Have I?”
He said, “No.”
31 Then God helped Balaam see what was going on: He saw God’s angel blocking the way, brandishing a sword. Balaam fell to the ground, his face in the dirt.
32-33 God’s angel said to him: “Why have you beaten your poor donkey these three times? I have come here to block your way because you’re getting way ahead of yourself. The donkey saw me and turned away from me these three times. If she hadn’t, I would have killed you by this time, but not the donkey. I would have let her off.”
34 Balaam said to God’s angel, “I have sinned. I had no idea you were standing in the road blocking my way. If you don’t like what I’m doing, I’ll head back.”
35 But God’s angel said to Balaam, “Go ahead and go with them. But only say what I tell you to say—absolutely no other word.”
And so Balaam continued to go with Balak’s nobles.
36 When Balak heard that Balaam was coming, he went out to meet him in the Moabite town that was on the banks of the Arnon, right on the boundary of his land.
37 Balak said to Balaam, “Didn’t I send an urgent message for help? Why didn’t you come when I called? Do you think I can’t pay you enough?”
38 Balaam said to Balak, “Well, I’m here now. But I can’t tell you just anything. I can speak only words that God gives me—no others.”
39-40 Balaam then accompanied Balak to Kiriath Huzoth (Street-Town). Balak slaughtered cattle and sheep for sacrifices and presented them to Balaam and the nobles who were with him.
41 At daybreak Balak took Balaam up to Bamoth Baal (The Heights of Baal) so that he could get a good view of some of the people.
Mark 7:1-13 The Message (MSG)
The Source of Your Pollution
7 1-4 The Pharisees, along with some religion scholars who had come from Jerusalem, gathered around him. They noticed that some of his disciples weren’t being careful with ritual washings before meals. The Pharisees—Jews in general, in fact—would never eat a meal without going through the motions of a ritual hand-washing, with an especially vigorous scrubbing if they had just come from the market (to say nothing of the scourings they’d give jugs and pots and pans).
5 The Pharisees and religion scholars asked, “Why do your disciples flout the rules, showing up at meals without washing their hands?”
6-8 Jesus answered, “Isaiah was right about frauds like you, hit the bull’s-eye in fact:
These people make a big show of saying the right thing,
9-13 He went on, “Well, good for you. You get rid of God’s command so you won’t be inconvenienced in following the religious fashions! Moses said, ‘Respect your father and mother,’ and, ‘Anyone denouncing father or mother should be killed.’ But you weasel out of that by saying that it’s perfectly acceptable to say to father or mother, ‘Gift! What I owed you I’ve given as a gift to God,’ thus relieving yourselves of obligation to father or mother. You scratch out God’s Word and scrawl a whim in its place. You do a lot of things like this.”