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The Waters of Meribah

20 The Israelites, the whole congregation, came into the wilderness of Zin in the first month, and the people stayed in Kadesh. Miriam died there and was buried there.(A)

Now there was no water for the congregation, so they gathered together against Moses and against Aaron.(B) The people quarreled with Moses and said, “Would that we had died when our kindred died before the Lord!(C) Why have you brought the assembly of the Lord into this wilderness for us and our livestock to die here?(D) Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to bring us to this wretched place? It is no place for grain or figs or vines or pomegranates, and there is no water to drink.” Then Moses and Aaron went away from the assembly to the entrance of the tent of meeting; they fell on their faces, and the glory of the Lord appeared to them.(E) The Lord spoke to Moses, saying, “Take the staff, and assemble the congregation, you and your brother Aaron, and command the rock before their eyes to yield its water. Thus you shall bring water out of the rock for them; thus you shall provide drink for the congregation and their livestock.”(F)

So Moses took the staff from before the Lord, as he had commanded him. 10 Moses and Aaron gathered the assembly together before the rock, and he said to them, “Listen, you rebels; shall we bring water for you out of this rock?”(G) 11 Then Moses lifted up his hand and struck the rock twice with his staff; water came out abundantly, and the congregation and their livestock drank.(H) 12 But the Lord said to Moses and Aaron, “Because you did not trust in me, to show my holiness before the eyes of the Israelites, therefore you shall not bring this assembly into the land that I have given them.”(I) 13 These are the waters of Meribah,[a] where the Israelites quarreled with the Lord and through which he showed himself to be holy.(J)

Passage through Edom Refused

14 Moses sent messengers from Kadesh to the king of Edom, “Thus says your brother Israel: You know all the adversity that has befallen us,(K) 15 how our ancestors went down to Egypt, and we lived in Egypt a long time, and the Egyptians oppressed us and our ancestors,(L) 16 and when we cried to the Lord, he heard our voice and sent an angel and brought us out of Egypt, and here we are in Kadesh, a town on the edge of your territory.(M) 17 Now let us pass through your land. We will not pass through field or vineyard or drink water from any well; we will go along the King’s Highway, not turning aside to the right hand or to the left until we have passed through your territory.”

18 But Edom said to him, “You shall not pass through, or we will come out with the sword against you.” 19 The Israelites said to him, “We will stay on the highway, and if we drink of your water, we and our livestock, then we will pay for it. It is only a small matter; just let us pass through on foot.”(N) 20 But he said, “You shall not pass through.” And Edom came out against them with a large force, heavily armed. 21 Thus Edom refused to give Israel passage through their territory, so Israel turned away from them.(O)

The Death of Aaron

22 They set out from Kadesh, and the Israelites, the whole congregation, came to Mount Hor.(P) 23 Then the Lord said to Moses and Aaron at Mount Hor, on the border of the land of Edom, 24 “Let Aaron be gathered to his people. For he shall not enter the land that I have given to the Israelites, because you rebelled against my command at the waters of Meribah.(Q) 25 Take Aaron and his son Eleazar, and bring them up Mount Hor;(R) 26 strip Aaron of his vestments, and put them on his son Eleazar. But Aaron shall be gathered to his people[b] and shall die there.” 27 Moses did as the Lord had commanded; they went up Mount Hor in the sight of the whole congregation. 28 Moses stripped Aaron of his vestments and put them on his son Eleazar, and Aaron died there on the top of the mountain. Moses and Eleazar came down from the mountain.(S) 29 When all the congregation saw that Aaron had died, all the house of Israel mourned for Aaron thirty days.

The Bronze Serpent

21 When the Canaanite, the king of Arad, who lived in the Negeb, heard that Israel was coming by the way of Atharim, he fought against Israel and took some of them captive.(T) Then Israel made a vow to the Lord and said, “If you will indeed give this people into our hands, then we will utterly destroy their towns.” The Lord listened to the voice of Israel and handed over the Canaanites, and they utterly destroyed them and their towns; so the place was called Hormah.[c]

From Mount Hor they set out by the way to the Red Sea,[d] to go around the land of Edom, but the people became discouraged on the way.(U) The people spoke against God and against Moses, “Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? For there is no food and no water, and we detest this miserable food.”(V) Then the Lord sent poisonous[e] serpents among the people, and they bit the people, so that many Israelites died.(W) The people came to Moses and said, “We have sinned by speaking against the Lord and against you; pray to the Lord to take away the serpents from us.” So Moses prayed for the people.(X) And the Lord said to Moses, “Make a poisonous[f] serpent, and set it on a pole, and everyone who is bitten shall look at it and live.” So Moses made a serpent of bronze and put it upon a pole, and whenever a serpent bit someone, that person would look at the serpent of bronze and live.(Y)

The Journey to Moab

10 The Israelites set out and camped in Oboth.(Z) 11 They set out from Oboth and camped at Iye-abarim, in the wilderness bordering Moab toward the sunrise.(AA) 12 From there they set out and camped in the Wadi Zered.(AB) 13 From there they set out and camped on the other side of the Arnon, in[g] the wilderness that extends from the boundary of the Amorites, for the Arnon is the boundary of Moab, between Moab and the Amorites. 14 Wherefore it is said in the Book of the Wars of the Lord,

“Waheb in Suphah and the wadis.
The Arnon 15 and the slopes of the wadis
that extend to the seat of Ar
and lie along the border of Moab.”[h](AC)

16 From there they continued to Beer;[i] that is the well of which the Lord said to Moses, “Gather the people together, and I will give them water.” 17 Then Israel sang this song:

“Spring up, O well!—Sing to it!—
18 the well that the leaders sank,
that the nobles of the people dug,
with the scepter, with the staff.”

From the wilderness to Mattanah, 19 from Mattanah to Nahaliel, from Nahaliel to Bamoth, 20 and from Bamoth to the valley lying in the region of Moab by the top of Pisgah that overlooks the wasteland.[j]

King Sihon Defeated

21 Then Israel sent messengers to King Sihon of the Amorites, saying,(AD) 22 “Let me pass through your land; we will not turn aside into field or vineyard; we will not drink the water of any well; we will go by the King’s Highway until we have passed through your territory.”(AE) 23 But Sihon would not allow Israel to pass through his territory. Sihon gathered all his people together and went out against Israel to the wilderness; he came to Jahaz and fought against Israel.(AF) 24 Israel put him to the sword and took possession of his land from the Arnon to the Jabbok, as far as to the Ammonites, for the boundary of the Ammonites was strong.(AG) 25 Israel took all these towns, and Israel settled in all the towns of the Amorites, in Heshbon, and in all its villages. 26 For Heshbon was the city of King Sihon of the Amorites, who had fought against the former king of Moab and captured all his land as far as the Arnon. 27 Therefore the singers say,

“Come to Heshbon; let it be built;
    let the city of Sihon be established.
28 For fire came out from Heshbon,
    flame from the city of Sihon.
It devoured Ar of Moab
    and swallowed up[k] the heights of the Arnon.(AH)
29 Woe to you, O Moab!
    You are undone, O people of Chemosh!
He has made his sons fugitives
    and his daughters captives
    to an Amorite king, Sihon.(AI)
30 So their posterity perished
    from Heshbon[l] to Dibon,
    and we laid waste until fire spread to Medeba.”[m](AJ)

31 Thus Israel settled in the land of the Amorites. 32 Moses sent to spy out Jazer, and they captured its villages and dispossessed the Amorites who were there.(AK)

King Og Defeated

33 Then they turned and went up the road to Bashan, and King Og of Bashan came out against them, he and all his people, to battle at Edrei.(AL) 34 But the Lord said to Moses, “Do not be afraid of him, for I have given him into your hand, with all his people and his land. You shall do to him as you did to King Sihon of the Amorites, who lived in Heshbon.”(AM) 35 So they killed him, his sons, and all his people, until there was no survivor left, and they took possession of his land.

Balak Summons Balaam to Curse Israel

22 The Israelites set out and camped in the plains of Moab across the Jordan from Jericho.(AN) Now Balak son of Zippor saw all that Israel had done to the Amorites. Moab was in great dread of the people, because they were so numerous; Moab was overcome with fear of the Israelites.(AO) And Moab said to the elders of Midian, “This horde will now lick up all that is around us, as an ox licks up the grass of the field.” Now Balak son of Zippor was king of Moab at that time.(AP) He sent messengers to Balaam son of Beor at Pethor, which is on the Euphrates,[n] in the land of Amaw,[o] to summon him, saying, “A people has come out of Egypt; they have spread over the face of the earth, and they have settled next to me.(AQ) Come now, curse this people for me, since they are stronger than I; perhaps I shall be able to defeat them and drive them from the land, for I know that whomever you bless is blessed, and whomever you curse is cursed.”(AR)

So the elders of Moab and the elders of Midian departed with the fees for divination in their hand, and they came to Balaam and gave him Balak’s message.(AS) He said to them, “Stay here tonight, and I will bring back word to you, just as the Lord speaks to me”; so the officials of Moab stayed with Balaam.(AT) God came to Balaam and said, “Who are these men with you?” 10 Balaam said to God, “King Balak son of Zippor of Moab has sent me this message: 11 ‘Look, a people has come[p] out of Egypt and has spread over the face of the earth; now come, curse them for me; perhaps I shall be able to fight against them and drive them out.’ ” 12 God said to Balaam, “You shall not go with them; you shall not curse the people, for they are blessed.”(AU) 13 So Balaam rose in the morning and said to the officials of Balak, “Go to your own land, for the Lord has refused to let me go with you.” 14 So the officials of Moab rose and went to Balak and said, “Balaam refuses to come with us.”

15 Once again Balak sent officials, more numerous and more distinguished than these. 16 They came to Balaam and said to him, “Thus says Balak son of Zippor: Do not let anything hinder you from coming to me, 17 for I will surely do you great honor, and whatever you say to me I will do; come, curse this people for me.”(AV) 18 But Balaam replied to the servants of Balak, “Although Balak were to give me his house full of silver and gold, I could not go beyond the command of the Lord my God, to do less or more.(AW) 19 You also stay here overnight, so that I may learn what more the Lord may say to me.” 20 That night God came to Balaam and said to him, “If the men have come to summon you, get up and go with them, but do only what I tell you to do.”(AX) 21 So Balaam got up in the morning, saddled his donkey, and went with the officials of Moab.(AY)

Balaam, the Donkey, and the Angel

22 God’s anger was kindled because he was going, and the angel of the Lord took his stand in the road as his adversary. Now he was riding on the donkey, and his two servants were with him. 23 The donkey saw the angel of the Lord standing in the road, with a drawn sword in his hand, so the donkey turned off the road and went into the field, and Balaam struck the donkey, to turn it back onto the road.(AZ) 24 Then the angel of the Lord stood in a narrow path between the vineyards, with a wall on either side.(BA) 25 When the donkey saw the angel of the Lord, it scraped against the wall and scraped Balaam’s foot against the wall, so he struck it again. 26 Then the angel of the Lord went ahead and stood in a narrow place, where there was no way to turn either to the right or to the left. 27 When the donkey saw the angel of the Lord, it lay down under Balaam, and Balaam’s anger was kindled, and he struck the donkey with his staff. 28 Then the Lord opened the mouth of the donkey, and it said to Balaam, “What have I done to you, that you have struck me these three times?”(BB) 29 Balaam said to the donkey, “Because you have made a fool of me! I wish I had a sword in my hand! I would kill you right now!”(BC) 30 But the donkey said to Balaam, “Am I not your donkey, which you have ridden all your life to this day? Have I been in the habit of treating you this way?” And he said, “No.”(BD)

31 Then the Lord opened the eyes of Balaam, and he saw the angel of the Lord standing in the road, with his drawn sword in his hand, and he bowed down, falling on his face.(BE) 32 The angel of the Lord said to him, “Why have you struck your donkey these three times? I have come out as an adversary because your way is perverse[q] before me. 33 The donkey saw me and turned away from me these three times. If it had not turned away from me, surely just now I would have killed you and let it live.” 34 Then Balaam said to the angel of the Lord, “I have sinned, for I did not know that you were standing in the road to oppose me. Now therefore, if it is displeasing to you, I will return home.”(BF) 35 The angel of the Lord said to Balaam, “Go with the men, but speak only what I tell you to speak.” So Balaam went on with the officials of Balak.(BG)

36 When Balak heard that Balaam had come, he went out to meet him at Ir-moab, on the boundary formed by the Arnon, at the farthest point of the boundary. 37 Balak said to Balaam, “Did I not send to summon you? Why did you not come to me? Am I not able to honor you?”(BH) 38 Balaam said to Balak, “I have come to you now, but do I have power to say just anything? The word God puts in my mouth, that is what I must say.”(BI) 39 Then Balaam went with Balak, and they came to Kiriath-huzoth. 40 Balak sacrificed oxen and sheep and sent them to Balaam and to the officials who were with him.

Balaam’s First Oracle

41 On the next day Balak took Balaam and brought him up to Bamoth-baal, and from there he could see part of the people of Israel.[r](BJ)


  1. 20.13 That is, quarrel
  2. 20.26 Heb lacks to his people
  3. 21.3 That is, destruction
  4. 21.4 Or Sea of Reeds
  5. 21.6 Or fiery
  6. 21.8 Or fiery
  7. 21.13 Gk: Heb which is in
  8. 21.15 Meaning of Heb uncertain
  9. 21.16 That is, well
  10. 21.20 Or Jeshimon
  11. 21.28 Gk: Heb and the lords of
  12. 21.30 Gk: Heb we have shot at them; Heshbon has perished
  13. 21.30 Compare Sam Gk: Meaning of MT uncertain
  14. 22.5 Heb the river
  15. 22.5 Or land of his kinsfolk
  16. 22.11 Heb ms Sam Q ms Gk: MT The people that is coming
  17. 22.32 Meaning of Heb uncertain
  18. 22.41 Heb lacks of Israel

The Tradition of the Elders

Now when the Pharisees and some of the scribes who had come from Jerusalem gathered around him, they noticed that some of his disciples were eating with defiled hands, that is, without washing them. (For the Pharisees, and all the Jews, do not eat unless they wash their hands,[a] thus observing the tradition of the elders,(A) and they do not eat anything from the market unless they wash,[b] and there are also many other traditions that they observe: the washing of cups and pots and bronze kettles and beds.[c])(B) So the Pharisees and the scribes asked him, “Why do your disciples not walk according to the tradition of the elders but eat with defiled hands?”(C) He said to them, “Isaiah prophesied rightly about you hypocrites, as it is written,

‘This people honors me with their lips,
    but their hearts are far from me;(D)
in vain do they worship me,
    teaching human precepts as doctrines.’

“You abandon the commandment of God and hold to human tradition.”(E)

Then he said to them, “You have a fine way of rejecting the commandment of God in order to keep your tradition!(F) 10 For Moses said, ‘Honor your father and your mother,’ and, ‘Whoever speaks evil of father or mother must surely die.’(G) 11 But you say that if anyone tells father or mother, ‘Whatever support you might have had from me is Corban’ (that is, an offering to God[d]),(H) 12 then you no longer permit doing anything for a father or mother, 13 thus nullifying the word of God through your tradition that you have handed on. And you do many things like this.”

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  1. 7.3 Meaning of Gk uncertain
  2. 7.4 Other ancient authorities read and when they come from the marketplace, they do not eat unless they purify themselves
  3. 7.4 Other ancient authorities lack and beds
  4. 7.11 Gk lacks to God