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Numbers 3The Message (MSG)

The Levites

This is the family tree of Aaron and Moses at the time God spoke with Moses on Mount Sinai.

2-4 The names of the sons of Aaron: Nadab the firstborn, Abihu, Eleazar, and Ithamar—anointed priests ordained to serve as priests. But Nadab and Abihu fell dead in the presence of God when they offered unauthorized sacrifice to him in the Wilderness of Sinai. They left no sons, and so only Eleazar and Ithamar served as priests during the lifetime of their father, Aaron.

5-10 God spoke to Moses. He said, “Bring forward the tribe of Levi and present them to Aaron so they can help him. They shall work for him and the whole congregation at the Tent of Meeting by doing the work of The Dwelling. Their job is to be responsible for all the furnishings of The Dwelling, ministering to the affairs of The Dwelling as the People of Israel come to perform their duties. Turn the Levites over to Aaron and his sons; they are the ones assigned to work full time for him. Appoint Aaron and his sons to minister as priests; anyone else who tries to elbow his way in will be put to death.”

11-13 God spoke to Moses: “I have taken the Levites from among the People of Israel as a stand-in for every Israelite mother’s firstborn son. The Levites belong to me. All the firstborn are mine—when I killed all the firstborn in Egypt, I consecrated for my own use every firstborn in Israel, whether human or animal. They belong to me. I am God.”

14-16 God spoke to Moses in the Wilderness of Sinai: “Count the Levites by their ancestral families and clans. Count every male a month old and older.” Moses counted them just as he was instructed by the mouth of God.

17 These are the names of the sons of Levi: Gershon, Kohath, and Merari.

18 These are the names of the Gershonite clans: Libni and Shimei.

19 The sons of Kohath by clan: Amram, Izhar, Hebron, and Uzziel.

20 The sons of Merari by clan: Mahli and Mushi.

These are the clans of Levi, family by family.

21-26 Gershon was ancestor to the clans of the Libnites and Shimeites, known as the Gershonite clans. All the males who were one month and older numbered 7,500. The Gershonite clans camped on the west, behind The Dwelling, led by Eliasaph son of Lael. At the Tent of Meeting the Gershonites were in charge of maintaining The Dwelling and its tent, its coverings, the screen at the entrance to the Tent of Meeting, the hangings of the Courtyard, the screen at the entrance to the Courtyard that surrounded The Dwelling and Altar, and the cords—in short, everything having to do with these things.

27-32 Kohath was ancestor to the clans of the Amramites, Izharites, Hebronites, and Uzzielites. These were known as the Kohathite clans. All the males who were one month and older numbered 8,600. The Kohathites were in charge of the Sanctuary. The Kohathite clans camped on the south side of The Dwelling, led by Elizaphan son of Uzziel. They were in charge of caring for the Chest, the Table, the Lampstand, the Altars, the articles of the Sanctuary used in worship, and the screen—everything having to do with these things. Eleazar, the son of Aaron the priest, supervised the leaders of the Levites and those in charge of the Sanctuary.

33-37 Merari was ancestor to the clans of the Mahlites and the Mushites, known as the Merarite clans. The males who were one month and older numbered 6,200. They were led by Zuriel son of Abihail and camped on the north side of The Dwelling. The Merarites were in charge of the frames of The Dwelling, its crossbars, posts, bases, and all its equipment—everything having to do with these things, as well as the posts of the surrounding Courtyard with their bases, tent pegs, and cords.

38 Moses and Aaron and his sons camped to the east of The Dwelling, toward the rising sun, in front of the Tent of Meeting. They were in charge of maintaining the Sanctuary for the People of Israel and the rituals of worship. Anyone else who tried to perform these duties was to be put to death.

39 The sum total of Levites counted at God’s command by Moses and Aaron, clan by clan, all the males one month and older, numbered 22,000.

40-41 God spoke to Moses: “Count all the firstborn males of the People of Israel who are one month and older. List their names. Then set apart for me the Levites—remember, I am God—in place of all the firstborn among the People of Israel, also the livestock of the Levites in place of their livestock. I am God.”

42-43 So, just as God commanded him, Moses counted all the firstborn of the People of Israel. The total of firstborn males one month and older, listed by name, numbered 22,273.

44-48 Again God spoke to Moses. He said, “Take the Levites in place of all the firstborn of Israel and the livestock of the Levites in place of their livestock. The Levites are mine, I am God. Redeem the 273 firstborn Israelites who exceed the number of Levites by collecting five shekels for each one, using the Sanctuary shekel (the shekel weighing twenty gerahs). Give that money to Aaron and his sons for the redemption of the excess number of Israelites.”

49-51 So Moses collected the redemption money from those who exceeded the number redeemed by the Levites. From the 273 firstborn Israelites he collected silver weighing 1,365 shekels according to the Sanctuary shekel. Moses turned over the redemption money to Aaron and his sons, as he was commanded by the word of God.

The Message (MSG)

Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson

Numbers 4The Message (MSG)

Duties of the Kohathites

1-3 God spoke to Moses and Aaron. He said, “Number the Kohathite line of Levites by clan and family. Count all the men from thirty to fifty years of age, all who enter the ministry to work in the Tent of Meeting.

“This is the assigned work of the Kohathites in the Tent of Meeting: care of the most holy things.

5-6 “When the camp is ready to set out, Aaron and his sons are to go in and take down the covering curtain and cover the Chest of The Testimony with it. Then they are to cover this with a dolphin skin, spread a solid blue cloth on top, and insert the poles.

7-8 “Then they are to spread a blue cloth on the Table of the Presence and set the Table with plates, incense dishes, bowls, and jugs for drink offerings. The bread that is always there stays on the Table. They are to cover these with a scarlet cloth, and on top of that spread the dolphin skin, and insert the poles.

9-10 “They are to use a blue cloth to cover the light-giving Lampstand and the lamps, snuffers, trays, and the oil jars that go with it. Then they are to wrap it all in a covering of dolphin skin and place it on a carrying frame.

11 “They are to spread a blue cloth over the Gold Altar and cover it with dolphin skins and place it on a carrying frame.

12 “They are to take all the articles used in ministering in the Sanctuary, wrap them in a blue cloth, cover them with dolphin skins, and place them on a carrying frame.

13-14 “They are to remove the ashes from the Altar and spread a purple cloth over it. They are to place on it all the articles used in ministering at the Altar—firepans, forks, shovels, bowls; everything used at the Altar—place them on the Altar, cover it with the dolphin skins, and insert the poles.

15 “When Aaron and his sons have finished covering the holy furnishings and all the holy articles, and the camp is ready to set out, the Kohathites are to come and do the carrying. But they must not touch the holy things or they will die. The Kohathites are in charge of carrying all the things that are in the Tent of Meeting.

16 “Eleazar son of Aaron the priest, is to be in charge of the oil for the light, the fragrant incense, the regular Grain-Offering, and the anointing oil. He is to be in charge of the entire Dwelling and everything in it, including its holy furnishings and articles.”

17-20 God spoke to Moses and Aaron, “Don’t let the tribal families of the Kohathites be destroyed from among the Levites. Protect them so they will live and not die when they come near the most holy things. To protect them, Aaron and his sons are to precede them into the Sanctuary and assign each man his task and what he is to carry. But the Kohathites themselves must not go in to look at the holy things, not even a glance at them, or they will die.”

Duties of the Gershonites

21-23 God spoke to Moses: “Number the Gershonites by tribes according to their ancestral families. Count all the men from thirty to fifty years of age who enter the ministry of work in the Tent of Meeting.

24-28 “The Gershonites by family and clan will serve by carrying heavy loads: the curtains of the Sanctuary and the Tent of Meeting; the covering of the Tent and the outer covering of dolphin skins; the screens for the entrance to the Tent; the cords; and all the equipment used in its ministries. The Gershonites have the job of doing the work connected with these things. All their work of lifting and carrying and moving is to be done under the supervision of Aaron and his sons. Assign them specifically what they are to carry. This is the work of the Gershonite clans at the Tent of Meeting. Ithamar son of Aaron the priest is to supervise their work.

Duties of the Merarites

29-30 “Number the Merarites by their ancestral families. Count all the men from thirty to fifty years of age who enter the ministry of work at the Tent of Meeting.

31-33 “This is their assigned duty as they go to work at the Tent of Meeting: to carry the frames of The Dwelling, its crossbars, posts, and bases, as well as the posts of the surrounding Courtyard with their bases, tent pegs, cords, and all the equipment related to their use. Assign to each man exactly what he is to carry. This is the ministry of the Merarite clans as they work at the Tent of Meeting under the supervision of Ithamar son of Aaron the priest.”

34-37 Moses, Aaron, and the leaders of the congregation counted the Kohathites by clan and family. All the men from thirty to fifty years of age who came to serve in the work in the Tent of Meeting, counted by clans, were 2,750. This was the total from the Kohathite clans who served in the Tent of Meeting. Moses and Aaron counted them just as God had commanded through Moses.

38-41 The Gershonites were counted by clan and family. All the men from thirty to fifty years of age who came to serve in the work in the Tent of Meeting, counted by clan and family, were 2,630. This was the total from the Gershonite clans who served in the Tent of Meeting. Moses and Aaron counted them just as God had commanded.

42-45 The Merarites were counted by clan and family. All the men from thirty to fifty years of age who came to serve in the work in the Tent of Meeting, counted by clan, were 3,200. This was the total from the Merarite clans. Moses and Aaron counted them just as God had commanded through Moses.

46-49 So Moses and Aaron and the leaders of Israel counted all the Levites by clan and family. All the men from thirty to fifty years of age who came to do the work of serving and carrying the Tent of Meeting numbered 8,580. At God’s command through Moses, each man was assigned his work and told what to carry.

And that’s the story of their numbering, as God commanded Moses.

The Message (MSG)

Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson

Acts 25The Message (MSG)

An Appeal to Caesar

25 1-3 Three days after Festus arrived in Caesarea to take up his duties as governor, he went up to Jerusalem. The high priests and top leaders renewed their vendetta against Paul. They asked Festus if he wouldn’t please do them a favor by sending Paul to Jerusalem to respond to their charges. A lie, of course—they had revived their old plot to set an ambush and kill him along the way.

4-5 Festus answered that Caesarea was the proper jurisdiction for Paul, and that he himself was going back there in a few days. “You’re perfectly welcome,” he said, “to go back with me then and accuse him of whatever you think he’s done wrong.”

6-7 About eight or ten days later, Festus returned to Caesarea. The next morning he took his place in the courtroom and had Paul brought in. The minute he walked in, the Jews who had come down from Jerusalem were all over him, hurling the most extreme accusations, none of which they could prove.

Then Paul took the stand and said simply, “I’ve done nothing wrong against the Jewish religion, or the Temple, or Caesar. Period.”

Festus, though, wanted to get on the good side of the Jews and so said, “How would you like to go up to Jerusalem, and let me conduct your trial there?”

10-11 Paul answered, “I’m standing at this moment before Caesar’s bar of justice, where I have a perfect right to stand. And I’m going to keep standing here. I’ve done nothing wrong to the Jews, and you know it as well as I do. If I’ve committed a crime and deserve death, name the day. I can face it. But if there’s nothing to their accusations—and you know there isn’t—nobody can force me to go along with their nonsense. We’ve fooled around here long enough. I appeal to Caesar.”

12 Festus huddled with his advisors briefly and then gave his verdict: “You’ve appealed to Caesar; you’ll go to Caesar!”

13-17 A few days later King Agrippa and his wife, Bernice, visited Caesarea to welcome Festus to his new post. After several days, Festus brought up Paul’s case to the king. “I have a man on my hands here, a prisoner left by Felix. When I was in Jerusalem, the high priests and Jewish leaders brought a bunch of accusations against him and wanted me to sentence him to death. I told them that wasn’t the way we Romans did things. Just because a man is accused, we don’t throw him out to the dogs. We make sure the accused has a chance to face his accusers and defend himself of the charges. So when they came down here I got right on the case. I took my place in the courtroom and put the man on the stand.

18-21 “The accusers came at him from all sides, but their accusations turned out to be nothing more than arguments about their religion and a dead man named Jesus, who the prisoner claimed was alive. Since I’m a newcomer here and don’t understand everything involved in cases like this, I asked if he’d be willing to go to Jerusalem and be tried there. Paul refused and demanded a hearing before His Majesty in our highest court. So I ordered him returned to custody until I could send him to Caesar in Rome.”

22 Agrippa said, “I’d like to see this man and hear his story.”

“Good,” said Festus. “We’ll bring him in first thing in the morning and you’ll hear it for yourself.”

23 The next day everybody who was anybody in Caesarea found his way to the Great Hall, along with the top military brass. Agrippa and Bernice made a flourishing grand entrance and took their places. Festus then ordered Paul brought in.

24-26 Festus said, “King Agrippa and distinguished guests, take a good look at this man. A bunch of Jews petitioned me first in Jerusalem, and later here, to do away with him. They have been most vehement in demanding his execution. I looked into it and decided that he had committed no crime. He requested a trial before Caesar and I agreed to send him to Rome. But what am I going to write to my master, Caesar? All the charges made by the Jews were fabrications, and I’ve uncovered nothing else.

26-27 “That’s why I’ve brought him before this company, and especially you, King Agrippa: so we can come up with something in the nature of a charge that will hold water. For it seems to me silly to send a prisoner all that way for a trial and not be able to document what he did wrong.”

The Message (MSG)

Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson

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