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Numbers 8:15 - Numbers 21:7 (Holman Christian Standard Bible)

Numbers 8:15-21:7

15 After that the Levites may come to serve at the tent of meeting, once you have ceremonially cleansed them and presented them as a presentation offering. 16 For they have been exclusively assigned to Me from the Israelites. I have taken them for Myself in place of all who come first from the womb, every Israelite firstborn. 17 For every firstborn among the Israelites is Mine, both man and animal. I consecrated them to Myself on the day I struck down every firstborn in the land of Egypt. 18 But I have taken the Levites in place of every firstborn among the Israelites. 19 From the Israelites, I have given the Levites exclusively to Aaron and his sons to perform the work for the Israelites at the tent of meeting and to make atonement on their behalf, so that no plague will come against the Israelites when they approach the sanctuary.”

20 Moses, Aaron, and the entire Israelite community did this to the Levites. The Israelites did everything to them the Lord commanded Moses regarding the Levites. 21 The Levites purified themselves and washed their clothes; then Aaron presented[a] them before the Lord as a presentation offering. Aaron also made atonement for them to ceremonially cleanse them. 22 After that, the Levites came to do their work at the tent of meeting in the presence of Aaron and his sons. So they did to them as the Lord had commanded Moses concerning the Levites.

23 The Lord spoke to Moses: 24 “In regard to the Levites: From 25 years old or more, a man enters the service in the work at the tent of meeting. 25 But at 50 years old he is to retire from his service in the work and no longer serve. 26 He may assist his brothers to fulfill responsibilities[b] at the tent of meeting, but he must not do the work. This is how you are to deal with the Levites regarding their duties.”

The Second Passover

In the first month of the second year after their departure from the land of Egypt, the Lord told Moses in the Wilderness of Sinai: “The Israelites are to observe the Passover at its appointed time. You must observe it at its appointed time on the fourteenth day of this month at twilight; you are to observe it according to all its statutes and ordinances.” So Moses told the Israelites to observe the Passover, and they observed it in the first month on the fourteenth day at twilight in the Wilderness of Sinai. The Israelites did everything as the Lord had commanded Moses.

But there were some men who were unclean because of a human corpse, so they could not observe the Passover on that day. These men came before Moses and Aaron the same day and said to him, “We are unclean because of a human corpse. Why should we be excluded from presenting the Lord’s offering at its appointed time with the other Israelites?”

Moses replied to them, “Wait here until I hear what the Lord commands for you.”

Then the Lord spoke to Moses: 10 “Tell the Israelites: When any one of you or your descendants is unclean because of a corpse or is on a distant journey, he may still observe the Passover to the Lord. 11 Such people are to observe it in the second month, on the fourteenth day at twilight. They are to eat the animal with unleavened bread and bitter herbs; 12 they may not leave any of it until morning or break any of its bones. They must observe the Passover according to all its statutes.

13 “But the man who is ceremonially clean, is not on a journey, and yet fails to observe the Passover is to be cut off from his people, because he did not present the Lord’s offering at its appointed time. That man will bear the consequences of his sin.

14 “If a foreigner resides with you and wants to observe the Passover to the Lord, he is to do so according to the Passover statute and its ordinances. You are to apply the same statute to both the foreign resident and the native of the land.”

Guidance by the Cloud

15 On the day the tabernacle was set up, the cloud covered the tabernacle, the tent of the testimony, and it appeared like fire above the tabernacle from evening until morning. 16 It remained that way continuously: the cloud would cover it,[c] appearing like fire at night. 17 Whenever the cloud was lifted up above the tent, the Israelites would set out; at the place where the cloud stopped, there the Israelites camped. 18 At the Lord’s command the Israelites set out, and at the Lord’s command they camped. As long as the cloud stayed over the tabernacle, they camped.

19 Even when the cloud stayed over the tabernacle many days, the Israelites carried out the Lord’s requirement and did not set out. 20 Sometimes the cloud remained over the tabernacle for only a few days. They would camp at the Lord’s command and set out at the Lord’s command. 21 Sometimes the cloud remained only from evening until morning; when the cloud lifted in the morning, they set out. Or if it remained a day and a night, they moved out when the cloud lifted. 22 Whether it was two days, a month, or longer,[d] the Israelites camped and did not set out as long as the cloud stayed over the tabernacle. But when it was lifted, they set out. 23 They camped at the Lord’s command, and they set out at the Lord’s command. They carried out the Lord’s requirement according to His command through Moses.

Two Silver Trumpets

10 The Lord spoke to Moses: “Make two trumpets of hammered silver to summon the community and have the camps set out. When both are sounded in long blasts, the entire community is to gather before you at the entrance to the tent of meeting. However, if one is sounded, only the leaders, the heads of Israel’s clans, are to gather before you.

“When you sound short blasts, the camps pitched on the east are to set out. When you sound short blasts a second time, the camps pitched on the south are to set out. Short blasts are to be sounded for them to set out. When calling the assembly together, you are to sound long blasts, not short ones. The sons of Aaron, the priests, are to sound the trumpets. Your use of these is a permanent statute throughout your generations.

“When you enter into battle in your land against an adversary who is attacking you, sound short blasts on the trumpets, and you will be remembered before the Lord your God and be delivered from your enemies. 10 You are to sound the trumpets over your burnt offerings and your fellowship sacrifices and on your joyous occasions, your appointed festivals, and the beginning of each of your months. They will serve as a reminder for you before your God: I am Yahweh your God.”

From Sinai to Paran

11 During the second year, in the second month on the twentieth day of the month, the cloud was lifted up above the tabernacle of the testimony. 12 The Israelites traveled on from the Wilderness of Sinai, moving from one place to the next until the cloud stopped in the Wilderness of Paran. 13 They set out for the first time according to the Lord’s command through Moses.

14 The military divisions of the camp of Judah with their banner set out first, and Nahshon son of Amminadab was over Judah’s divisions. 15 Nethanel son of Zuar was over the division of the Issachar tribe, 16 and Eliab son of Helon was over the division of the Zebulun tribe. 17 The tabernacle was then taken down, and the Gershonites and the Merarites set out, transporting the tabernacle.

18 The military divisions of the camp of Reuben with their banner set out, and Elizur son of Shedeur was over Reuben’s division. 19 Shelumiel son of Zurishaddai was over the division of Simeon’s tribe, 20 and Eliasaph son of Deuel was over the division of the tribe of Gad. 21 The Kohathites then set out, transporting the holy objects; the tabernacle was to be set up before their arrival.

22 Next the military divisions of the camp of Ephraim with their banner set out, and Elishama son of Ammihud was over Ephraim’s division. 23 Gamaliel son of Pedahzur was over the division of the tribe of Manasseh, 24 and Abidan son of Gideoni was over the division of the tribe of Benjamin.

25 The military divisions of the camp of Dan with their banner set out, serving as rear guard for all the camps, and Ahiezer son of Ammishaddai was over Dan’s division. 26 Pagiel son of Ochran was over the division of the tribe of Asher, 27 and Ahira son of Enan was over the division of the tribe of Naphtali. 28 This was the order of march for the Israelites by their military divisions as they set out.

29 Moses said to Hobab, son of Moses’ father-in-law[e] Reuel[f] the Midianite: “We’re setting out for the place the Lord promised: ‘I will give it to you.’ Come with us, and we will treat you well, for the Lord has promised good things to Israel.”

30 But he replied to him, “I don’t want to go. Instead, I will go to my own land and my relatives.”

31 “Please don’t leave us,” Moses said, “since you know where we should camp in the wilderness, and you can serve as our eyes. 32 If you come with us, whatever good the Lord does for us we will do for you.”

33 They set out from the mountain of the Lord on a three-day journey with the ark of the Lord’s covenant traveling ahead of them for those three days to seek a resting place for them. 34 Meanwhile, the cloud of the Lord was over them by day when they set out from the camp.

35 Whenever the ark set out, Moses would say:

Arise, Lord!
Let Your enemies be scattered,
and those who hate You flee from Your presence.

36 When it came to rest, he would say:

Return, Lord,
to the countless thousands of Israel.

Complaints about Hardship

11 Now the people began complaining openly before[g] the Lord about hardship. When the Lord heard, His anger burned, and fire from the Lord blazed among them and consumed the outskirts of the camp. Then the people cried out to Moses, and he prayed to the Lord, and the fire died down. So that place was named Taberah,[h] because the Lord’s fire had blazed among them.

Complaints about Food

Contemptible people[i] among them had a strong craving for other food. The Israelites cried again and said, “Who will feed us meat? We remember the free fish we ate in Egypt, along with the cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions, and garlic. But now our appetite is gone;[j] there’s nothing to look at but this manna!”

The manna resembled coriander seed, and its appearance was like that of bdellium.[k] The people walked around and gathered it. They ground it on a pair of grinding stones or crushed it in a mortar, then boiled it in a cooking pot and shaped it into cakes. It tasted like a pastry cooked with the finest oil. When the dew fell on the camp at night, the manna would fall with it.

10 Moses heard the people, family after family, crying at the entrance of their tents. The Lord was very angry; Moses was also provoked.[l] 11 So Moses asked the Lord, “Why have You brought such trouble on Your servant? Why are You angry with me, and why do You burden me with all these people? 12 Did I conceive all these people? Did I give them birth so You should tell me, ‘Carry them at your breast, as a nursing woman carries a baby,’ to the land that You[m] swore to give their fathers? 13 Where can I get meat to give all these people? For they are crying to me: ‘Give us meat to eat!’ 14 I can’t carry all these people by myself. They are too much for me. 15 If You are going to treat me like this, please kill me right now. If You are pleased with me, don’t let me see my misery[n] anymore.”

Seventy Elders Anointed

16 The Lord answered Moses, “Bring Me 70 men from Israel known to you as elders and officers of the people. Take them to the tent of meeting and have them stand there with you. 17 Then I will come down and speak with you there. I will take some of the Spirit who is on you and put the Spirit on them. They will help you bear the burden of the people, so that you do not have to bear it by yourself.

18 “Tell the people: Purify yourselves in readiness for tomorrow, and you will eat meat because you cried before the Lord: ‘Who will feed us meat? We really had it good in Egypt.’ The Lord will give you meat and you will eat. 19 You will eat, not for one day, or two days, or five days, or 10 days, or 20 days, 20 but for a whole month—until it comes out of your nostrils and becomes nauseating to you—because you have rejected the Lord who is among you, and cried to Him: ‘Why did we ever leave Egypt?’”

21 But Moses replied, “I’m in the middle of a people with 600,000 foot soldiers, yet You say, ‘I will give them meat, and they will eat for a month.’ 22 If flocks and herds were slaughtered for them, would they have enough? Or if all the fish in the sea were caught for them, would they have enough?”

23 The Lord answered Moses, “Is the Lord’s power limited?[o] You will see whether or not what I have promised will happen to you.”

24 Moses went out and told the people the words of the Lord. He brought 70 men from the elders of the people and had them stand around the tent. 25 Then the Lord descended in the cloud and spoke to him. He took some of the Spirit that was on Moses and placed the Spirit on the 70 elders. As the Spirit rested on them, they prophesied, but they never did it again. 26 Two men had remained in the camp, one named Eldad and the other Medad; the Spirit rested on them—they were among those listed, but had not gone out to the tent—and they prophesied in the camp. 27 A young man ran and reported to Moses, “Eldad and Medad are prophesying in the camp.”

28 Joshua son of Nun, assistant to Moses since his youth,[p] responded, “Moses, my lord, stop them!”

29 But Moses asked him, “Are you jealous on my account? If only all the Lord’s people were prophets and the Lord would place His Spirit on them!” 30 Then Moses returned to the camp along with the elders of Israel.

Quail in the Camp

31 A wind sent by the Lord came up and blew quail in from the sea; it dropped them at the camp all around, three feet[q] off[r] the ground, about a day’s journey in every direction. 32 The people were up all that day and night and all the next day gathering the quail—the one who took the least gathered 50 bushels[s]—and they spread them out all around the camp.[t]

33 While the meat was still between their teeth, before it was chewed, the Lord’s anger burned against the people, and the Lord struck them with a very severe plague. 34 So they named that place Kibroth-hattaavah,[u] because there they buried the people who had craved the meat.

35 From Kibroth-hattaavah the people moved on to Hazeroth[v] and remained there.

Miriam and Aaron Rebel

12 Miriam and Aaron criticized Moses because of the Cushite[w][x] woman he married (for he had married a Cushite woman). They said, “Does the Lord speak only through Moses? Does He not also speak through us?” And the Lord heard it. Moses was a very humble man, more so than any man on the face of the earth.

Suddenly the Lord said to Moses, Aaron, and Miriam, “You three come out to the tent of meeting.” So the three of them went out. Then the Lord descended in a pillar of cloud, stood at the entrance to the tent, and summoned Aaron and Miriam. When the two of them came forward, He said:

“Listen to what I say:
If there is a prophet among you from the Lord,
I make Myself known to him in a vision;
I speak with him in a dream.
Not so with My servant Moses;
he is faithful in[y] all My household.
I speak with him directly,[z]
openly, and not in riddles;
he sees the form of the Lord.

So why were you not afraid to speak against My servant Moses?” The Lord’s anger burned against them, and He left.

10 As the cloud moved away from the tent, Miriam’s skin suddenly became diseased, as white as snow. When Aaron turned toward her, he saw that she was diseased 11 and said to Moses, “My lord, please don’t hold against us this sin we have so foolishly committed. 12 Please don’t let her be like a dead baby[aa] whose flesh is half eaten away when he comes out of his mother’s womb.”

13 Then Moses cried out to the Lord, “God, please heal her!”

14 The Lord answered Moses, “If her father had merely spit in her face, wouldn’t she remain in disgrace for seven days? Let her be confined outside the camp for seven days; after that she may be brought back in.” 15 So Miriam was confined outside the camp for seven days, and the people did not move on until Miriam was brought back in. 16 After that, the people set out from Hazeroth and camped in the Wilderness of Paran.

Scouting Out Canaan

13 The Lord spoke to Moses: “Send men to scout out the land of Canaan I am giving to the Israelites. Send one man who is a leader among them from each of their ancestral tribes.” Moses sent them from the Wilderness of Paran at the Lord’s command. All the men were leaders in Israel. These were their names:

Shammua son of Zaccur from the tribe of Reuben;
Shaphat son of Hori from the tribe of Simeon;
Caleb son of Jephunneh from the tribe of Judah;
Igal son of Joseph from the tribe of Issachar;
Hoshea son of Nun from the tribe of Ephraim;
Palti son of Raphu from the tribe of Benjamin;
10 Gaddiel son of Sodi from the tribe of Zebulun;
11 Gaddi son of Susi from the tribe of Manasseh (from the tribe of Joseph);
12 Ammiel son of Gemalli from the tribe of Dan;
13 Sethur son of Michael from the tribe of Asher;
14 Nahbi son of Vophsi from the tribe of Naphtali;
15 Geuel son of Machi from the tribe of Gad.

16 These were the names of the men Moses sent to scout out the land, and Moses renamed Hoshea son of Nun, Joshua.

17 When Moses sent them to scout out the land of Canaan, he told them, “Go up this way to the Negev, then go up into the hill country. 18 See what the land is like, and whether the people who live there are strong or weak, few or many. 19 Is the land they live in good or bad? Are the cities they live in encampments or fortifications? 20 Is the land fertile or unproductive? Are there trees in it or not? Be courageous. Bring back some fruit from the land.” It was the season for the first ripe grapes.

21 So they went up and scouted out the land from the Wilderness of Zin[ab] as far as Rehob[ac] near the entrance to Hamath.[ad] 22 They went up through the Negev and came to Hebron, where Ahiman, Sheshai, and Talmai, the descendants of Anak, were living. Hebron was built seven years before Zoan in Egypt. 23 When they came to the Valley of Eshcol, they cut down a branch with a single cluster of grapes, which was carried on a pole by two men. They also took some pomegranates and figs. 24 That place was called the Valley of Eshcol[ae] because of the cluster of grapes the Israelites cut there. 25 At the end of 40 days they returned from scouting out the land.

Report about Canaan

26 The men went back to Moses, Aaron, and the entire Israelite community in the Wilderness of Paran at Kadesh. They brought back a report for them and the whole community, and they showed them the fruit of the land. 27 They reported to Moses: “We went into the land where you sent us. Indeed it is flowing with milk and honey, and here is some of its fruit. 28 However, the people living in the land are strong, and the cities are large and fortified. We also saw the descendants of Anak there. 29 The Amalekites are living in the land of the Negev; the Hittites, Jebusites, and Amorites live in the hill country; and the Canaanites live by the sea and along the Jordan.”

30 Then Caleb quieted the people in the presence of Moses and said, “We must go up and take possession of the land because we can certainly conquer it!”

31 But the men who had gone up with him responded, “We can’t go up against the people because they are stronger than we are!” 32 So they gave a negative report to the Israelites about the land they had scouted: “The land we passed through to explore is one that devours its inhabitants, and all the people we saw in it are men of great size. 33 We even saw the Nephilim[af] there—the descendants of Anak come from the Nephilim! To ourselves we seemed like grasshoppers, and we must have seemed the same to them.”

Israel’s Refusal to Enter Canaan

14 Then the whole community broke into loud cries, and the people wept that night. All the Israelites complained about Moses and Aaron, and the whole community told them, “If only we had died in the land of Egypt, or if only we had died in this wilderness! Why is the Lord bringing us into this land to die by the sword? Our wives and little children will become plunder. Wouldn’t it be better for us to go back to Egypt?” So they said to one another, “Let’s appoint a leader and go back to Egypt.”

Then Moses and Aaron fell down with their faces to the ground in front of the whole assembly of the Israelite community. Joshua son of Nun and Caleb son of Jephunneh, who were among those who scouted out the land, tore their clothes and said to the entire Israelite community: “The land we passed through and explored is an extremely good land. If the Lord is pleased with us, He will bring us into this land, a land flowing with milk and honey, and give it to us. Only don’t rebel against the Lord, and don’t be afraid of the people of the land, for we will devour them. Their protection has been removed from them, and the Lord is with us. Don’t be afraid of them!”

10 While the whole community threatened to stone them, the glory of the Lord appeared to all the Israelites at the tent of meeting.

God’s Judgment of Israel’s Rebellion

11 The Lord said to Moses, “How long will these people despise Me? How long will they not trust in Me despite all the signs I have performed among them? 12 I will strike them with a plague and destroy them. Then I will make you into a greater and mightier nation than they are.”

13 But Moses replied to the Lord, “The Egyptians will hear about it, for by Your strength You brought up this people from them. 14 They will tell it to the inhabitants of this land. They have heard that You, Lord, are among these people, how You, Lord, are seen face to face, how Your cloud stands over them, and how You go before them in a pillar of cloud by day and in a pillar of fire by night. 15 If You kill this people with a single blow,[ag] the nations that have heard of Your fame will declare, 16 ‘Since the Lord wasn’t able to bring this people into the land He swore to give them, He has slaughtered them in the wilderness.’

17 “So now, may my Lord’s power be magnified just as You have spoken: 18 The Lord is slow to anger and rich in faithful love, forgiving wrongdoing and rebellion. But He will not leave the guilty unpunished, bringing the consequences of the fathers’ wrongdoing on the children to the third and fourth generation. 19 Please pardon the wrongdoing of this people, in keeping with the greatness of Your faithful love, just as You have forgiven them from Egypt until now.”

20 The Lord responded, “I have pardoned them as you requested. 21 Yet as surely as I live and as the whole earth is filled with the Lord’s glory, 22 none of the men who have seen My glory and the signs I performed in Egypt and in the wilderness, and have tested Me these 10 times and did not obey Me, 23 will ever see the land I swore to give their fathers. None of those who have despised Me will see it. 24 But since My servant Caleb has a different spirit and has followed Me completely, I will bring him into the land where he has gone, and his descendants will inherit it. 25 Since the Amalekites and Canaanites are living in the lowlands,[ah] turn back tomorrow and head for the wilderness in the direction of the Red Sea.”

26 Then the Lord spoke to Moses and Aaron: 27 “How long must I endure this evil community that keeps complaining about Me? I have heard the Israelites’ complaints that they make against Me. 28 Tell them: As surely as I live,” this is the Lord’s declaration, “I will do to you exactly as I heard you say. 29 Your corpses will fall in this wilderness—all of you who were registered in the census, the entire number of you 20 years old or more—because you have complained about Me. 30 I swear that none of you will enter the land I promised[ai] to settle you in, except Caleb son of Jephunneh and Joshua son of Nun. 31 I will bring your children whom you said would become plunder into the land you rejected, and they will enjoy it. 32 But as for you, your corpses will fall in this wilderness. 33 Your children will be shepherds in the wilderness for 40 years and bear the penalty for your acts of unfaithfulness until all your corpses lie scattered in the wilderness. 34 You will bear the consequences of your sins 40 years based on the number of the 40 days that you scouted the land, a year for each day.[aj] You will know My displeasure.[ak] 35 I, Yahweh, have spoken. I swear that I will do this to the entire evil community that has conspired against Me. They will come to an end in the wilderness, and there they will die.”

36 So the men Moses sent to scout out the land, and who returned and incited the entire community to complain about him by spreading a negative report about the land— 37 those men who spread the negative report about the land were struck down by the Lord. 38 Only Joshua son of Nun and Caleb son of Jephunneh remained alive of those men who went to scout out the land.

Israel Routed

39 When Moses reported these words to all the Israelites, the people were overcome with grief. 40 They got up early the next morning and went up the ridge of the hill country, saying, “Let’s go to the place the Lord promised, for we were wrong.”

41 But Moses responded, “Why are you going against the Lord’s command? It won’t succeed. 42 Don’t go, because the Lord is not among you and you will be defeated by your enemies. 43 The Amalekites and Canaanites are right in front of you, and you will fall by the sword. The Lord won’t be with you, since you have turned from following Him.”

44 But they dared to go up the ridge of the hill country, even though the ark of the Lord’s covenant and Moses did not leave the camp. 45 Then the Amalekites and Canaanites who lived in that part of the hill country came down, attacked them, and routed them as far as Hormah.

Laws about Offerings

15 The Lord instructed Moses: “Speak to the Israelites and tell them: When you enter the land I am giving you to settle in, and you make a fire offering to the Lord from the herd or flock—either a burnt offering or a sacrifice, to fulfill a vow, or as a freewill offering, or at your appointed festivals—to produce a pleasing aroma for the Lord, the one presenting his offering to the Lord must also present a grain offering of two quarts[al] of fine flour mixed with a quart[am] of oil. Prepare a quart[an] of wine as a drink offering with the burnt offering or sacrifice of each lamb.

“If you prepare a grain offering with a ram, it must be four quarts[ao] of fine flour mixed with a third of a gallon[ap] of oil. Also present a third of a gallon[aq] of wine for a drink offering as a pleasing aroma to the Lord.

“If you prepare a young bull as a burnt offering or as a sacrifice, to fulfill a vow, or as a fellowship offering to the Lord, a grain offering of six quarts[ar] of fine flour mixed with two quarts[as] of oil must be presented with the bull. 10 Also present two quarts[at] of wine as a drink offering. It is a fire offering of pleasing aroma to the Lord. 11 This is to be done for each ox, ram, lamb, or goat. 12 This is how you must prepare each of them, no matter how many.

13 “Every Israelite is to prepare these things in this way when he presents a fire offering as a pleasing aroma to the Lord. 14 When a foreigner resides with you or someone else is among you and wants to prepare a fire offering as a pleasing aroma to the Lord, he is to do exactly as you do throughout your generations. 15 The assembly is to have the same statute for[au] both you and the foreign resident as a permanent statute throughout your generations. You and the foreigner will be alike before the Lord. 16 The same law and the same ordinance will apply to both you and the foreigner who resides with you.”

17 The Lord instructed Moses: 18 “Speak to the Israelites and tell them: After you enter the land where I am bringing you, 19 you are to offer a contribution to the Lord when you eat from the food of the land. 20 You are to offer a loaf from your first batch of dough as a contribution; offer it just like a contribution from the threshing floor. 21 Throughout your generations, you are to give the Lord a contribution from the first batch of your dough.

22 “When you sin unintentionally and do not obey all these commands that the Lord spoke to Moses 23 all that the Lord has commanded you through Moses, from the day the Lord issued the commands and onward throughout your generations— 24 and if it was done unintentionally without the community’s awareness, the entire community is to prepare one young bull for a burnt offering as a pleasing aroma to the Lord, with its grain offering and drink offering according to the regulation, and one male goat as a sin offering. 25 The priest must then make atonement for the entire Israelite community so that they may be forgiven, for the sin was unintentional. They are to bring their offering, one made by fire to the Lord, and their sin offering before the Lord for their unintentional sin. 26 The entire Israelite community and the foreigner who resides among them will be forgiven, since it happened to all the people unintentionally.

27 “If one person sins unintentionally, he is to present a year-old female goat as a sin offering. 28 The priest must then make atonement before the Lord on behalf of the person who acts in error sinning unintentionally, and when he makes atonement for him, he will be forgiven. 29 You are to have the same law for the person who acts in error, whether he is an Israelite or a foreigner who lives among you.

30 “But the person who acts defiantly,[av] whether native or foreign resident, blasphemes the Lord. That person is to be cut off from his people. 31 He will certainly be cut off, because he has despised the Lord’s word and broken His command; his guilt remains on him.”

Sabbath Violation

32 While the Israelites were in the wilderness, they found a man gathering wood on the Sabbath day. 33 Those who found him gathering wood brought him to Moses, Aaron, and the entire community. 34 They placed him in custody because it had not been decided what should be done to him. 35 Then the Lord told Moses, “The man is to be put to death. The entire community is to stone him outside the camp.” 36 So the entire community brought him outside the camp and stoned him to death, as the Lord had commanded Moses.

Tassels for Remembrance

37 The Lord said to Moses, 38 “Speak to the Israelites and tell them that throughout their generations they are to make tassels for the corners of their garments, and put a blue cord on the tassel at each corner. 39 These will serve as tassels for you to look at, so that you may remember all the Lord’s commands and obey them and not become unfaithful by following your own heart and your own eyes. 40 This way you will remember and obey all My commands and be holy to your God. 41 I am Yahweh your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt to be your God; I am Yahweh your God.”

Korah Incites Rebellion

16 Now Korah son of Izhar, son of Kohath, son of Levi, with Dathan and Abiram, sons of Eliab, and On son of Peleth, sons of Reuben, took 250 prominent Israelite men who were leaders of the community and representatives in the assembly, and they rebelled against Moses. They came together against Moses and Aaron and told them, “You have gone too far![aw] Everyone in the entire community is holy, and the Lord is among them. Why then do you exalt yourselves above the Lord’s assembly?”

When Moses heard this, he fell facedown. Then he said to Korah and all his followers, “Tomorrow morning the Lord will reveal who belongs to Him, who is set apart, and the one He will let come near Him. He will let the one He chooses come near Him. Korah, you and all your followers are to do this: take firepans, and tomorrow place fire in them and put incense on them before the Lord. Then the man the Lord chooses will be the one who is set apart. It is you Levites who have gone too far!”[ax]

Moses also told Korah, “Now listen, Levites! Isn’t it enough for you that the God of Israel has separated you from the Israelite community to bring you near to Himself, to perform the work at the Lord’s tabernacle, and to stand before the community to minister to them? 10 He has brought you near, and all your fellow Levites who are with you, but you are seeking the priesthood as well. 11 Therefore, it is you and all your followers who have conspired against the Lord! As for Aaron, who is he[ay] that you should complain about him?”

12 Moses sent for Dathan and Abiram, the sons of Eliab, but they said, “We will not come! 13 Is it not enough that you brought us up from a land flowing with milk and honey to kill us in the wilderness? Do you also have to appoint yourself as ruler over us? 14 Furthermore, you didn’t bring us to a land flowing with milk and honey or give us an inheritance of fields and vineyards. Will you gouge out the eyes of these men? We will not come!”

15 Then Moses became angry and said to the Lord, “Don’t respect their offering. I have not taken one donkey from them or mistreated a single one of them.” 16 So Moses told Korah, “You and all your followers are to appear before the Lord tomorrow—you, they, and Aaron. 17 Each of you is to take his firepan, place incense on it, and present his firepan before the Lord—250 firepans. You and Aaron are each to present your firepan also.”

18 Each man took his firepan, placed fire in it, put incense on it, and stood at the entrance to the tent of meeting along with Moses and Aaron. 19 After Korah assembled the whole community against them at the entrance to the tent of meeting, the glory of the Lord appeared to the whole community. 20 The Lord spoke to Moses and Aaron, 21 “Separate yourselves from this community so I may consume them instantly.”

22 But Moses and Aaron fell facedown and said, “God, God of the spirits[az] of all flesh, when one man sins, will You vent Your wrath on the whole community?”

23 The Lord replied to Moses, 24 “Tell the community: Get away from the dwellings of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram.”

25 Moses got up and went to Dathan and Abiram, and the elders of Israel followed him. 26 He warned the community, “Get away now from the tents of these wicked men. Don’t touch anything that belongs to them, or you will be swept away because of all their sins.” 27 So they got away from the dwellings of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram. Meanwhile, Dathan and Abiram came out and stood at the entrance of their tents with their wives, children, and infants.

28 Then Moses said, “This is how you will know that the Lord sent me to do all these things and that it was not of my own will: 29 If these men die naturally as all people would, and suffer the fate of all, then the Lord has not sent me. 30 But if the Lord brings about something unprecedented, and the ground opens its mouth and swallows them along with all that belongs to them so that they go down alive into Sheol, then you will know that these men have despised the Lord.”

31 Just as he finished speaking all these words, the ground beneath them split open. 32 The earth opened its mouth and swallowed them and their households, all Korah’s people, and all their possessions. 33 They went down alive into Sheol with all that belonged to them. The earth closed over them, and they vanished from the assembly. 34 At their cries, all the people of Israel who were around them fled because they thought, “The earth may swallow us too!” 35 Fire also came out from the Lord and consumed the 250 men who were presenting the incense.

36 [ba]Then the Lord spoke to Moses: 37 “Tell Eleazar son of Aaron the priest to remove the firepans from the burning debris, because they are holy, and scatter the fire far away. 38 As for the firepans of those who sinned at the cost of their own lives, make them into hammered sheets as plating for the altar, for they presented them before the Lord, and the firepans are holy. They will be a sign to the Israelites.”

39 So Eleazar the priest took the bronze firepans that those who were burned had presented, and they were hammered into plating for the altar, 40 just as the Lord commanded him through Moses. It was to be a reminder for the Israelites that no unauthorized person outside the lineage of Aaron should approach to offer incense before the Lord and become like Korah and his followers.

41 The next day the entire Israelite community complained about Moses and Aaron, saying, “You have killed the Lord’s people!” 42 When the community assembled against them, Moses and Aaron turned toward the tent of meeting, and suddenly the cloud covered it, and the Lord’s glory appeared.

43 Moses and Aaron went to the front of the tent of meeting, 44 and the Lord said to Moses, 45 “Get away from this community so that I may consume them instantly.” But they fell facedown.

46 Then Moses told Aaron, “Take your firepan, place fire from the altar in it, and add incense. Go quickly to the community and make atonement for them, because wrath has come from the Lord; the plague has begun.” 47 So Aaron took his firepan as Moses had ordered, ran into the middle of the assembly, and saw that the plague had begun among the people. After he added incense, he made atonement for the people. 48 He stood between the dead and the living, and the plague was halted. 49 But those who died from the plague numbered 14,700, in addition to those who died because of the Korah incident. 50 Aaron then returned to Moses at the entrance to the tent of meeting, since the plague had been halted.

Aaron’s Staff Chosen

17 [bb]The Lord instructed Moses: “Speak to the Israelites and take one staff from them for each ancestral house, 12 staffs from all the leaders of their ancestral houses. Write each man’s name on his staff. Write Aaron’s name on Levi’s staff, because there must be one staff for the head of each ancestral house. Then place them in the tent of meeting in front of the testimony where I meet with you. The staff of the man I choose will sprout, and I will rid Myself of the Israelites’ complaints that they have been making about you.”

So Moses spoke to the Israelites, and each of their leaders gave him a staff, one for each of the leaders of their ancestral houses, 12 staffs in all. Aaron’s staff was among them. Moses placed the staffs before the Lord in the tent of the testimony.

The next day Moses entered the tent of the testimony and saw that Aaron’s staff, representing the house of Levi, had sprouted, formed buds, blossomed, and produced almonds! Moses then brought out all the staffs from the Lord’s presence to all the Israelites. They saw them, and each man took his own staff. 10 The Lord told Moses, “Put Aaron’s staff back in front of the testimony to be kept as a sign for the rebels, so that you may put an end to their complaints before Me, or else they will die.” 11 So Moses did as the Lord commanded him.

12 Then the Israelites declared to Moses, “Look, we’re perishing! We’re lost; we’re all lost! 13 Anyone who comes near the Lord’s tabernacle will die. Will we all perish?”

Provision for the Priesthood

18 The Lord said to Aaron, “You, your sons, and your ancestral house will be responsible for sin against the sanctuary. You and your sons will be responsible for sin involving your priesthood. But also bring your relatives with you from the tribe of Levi, your ancestral tribe, so they may join you and assist you and your sons in front of the tent of the testimony. They are to perform duties for you and for the whole tent. They must not come near the sanctuary equipment or the altar; otherwise, both they and you will die. They are to join you and guard the tent of meeting, doing all the work at the tent, but no unauthorized person may come near you.

“You are to guard the sanctuary and the altar so that wrath may not fall on the Israelites again. Look, I have selected your fellow Levites from the Israelites as a gift for you,[bc] assigned by the Lord to work at the tent of meeting. But you and your sons will carry out your priestly responsibilities for everything concerning the altar and for what is inside the veil, and you will do that work. I am giving you the work of the priesthood as a gift,[bd] but an unauthorized person who comes near the sanctuary will be put to death.”

Support for the Priests and Levites

Then the Lord spoke to Aaron, “Look, I have put you in charge of the contributions brought to Me. As for all the holy offerings of the Israelites, I have given them to you and your sons as a portion and a permanent statute. A portion of the holiest offerings kept from the fire will be yours; every one of their offerings that they give Me, whether the grain offering, sin offering, or restitution offering will be most holy for you and your sons. 10 You are to eat it as a most holy offering.[be] Every male may eat it; it is to be holy to you.

11 “The contribution of their gifts also belongs to you. I have given all the Israelites’ presentation offerings to you and to your sons and daughters as a permanent statute. Every ceremonially clean person in your house may eat it. 12 I am giving you all the best of the fresh olive oil, new wine, and grain, which the Israelites give to the Lord as their firstfruits. 13 The firstfruits of all that is in their land, which they bring to the Lord, belong to you. Every clean person in your house may eat them.

14 “Everything in Israel that is permanently dedicated to the Lord belongs to you. 15 The firstborn of every living thing, man or animal, presented to the Lord belongs to you. But you must certainly redeem the firstborn of man, and redeem the firstborn of an unclean animal. 16 You will pay the redemption price for a month-old male according to your assessment: five shekels of silver by the standard sanctuary shekel, which is 20 gerahs.

17 “However, you must not redeem the firstborn of an ox, a sheep, or a goat; they are holy. You are to sprinkle their blood on the altar and burn their fat as a fire offering for a pleasing aroma to the Lord. 18 But their meat belongs to you. It belongs to you like the breast of the presentation offering and the right thigh.

19 “I give to you and to your sons and daughters all the holy contributions that the Israelites present to the Lord as a permanent statute. It is a permanent covenant of salt before the Lord for you as well as your offspring.”

20 The Lord told Aaron, “You will not have an inheritance in their land; there will be no portion among them for you. I am your portion and your inheritance among the Israelites.

21 “Look, I have given the Levites every tenth in Israel as an inheritance in return for the work they do, the work of the tent of meeting. 22 The Israelites must never again come near the tent of meeting, or they will incur guilt and die. 23 The Levites will do the work of the tent of meeting, and they will bear the consequences of their sin. The Levites will not receive an inheritance among the Israelites; this is a permanent statute throughout your generations. 24 For I have given them the tenth that the Israelites present to the Lord as a contribution for their inheritance. That is why I told them that they would not receive an inheritance among the Israelites.”

25 The Lord instructed Moses, 26 “Speak to the Levites and tell them: When you receive from the Israelites the tenth that I have given you as your inheritance, you must present part of it as an offering to the Lord—a tenth of the tenth. 27 Your offering will be credited to you as if it were your grain from the threshing floor or the full harvest from the winepress. 28 You are to present an offering to the Lord from every tenth you receive from the Israelites. Give some of it to Aaron the priest as an offering to the Lord. 29 You must present the entire offering due the Lord from all your gifts. The best part of the tenth is to be consecrated.

30 “Tell them further: Once you have presented the best part of the tenth, and it is credited to you Levites as the produce of the threshing floor or the winepress, 31 then you and your household may eat it anywhere. It is your wage in return for your work at the tent of meeting. 32 You will not incur guilt because of it once you have presented the best part of it, but you must not defile the Israelites’ holy offerings, so that you will not die.”

Purification Ritual

19 The Lord spoke to Moses and Aaron, “This is the legal statute that the Lord has commanded: Instruct the Israelites to bring you an unblemished red cow that has no defect and has never been yoked. Give it to Eleazar the priest, and he will have it brought outside the camp and slaughtered in his presence. Eleazar the priest is to take some of its blood with his finger and sprinkle it seven times toward the front of the tent of meeting. The cow must be burned in his sight. Its hide, flesh, and blood, are to be burned along with its dung. The priest is to take cedar wood, hyssop, and crimson yarn, and throw them onto the fire where the cow is burning. Then the priest must wash his clothes and bathe his body in water; after that he may enter the camp, but he will remain ceremonially unclean until evening. The one who burned the cow must also wash his clothes and bathe his body in water, and he will remain unclean until evening.

“A man who is clean is to gather up the cow’s ashes and deposit them outside the camp in a ceremonially clean place. The ashes must be kept by the Israelite community for preparing the water to remove impurity; it is a sin offering. 10 Then the one who gathers up the cow’s ashes must wash his clothes, and he will remain unclean until evening. This is a permanent statute for the Israelites and for the foreigner who resides among them.

11 “The person who touches any human corpse will be unclean for seven days. 12 He is to purify himself with the water[bf] on the third day and the seventh day; then he will be clean. But if he does not purify himself on the third and seventh days, he will not be clean. 13 Anyone who touches a body of a person who has died, and does not purify himself, defiles the tabernacle of the Lord. That person will be cut off from Israel. He remains unclean because the water for impurity has not been sprinkled on him, and his uncleanness is still on him.

14 “This is the law when a person dies in a tent: everyone who enters the tent and everyone who is already in the tent will be unclean for seven days, 15 and any open container without a lid tied on it is unclean. 16 Anyone in the open field who touches a person who has been killed by the sword or has died, or who even touches a human bone, or a grave, will be unclean for seven days. 17 For the purification of the unclean person, they are to take some of the ashes of the burnt sin offering, put them in a jar, and add fresh water to them. 18 A person who is clean is to take hyssop, dip it in the water, and sprinkle the tent, all the furnishings, and the people who were there. He is also to sprinkle the one who touched a bone, a grave, a corpse, or a person who had been killed.

19 “The one who is clean is to sprinkle the unclean person on the third day and the seventh day. After he purifies the unclean person on the seventh day, the one being purified must wash his clothes and bathe in water, and he will be clean by evening. 20 But a person who is unclean and does not purify himself, that person will be cut off from the assembly because he has defiled the sanctuary of the Lord. The water for impurity has not been sprinkled on him; he is unclean. 21 This is a permanent statute for them. The person who sprinkles the water for impurity is to wash his clothes, and whoever touches the water for impurity will be unclean until evening. 22 Anything the unclean person touches will become unclean, and anyone who touches it will be unclean until evening.”

Water from the Rock

20 The entire Israelite community entered the Wilderness of Zin in the first month, and they[bg] settled in Kadesh. Miriam died and was buried there.

There was no water for the community, so they assembled against Moses and Aaron. The people quarreled with Moses and said, “If only we had perished when our brothers perished before the Lord. Why have you brought the Lord’s assembly into this wilderness for us and our livestock to die here? Why have you led us up from Egypt to bring us to this evil place? It’s not a place of grain, figs, vines, and pomegranates, and there is no water to drink!”

Then Moses and Aaron went from the presence of the assembly to the doorway of the tent of meeting. They fell down with their faces to the ground, and the glory of the Lord appeared to them. The Lord spoke to Moses, “Take the staff and assemble the community. You and your brother Aaron are to speak to the rock while they watch, and it will yield its water. You will bring out water for them from the rock and provide drink for the community and their livestock.”

So Moses took the staff from the Lord’s presence just as He had commanded him. 10 Moses and Aaron summoned the assembly in front of the rock, and Moses said to them, “Listen, you rebels! Must we bring water out of this rock for you?” 11 Then Moses raised his hand and struck the rock twice with his staff, so that a great amount of water gushed out, and the community and their livestock drank.

12 But the Lord said to Moses and Aaron, “Because you did not trust Me to show My holiness in the sight of the Israelites, you will not bring this assembly into the land I have given them.” 13 These are the waters of Meribah,[bh] where the Israelites quarreled with the Lord, and He showed His holiness to them.

Edom Denies Passage

14 Moses sent messengers from Kadesh to the king of Edom, “This is what your brother Israel says, ‘You know all the hardships that have overtaken us. 15 Our fathers went down to Egypt, and we lived in Egypt many years, but the Egyptians treated us and our fathers badly. 16 When we cried out to the Lord, He heard our voice, sent an angel,[bi] and brought us out of Egypt. Now look, we are in Kadesh, a city on the border of your territory. 17 Please let us travel through your land. We won’t travel through any field or vineyard, or drink any well water. We will travel the King’s Highway; we won’t turn to the right or the left until we have traveled through your territory.’”

18 But Edom answered him, “You must not travel through our land, or we will come out and confront you with the sword.”

19 “We will go on the main road,” the Israelites replied to them, “and if we or our herds drink your water, we will pay its price. There will be no problem; only let us travel through on foot.”

20 Yet Edom insisted, “You must not travel through.” And they came out to confront them with a large force of heavily-armed people.[bj] 21 Edom refused to allow Israel to travel through their territory, and Israel turned away from them.

Aaron’s Death

22 After they set out from Kadesh, the entire Israelite community came to Mount Hor. 23 The Lord said to Moses and Aaron at Mount Hor on the border of the land of Edom, 24 “Aaron will be gathered to his people; he will not enter the land I have given the Israelites, because you both rebelled against My command at the waters of Meribah. 25 Take Aaron and his son Eleazar and bring them up Mount Hor. 26 Remove Aaron’s garments and put them on his son Eleazar. Aaron will be gathered to his people and die there.”

27 So Moses did as the Lord commanded, and they climbed Mount Hor in the sight of the whole community. 28 After Moses removed Aaron’s garments and put them on his son Eleazar, Aaron died there on top of the mountain. Then Moses and Eleazar came down from the mountain. 29 When the whole community saw that Aaron had passed away, the entire house of Israel mourned for him 30 days.

Canaanite King Defeated

21 When the Canaanite king of Arad, who lived in the Negev, heard that Israel was coming on the Atharim road, he fought against Israel and captured some prisoners. Then Israel made a vow to the Lord, “If You will deliver this people into our hands, we will completely destroy their cities.” The Lord listened to Israel’s request, the Canaanites were defeated, and Israel completely destroyed them and their cities. So they named the place Hormah.[bk]

The Bronze Snake

Then they set out from Mount Hor by way of the Red Sea to bypass the land of Edom, but the people[bl] became impatient because of the journey. The people spoke against God and Moses: “Why have you led us up from Egypt to die in the wilderness? There is no bread or water, and we detest this wretched food!” Then the Lord sent poisonous[bm][bn] snakes among the people, and they bit them so that many Israelites died.

The people then came to Moses and said, “We have sinned by speaking against the Lord and against you. Intercede with the Lord so that He will take the snakes away from us.” And Moses interceded for the people.

Footnotes:

  1. Numbers 8:21 Lit waved
  2. Numbers 8:26 Or to keep guard
  3. Numbers 9:16 LXX, Vg, Syr, Tg read it by day
  4. Numbers 9:22 Or a year
  5. Numbers 10:29 Or said to Hobab’s brother-in-law
  6. Numbers 10:29 = Jethro; Ex 2:16-18; 3:1; 4:18
  7. Numbers 11:1 Lit in the ears of
  8. Numbers 11:3 = blaze
  9. Numbers 11:4 Or The mixed multitude; Hb obscure
  10. Numbers 11:6 Or our lives are wasting away, or our throat is dry
  11. Numbers 11:7 A yellowish, transparent gum resin
  12. Numbers 11:10 Lit and it was evil in the eyes of Moses
  13. Numbers 11:12 One Hb ms, Sam, LXX, Syr, Tg read I
  14. Numbers 11:15 Ancient Jewish tradition reads Your misery
  15. Numbers 11:23 Lit Lord’s arm too short
  16. Numbers 11:28 LXX, some Sam mss read Moses, from his chosen ones
  17. Numbers 11:31 Lit two cubits
  18. Numbers 11:31 Or on, or above
  19. Numbers 11:32 Lit 10 homers
  20. Numbers 11:32 To dry or cure the meat; 2Sm 17:19; Ezk 26:5,14
  21. Numbers 11:34 = Graves of Craving
  22. Numbers 11:35 = settlements; Nm 12:16; 33:16-17
  23. Numbers 12:1 LXX reads Ethiopian
  24. Numbers 12:1 = Sudan and Ethiopia
  25. Numbers 12:7 Or is entrusted with
  26. Numbers 12:8 Lit mouth to mouth
  27. Numbers 12:12 Ancient Jewish tradition reads [baby] who comes out of our mother’s womb and our flesh is half eaten away.
  28. Numbers 13:21 Southern border of the promised land
  29. Numbers 13:21 Northern border of the promised land
  30. Numbers 13:21 Or near Lebo-hamath
  31. Numbers 13:24 = cluster
  32. Numbers 13:33 Possibly means fallen ones; traditionally, “giants”; Gn 6:4
  33. Numbers 14:15 Lit people as one man
  34. Numbers 14:25 Lit valley
  35. Numbers 14:30 Lit I raised My hand
  36. Numbers 14:34 Lit a day for the year, a day for the year
  37. Numbers 14:34 Or My opposition
  38. Numbers 15:4 Lit a tenth (of an ephah)
  39. Numbers 15:4 Lit a fourth hin
  40. Numbers 15:5 Lit a fourth hin
  41. Numbers 15:6 Lit two-tenths (of an ephah)
  42. Numbers 15:6 Lit a third hin
  43. Numbers 15:7 Lit a third hin
  44. Numbers 15:9 Lit three-tenths (of an ephah)
  45. Numbers 15:9 Lit a half hin
  46. Numbers 15:10 Lit a half hin
  47. Numbers 15:15 Sam, LXX read 14 . . . the Lord, the assembly must do exactly as you do. 15 The same statute will apply to . . .
  48. Numbers 15:30 Lit with a high hand
  49. Numbers 16:3 Lit Enough of you
  50. Numbers 16:7 Lit Enough of you, sons of Levi
  51. Numbers 16:11 Or Aaron, what has he done
  52. Numbers 16:22 Or breath; Nm 27:16
  53. Numbers 16:36 Nm 17:1 in Hb
  54. Numbers 17:1 Nm 17:16 in Hb
  55. Numbers 18:6 LXX, Syr, Vg omit for you
  56. Numbers 18:7 Or veil. So you are to perform the service; a gift of your priesthood I grant
  57. Numbers 18:10 Or it in a most holy place
  58. Numbers 19:12 Or ashes; lit with it
  59. Numbers 20:1 Lit the people
  60. Numbers 20:13 = quarreling
  61. Numbers 20:16 Or a messenger
  62. Numbers 20:20 Lit with numerous people and a strong hand
  63. Numbers 21:3 = destruction
  64. Numbers 21:4 Lit soul of the people
  65. Numbers 21:6 LXX reads deadly; Syr reads cruel; Vg reads fiery
  66. Numbers 21:6 Lit burning
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