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Numbers 8-10

Preparing the Lamps

The Lord said to Moses, “Give Aaron the following instructions: When you set up the seven lamps in the lampstand, place them so their light shines forward in front of the lampstand.” So Aaron did this. He set up the seven lamps so they reflected their light forward, just as the Lord had commanded Moses. The entire lampstand, from its base to its decorative blossoms, was made of beaten gold. It was built according to the exact design the Lord had shown Moses.

The Levites Dedicated

Then the Lord said to Moses, “Now set the Levites apart from the rest of the people of Israel and make them ceremonially clean. Do this by sprinkling them with the water of purification, and have them shave their entire body and wash their clothing. Then they will be ceremonially clean. Have them bring a young bull and a grain offering of choice flour moistened with olive oil, along with a second young bull for a sin offering. Then assemble the whole community of Israel, and present the Levites at the entrance of the Tabernacle.[a] 10 When you present the Levites before the Lord, the people of Israel must lay their hands on them. 11 Raising his hands, Aaron must then present the Levites to the Lord as a special offering from the people of Israel, thus dedicating them to the Lord’s service.

12 “Next the Levites will lay their hands on the heads of the young bulls. Present one as a sin offering and the other as a burnt offering to the Lord, to purify the Levites and make them right with the Lord.[b] 13 Then have the Levites stand in front of Aaron and his sons, and raise your hands and present them as a special offering to the Lord. 14 In this way, you will set the Levites apart from the rest of the people of Israel, and the Levites will belong to me. 15 After this, they may go into the Tabernacle to do their work, because you have purified them and presented them as a special offering.

16 “Of all the people of Israel, the Levites are reserved for me. I have claimed them for myself in place of all the firstborn sons of the Israelites; I have taken the Levites as their substitutes. 17 For all the firstborn males among the people of Israel are mine, both of people and of animals. I set them apart for myself on the day I struck down all the firstborn sons of the Egyptians. 18 Yes, I have claimed the Levites in place of all the firstborn sons of Israel. 19 And of all the Israelites, I have assigned the Levites to Aaron and his sons. They will serve in the Tabernacle on behalf of the Israelites and make sacrifices to purify[c] the people so no plague will strike them when they approach the sanctuary.”

20 So Moses, Aaron, and the whole community of Israel dedicated the Levites, carefully following all the Lord’s instructions to Moses. 21 The Levites purified themselves from sin and washed their clothes, and Aaron lifted them up and presented them to the Lord as a special offering. He then offered a sacrifice to purify them and make them right with the Lord.[d] 22 After that the Levites went into the Tabernacle to perform their duties, assisting Aaron and his sons. So they carried out all the commands that the Lord gave Moses concerning the Levites.

23 The Lord also instructed Moses, 24 “This is the rule the Levites must follow: They must begin serving in the Tabernacle at the age of twenty-five, 25 and they must retire at the age of fifty. 26 After retirement they may assist their fellow Levites by serving as guards at the Tabernacle, but they may not officiate in the service. This is how you must assign duties to the Levites.”

The Second Passover

A year after Israel’s departure from Egypt, the Lord spoke to Moses in the wilderness of Sinai. In the first month[e] of that year he said, “Tell the Israelites to celebrate the Passover at the prescribed time, at twilight on the fourteenth day of the first month.[f] Be sure to follow all my decrees and regulations concerning this celebration.”

So Moses told the people to celebrate the Passover in the wilderness of Sinai as twilight fell on the fourteenth day of the month. And they celebrated the festival there, just as the Lord had commanded Moses. But some of the men had been ceremonially defiled by touching a dead body, so they could not celebrate the Passover that day. They came to Moses and Aaron that day and said, “We have become ceremonially unclean by touching a dead body. But why should we be prevented from presenting the Lord’s offering at the proper time with the rest of the Israelites?”

Moses answered, “Wait here until I have received instructions for you from the Lord.”

This was the Lord’s reply to Moses. 10 “Give the following instructions to the people of Israel: If any of the people now or in future generations are ceremonially unclean at Passover time because of touching a dead body, or if they are on a journey and cannot be present at the ceremony, they may still celebrate the Lord’s Passover. 11 They must offer the Passover sacrifice one month later, at twilight on the fourteenth day of the second month.[g] They must eat the Passover lamb at that time with bitter salad greens and bread made without yeast. 12 They must not leave any of the lamb until the next morning, and they must not break any of its bones. They must follow all the normal regulations concerning the Passover.

13 “But those who neglect to celebrate the Passover at the regular time, even though they are ceremonially clean and not away on a trip, will be cut off from the community of Israel. If they fail to present the Lord’s offering at the proper time, they will suffer the consequences of their guilt. 14 And if foreigners living among you want to celebrate the Passover to the Lord, they must follow these same decrees and regulations. The same laws apply both to native-born Israelites and to the foreigners living among you.”

The Fiery Cloud

15 On the day the Tabernacle was set up, the cloud covered it.[h] But from evening until morning the cloud over the Tabernacle looked like a pillar of fire. 16 This was the regular pattern—at night the cloud that covered the Tabernacle had the appearance of fire. 17 Whenever the cloud lifted from over the sacred tent, the people of Israel would break camp and follow it. And wherever the cloud settled, the people of Israel would set up camp. 18 In this way, they traveled and camped at the Lord’s command wherever he told them to go. Then they remained in their camp as long as the cloud stayed over the Tabernacle. 19 If the cloud remained over the Tabernacle for a long time, the Israelites stayed and performed their duty to the Lord. 20 Sometimes the cloud would stay over the Tabernacle for only a few days, so the people would stay for only a few days, as the Lord commanded. Then at the Lord’s command they would break camp and move on. 21 Sometimes the cloud stayed only overnight and lifted the next morning. But day or night, when the cloud lifted, the people broke camp and moved on. 22 Whether the cloud stayed above the Tabernacle for two days, a month, or a year, the people of Israel stayed in camp and did not move on. But as soon as it lifted, they broke camp and moved on. 23 So they camped or traveled at the Lord’s command, and they did whatever the Lord told them through Moses.

The Silver Trumpets

10 Now the Lord said to Moses, “Make two trumpets of hammered silver for calling the community to assemble and for signaling the breaking of camp. When both trumpets are blown, everyone must gather before you at the entrance of the Tabernacle.[i] But if only one trumpet is blown, then only the leaders—the heads of the clans of Israel—must present themselves to you.

“When you sound the signal to move on, the tribes camped on the east side of the Tabernacle must break camp and move forward. When you sound the signal a second time, the tribes camped on the south will follow. You must sound short blasts as the signal for moving on. But when you call the people to an assembly, blow the trumpets with a different signal. Only the priests, Aaron’s descendants, are allowed to blow the trumpets. This is a permanent law for you, to be observed from generation to generation.

“When you arrive in your own land and go to war against your enemies who attack you, sound the alarm with the trumpets. Then the Lord your God will remember you and rescue you from your enemies. 10 Blow the trumpets in times of gladness, too, sounding them at your annual festivals and at the beginning of each month. And blow the trumpets over your burnt offerings and peace offerings. The trumpets will remind your God of his covenant with you. I am the Lord your God.”

The Israelites Leave Sinai

11 In the second year after Israel’s departure from Egypt—on the twentieth day of the second month[j]—the cloud lifted from the Tabernacle of the Covenant.[k] 12 So the Israelites set out from the wilderness of Sinai and traveled on from place to place until the cloud stopped in the wilderness of Paran.

13 When the people set out for the first time, following the instructions the Lord had given through Moses, 14 Judah’s troops led the way. They marched behind their banner, and their leader was Nahshon son of Amminadab. 15 They were joined by the troops of the tribe of Issachar, led by Nethanel son of Zuar, 16 and the troops of the tribe of Zebulun, led by Eliab son of Helon.

17 Then the Tabernacle was taken down, and the Gershonite and Merarite divisions of the Levites were next in the line of march, carrying the Tabernacle with them. 18 Reuben’s troops went next, marching behind their banner. Their leader was Elizur son of Shedeur. 19 They were joined by the troops of the tribe of Simeon, led by Shelumiel son of Zurishaddai, 20 and the troops of the tribe of Gad, led by Eliasaph son of Deuel.

21 Next came the Kohathite division of the Levites, carrying the sacred objects from the Tabernacle. Before they arrived at the next camp, the Tabernacle would already be set up at its new location. 22 Ephraim’s troops went next, marching behind their banner. Their leader was Elishama son of Ammihud. 23 They were joined by the troops of the tribe of Manasseh, led by Gamaliel son of Pedahzur, 24 and the troops of the tribe of Benjamin, led by Abidan son of Gideoni.

25 Dan’s troops went last, marching behind their banner and serving as the rear guard for all the tribal camps. Their leader was Ahiezer son of Ammishaddai. 26 They were joined by the troops of the tribe of Asher, led by Pagiel son of Ocran, 27 and the troops of the tribe of Naphtali, led by Ahira son of Enan.

28 This was the order in which the Israelites marched, division by division.

29 One day Moses said to his brother-in-law, Hobab son of Reuel the Midianite, “We are on our way to the place the Lord promised us, for he said, ‘I will give it to you.’ Come with us and we will treat you well, for the Lord has promised wonderful blessings for Israel!”

30 But Hobab replied, “No, I will not go. I must return to my own land and family.”

31 “Please don’t leave us,” Moses pleaded. “You know the places in the wilderness where we should camp. Come, be our guide. 32 If you do, we’ll share with you all the blessings the Lord gives us.”

33 They marched for three days after leaving the mountain of the Lord, with the Ark of the Lord’s Covenant moving ahead of them to show them where to stop and rest. 34 As they moved on each day, the cloud of the Lord hovered over them. 35 And whenever the Ark set out, Moses would shout, “Arise, O Lord, and let your enemies be scattered! Let them flee before you!” 36 And when the Ark was set down, he would say, “Return, O Lord, to the countless thousands of Israel!”

Footnotes:

  1. 8:9 Hebrew the Tent of Meeting; also in 8:15, 19, 22, 24, 26.
  2. 8:12 Or to make atonement for the Levites.
  3. 8:19 Or make atonement for.
  4. 8:21 Or then made atonement for them to purify them.
  5. 9:1 The first month of the ancient Hebrew lunar calendar usually occurs within the months of March and April.
  6. 9:3 This day in the ancient Hebrew lunar calendar occurred in late March, April, or early May.
  7. 9:11 This day in the ancient Hebrew lunar calendar occurred in late April, May, or early June.
  8. 9:15 Hebrew covered the Tabernacle, the Tent of the Testimony.
  9. 10:3 Hebrew Tent of Meeting.
  10. 10:11a This day in the ancient Hebrew lunar calendar occurred in late April, May, or early June.
  11. 10:11b Or Tabernacle of the Testimony.
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New Living Translation (NLT)

Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright© 1996, 2004, 2007, 2013 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.


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