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Numbers 2-3

Instructions for Setting Up Israel’s Camp

The Lord told Moses and Aaron how the Israelites should arrange their camp:

Each tribe must set up camp under its own banner and under the flags of its ancestral families. These camps will be arranged around the sacred tent, but not close to it.

3-4 Judah and the tribes that march with it must set up camp on the east side of the sacred tent, under their own banner. The 74,600 troops of the tribe of Judah will be arranged by divisions and led by Nahshon son of Amminadab. 5-6 On one side of Judah will be the tribe of Issachar, with Nethanel son of Zuar as the leader of its 54,400 troops. 7-8 On the other side will be the tribe of Zebulun, with Eliab son of Helon as the leader of its 57,400 troops. These 186,400 troops will march into battle first.

10-11 Reuben and the tribes that march with it must set up camp on the south side of the sacred tent, under their own banner. The 46,500 troops of the tribe of Reuben will be arranged by divisions and led by Elizur son of Shedeur. 12-13 On one side of Reuben will be the tribe of Simeon, with Shelumiel son of Zurishaddai as the leader of its 59,300 troops. 14-15 On the other side will be the tribe of Gad, with Eliasaph son of Deuel as the leader of its 45,650 troops. 16 These 151,450 troops will march into battle second.

17 Marching behind Reuben will be the Levites, arranged in groups, just as they are camped. They will carry the sacred tent and their own banners.

18-19 Ephraim and the tribes that march with it must set up camp on the west side of the sacred tent, under their own banner. The 40,500 troops of the tribe of Ephraim will be arranged by divisions and led by Elishama son of Ammihud. 20-21 On one side of Ephraim will be the tribe of Manasseh, with Gamaliel son of Pedahzur as the leader of its 32,200 troops. 22-23 On the other side will be the tribe of Benjamin, with Abidan son of Gideoni as the leader of its 35,400 troops. 24 These 108,100 troops will march into battle third.

25-26 Dan and the tribes that march with it must set up camp on the north side of the sacred tent, under their own banner. The 62,700 troops of the tribe of Dan will be arranged by divisions and led by Ahiezer son of Ammishaddai. 27-28 On one side of Dan will be the tribe of Asher, with Pagiel son of Ochran as the leader of its 41,500 troops. 29-30 On the other side will be the tribe of Naphtali with Ahira son of Enan as the leader of its 53,400 troops. 31 These 157,600 troops will march into battle last.

32 So all the Israelites in the camp were counted according to their ancestral families. The troops were arranged by divisions and totaled 603,550. 33 The only Israelites not included were the Levites, just as the Lord had commanded Moses.

34 Israel did everything the Lord had told Moses. They arranged their camp according to clans and families, with each tribe under its own banner. And that was the order by which they marched into battle.

The Sons of Aaron

When the Lord talked with Moses on Mount Sinai, Aaron’s four sons, Nadab, Abihu, Eleazar, and Ithamar, were the ones to be ordained as priests. But the Lord killed Nadab and Abihu in the Sinai Desert when they used fire that was unacceptable[a] in their offering to the Lord.[b] And because Nadab and Abihu had no sons, only Eleazar and Ithamar served as priests with their father Aaron.

The Duties of the Levites

The Lord said to Moses:

Assign the Levi tribe to Aaron the priest. They will be his assistants and will work at the sacred tent for him and for all the Israelites. The Levites will serve the community by being responsible for the furnishings of the tent. They are assigned to help Aaron and his sons, 10 who have been appointed to be priests. Anyone else who tries to perform the duties of a priest must be put to death.

11-13 Moses, I have chosen these Levites from all Israel, and they will belong to me in a special way. When I killed the first-born sons of the Egyptians, I decided that the first-born sons in every Israelite family and the first-born males of their flocks and herds would be mine.[c] But now I accept these Levites in place of the first-born sons of the Israelites.

The Levites Are Counted

14 In the Sinai Desert the Lord said to Moses, 15 “Now I want you to count the men and boys in the Levi tribe by families and by clans. Include every one at least a month old.” 16 So Moses obeyed and counted them.

17 Levi’s three sons, Gershon, Kohath, and Merari, had become the heads of their own clans. 18 Gershon’s sons were Libni and Shimei. 19 Kohath’s sons were Amram, Izhar, Hebron, and Uzziel. 20 And Merari’s sons were Mahli and Mushi. These were the sons and grandsons of Levi, and they had become the leaders of the Levite clans.

21 The two Gershon clans were the Libnites and Shimeites, 22 and they had seven thousand five hundred men and boys at least one month old. 23 The Gershonites were to camp on the west side of the sacred tent, 24 under the leadership of Eliasaph son of Lael. 25 Their duties at the tent included taking care of the tent itself, along with its outer covering, the curtain for the entrance, 26 the curtains hanging inside the courtyard around the tent, as well as the curtain and ropes for the entrance to the courtyard and its altar. The Gershonites were responsible for setting these things up and taking them down.

27 The four Kohath clans were the Amramites, Izharites, Hebronites, and the Uzzielites, 28 and they had eight thousand six hundred[d] men and boys at least one month old. 29 The Kohathites were to camp on the south side of the sacred tent, 30 under the leadership of Elizaphan son of Uzziel. 31 Their duties at the tent included taking care of the sacred chest, the table for the sacred bread, the lampstand, the altars, the objects used for worship, and the curtain in front of the most holy place. The Kohathites were responsible for setting these things up and taking them down.

32 Eleazar son of Aaron was the head of the Levite leaders, and he made sure that the work at the sacred tent was done.

33 The two Merari clans were the Mahlites and the Mushites, 34 and they had six thousand two hundred men and boys at least one month old. 35 The Merarites were to camp on the north side of the sacred tent, under the leadership of Zuriel son of Abihail. 36-37 Their duties included taking care of the tent frames and the pieces that held the tent up: the bars, the posts, the stands, and its other equipment. They were also in charge of the posts that supported the courtyard, as well as their stands, tent pegs, and ropes. The Merari clans were responsible for setting these things up and taking them down.

38 Moses, Aaron, and his sons were to camp in front of the sacred tent, on the east side, and to make sure that the Israelites worshiped in the proper way. Anyone else who tried to do the work of Moses and Aaron was to be put to death.

39 So Moses and Aaron obeyed the Lord and counted the Levites by their clans. The total number of Levites at least one month old was twenty-two thousand.

The Levites Are Accepted as Substitutes for the First-Born Sons

40 The Lord said to Moses, “Make a list and count the first-born sons at least one month old in each of the Israelite families. 41 They belong to me, but I will accept the Levites as substitutes for them, and I will accept the Levites' livestock as substitutes for the Israelites' first-born livestock.”

42 Moses obeyed the Lord and counted the first-born sons; 43 there were 22,273 of them.

44 Then the Lord said, 45 “The Levites will belong to me and will take the place of the first-born sons; their livestock will take the place of the Israelites' first-born livestock. 46 But since there are more first-born sons than Levites, the extra two hundred seventy-three men and boys must be bought back from me. 47 For each one, you are to collect five pieces of silver, weighed according to the official standards. 48 This money must then be given to Aaron and his sons.”

49 Moses collected the silver from the extra two hundred seventy-three first-born men and boys, 50 and it amounted to one thousand three hundred sixty-five pieces of silver, weighed according to the official standards. 51 Then he gave it to Aaron and his sons, just as the Lord had commanded.

Footnotes:

  1. 3.4 fire that was unacceptable: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text.
  2. 3.4 the Lord killed Nadab and Abihu. . . to the Lord: See Leviticus 10.1,2.
  3. 3.11-13 When I killed. . . mine: See Exodus 13.1,2,11-16.
  4. 3.28 eight thousand six hundred: Hebrew; some manuscripts of one ancient translation “eight thousand three hundred.”
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Mark 11:27-12:17

A Question about Jesus' Authority

27 Jesus and his disciples returned to Jerusalem. And as he was walking through the temple, the chief priests, the nation’s leaders, and the teachers of the Law of Moses came over to him. 28 They asked, “What right do you have to do these things? Who gave you this authority?”

29 Jesus answered, “I have just one question to ask you. If you answer it, I will tell you where I got the right to do these things. 30 Who gave John the right to baptize? Was it God in heaven or merely some human being?”

31 They thought it over and said to each other, “We can’t say that God gave John this right. Jesus will ask us why we didn’t believe John. 32 On the other hand, these people think that John was a prophet. So we can’t say that it was merely some human who gave John the right to baptize.”

They were afraid of the crowd 33 and told Jesus, “We don’t know.”

Jesus replied, “Then I won’t tell you who gave me the right to do what I do.”

Renters of a Vineyard

12 Jesus then told them this story:

A farmer once planted a vineyard. He built a wall around it and dug a pit to crush the grapes in. He also built a lookout tower. Then he rented out his vineyard and left the country.

When it was harvest time, he sent a servant to get his share of the grapes. The renters grabbed the servant. They beat him up and sent him away without a thing.

The owner sent another servant, but the renters beat him on the head and insulted him terribly. Then the man sent another servant, and they killed him. He kept sending servant after servant. They beat some of them and killed others.

The owner had a son he loved very much. Finally, he sent his son to the renters because he thought they would respect him. But they said to themselves, “Someday he will own this vineyard. Let’s kill him! That way we can have it all for ourselves.” So they grabbed the owner’s son and killed him. Then they threw his body out of the vineyard.

Jesus asked, “What do you think the owner of the vineyard will do? He will come and kill those renters and let someone else have his vineyard. 10 You surely know that the Scriptures say,

‘The stone that the builders
    tossed aside
is now the most important
    stone of all.
11 This is something
the Lord has done,
    and it is amazing to us.’”

12 The leaders knew that Jesus was really talking about them, and they wanted to arrest him. But because they were afraid of the crowd, they let him alone and left.

Paying Taxes

13 The Pharisees got together with Herod’s followers.[a] Then they sent some men to trick Jesus into saying something wrong. 14 They went to him and said, “Teacher, we know that you are honest. You treat everyone with the same respect, no matter who they are. And you teach the truth about what God wants people to do. Tell us, should we pay taxes to the Emperor or not?”

15 Jesus knew what they were up to, and he said, “Why are you trying to test me? Show me a coin!”

16 They brought him a silver coin, and he asked, “Whose picture and name are on it?”

“The Emperor’s,” they answered.

17 Then Jesus told them, “Give the Emperor what belongs to him and give God what belongs to God.” The men were amazed at Jesus.

Footnotes:

  1. 12.13 Herod’s followers: People who were political followers of the family of Herod the Great and his son Herod Antipas.
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Psalm 47

(A psalm for the people of Korah and for the music leader.)

God Rules the Nations

47 All of you nations,
clap your hands
    and shout
    joyful praises to God.
The Lord Most High is fearsome,
    the ruler of all the earth.
God has put every nation
    under our power,
and he chose for us the land
    that was the pride of Jacob,
    his favorite.

God goes up to his throne,
    as people shout
    and trumpets blast.
Sing praises to God our King,
    the ruler of all the earth!
    Praise God with songs.

God rules the nations
    from his sacred throne.
Their leaders come together
    and are now the people
    of Abraham’s God.
All rulers on earth
surrender their weapons,
    and God is greatly praised!

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Proverbs 10:24-25

24 What evil people dread most
    will happen to them,
    but good people will get
    what they want most.
25 Those crooks will disappear
    when a storm strikes,
    but God will keep safe
    all who obey him.

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