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2 The Eternal One spoke to Moses and Aaron.
Eternal One: 2 Here’s how the Israelite camp should be arranged, each man with his own banner under his extended family’s ensign, all around the congregation tent, but facing the tent at a distance. 3-4 Group the twelve families according to the following four divisions: The Judah division shall camp under their banner nearest sunrise, on the east. It will comprise the 74,600 troops of the Judah extended family with its head, Nahshon (Amminidab’s son); 5-6 next to them, the 54,400 troops from the Issachar tribe, headed by Nethanel (Zuar’s son); 7-8 and the 57,400 from the Zebulun tribe, headed by Eliab (Helon’s son). 9 These three extended families constitute the Judah division (186,400 total troops). They shall march first.
10-11 On the south side, the Reuben division shall camp under their banner. It will comprise the 46,500 troops from the Reuben extended family with its head Elizur (Shedeur’s son); 12-13 and next to them the 59,300 troops from the Simeon tribe headed by Shelumiel (Zurishaddai’s son); 14-15 and 45,650 from the Gad tribe, with its head Eliasaph (Deuel’s son).[a] 16 Total troop numbers for the Reuben division are 151,450. They shall march second.
17 The congregation tent, with its attendant Levites, shall always camp and move at the center of these divisions. Their camping order shall be the same as their order when they travel—well organized, each identified by its own banner.
18-19 The Ephraim division will camp under their banner on the west. It includes the 40,500 troops from the Ephraim extended family, whose head is Elishama (Ammihud’s son); 20-21 and next to them, the 32,200 troops of the Manasseh tribe, headed by Gamaliel (Pedahzur’s son); 22-23 and finally 35,400 troops from the Benjamin tribe, headed by Abidan (Gideoni’s son). 24 The Ephraim division’s total numbers are 108,100. They shall march third.
25-26 Finally, the Dan division shall camp under their banner on the north side. It is composed of the 62,700 troops from the Dan extended family headed by Ahiezer (Ammishaddai’s son); 27-28 camping next to them, the Asher tribe, headed by Pagiel (Ochran’s son) with its 41,500 troops; 29-30 and the Naphtali tribe’s 53,400 troops, headed by Ahira (Enan’s son). 31 The total numbers for the Dan division are 157,600, and they shall march out last under their banners.
32 This is the organization of Israelites according to the twelve extended families—603,550 total arms-bearing troops. 33 Of course, this does not include the Levite organization because the Eternal commanded Moses not to count them.
34 And things went according to plan. Just as the Eternal had commanded Moses, the Israelites organized and camped and traveled by the twelve clans and their extended families, each with its own banner. Then they left.
3 At that time (when the Eternal One spoke with Moses on Mount Sinai), the lineage of Aaron and Moses went like this: 2 Aaron’s sons were Nadab (the eldest), Abihu, Eleazar, and Ithamar— 3 actually, they were his sons who were anointed as priests, who were supposed to work as priests. 4 But Nadab and Abihu perished in the presence of the Eternal when they failed to follow God’s instructions and offered profane fire at Sinai. They didn’t have any children. The other two, Eleazar and Ithamar, carried on as priests for Aaron’s lifetime.
5 Then the Eternal One told Moses,
Eternal One: 6 Summon the Levi tribe, and send them to Aaron, the priest. 7 They are to serve him and all the people in front of the tent of the congregation. They are to do the work for the tent, My sacred dwelling place. 8 They are in charge of the tent’s furnishings. Their work in service to the congregation tent is on behalf of the people of Israel. 9 These Levites are to be given exclusively to Aaron and Aaron’s sons. 10 Aaron and his descendants alone are the priests. If any outsider gets involved, he will be killed.
11 And the Eternal One spoke later to Moses.
Eternal One: 12-13 As you know, all firstborn children of each woman belong to Me. I made that clear when I killed all the Egyptian firstborn but spared Israel and its animals, setting them apart just for Me. But rather than giving all Israel’s firstborn to Me, I accept the Levites as a substitute. They will be Mine. I am the Eternal One.
The Levites as a whole are given into religious service sacrificing the animals and serving in the congregation tent rather than taking all the firstborn males, as was done with the livestock. To have drawn the servants of the Lord from the entire nation would have resulted in great disruption of each of the families and tribes.
14 God formerly gave these instructions to Moses in the wild desert area of Sinai.
Eternal One: 15 Organize the male Levites (including infants, one month old and older) by their clans and extended families.
16 So Moses did just as the Eternal One told him. 17 Levi’s three sons were Gershon, Kohath, and Merari. 18 Gershon’s sons, by their clans, were Libni and Shimei. 19 Kohath’s sons, by their clans, were Amram, Izhar, Hebron, and Uzziel. 20 Merari’s sons, by their clans, were Mahli and Mushi. These, remember, are specifically the Levite clans by their extended families.
21 So within Gershon were the Libnite and Shimeite clans. 22 Counting just the males one month old and older, 7,500 were organized. 23 They camped in the area behind the congregation tent on the west. 24 Eliasaph (Lael’s son) served as head of the Gershonite extended family. 25 Their jobs were to take care of everything related to the congregation tent, both the place of revelation and its covering, the screen for the congregation tent’s entrance, 26 the curtains for the court surrounding the place of revelation and the altar, its entrance screen, the ropes, and anything else for the tent.
27 Within Kohath were the Amramite, Izharite, Hebronite, and Uzzielite clans. 28 Counting just the males one month old and older, there were 8,600[b] who worked for the sacred place. 29 They camped on the south side of the congregation tent. 30 Uzziel’s son, Elizaphan, was their head. 31 These Kohathites were to take care of everything associated with the chest, the table, the lampstand, the altars, and the furnishings of the sanctuary that the priests use, the screen, and anything else inside the sacred place. 32 Priest Aaron’s son, Eleazar, was head of the Levite leaders. He was in charge of overseeing the people who took care of the sacred place.
33 Within Merari were the Mahlite and Mushite clans, 34 of whom 6,200 males one month or older were organized. 35 Abihail’s son, Zuriel, was their leader. They were instructed to camp on the northern side of the tent area, 36 and their work was to maintain the planks of the tent, its bars, posts, and sockets; plus all the furnishings and any other wood items; 37 as well as the posts surrounding the courtyard together with their sockets, pegs, and ropes.
38 Moses, Aaron, and Aaron’s sons camped in front of the congregation tent, on the east facing sunrise, where they worked according to the needs of the sanctuary and on behalf of the Israelites. If an outsider trespassed in this area, he would be killed. 39-45 The total number of Levites whom Moses and Aaron organized, according to the Eternal’s command, were 22,273. These males, one month or older, Moses listed by name.
The Eternal One told Moses,
Eternal One (to Moses): As a substitute for all the Israelite firstborn children and animals (as all of them are Mine), take all the Levites and all the Levites’ animals, which shall belong to Me.[c] 46 But because there are 273 more Israelite firstborn children than there are Levites, you shall pay a substitute price: 47 five shekels for each (calculated by the sanctuary weight, which is 35 pounds to the shekel), 48 and give that money as a substitute price to Aaron and Aaron’s sons.
49-51 So Moses did all that concerning the substitute price, just as the Eternal commanded, and it amounted to 47,775 pounds of metal.
27 As they arrived in Jerusalem and were walking in the temple, the chief priests, scribes, and elders came to Jesus 28 and asked Him a question.
Leaders: Tell us, who has given You the authority to say and do the things You’re saying and doing?
Jesus: 29 I will answer your question, if you will answer one for Me. Only then will I tell you who gives Me authority to do these things. 30 Tell Me, when John was ritually cleansing through baptism for the forgiveness of sins, was his authority from heaven or was it merely human?
31 The priests, scribes, and elders huddled together to think through an answer.
Leaders (to themselves): If we say, “It must have been from heaven,” then Jesus will have us. He’ll ask, “Then why didn’t you listen to him and follow him?” 32 But if we say, “John’s cleansing was only human,” the people will be up in arms because they think John was a prophet sent by God. 33 (responding to Jesus) We don’t know what to tell You.
Jesus: All right, then don’t expect Me to tell you where I get the authority to say and do these things.
The religious leaders ask Jesus where His authority comes from. What gives Him the right to heal people on the Sabbath, teach about God, do miracles, and cast out demons? Who exactly does He think He is—and where does His authority come from? This question is a trap: if He claims His authority is from God, then they can argue that God does not endorse someone who breaks His laws; but if He says His authority is His own, then He will be in trouble with the crowds and perhaps even with the Roman governor.
Jesus, however, issues a challenge: I’ll tell you what you want to know if you’ll answer My question first. But He asks them an impossible question—impossible not because they don’t know the answer, but because they cannot say the answer.
12 Then He told a story.
Jesus: There was a man who established a vineyard. He put up a wall around it to fence it in; he dug a pit for a winepress; he built a watchtower. When he had finished this work, he leased the vineyard to some tenant farmers and went away to a distant land.
2 When the grapes were in season, he sent a slave to the vineyard to collect his rent—his share of the fruit. 3 But the farmers grabbed the slave, beat him, and sent him back to his master empty-handed. 4 The owner sent another slave, and this slave the farmers beat over the head and sent away dishonored. 5 A third slave, the farmers killed. This went on for some time, with the farmers beating some of the messengers and killing others until the owner had lost all patience. 6 He had a son whom he loved above all things, and he said to himself, “When these thugs see my son, they’ll know he carries my authority. They’ll have to respect him.”
7 But when the tenant farmers saw the owner’s son coming, they said among themselves, “Look at this! It’s the son, the heir to this vineyard. If we kill him, then the land will be ours!” 8 So they seized him and killed him and threw him out of the vineyard.
9 Now what do you suppose the owner will do when he hears of this? He’ll come and destroy these farmers, and he’ll give the land to others.
10 Haven’t you read the Scriptures? As the psalmist says,
The stone that the builders rejected
has become the very stone that holds together the entire foundation.
11 This is the work of the Eternal One,
and it is marvelous in our eyes.[a]
12 The priests, scribes, temple leaders, and elders knew the story was directed against them. They couldn’t figure out how to lay their hands on Jesus then because they were afraid the people would rise up against them. So they left Him alone, and they went away furious.
The leaders are stunned to learn they will face judgment themselves. It goes against everything they believe about themselves and about God.
13 Then some Pharisees and some of Herod’s supporters banded together to try to entrap Jesus. 14 They came to Him and complimented Him.
Pharisees: Teacher, we know You are truthful in what You say and that You don’t play favorites. You’re not worried about what anyone thinks of You, so You teach with total honesty what God would have us do. So tell us: is it lawful that we Jews should pay taxes to the Roman emperor or not? 15 Should we give or not?
Jesus (seeing through their ruse): Why do you test Me like this? Listen, bring Me a coin[b] so that I can take a look at it.
16 When they had brought it to Him, He asked them another question.
Jesus: Tell Me, whose picture is on this coin? And of whom does this inscription speak?
Pharisees: Caesar, of course.
Jesus: 17 Then give to the emperor what belongs to the emperor. And give to God what belongs to God.
They could not think of anything to say to His response.
1 Clap your hands, all of you;
raise your voices joyfully and loudly.
Give honor for the True God of the universe;
2 Here’s why: The Eternal, the Most High, is awesome and deserves our great respect.
He is the great King over everything in this world.
3 He’s helped us win wars, suppressed our enemies,
and made nations bow at our feet.
4 He decides the extent of our inheritance and selects the land where we and our children will live,
for we are the pride of Jacob, the ones He loves.
5 The True God ascends the throne acclaimed by shouts of the people.
The Eternal is announced by the blast of a trumpet.
6 Sing! Shout! Play instruments!
Praise our God and King; sing praises to Him who is worthy.
7 For He is the King of all the earth. Sing praise, all who can.
Put words to music, and then sing praises
8 At the feet of the God who sits on His holy throne,
ruling over all the nations.
9 All those with influence in this world—princes, kings, and satraps—
gather with those who follow Abraham’s God.
For these defenders belong to God
who reigns over the nations!
24 Whatever wrongdoers fear the most will happen to them,
but those who do right will receive what they long for.
25 After the storm passes, the wrongdoers are blown away,
but those who do right are safe and sound on their firm foundations forever.