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Numbers 4-5; Mark 12:18-37; Psalm 48; Proverbs 10:26 (Contemporary English Version)

Numbers 4-5

The Duties of the Kohathite Clans

The Lord told Moses and Aaron:

2-3 Find out how many men between the ages of thirty and fifty are in the four Levite clans of Kohath. Count only those who are able to work at the sacred tent.

The Kohathites will be responsible for carrying the sacred objects used in worship at the sacred tent. When the Israelites are ready to move their camp, Aaron and his sons will enter the tent and take down the curtain that separates the sacred chest from the rest of the tent. They will cover the chest with this curtain, and then with a piece of fine leather, and cover it all with a solid blue cloth. After this they will put the carrying poles in place.

Next, Aaron and his sons will use another blue cloth to cover the table for the sacred bread.[a] On the cloth they will place the dishes, the bowls for incense, the cups, the jugs for wine, as well as the bread itself. They are to cover all of this with a bright red cloth, and then with a piece of fine leather, before putting the carrying poles in place.

With another blue cloth they will cover the lampstand, along with the lamps, the lamp snuffers, the fire pans, and the jars of oil for the lamps. 10 All of this will then be covered with a piece of fine leather and placed on a carrying frame.

11 The gold incense altar[b] is to be covered with a blue cloth, and then with a piece of fine leather, before its carrying poles are put in place.

12 Next, Aaron and his sons will take blue cloth and wrap all the objects used in worship at the sacred tent. These will need to be covered with a piece of fine leather, then placed on a carrying frame.

13 They are to remove the ashes from the bronze altar and cover it with a purple cloth. 14 On that cloth will be placed the utensils used at the altar, including the fire pans, the meat forks, the shovels, and the sprinkling bowls. All of this will then be covered with a piece of fine leather, before the carrying poles are put in place.

15 When the camp is ready to be moved, the Kohathites will be responsible for carrying the sacred objects and the furnishings of the sacred tent. But Aaron and his sons must have already covered those things so the Kohathites won’t touch them and die.

16 Eleazar son of Aaron the priest will be in charge of the oil for the lamps, the sweet-smelling incense, the grain for the sacrifices, and the olive oil used for dedications and ordinations. Eleazar is responsible for seeing that the sacred tent, its furnishings, and the sacred objects are taken care of.

17-20 The Kohathites must not go near or even look at the sacred objects until Aaron and his sons have covered those objects. If they do, their entire clan will be wiped out. So make sure that Aaron and his sons go into the tent with them and tell them what to carry.

The Duties of the Gershonite Clans

21 The Lord said to Moses:

22-23 Find out how many men between the ages of thirty and fifty are in the two Levite clans of Gershon. Count only those who are able to work at the sacred tent.

24 The Gershonites will be responsible 25 for carrying the curtains of the sacred tent, its two outer coverings,[c] the curtain for the entrance to the tent, 26 the curtains hanging around the courtyard of the tent, and the curtain and ropes for the entrance to the courtyard. The Gershonites are to do whatever needs to be done to take care of these things, 27 and they will carry them wherever Aaron and his sons tell them to. 28 These are the duties of the Gershonites at the sacred tent, and Ithamar son of Aaron will make sure they do their work.

The Duties of the Merarite Clans

29-30 The Lord said:

Moses, find out how many men between thirty and fifty are in the two Levite clans of Merari, but count only those who are able to work at the sacred tent.

31 The Merarites will be responsible for carrying the frames of the tent and its other pieces, including the bars, the posts, the stands, 32 as well as the posts that support the courtyard, together with their stands, tent pegs, and ropes. The Merarites are to be told exactly what objects they are to carry, 33 and Ithamar son of Aaron will make sure they do their work.

The Levites Are Counted Again

34-49 Moses, Aaron, and the other Israelite leaders obeyed the Lord and counted the Levi tribe by families and clans, to find out how many men there were between the ages of thirty and fifty who could work at the sacred tent. There were two thousand seven hundred fifty Kohathites, two thousand six hundred thirty Gershonites, and three thousand two hundred Merarites, making a total of eight thousand five hundred eighty. Then they were all assigned their duties.

People Are Sent Outside the Camp

The Lord told Moses 2-3 to say to the people of Israel, “Put out of the camp everyone who has leprosy[d] or a bodily discharge or who has touched a dead body. Now that I live among my people, their camp must be kept clean.”

The Israelites obeyed the Lord’s instructions.

The Penalty for Committing a Crime

The Lord told Moses to say to the community of Israel:

If any of you commit a crime against someone, you have sinned against me. You must confess your guilt and pay the victim in full for whatever damage has been done, plus a fine of twenty percent. If the victim has no relative who can accept this money, it belongs to me and will be paid to the priest. In addition to that payment, you must take a ram for the priest to sacrifice so your sin will be forgiven.

9-10 When you make a donation to the sacred tent, that money belongs only to the priest, and each priest will keep what is given to him.

A Suspicious Husband

11 The Lord told Moses 12-14 to say to the people of Israel:

Suppose a man becomes jealous and suspects that his wife has been unfaithful, but he has no proof. 15 He must take his wife to the priest, together with two pounds of ground barley as an offering to find out if she is guilty. No olive oil or incense is to be put on that offering.

16 The priest is to have the woman stand at my altar, 17 where he will pour sacred water into a clay jar and stir in some dust from the floor of the sacred tent. 18-22 Next, he will remove her veil, then hand her the barley offering, and say, “If you have been faithful to your husband, this water won’t harm you. But if you have been unfaithful, it will bring down the Lord’s curse—you will never be able to give birth to a child, and everyone will curse your name.”

Then the woman will answer, “If I am guilty, let it happen just as you say.”

23 The priest will write these curses on special paper and wash them off into the bitter water, 24 so that when the woman drinks this water, the curses will enter her body. 25 He will take the barley offering from her and lift it up[e] in dedication to me, the Lord. Then he will place it on my altar 26 and burn part of it as a sacrifice. After that, the woman must drink the bitter water.

27 If the woman has been unfaithful, the water will immediately make her unable to have children, and she will be a curse among her people. 28 But if she is innocent, her body will not be harmed, and she will still be able to have children.

29-30 This is the ceremony that must take place at my altar when a husband suspects that his wife has been unfaithful. The priest must have the woman stand in my presence and carefully follow these instructions. 31 If the husband is wrong, he will not be punished; but if his wife is guilty, she will be punished.


  1. 4.7 sacred bread: This bread was offered to the Lord and was a symbol of his presence in the sacred tent. It was put out on a special table and was replaced with fresh bread each Sabbath (Leviticus 24.5-9).
  2. 4.11 gold incense altar: This altar for offering incense was inside the sacred tent; it was made of acacia wood covered with gold. A large altar for offering sacrifices was in front of the entrance to the tent; it was made of acacia wood covered with bronze (see verse 13).
  3. 4.25 two outer coverings: See Exodus 26.14.
  4. 5.2,3 leprosy: The word translated “leprosy” was used for many different kinds of skin diseases.
  5. 5.25 lift it up: Or “wave it.”
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Mark 12:18-37

Life in the Future World

18 The Sadducees did not believe that people would rise to life after death. So some of them came to Jesus and said:

19 Teacher, Moses wrote that if a married man dies and has no children, his brother should marry the widow. Their first son would then be thought of as the son of the dead brother. 20 There were once seven brothers. The first one married, but died without having any children. 21 The second brother married his brother’s widow, and he also died without having children. The same thing happened to the third brother, 22 and finally to all seven brothers. At last the woman died. 23 When God raises people from death, whose wife will this woman be? After all, she had been married to all seven brothers.

24 Jesus answered:

You are completely wrong! You don’t know what the Scriptures teach. And you don’t know anything about the power of God. 25 When God raises people to life, they won’t marry. They will be like the angels in heaven. 26 You surely know about people being raised to life. You know that in the story about Moses and the burning bush, God said, “I am the God worshiped by Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.”[a] 27 He isn’t the God of the dead, but of the living. You Sadducees are all wrong.

The Most Important Commandment

28 One of the teachers of the Law of Moses came up while Jesus and the Sadducees were arguing. When he heard Jesus give a good answer, he asked him, “What is the most important commandment?”

29 Jesus answered, “The most important one says: ‘People of Israel, you have only one Lord and God. 30 You must love him with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength.’ 31 The second most important commandment says: ‘Love others as much as you love yourself.’ No other commandment is more important than these.”

32 The man replied, “Teacher, you are certainly right to say there is only one God. 33 It is also true that we must love God with all our heart, mind, and strength, and that we must love others as much as we love ourselves. These commandments are more important than all the sacrifices and offerings that we could possibly make.”

34 When Jesus saw that the man had given a sensible answer, he told him, “You are not far from God’s kingdom.” After this, no one dared ask Jesus any more questions.

About David’s Son

35 As Jesus was teaching in the temple, he said, “How can the teachers of the Law of Moses say that the Messiah will come from the family of King David? 36 The Holy Spirit led David to say,

‘The Lord said to my Lord:
    Sit at my right side[b]
until I make your enemies
    into a footstool for you.’

37 If David called the Messiah his Lord, how can the Messiah be his son?”[c]

The large crowd enjoyed listening to Jesus teach.


  1. 12.26 “I am the God worshiped by Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob”: Jesus argues that if God is worshiped by these three, they must still be alive, because he is the God of the living.
  2. 12.36 right side: The place of power and honor.
  3. 12.37 David. . . his son: See the note at 10.47.
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Psalm 48

(A song and a psalm for the people of Korah.)

The City of God

48 The Lord God is wonderful!
He deserves all praise
    in the city where he lives.
His holy mountain,
beautiful and majestic,
    brings joy to all on earth.
Mount Zion, truly sacred,
    is home for the Great King.
God is there to defend it
    and has proved to be
    its protector.

Kings joined forces
    to attack the city,
but when they saw it,
    they were terrified
    and ran away.
They trembled all over
    like women giving birth
    or like seagoing ships[a]
    wrecked by eastern winds.
We had heard about it,
and now we have seen it
    in the city of our God,
    the Lord All-Powerful.
This is the city that God
    will let stand forever.

Our God, here in your temple
    we think about your love.
10 You are famous and praised
    everywhere on earth,
    as you win victories
    with your powerful arm.
11 Mount Zion will celebrate,
and all Judah will be glad,
    because you bring justice.

12 Let’s walk around Zion
    and count its towers.
13     We will see its strong walls
    and visit each fortress.
Then you can say
    to future generations,
14 “Our God is like this forever
    and will always[b] guide us.”


  1. 48.7 seagoing ships: The Hebrew text has “ships of Tarshish,” which probably means large, seagoing ships.
  2. 48.14 always: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text.
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Proverbs 10:26

26 Having a lazy person on the job
    is like a mouth full of vinegar
    or smoke in your eyes.

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