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Numbers 16:41-18:32; Mark 16:1-20; Psalms 55:1-23; Proverbs 11:7 (Contemporary English Version)

Numbers 16:41-18:32

The Israelites Rebel and Are Punished

41 The next day the people of Israel again complained against Moses and Aaron, “The two of you killed some of the Lord’s people!”

42 As the people crowded around them, Moses and Aaron turned toward the sacred tent, and the Lord appeared in his glory in the cloud covering the tent. 43 So Moses and Aaron walked to the front of the tent, 44 where the Lord said to them, 45 “Stand back! I am going to wipe out these Israelites once and for all.”

They immediately bowed down and prayed. 46 Then Moses told Aaron, “Grab your fire pan and fill it with hot coals from the altar. Put incense in it, then quickly take it to where the people are and offer it to the Lord, so they can be forgiven. The Lord is very angry, and people have already started dying!”

47-48 Aaron did exactly what he had been told. He ran over to the crowd of people and stood between the dead bodies and the people who were still alive. He placed the incense on the pan, then offered it to the Lord and asked him to forgive the people’s sin. The disease immediately stopped spreading, and no one else died from it. 49 But fourteen thousand seven hundred Israelites were dead, not counting those who had died with Korah and his followers.

50 Aaron walked back and stood with Moses at the sacred tent.

Aaron’s Walking Stick Blooms and Produces Almonds

17 The Lord told Moses:

2-3 Call together the twelve tribes of Israel and tell the leader of each tribe to write his name on the walking stick he carries as a symbol of his authority. Make sure Aaron’s name is written on the one from the Levi tribe, then collect all the sticks.

Place these sticks in the tent right in front of the sacred chest where I appear to you. I will then choose a man to be my priest, and his stick will sprout. After that happens, I won’t have to listen to any more complaints about you.

Moses told the people what the Lord had commanded, and they gave him the walking sticks from the twelve tribal leaders, including Aaron’s from the Levi tribe. Moses took them and placed them in the Lord’s sacred tent.

The next day when Moses went into the tent, flowers and almonds were already growing on Aaron’s stick. Moses brought the twelve sticks out of the tent and showed them to the people. Each of the leaders found his own and took it.

10 But the Lord told Moses, “Put Aaron’s stick back! Let it stay near the sacred chest as a warning to anyone who might think about rebelling. If these people don’t stop their grumbling about me, I will wipe them out.” 11 Moses did what he was told.

12 The Israelites cried out to Moses, “We’re done for 13 and doomed if we even get near the sacred tent!”

The Duties of the Priests and Levites

18 The Lord said to Aaron:

You, your sons, and the other Levites of the Kohath clan, are responsible for what happens at the sacred tent.[a] And you and your sons will be responsible for what the priests do. The Levites are your relatives and are here to help you in your service at the tent. You must see that they perform their duties. But if they go near any of the sacred objects or the altar, all of you will die. No one else is allowed to take care of the sacred tent or to do anything connected with it. Follow these instructions, so I won’t become angry and punish the Israelites ever again.

I alone chose the Levites from all the other tribes to belong to me, and I have given them to you as your helpers. But only you and your sons can serve as priests at the altar and in the most holy place. Your work as priests is a gift from me, and anyone else who tries to do that work must be put to death.

The Priests' Share of Offerings Given to the Lord

8-9 The Lord said to Aaron:

I have put you in charge of the sacred gifts and sacrifices that the Israelites bring to me. And from now on, you, your sons, and your descendants will receive part of the sacrifices for sin, as well as part of the grain sacrifices, and the sacrifices to make things right. Your share of these sacrifices will be the parts not burned on the altar. 10 Since these things are sacred, they must be eaten near the sacred tent, but only men are allowed to eat them.

11 You will also receive part of the special gifts and offerings that the Israelites bring to me. Any member of your family who is clean and acceptable for worship can eat these things. 12 For example, when the Israelites bring me the first batches of oil, wine, and grain, you can have the best parts of those gifts. 13 And the first part of the crops from their fields and vineyards also belongs to you. The people will offer this to me, then anyone in your family who is clean may have some of it.

14 Everything in Israel that has been completely dedicated to me[b] will now belong to you.

15 The first-born son in every Israelite family, as well as the first-born males of their flocks and herds, belong to me. But a first-born son and every first-born donkey[c] must be bought back from me. 16 The price for a first-born son who is at least one month old will be five pieces of silver, weighed according to the official standards. 17 However, all first-born cattle, sheep, and goats belong to me and cannot be bought back. Splatter their blood on the altar and send their fat up in smoke, so I can smell it and be pleased. 18 You are allowed to eat the meat of those animals, just as you can eat the choice ribs and the right hind leg of the special sacrifices.

19 From now on, the sacred offerings that the Israelites give to me will belong to you, your sons, and your daughters. This is my promise to you and your descendants, and it will never change.

20 You will not receive any land in Israel as your own. I am the Lord, and I will give you whatever you need.

What the Levites Receive

The Lord said to Aaron:

21 Ten percent of the Israelites' crops and one out of every ten of their newborn animals belong to me. But I am giving all this to the Levites as their pay for the work they do at the sacred tent. 22-23 They are the only ones allowed to work at the tent, and they must not let anyone else come near it. Those who do must be put to death, and the Levites will also be punished. This law will never change.

Since the Levites won’t be given any land in Israel as their own, 24 they will be given the crops and newborn animals that the Israelites offer to me.

What the Levites Must Give

25 The Lord told Moses 26 to say to the Levites:

When you receive from the people of Israel ten percent of their crops and newborn animals, you must offer a tenth of that to me. 27 Just as the Israelites give me part of their grain and wine, you must set aside part of what you receive 28 as an offering to me. That amount must then be given to Aaron, 29 so the best of what you receive will be mine.

30 After you have dedicated the best parts to me, you can eat the rest, just as the Israelites eat part of their grain and wine after offering them to me.[d] 31 Your share may be eaten anywhere by anyone in your family, because it is your pay for working at the sacred tent. 32 You won’t be punished for eating it, as long as you have already offered the best parts to me.

The gifts and sacrifices brought by the people must remain sacred, and if you eat any part of them before they are offered to me, you will be put to death.


  1. 18.1 are responsible. . . sacred tent: Or “are to make sure that no one gets near the sacred tent.”
  2. 18.14 that has been completely dedicated to me: This translates a Hebrew word that describes property and things that were taken away from humans and given to God forever. Sometimes such things had to be completely destroyed (see Joshua 6.15-19).
  3. 18.15 donkey: The Hebrew text has “unclean animal,” which probably refers to a donkey (see Exodus 13.13; 34.20).
  4. 18.30 just as the Israelites. . . to me: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text.
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Mark 16:1-10

Jesus Is Alive

16 After the Sabbath, Mary Magdalene, Salome, and Mary the mother of James bought some spices to put on Jesus' body. Very early on Sunday morning, just as the sun was coming up, they went to the tomb. On their way, they were asking one another, “Who will roll the stone away from the entrance for us?” But when they looked, they saw that the stone had already been rolled away. And it was a huge stone!

The women went into the tomb, and on the right side they saw a young man in a white robe sitting there. They were alarmed.

The man said, “Don’t be alarmed! You are looking for Jesus from Nazareth, who was nailed to a cross. God has raised him to life, and he isn’t here. You can see the place where they put his body. Now go and tell his disciples, and especially Peter, that he will go ahead of you to Galilee. You will see him there, just as he told you.”

When the women ran from the tomb, they were confused and shaking all over. They were too afraid to tell anyone what had happened.


Jesus Appears to Mary Magdalene

Very early on the first day of the week, after Jesus had risen to life, he appeared to Mary Magdalene. Earlier he had forced seven demons out of her. 10 She left and told his friends, who were crying and mourning. 11 Even though they heard that Jesus was alive and that Mary had seen him, they would not believe it.

Jesus Appears to Two Disciples

12 Later, Jesus appeared in another form to two disciples, as they were on their way out of the city. 13 But when these disciples told what had happened, the others would not believe.

What Jesus' Followers Must Do

14 Afterwards, Jesus appeared to his eleven disciples as they were eating. He scolded them because they were too stubborn to believe the ones who had seen him after he had been raised to life. 15 Then he told them:

Go and preach the good news to everyone in the world. 16 Anyone who believes me and is baptized will be saved. But anyone who refuses to believe me will be condemned. 17 Everyone who believes me will be able to do wonderful things. By using my name they will force out demons, and they will speak new languages. 18 They will handle snakes and will drink poison and not be hurt. They will also heal sick people by placing their hands on them.

Jesus Returns to Heaven

19 After the Lord Jesus had said these things to the disciples, he was taken back up to heaven where he sat down at the right side[b] of God. 20 Then the disciples left and preached everywhere. The Lord was with them, and the miracles they worked proved that their message was true.


9-10 The women quickly told Peter and his friends what had happened. Later, Jesus sent the disciples to the east and to the west with his sacred and everlasting message of how people can be saved forever.


  1. 16.9 One Old Ending to Mark’s Gospel: Verses 9-20 are not in some manuscripts.
  2. 16.19 right side: See the note at 12.36.
  3. 16.9,10 Another Old Ending to Mark’s Gospel: Some manuscripts and early translations have both this shorter ending and the longer one (verses 9-20).
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Psalm 55

(A special psalm by David for the music leader. Use with stringed instruments.)

Betrayed by a Friend

55 Listen, God, to my prayer!
    Don’t reject my request.
    Please listen and help me.
My thoughts are troubled,
    and I keep groaning
    because my loud enemies
    shout and attack.
They treat me terribly
    and hold angry grudges.
My heart is racing fast,
    and I am afraid of dying.
    I am trembling with fear,
    completely terrified.

I wish I had wings
    like a dove,
    so I could fly far away
    and be at peace.
I would go and live
    in some distant desert.
I would quickly find shelter
    from howling winds
    and raging storms.

Confuse my enemies, Lord!
    Upset their plans.
Cruelty and violence
    are all I see in the city,
10     and they are like guards
    on patrol day and night.
The city is full of trouble,
    evil, 11 and corruption.
    Troublemakers and liars
    freely roam the streets.

12 My enemies are not the ones
    who sneer and make fun.
    I could put up with that
    or even hide from them.
13 But it was my closest friend,
    the one I trusted most.
14 We enjoyed being together,
    and we went with others
    to your house, our God.

15 All who hate me are controlled
    by the power of evil.
Sentence them to death
    and send them down alive
    to the world of the dead.

16 I ask for your help, Lord God,
    and you will keep me safe.
17 Morning, noon, and night
    you hear my concerns
    and my complaints.
18 I am attacked from all sides,
    but you will rescue me
    unharmed by the battle.
19 You have always ruled,
    and you will hear me.
You will defeat my enemies
    because they won’t turn
    and worship you.

20 My friend turned against me
    and broke his promise.
21 His words were smoother
than butter,
    and softer
    than olive oil.
But hatred filled his heart,
    and he was ready to attack
    with a sword.

22 Our Lord, we belong to you.
We tell you what worries us,
    and you won’t let us fall.
23 But what about those people
    who are cruel and brutal?
You will throw them down
    into the deepest pit
long before their time.
    I trust you, Lord!

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Proverbs 11:7

When the wicked die,
    their hopes die with them.

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