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Numbers 20-22

Moses Strikes the Rock

20 In the first month of the year,[a] the whole community of Israel arrived in the wilderness of Zin and camped at Kadesh. While they were there, Miriam died and was buried.

There was no water for the people to drink at that place, so they rebelled against Moses and Aaron. The people blamed Moses and said, “If only we had died in the Lord’s presence with our brothers! Why have you brought the congregation of the Lord’s people into this wilderness to die, along with all our livestock? Why did you make us leave Egypt and bring us here to this terrible place? This land has no grain, no figs, no grapes, no pomegranates, and no water to drink!”

Moses and Aaron turned away from the people and went to the entrance of the Tabernacle,[b] where they fell face down on the ground. Then the glorious presence of the Lord appeared to them, and the Lord said to Moses, “You and Aaron must take the staff and assemble the entire community. As the people watch, speak to the rock over there, and it will pour out its water. You will provide enough water from the rock to satisfy the whole community and their livestock.”

So Moses did as he was told. He took the staff from the place where it was kept before the Lord. 10 Then he and Aaron summoned the people to come and gather at the rock. “Listen, you rebels!” he shouted. “Must we bring you water from this rock?” 11 Then Moses raised his hand and struck the rock twice with the staff, and water gushed out. So the entire community and their livestock drank their fill.

12 But the Lord said to Moses and Aaron, “Because you did not trust me enough to demonstrate my holiness to the people of Israel, you will not lead them into the land I am giving them!” 13 This place was known as the waters of Meribah (which means “arguing”) because there the people of Israel argued with the Lord, and there he demonstrated his holiness among them.

Edom Refuses Israel Passage

14 While Moses was at Kadesh, he sent ambassadors to the king of Edom with this message:

“This is what your relatives, the people of Israel, say: You know all the hardships we have been through. 15 Our ancestors went down to Egypt, and we lived there a long time, and we and our ancestors were brutally mistreated by the Egyptians. 16 But when we cried out to the Lord, he heard us and sent an angel who brought us out of Egypt. Now we are camped at Kadesh, a town on the border of your land. 17 Please let us travel through your land. We will be careful not to go through your fields and vineyards. We won’t even drink water from your wells. We will stay on the king’s road and never leave it until we have passed through your territory.”

18 But the king of Edom said, “Stay out of my land, or I will meet you with an army!”

19 The Israelites answered, “We will stay on the main road. If our livestock drink your water, we will pay for it. Just let us pass through your country. That’s all we ask.”

20 But the king of Edom replied, “Stay out! You may not pass through our land.” With that he mobilized his army and marched out against them with an imposing force. 21 Because Edom refused to allow Israel to pass through their country, Israel was forced to turn around.

The Death of Aaron

22 The whole community of Israel left Kadesh and arrived at Mount Hor. 23 There, on the border of the land of Edom, the Lord said to Moses and Aaron, 24 “The time has come for Aaron to join his ancestors in death. He will not enter the land I am giving the people of Israel, because the two of you rebelled against my instructions concerning the water at Meribah. 25 Now take Aaron and his son Eleazar up Mount Hor. 26 There you will remove Aaron’s priestly garments and put them on Eleazar, his son. Aaron will die there and join his ancestors.”

27 So Moses did as the Lord commanded. The three of them went up Mount Hor together as the whole community watched. 28 At the summit, Moses removed the priestly garments from Aaron and put them on Eleazar, Aaron’s son. Then Aaron died there on top of the mountain, and Moses and Eleazar went back down. 29 When the people realized that Aaron had died, all Israel mourned for him thirty days.

Victory over the Canaanites

21 The Canaanite king of Arad, who lived in the Negev, heard that the Israelites were approaching on the road through Atharim. So he attacked the Israelites and took some of them as prisoners. Then the people of Israel made this vow to the Lord: “If you will hand these people over to us, we will completely destroy[c] all their towns.” The Lord heard the Israelites’ request and gave them victory over the Canaanites. The Israelites completely destroyed them and their towns, and the place has been called Hormah[d] ever since.

The Bronze Snake

Then the people of Israel set out from Mount Hor, taking the road to the Red Sea[e] to go around the land of Edom. But the people grew impatient with the long journey, and they began to speak against God and Moses. “Why have you brought us out of Egypt to die here in the wilderness?” they complained. “There is nothing to eat here and nothing to drink. And we hate this horrible manna!”

So the Lord sent poisonous snakes among the people, and many were bitten and died. Then the people came to Moses and cried out, “We have sinned by speaking against the Lord and against you. Pray that the Lord will take away the snakes.” So Moses prayed for the people.

Then the Lord told him, “Make a replica of a poisonous snake and attach it to a pole. All who are bitten will live if they simply look at it!” So Moses made a snake out of bronze and attached it to a pole. Then anyone who was bitten by a snake could look at the bronze snake and be healed!

Israel’s Journey to Moab

10 The Israelites traveled next to Oboth and camped there. 11 Then they went on to Iye-abarim, in the wilderness on the eastern border of Moab. 12 From there they traveled to the valley of Zered Brook and set up camp. 13 Then they moved out and camped on the far side of the Arnon River, in the wilderness adjacent to the territory of the Amorites. The Arnon is the boundary line between the Moabites and the Amorites. 14 For this reason The Book of the Wars of the Lord speaks of “the town of Waheb in the area of Suphah, and the ravines of the Arnon River, 15 and the ravines that extend as far as the settlement of Ar on the border of Moab.”

16 From there the Israelites traveled to Beer,[f] which is the well where the Lord said to Moses, “Assemble the people, and I will give them water.” 17 There the Israelites sang this song:

“Spring up, O well!
    Yes, sing its praises!
18 Sing of this well,
    which princes dug,
which great leaders hollowed out
    with their scepters and staffs.”

Then the Israelites left the wilderness and proceeded on through Mattanah, 19 Nahaliel, and Bamoth. 20 After that they went to the valley in Moab where Pisgah Peak overlooks the wasteland.[g]

Victory over Sihon and Og

21 The Israelites sent ambassadors to King Sihon of the Amorites with this message:

22 “Let us travel through your land. We will be careful not to go through your fields and vineyards. We won’t even drink water from your wells. We will stay on the king’s road until we have passed through your territory.”

23 But King Sihon refused to let them cross his territory. Instead, he mobilized his entire army and attacked Israel in the wilderness, engaging them in battle at Jahaz. 24 But the Israelites slaughtered them with their swords and occupied their land from the Arnon River to the Jabbok River. They went only as far as the Ammonite border because the boundary of the Ammonites was fortified.[h]

25 So Israel captured all the towns of the Amorites and settled in them, including the city of Heshbon and its surrounding villages. 26 Heshbon had been the capital of King Sihon of the Amorites. He had defeated a former Moabite king and seized all his land as far as the Arnon River. 27 Therefore, the ancient poets wrote this about him:

“Come to Heshbon and let it be rebuilt!
    Let the city of Sihon be restored.
28 A fire flamed forth from Heshbon,
    a blaze from the city of Sihon.
It burned the city of Ar in Moab;
    it destroyed the rulers of the Arnon heights.
29 What sorrow awaits you, O people of Moab!
    You are finished, O worshipers of Chemosh!
Chemosh has left his sons as refugees,
    his daughters as captives of Sihon, the Amorite king.
30 We have utterly destroyed them,
    from Heshbon to Dibon.
We have completely wiped them out
    as far away as Nophah and Medeba.[i]

31 So the people of Israel occupied the territory of the Amorites. 32 After Moses sent men to explore the Jazer area, they captured all the towns in the region and drove out the Amorites who lived there. 33 Then they turned and marched up the road to Bashan, but King Og of Bashan and all his people attacked them at Edrei. 34 The Lord said to Moses, “Do not be afraid of him, for I have handed him over to you, along with all his people and his land. Do the same to him as you did to King Sihon of the Amorites, who ruled in Heshbon.” 35 And Israel killed King Og, his sons, and all his subjects; not a single survivor remained. Then Israel occupied their land.

Balak Sends for Balaam

22 Then the people of Israel traveled to the plains of Moab and camped east of the Jordan River, across from Jericho. Balak son of Zippor, the Moabite king, had seen everything the Israelites did to the Amorites. And when the people of Moab saw how many Israelites there were, they were terrified. The king of Moab said to the elders of Midian, “This mob will devour everything in sight, like an ox devours grass in the field!”

So Balak, king of Moab, sent messengers to call Balaam son of Beor, who was living in his native land of Pethor[j] near the Euphrates River.[k] His message said:

“Look, a vast horde of people has arrived from Egypt. They cover the face of the earth and are threatening me. Please come and curse these people for me because they are too powerful for me. Then perhaps I will be able to conquer them and drive them from the land. I know that blessings fall on any people you bless, and curses fall on people you curse.”

Balak’s messengers, who were elders of Moab and Midian, set out with money to pay Balaam to place a curse upon Israel.[l] They went to Balaam and delivered Balak’s message to him. “Stay here overnight,” Balaam said. “In the morning I will tell you whatever the Lord directs me to say.” So the officials from Moab stayed there with Balaam.

That night God came to Balaam and asked him, “Who are these men visiting you?”

10 Balaam said to God, “Balak son of Zippor, king of Moab, has sent me this message: 11 ‘Look, a vast horde of people has arrived from Egypt, and they cover the face of the earth. Come and curse these people for me. Then perhaps I will be able to stand up to them and drive them from the land.’”

12 But God told Balaam, “Do not go with them. You are not to curse these people, for they have been blessed!”

13 The next morning Balaam got up and told Balak’s officials, “Go on home! The Lord will not let me go with you.”

14 So the Moabite officials returned to King Balak and reported, “Balaam refused to come with us.” 15 Then Balak tried again. This time he sent a larger number of even more distinguished officials than those he had sent the first time. 16 They went to Balaam and delivered this message to him:

“This is what Balak son of Zippor says: Please don’t let anything stop you from coming to help me. 17 I will pay you very well and do whatever you tell me. Just come and curse these people for me!”

18 But Balaam responded to Balak’s messengers, “Even if Balak were to give me his palace filled with silver and gold, I would be powerless to do anything against the will of the Lord my God. 19 But stay here one more night, and I will see if the Lord has anything else to say to me.”

20 That night God came to Balaam and told him, “Since these men have come for you, get up and go with them. But do only what I tell you to do.”

Balaam and His Donkey

21 So the next morning Balaam got up, saddled his donkey, and started off with the Moabite officials. 22 But God was angry that Balaam was going, so he sent the angel of the Lord to stand in the road to block his way. As Balaam and two servants were riding along, 23 Balaam’s donkey saw the angel of the Lord standing in the road with a drawn sword in his hand. The donkey bolted off the road into a field, but Balaam beat it and turned it back onto the road. 24 Then the angel of the Lord stood at a place where the road narrowed between two vineyard walls. 25 When the donkey saw the angel of the Lord, it tried to squeeze by and crushed Balaam’s foot against the wall. So Balaam beat the donkey again. 26 Then the angel of the Lord moved farther down the road and stood in a place too narrow for the donkey to get by at all. 27 This time when the donkey saw the angel, it lay down under Balaam. In a fit of rage Balaam beat the animal again with his staff.

28 Then the Lord gave the donkey the ability to speak. “What have I done to you that deserves your beating me three times?” it asked Balaam.

29 “You have made me look like a fool!” Balaam shouted. “If I had a sword with me, I would kill you!”

30 “But I am the same donkey you have ridden all your life,” the donkey answered. “Have I ever done anything like this before?”

“No,” Balaam admitted.

31 Then the Lord opened Balaam’s eyes, and he saw the angel of the Lord standing in the roadway with a drawn sword in his hand. Balaam bowed his head and fell face down on the ground before him.

32 “Why did you beat your donkey those three times?” the angel of the Lord demanded. “Look, I have come to block your way because you are stubbornly resisting me. 33 Three times the donkey saw me and shied away; otherwise, I would certainly have killed you by now and spared the donkey.”

34 Then Balaam confessed to the angel of the Lord, “I have sinned. I didn’t realize you were standing in the road to block my way. I will return home if you are against my going.”

35 But the angel of the Lord told Balaam, “Go with these men, but say only what I tell you to say.” So Balaam went on with Balak’s officials. 36 When King Balak heard that Balaam was on the way, he went out to meet him at a Moabite town on the Arnon River at the farthest border of his land.

37 “Didn’t I send you an urgent invitation? Why didn’t you come right away?” Balak asked Balaam. “Didn’t you believe me when I said I would reward you richly?”

38 Balaam replied, “Look, now I have come, but I have no power to say whatever I want. I will speak only the message that God puts in my mouth.” 39 Then Balaam accompanied Balak to Kiriath-huzoth, 40 where the king sacrificed cattle and sheep. He sent portions of the meat to Balaam and the officials who were with him. 41 The next morning Balak took Balaam up to Bamoth-baal. From there he could see some of the people of Israel spread out below him.

Footnotes:

  1. 20:1 The first month of the ancient Hebrew lunar calendar usually occurs within the months of March and April. The number of years since leaving Egypt is not specified.
  2. 20:6 Hebrew the Tent of Meeting.
  3. 21:2 The Hebrew term used here refers to the complete consecration of things or people to the Lord, either by destroying them or by giving them as an offering; also in 21:3.
  4. 21:3 Hormah means “destruction.”
  5. 21:4 Hebrew sea of reeds.
  6. 21:16 Beer means “well.”
  7. 21:20 Or overlooks Jeshimon.
  8. 21:24 Or because the terrain of the Ammonite frontier was rugged; Hebrew reads because the boundary of the Ammonites was strong.
  9. 21:30 Or until fire spread to Medeba. The meaning of the Hebrew is uncertain.
  10. 22:5a Or who was at Pethor in the land of the Amavites.
  11. 22:5b Hebrew the river.
  12. 22:7 Hebrew set out with the money of divination in their hand.
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Mark 7:1-13

Jesus Teaches about Inner Purity

One day some Pharisees and teachers of religious law arrived from Jerusalem to see Jesus. They noticed that some of his disciples failed to follow the Jewish ritual of hand washing before eating. (The Jews, especially the Pharisees, do not eat until they have poured water over their cupped hands,[a] as required by their ancient traditions. Similarly, they don’t eat anything from the market until they immerse their hands[b] in water. This is but one of many traditions they have clung to—such as their ceremonial washing of cups, pitchers, and kettles.[c])

So the Pharisees and teachers of religious law asked him, “Why don’t your disciples follow our age-old tradition? They eat without first performing the hand-washing ceremony.”

Jesus replied, “You hypocrites! Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you, for he wrote,

‘These people honor me with their lips,
    but their hearts are far from me.
Their worship is a farce,
    for they teach man-made ideas as commands from God.’[d]

For you ignore God’s law and substitute your own tradition.”

Then he said, “You skillfully sidestep God’s law in order to hold on to your own tradition. 10 For instance, Moses gave you this law from God: ‘Honor your father and mother,’[e] and ‘Anyone who speaks disrespectfully of father or mother must be put to death.’[f] 11 But you say it is all right for people to say to their parents, ‘Sorry, I can’t help you. For I have vowed to give to God what I would have given to you.’[g] 12 In this way, you let them disregard their needy parents. 13 And so you cancel the word of God in order to hand down your own tradition. And this is only one example among many others.”

Footnotes:

  1. 7:3 Greek have washed with the fist.
  2. 7:4a Some manuscripts read sprinkle themselves.
  3. 7:4b Some manuscripts add and dining couches.
  4. 7:7 Isa 29:13 (Greek version).
  5. 7:10a Exod 20:12; Deut 5:16.
  6. 7:10b Exod 21:17 (Greek version); Lev 20:9 (Greek version).
  7. 7:11 Greek ‘What I would have given to you is Corban’ (that is, a gift).
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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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