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The Second Registration of Israel’s Troops
1 After the plague had ended,[a] the Lord said to Moses and to Eleazar son of Aaron the priest, 2 “From the whole community of Israel, record the names of all the warriors by their families. List all the men twenty years old or older who are able to go to war.”
3 So there on the plains of Moab beside the Jordan River, across from Jericho, Moses and Eleazar the priest issued these instructions to the leaders of Israel: 4 “List all the men of Israel twenty years old and older, just as the Lord commanded Moses.”
This is the record of all the descendants of Israel who came out of Egypt.
The Tribe of Reuben
5 These were the clans descended from the sons of Reuben, Jacob’s[b] oldest son:
The Hanochite clan, named after their ancestor Hanoch.
The Palluite clan, named after their ancestor Pallu.
6 The Hezronite clan, named after their ancestor Hezron.
The Carmite clan, named after their ancestor Carmi.
7 These were the clans of Reuben. Their registered troops numbered 43,730.
8 Pallu was the ancestor of Eliab, 9 and Eliab was the father of Nemuel, Dathan, and Abiram. This Dathan and Abiram are the same community leaders who conspired with Korah against Moses and Aaron, rebelling against the Lord. 10 But the earth opened up its mouth and swallowed them with Korah, and fire devoured 250 of their followers. This served as a warning to the entire nation of Israel. 11 However, the sons of Korah did not die that day.
The Tribe of Simeon
12 These were the clans descended from the sons of Simeon:
The Jemuelite clan, named after their ancestor Jemuel.[c]
The Jaminite clan, named after their ancestor Jamin.
The Jakinite clan, named after their ancestor Jakin.
13 The Zoharite clan, named after their ancestor Zohar.[d]
The Shaulite clan, named after their ancestor Shaul.
14 These were the clans of Simeon. Their registered troops numbered 22,200.
The Tribe of Gad
15 These were the clans descended from the sons of Gad:
The Zephonite clan, named after their ancestor Zephon.
The Haggite clan, named after their ancestor Haggi.
The Shunite clan, named after their ancestor Shuni.
16 The Oznite clan, named after their ancestor Ozni.
The Erite clan, named after their ancestor Eri.
17 The Arodite clan, named after their ancestor Arodi.[e]
The Arelite clan, named after their ancestor Areli.
18 These were the clans of Gad. Their registered troops numbered 40,500.
The Tribe of Judah
19 Judah had two sons, Er and Onan, who had died in the land of Canaan. 20 These were the clans descended from Judah’s surviving sons:
The Shelanite clan, named after their ancestor Shelah.
The Perezite clan, named after their ancestor Perez.
The Zerahite clan, named after their ancestor Zerah.
21 These were the subclans descended from the Perezites:
The Hezronites, named after their ancestor Hezron.
The Hamulites, named after their ancestor Hamul.
22 These were the clans of Judah. Their registered troops numbered 76,500.
The Tribe of Issachar
23 These were the clans descended from the sons of Issachar:
The Tolaite clan, named after their ancestor Tola.
The Puite clan, named after their ancestor Puah.[f]
24 The Jashubite clan, named after their ancestor Jashub.
The Shimronite clan, named after their ancestor Shimron.
25 These were the clans of Issachar. Their registered troops numbered 64,300.
The Tribe of Zebulun
26 These were the clans descended from the sons of Zebulun:
The Seredite clan, named after their ancestor Sered.
The Elonite clan, named after their ancestor Elon.
The Jahleelite clan, named after their ancestor Jahleel.
27 These were the clans of Zebulun. Their registered troops numbered 60,500.
The Tribe of Manasseh
28 Two clans were descended from Joseph through Manasseh and Ephraim.
29 These were the clans descended from Manasseh:
The Makirite clan, named after their ancestor Makir.
The Gileadite clan, named after their ancestor Gilead, Makir’s son.
30 These were the subclans descended from the Gileadites:
The Iezerites, named after their ancestor Iezer.
The Helekites, named after their ancestor Helek.
31 The Asrielites, named after their ancestor Asriel.
The Shechemites, named after their ancestor Shechem.
32 The Shemidaites, named after their ancestor Shemida.
The Hepherites, named after their ancestor Hepher.
33 (One of Hepher’s descendants, Zelophehad, had no sons, but his daughters’ names were Mahlah, Noah, Hoglah, Milcah, and Tirzah.)
34 These were the clans of Manasseh. Their registered troops numbered 52,700.
The Tribe of Ephraim
35 These were the clans descended from the sons of Ephraim:
The Shuthelahite clan, named after their ancestor Shuthelah.
The Bekerite clan, named after their ancestor Beker.
The Tahanite clan, named after their ancestor Tahan.
36 This was the subclan descended from the Shuthelahites:
The Eranites, named after their ancestor Eran.
37 These were the clans of Ephraim. Their registered troops numbered 32,500.
These clans of Manasseh and Ephraim were all descendants of Joseph.
The Tribe of Benjamin
38 These were the clans descended from the sons of Benjamin:
The Belaite clan, named after their ancestor Bela.
The Ashbelite clan, named after their ancestor Ashbel.
The Ahiramite clan, named after their ancestor Ahiram.
39 The Shuphamite clan, named after their ancestor Shupham.[g]
The Huphamite clan, named after their ancestor Hupham.
40 These were the subclans descended from the Belaites:
The Ardites, named after their ancestor Ard.[h]
The Naamites, named after their ancestor Naaman.
41 These were the clans of Benjamin. Their registered troops numbered 45,600.
The Tribe of Dan
42 These were the clans descended from the sons of Dan:
The Shuhamite clan, named after their ancestor Shuham.
43 These were the Shuhamite clans of Dan. Their registered troops numbered 64,400.
The Tribe of Asher
44 These were the clans descended from the sons of Asher:
The Imnite clan, named after their ancestor Imnah.
The Ishvite clan, named after their ancestor Ishvi.
The Beriite clan, named after their ancestor Beriah.
45 These were the subclans descended from the Beriites:
The Heberites, named after their ancestor Heber.
The Malkielites, named after their ancestor Malkiel.
46 Asher also had a daughter named Serah.
47 These were the clans of Asher. Their registered troops numbered 53,400.
The Tribe of Naphtali
48 These were the clans descended from the sons of Naphtali:
The Jahzeelite clan, named after their ancestor Jahzeel.
The Gunite clan, named after their ancestor Guni.
49 The Jezerite clan, named after their ancestor Jezer.
The Shillemite clan, named after their ancestor Shillem.
50 These were the clans of Naphtali. Their registered troops numbered 45,400.
Results of the Registration
51 In summary, the registered troops of all Israel numbered 601,730.
52 Then the Lord said to Moses, 53 “Divide the land among the tribes, and distribute the grants of land in proportion to the tribes’ populations, as indicated by the number of names on the list. 54 Give the larger tribes more land and the smaller tribes less land, each group receiving a grant in proportion to the size of its population. 55 But you must assign the land by lot, and give land to each ancestral tribe according to the number of names on the list.56 Each grant of land must be assigned by lot among the larger and smaller tribal groups.”
The Tribe of Levi
57 This is the record of the Levites who were counted according to their clans:
The Gershonite clan, named after their ancestor Gershon.
The Kohathite clan, named after their ancestor Kohath.
The Merarite clan, named after their ancestor Merari.
58 The Libnites, the Hebronites, the Mahlites, the Mushites, and the Korahites were all subclans of the Levites.
Now Kohath was the ancestor of Amram, 59 and Amram’s wife was named Jochebed. She also was a descendant of Levi, born among the Levites in the land of Egypt. Amram and Jochebed became the parents of Aaron, Moses, and their sister, Miriam. 60 To Aaron were born Nadab, Abihu, Eleazar, and Ithamar. 61 But Nadab and Abihu died when they burned before the Lord the wrong kind of fire, different than he had commanded.
62 The men from the Levite clans who were one month old or older numbered 23,000. But the Levites were not included in the registration of the rest of the people of Israel because they were not given an allotment of land when it was divided among the Israelites.
63 So these are the results of the registration of the people of Israel as conducted by Moses and Eleazar the priest on the plains of Moab beside the Jordan River, across from Jericho.64 Not one person on this list had been among those listed in the previous registration taken by Moses and Aaron in the wilderness of Sinai. 65 For the Lord had said of them, “They will all die in the wilderness.” Not one of them survived except Caleb son of Jephunneh and Joshua son of Nun.
- 26:1 The initial phrase in verse 26:1 is numbered 25:19 in Hebrew text.
- 26:5 Hebrew Israel’s; see note on 1:20-21b.
- 26:12 As in Syriac version (see also Gen 46:10; Exod 6:15); Hebrew reads Nemuelite . . . Nemuel.
- 26:13 As in parallel texts at Gen 46:10 and Exod 6:15; Hebrew reads Zerahite . . . Zerah.
- 26:17 As in Samaritan Pentateuch and Greek and Syriac versions (see also Gen 46:16); Hebrew reads Arod.
- 26:23 As in Samaritan Pentateuch, Greek and Syriac versions, and Latin Vulgate (see also 1 Chr 7:1); Hebrew reads The Punite clan, named after its ancestor Puvah.
- 26:39 As in some Hebrew manuscripts, Samaritan Pentateuch, Greek and Syriac versions, and Latin Vulgate; most Hebrew manuscripts read Shephupham.
- 26:40 As in Samaritan Pentateuch, some Greek manuscripts, and Latin Vulgate; Hebrew lacks named after their ancestor Ard.
Moab Seduces Israel
1 While the Israelites were camped at Acacia Grove,[a] some of the men defiled themselves by having[b] sexual relations with local Moabite women. 2 These women invited them to attend sacrifices to their gods, so the Israelites feasted with them and worshiped the gods of Moab.3 In this way, Israel joined in the worship of Baal of Peor, causing the Lord’s anger to blaze against his people.
4 The Lord issued the following command to Moses: “Seize all the ringleaders and execute them before the Lord in broad daylight, so his fierce anger will turn away from the people of Israel.”
5 So Moses ordered Israel’s judges, “Each of you must put to death the men under your authority who have joined in worshiping Baal of Peor.”
6 Just then one of the Israelite men brought a Midianite woman into his tent, right before the eyes of Moses and all the people, as everyone was weeping at the entrance of the Tabernacle.[c] 7 When Phinehas son of Eleazar and grandson of Aaron the priest saw this, he jumped up and left the assembly. He took a spear 8 and rushed after the man into his tent. Phinehas thrust the spear all the way through the man’s body and into the woman’s stomach. So the plague against the Israelites was stopped, 9 but not before 24,000 people had died.
10 Then the Lord said to Moses, 11 “Phinehas son of Eleazar and grandson of Aaron the priest has turned my anger away from the Israelites by being as zealous among them as I was. So I stopped destroying all Israel as I had intended to do in my zealous anger. 12 Now tell him that I am making my special covenant of peace with him. 13 In this covenant, I give him and his descendants a permanent right to the priesthood, for in his zeal for me, his God, he purified the people of Israel, making them right with me.[d]”
14 The Israelite man killed with the Midianite woman was named Zimri son of Salu, the leader of a family from the tribe of Simeon. 15 The woman’s name was Cozbi; she was the daughter of Zur, the leader of a Midianite clan.
16 Then the Lord said to Moses, 17 “Attack the Midianites and destroy them, 18 because they assaulted you with deceit and tricked you into worshiping Baal of Peor, and because of Cozbi, the daughter of a Midianite leader, who was killed at the time of the plague because of what happened at Peor.”
1 By now Balaam realized that the Lord was determined to bless Israel, so he did not resort to divination as before. Instead, he turned and looked out toward the wilderness,2 where he saw the people of Israel camped, tribe by tribe. Then the Spirit of God came upon him, 3 and this is the message he delivered:
“This is the message of Balaam son of Beor,
the message of the man whose eyes see clearly,
4 the message of one who hears the words of God,
who sees a vision from the Almighty,
who bows down with eyes wide open:
5 How beautiful are your tents, O Jacob;
how lovely are your homes, O Israel!
6 They spread before me like palm groves,[a]
like gardens by the riverside.
They are like tall trees planted by the Lord,
like cedars beside the waters.
7 Water will flow from their buckets;
their offspring have all they need.
Their king will be greater than Agag;
their kingdom will be exalted.
8 God brought them out of Egypt;
for them he is as strong as a wild ox.
He devours all the nations that oppose him,
breaking their bones in pieces,
shooting them with arrows.
9 Like a lion, Israel crouches and lies down;
like a lioness, who dares to arouse her?
Blessed is everyone who blesses you, O Israel,
and cursed is everyone who curses you.”
10 King Balak flew into a rage against Balaam. He angrily clapped his hands and shouted, “I called you to curse my enemies! Instead, you have blessed them three times. 11 Now get out of here! Go back home! I promised to reward you richly, but the Lord has kept you from your reward.”
12 Balaam told Balak, “Don’t you remember what I told your messengers? I said, 13 ‘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.’ I told you that I could say only what the Lord says!14 Now I am returning to my own people. But first let me tell you what the Israelites will do to your people in the future.”
Balaam’s Final Messages
15 This is the message Balaam delivered:
“This is the message of Balaam son of Beor,
the message of the man whose eyes see clearly,
16 the message of one who hears the words of God,
who has knowledge from the Most High,
who sees a vision from the Almighty,
who bows down with eyes wide open:
17 I see him, but not here and now.
I perceive him, but far in the distant future.
A star will rise from Jacob;
a scepter will emerge from Israel.
It will crush the heads of Moab’s people,
cracking the skulls[b] of the people of Sheth.
18 Edom will be taken over,
and Seir, its enemy, will be conquered,
while Israel marches on in triumph.
19 A ruler will rise in Jacob
who will destroy the survivors of Ir.”
20 Then Balaam looked over toward the people of Amalek and delivered this message:
“Amalek was the greatest of nations,
but its destiny is destruction!”
21 Then he looked over toward the Kenites and delivered this message:
“Your home is secure;
your nest is set in the rocks.
22 But the Kenites will be destroyed
when Assyria[c] takes you captive.”
23 Balaam concluded his messages by saying:
“Alas, who can survive
unless God has willed it?
24 Ships will come from the coasts of Cyprus[d];
they will oppress Assyria and afflict Eber,
but they, too, will be utterly destroyed.”
25 Then Balaam left and returned home, and Balak also went on his way.
Balaam Blesses Israel
1 Then Balaam said to King Balak, “Build me seven altars here, and prepare seven young bulls and seven rams for me to sacrifice.” 2 Balak followed his instructions, and the two of them sacrificed a young bull and a ram on each altar.
3 Then Balaam said to Balak, “Stand here by your burnt offerings, and I will go to see if the Lord will respond to me. Then I will tell you whatever he reveals to me.” So Balaam went alone to the top of a bare hill, 4 and God met him there. Balaam said to him, “I have prepared seven altars and have sacrificed a young bull and a ram on each altar.”
5 The Lord gave Balaam a message for King Balak. Then he said, “Go back to Balak and give him my message.”
6 So Balaam returned and found the king standing beside his burnt offerings with all the officials of Moab. 7 This was the message Balaam delivered:
“Balak summoned me to come from Aram;
the king of Moab brought me from the eastern hills.
‘Come,’ he said, ‘curse Jacob for me!
Come and announce Israel’s doom.’
8 But how can I curse those
whom God has not cursed?
How can I condemn those
whom the Lord has not condemned?
9 I see them from the cliff tops;
I watch them from the hills.
I see a people who live by themselves,
set apart from other nations.
10 Who can count Jacob’s descendants, as numerous as dust?
Who can count even a fourth of Israel’s people?
Let me die like the righteous;
let my life end like theirs.”
11 Then King Balak demanded of Balaam, “What have you done to me? I brought you to curse my enemies. Instead, you have blessed them!”
12 But Balaam replied, “I will speak only the message that the Lord puts in my mouth.”
Balaam’s Second Message
13 Then King Balak told him, “Come with me to another place. There you will see another part of the nation of Israel, but not all of them. Curse at least that many!” 14 So Balak took Balaam to the plateau of Zophim on Pisgah Peak. He built seven altars there and offered a young bull and a ram on each altar.
15 Then Balaam said to the king, “Stand here by your burnt offerings while I go over there to meet the Lord.”
16 And the Lord met Balaam and gave him a message. Then he said, “Go back to Balak and give him my message.”
17 So Balaam returned and found the king standing beside his burnt offerings with all the officials of Moab. “What did the Lord say?” Balak asked eagerly.
18 This was the message Balaam delivered:
“Rise up, Balak, and listen!
Hear me, son of Zippor.
19 God is not a man, so he does not lie.
He is not human, so he does not change his mind.
Has he ever spoken and failed to act?
Has he ever promised and not carried it through?
20 Listen, I received a command to bless;
God has blessed, and I cannot reverse it!
21 No misfortune is in his plan for Jacob;
no trouble is in store for Israel.
For the Lord their God is with them;
he has been proclaimed their king.
22 God brought them out of Egypt;
for them he is as strong as a wild ox.
23 No curse can touch Jacob;
no magic has any power against Israel.
For now it will be said of Jacob,
‘What wonders God has done for Israel!’
24 These people rise up like a lioness,
like a majestic lion rousing itself.
They refuse to rest
until they have feasted on prey,
drinking the blood of the slaughtered!”
25 Then Balak said to Balaam, “Fine, but if you won’t curse them, at least don’t bless them!”
26 But Balaam replied to Balak, “Didn’t I tell you that I can do only what the Lord tells me?”
Balaam’s Third Message
27 Then King Balak said to Balaam, “Come, I will take you to one more place. Perhaps it will please God to let you curse them from there.”
28 So Balak took Balaam to the top of Mount Peor, overlooking the wasteland.[a] 29 Balaam again told Balak, “Build me seven altars, and prepare seven young bulls and seven rams for me to sacrifice.” 30 So Balak did as Balaam ordered and offered a young bull and a ram on each altar.
- 23:28 Or overlooking Jeshimon.
Victory over the Canaanites
1 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. 2 Then the people of Israel made this vow to the Lord: “If you will hand these people over to us, we will completely destroy[a] all their towns.” 3 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[b] ever since.
The Bronze Snake
4 Then the people of Israel set out from Mount Hor, taking the road to the Red Sea[c] to go around the land of Edom. But the people grew impatient with the long journey, 5 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!”
6 So the Lord sent poisonous snakes among the people, and many were bitten and died.7 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.
8 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!” 9 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,[d] 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.[e]
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.[f]
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.[g]”
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.
- 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.
- 21:3 Hormah means “destruction.”
- 21:4 Hebrew sea of reeds.
- 21:16 Beer means “well.”
- 21:20 Or overlooks Jeshimon.
- 21:24 Or because the terrain of the Ammonite frontier was rugged; Hebrew reads because the boundary of the Ammonites was strong.
- 21:30 Or until fire spread to Medeba. The meaning of the Hebrew is uncertain.
Numbers 20 Moses Strikes the Rock
1 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.
2 There was no water for the people to drink at that place, so they rebelled against Moses and Aaron. 3 The people blamed Moses and said, “If only we had died in the Lord’s presence with our brothers! 4 Why have you brought the congregation of the Lord’s people into this wilderness to die, along with all our livestock? 5 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!”
6 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, 7 and the Lord said to Moses, 8 “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.”
9 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.
The Water of Purification
1 The Lord said to Moses and Aaron, 2 “Here is another legal requirement commanded by the Lord: Tell the people of Israel to bring you a red heifer, a perfect animal that has no defects and has never been yoked to a plow. 3 Give it to Eleazar the priest, and it will be taken outside the camp and slaughtered in his presence. 4 Eleazar will take some of its blood on his finger and sprinkle it seven times toward the front of the Tabernacle.[a] 5 As Eleazar watches, the heifer must be burned—its hide, meat, blood, and dung. 6 Eleazar the priest must then take a stick of cedar,[b] a hyssop branch, and some scarlet yarn and throw them into the fire where the heifer is burning.
7 “Then the priest must wash his clothes and bathe himself in water. Afterward he may return to the camp, though he will remain ceremonially unclean until evening. 8 The man who burns the animal must also wash his clothes and bathe himself in water, and he, too, will remain unclean until evening. 9 Then someone who is ceremonially clean will gather up the ashes of the heifer and deposit them in a purified place outside the camp. They will be kept there for the community of Israel to use in the water for the purification ceremony. This ceremony is performed for the removal of sin. 10 The man who gathers up the ashes of the heifer must also wash his clothes, and he will remain ceremonially unclean until evening. This is a permanent law for the people of Israel and any foreigners who live among them.
11 “All those who touch a dead human body will be ceremonially unclean for seven days.12 They must purify themselves on the third and seventh days with the water of purification; then they will be purified. But if they do not do this on the third and seventh days, they will continue to be unclean even after the seventh day. 13 All those who touch a dead body and do not purify themselves in the proper way defile the Lord’s Tabernacle, and they will be cut off from the community of Israel. Since the water of purification was not sprinkled on them, their defilement continues.
14 “This is the ritual law that applies when someone dies inside a tent: All those who enter that tent and those who were inside when the death occurred will be ceremonially unclean for seven days. 15 Any open container in the tent that was not covered with a lid is also defiled.16 And if someone in an open field touches the corpse of someone who was killed with a sword or who died a natural death, or if someone touches a human bone or a grave, that person will be defiled for seven days.
17 “To remove the defilement, put some of the ashes from the burnt purification offering in a jar, and pour fresh water over them. 18 Then someone who is ceremonially clean must take a hyssop branch and dip it into the water. That person must sprinkle the water on the tent, on all the furnishings in the tent, and on the people who were in the tent; also on the person who touched a human bone, or touched someone who was killed or who died naturally, or touched a grave. 19 On the third and seventh days the person who is ceremonially clean must sprinkle the water on those who are defiled. Then on the seventh day the people being cleansed must wash their clothes and bathe themselves, and that evening they will be cleansed of their defilement.
20 “But those who become defiled and do not purify themselves will be cut off from the community, for they have defiled the sanctuary of the Lord. Since the water of purification has not been sprinkled on them, they remain defiled. 21 This is a permanent law for the people. Those who sprinkle the water of purification must afterward wash their clothes, and anyone who then touches the water used for purification will remain defiled until evening.22 Anything and anyone that a defiled person touches will be ceremonially unclean until evening.”
Duties of Priests and Levites
1 Then the Lord said to Aaron: “You, your sons, and your relatives from the tribe of Levi will be held responsible for any offenses related to the sanctuary. But you and your sons alone will be held responsible for violations connected with the priesthood.
2 “Bring your relatives of the tribe of Levi—your ancestral tribe—to assist you and your sons as you perform the sacred duties in front of the Tabernacle of the Covenant.[a] 3 But as the Levites go about all their assigned duties at the Tabernacle, they must be careful not to go near any of the sacred objects or the altar. If they do, both you and they will die. 4 The Levites must join you in fulfilling their responsibilities for the care and maintenance of the Tabernacle,[b] but no unauthorized person may assist you.
5 “You yourselves must perform the sacred duties inside the sanctuary and at the altar. If you follow these instructions, the Lord’s anger will never again blaze against the people of Israel.6 I myself have chosen your fellow Levites from among the Israelites to be your special assistants. They are a gift to you, dedicated to the Lord for service in the Tabernacle. 7 But you and your sons, the priests, must personally handle all the priestly rituals associated with the altar and with everything behind the inner curtain. I am giving you the priesthood as your special privilege of service. Any unauthorized person who comes too near the sanctuary will be put to death.”
Support for the Priests and Levites
8 The Lord gave these further instructions to Aaron: “I myself have put you in charge of all the holy offerings that are brought to me by the people of Israel. I have given all these consecrated offerings to you and your sons as your permanent share. 9 You are allotted the portion of the most holy offerings that is not burned on the fire. This portion of all the most holy offerings—including the grain offerings, sin offerings, and guilt offerings—will be most holy, and it belongs to you and your sons. 10 You must eat it as a most holy offering. All the males may eat of it, and you must treat it as most holy.
11 “All the sacred offerings and special offerings presented to me when the Israelites lift them up before the altar also belong to you. I have given them to you and to your sons and daughters as your permanent share. Any member of your family who is ceremonially clean may eat of these offerings.
12 “I also give you the harvest gifts brought by the people as offerings to the Lord—the best of the olive oil, new wine, and grain. 13 All the first crops of their land that the people present to the Lord belong to you. Any member of your family who is ceremonially clean may eat this food.
14 “Everything in Israel that is specially set apart for the Lord[c] also belongs to you.
15 “The firstborn of every mother, whether human or animal, that is offered to the Lord will be yours. But you must always redeem your firstborn sons and the firstborn of ceremonially unclean animals. 16 Redeem them when they are one month old. The redemption price is five pieces of silver[d] (as measured by the weight of the sanctuary shekel, which equals twenty gerahs).
17 “However, you may not redeem the firstborn of cattle, sheep, or goats. They are holy and have been set apart for the Lord. Sprinkle their blood on the altar, and burn their fat as a special gift, a pleasing aroma to the Lord. 18 The meat of these animals will be yours, just like the breast and right thigh that are presented by lifting them up as a special offering before the altar. 19 Yes, I am giving you all these holy offerings that the people of Israel bring to the Lord. They are for you and your sons and daughters, to be eaten as your permanent share. This is an eternal and unbreakable covenant[e] between the Lord and you, and it also applies to your descendants.”
20 And the Lord said to Aaron, “You priests will receive no allotment of land or share of property among the people of Israel. I am your share and your allotment. 21 As for the tribe of Levi, your relatives, I will compensate them for their service in the Tabernacle. Instead of an allotment of land, I will give them the tithes from the entire land of Israel.
22 “From now on, no Israelites except priests or Levites may approach the Tabernacle. If they come too near, they will be judged guilty and will die. 23 Only the Levites may serve at the Tabernacle, and they will be held responsible for any offenses against it. This is a permanent law for you, to be observed from generation to generation. The Levites will receive no allotment of land among the Israelites, 24 because I have given them the Israelites’ tithes, which have been presented as sacred offerings to the Lord. This will be the Levites’ share. That is why I said they would receive no allotment of land among the Israelites.”
25 The Lord also told Moses, 26 “Give these instructions to the Levites: When you receive from the people of Israel the tithes I have assigned as your allotment, give a tenth of the tithes you receive—a tithe of the tithe—to the Lord as a sacred offering. 27 The Lord will consider this offering to be your harvest offering, as though it were the first grain from your own threshing floor or wine from your own winepress. 28 You must present one-tenth of the tithe received from the Israelites as a sacred offering to the Lord. This is the Lord’s sacred portion, and you must present it to Aaron the priest. 29 Be sure to give to the Lord the best portions of the gifts given to you.
30 “Also, give these instructions to the Levites: When you present the best part as your offering, it will be considered as though it came from your own threshing floor or winepress.31 You Levites and your families may eat this food anywhere you wish, for it is your compensation for serving in the Tabernacle. 32 You will not be considered guilty for accepting the Lord’s tithes if you give the best portion to the priests. But be careful not to treat the holy gifts of the people of Israel as though they were common. If you do, you will die.”
- 18:2 Or Tabernacle of the Testimony.
- 18:4 Hebrew the Tent of Meeting; also in 18:6, 21, 22, 23, 31.
- 18:14 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.
- 18:16 Hebrew 5 shekels [2 ounces or 57 grams] of silver.
- 18:19 Hebrew a covenant of salt.
The Budding of Aaron’s Staff
1 [a]Then the Lord said to Moses, 2 “Tell the people of Israel to bring you twelve wooden staffs, one from each leader of Israel’s ancestral tribes, and inscribe each leader’s name on his staff. 3 Inscribe Aaron’s name on the staff of the tribe of Levi, for there must be one staff for the leader of each ancestral tribe. 4 Place these staffs in the Tabernacle in front of the Ark containing the tablets of the Covenant,[b] where I meet with you. 5 Buds will sprout on the staff belonging to the man I choose. Then I will finally put an end to the people’s murmuring and complaining against you.”
6 So Moses gave the instructions to the people of Israel, and each of the twelve tribal leaders, including Aaron, brought Moses a staff. 7 Moses placed the staffs in the Lord’s presence in the Tabernacle of the Covenant.[c] 8 When he went into the Tabernacle of the Covenant the next day, he found that Aaron’s staff, representing the tribe of Levi, had sprouted, budded, blossomed, and produced ripe almonds!
9 When Moses brought all the staffs out from the Lord’s presence, he showed them to the people. Each man claimed his own staff. 10 And the Lord said to Moses: “Place Aaron’s staff permanently before the Ark of the Covenant[d] to serve as a warning to rebels. This should put an end to their complaints against me and prevent any further deaths.” 11 So Moses did as the Lord commanded him.
12 Then the people of Israel said to Moses, “Look, we are doomed! We are dead! We are ruined! 13 Everyone who even comes close to the Tabernacle of the Lord dies. Are we all doomed to die?”
- 17:1 Verses 17:1-13 are numbered 17:16-28 in Hebrew text.
- 17:4 Hebrew in the Tent of Meeting before the Testimony. The Hebrew word for “testimony” refers to the terms of the Lord’s covenant with Israel as written on stone tablets, which were kept in the Ark, and also to the covenant itself.
- 17:7 Or Tabernacle of the Testimony; also in 17:8.
- 17:10 Hebrew before the Testimony; see note on 17:4.
1 One day Korah son of Izhar, a descendant of Kohath son of Levi, conspired with Dathan and Abiram, the sons of Eliab, and On son of Peleth, from the tribe of Reuben. 2 They incited a rebellion against Moses, along with 250 other leaders of the community, all prominent members of the assembly. 3 They united against Moses and Aaron and said, “You have gone too far! The whole community of Israel has been set apart by the Lord, and he is with all of us. What right do you have to act as though you are greater than the rest of the Lord’s people?”
4 When Moses heard what they were saying, he fell face down on the ground. 5 Then he said to Korah and his followers, “Tomorrow morning the Lord will show us who belongs to him[a]and who is holy. The Lord will allow only those whom he selects to enter his own presence.6 Korah, you and all your followers must prepare your incense burners. 7 Light fires in them tomorrow, and burn incense before the Lord. Then we will see whom the Lord chooses as his holy one. You Levites are the ones who have gone too far!”
8 Then Moses spoke again to Korah: “Now listen, you Levites! 9 Does it seem insignificant to you that the God of Israel has chosen you from among all the community of Israel to be near him so you can serve in the Lord’s Tabernacle and stand before the people to minister to them? 10 Korah, he has already given this special ministry to you and your fellow Levites. Are you now demanding the priesthood as well? 11 The Lord is the one you and your followers are really revolting against! For who is Aaron that you are complaining about him?”
12 Then Moses summoned Dathan and Abiram, the sons of Eliab, but they replied, “We refuse to come before you! 13 Isn’t it enough that you brought us out of Egypt, a land flowing with milk and honey, to kill us here in this wilderness, and that you now treat us like your subjects?14 What’s more, you haven’t brought us into another land flowing with milk and honey. You haven’t given us a new homeland with fields and vineyards. Are you trying to fool these men?[b] We will not come.”
15 Then Moses became very angry and said to the Lord, “Do not accept their grain offerings! I have not taken so much as a donkey from them, and I have never hurt a single one of them.”16 And Moses said to Korah, “You and all your followers must come here tomorrow and present yourselves before the Lord. Aaron will also be here. 17 You and each of your 250 followers must prepare an incense burner and put incense on it, so you can all present them before the Lord. Aaron will also bring his incense burner.”
18 So each of these men prepared an incense burner, lit the fire, and placed incense on it. Then they all stood at the entrance of the Tabernacle[c] with Moses and Aaron. 19 Meanwhile, Korah had stirred up the entire community against Moses and Aaron, and they all gathered at the Tabernacle entrance. Then the glorious presence of the Lord appeared to the whole community, 20 and the Lord said to Moses and Aaron, 21 “Get away from all these people so that I may instantly destroy them!”
22 But Moses and Aaron fell face down on the ground. “O God,” they pleaded, “you are the God who gives breath to all creatures. Must you be angry with all the people when only one man sins?”
23 And the Lord said to Moses, 24 “Then tell all the people to get away from the tents of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram.”
25 So Moses got up and rushed over to the tents of Dathan and Abiram, followed by the elders of Israel. 26 “Quick!” he told the people. “Get away from the tents of these wicked men, and don’t touch anything that belongs to them. If you do, you will be destroyed for their sins.”27 So all the people stood back from the tents of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram. Then Dathan and Abiram came out and stood at the entrances of their tents, together with their wives and children and little ones.
28 And Moses said, “This is how you will know that the Lord has sent me to do all these things that I have done—for I have not done them on my own. 29 If these men die a natural death, or if nothing unusual happens, then the Lord has not sent me. 30 But if the Lord does something entirely new and the ground opens its mouth and swallows them and all their belongings, and they go down alive into the grave,[d] then you will know that these men have shown contempt for the Lord.”
31 He had hardly finished speaking the words when the ground suddenly split open beneath them. 32 The earth opened its mouth and swallowed the men, along with their households and all their followers who were standing with them, and everything they owned. 33 So they went down alive into the grave, along with all their belongings. The earth closed over them, and they all vanished from among the people of Israel. 34 All the people around them fled when they heard their screams. “The earth will swallow us, too!” they cried. 35 Then fire blazed forth from the Lord and burned up the 250 men who were offering incense.
36 [e]And the Lord said to Moses, 37 “Tell Eleazar son of Aaron the priest to pull all the incense burners from the fire, for they are holy. Also tell him to scatter the burning coals. 38 Take the incense burners of these men who have sinned at the cost of their lives, and hammer the metal into a thin sheet to overlay the altar. Since these burners were used in the Lord’s presence, they have become holy. Let them serve as a warning to the people of Israel.”
39 So Eleazar the priest collected the 250 bronze incense burners that had been used by the men who died in the fire, and the bronze was hammered into a thin sheet to overlay the altar.40 This would warn the Israelites that no unauthorized person—no one who was not a descendant of Aaron—should ever enter the Lord’s presence to burn incense. If anyone did, the same thing would happen to him as happened to Korah and his followers. So the Lord’s instructions to Moses were carried out.
41 But the very next morning the whole community of Israel began muttering again against Moses and Aaron, saying, “You have killed the Lord’s people!” 42 As the community gathered to protest against Moses and Aaron, they turned toward the Tabernacle and saw that the cloud had covered it, and the glorious presence of the Lord appeared.
43 Moses and Aaron came and stood in front of the Tabernacle, 44 and the Lord said to Moses, 45 “Get away from all these people so that I can instantly destroy them!” But Moses and Aaron fell face down on the ground.
46 And Moses said to Aaron, “Quick, take an incense burner and place burning coals on it from the altar. Lay incense on it, and carry it out among the people to purify them and make them right with the Lord.[f] The Lord’s anger is blazing against them—the plague has already begun.”
47 Aaron did as Moses told him and ran out among the people. The plague had already begun to strike down the people, but Aaron burned the incense and purified[g] the people. 48 He stood between the dead and the living, and the plague stopped. 49 But 14,700 people died in that plague, in addition to those who had died in the affair involving Korah. 50 Then because the plague had stopped, Aaron returned to Moses at the entrance of the Tabernacle.
- 16:5 Greek version reads God has visited and knows those who are his. Compare 2 Tim 2:19.
- 16:14 Hebrew Are you trying to put out the eyes of these men?
- 16:18 Hebrew the Tent of Meeting; also in 16:19, 42, 43, 50.
- 16:30 Hebrew into Sheol; also in 16:33.
- 16:36 Verses 16:36-50 are numbered 17:1-15 in Hebrew text.
- 16:46 Or to make atonement for them.
- 16:47 Or and made atonement for.