Numbers 19:1–21:35

The Water of Cleansing

19 The Lord said to Moses and Aaron: “This is a requirement of the law that the Lord has commanded: Tell the Israelites to bring you a red heifers without defect or blemisht and that has never been under a yoke.u Give it to Eleazarv the priest; it is to be taken outside the campw and slaughtered in his presence. Then Eleazar the priest is to take some of its blood on his finger and sprinklex it seven times toward the front of the tent of meeting. While he watches, the heifer is to be burned—its hide, flesh, blood and intestines.y The priest is to take some cedar wood, hyssopz and scarlet woola and throw them onto the burning heifer. After that, the priest must wash his clothes and bathe himself with water.b He may then come into the camp, but he will be ceremonially unclean till evening. The man who burns it must also wash his clothes and bathe with water, and he too will be unclean till evening.

“A man who is clean shall gather up the ashes of the heiferc and put them in a ceremonially clean placed outside the camp. They are to be kept by the Israelite community for use in the water of cleansing;e it is for purification from sin.f 10 The man who gathers upg the ashes of the heifer must also wash his clothes, and he too will be unclean till evening.h This will be a lasting ordinancei both for the Israelites and for the foreigners residing among them.j

11 “Whoever touches a human corpsek will be unclean for seven days.l 12 They must purify themselves with the water on the third day and on the seventh day;m then they will be clean. But if they do not purify themselves on the third and seventh days, they will not be clean.n 13 If they fail to purify themselves after touching a human corpse,o they defile the Lord’s tabernacle.p They must be cut off from Israel.q Because the water of cleansing has not been sprinkled on them, they are unclean;r their uncleanness remains on them.

14 “This is the law that applies when a person dies in a tent: Anyone who enters the tent and anyone who is in it will be unclean for seven days, 15 and every open containers without a lid fastened on it will be unclean.

16 “Anyone out in the open who touches someone who has been killed with a sword or someone who has died a natural death,t or anyone who touches a human boneu or a grave,v will be unclean for seven days.w

17 “For the unclean person, put some ashesx from the burned purification offering into a jar and pour fresh watery over them. 18 Then a man who is ceremonially clean is to take some hyssop,z dip it in the water and sprinklea the tent and all the furnishings and the people who were there. He must also sprinkle anyone who has touched a human bone or a graveb or anyone who has been killed or anyone who has died a natural death. 19 The man who is clean is to sprinklec those who are unclean on the third and seventh days, and on the seventh day he is to purify them.d Those who are being cleansed must wash their clothese and bathe with water, and that evening they will be clean. 20 But if those who are unclean do not purify themselves, they must be cut off from the community, because they have defiledf the sanctuary of the Lord.g The water of cleansing has not been sprinkled on them, and they are unclean.h 21 This is a lasting ordinancei for them.

“The man who sprinkles the water of cleansing must also wash his clothes, and anyone who touches the water of cleansing will be unclean till evening. 22 Anything that an uncleanj person touches becomes unclean, and anyone who touches it becomes unclean till evening.”

Water From the Rock

20 In the first month the whole Israelite community arrived at the Desert of Zin,k and they stayed at Kadesh.l There Miriamm died and was buried.

Now there was no watern for the community,o and the people gathered in oppositionp to Moses and Aaron. They quarreledq with Moses and said, “If only we had died when our brothers fell deadr before the Lord!s Why did you bring the Lord’s community into this wilderness,t that we and our livestock should die here?u Why did you bring us up out of Egypt to this terrible place? It has no grain or figs, grapevines or pomegranates.v And there is no water to drink!w

Moses and Aaron went from the assembly to the entrance to the tent of meetingx and fell facedown,y and the glory of the Lordz appeared to them. The Lord said to Moses, “Take the staff,a and you and your brother Aaron gather the assembly together. Speak to that rock before their eyes and it will pour out its water.b You will bring water out of the rock for the community so they and their livestock can drink.”

So Moses took the staffc from the Lord’s presence,d just as he commanded him. 10 He and Aaron gathered the assembly togethere in front of the rock and Moses said to them, “Listen, you rebels, must we bring you water out of this rock?”f 11 Then Moses raised his arm and struck the rock twice with his staff. Waterg gushed out, and the community and their livestock drank.

12 But the Lord said to Moses and Aaron, “Because you did not trust in me enough to honor me as holyh in the sight of the Israelites, you will not bring this community into the land I give them.”i

13 These were the waters of Meribah,a j where the Israelites quarreledk with the Lord and where he was proved holy among them.l

Edom Denies Israel Passage

14 Moses sent messengers from Kadeshm to the king of Edom,n saying:

“This is what your brother Israel says: You knowo about all the hardshipsp that have come on us. 15 Our ancestors went down into Egypt,q and we lived there many years.r The Egyptians mistreateds us and our ancestors, 16 but when we cried out to the Lord, he heard our cryt and sent an angelu and brought us out of Egypt.v

“Now we are here at Kadesh, a town on the edge of your territory.w 17 Please let us pass through your country. We will not go through any field or vineyard, or drink water from any well. We will travel along the King’s Highway and not turn to the right or to the left until we have passed through your territory.x

18 But Edomy answered:

“You may not pass through here; if you try, we will march out and attack you with the sword.z

19 The Israelites replied:

“We will go along the main road, and if we or our livestocka drink any of your water, we will pay for it.b We only want to pass through on foot—nothing else.”

20 Again they answered:

“You may not pass through.c

Then Edomd came out against them with a large and powerful army. 21 Since Edom refused to let them go through their territory,e Israel turned away from them.f

The Death of Aaron

22 The whole Israelite community set out from Kadeshg and came to Mount Hor.h 23 At Mount Hor, near the border of Edom,i the Lord said to Moses and Aaron, 24 “Aaron will be gathered to his people.j He will not enter the land I give the Israelites, because both of you rebelled against my commandk at the waters of Meribah.l 25 Get Aaron and his son Eleazar and take them up Mount Hor.m 26 Remove Aaron’s garmentsn and put them on his son Eleazar, for Aaron will be gathered to his people;o he will die there.”

27 Moses did as the Lord commanded: They went up Mount Horp in the sight of the whole community. 28 Moses removed Aaron’s garments and put them on his son Eleazar.q And Aaron died therer on top of the mountain. Then Moses and Eleazar came down from the mountain, 29 and when the whole community learned that Aaron had died,s all the Israelites mourned for himt thirty days.

Arad Destroyed

21 When the Canaanite king of Arad,u who lived in the Negev,v heard that Israel was coming along the road to Atharim, he attacked the Israelites and captured some of them. Then Israel made this voww to the Lord: “If you will deliver these people into our hands, we will totally destroya x their cities.” The Lord listened to Israel’s plea and gave the Canaanitesy over to them. They completely destroyed themz and their towns; so the place was named Hormah.b a

The Bronze Snake

They traveled from Mount Horb along the route to the Red Sea,c c to go around Edom.d But the people grew impatient on the way;e they spoke against Godf and against Moses, and said, “Why have you brought us up out of Egyptg to die in the wilderness?h There is no bread! There is no water!i And we detest this miserable food!”j

Then the Lord sent venomous snakesk among them; they bit the people and many Israelites died.l The people came to Mosesm and said, “We sinnedn when we spoke against the Lord and against you. Pray that the Lordo will take the snakes away from us.” So Moses prayedp for the people.

The Lord said to Moses, “Make a snake and put it up on a pole;q anyone who is bitten can look at it and live.” So Moses made a bronze snaker and put it up on a pole. Then when anyone was bitten by a snake and looked at the bronze snake, they lived.s

The Journey to Moab

10 The Israelites moved on and camped at Oboth.t 11 Then they set out from Oboth and camped in Iye Abarim, in the wilderness that faces Moabu toward the sunrise. 12 From there they moved on and camped in the Zered Valley.v 13 They set out from there and camped alongside the Arnonw, which is in the wilderness extending into Amorite territory. The Arnon is the border of Moab, between Moab and the Amorites.x 14 That is why the Book of the Warsy of the Lord says:

“… Zahabd in Suphah and the ravines,

the Arnon 15 ande the slopes of the ravines

that lead to the settlement of Arz

and lie along the border of Moab.”

16 From there they continued on to Beer,a the well where the Lord said to Moses, “Gather the people together and I will give them water.”

17 Then Israel sang this song:b

“Spring up, O well!

Sing about it,

18 about the well that the princes dug,

that the nobles of the people sank—

the nobles with scepters and staffs.”

Then they went from the wilderness to Mattanah, 19 from Mattanah to Nahaliel, from Nahaliel to Bamoth, 20 and from Bamoth to the valley in Moab where the top of Pisgahc overlooks the …

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