Numbers 17:1–19:22

The Budding of Aaron’s Staff

17 a The Lord said to Moses, “Speak to the Israelites and get twelve staffsl from them, one from the leader of each of their ancestral tribes.m Write the name of each man on his staff. On the staff of Levi write Aaron’s name,n for there must be one staff for the head of each ancestral tribe. Place them in the tent of meetingo in front of the ark of the covenant law,p where I meet with you.q The staff belonging to the man I chooser will sprout,s and I will rid myself of this constant grumblingt against you by the Israelites.”

So Moses spoke to the Israelites, and their leaders gave him twelve staffs, one for the leader of each of their ancestral tribes, and Aaron’s staff was among them. Moses placed the staffs before the Lord in the tent of the covenant law.u

The next day Moses entered the tentv and saw that Aaron’s staff,w which represented the tribe of Levi, had not only sprouted but had budded, blossomed and produced almonds.x Then Moses brought out all the staffsy from the Lord’s presence to all the Israelites. They looked at them, and each of the leaders took his own staff.

10 The Lord said to Moses, “Put back Aaron’s staffz in front of the ark of the covenant law, to be kept as a sign to the rebellious.a This will put an end to their grumbling against me, so that they will not die.” 11 Moses did just as the Lord commanded him.

12 The Israelites said to Moses, “We will die! We are lost, we are all lost!b 13 Anyone who even comes near the tabernacle of the Lord will die.c Are we all going to die?”

Duties of Priests and Levites

18 The Lord said to Aaron, “You, your sons and your family are to bear the responsibility for offenses connected with the sanctuary,d and you and your sons alone are to bear the responsibility for offenses connected with the priesthood. Bring your fellow Levites from your ancestral tribe to join you and assist you when you and your sons ministere before the tent of the covenant law. They are to be responsible to youf and are to perform all the duties of the tent,g but they must not go near the furnishings of the sanctuary or the altar. Otherwise both they and you will die.h They are to join you and be responsible for the care of the tent of meeting—all the work at the tent—and no one else may come near where you are.i

“You are to be responsible for the care of the sanctuary and the altar,j so that my wrath will not fall on the Israelites again. I myself have selected your fellow Levites from among the Israelites as a gift to you,k dedicated to the Lord to do the work at the tent of meeting.l But only you and your sons may serve as priests in connection with everything at the altar and inside the curtain.m I am giving you the service of the priesthood as a gift.n Anyone else who comes near the sanctuary is to be put to death.o

Offerings for Priests and Levites

Then the Lord said to Aaron, “I myself have put you in charge of the offerings presented to me; all the holy offerings the Israelites give me I give to you and your sons as your portion,p your perpetual share.q You are to have the part of the most holy offeringsr that is kept from the fire. From all the gifts they bring me as most holy offerings, whether grains or sina t or guilt offerings,u that part belongs to you and your sons. 10 Eat it as something most holy; every male shall eat it.v You must regard it as holy.w

11 “This also is yours: whatever is set aside from the gifts of all the wave offeringsx of the Israelites. I give this to you and your sons and daughters as your perpetual share.y Everyone in your household who is ceremonially cleanz may eat it.

12 “I give you all the finest olive oil and all the finest new wine and graina they give the Lordb as the firstfruits of their harvest.c 13 All the land’s firstfruits that they bring to the Lord will be yours.d Everyone in your household who is ceremonially clean may eat it.e

14 “Everything in Israel that is devotedb to the Lordf is yours. 15 The first offspring of every womb, both human and animal, that is offered to the Lord is yours.g But you must redeemh every firstborni son and every firstborn male of unclean animals.j 16 When they are a month old,k you must redeem them at the redemption price set at five shekelsc l of silver, according to the sanctuary shekel,m which weighs twenty gerahs.n

17 “But you must not redeem the firstborn of a cow, a sheep or a goat; they are holy.o Splash their bloodp against the altar and burn their fatq as a food offering, an aroma pleasing to the Lord.r 18 Their meat is to be yours, just as the breast of the wave offerings and the right thigh are yours.t 19 Whatever is set aside from the holyu offerings the Israelites present to the Lord I give to you and your sons and daughters as your perpetual share. It is an everlasting covenant of saltv before the Lord for both you and your offspring.”

20 The Lord said to Aaron, “You will have no inheritance in their land, nor will you have any share among them;w I am your share and your inheritancex among the Israelites.

21 “I give to the Levites all the tithesy in Israel as their inheritancez in return for the work they do while serving at the tent of meeting.a 22 From now on the Israelites must not go near the tent of meeting, or they will bear the consequences of their sin and will die.b 23 It is the Levites who are to do the work at the tent of meeting and bear the responsibility for any offenses they commit against it. This is a lasting ordinancec for the generations to come.d They will receive no inheritancee among the Israelites.f 24 Instead, I give to the Levites as their inheritance the tithes that the Israelites present as an offering to the Lord.g That is why I said concerning them: ‘They will have no inheritance among the Israelites.’ ”

25 The Lord said to Moses, 26 “Speak to the Levites and say to them: ‘When you receive from the Israelites the tithe I give youh as your inheritance, you must present a tenth of that tithe as the Lord’s offering.i 27 Your offering will be reckonedj to you as grain from the threshing floork or juice from the winepress.l 28 In this way you also will present an offering to the Lord from all the tithesm you receive from the Israelites. From these tithes you must give the Lord’s portion to Aaron the priest. 29 You must present as the Lord’s portion the best and holiest part of everything given to you.’

30 “Say to the Levites: ‘When you present the best part, it will be reckoned to you as the product of the threshing floor or the winepress.n 31 You and your households may eat the rest of it anywhere, for it is your wages for your work at the tent of meeting.o 32 By presenting the best partp of it you will not be guilty in this matter;q then you will not defile the holy offeringsr of the Israelites, and you will not die.’ ”

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 …

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