March 2, Numbers 18-20

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18 The Lord said to Aaron, “You, your sons, and your ancestral family[a] will be responsible for iniquity against the sanctuary. You and your sons will be responsible for iniquity involving your priesthood. But also bring your relatives with you from the tribe of Levi, your ancestral tribe, so they may join you and assist you and your sons in front of the tent of the testimony.They are to perform duties for you and for the whole tent. They must not come near the sanctuary equipment or the altar; otherwise, both they and you will die. They are to join you and guard the tent of meeting, doing all the work at the tent, but no unauthorized person may come near you.“You are to guard the sanctuary and the altar so that wrath may not fall on the Israelites again. Look, I have selected your fellow Levites from the Israelites as a gift for you, assigned by the Lord to work at the tent of meeting. But you and your sons will carry out your priestly responsibilities for everything concerning the altar and for what is inside the curtain, and you will do that work. I am giving you the work of the priesthood as a gift,[b] but an unauthorized person who comes near the sanctuary will be put to death.”

Support for the Priests and Levites

Then the Lord spoke to Aaron, “Look, I have put you in charge of the contributions brought to me. As for all the holy offerings of the Israelites, I have given them to you and your sons as a portion and a permanent statute. A portion of the holiest offerings kept from the fire will be yours; every one of their offerings that they give me, whether the grain offering, sin offering, or guilt offering will be most holy for you and your sons. 10 You are to eat it as a most holy offering.[c] Every male may eat it; it is to be holy to you.11 “The contribution of their gifts also belongs to you. I have given all the Israelites’ presentation offerings to you and to your sons and daughters as a permanent statute. Every ceremonially clean person in your house may eat it. 12 I am giving you all the best of the fresh oil, new wine, and grain, which the Israelites give to the Lord as their firstfruits. 13 The firstfruits of all that is in their land, which they bring to the Lord, belong to you. Every clean person in your house may eat them.14 “Everything in Israel that is permanently dedicated to the Lord belongs to you. 15 The firstborn of every living thing, human or animal, presented to the Lord belongs to you. But you must certainly redeem a human firstborn, and redeem the firstborn of an unclean animal. 16 You will pay the redemption price for a month-old male according to your assessment: five shekels[d] of silver by the standard sanctuary shekel, which is twenty gerahs.17 “However, you must not redeem the firstborn of an ox, a sheep, or a goat; they are holy. You are to splatter their blood on the altar and burn their fat as a fire offering for a pleasing aroma to the Lord. 18 But their meat belongs to you. It belongs to you like the breast of the presentation offering and the right thigh.19 “I give to you and to your sons and daughters all the holy contributions that the Israelites present to the Lord as a permanent statute. It is a permanent covenant of saltbefore the Lord for you as well as your offspring.”20 The Lord told Aaron, “You will not have an inheritance in their land; there will be no portion among them for you. I am your portion and your inheritance among the Israelites.21 “Look, I have given the Levites every tenth in Israel as an inheritance in return for the work they do, the work of the tent of meeting. 22 The Israelites must never again come near the tent of meeting, or they will incur guilt and die. 23 The Levites will do the work of the tent of meeting, and they will bear the consequences of their iniquity. The Levites will not receive an inheritance among the Israelites; this is a permanent statute throughout your generations. 24 For I have given them the tenth that the Israelites present to the Lord as a contribution for their inheritance. That is why I told them that they would not receive an inheritance among the Israelites.”25 The Lord instructed Moses, 26 “Speak to the Levites and tell them: When you receive from the Israelites the tenth that I have given you as your inheritance, you are to present part of it as an offering to the Lord—a tenth of the tenth. 27 Your offering will be credited to you as if it were your grain from the threshing floor or the full harvest from the winepress. 28 You are to present an offering to the Lord from every tenth you receive from the Israelites. Give some of it to the priest Aaron as an offering to the Lord. 29 You must present the entire offering due the Lord from all your gifts. The best part of the tenth is to be consecrated.30 “Tell them further: Once you have presented the best part of the tenth, and it is credited to you Levites as the produce of the threshing floor or the winepress, 31 then you and your household may eat it anywhere. It is your wage in return for your work at the tent of meeting. 32 You will not incur guilt because of it once you have presented the best part of it, but you must not defile the Israelites’ holy offerings, so that you will not die.”19 The Lord spoke to Moses and Aaron, “This is the legal statute that the Lord has commanded: Instruct the Israelites to bring you an unblemished red cow that has no defect and has never been yoked. Give it to the priest Eleazar, and he will have it brought outside the camp and slaughtered in his presence. The priest Eleazar is to take some of its blood with his finger and sprinkle it seven times toward the front of the tent of meeting. The cow is to be burned in his sight. Its hide, flesh, and blood, are to be burned along with its waste. The priest is to take cedar wood, hyssop, and crimson yarn, and throw them onto the fire where the cow is burning. Then the priest must wash his clothes and bathe his body in water; after that he may enter the camp, but he will remain ceremonially unclean until evening. The one who burned the cow must also wash his clothes and bathe his body in water, and he will remain unclean until evening.“A man who is clean is to gather up the cow’s ashes and deposit them outside the camp in a ceremonially clean place. The ashes will be kept by the Israelite community for preparing the water to remove impurity; it is a sin offering. 10 Then the one who gathers up the cow’s ashes must wash his clothes, and he will remain unclean until evening. This is a permanent statute for the Israelites and for the alien who resides among them.11 “The person who touches any human corpse will be unclean for seven days. 12 He is to purify himself with the water[a] on the third day and the seventh day; then he will be clean. But if he does not purify himself on the third and seventh days, he will not be clean. 13 Anyone who touches a body of a person who has died, and does not purify himself, defiles the tabernacle of the Lord. That person will be cut off from Israel. He remains unclean because the water for impurity has not been sprinkled on him, and his uncleanness is still on him.14 “This is the law when a person dies in a tent: everyone who enters the tent and everyone who is already in the tent will be unclean for seven days, 15 and any open container without a lid tied on it is unclean. 16 Anyone in the open field who touches a person who has been killed by the sword or has died, or who even touches a human bone, or a grave, will be unclean for seven days. 17 For the purification of the unclean person, they are to take some of the ashes of the burnt sin offering, put them in a jar, and add fresh water to them. 18 A person who is clean is to take hyssop, dip it in the water, and sprinkle the tent, all the furnishings, and the people who were there. He is also to sprinkle the one who touched a bone, a grave, a corpse, or a person who had been killed.19 “The one who is clean is to sprinkle the unclean person on the third day and the seventh day. After he purifies the unclean person on the seventh day, the one being purified must wash his clothes and bathe in water, and he will be clean by evening. 20 But a person who is unclean and does not purify himself, that person will be cut off from the assembly because he has defiled the sanctuary of the Lord. The water for impurity has not been sprinkled on him; he is unclean. 21 This is a permanent statute for them. The person who sprinkles the water for impurity is to wash his clothes, and whoever touches the water for impurity will be unclean until evening. 22 Anything the unclean person touches will become unclean, and anyone who touches it will be unclean until evening.”20 The entire Israelite community entered the Wilderness of Zin in the first month, and they[a]settled in Kadesh. Miriam died and was buried there.There was no water for the community, so they assembled against Moses and Aaron. The people quarreled with Moses and said, “If only we had perished when our brothers perished before the Lord. Why have you brought the Lord’s assembly into this wilderness for us and our livestock to die here?Why have you led us up from Egypt to bring us to this evil place? It’s not a place of grain, figs, vines, and pomegranates, and there is no water to drink!”Then Moses and Aaron went from the presence of the assembly to the doorway of the tent of meeting. They fell facedown, and the glory of the Lord appeared to them. The Lord spoke to Moses, “Take the staff and assemble the community. You and your brother Aaron are to speak to the rock while they watch, and it will yield its water. You will bring out water for them from the rock and provide drink for the community and their livestock.”So Moses took the staff from the Lord’s presence just as he had commanded him. 10 Moses and Aaron summoned the assembly in front of the rock, and Moses said to them, “Listen, you rebels! Must we bring water out of this rock for you?” 11 Then Moses raised his hand and struck the rock twice with his staff, so that abundant water gushed out, and the community and their livestock drank.12 But the Lord said to Moses and Aaron, “Because you did not trust me to demonstrate my holiness in the sight of the Israelites, you will not bring this assembly into the land I have given them.” 13 These are the Waters of Meribah,[b] where the Israelites quarreled with the Lord, and he demonstrated his holiness to them.

Edom Denies Passage

14 Moses sent messengers from Kadesh to the king of Edom, “This is what your brother Israelsays, ‘You know all the hardships that have overtaken us. 15 Our fathers went down to Egypt, and we lived in Egypt many years, but the Egyptians treated us and our fathers badly. 16 When we cried out to the Lord, he heard our plea,[c] and sent an angel,[d] and brought us out of Egypt. Now look, we are in Kadesh, a city on the border of your territory. 17 Please let us travel through your land. We won’t travel through any field or vineyard, or drink any well water. We will travel the King’s Highway; we won’t turn to the right or the left until we have traveled through your territory.’”18 But Edom answered him, “You will not travel through our land, or we will come out and confront you with the sword.”19 “We will go on the main road,” the Israelites replied to them, “and if we or our herds drink your water, we will pay its price. There will be no problem; only let us travel through on foot.”20 Yet Edom insisted, “You may not travel through.” And they came out to confront them with a large force of heavily-armed people.[e]21 Edom refused to allow Israel to travel through their territory, and Israel turned away from them.

Aaron’s Death

22 After they set out from Kadesh, the entire Israelite community came to Mount Hor. 23 The Lord said to Moses and Aaron at Mount Hor on the border of the land of Edom, 24 “Aaron will be gathered to his people; he will not enter the land I have given the Israelites, because you both rebelled against my command at the Waters of Meribah. 25 Take Aaron and his son Eleazar and bring them up Mount Hor. 26 Remove Aaron’s garments and put them on his son Eleazar. Aaron will be gathered to his people and die there.”27 So Moses did as the Lord commanded, and they climbed Mount Hor in the sight of the whole community. 28 After Moses removed Aaron’s garments and put them on his son Eleazar, Aaron died there on top of the mountain. Then Moses and Eleazar came down from the mountain. 29 When the whole community saw that Aaron had passed away, the entire house of Israel mourned for him thirty days.

Here we are again. The Israelites are grumbling. It seems to be their favorite pastime since leaving Egypt. God once again is going to provide. He tells Moses and Aaron to go out and speak to a rock and water will come out. 

Obviously Moses was not happy with the people. How do we know this?  He called them rebels. He struck the rock twice and water gushed. God provided even though Moses didn’t obey, but it doesn’t come without consequences. Moses and Aaron will not lead the people into the promised land because of Moses’ disobedience. 

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