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Numbers 18; Numbers 19; Numbers 20 (The Message)

1 God said to Aaron, "You and your sons, along with your father's family, are responsible for taking care of sins having to do with the Sanctuary; you and your sons are also responsible for sins involving the priesthood. 2 So enlist your brothers of the tribe of Levi to join you and assist you and your sons in your duties in the Tent of Testimony. 3 They will report to you as they go about their duties related to the Tent, but they must not have anything to do with the holy things of the Altar under penalty of death - both they and you will die! 4 They are to work with you in taking care of the Tent of Meeting, whatever work is involved in the Tent. Outsiders are not allowed to help you. 5 "Your job is to take care of the Sanctuary and the Altar so that there will be no more outbreaks of anger on the People of Israel. 6 I personally have picked your brothers, the Levites, from Israel as a whole. I'm giving them to you as a gift, a gift of God, to help with the work of the Tent of Meeting. 7 But only you and your sons may serve as priests, working around the Altar and inside the curtain. The work of the priesthood is my exclusive gift to you; it cannot be delegated - anyone else who invades the Sanctuary will be executed." 8 God spoke to Aaron, "I am personally putting you in charge of my contributions, all the holy gifts I get from the People of Israel. I am turning them over to you and your children for your personal use. This is the standing rule. 9 You and your sons get what's left from the offerings, whatever hasn't been totally burned up on the Altar - the leftovers from Grain-Offerings, Absolution-Offerings, and Compensation-Offerings. 10 Eat it reverently; it is most holy; every male may eat it. Treat it as holy. 11 "You also get the Wave-Offerings from the People of Israel. I present them to you and your sons and daughters as a gift. This is the standing rule. Anyone in your household who is ritually clean may eat it. 12 I also give you all the best olive oil, the best new wine, and the grain that is offered to God as the firstfruits of their harvest - 13 all the firstfruits they offer to God are yours. Anyone in your household who is ritually clean may eat it. 14 "You get every Totally-Devoted gift. 15 Every firstborn that is offered to God, whether animal or person, is yours. Except you don't get the firstborn itself, but its redemption price; firstborn humans and ritually clean animals are bought back and you get the redemption price. 16 When the firstborn is a month old it must be redeemed at the redemption price of five shekels of silver, using the standard of the Sanctuary shekel, which weighs twenty gerahs. 17 "On the other hand, you don't redeem a firstborn ox, sheep, or goat - they are holy. Instead splash their blood on the Altar and burn their fat as a Fire-Gift, a pleasing fragrance to God. 18 But you get the meat, just as you get the breast from the Wave-Offering and the right thigh. 19 All the holy offerings that the People of Israel set aside for God, I'm turning over to you and your children. That's the standard rule and includes both you and your children - a Covenant-of-Salt, eternal and unchangeable before God." 20 God said to Aaron, "You won't get any inheritance in land, not so much as a small plot of ground: I am your plot of ground, I am your inheritance among the People of Israel. 21 "I'm giving the Levites all the tithes of Israel as their pay for the work they do in the Tent of Meeting. 22 Starting now, the rest of the People of Israel cannot wander in and out of the Tent of Meeting; they'll be penalized for their sin and the penalty is death. 23 It's the Levites and only the Levites who are to work in the Tent of Meeting and they are responsible for anything that goes wrong. This is the regular rule for all time. They get no inheritance among the People of Israel; 24 instead I turn over to them the tithes that the People of Israel present as an offering to God. That's why I give the ruling: They are to receive no land-inheritance among the People of Israel." 25 God spoke to Moses: 26 "Speak to the Levites. Tell them, When you get the tithe from the People of Israel, the inheritance that I have assigned to you, you must tithe that tithe and present it as an offering to God. 27 Your offerings will be treated the same as other people's gifts of grain from the threshing floor or wine from the wine vat. 28 This is your procedure for making offerings to God from all the tithes you get from the People of Israel: give God's portion from these tithes to Aaron the priest. 29 Make sure that God's portion is the best and holiest of everything you get. 30 "Tell the Levites, When you offer the best part, the rest will be treated the same as grain from the threshing floor or wine from the wine vat that others give. 31 You and your households are free to eat the rest of it anytime and anyplace - it's your wages for your work at the Tent of Meeting. 32 By offering the best part, you'll avoid guilt, you won't desecrate the holy offerings of the People of Israel, and you won't die." 1 God spoke to Moses and Aaron: 2 "This is the rule from the Revelation that God commands: Tell the People of Israel to get a red cow, a healthy specimen, ritually clean, that has never been in harness. 3 Present it to Eleazar the priest, then take it outside the camp and butcher it while he looks on. 4 Eleazar will take some of the blood on his finger and splash it seven times in the direction of the Tent of Meeting. 5 "Then under Eleazar's supervision burn the cow, the whole thing - hide, meat, blood, even its dung. 6 The priest then will take a stick of cedar, some sprigs of hyssop, and a piece of scarlet material and throw them on the burning cow. 7 Afterwards the priest must wash his clothes and bathe well with water. He can then come into the camp but he remains ritually unclean until evening. 8 The man who burns the cow must also wash his clothes and bathe with water. He also is unclean until evening. 9 "Then a man who is ritually clean will gather the ashes of the cow and place them in a ritually clean place outside the camp. The congregation of Israel will keep them to use in the Water-of-Cleansing, an Absolution-Offering. 10 "The man who gathered up the ashes must scrub his clothes; he is ritually unclean until evening. This is to be a standing rule for both native-born Israelites and foreigners living among them. 11 "Anyone who touches a dead body is ritually unclean for seven days. 12 He must purify himself with the Water-of-Cleansing on the third day; on the seventh day he will be clean. But if he doesn't follow the procedures for the third and seventh days, he won't be clean. 13 Anyone who touches the dead body of anyone and doesn't get cleansed desecrates God's Dwelling and is to be excommunicated. For as long as the Water-of-Cleansing has not been sprinkled on him, he remains ritually unclean. 14 "This is the rule for someone who dies in his tent: Anyone who enters the tent or is already in the tent is ritually unclean for seven days, 15 and every open container without a lid is unclean. 16 "Anyone out in the open field who touches a corpse, whether dead from violent or natural causes, or a human bone or a grave is unclean for seven days. 17 For this unclean person, take some ashes from the burned Absolution-Offering and add some fresh water to it in a bowl. 18 Find a ritually clean man to dip a sprig of hyssop into the water and sprinkle the tent and all its furnishings, the persons who were in the tent, the one who touched the bones of the person who was killed or died a natural death, and whoever may have touched a grave. 19 Then he is to sprinkle the unclean person on the third and seventh days. On the seventh day he is considered cleansed. The cleansed person must then scrub his clothes and take a bath; by evening he is clean. 20 But if an unclean person does not go through these cleansing procedures, he must be excommunicated from the community; he has desecrated the Sanctuary of God. The Water-of-Cleansing has not been sprinkled on him and he is ritually unclean. 21 This is the standing rule for these cases. "The man who sprinkles the Water-of-Cleansing has to scrub his clothes; anyone else who touched the Water-of-Cleansing is also ritually unclean until evening. 22 "Anything the ritually unclean man touches becomes unclean, and the person who touches what he touched is unclean until evening." 1 In the first month, the entire company of the People of Israel arrived in the Wilderness of Zin. The people stayed in Kadesh. Miriam died there, and she was buried. 2 There was no water there for the community, so they ganged up on Moses and Aaron. 3 They attacked Moses: "We wish we'd died when the rest of our brothers died before God. 4 Why did you haul this congregation of God out here into this wilderness to die, people and cattle alike? 5 And why did you take us out of Egypt in the first place, dragging us into this miserable country? No grain, no figs, no grapevines, no pomegranates - and now not even any water!" 6 Moses and Aaron walked from the assembled congregation to the Tent of Meeting and threw themselves facedown on the ground. And they saw the Glory of God. 7 God spoke to Moses: 8 "Take the staff. Assemble the community, you and your brother Aaron. Speak to that rock that's right in front of them and it will give water. You will bring water out of the rock for them; congregation and cattle will both drink." 9 Moses took the staff away from God's presence, as commanded. 10 He and Aaron rounded up the whole congregation in front of the rock. Moses spoke: "Listen, rebels! Do we have to bring water out of this rock for you?" 11 With that Moses raised his arm and slammed his staff against the rock - once, twice. Water poured out. Congregation and cattle drank. 12 God said to Moses and Aaron, "Because you didn't trust me, didn't treat me with holy reverence in front of the People of Israel, you two aren't going to lead this company into the land that I am giving them." 13 These were the Waters of Meribah (Bickering) where the People of Israel bickered with God, and he revealed himself as holy. 14 Moses sent emissaries from Kadesh to the king of Edom with this message: "A message from your brother Israel: You are familiar with all the trouble we've run into. 15 Our ancestors went down to Egypt and lived there a long time. The Egyptians viciously abused both us and our ancestors. 16 But when we cried out for help to God, he heard our cry. He sent an angel and got us out of Egypt. And now here we are at Kadesh, a town at the border of your land. 17 "Will you give us permission to cut across your land? We won't trespass through your fields or orchards and we won't drink out of your wells; we'll keep to the main road, the King's Road, straying neither right nor left until we've crossed your border." 18 The king of Edom answered, "Not on your life. If you so much as set a foot on my land, I'll kill you." 19 The People of Israel said, "Look, we'll stay on the main road. If we or our animals drink any water, we'll pay you for it. We're harmless - just a company of footsore travelers." 20 He answered again: "No. You may not come through." And Edom came out and blocked the way with a crowd of people brandishing weapons. 21 Edom refused to let them cross through his land. So Israel had to detour around him. 22 The People of Israel, the entire company, set out from Kadesh and traveled to Mount Hor. 23 God said to Moses and Aaron at Mount Hor at the border of Edom, 24 "It's time for Aaron to be gathered into the company of his ancestors. He will not enter the land I am giving to the People of Israel because you both rebelled against my orders at the Waters of Meribah. 25 So take Aaron and his son Eleazar and lead them up Mount Hor. 26 Remove Aaron's clothes from him and put them on his son Eleazar. Aaron will be gathered there; Aaron will die." 27 Moses obeyed God's command. They climbed Mount Hor as the whole congregation watched. 28 Moses took off Aaron's clothes and put them on his son Eleazar. Aaron died on top of the mountain. Then Moses and Eleazar came down from the mountain. 29 The whole congregation, getting the news that Aaron had died, went into thirty days of mourning for him.
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