Numbers Chapters 19 to 20 : Easy-to-Read Version  | SearchSearch | Next Version | Previous Page | Next Page |

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The Ashes of the Red Cow

19 The Lord spoke to Moses and Aaron. He said, 2“These are the laws from the teachings that the Lord gave to the people of Israel. Get a red cow that has nothing wrong with it. That cow must not have any bruises. And that cow must never have worn a yoke.* 3Give that cow to Eleazar the priest. Eleazar will take the cow outside the camp and kill it there. 4Then Eleazar the priest must put some of its blood on his finger and sprinkle some of the blood towards the Holy Tent. He must do this seven times. 5Then the whole cow must be burned in front of him. The skin, the meat, the blood, and the intestines must all be burned. 6Then the priest must take a cedar stick, a hyssop* branch, and some red string. The priest must throw those things into the fire where the cow is burning. 7Then the priest must wash himself and his clothes with water. Then he must come back into the camp. The priest will be unclean* until evening. 8The person who burns that cow must wash himself and his clothes in water. He will be unclean until evening. 9“Then a person who is clean* will collect the ashes from the cow. He will put those ashes in a clean place outside the camp. These ashes will be used when people must keep a special ceremony to become clean. These ashes will also be used to remove a person’s sins. 10“The person who collected the cow’s ashes must wash his clothes. He will be unclean* until evening. “This rule will continue forever. This rule is for the citizens of Israel. And this rule is for the foreigners living with you. 11If someone touches a dead person’s body, then he will be unclean* for seven days. 12He must wash himself with the special water on the third day and again on the seventh day. If he does not do this, then he will remain unclean. 13If a person touches a dead body, then that person is unclean. If that person stays unclean and then goes to the Holy Tent,* then the Holy Tent becomes unclean. So that person must be separated from the people of Israel. If the special water is not thrown on an unclean person, then that person will stay unclean. 14“This is the rule about people who die in their tents. If a person dies in his tent, then everyone in the tent will be unclean.* They will be unclean for seven days. 15And every jar or pot without a lid becomes unclean. 16If anyone touches a dead body, then that person will be unclean for seven days. This is true if the dead body is out in the field or if the person was killed in war. Also, if anyone touches the bones from a dead person then that person is unclean. 17“So you must use the ashes from the burnt cow to make that person clean* again. Pour fresh water* over the ashes into a jar. 18A clean person must take a hyssop* branch and dip it into the water. Then he must sprinkle it over the tent, the dishes, and the people who were in the tent. You must do this to anyone that touches a dead person’s body. You must do this to anyone that touches the body of someone killed in war and to anyone that touches a grave or the bones from a dead person. 19“Then a clean* person must sprinkle this water on the unclean* person on the third day and again on the seventh day. On the seventh day, that person becomes clean. He must wash his clothes in water. He will become clean in the evening. 20“If a person becomes unclean* and does not become clean,* that person must be separated from the people of Israel. That person was not sprinkled with the special water. He did not become clean. So he might make the Holy Tent* unclean. 21This rule will be for you forever. If a person is sprinkled with the special water, then he must also wash his clothes. Any person who touches the special water will be unclean until evening. 22If an unclean person touches someone else, then that other person also becomes unclean. That person will be unclean until evening.”

holy Chosen or set aside for God.  yoke A piece of wood that joins two work animals together for pulling a wagon or plow. hyssop A plant with fine branches and leaves used for sprinkling water or blood in cleansing ceremonies. unclean Not pure or not acceptable to God for worship. clean Pure or acceptable to God for worship. Holy Tent Or, “tabernacle,” the tent where God came to live among his people. fresh water Literally, “living water.” This means fresh, flowing water.

Miriam Dies  

20 The people of Israel arrived at the Zin desert on the first month. The people stayed at Kadesh. Miriam died, and she was buried there.

Moses Makes a Mistake

2There was not enough water for the people at that place. So the people met together to complain to Moses and Aaron. 3The people argued with Moses. They said, “Maybe we should have died in front of the Lord like our brothers did. 4Why did you bring the Lord’s people into this desert? Do you want us and our animals to die here? 5Why did you bring us from Egypt? Why did you bring us to this bad place? There is no grain. There are no figs, grapes, or pomegranates.* And there is no water to drink.” 6So Moses and Aaron left the crowd of people and went to the entrance of the Meeting Tent.* They bowed down to the ground, and the Glory of the Lord* appeared to them. 7The Lord spoke to Moses. He said, 8“Get the {special} walking stick. Take your brother Aaron and the crowd of people and go to that rock. Speak to the rock in front of the people. Then water will flow from the rock. And you can give that water to the people and to their animals.” 9The walking stick was {in the Holy Tent,} in front of the Lord. Moses took the walking stick like the Lord said. 10Moses and Aaron told the people to meet together in front of the rock. Then Moses said, “You people are always complaining. Now listen to me. I will cause water to flow from this rock.” 11Moses lifted his arm and hit the rock twice. Water began flowing from the rock. And the people and their animals drank that water. 12But the Lord said to Moses and Aaron, “All the people of Israel were gathered around. But you did not show me honor. You did not show the people of Israel that the power to make the water came from me. You did not show the people that you trusted in me. I will give those people the land that I promised them. But you will not lead them into that land!” 13This place was called the waters of Meribah.* This was the place where the Israelite people argued with the Lord. And this was the place that the Lord showed them that he was holy.

Edom Won’t Let Israel Pass

14While Moses was at Kadesh, he sent some men with a message to the king of Edom. The message said: “Your brothers, the people of Israel, say to you: You know about all the troubles that we have had. 15Many, many years ago our ancestors* went down into Egypt. And we lived there for many years. The people of Egypt were cruel to us. 16But we asked the Lord for help. The Lord heard us and sent an angel to help us. The Lord has brought us out of Egypt. “Now we are here at Kadesh, where your land begins. 17Please let us travel through your country. We will not travel through any fields or vineyards. We will not drink water from any of your wells. We will travel only along the King’s Road. We will not leave that road to the right or to the left. We will stay on the road until we have traveled through your country.” 18But {the king of} Edom answered, “You may not travel through our land. If you try to travel through our land, then we will come and fight you with swords.” 19The people of Israel answered, “We will travel along the main road. If our animals drink any of your water, we will pay you for it. We only want to walk through your country. We don’t want to take it for ourselves.” 20But again Edom answered, “We won’t allow you to come through our country.” Then {the king of} Edom gathered a large and powerful army and went out to fight against the people of Israel. 21{The king of} Edom refused to let the people of Israel travel through his country. And the people of Israel turned around and went another way.

Aaron Dies

22All the people of Israel traveled from Kadesh to Mount Hor. 23Mount Hor was near the border of Edom. The Lord said to Moses and Aaron, 24“{It is time for Aaron to die and} go to be with his ancestors.* Aaron will not enter the land that I promised to the people of Israel. Moses, I say this to you because both you and Aaron did not fully obey the command I gave you at the waters of Meribah. 25“Now, bring Aaron and his son Eleazar up to Mount Hor. 26Take Aaron’s special clothes from him and put those clothes on his son Eleazar. Aaron will die there on the mountain. And he will go to be with his ancestors.*” 27Moses obeyed the Lord’s command. Moses, Aaron, and Eleazar went up on Mount Hor. All the people of Israel watched them go. 28Moses removed Aaron’s special clothes and put those clothes on Aaron’s son Eleazar. Then Aaron died there on top of the mountain. Moses and Eleazar came back down the mountain. 29All the people of Israel learned that Aaron was dead. So every person in Israel mourned* for 30 days.

pomegranates A red fruit with many small seeds inside it. Each seed is covered with the soft, juicy part of the fruit. Meeting Tent The Holy Tent (tabernacle) where the people of Israel went to meet with God. Glory of the Lord One of the forms God used when he appeared to people. This was like a bright, shining light. Meribah This name means “argument,” or “rebellion.” ancestors Literally, “fathers,” meaning a person’s parents, grandparents, and all the people they are descended from. mourn To show sadness for a person who died. In ancient Israel people often cried very loudly, wore special clothes, and put ashes on their head to show their sadness.

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