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Troubles in the Desert
Exodus chapter 32
32:1 When the people saw that Moses delayed in coming down from the mountain, they gathered around Aaron and said to him, “Get up, make us gods that will go before us. As for this fellow Moses, the man who brought us up from the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him!” 32:2 So Aaron said to them, “Break off the gold earrings that are on the ears of your wives, your sons, and your daughters, and bring them to me.” 32:3 So all the people broke off the gold earrings that were on their ears and brought them to Aaron. 32:4 He accepted the gold from them, fashioned it with an engraving tool, and made a molten calf. Then they said, “These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of Egypt.” 32:5 When Aaron saw this, he built an altar before it, and Aaron made a proclamation and said, “Tomorrow will be a feast to the LORD.” 32:6 So they got up early on the next day and offered up burnt offerings and brought peace offerings, and the people sat down to eat and drink, and they rose up to play. 32:7 The LORD spoke to Moses: “Go quickly, descend, because your people, whom you brought up from the land of Egypt, have acted corruptly. 32:8 They have quickly turned aside from the way that I commanded them – they have made for themselves a molten calf and have bowed down to it and sacrificed to it and said, ‘These are your gods, O Israel, which brought you up from the land of Egypt.’” 32:9 Then the LORD said to Moses: “I have seen this people. Look what a stiff-necked people they are! 32:10 So now, leave me alone so that my anger can burn against them and I can destroy them, and I will make from you a great nation.” 32:11 But Moses sought the favor of the LORD his God and said, “O LORD, why does your anger burn against your people, whom you have brought out from the land of Egypt with great power and with a mighty hand? 32:12 Why should the Egyptians say, ‘For evil he led them out to kill them in the mountains and to destroy them from the face of the earth’? Turn from your burning anger, and relent of this evil against your people. 32:13 Remember Abraham, Isaac, and Israel your servants, to whom you swore by yourself and told them, ‘I will multiply your descendants like the stars of heaven, and all this land that I have spoken about I will give to your descendants, and they will inherit it forever.’” 32:14 Then the LORD relented over the evil that he had said he would do to his people. 32:15 Moses turned and went down from the mountain with the two tablets of the testimony in his hands. The tablets were written on both sides – they were written on the front and on the back. 32:16 Now the tablets were the work of God, and the writing was the writing of God, engraved on the tablets. 32:17 When Joshua heard the noise of the people as they shouted, he said to Moses, “It is the sound of war in the camp!” 32:18 Moses said, “It is not the sound of those who shout for victory, nor is it the sound of those who cry because they are overcome, but the sound of singing I hear.” 32:19 When he approached the camp and saw the calf and the dancing, Moses became extremely angry. He threw the tablets from his hands and broke them to pieces at the bottom of the mountain. 32:20 He took the calf they had made and burned it in the fire, ground it to powder, poured it out on the water, and made the Israelites drink it. 32:21 Moses said to Aaron, “What did this people do to you, that you have brought on them so great a sin?” 32:22 Aaron said, “Do not let your anger burn hot, my lord; you know these people, that they tend to evil. 32:23 They said to me, ‘Make us gods that will go before us, for as for this fellow Moses, the man who brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we do not know what has happened to him.’ 32:24 So I said to them, ‘Whoever has gold, break it off.’ So they gave it to me, and I threw it into the fire, and this calf came out.” 32:25 Moses saw that the people were running wild, for Aaron had let them get completely out of control, causing derision from their enemies. 32:26 So Moses stood at the entrance of the camp and said, “Whoever is for the LORD, come to me.” All the Levites gathered around him, 32:27 and he said to them, “Thus says the LORD, the God of Israel, ‘Each man fasten his sword on his side, and go back and forth from entrance to entrance throughout the camp, and each one kill his brother, his friend, and his neighbor.’” 32:28 The Levites did what Moses ordered, and that day about three thousand men of the people died. 32:29 Moses said, “You have been consecrated today for the LORD, for each of you was against his son or against his brother, so he has given a blessing to you today.” 32:30 The next day Moses said to the people, “You have committed a very serious sin, but now I will go up to the LORD – perhaps I can make atonement on behalf of your sin.” 32:31 So Moses returned to the LORD and said, “Alas, this people has committed a very serious sin, and they have made for themselves gods of gold. 32:32 But now, if you will forgive their sin…, but if not, wipe me out from your book that you have written.” 32:33 The LORD said to Moses, “Whoever has sinned against me – that person I will wipe out of my book. 32:34 So now go, lead the people to the place I have spoken to you about. See, my angel will go before you. But on the day that I punish, I will indeed punish them for their sin.” 32:35 And the LORD sent a plague on the people because they had made the calf – the one Aaron made.
Numbers 13:26 – 14:45
13:26 They came back to Moses and Aaron and to the whole community of the Israelites in the wilderness of Paran at Kadesh. They reported to the whole community and showed the fruit of the land. 13:27 They told Moses, “We went to the land where you sent us. It is indeed flowing with milk and honey, and this is its fruit. 13:28 But the inhabitants are strong, and the cities are fortified and very large. Moreover we saw the descendants of Anak there. 13:29 The Amalekites live in the land of the Negev; the Hittites, Jebusites, and Amorites live in the hill country; and the Canaanites live by the sea and along the banks of the Jordan.” 13:30 Then Caleb silenced the people be-fore Moses, saying, “Let us go up and occupy it, for we are well able to conquer it.” 13:31 But the men who had gone up with him said, “We are not able to go up against these people, because they are stronger than we are!” 13:32 Then they presented the Israelites with a discouraging report of the land they had investigated, saying, “The land that we passed through to investigate is a land that devours its inhabitants. All the people we saw there are of great stature. 13:33 We even saw the Nephilim there (the descendants of Anak came from the Nephilim), and we seemed liked grasshoppers both to ourselves and to them.” 14:1 Then all the community raised a loud cry, and the people wept that night. 14:2 And all the Israelites murmured against Moses and Aaron, and the whole congregation said to them, “If only we had died in the land of Egypt, or if only we had perished in this wilderness! 14:3 Why has the LORD brought us into this land only to be killed by the sword, that our wives and our children should become plunder? Wouldn’t it be better for us to return to Egypt?” 14:4 So they said to one another, “Let’s appoint a leader and return to Egypt.” 14:5 Then Moses and Aaron fell down with their faces to the ground before the whole assembled community of the Israelites. 14:6 And Joshua son of Nun and Caleb son of Jephunneh, two of those who had investigated the land, tore their garments. 14:7 They said to the whole community of the Israelites, “The land we passed through to investigate is an exceedingly good land. 14:8 If the LORD delights in us, then he will bring us into this land and give it to us – a land that is flowing with milk and honey. 14:9 Only do not rebel against the LORD, and do not fear the people of the land, for they are bread for us. Their protection has turned aside from them, but the LORD is with us. Do not fear them!” 14:10 However, the whole community threatened to stone them. But the glory of the LORD appeared to all the Israelites at the tent of meeting. The Punishment from God 14:11 The LORD said to Moses, “How long will this people despise me, and how long will they not believe in me, in spite of the signs that I have done among them? 14:12 I will strike them with the pestilence, and I will disinherit them; I will make you into a nation that is greater and mightier than they!” 14:13 Moses said to the LORD, “When the Egyptians hear it – for you brought up this people by your power from among them – 14:14 then they will tell it to the inhabitants of this land. They have heard that you, LORD, are among this people, that you, LORD, are seen face to face, that your cloud stands over them, and that you go before them by day in a pillar of cloud and in a pillar of fire by night. 14:15 If you kill this entire people at once, then the nations that have heard of your fame will say, 14:16 ‘Because the LORD was not able to bring this people into the land that he swore to them, he killed them in the wilderness.’ 14:17 So now, let the power of my Lord be great, just as you have said, 14:18 ‘The LORD is slow to anger and abounding in loyal love, forgiving iniquity and transgression, but by no means clearing the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children until the third and fourth generations.’ 14:19 Please forgive the iniquity of this people according to your great loyal love, just as you have forgiven this people from Egypt even until now.” 14:20 Then the LORD said, “I have forgiven them as you asked. 14:21 But truly, as I live, all the earth will be filled with the glory of the LORD. 14:22 For all the people have seen my glory and my signs that I did in Egypt and in the wilderness, and yet have tempted me now these ten times, and have not obeyed me, 14:23 they will by no means see the land that I swore to their fathers, nor will any of them who despised me see it. 14:24 Only my servant Caleb, because he had a different spirit and has followed me fully – I will bring him into the land where he had gone, and his descendants will possess it. 14:25 (Now the Amalekites and the Canaanites were living in the valleys.) Tomorrow, turn and journey into the wilderness by the way of the Red Sea.” 14:26 The LORD spoke to Moses and Aaron: 14:27 “How long must I bear with this evil congregation that murmurs against me? I have heard the complaints of the Israelites that they murmured against me. 14:28 Say to them, ‘As I live, says the LORD, I will surely do to you just what you have spoken in my hearing. 14:29 Your dead bodies will fall in this wilderness – all those of you who were numbered, according to your full number, from twenty years old and upward, who have murmured against me. 14:30 You will by no means enter into the land where I swore to settle you. The only exceptions are Caleb son of Jephunneh and Joshua son of Nun. 14:31 But I will bring in your little ones, whom you said would become victims of war, and they will enjoy the land that you have despised. 14:32 But as for you, your dead bodies will fall in this wilderness, 14:33 and your children will wander in the wilderness forty years and suffer for your unfaithfulness, until your dead bodies lie finished in the wilderness. 14:34 According to the number of the days you have investigated this land, forty days – one day for a year – you will suffer for your iniquities, forty years, and you will know what it means to thwart me. 14:35 I, the LORD, have said, “I will surely do so to all this evil congregation that has gathered together against me. In this wilderness they will be finished, and there they will die!”’” 14:36 The men whom Moses sent to investigate the land, who returned and made the whole community murmur against him by producing an evil report about the land, 14:37 those men who produced the evil report about the land, died by the plague before the LORD. 14:38 But Joshua son of Nun and Caleb son of Jephunneh, who were among the men who went to investigate the land, lived. 14:39 When Moses told these things to all the Israelites, the people mourned greatly. 14:40 And early in the morning they went up to the crest of the hill country, saying, “Here we are, and we will go up to the place that the LORD commanded, for we have sinned.” 14:41 But Moses said, “Why are you now transgressing the commandment of the LORD? It will not succeed! 14:42 Do not go up, for the LORD is not among you, and you will be defeated before your enemies. 14:43 For the Amalekites and the Canaanites are there before you, and you will fall by the sword. Because you have turned away from the LORD, the LORD will not be with you.” 14:44 But they dared to go up to the crest of the hill, although neither the ark of the covenant of the LORD nor Moses departed from the camp. 14:45 So the Amalekites and the Canaanites who lived in that hill country swooped down and attacked them as far as Hormah.
Numbers 20:1 – 20:13; 21:1-9
20:1 Then the entire community of Israel entered the wilderness of Zin in the first month, and the people stayed in Kadesh. Miriam died and was buried there. 20:2 And there was no water for the community, and so they gathered themselves together against Moses and Aaron. 20:3 The people contended with Moses, saying, “If only we had died when our brothers died before the LORD! 20:4 Why have you brought up the LORD’s community into this wilderness? So that we and our cattle should die here? 20:5 Why have you brought us up from Egypt only to bring us to this dreadful place? It is no place for grain, or figs, or vines, or pomegranates; nor is there any water to drink!” Moses Responds 20:6 So Moses and Aaron went from the presence of the assembly to the entrance to the tent of meeting. They then threw themselves down with their faces to the ground, and the glory of the LORD appeared to them. 20:7 Then the LORD spoke to Moses: 20:8 “Take the staff and assemble the community, you and Aaron your brother, and then speak to the rock before their eyes. It will pour forth its water, and you will bring water out of the rock for them, and so you will give the community and their beasts water to drink.” 20:9 So Moses took the staff from before the LORD, just as he commanded him. 20:10 Then Moses and Aaron gathered the community together in front of the rock, and he said to them, “Listen, you rebels, must we bring water out of this rock for you?” 20:11 Then Moses raised his hand, and struck the rock twice with his staff. And water came out abundantly. So the community drank, and their beasts drank too. 20:12 Then the LORD spoke to Moses and Aaron, “Because you did not trust me enough to show me as holy before the Israelites, therefore you will not bring this community into the land I have given them.” 20:13 These are the waters of Meribah, because the Israelites contended with the LORD, and his holiness was maintained among them.
21:1 When the Canaanite king of Arad who lived in the Negev heard that Israel was approaching along the road to Atharim, he fought against Israel and took some of them prisoner. 21:2 So Israel made a vow to the LORD and said, “If you will indeed deliver this people into our hand, then we will utterly destroy their cities.” 21:3 The LORD listened to the voice of Israel and delivered up the Canaanites, and they utterly destroyed them and their cities. So the name of the place was called Hormah.
21:4 Then they traveled from Mount Hor by the road to the Red Sea, to go around the land of Edom, but the people became impatient along the way. 21:5 And the people spoke against God and against Moses, “Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness, for there is no bread or water, and we detest this worthless food.” 21:6 So the LORD sent poisonous snakes among the people, and they bit the people; many people of Israel died. 21:7 Then the people came to Moses and said, “We have sinned, for we have spoken against the LORD and against you. Pray to the LORD that he would take away the snakes from us.” So Moses prayed for the people. 21:8 The LORD said to Moses, “Make a poisonous snake and set it on a pole. When anyone who is bitten looks at it, he will live.” 21:9 So Moses made a bronze snake and put it on a pole, so that if a snake had bitten someone, when he looked at the bronze snake he lived.
(the NET Bible)