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And it came to pass, when the congregation was gathered against Moses and against Aaron, that they looked toward the tabernacle of the congregation: and behold, the cloud covered it, and the glory of the Lord appeared. And Moses and Aaron came before the tabernacle of the congregation. And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying: "Get you up from among this congregation, that I may consume them as in a moment." And they fell upon their faces. And Moses said unto Aaron: "Take a censer, and put fire therein from off the altar, and put on incense, and go quickly unto the congregation, and make an atonement for them: for there is wrath gone out from the Lord; the plague is begun." And Aaron took as Moses commanded, and ran into the midst of the congregation; and behold, the plague was begun among the people: and he put on incense, and made an atonement for the people. And he stood between the dead and the living; and the plague was stayed. Now they that died in the plague were fourteen thousand and seven hundred, beside them that died about the matter of Korah. And Aaron returned unto Moses unto the door of the tabernacle of the congregation : and the plague was stayed.
And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying: "Speak unto the children of Israel, and take of every one of them a rod, a rod for each father's house, of all their princes according to the house of their fathers twelve rods: write thou every man's name upon his rod. And thou shalt write Aaron's name upon the rod of Levi: for one rod shall be for the head of the house of their fathers. And thou shalt lay them up in the tabernacle of the congregation before the testimony, where I will meet with you. And it shall come to pass, that the man's rod, whom I shall choose, shall blossom and I will make to cease from me the murmurings of the children of Israel, whereby they murmur against you."
And Moses spake unto the children of Israel, and every one of their princes gave him a rod apiece, for each prince one, according to their fathers' houses, even twelve rods: and the rod of Aaron was among their rods. And Moses laid up the rods before the Lord in the tabernacle of witness. And it came to pass, that on the morrow Moses went into the tabernacle of witness; and behold, the rod of Aaron for the house of Levi was budded, and brought forth buds, and bloomed blossoms, and yielded almonds. And Moses brought out all the rods from be
fore the Lord unto all the children of Israel: and they looked, and took every man his rod. And the Lord said unto Moses: "Bring Aaron's rod again before the testimony, to be kept for a token against the rebels; and thou shalt quite take away their murmurings from me, that they die not." And Moses did so: as the Lord commanded him, so did he.
FROM KADESH TO THE EAST OF JORDAN
The Edomites Refuse Israel Passage (Num. xx. 14-21). And Moses sent messengers from Kadesh unto the king of Edom: "Thus saith thy brother Israel, Thou knowest all the travail that hath befallen us: how our fathers went down into Egypt, and we have dwelt in Egypt a long time; and the Egyptians vexed us, and our fathers: and when we cried unto the Lord, he heard our voice, and sent an angel, and hath brought us forth out of Egypt: and behold, we are in Kadesh, a city in the uttermost of thy border: let us pass, I pray thee, through thy country: we will not pass through the fields, or through the vineyards, neither will we drink of the water of the wells: we will go by the king's high way, we will not turn to the right hand nor to the left, until we have passed thy borders." And Edom said unto him: "Thou shalt not pass by me, lest I come out against thee with the sword." And the children of Israel said unto him: "We will go by the high way: and if I and my cattle drink of thy water, then I will pay for it: I will only, without doing any thing else, go through on my feet." And he said: "Thou shalt not go through." And Edom came out against him with much people, and with a strong hand. Thus Edom refused to give Israel passage through his border wherefore Israel turned away from him.
Death of Aaron (Num. xx. 22-xxi. 4). And the children of Israel, even the whole congregation, journeyed from Kadesh, and came unto mount Hor. And the Lord spake unto Moses and Aaron in mount Hor, by the coast of the land of Edom, saying: "Aaron shall be gathered unto his people: for he shall not enter into the land which I have given unto the children of Israel, because ye rebelled against my word at the water of Meribah. Take Aaron and Eleazar his son, and bring them up unto mount Hor: and strip Aaron of his garments, and put them upon Eleazar his son: and Aaron shall be gathered unto his people, and shall die there." And Moses did as the Lord commanded:
and they went up into mount Hor in the sight of all the congregation. And Moses stripped Aaron of his garments, and put them upon Eleazar his son; and Aaron died there in the top of the mount: and Moses and Eleazar came down from the mount. And when all the congregation saw that Aaron was dead, they mourned for Aaron thirty days, even all the house of Israel.
And when king Arad the Canaanite, which dwelt in the south, heard tell that Israel came by the way of Atharim, then he fought against Israel, and took some of them prisoners. And Israel vowed a vow unto the Lord, and said: "If thou wilt indeed deliver this people into my hand, then I will utterly destroy their cities." 1
And they journeyed from mount Hor by the way of the Red Sea, to compass the land of Edom: and the soul of the people was much discouraged because of the way.
The Brazen Serpent (Num. xxi. 5-20). And the people spake against God, and against Moses: "Wherefore have ye brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? for there is no bread, neither is there any water; and our soul loatheth this light bread." And the Lord sent fiery serpents among the people, and they bit the people; and much people of Israel died. Therefore the people came to Moses, and said: "We have sinned, for we have spoken against the Lord, and against thee; pray unto the Lord, that he take away the serpents from us." And Moses prayed for the people. And the Lord said unto Moses: "Make thee a fiery serpent, and set it upon a pole : and it shall come to pass, that every one that is bitten, when he looketh upon it, shall live." And Moses made a serpent of brass, and put it upon a pole, and it came to pass, that if a serpent had bitten any man, when he beheld the serpent of brass, he lived.3
And the children of Israel set forward, and pitched in Oboth. And they journeyed from Oboth, and pitched at Iye-abarim, in the wilderness which is before Moab, toward the sunrising. From thence they removed, and pitched in the valley of Zared.
1 For the fulfilment of this vow see the note on Hormah, p. 165.
2 Red Sea. That is, the Gulf of Akaba.
8 "Apollonius of Tyana is said to have freed Antioch from scorpions by making a bronze image of a scorpion, and burying it under a small pillar in the middle of the city." J. G. Frazer (The Golden Bough). See also p. 219.
From thence they removed, and pitched on the other side of Arnon, which is in the wilderness that cometh out of the coasts 2 of the Amorites: for Arnon is the border of Moab, between Moab and the Amorites. Wherefore it is said in the book of the wars of the Lord :
"Vaheb in Suphah [we passed],
And the valleys of the Arnon,
And the slope of the valleys
That inclineth toward the dwelling of Ar,
And from thence they went to Beer: that is the well whereof the Lord spake unto Moses: "Gather the people together, and I will give them water." Then Israel sang this song:
"Spring up, O well, sing ye unto it:
The well which the princes digged,
And from the wilderness they went to Mattanah: and from Mattanah to Nahaliel and from Nahaliel to Bamoth: and from Bamoth to the valley that is in the country of Moab, to the top of Pisgah, which looketh down upon the desert.
Defeat of Sihon and Og (Num. xxi. 21-xxii. 1). And Israel sent messengers unto Sihon king of the Amorites, saying: "Let me pass through thy land: we will not turn into the fields, or into the vineyards; we will not drink of the waters of the well: but we will go along by the king's high way, until we be past thy borders." And Sihon would not suffer Israel to pass through his borders: but Sihon gathered all his people together, and went out against Israel into the wilderness: and he came to Jahaz, and fought against Israel. And Israel smote him with the edge of the sword, and possessed his land from Arnon unto Jabbok, even unto the children of Ammon: for the border of the children of Ammon was strong. And Israel took all these cities and Israel dwelt in all the cities of the Amorites, in
1 the other side. The southern side, the writer's point of view being that of one living in Canaan.
2 coasts. Borderlands; boundaries.
book of the wars of the Lord. Probably a collection of traditional songs recounting battles won by national heroes with the help of Jehovah.