Numbers 20

Water comes from a rock

1 In the first month, the Israelites came to the Zin desert. They put up their tents at Kadesh. Miriam died there and the people buried her.

2 The people did not have any water to drink. They complained to Moses and Aaron. 3 They said to Moses, ‘We would rather be dead! When the Lord killed our brothers, he should have killed us too. 4 We are the Lord's people. Have you brought us and our animals here to die? 5 You should not have brought us to this very bad place. When we were in Egypt, we had grain, figs, grapes and pomegranates. There is no food like that here! And there is no water to drink!’

6 Moses and Aaron went away from the people to the door of the Tent of Meeting. They threw themselves down with their faces towards the ground. The glory of the Lord appeared to them. 7 The Lord said to Moses, 8 ‘Get the stick. Take your brother Aaron with you and go to the whole group of the Israelites. Then speak to that rock that you can all see. Water will pour out from it. Then the people and their animals can drink it.’

9 So Moses did what the Lord had told him. He took the stick from its place in the Lord's Tent of Meeting. 10 Then Moses and Aaron brought all the people to meet in front of the rock. Moses said to them, ‘Listen now, you people who refuse to obey God. It seems that we must bring water out of this rock for you!’ 11 Moses lifted up his arm. He hit the rock twice with his stick. Water poured out from the rock. The people and their animals drank the water.

12 The Lord said to Moses and Aaron, ‘You did not trust me enough to show the Israelites that I am holy. So you will not lead them into the land that I have promised to give to them.’

13 The place where this happened was called ‘Meribah’, because the Israelites quarrelled with the Lord there. But he showed them there that he was their holy God.

20:13The word Meribah means ‘to quarrel’. God showed the people that they could trust him to give them what they needed.

The Israelites want to travel through Edom

14 From Kadesh, Moses sent men to the king of Edom with this message: ‘We are Israelites, your relatives. We should be friendly to each other. You know about all the troubles that have happened to us. 15 Our ancestors went to Egypt. We lived there for many years. The people in Egypt were cruel to us. 16 But when we asked the Lord to help us, he heard us. He sent an angel and he brought us out from Egypt.

Now we are here at Kadesh, which is a town at the border of your land. 17 Please let us travel through your land. We will not go through any fields or through any vineyards. We will not even drink water from your wells. We will go along the main road. We will not leave that road on either side until we have gone through all your land.’

18 The king of Edom said, ‘You must not travel through my country. If you do, we will bring our army to attack you.’

19 The Israelites replied, ‘We will stay on the main road. If our animals drink your water, we will pay for it. We only want to travel through your country. We do not want anything else.’

20 The king of Edom said, ‘No, you must not travel through our country.’ He sent many strong soldiers to attack the Israelites. 21 In that way, the Edomites stopped the Israelites from travelling through Edom. So the Israelites turned away from there.

Aaron dies

22 All the Israelites went from Kadesh to Hor mountain. 23 When they were there, at the border of Edom's land, the Lord spoke to Moses and Aaron. 24 He said, ‘Aaron will soon die. He will not go in to the land that I am giving to the Israelites. That is because you both refused to obey me at Meribah. 25 Moses, you must take Aaron and his son Eleazar to climb up Hor mountain. 26 Take the priest's clothes from Aaron and put them on Eleazar. Aaron will die there.’

27 Moses did what the Lord told him to do. Moses, Aaron and Eleazar climbed up Hor mountain, while the Israelites watched. 28 Moses took the priest's clothes from Aaron and he put them on Eleazar. Then Aaron died there, at the top of the mountain. Moses and Eleazar walked back down the mountain. 29 The Israelites wept for 30 days because Aaron died.

20:28Moses and Eleazar came down from Hor mountain. The people saw that Eleazar was wearing the clothes of the leader of the priests. So they knew that Aaron was dead.