Numbers 20

Water from the rock

1 In the first month, the Israelites came to the Desert of Zin. They camped at Kadesh. Miriam died there and the people buried her.

2 The people did not have any water. They came to Moses and Aaron. 3 They said to Moses, ‘When the LORD killed our brothers in front of the Tent of Meeting, he should have killed us. 4 We are the LORD's people. You should not have brought us into this desert. Now both we and our animals will die here! 5 You should not have brought us from Egypt to this very bad place. It is not a place where we can get grain or figs or vines or pomegranates. And there is no water to drink.’

6 Moses and Aaron went from the people to the front of the Tent of Meeting. They threw themselves on to the ground. Their faces were on the ground. The special light from the LORD came to them. 7 The LORD said to Moses, 8 ‘Get the stick. Get your brother Aaron and get the Israelites. Speak to the rock that is in front of you. Water will come from it. It is for the people and for the animals. They can drink it.’

9 So Moses took the stick from in front of the LORD, as the LORD had said to him. 10 Then Moses and Aaron brought all the people to meet in front of the rock. And 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 from the rock. The people and the animals drank the water. 12 The LORD said to Moses and Aaron, ‘You did not believe in me enough to show the people that I am holy. So you will not lead them into the country that I am giving to them.’ 13 That place was called ‘The Waters of Meribah’, because the Israelites quarrelled with the LORD there. But he showed to them there that he is holy.

20:13The word Meribah means ‘to say that you are not happy about what someone is doing’.

14 From Kadesh, Moses sent men to the king of Edom with this message: ‘We are Israelites and our ancestor was your ancestor's brother. We should be friendly to each other. We are saying to you, “You know all the bad things that have happened to us. 15 Our ancestors went to Egypt. We lived there for many years. The people in Egypt were bad to us. 16 But when we asked the LORD to help us, he heard us. And he sent an angel and he brought us out from Egypt. Now we are at Kadesh, which is a town at the edge 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 king's important road. We will not leave that road on either side until we have gone through all your land.” ’

20:17Probably, verses 14-17 were a letter that Moses wrote to the king of Edom. Moses asked the king to allow the Israelites to travel through Edom. It was a typical official letter to a ruler. Moses had been a prince in the country called Egypt. So he would have known how to write official letters to other rulers.

18 The king of Edom said, ‘You must not travel through my country. If you do, we will attack you.’ 19 The Israelites said, ‘We will stay on the road. If our animals drink your water, we will pay for it. We only want to pass through your country.’ 20 The king of Edom said, ‘No you must not travel through our country.’ Then the people in Edom came out to attack the Israelites. 21 The Israelites turned away from Edom.

Aaron dies

22 All the Israelites went from Kadesh to the mountain called Hor. 23 When they were at the edge of Edom, the LORD spoke to Moses and Aaron. 24 He said, ‘Aaron will not go in to the country that I am giving to the Israelites. Because you did not obey me, he will die. 25 Aaron and his son Eleazar must climb up the mountain called Hor. 26 Moses must take the priest's clothes from Aaron and he must put them on Eleazar. Aaron will die there.’ 27 Moses did what the LORD had said to him. Moses, Aaron and Eleazar climbed up the mountain called Hor. The Israelites watched. 28 Moses took the priest's clothes from Aaron. He put them on Eleazar. Then Aaron died. Moses and Eleazar walked down the mountain. 29 The Israelites were sad for 30 days because Aaron died.

20:29Moses and Eleazar came down from Hor mountain. The people saw that Eleazar was wearing the High Priest's clothes. So they knew that Aaron was dead.