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The Wilderness

(Category 5 of 16)

Watch our Read Scripture video on the book of Numbers, which breaks down the literary design of the book and its flow of thought. There is one Read Scripture video dedicated to the book of Numbers, which aims to help you see its unique contribution to the story of Jesus, but also how it works within the Bible’s overall framework.

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Laws of Purification


1 Now the LORD spoke to Moses and Aaron, saying,
2 “This is the 1ordinance of the law which the LORD has commanded, saying: ‘Speak to the children of Israel, that they bring you a red heifer without 2blemish, in which there is no adefect band on which a yoke has never come.
3 ‘You shall give it to Eleazar the priest, that he may take it aoutside the camp, and it shall be slaughtered before him;
4 ‘and Eleazar the priest shall take some of its blood with his finger, and asprinkle some of its blood seven times directly in front of the tabernacle of meeting.
5 ‘Then the heifer shall be burned in his sight: aits hide, its flesh, its blood, and its offal shall be burned.
6 ‘And the priest shall take acedar wood and bhyssop and scarlet, and cast them into the midst of the fire burning the heifer.

CHAPTER 19 References

2 aLev.
bDeut. 21:3;
1 Sam. 6:7
3 aLev. 4:12,
21; Num. 19:9;
Heb. 13:11
4 aLev. 4:6;
Heb. 9:13
5 aEx. 29:14;
Lev. 4:11, 12;
6 aLev. 14:4, 6,
49 bEx. 12:22;
1 Kin. 4:33
7 aLev. 11:25;
15:5; 16:26, 28
9 a[Heb. 9:13,
14] bNum.
19:13, 20, 21
1Lit. impurity
11 aLev. 21:1,
11; Num. 5:2;
6:6; 9:6, 10;
31:19; Lam.
4:14; Hag.
2:13 1Lit. soul
of man
12 aNum.
19:19; 31:19
13 aLev. 22:3–7
bLev. 15:31
cNum. 8:7;
19:9 dLev.
7:20; 22:3
15 aLev. 11:32;
Num. 31:20
16 aNum.
19:11; 31:19
17 aNum. 19:9
1Lit. living
18 aPs. 51:7
19 aLev. 14:9
20 aNum.


7 a‘Then the priest shall wash his clothes, he shall bathe in water, and afterward he shall come into the camp; the priest shall be unclean until evening.
8 ‘And the one who burns it shall wash his clothes in water, bathe in water, and shall be unclean until evening.
9 ‘Then a man who is clean shall gather up athe ashes of the heifer, and store them outside the camp in a clean place; and they shall be kept for the congregation of the children of Israel bfor the water of 1purification; it is for purifying from sin.
10 ‘And the one who gathers the ashes of the heifer shall wash his clothes, and be unclean until evening. It shall be a statute forever to the children of Israel and to the stranger who dwells among them.
11 a‘He who touches the dead 1body of anyone shall be unclean seven days.
12 a‘He shall purify himself with the water on the third day and on the seventh day; then he will be clean. But if he does not purify himself on the third day and on the seventh day, he will not be clean.
13 ‘Whoever touches the body of anyone who has died, and adoes not purify himself, bdefiles the tabernacle of the LORD. That person shall be cut off from Israel. He shall be unclean, because cthe water of purification was not sprinkled on him; dhis uncleanness is still on him.
14 ‘This is the law when a man dies in a tent: All who come into the tent and all who are in the tent shall be unclean seven days;
15 ‘and every aopen vessel, which has no cover fastened on it, is unclean.
16 a‘Whoever in the open field touches one who is slain by a sword or who has died, or a bone of a man, or a grave, shall be unclean seven days.
17 ‘And for an unclean person they shall take some of the aashes of the heifer burnt for purification from sin, and 1running water shall be put on them in a vessel.
18 ‘A clean person shall take ahyssop and dip it in the water, sprinkle it on the tent, on all the vessels, on the persons who were there, or on the one who touched a bone, the slain, the dead, or a grave.
19 ‘The clean person shall sprinkle the unclean on the third day and on the seventh day; aand on the seventh day he shall purify himself,wash his clothes, and bathe in water; and at evening he shall be clean.
20 ‘But the man who is unclean and does not purify himself, that person shall be cut off from among the assembly, because he has adefiled the sanctuary of the LORD. The water of

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purification has not been sprinkled on him; he is unclean.
21 ‘It shall be a perpetual statute for them. He who sprinkles the water of purification shall wash his clothes; and he who touches the water of purification shall be unclean until evening.
22 a‘Whatever the unclean person touches shall be unclean; and bthe person who touches it shall be unclean until evening.’ ”

Moses’ Error at Kadesh


1 Thena the children of Israel, the whole congregation, came into the Wilderness of Zin in the first month, and the people stayed in bKadesh; and cMiriam died there and was buried there.
2 aNow there was no water for the congregation; bso they gathered together against Moses and Aaron.
3 And the people acontended with Moses and spoke, saying: “If only we had died bwhen our brethren died before the LORD!
4 a“Why have you brought up the assembly of the LORD into this wilderness, that we and our animals should die here?
5 “And why have you made us come up out of Egypt, to bring us to this evil place? It is not a place of grain or figs or vines or pomegranates; nor is there any water to drink.”
6 So Moses and Aaron went from the presence of the assembly to the door of the tabernacle of meeting, and athey 1fell on their faces. And bthe glory of the LORD appeared to them.
7 Then the LORD spoke to Moses, saying,
8 a“Take the rod; you and your brother Aaron gather the congregation together. Speak to the rock before their eyes, and it will yield its water; thus byou shall bring water for them out of the rock, and give drink to the congregation and their animals.”
9 So Moses took the rod afrom before the LORD as He commanded him.
10 And Moses and Aaron gathered the assembly together before the rock; and he said to them, a“Hear now, you rebels! Must we bring water for you out of this rock?”
11 Then Moses lifted his hand and struck the rock twice with his rod; aand water came out abundantly, and the congregation and their animals drank.
12 Then the LORD spoke to Moses and Aaron, “Because ayou did not believe Me, to bhallow Me in the eyes of the children of Israel, therefore you shall not bring this assembly into the land which I have given them.”

22 aHag.
2:11–13 bLev.

CHAPTER 20 References

1 aNum. 13:21;
33:36 bNum.
13:26 cEx.
2 aEx. 17:1
bNum. 16:19,
3 aEx. 17:2
bNum. 11:1,
33; 14:37;
16:31–35, 49
4 aEx. 17:3
6 aNum. 14:5;
16:4, 22, 45
bNum. 14:10
8 aEx. 4:17, 20;
17:5, 6 bNeh.
9 aNum. 17:10
10 aPs. 106:33
11 a[1 Cor.
10:4] 12 aDeut. 1:37;
3:26, 27; 34:5
bLev. 10:3
13 aDeut. 33:8
1Lit. Contention
14 aJudg.
11:16, 17
cDeut. 2:4
15 aGen. 46:6
bEx. 12:40
cDeut. 26:6
1did evil to
16 aEx. 2:23;
3:7 bEx. 3:2;
17 aNum.
18 aNum.
19 aDeut. 2:6,
20 aJudg. 11:17
21 aDeut. 2:27,
30 bJudg.
22 aNum.
33:37 bNum.
24 aGen. 25:8
1Die and join
his ancestors
25 aNum.
28 aEx. 29:29,
30 bNum.

13 aThis was the water of 1Meribah, because the children of Israel contended with the LORD, and He was hallowed among them.

Passage Through Edom Refused

14 aNow Moses sent messengers from Kadesh to the king of bEdom. c“Thus says your brother Israel: ‘You know all the hardship that has befallen us,
15 a‘how our fathers went down to Egypt, band we dwelt in Egypt a long time, cand the Egyptians 1afflicted us and our fathers.
16 a‘When we cried out to the LORD, He heard our voice and bsent the Angel and brought us up out of Egypt; now here we are in Kadesh, a city on the edge of your border.
17 ‘Please alet us pass through your country. We will not pass through fields or vineyards, nor will we drink water from wells; we will go along the King’s Highway; we will not turn aside to the right hand or to the left until we have passed through your territory.’ ”
18 Then aEdom said to him, “You shall not pass through my land, lest I come out against you with the sword.”
19 So the children of Israel said to him, “We will go by the Highway, and if I or my livestock drink any of your water, athen I will pay for it; let me only pass through on foot, nothing more.”
20 Then he said, a“You shall not pass through.” So Edom came out against them with many men and with a strong hand.
21 Thus Edom arefused to give Israel passage through his territory; so Israel bturned away from him.

Death of Aaron

22 Now the children of Israel, the whole congregation, journeyed from aKadesh band came to Mount Hor.
23 And the LORD spoke to Moses and Aaron in Mount Hor by the border of the land of Edom, saying:
24 “Aaron shall 1be agathered to his people, for he shall not enter the land which I have given to the children of Israel, because you rebelled against My word at the water of Meribah.
25 a“Take Aaron and Eleazar his son, and bring them up to Mount Hor;
26 “and strip Aaron of his garments and put them on Eleazar his son; for Aaron shall be gathered to his people and die there.”
27 So Moses did just as the LORD commanded, and they went up to Mount Hor in the sight of all the congregation.
28 aMoses stripped Aaron of his garments and put them on Eleazar his son; and bAaron died there on

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the top of the mountain. Then Moses and Eleazar came down from the mountain.
29 Now when all the congregation saw that Aaron was dead, all the house of Israel mourned for Aaron athirty days.

Canaanites Defeated at Hormah


1 The aking of Arad, the Canaanite, who dwelt in the South, heard that Israel was coming on the road to Atharim. Then he fought against Israel and took some of them prisoners.
2 aSo Israel made a vow to the LORD, and said, “If You will indeed deliver this people into my hand, then bI will utterly destroy their cities.”
3 And 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 that place was called 1Hormah.

The Bronze Serpent

4 Then they journeyed from Mount Hor by the Way of the Red Sea, to ago around the land of Edom; and the soul of the people became very 1discouraged on the way.
5 And the people aspoke against God and against Moses: “Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? For there is no food and no water, and our soul 1loathes this worthless bread.”
6 So athe LORD sent bfiery serpents among the people, and they bit the people; and many of the people of Israel died.
7 aTherefore the people came to Moses, and said, “We have bsinned, for we have spoken against the LORD and against you; cpray to the LORD that He take away the serpents from us.” So Moses prayed for the people.
8 Then the LORD said to Moses, a“Make a bfiery serpent, and set it on a pole; and it shall be that everyone who is bitten, when he looks at it, shall live.”
9 So aMoses made a bronze serpent, and put it on a pole; and so it was, if a serpent had bitten anyone, when he looked at the bronze serpent, he lived.

From Mount Hor to Moab

10 Now the children of Israel moved on and acamped in Oboth.
11 And they journeyed from Oboth and camped at 1Ije Abarim, in the wilderness which is east of Moab, toward the sunrise.
12 aFrom there they moved and camped in the Valley of Zered.
13 From there they moved and camped on the other side of the Arnon,which is in the wilderness that extends from the border of the Amo-

29 aGen. 50:3,
10; Deut. 34:8

CHAPTER 21 References

1 aNum. 33:40;
Josh. 12:14;
Judg. 1:16
2 aGen. 28:20;
Judg. 11:30
bDeut. 2:34
3 1Lit. Utter
4 aJudg. 11:18
5 aNum. 20:4,
5 1detests
6 a1 Cor. 10:9
bDeut. 8:15
7 aNum. 11:2;
Ps. 78:34; Is.
26:16; Hos.
5:15 bLev.
26:40 cEx. 8:8;
1 Sam. 12:19;
1 Kin. 13:6;
Acts 8:24
8 a[John 3:14,
15] bIs. 14:29;
9 a2 Kin. 18:4;
John 3:14, 15
10 aNum.
33:43, 44
11 1Lit. The
Heaps of
12 aDeut. 2:13
13 aNum.
22:36; Judg.
14 1Ancient
places; Vg.
What He did
in the Red
15 aNum.
21:28; Deut.
2:9, 18, 29
16 aJudg. 9:21
17 aEx. 15:1
18 aIs. 33:22
20 aNum. 23:28
1Lit. field
2Heb. Jeshimon
21 aNum.
32:33; Deut.
2:26–37; Judg.
22 aNum.
20:16, 17
23 aDeut. 29:7
bDeut. 2:32;
Judg. 11:20
24 aDeut. 2:33;
Josh. 12:1;
Neh. 9:22; Ps.
136:19; Amos
25 aAmos 2:10
27 1parables


rites; for athe Arnon is the border of Moab, between Moab and the Amorites.
14 Therefore it is said in the Book of the Wars of the LORD:

1“Waheb in Suphah, The brooks of the Arnon,
15 And the slope of the brooks That reaches to the dwelling of aAr, And lies on the border of Moab.”

16 From there they went ato Beer, which is the well where the LORD said to Moses, “Gather the people together, and I will give them water.”
17 aThen Israel sang this song:

“Spring up, O well! All of you sing to it—
18 The well the leaders sank, Dug by the nation’s nobles, By the alawgiver, with their staves.”

And from the wilderness they went to Mattanah,
19 from Mattanah to Nahaliel, from Nahaliel to Bamoth,
20 and from Bamoth, in the valley that is in the 1country of Moab, to the top of Pisgah which looks adown on the 2wasteland.

King Sihon Defeated

21 Then aIsrael sent messengers to Sihon king of the Amorites, saying,
22 a“Let me pass through your land. We will not turn aside into fields or vineyards; we will not drink water from wells. We will go by the King’s Highway until we have passed through your territory.”
23 aBut Sihon would not allow Israel to pass through his territory. So Sihon gathered all his people together and 1went out against Israel in the wilderness, band he came to Jahaz and fought against Israel.
24 Then aIsrael defeated him with the edge of the sword, and took possession of his land from the Arnon to the Jabbok, as far as the people of Ammon; for the border of the people of Ammon was fortified.
25 So Israel took all these cities, and Israel adwelt in all the cities of the Amorites, in Heshbon and in all its villages.
26 For Heshbon was the city of Sihon king of the Amorites, who had fought against the former king of Moab, and had taken all his land from his hand as far as the Arnon.
27 Therefore those who speak in 1proverbs say:

“Come to Heshbon, let it be built; Let the city of Sihon be repaired.

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28 “For afire went out from Heshbon, A flame from the city of Sihon; It consumed bAr of Moab, The lords of the cheights of the Arnon.
29 Woe to you, aMoab! You have perished, O people of bChemosh! He has given his csons as fugitives, And his ddaughters into captivity, To Sihon king of the Amorites.
30 “But we have shot at them; Heshbon has perished aas far as Dibon. Then we laid waste as far as Nophah, Which reaches to bMedeba.”
31 Thus Israel dwelt in the land of the Amorites.
32 Then Moses sent to 1spy out aJazer; and they took its villages and drove out the Amorites who were there.

King Og Defeated

33 aAnd they turned and went up by the way to bBashan. So Og king of Bashan went out against them, he and all his people, to battle cat Edrei.
34 Then the LORD said to Moses, a“Do not fear him, for I have 1delivered him into your hand, with all his people and his land; and byou shall do to him as you did to Sihon king of the Amorites, who dwelt at Heshbon.”
35 aSo they defeated him, his sons, and all his people, until there was no survivor left him; and they took possession of his land.

28 aJer. 48:45,
46 bDeut. 2:9,
18; Is. 15:1
cNum. 22:41;
29 aJer. 48:46
bJudg. 11:24;
1 Kin. 11:33;
2 Kin. 23:13
cIs. 15:2, 5 dIs.
30 aNum. 32:3,
34; Jer. 48:18,
22 bIs. 15:2
32 aNum. 32:1,
3, 35; Jer.
48:32 1secretly
33 aDeut. 29:7
bDeut. 3:1
cJosh. 13:12
34 aDeut. 3:2
bNum. 21:24;
Ps. 135:10;
136:20 1given
you victory
over him
35 aDeut. 3:3,
4; 29:7; Josh.

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God the Refuge of His People and Conqueror of the Nations

To the Chief Musician. A Psalm of the sons of Korah. A Song afor Alamoth.

1 GOD is our arefuge and strength, bA1 very present help in trouble.
2 Therefore we will not fear, Even though the earth be removed, And though the mountains be carried into the 1midst of the sea;
3 aThough its waters roar and be troubled, Though the mountains shake with its swelling. Selah

4 There is a ariver whose streams shall make glad the bcity of God, The holy place of the 1tabernacle of the Most High.
5 God is ain the midst of her, she shall not be 1moved; God shall help her, just 2at the break of dawn.

PSALM 46 References

title a1 Chr.
1 aPs. 62:7, 8
b[Deut. 4:7;
Ps. 145:18] 1An abundantly
2 1Lit. heart
3 a[Ps. 93:3, 4] 4 a[Ezek.
47:1–12] bPs.
48:1, 8; Is.
5 a[Deut.
23:14; Is.
12:6]; Ezek.
43:7; Hos.
11:9; [Joel
2:27; Zeph.
3:15; Zech.
2:5, 10, 11;
8:3] 1shaken
2Lit. at the
turning of the
6 aPs. 2:1, 2
7 aNum. 14:9;
2 Chr. 13:12
9 aIs. 2:4 bPs.
76:3 cEzek.
10 a[Is. 2:11,

6 aThe nations raged, the kingdoms were moved; He uttered His voice, the earth melted.

7 The aLORD of hosts is with us; The God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah

8 Come, behold the works of the LORD, Who has made desolations in the earth.
9 aHe makes wars cease to the end of the earth; bHe breaks the bow and cuts the spear in two; cHe burns the chariot in the fire.

10 Be still, and know that I am God; aI will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!
11 The LORD of hosts is with us; The God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah




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