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The Catholic Study Bible A special version of the New American Bible, with a wealth of background information useful to Catholics.

Chapter 20

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Death of Miriam. 1The whole Israelite community arrived in the desert of Zin in the first month,* and the people settled at Kadesh. It was here that Miriam died, and here that she was buried.

Water Famine at Kadesh. 2As the community had no water, they held a council against Moses and Aaron. 3The people contended with Moses, exclaiming, “Would that we too had perished with our kinsmen in the LORD's presence! 4Why have you brought the LORD's community into this desert where we and our livestock are dying? 5Why did you lead us out of Egypt, only to bring us to this wretched place which has neither grain nor figs nor vines nor pomegranates? Here there is not even water to drink!” 6But Moses and Aaron went away from the assembly to the entrance of the meeting tent, where they fell prostrate.

Sin of Moses and Aaron. then the glory of the LORD appeared to them, 7and the LORD said to Moses, 8“Take the staff and assemble the community, you and your brother Aaron, and in their presence order the rock to yield its waters. From the rock you shall bring forth water for the community and their livestock to drink.” 9So Moses took the staff from its place before the LORD, as he was ordered. 10He and Aaron assembled the community in front of the rock, where he said to them, v Ex 17, 5f . “Listen to me, you rebels! Are we to bring water for you out of this rock?” 11 w Ps 78, 15f; Wis 11, 4; 1 Cor 10, 4 . Then, raising his hand, Moses struck the rock twice* with his staff, and water gushed out in abundance for the community and their livestock to drink. 12 *But the LORD said to Moses and Aaron, “Because you were not faithful to me in showing forth my sanctity before the Israelites, you shall not lead this community into the land I will give them.”

13These are the waters of Meribah, x Nm 27, 14: Ex 17, 7 . where the Israelites contended against the LORD, and where he revealed his sanctity among them.

Edom's Refusal. 14From Kadesh Moses sent men to the king of Edom with the message: “Your brother Israel* has this to say: You know of all the hardships that have befallen us, 15how our fathers went down to Egypt, where we stayed a long time, how the Egyptians maltreated us and our fathers, 16and how, when we cried to the LORD, y Ex 2, 23 . he heard our cry and sent an angel who led us out of Egypt. Now here we are at the town of Kadesh at the edge of your territory. 17Kindly let us pass through your country. We will not cross any fields or vineyards, nor drink any well water, but we will go straight along the royal road* without turning to the right or to the left, until we have passed through your territory.”

18But Edom answered him, “You shall not pass through here; if you do, I will advance against you with the sword.” 19The Israelites insisted, “We want only to go up along the highway. If we or our livestock drink any of your water, we will pay for it. Surely there is no harm in merely letting us march through.” 20But Edom still said, “No, you shall not pass through,” z Jgs 11, 17 . and advanced against them with a large and heavily armed force. 21Therefore, since Edom refused to let them pass through their territory, Israel detoured around them.

Death of Aaron. 22 a 21f: Nm 33, 37 . Setting out from Kadesh, the whole Israelite community came to Mount Hor.* 23There at Mount Hor, on the border of the land of Edom, the LORD said to Moses and Aaron, 24“Aaron is about to be taken to his people; he shall not enter the land I am giving to the Israelites, because you both rebelled against my commandment at the waters of Meribah. 25Take Aaron and his son Eleazar and bring them up on Mount Hor. b 25f: Dt 32, 50 . 26Then strip Aaron of his garments and put them on his son Eleazar; for there Aaron shall be taken in death.”

27Moses did as the LORD commanded. When they had climbed Mount Hor in view of the whole community, 28Moses stripped Aaron of his garments and put them on his son Eleazar. Then Aaron died there on top of the mountain. c Nm 33, 38 . When Moses and Eleazar came down from the mountain, 29all the community understood that Aaron had passed away; and for thirty days the whole house of Israel mourned him.

Notes:

v: Ex 17, 5f .

w: Ps 78, 15f; Wis 11, 4; 1 Cor 10, 4 .

x: Nm 27, 14: Ex 17, 7 .

y: Ex 2, 23 .

z: Jgs 11, 17 .

a: 21f: Nm 33, 37 .

b: 25f: Dt 32, 50 .

c: Nm 33, 38 .

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