Numbers Chapter 20

Is the God of the Old Testament petty? Well, after reading this section…yes.

Once again, the Israelites are mad at Moses and Aaron because they brought them out into the wilderness and there is no water. So they go off to the tent of meeting to tell God why the people are mad at them this time.

7The LORD spoke to Moses, saying: 8Take the staff, and assemble the congregation, you and your brother Aaron, and command the rock before their eyes to yield its water. Thus you shall bring water out of the rock for them; thus you shall provide drink for the congregation and their livestock.

Bibles, Harper . NRSV Bible with the Apocrypha (p. 324). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.

Simple enough. Now let’s continue…

9So Moses took the staff from before the LORD, as he had commanded him. 10Moses and Aaron gathered the assembly together before the rock, and he said to them, “Listen, you rebels, shall we bring water for you out of this rock?” 11Then Moses lifted up his hand and struck the rock twice with his staff; water came out abundantly, and the congregation and their livestock drank.

Bibles, Harper . NRSV Bible with the Apocrypha (p. 324). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.

There we go. Moses did the thing that resulted in the thing happening and now the people are happy. Let’s see what’s next…

12But the LORD said to Moses and Aaron, “Because you did not trust in me, to show my holiness before the eyes of the Israelites, therefore you shall not bring this assembly into the land that I have given them.” 13These are the waters of Meribah, where the people of Israel quarreled with the LORD, and by which he showed his holiness

Bibles, Harper . NRSV Bible with the Apocrypha (p. 324). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.

What? OK, it took me a couple times reading this through and then having to look up a scholarly explanation of this section. It turns out that because Moses hit the rock twice with his staff, it showed a lack of faith in God and, therefore, the Israelites won’t be allowed to take over the land of Canaan. Do I think God is petty in this case? YES!

So then the Israelites are refused passage through Edom in what sounds like it was probably a poem or the refrain of a song. They promise to stay on the King’s road, eyes forward, taking nothing, and looking at nothing. But the king threatens them with the sword. Then he shows them the sword. The Israelites turn and walk away.

Finally, Moses takes Aaron up to Mount Hor and is stripped of his vestments and they are given to his son Eleazar is. I guess means that he is now a high priest. Israel mourns for thirty days.

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