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Thoughts and Reflection

Today we read about forgiveness using the sacrifice of a red heifer. This will allow Israelites to go from unclean to clean and being estranged to being brought back into the community. It goes on further to say what to do if you become contact with a dead body.

Later in Numbers 20, the Israelites wander through the desert of Zin. They complain to Moses and Aaron they don’t have water. The Lord tells Moses to speak to a rock in front of the people and he will make water come forth from it with enough water for all the people and their animals. Moses becomes angry and strikes the rock twice. Water flows from the rock but God tells Moses that due to his disobedience he will not enter the Promised Land. This does seem to be unfair since Moses has been a faithful leader of the Lord, but he is seen and held to a higher standard.

There are additional laws in Deuteronomy 21. These are seen as laws that are challenging and designed to make the people of Israel act in a less vicious and brutal way the world is around them. God is teaching them a new just way of living.

About This Project

For the year 2022, I decided that my New Year’s Resolution was to read the whole Bible following the Bible in the Year plan presented by Fr. Mike Schmitz. It is a big and bold undertaking. You can follow along by subscribing. Feel free to look at previous day’s post and comment. It’s something we can all learn from together!

Daily Readings

Numbers 19

1 Yahweh spoke to Moses and Aaron and said:

2 ‘This is a decree of the Law which Yahweh has prescribed. Tell the Israelites, they are to bring you a red heifer without fault or blemish that has never borne the yoke.

3 You will give it to the priest Eleazar. It will then be taken outside the camp and slaughtered in his presence.

4 The priest Eleazar will then take some of the victim’s blood on his finger, and sprinkle this blood seven times towards the entrance to the Tent of Meeting.

5 The heifer will then be burnt while he looks on; its hide, flesh, blood and offal will be burnt.

6 The priest will then take some cedar wood, hyssop and scarlet material and throw them on the fire where the heifer is burning.

7 He will then wash his clothes and bathe himself; after which he will go back to the camp, though he will remain unclean until evening.

8 The man who has burnt the heifer will wash his clothes and bathe himself and will remain unclean until evening.

9 The man who gathers up the ashes of the heifer must be ritually clean; he will deposit them outside the camp, in a clean place. They will be kept for the ritual use of the Israelite community for making water for purification; it is a sacrifice for sin.

10 The man who has gathered up the ashes of the heifer will wash his clothes and remain unclean until evening. For the Israelites as for the resident alien, this will be a perpetual decree.

11 ‘Anyone who touches the corpse of anyone whatever will be unclean for seven days.

12 Such a person must be purified with these waters on the third and seventh day and will then be clean; otherwise he will not be clean.

13 Anyone who touches the corpse of anyone who has died and is not purified, defiles Yahweh’s Dwelling; such a person will be outlawed from Israel, since the water for purification has not been sprinkled over him; he is unclean, and his uncleanness remains in him.

14 ‘This is the law when someone dies in a tent. Anyone who goes into the tent, or anyone who is already in it, will be unclean for seven days,

15 and every open vessel with no cover tied over it will also be unclean.

16 ‘Anyone in the open country who touches a murder victim, a corpse, human bones or a grave will be unclean for seven days.

17 ‘For someone thus unclean, some of the ashes of the victim burnt as a sacrifice for sin will be taken and spring water must be poured over them, in a vessel.

18 Someone who is ritually clean will then take some hyssop and dip it in the water. This person will then sprinkle the tent, all the vessels and people who were there, and similarly anyone who has touched human bones, a murder victim, a corpse or a grave.

19 On the third and the seventh day the clean one will sprinkle the unclean, who on the seventh day will be clean. The latter will then wash his clothes and bathe in water, and in the evening he will be clean.

20 Anyone who fails to be purified in this way will be outlawed from the community, and would defile Yahweh’s sanctuary. Such a personis unclean, not having been sprinkled with the water for purification.

21 ‘This will be a perpetual decree for them. The person who sprinkles the water for purification will wash his clothes, and anyone who touches the water for purification will be unclean until evening.

22 Anything that an unclean person touches will be unclean, and anyone who touches it will be unclean until evening.’

Numbers 20

1 The Israelites, the whole community, arrived in the first month at the desert of Zin. The people settled at Kadesh. There Miriam died and was buried.

2 There was no water for the community, so they banded together against Moses and Aaron.

3 The people laid the blame on Moses. ‘We would rather have died’, they said, ‘as our brothers died before Yahweh!

4 Why have you brought Yahweh’s community into this desert, for us and our livestock to die here?

5 Why did you lead us out of Egypt, only to bring us to this wretched place? It is a place unfit for sowing, it has no figs, no vines, no pomegranates, and there is not even water to drink!’

6 Leaving the assembly, Moses and Aaron went to the entrance of the Tent of Meeting. They threw themselves on their faces, and the glory of Yahweh appeared to them.

7 Yahweh then spoke to Moses and said,

8 ‘Take the branch and call the community together, you and your brother Aaron. Then, in full view of them, order this rock to release its water. You will release water from the rock for them and provide drink for the community and their livestock.’

9 Moses took up the branch from before Yahweh, as he had directed him.

10 Moses and Aaron then called the assembly together in front of the rock. He then said to them, ‘Listen now, you rebels. Shall we make water gush from this rock for you?’

11 Moses then raised his hand and struck the rock twice with the branch; water gushed out in abundance, and the community and their livestock drank.

12 Yahweh then said to Moses and Aaron, ‘Because you did not believe that I could assert my holiness before the Israelites’ eyes, you will not lead this assembly into the country which I am giving them.’

13 These were the Waters of Meribah, where the Israelites laid the blame on Yahweh and where, by their means, he asserted his holiness.

14 Moses sent messengers from Kadesh: ‘To the king of Edom. Your brother Israel says this: You are aware of the great hardships we have encountered.

15 Our ancestors went down to Egypt and there we stayed for a long time. But the Egyptians treated us badly, as they had our ancestors.

16 When we appealed to Yahweh, he heard our cry and, sending an angel, brought us out of Egypt, and here we are, now, at Kadesh, a town on the borders of your territory.

17 We ask permission to pass through your country. We shall not go through the fields or vineyards; we shall not drink the water from the wells; we shall keep to the king’s highway without turning to right or left until we have passed through your territory.

18 To which, Edom replied, ‘You will not pass through my country; if you do, I shall oppose you by force of arms.’

19 To which the Israelites replied, ‘We shall keep to the high road; if I and my flocks drink any of your water, I am willing to pay for it. All I am asking is to pass through on foot.’

20 Edom replied: ‘You shall not pass,’ and Edom opposed them in great numbers and great force.

21 At Edom’s refusal to grant Israel passage through his territory, Israel turned away.

22 They set out from Kadesh, and the Israelites, the whole community, came to Mount Hor.

23 Yahweh spoke to Moses and Aaron at Mount Hor, on the frontier of Edom, and said,

24 ‘Aaron is to be gathered to his people; he will not enter the country which I have given to the Israelites, since you both disobeyed my order at the Waters of Meribah.

25 Take Aaron and his son Eleazar and bring them up Mount Hor.

26 Then take Aaron’s robes off him and dress his son Eleazar in them. Aaron will then be gathered to his people; that is where he willdie.’

27 Moses did as Yahweh ordered. With the whole community watching, they went up Mount Hor.

28 Moses took Aaron’s robes off him and dressed his son Eleazar in them, and there Aaron died, on the mountain-top. Moses and Eleazar then came back down the mountain.

29 The whole community saw that Aaron had died, and for thirty days the whole House of Israel mourned for Aaron.

Deuteronomy 21

1 ‘If, in the country which Yahweh your God gives you as your possession, a victim of murder is found lying in the open country and it is not known who has killed that person,

2 your elders and scribes must measure the distance between the victim and the surrounding towns,

3 and establish which town is the nearest to the victim. The elders of that town must then take a heifer that has not yet been put to work or used as a draught animal under the yoke.

4 The elders of that town must bring the heifer down to a permanently flowing river, to a spot that has been neither ploughed nor sown, and there by the river they must break the heifer’s neck.

5 The priests, the sons of Levi, will then step forward, these being the men whom Yahweh your God has chosen to serve him and to bless in Yahweh’s name, and it being their business to settle all cases of dispute or of violence.

6 All the elders of the town nearest to the victim of murder must then wash their hands in the stream, over the slaughtered heifer.

7 They must pronounce these words, “Our hands have not shed this blood and our eyes have seen nothing.

8 O Yahweh, forgive your people Israel whom you have redeemed, and let no innocent blood be shed among your people Israel. May this bloodshed be forgiven them!”

9 You must banish all shedding of innocent blood from among you, if you mean to do what is right in the eyes of Yahweh.

10 ‘When you go to war against your enemies and Yahweh your God delivers them into your power and you take prisoners,

11 and among the prisoners you see a beautiful woman, and you fall in love with her, and you take her to be your wife

12 and bring her home; she must shave her head and cut her nails,

13 and take off her prisoner’s garb; she must stay inside your house and mourn her father and mother for a full month. You may then go to her and be a husband to her, and she will be your wife.

14 Should she cease to please you, you will let her go where she wishes, not selling her for money: you must not make any profit out of her, since you have exploited her.

15 ‘If a man has two wives, one loved and the other unloved, and the loved one and the unloved both bear him children, and if the first-born son is of the unloved wife,

16 when the man comes to bequeath his goods to his sons, he may not treat the son of the wife whom he loves as the first-born, at the expense of the son of the wife whom he does not love, the true first-born.

17 As his first-born he must acknowledge the son of the wife whom he does not love, giving him a double share of his estate; this son being the first-fruit of his vigour, the right of the first-born is his.

18 ‘If a man has a stubborn and rebellious son who will not listen to the voice either of his father or of his mother and, even when they punish him, still will not pay attention to them,

19 his father and mother must take hold of him and bring him out to the elders of his town at the gate of that place.

20 To the elders of his town, they will say, “This son of ours is stubborn and rebellious and will not listen to us; he is a wastrel and a drunkard.”

21 All his fellow-citizens must then stone him to death. You must banish this evil from among you. All Israel, hearing of this, will be afraid.

22 ‘If a man guilty of a capital offence is to be put to death, and you hang him from a tree,

23 his body must not remain on the tree overnight; you must bury him the same day, since anyone hanged is a curse of God, and you must not bring pollution on the soil which Yahweh your God is giving you as your heritage.’

Psalm 100

1 [Psalm For thanksgiving] Acclaim Yahweh, all the earth,

2 serve Yahweh with gladness, come into his presence with songs of joy!

3 Be sure that Yahweh is God, he made us, we belong to him, his people, the flock of his sheepfold.

4 Come within his gates giving thanks, to his courts singing praise, give thanks to him and bless his name!

5 For Yahweh is good, his faithful love is everlasting, his constancy from age to age.

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