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Thoughts and Reflection

Today we conclude the books of Numbers and Deuteronomy and the whole Desert Wanderings period. All the tribes of Israel were given land in the Promised Land except for the Levites. They were given forty-eight cities which are known as “cities of refuge.” These cities are places of justice for those who have killed a person to save them from the vengeance of the people. This is the first of distinguishing between manslaughter and murder.

During this time, more than one witness must testify to the alleged crime of murder. This confirmation testimony becomes more required throughout the bible.

Also, when a man dies without sons, it is permitted for his land to be transferred to his daughters. To prevent a man from owning the additional land of a wife of a different tribe, marriage is only permitted within the tribe itself. This will keep all the land within one tribe and shows the importance of land to the Israelites.

I’d like to take a moment and reflect on the life of Moses. This man took the Israelites out of Egypt and kept them together in the desert. Made sure they were fed and order was maintained. As his final act, he was able to see all the land that God promised him but never allowed to go in it. He is truly a father for his people, he took care of them and was able to fulfill his promise to them – land.

I am not sure what words best describe Moses. Hero? Saint? Leader? Friend?

What do you think?

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 35

1 Yahweh spoke to Moses on the Plains of Moab, near the Jordan by Jericho, and said:

2 ‘Order the Israelites, from the heritage they possess, to give the Levites towns in which to live and pasture land round the towns. You will give these to the Levites.

3 The towns must be their homes and the surrounding pasture land must be for their cattle, their possessions and all their animals.

4 The pasture land surrounding the towns which you give to the Levites will extend, from the walls of the towns, for a thousand cubits all round.

5 ‘Outside the town, measure two thousand cubits to the east, two thousand cubits to the south, two thousand cubits to the west and two thousand cubits to the north, the town lying in the centre; such will be the pasture lands of these towns.

6 The towns you give to the Levites will be six cities of refuge, ceded by you as sanctuary for those who commit manslaughter; and you will give forty-two towns in addition.

7 Altogether you will give the Levites forty-eight towns, with their pasture lands.

8 Of the towns which you give from the Israelites’ possessions, you will give more from those who have more, and less from those who have less. Each will give some of his towns to the Levites, in proportion to the heritage he himself has received.’

9 Yahweh spoke to Moses and said:

10 ‘Speak to the Israelites and say: “Once you have crossed the Jordan into Canaan,

11 you will find towns, some of which you will make into cities of refuge where those who have accidentally committed manslaughter can take sanctuary.

12 These towns will afford you refuge from the avenger of blood, so that the killer will not be put to death before standing trial before the community.

13 Of the towns you give, six will serve you as cities of refuge:

14 as cities of refuge, you will give three towns on the other side of the Jordan and will give three towns in Canaan.

15 These six towns will serve as refuge for the Israelites, for the foreigner and for the resident alien, where anyone who has accidentally killed someone can take sanctuary.

16 “But if he has struck the person with an iron object so as to cause death, he is a murderer. The murderer will be put to death.

17 If he has struck him with a stone meant for killing, and has killed him, he is a murderer. The murderer will be put to death.

18 Or if he has struck him with a wooden instrument meant for killing, and has killed him, he is a murderer. The murderer will be put to death.

19 The avenger of blood will put the murderer to death. Whenever he finds him, he will put him to death.

20 “If the killer has maliciously manhandled his victim, or thrown some lethal missile to strike him down,

21 or out of enmity dealt him the death-blow with his fist, then he who struck the blow will be put to death; he is a murderer; the avenger of blood will put him to death whenever he finds him.

22 If, however, he has manhandled his victim by chance, without malice, or thrown some missile at him not meaning to hit him

23 or, without seeing him, dropped on him a stone meant for killing and so killed him, so long as he bore him no malice and wished him no harm,

24 then the community will decide in accordance with these rules between the one who struck the blow and the avenger of blood,

25 and will save the killer from the clutches of the avenger of blood. They will send him back to the city of refuge where he had taken sanctuary, and there he will stay until the death of the high priest who has been anointed with the holy oil.

26 Should the killer leave the bounds of the city of refuge in which he has taken sanctuary

27 and the avenger of blood encounter him outside the bounds of his city of refuge, the avenger of blood may kill him without fear of reprisal;

28 since the killer should stay in his city of refuge until the death of the high priest; only after the death of the high priest is he free to go back to his own piece of property.

29 Such will be the legal rule for you and your descendants, wherever you may live.

30 “In any case of homicide, the evidence of witnesses will determine whether the killer must be put to death; but a single witness is not enough to sustain a capital charge.

31 You will not accept a ransom for the life of a murderer condemned to death; he must die.

32 Nor will you accept a ransom for anyone who, having taken sanctuary in his city or refuge, wishes to come back and live at home before the death of the high priest.

33 Do not profane the country you live in. Blood profanes the country and, for the country, the only expiation for the blood shed in it is the blood of the man who shed it.

34 So do not defile the country which you live in and where I live; for I, Yahweh, live among the Israelites.” ‘

Numbers 36

1 Then the heads of families of the clan descended from Gilead, son of Machir, son of Manasseh, one of the clans descended from Joseph, came forward and, addressing Moses and the leaders, the Israelite heads of families,

2 they said: ‘Yahweh has ordered my lord to apportion the Israelites’ heritages in the country by lot and my lord has been ordered by Yahweh to give the heritage of our brother Zelophehad to his daughters.

3 Now, if they marry someone from another Israelite tribe, their heritage will be alienated from our ancestral heritage. The heritage of the tribe to which they will then belong will be increased, and the heritage allotted to us will be diminished.

4 And when the jubilee for the Israelites comes round, these women’s heritage will become part of the heritage of the tribe to which they then belong, and be alienated from the heritage of our ancestral tribe.’

5 At Yahweh’s bidding, Moses gave the Israelites this order. He said: ‘What the Josephite tribe says is true.

6 This is Yahweh’s ruling for Zelophehad’s daughters: “They may marry whom they please, providing they marry into a clan of their father’s tribe.

7 But the heritages of Israelites are not to be transferred from tribe to tribe; each Israelite will stick to the heritage of his own tribe.

8 Any daughter who owns a heritage in an Israelite tribe will marry into a clan of her own paternal tribe, so that the Israelites may each preserve the heritage of his father.

9 No heritage may be transferred from one tribe to another; each Israelite tribe will stick to its own heritage.” ‘

10 Zelophehad’s daughters did as Yahweh had ordered Moses.

11 Mahlah, Tirzah, Hoglah, Milcah and Noah, daughters of Zelophehad, married the sons of their father’s brothers.

12 Since they married into clans descended from Manasseh son of Joseph, their heritage reverted to the tribe of their father’s clan.

13 Such were the commandments and laws that Yahweh prescribed for the Israelites through Moses on the Plains of Moab near the Jordan by Jericho.

Deuteronomy 34

1 Then, leaving the Plains of Moab, Moses went up Mount Nebo, the peak of Pisgah opposite Jericho, and Yahweh showed him the whole country: Gilead as far as Dan,

2 the whole of Naphtali, the country of Ephraim and Manasseh, the whole country of Judah as far as the Western Sea,

3 the Negeb, and the region of the Valley of Jericho, city of palm trees, as far as Zoar.

4 Yahweh said to him, ‘This is the country which I promised on oath to give to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, saying: I shall give it to your descendants. I have allowed you to see it for yourself, but you will not cross into it.’

5 There in the country of Moab, Moses, servant of Yahweh, died as Yahweh decreed;

6 he buried him in the valley, in the country of Moab, opposite Beth-Peor; but to this day no one has ever found his grave.

7 Moses was a hundred and twenty years old when he died, his eye undimmed, his vigour unimpaired.

8 The Israelites wept for Moses on the Plains of Moab for thirty days. The days of weeping for the mourning rites of Moses came to an end.

9 Joshua son of Nun was filled with the spirit of wisdom, for Moses had laid his hands on him, and him the Israelites obeyed, carrying out the order which Yahweh had given to Moses.

10 Since then, there has never been such a prophet in Israel as Moses, the man whom Yahweh knew face to face.

11 What signs and wonders Yahweh caused him to perform in Egypt against Pharaoh, all his servants and his whole country!

12 How mighty the hand and great the fear that Moses wielded in the eyes of all Israel!

Psalm 121

1 [Song of Ascents] I lift up my eyes to the mountains; where is my help to come from?

2 My help comes from Yahweh who made heaven and earth.

3 May he save your foot from stumbling; may he, your guardian, not fall asleep!

4 You see — he neither sleeps nor slumbers, the guardian of Israel.

5 Yahweh is your guardian, your shade, Yahweh, at your right hand.

6 By day the sun will not strike you, nor the moon by night.

7 Yahweh guards you from all harm Yahweh guards your life,

8 Yahweh guards your comings and goings, henceforth and for ever.

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