Numbers 29:12-40

“Gather in holy worship on the fifteenth day of the seventh month; do no regular work. Celebrate a Festival to God for seven days. Bring a Whole-Burnt-Offering, a Fire-Gift of pleasing fragrance to God: thirteen young bulls, two rams, and fourteen yearling male lambs—all healthy. Prepare a Grain-Offering of six quarts of fine flour mixed with oil for each of the bulls, four quarts for each ram, and two quarts for each of the fourteen lambs. Also bring a he-goat as an Absolution-Offering in addition to the regular Whole-Burnt-Offering with its Grain-Offering and Drink-Offering.

“On the second day: twelve young bulls, two rams, and fourteen yearling male lambs—all healthy. Prepare Grain-Offerings and Drink-Offerings to go with the bulls, rams, and lambs following the prescribed recipes. And bring a he-goat as an Absolution-Offering in addition to the regular Whole-Burnt-Offering with its Grain-Offering and Drink-Offering.

“On the third day: eleven bulls, two rams, and fourteen male yearling lambs—all healthy. Prepare Grain-Offerings and Drink-Offerings to go with the bulls, rams, and lambs following the prescribed recipes. And bring a he-goat as an Absolution-Offering in addition to the regular Whole-Burnt-Offering with its Grain-Offering and Drink-Offering.

“On the fourth day: ten bulls, two rams, and fourteen male yearling lambs—all healthy. Prepare Grain-Offerings and Drink-Offerings to go with the bulls, rams, and lambs following the prescribed recipes. And bring a he-goat as an Absolution-Offering in addition to the regular Whole-Burnt-Offering with its Grain-Offering and Drink-Offering.

“On the fifth day: nine bulls, two rams, and fourteen male yearling lambs—all healthy. Prepare Grain-Offerings and Drink-Offerings to go with the bulls, rams, and lambs following the prescribed recipes. And bring a he-goat as an Absolution-Offering in addition to the regular Whole-Burnt-Offering with its Grain-Offering and Drink-Offering.

“On the sixth day: eight bulls, two rams, and fourteen male yearling lambs—all healthy. Prepare Grain-Offerings and Drink-Offerings to go with the bulls, rams, and lambs following the prescribed recipes. And bring a he-goat as an Absolution-Offering in addition to the regular Whole-Burnt-Offering with its Grain-Offering and Drink-Offering.

“On the seventh day: seven bulls, two rams, and fourteen male yearling lambs—all healthy. Prepare Grain-Offerings and Drink-Offerings to go with the bulls, rams, and lambs following the prescribed recipes. And bring a he-goat as an Absolution-Offering in addition to the regular Whole-Burnt-Offering with its Grain-Offering and Drink-Offering.

“On the eighth day: Gather in holy worship; do no regular work. Bring a Fire-Gift of pleasing fragrance to God, a Whole-Burnt-Offering: one bull, one ram, and seven male yearling lambs—all healthy. Prepare Grain-Offerings and Drink-Offerings to go with the bulls, rams, and lambs following the prescribed recipes. And bring a he-goat as an Absolution-Offering in addition to the regular Whole-Burnt-Offering with its Grain-Offering and Drink-Offering.

“Sacrifice these to God as a congregation at your set feasts: your Whole-Burnt-Offerings, Grain-Offerings, Drink-Offerings, and Peace-Offerings. These are all over and above your personal Vow-Offerings and Freewill-Offerings.”

Moses instructed the People of Israel in all that God commanded him.

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Numbers 30

Vows

Moses spoke to the heads of the tribes of the People of Israel: “This is what God commands: When a man makes a vow to God or binds himself by an oath to do something, he must not break his word; he must do exactly what he has said.

“When a woman makes a vow to God and binds herself by a pledge as a young girl still living in her father’s house, and her father hears of her vow or pledge but says nothing to her, then she has to make good on all her vows and pledges. But if her father holds her back when he hears of what she has done, none of her vows and pledges are valid. God will release her since her father held her back.

“If she marries after she makes a vow or has made some rash promise or pledge, and her husband hears of it but says nothing to her, then she has to make good on whatever she vowed or pledged. But if her husband intervenes when he hears of it, he cancels the vow or rash promise that binds her. And God will release her.

“Any vow or pledge taken by a widow or divorced woman is binding on her.

“When a woman who is living with her husband makes a vow or takes a pledge under oath and her husband hears about it but says nothing and doesn’t say she can’t do it, then all her vows and pledges are valid. But if her husband cancels them when he hears about them, then none of the vows and pledges that she made are binding. Her husband has canceled them and God will release her. Any vow and pledge that she makes that may be to her detriment can be either affirmed or annulled by her husband. But if her husband is silent and doesn’t speak up day after day, he confirms her vows and pledges—she has to make good on them. By saying nothing to her when he hears of them, he binds her to them. If, however, he cancels them sometime after he hears of them, he takes her guilt on himself.”

These are the rules that God gave Moses regarding conduct between a man and his wife and between a father and his young daughter who is still living at home.

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Numbers 31:1-24

The Midianite War

God spoke to Moses: “Avenge the People of Israel on the Midianites. Afterward you will go to be with your dead ancestors.”

Moses addressed the people: “Recruit men for a campaign against Midian, to exact God’s vengeance on Midian, a thousand from each tribe of Israel to go to war.”

A fighting force of a thousand from each tribe of Israel—twelve thousand in all—was recruited. Moses sent them off to war, a thousand from each tribe, and also Phinehas son of Eleazar, who went as priest to the army, in charge of holy vessels and the signaling bugles.

They attacked Midian, just as God had commanded Moses, and killed every last man. Among the fallen were Evi, Rekem, Zur, Hur, and Reba—the five kings of Midian. They also killed Balaam son of Beor with the sword. The People of Israel took the Midianite women and children captive and took all their animals and herds and goods as plunder. They burned to the ground all the towns in which Midianites lived and also their tent camps. They looted and plundered everything and everyone—stuff and people and animals. They took it all—captives and booty and plunder—back to Moses and Eleazar the priest and the company of Israel where they were camped on the Plains of Moab, at Jordan-Jericho.

Moses, Eleazar, and all the leaders of the congregation went to meet the returning army outside the camp. Moses was furious with the army officers—the commanders of thousands and commanders of hundreds—as they came back from the battlefield: “What’s this! You’ve let these women live! They’re the ones who, under Balaam’s direction, seduced the People of Israel away from God in that mess at Peor, causing the plague that hit God’s people. Finish your job: kill all the boys. Kill every woman who has slept with a man. The younger women who are virgins you can keep alive for yourselves.

“Now here’s what you are to do: Pitch tents outside the camp. All who have killed anyone or touched a corpse must stay outside the camp for seven days. Purify yourselves and your captives on the third and seventh days. Purify every piece of clothing and every utensil—everything made of leather, goat hair, or wood.”

Eleazar the priest then spoke to the soldiers who had fought in the battle: “This is the ruling from the Revelation that God gave Moses: Gold, silver, bronze, iron, tin, and lead—and anything else that can survive fire—must be passed through the fire; then it will be ritually purified. It must also be ritually washed in the Water-of-Cleansing. Further, whatever cannot survive fire must be put through that water. On the seventh day scrub your clothes; you will be ritually clean. Then you can return to camp.”

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