Numbers 20
New American Bible Revised Edition


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

Need for Water at Kadesh. 2Since the community had no water, they held an assembly against Moses and Aaron. 3The people quarreled with Moses, exclaiming, “Would that we had perished when our kindred perished before the Lord! 4Why have you brought the Lord’s assembly into this wilderness for us and our livestock to die here? 5Why have you brought us up out of Egypt, only to bring us to this wretched place? It is not a place for grain nor figs nor vines nor pomegranates! And there is no water to drink!” 6But Moses and Aaron went away from the assembly to the entrance of the tent of meeting, where they fell prostrate.

Sin of Moses and Aaron. Then the glory of the Lord appeared to them, 7and the Lord said to Moses: 8Take the staff and assemble the community, you and Aaron your brother, and in their presence command the rock to yield its waters. Thereby you will bring forth water from the rock for them, and supply the community and their livestock with water. 9So Moses took the staff from its place before the Lord, as he was ordered. 10Then Moses and Aaron gathered the assembly in front of the rock, where he said to them,a “Just listen, you rebels! Are we to produce water for you out of this rock?” 11b Then, raising his hand, Moses struck the rock twice* with his staff, and water came out in abundance, and the community and their livestock drank. 12* But the Lord said to Moses and Aaron: Because you did not have confidence in me, to acknowledge my holiness before the Israelites, therefore you shall not lead this assembly into the land I have given them.

13These are the waters of Meribah,c where the Israelites quarreled with the Lord, and through which he displayed his holiness.

Edom’s Refusal. 14From Kadesh Moses sent messengers to the king of Edom: “Thus says your brother Israel:* You know of all the hardships that have befallen us, 15how our ancestors went down to Egypt, and we stayed in Egypt a long time, and the Egyptians treated us and our ancestors harshly. 16When we cried to the Lord,d he heard our cry and sent an angel who led us out of Egypt. Now here we are at Kadesh, a town at the edge of your territory. 17Please let us pass through your land. We will not cross any fields or vineyards, nor drink any well water, but we will go straight along the King’s Highway* 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 said to him, “We will go up along the highway. If we or our livestock drink any of your water, we will pay for it. It is nothing—just let us pass through on foot.” 20But Edom replied, “You shall not pass through,”e and advanced against them with a large and heavily armed force. 21Therefore, since Edom refused to let Israel pass through their territory, Israel turned away from them.

Death of Aaron. 22f Setting out from Kadesh, the Israelites, the whole community, came to Mount Hor.* 23There at Mount Hor, on the border of the land of Edom, the Lord said to Moses and Aaron: 24Let Aaron be gathered to his people, for he shall not enter the land I have given to the Israelites, because you both rebelled against my directions at the waters of Meribah. 25Take Aaron and Eleazar his son and bring them up on Mount Hor.g 26Then strip Aaron of his garments and put them on Eleazar, his son; but there Aaron shall be gathered up 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 Eleazar his son. Then Aaron died there on top of the mountain.h When Moses and Eleazar came down from the mountain, 29all the community understood that Aaron had breathed his last; and for thirty days the whole house of Israel mourned Aaron.

Book Introduction


Scripture texts, prefaces, introductions, footnotes and cross references used in this work are taken from the New American Bible, revised edition © 2010, 1991, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Inc., Washington, DC All Rights Reserved. No part of this work may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the copyright owner.

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