52-54 God spoke to Moses: “Divide up the inheritance of the land based on population. A larger group gets a larger inheritance; a smaller group gets a smaller inheritance—each gets its inheritance based on the population count.
55-56 “Make sure that the land is assigned by lot.
“Each group’s inheritance is based on population, the number of names listed in its ancestral tribe, divided among the many and the few by lot.”
57-58 These are the numberings of the Levites by clan:
Gershon and the Gershonite clan,
Kohath and the Kohathite clan,
Merari and the Merarite clan.
The Levite clans also included:
the Libnite clan,
the Hebronite clan,
the Mahlite clan,
the Mushite clan,
the Korahite clan.
58-61 Kohath was the father of Amram. Amram’s wife was Jochebed, a descendant of Levi, born into the Levite family during the Egyptian years. Jochebed bore Aaron, Moses, and their sister Miriam to Amram. Aaron was the father of Nadab and Abihu, Eleazar and Ithamar; however, Nadab and Abihu died when they offered unauthorized sacrifice in the presence of God.
62 The numbering of Levite males one month and older came to 23,000. They hadn’t been counted in with the rest of the People of Israel because they didn’t inherit any land.
63-65 These are the ones numbered by Moses and Eleazar the priest, the People of Israel counted in the Plains of Moab at Jordan-Jericho. Not one of them had been among those counted by Moses and Aaron the priest in the census of the People of Israel taken in the Wilderness of Sinai. For God had said of them, “They’ll die, die in the wilderness—not one of them will be left except for Caleb son of Jephunneh, and Joshua son of Nun.”
The Daughters of Zelophehad
27 The daughters of Zelophehad showed up. Their father was the son of Hepher son of Gilead son of Makir son of Manasseh, belonging to the clans of Manasseh son of Joseph. The daughters were Mahlah, Noah, Hoglah, Milcah, and Tirzah.
2-4 They came to the entrance of the Tent of Meeting. They stood before Moses and Eleazar the priest and before the leaders and the congregation and said, “Our father died in the wilderness. He wasn’t part of Korah’s rebel anti-God gang. He died for his own sins. And he left no sons. But why should our father’s name die out from his clan just because he had no sons? So give us an inheritance among our father’s relatives.”
5 Moses brought their case to God.
6-7 God ruled: “Zelophehad’s daughters are right. Give them land as an inheritance among their father’s relatives. Give them their father’s inheritance.
8-11 “Then tell the People of Israel, If a man dies and leaves no son, give his inheritance to his daughter. If he has no daughter, give it to his brothers. If he has no brothers, give it to his father’s brothers. If his father had no brothers, give it to the nearest relative so that the inheritance stays in the family. This is the standard procedure for the People of Israel, as commanded by God through Moses.”
12-14 God said to Moses, “Climb up into the Abarim Mountains and look over at the land that I am giving to the People of Israel. When you’ve had a good look you’ll be joined to your ancestors in the grave—yes, you also along with Aaron your brother. This goes back to the day when the congregation quarreled in the Wilderness of Zin and you didn’t honor me in holy reverence before them in the matter of the waters, the Waters of Meribah (Quarreling) at Kadesh in the Wilderness of Zin.”
15-17 Moses responded to God: “Let God, the God of the spirits of everyone living, set a man over this community to lead them, to show the way ahead and bring them back home so God’s community will not be like sheep without a shepherd.”
18-21 God said to Moses, “Take Joshua the son of Nun—the Spirit is in him!—and place your hand on him. Stand him before Eleazar the priest in front of the entire congregation and commission him with everyone watching. Pass your magisterial authority over to him so that the whole congregation of the People of Israel will listen obediently to him. He is to consult with Eleazar the priest who, using the oracle-Urim, will prayerfully advise him in the presence of God. He will command the People of Israel, the entire community, in all their comings and goings.”
22-23 Moses followed God’s orders. He took Joshua and stood him before Eleazar the priest in front of the entire community. He laid his hands on him and commissioned him, following the procedures God had given Moses.
28 1-8 God spoke to Moses: “Command the People of Israel. Tell them, You’re in charge of presenting my food, my Fire-Gifts of pleasing fragrance, at the set times. Tell them, This is the Fire-Gift that you are to present to God: two healthy yearling lambs each day as a regular Whole-Burnt-Offering. Sacrifice one lamb in the morning, the other in the evening, together with two quarts of fine flour mixed with a quart of olive oil for a Grain-Offering. This is the standard Whole-Burnt-Offering instituted at Mount Sinai as a pleasing fragrance, a Fire-Gift to God. The Drink-Offering that goes with it is a quart of strong beer with each lamb. Pour out the Drink-Offering before God in the Sanctuary. Sacrifice the second lamb in the evening with the Grain-Offering and Drink-Offering the same as in the morning—a Fire-Gift of pleasing fragrance for God.
9-10 “On the Sabbath, sacrifice two healthy yearling lambs, together with the Drink-Offering and the Grain-Offering of four quarts of fine flour mixed with oil. This is the regular Sabbath Whole-Burnt-Offering, in addition to the regular Whole-Burnt-Offering and its Drink-Offering.
11 “On the first of the month offer a Whole-Burnt-Offering to God: two young bulls, one ram, and seven male yearling lambs—all healthy.
12-14 “A Grain-Offering of six quarts of fine flour mixed with oil goes with each bull, four quarts of fine flour mixed with oil with the ram, and two quarts of fine flour mixed with oil with each lamb. This is for a Whole-Burnt-Offering, a pleasing fragrance, a Fire-Gift to God. Also, Drink-Offerings of two quarts of wine for each bull, one and a quarter quarts of wine for the ram, and a quart of wine for each lamb are to be poured out.
14-15 “This is the first of the month Whole-Burnt-Offering to be made throughout the year. In addition to the regular Whole-Burnt-Offering with its accompanying Drink-Offering, a he-goat is to be offered to God as an Absolution-Offering.
A Baptism of Life-Change
3 1-6 In the fifteenth year of the rule of Caesar Tiberius—it was while Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea; Herod, ruler of Galilee; his brother Philip, ruler of Iturea and Trachonitis; Lysanias, ruler of Abilene; during the Chief-Priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas—John, Zachariah’s son, out in the desert at the time, received a message from God. He went all through the country around the Jordan River preaching a baptism of life-change leading to forgiveness of sins, as described in the words of Isaiah the prophet:
Thunder in the desert!
“Prepare God’s arrival!
Make the road smooth and straight!
Every ditch will be filled in,
Every bump smoothed out,
The detours straightened out,
All the ruts paved over.
Everyone will be there to see
The parade of God’s salvation.”
7-9 When crowds of people came out for baptism because it was the popular thing to do, John exploded: “Brood of snakes! What do you think you’re doing slithering down here to the river? Do you think a little water on your snakeskins is going to deflect God’s judgment? It’s your life that must change, not your skin. And don’t think you can pull rank by claiming Abraham as ‘father.’ Being a child of Abraham is neither here nor there—children of Abraham are a dime a dozen. God can make children from stones if he wants. What counts is your life. Is it green and blossoming? Because if it’s deadwood, it goes on the fire.”
10 The crowd asked him, “Then what are we supposed to do?”
11 “If you have two coats, give one away,” he said. “Do the same with your food.”
12 Tax men also came to be baptized and said, “Teacher, what should we do?”
13 He told them, “No more extortion—collect only what is required by law.”
14 Soldiers asked him, “And what should we do?”
He told them, “No shakedowns, no blackmail—and be content with your rations.”
15 The interest of the people by now was building. They were all beginning to wonder, “Could this John be the Messiah?”
16-17 But John intervened: “I’m baptizing you here in the river. The main character in this drama, to whom I’m a mere stagehand, will ignite the kingdom life, a fire, the Holy Spirit within you, changing you from the inside out. He’s going to clean house—make a clean sweep of your lives. He’ll place everything true in its proper place before God; everything false he’ll put out with the trash to be burned.”
18-20 There was a lot more of this—words that gave strength to the people, words that put heart in them. The Message! But Herod, the ruler, stung by John’s rebuke in the matter of Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife, capped his long string of evil deeds with this outrage: He put John in jail.
21-22 After all the people were baptized, Jesus was baptized. As he was praying, the sky opened up and the Holy Spirit, like a dove descending, came down on him. And along with the Spirit, a voice: “You are my Son, chosen and marked by my love, pride of my life.”
A David Psalm
61 1-2 God, listen to me shout,
bend an ear to my prayer.
When I’m far from anywhere,
down to my last gasp,
I call out, “Guide me
up High Rock Mountain!”
3-5 You’ve always given me breathing room,
a place to get away from it all,
A lifetime pass to your safe-house,
an open invitation as your guest.
You’ve always taken me seriously, God,
made me welcome among those who know and love you.
6-8 Let the days of the king add up
to years and years of good rule.
Set his throne in the full light of God;
post Steady Love and Good Faith as lookouts,
And I’ll be the poet who sings your glory—
and live what I sing every day.
16 A woman of gentle grace gets respect,
but men of rough violence grab for loot.
A God-Shaped Life
17 When you’re kind to others, you help yourself;
when you’re cruel to others, you hurt yourself.