Water from the rock
1In the first month the whole Israelite community arrived at the Desert of Zin, and they stayed at Kadesh. There Miriam died and was buried.
2Now there was no water for the community, and the people gathered in opposition to Moses and Aaron. 3They quarrelled with Moses and said, ‘If only we had died when our brothers fell dead before the Lord! 4Why did you bring the Lord’s community into this wilderness, that we and our livestock should die here? 5Why did you bring us up out of Egypt to this terrible place? It has no corn or figs, grapevines or pomegranates. And there is no water to drink!’
6Moses and Aaron went from the assembly to the entrance to the tent of meeting and fell face down, and the glory of the Lord appeared to them. 7The Lord said to Moses, 8‘Take the staff, and you and your brother Aaron gather the assembly together. Speak to that rock before their eyes and it will pour out its water. You will bring water out of the rock for the community so that they and their livestock can drink.’
9So Moses took the staff from the Lord’s presence, just as he commanded him. 10He and Aaron gathered the assembly together in front of the rock and Moses said to them, ‘Listen, you rebels, must we bring you water out of this rock?’ 11Then Moses raised his arm and struck the rock twice with his staff. Water gushed out, and the community and their livestock drank.
12But the Lord said to Moses and Aaron, ‘Because you did not trust in me enough to honour me as holy in the sight of the Israelites, you will not bring this community into the land I give them.’
13These were the waters of Meribah, where the Israelites quarrelled with the Lord and where he was proved holy among them.
Edom denies Israel passage
14Moses sent messengers from Kadesh to the king of Edom, saying:
‘This is what your brother Israel says: you know about all the hardships that have come on us. 15Our ancestors went down into Egypt, and we lived there many years. The Egyptians ill-treated us and our ancestors, 16but when we cried out to the Lord, he heard our cry and sent an angel and brought us out of Egypt.
‘Now we are here at Kadesh, a town on the edge of your territory. 17Please let us pass through your country. We will not go through any field or vineyard, or drink water from any well. We will travel along the King’s Highway and not turn to the right or to the left until we have passed through your territory.’
18But Edom answered:
‘You may not pass through here; if you try, we will march out and attack you with the sword.’
19The Israelites replied:
‘We will go along the main road, and if we or our livestock drink any of your water, we will pay for it. We only want to pass through on foot – nothing else.’
20Again they answered:
‘You may not pass through.’
Then Edom came out against them with a large and powerful army. 21Since Edom refused to let them go through their territory, Israel turned away from them.
The death of Aaron
22The whole Israelite community set out from Kadesh and came to Mount Hor. 23At Mount Hor, near the border of Edom, the Lord said to Moses and Aaron, 24‘Aaron will be gathered to his people. He will not enter the land I give the Israelites, because both of you rebelled against my command at the waters of Meribah. 25Call Aaron and his son Eleazar and take them up Mount Hor. 26Remove Aaron’s garments and put them on his son Eleazar, for Aaron will be gathered to his people; he will die there.’
27Moses did as the Lord commanded: they went up Mount Hor in the sight of the whole community. 28Moses removed Aaron’s garments and put them on his son Eleazar. And Aaron died there on top of the mountain. Then Moses and Eleazar came down from the mountain, 29and when the whole community learned that Aaron had died, all the Israelites mourned for him thirty days.