The priesthood is a gift 18:7; all the first born are theirs 18:14-16; no land or inheritance 18:20-24; tithe on your tithe 18:25 (probably one of the most consistent tithes); One becomes impure while making sacrifices under the guidance of Eleazar and while moving the dead; 19; Just like we put caselaw in the middle of our statutes called annotations; No promised land for Moses: 20:9-12; still don’t get it; Also Miriam and Aaron die. 20:22-29; 20:1
Today’s passage deals with the ups and downs of priesthood, which it identifies as a gift, Num. 18:7, but you get the feeling it is one of those things where you kind of have to convince the recipient that this is a gift, you know? See 18:14-16; 20-24. They also have to tithe on the money they receive from tithes. 18:25. I think there have been times in modern America in which the pastor is the only one who tithes.
Chapter 19 concern ritual impurity and again indicates that one become impure while doing necessary things. Like burying the dead and making sacrifices. This patter of providing laws in the middle of narrative seemed strange until I remembers that my law books all have annotations following the statutes. So, you literally have the law with little abbreviated narratives interspersed.
We return to action with Chapter 20. The chapter opens with Miriam’s death, and closes with Aaron’s. That’s a nod to the middle ages annotators, of course, since chapter and verse are not original to the text. Esau’s descendants, the Edomites, do not let the Israelites pass through their territory. Given Israel was constantly stealing things from Esau through trickery, seems fair.
The middle of chapter 20 also contains this response to Israelite complaining.
9 So Moses took the staff from the Lord’s presence, just as he commanded him. 10 He 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?” 11 Then Moses raised his arm and struck the rock twice with his staff. Water gushed out, and the community and their livestock drank.
12 But the Lord said to Moses and Aaron, “Because you did not trust in me enough to honor me as holy in the sight of the Israelites, you will not bring this community into the land I give them.”
I still do not understand what Moses did that was so bad. Certainly not so bad to be denied entry into the Promise Land. I wonder if part of the story was lost. Tradition is that Moses took credit for God’s work, which I understand is about all you can say, but does the text say that?