Numbers - Chapter 17
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1 Yahweh then spoke to Moses and said,
3 for these sinful censers have become sanctified at the price of human lives. Since they were brought before Yahweh and thus became consecrated, they must be hammered into sheets to cover the altar. They will be an object-lesson to the Israelites.'
5 They are a reminder to the Israelites that no unauthorised person, no one not of Aaron's line, may approach and offer incense before Yahweh, on pain of suffering the fate of Korah and his party, as Yahweh had said through Moses.
8 Moses and Aaron then went to the front of the Tent of Meeting.
9 Yahweh spoke to Moses and said,
11 Moses then said to Aaron, 'Take a censer, put fire in it from the altar, place incense on it and hurry to the community to perform the rite of expiation for them: for retribution has come from Yahweh, plague has broken out.'
15 Aaron then went back to Moses at the entrance to the Tent of Meeting; the plague had been halted.
16 Yahweh spoke to Moses and said,
17 'Tell the Israelites to give you a branch for each of their families, one for each leader of each family: twelve branches. Write the name of each on his branch;
19 You will then put them inside the Tent of Meeting in front of the Testimony, where I make myself known to you.
22 Moses placed them before Yahweh in the Tent of the Testimony.
23 On the following day Moses went to the Tent of the Testimony and there, already sprouting, was Aaron's branch, representing the House of Levi; buds had formed, flowers had bloomed and almonds had already ripened.
24 Moses then brought out all the branches from before Yahweh to all the Israelites; they examined them and each one took back his own branch.
25 Yahweh then said to Moses, 'Put Aaron's branch back in front of the Testimony, where it will have its ritual place as a warning to the rebellious; thus you will rid me of their muttering for good, without their incurring death.'
26 Moses did as Yahweh had ordered. That is what he did.
27 The Israelites then said to Moses, 'We are lost! We are dead men! We are all dead men!
28 Anyone who approaches Yahweh's Dwelling with an offering will die. Are we to be doomed to the last man?'
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Responsorial Psalm, Psalms 124:1-3, 4-6, 7-8
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