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Old Testament:  Numbers 5-6

Numbers 5

Purity in Israel's Camp
 1  The LORD gave these instructions to Moses:  2  "Command the people of Israel to remove from the camp anyone who has a skin disease [2]  or a discharge, or who has become ceremonially unclean by touching a dead person.  3  This command applies to men and women alike. Remove them so they will not defile the camp in which I live among them."  4  So the Israelites did as the LORD had commanded Moses and removed such people from the camp.
   5  Then the LORD said to Moses,  6  "Give the following instructions to the people of Israel: If any of the people—men or women—betray the LORD by doing wrong to another person, they are guilty.  7  They must confess their sin and make full restitution for what they have done, adding an additional 20 percent and returning it to the person who was wronged.  8  But if the person who was wronged is dead, and there are no near relatives to whom restitution can be made, the payment belongs to the LORD and must be given to the priest. Those who are guilty must also bring a ram as a sacrifice, and they will be purified and made right with the LORD. [8]   9  All the sacred offerings that the Israelites bring to a priest will belong to him.  10  Each priest may keep all the sacred donations that he receives."

Protecting Marital Faithfulness
 11  And the LORD said to Moses,  12  "Give the following instructions to the people of Israel.
  "Suppose a man's wife goes astray, and she is unfaithful to her husband  13  and has sex with another man, but neither her husband nor anyone else knows about it. She has defiled herself, even though there was no witness and she was not caught in the act.  14  If her husband becomes jealous and is suspicious of his wife and needs to know whether or not she has defiled herself,  15  the husband must bring his wife to the priest. He must also bring an offering of two quarts [15]  of barley flour to be presented on her behalf. Do not mix it with olive oil or frankincense, for it is a jealousy offering—an offering to prove whether or not she is guilty.
   16  "The priest will then present her to stand trial before the LORD.  17  He must take some holy water in a clay jar and pour into it dust he has taken from the Tabernacle floor.  18  When the priest has presented the woman before the LORD, he must unbind her hair and place in her hands the offering of proof—the jealousy offering to determine whether her husband's suspicions are justified. The priest will stand before her, holding the jar of bitter water that brings a curse to those who are guilty.  19  The priest will then put the woman under oath and say to her, `If no other man has had sex with you, and you have not gone astray and defiled yourself while under your husband's authority, may you be immune from the effects of this bitter water that brings on the curse.  20  But if you have gone astray by being unfaithful to your husband, and have defiled yourself by having sex with another man—'
   21  "At this point the priest must put the woman under oath by saying, `May the people know that the LORD's curse is upon you when he makes you infertile, causing your womb to shrivel [21]  and your abdomen to swell.  22  Now may this water that brings the curse enter your body and cause your abdomen to swell and your womb to shrivel. [22] ' And the woman will be required to say, `Yes, let it be so.'  23  And the priest will write these curses on a piece of leather and wash them off into the bitter water.  24  He will make the woman drink the bitter water that brings on the curse. When the water enters her body, it will cause bitter suffering if she is guilty.
   25  "The priest will take the jealousy offering from the woman's hand, lift it up before the LORD, and carry it to the altar.  26  He will take a handful of the flour as a token portion and burn it on the altar, and he will require the woman to drink the water.  27  If she has defiled herself by being unfaithful to her husband, the water that brings on the curse will cause bitter suffering. Her abdomen will swell and her womb will shrink, [27]  and her name will become a curse among her people.  28  But if she has not defiled herself and is pure, then she will be unharmed and will still be able to have children.
   29  "This is the ritual law for dealing with suspicion. If a woman goes astray and defiles herself while under her husband's authority,  30  or if a man becomes jealous and is suspicious that his wife has been unfaithful, the husband must present his wife before the LORD, and the priest will apply this entire ritual law to her.  31  The husband will be innocent of any guilt in this matter, but his wife will be held accountable for her sin."

Numbers 6

Nazirite Laws
 1  Then the LORD said to Moses, "Give the following instructions to the people of Israel.
   2  "If any of the people, either men or women, take the special vow of a Nazirite, setting themselves apart to the LORD in a special way,  3  they must give up wine and other alcoholic drinks. They must not use vinegar made from wine or from other alcoholic drinks, they must not drink fresh grape juice, and they must not eat grapes or raisins.  4  As long as they are bound by their Nazirite vow, they are not allowed to eat or drink anything that comes from a grapevine—not even the grape seeds or skins.
   5  "They must never cut their hair throughout the time of their vow, for they are holy and set apart to the LORD. Until the time of their vow has been fulfilled, they must let their hair grow long.  6  And they must not go near a dead body during the entire period of their vow to the LORD.  7  Even if the dead person is their own father, mother, brother, or sister, they must not defile themselves, for the hair on their head is the symbol of their separation to God.  8  This requirement applies as long as they are set apart to the LORD.
   9  "If someone falls dead beside them, the hair they have dedicated will be defiled. They must wait for seven days and then shave their heads. Then they will be cleansed from their defilement.  10  On the eighth day they must bring two turtledoves or two young pigeons to the priest at the entrance of the Tabernacle. [10]   11  The priest will offer one of the birds for a sin offering and the other for a burnt offering. In this way, he will purify them [11]  from the guilt they incurred through contact with the dead body. Then they must reaffirm their commitment and let their hair begin to grow again.  12  The days of their vow that were completed before their defilement no longer count. They must rededicate themselves to the LORD as a Nazirite for the full term of their vow, and each must bring a one-year-old male lamb for a guilt offering.
   13  "This is the ritual law for Nazirites. At the conclusion of their time of separation as Nazirites, they must each go to the entrance of the Tabernacle  14  and offer their sacrifices to the LORD: a one-year-old male lamb without defect for a burnt offering, a one-year-old female lamb without defect for a sin offering, a ram without defect for a peace offering,  15  a basket of bread made without yeast—cakes of choice flour mixed with olive oil and wafers spread with olive oil—along with their prescribed grain offerings and liquid offerings.  16  The priest will present these offerings before the LORD: first the sin offering and the burnt offering;  17  then the ram for a peace offering, along with the basket of bread made without yeast. The priest must also present the prescribed grain offering and liquid offering to the LORD.
   18  "Then the Nazirites will shave their heads at the entrance of the Tabernacle. They will take the hair that had been dedicated and place it on the fire beneath the peace-offering sacrifice.  19  After the Nazirite's head has been shaved, the priest will take for each of them the boiled shoulder of the ram, and he will take from the basket a cake and a wafer made without yeast. He will put them all into the Nazirite's hands.  20  Then the priest will lift them up as a special offering before the LORD. These are holy portions for the priest, along with the breast of the special offering and the thigh of the sacred offering that are lifted up before the LORD. After this ceremony the Nazirites may again drink wine.
   21  "This is the ritual law of the Nazirites, who vow to bring these offerings to the LORD. They may also bring additional offerings if they can afford it. And they must be careful to do whatever they vowed when they set themselves apart as Nazirites."

The Priestly Blessing
 22  Then the LORD said to Moses,  23  "Tell Aaron and his sons to bless the people of Israel with this special blessing:

 24  `May the LORD bless you
  and protect you.
 25  "May the LORD smile on you and be gracious to you."  26  "May the LORD show you his favor and give you his peace."  27  Whenever Aaron and his sons bless the people of Israel in my name, I myself will bless them."
<<  5:2 Traditionally rendered leprosy. The Hebrew word used here describes various skin diseases.
<<  5:8 Or bring a ram for atonement, which will make atonement for them.
<<  5:15 Hebrew ¬ of an ephah [2.2 liters].
<<  5:21 Hebrew when he causes your thigh to waste away.
<<  5:22 Hebrew and your thigh to waste away.
<<  5:27 Hebrew and her thigh will waste away.
<<  6:10 Hebrew the Tent of Meeting; also in 6:13, 18.
<<  6:11 Or make atonement for them.

New Testament:  Mark 4:1-20

Mark 4 : 1-20

Parable of the Farmer Scattering Seed
 1  Once again Jesus began teaching by the lakeshore. A very large crowd soon gathered around him, so he got into a boat. Then he sat in the boat while all the people remained on the shore.  2  He taught them by telling many stories in the form of parables, such as this one:
   3  "Listen! A farmer went out to plant some seed.  4  As he scattered it across his field, some of the seed fell on a footpath, and the birds came and ate it.  5  Other seed fell on shallow soil with underlying rock. The seed sprouted quickly because the soil was shallow.  6  But the plant soon wilted under the hot sun, and since it didn't have deep roots, it died.  7  Other seed fell among thorns that grew up and choked out the tender plants so they produced no grain.  8  "Still other seeds fell on fertile soil, and they sprouted, grew, and produced a crop that was thirty, sixty, and even a hundred times as much as had been planted!"  9  Then he said, "Anyone with ears to hear should listen and understand."
   10  Later, when Jesus was alone with the twelve disciples and with the others who were gathered around, they asked him what the parables meant.
   11  He replied, "You are permitted to understand the secret [11]  of the Kingdom of God. But I use parables for everything I say to outsiders,  12  so that the Scriptures might be fulfilled:

`When they see what I do,
  they will learn nothing.
When they hear what I say,
  they will not understand.
Otherwise, they will turn to me
  and be forgiven.' [12] "

   13  Then Jesus said to them, "If you can't understand the meaning of this parable, how will you understand all the other parables?  14  The farmer plants seed by taking God's word to others.  15  The seed that fell on the footpath represents those who hear the message, only to have Satan come at once and take it away.  16  The seed on the rocky soil represents those who hear the message and immediately receive it with joy.  17  But since they don't have deep roots, they don't last long. They fall away as soon as they have problems or are persecuted for believing God's word.  18  The seed that fell among the thorns represents others who hear God's word,  19  "... but all too quickly the message is crowded out by the worries of this life, the lure of wealth, and the desire for other things, so no fruit is produced."  20  And the seed that fell on good soil represents those who hear and accept God's word and produce a harvest of thirty, sixty, or even a hundred times as much as had been planted!"

<<  4:11 Greek mystery.
<<  4:12 Isa 6:9-10 (Greek version).

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