The Marches
Numbers 33:1-36:13
Translation from The Torah: A Modern Commentary (CCAR Press)

Masei33:1] These were the marches of the Israelites who started out from the land of Egypt, troop by troop, in the charge of Moses and Aaron. 2] Moses recorded the starting points of their various marches as directed by the Eternal. Their marches, by starting points, were as follows:

3] They set out from Rameses in the first month, on the fifteenth day of the first month. It was on the morrow of the passover offering that the Israelites started out defiantly, in plain view of all the Egyptians. 4] The Egyptians meanwhile were burying those among them whom the Eternal had struck down, every [male] first-born—whereby the Eternal executed judgment on their gods.

5] The Israelites set out from Rameses and encamped at Succoth. 6] They set out from Succoth and encamped at Etham, which is on the edge of the wilderness. 7] They set out from Etham and turned about toward Pi-hahiroth, which faces Baal-zephon, and they encamped before Migdol. 8] They set out from Pene-hahiroth and passed through the sea into the wilderness; and they made a three-days’ journey in the wilderness of Etham and encamped at Marah. 9] They set out from Marah and came to Elim. There were twelve springs in Elim and seventy palm trees, so they encamped there. 10] They set out from Elim and encamped by the Sea of Reeds. 11] They set out from the Sea of Reeds and encamped in the wilderness of Sin. 12] They set out from the wilderness of Sin and encamped at Dophkah. 13] They set out from Dophkah and encamped at Alush. 14] They set out from Alush and encamped at Rephidim; it was there that the people had no water to drink. 15] They set out from Rephidim and encamped in the wilderness of Sinai. 16] They set out from the wilderness of Sinai and encamped at Kibroth-hattaavah. 17] They set out from Kibroth-hattaavah and encamped at Hazeroth. 18] They set out from Hazeroth and encamped at Rithmah. 19] They set out from Rithmah and encamped at Rimmon-perez. 20] They set out from Rimmon-perez and encamped at Libnah. 21] They set out from Libnah and encamped at Rissah. 22] They set out from Rissah and encamped at Kehelath. 23] They set out from Kehelath and encamped at Mount Shepher. 24] They set out from Mount Shepher and encamped at Haradah. 25] They set out from Haradah and encamped at Makheloth. 26] They set out from Makheloth and encamped at Tahath. 27] They set out from Tahath and encamped at Terah. 28] They set out from Terah and encamped at Mithkah. 29] They set out from Mithkah and encamped at Hashmonah. 30] They set out from Hashmonah and encamped at Moseroth. 31] They set out from Moseroth and encamped at Bene-jaakan. 32] They set out from Bene-jaakan and encamped at Hor-haggidgad. 33] They set out from Hor-haggidgad and encamped at Jotbath. 34] They set out from Jotbath and encamped at Abronah. 35] They set out from Abronah and encamped at Ezion-geber. 36] They set out from Ezion-geber and encamped in the wilderness of Zin, that is, Kadesh. 37] They set out from Kadesh and encamped at Mount Hor, on the edge of the land of Edom.

38] Aaron the priest ascended Mount Hor at the command of the Eternal and died there, in the fortieth year after the Israelites had left the land of Egypt, on the first day of the fifth month. 39] Aaron was a hundred and twenty-three years old when he died on Mount Hor. 40] And the Canaanite, king of Arad, who dwelt in the Negeb, in the land of Canaan, learned of the coming of the Israelites.

41] They set out from Mount Hor and encamped at Zalmonah. 42] They set out from Zalmonah and encamped at Punon. 43] They set out from Punon and encamped at Oboth. 44] They set out from Oboth and encamped at Iye-abarim, in the territory of Moab. 45] They set out from Iyim and encamped at Dibon-gad. 46] They set out from Dibon-gad and encamped at Almon-diblathaim. 47] They set out from Almon-diblathaim and encamped in the hills of Abarim, before Nebo. 48] They set out from the hills of Abarim and encamped in the steppes of Moab, at the Jordan near Jericho; 49] they encamped by the Jordan from Beth-jeshimoth as far as Abel-shittim, in the steppes of Moab.

50] In the steppes of Moab, at the Jordan near Jericho, the Eternal One spoke to Moses, saying: 51] Speak to the Israelite people and say to them: When you cross the Jordan into the land of Canaan, 52] you shall dispossess all the inhabitants of the land; you shall destroy all their figured objects; you shall destroy all their molten images, and you shall demolish all their cult places. 53] And you shall take possession of the land and settle in it, for I have assigned the land to you to possess. 54] You shall apportion the land among yourselves by lot, clan by clan: with larger groups increase the share, with smaller groups reduce the share. Wherever the lot falls for it, that shall be its location. You shall have your portions according to your ancestral tribes. 55] But if you do not dispossess the inhabitants of the land, those whom you allow to remain shall be stings in your eyes and thorns in your sides, and they shall harass you in the land in which you live; 56] so that I will do to you what I planned to do to them.

34:1] The Eternal One spoke to Moses, saying: 2] Instruct the Israelite people and say to them: When you enter the land of Canaan, this is the land that shall fall to you as your portion, the land of Canaan with its various boundaries:

3] Your southern sector shall extend from the wilderness of Zin alongside Edom. Your southern boundary shall start on the east from the tip of the Dead Sea. 4] Your boundary shall then turn to pass south of the ascent of Akrabbim and continue to Zin, and its limits shall be south of Kadesh-barnea, reaching Hazar-addar and continuing to Azmon. 5] From Azmon the boundary shall turn toward the Wadi of Egypt and terminate at the Sea.

6] For the western boundary you shall have the coast of the Great Sea; that shall serve as your western boundary.

7] This shall be your northern boundary: Draw a line from the Great Sea to Mount Hor; 8] from Mount Hor draw a line to Lebo-hamath, and let the boundary reach Zedad. 9] The boundary shall then run to Ziphron and terminate at Hazar-enan. That shall be your northern boundary.

10] For your eastern boundary you shall draw a line from Hazar-enan to Shepham. 11] From Shepham the boundary shall descend to Riblah on the east side of Ain; from there the boundary shall continue downward and abut on the eastern slopes of the Sea of Chinnereth. 12] The boundary shall then descend along the Jordan and terminate at the Dead Sea.

That shall be your land as defined by its boundaries on all sides.

13] Moses instructed the Israelites, saying: This is the land you are to receive by lot as your hereditary portion, which the Eternal has commanded to be given to the nine and a half tribes. 14] For the Reubenite tribe by its ancestral houses, the Gadite tribe by its ancestral houses, and the half-tribe of Manasseh have already received their portions: 15] those two and a half tribes have received their portions across the Jordan, opposite Jericho, on the east, the orient side.

16] The Eternal One spoke to Moses, saying: 17] These are the names of the commissioners through whom the land shall be apportioned for you: Eleazar the priest and Joshua son of Nun. 18] And you shall also take a chieftain from each tribe through whom the land shall be apportioned. 19] These are the names of the commissioners: from the tribe of Judah: Caleb son of Jephunneh. 20] From the Simeonite tribe: Samuel son of Ammihud. 21] From the tribe of Benjamin: Elidad son of Chislon. 22] From the Danite tribe: a chieftain, Bukki son of Jogli. 23] For the descendants of Joseph: from the Manassite tribe: a chieftain, Hanniel son of Ephod; 24] and from the Ephraimite tribe: a chieftain, Kemuel son of Shiphtan. 25] From the Zebulunite tribe: a chieftain, Elizaphan son of Parnach. 26] From the Issacharite tribe: a chieftain, Paltiel son of Azzan. 27] From the Asherite tribe: a chieftain, Ahihud son of Shelomi. 28] From the Naphtalite tribe: a chieftain, Pedahel son of Ammihud.

29] It was these whom the Eternal designated to allot portions to the Israelites in the land of Canaan.


35:1] The Eternal One spoke to Moses in the steppes of Moab at the Jordan near Jericho, saying: 2] Instruct the Israelite people to assign, out of the holdings apportioned to them, towns for the Levites to dwell in; you shall also assign to the Levites pasture land around their towns. 3] The towns shall be theirs to dwell in, and the pasture shall be for the cattle they own and all their other beasts. 4] The town pasture that you are to assign to the Levites shall extend a thousand cubits outside the town wall all around. 5] You shall measure off two thousand cubits outside the town on the east side, two thousand on the south side, two thousand on the west side, and two thousand on the north side, with the town in the center. That shall be the pasture for their towns.

6] The towns that you assign to the Levites shall comprise the six cities of refuge that you are to designate for a [male] killer to flee to, to which you shall add forty-two towns. 7] Thus the total of the towns that you assign to the Levites shall be forty-eight towns, with their pasture. 8] In assigning towns from the holdings of the Israelites, take more from the larger groups and less from the smaller, so that each assigns towns to the Levites in proportion to the share it receives.

9] The Eternal One spoke further to Moses: 10] Speak to the Israelite people and say to them: When you cross the Jordan into the land of Canaan, 11] you shall provide yourselves with places to serve you as cities of refuge to which a [male] killer who has slain a person unintentionally may flee. 12] The cities shall serve you as a refuge from the avenger, so that the killer may not die unless he has stood trial before the assembly.

13] The towns that you thus assign shall be six cities of refuge in all. 14] Three cities shall be designated beyond the Jordan, and the other three shall be designated in the land of Canaan: they shall serve as cities of refuge. 15] These six cities shall serve the Israelites and the resident aliens among them for refuge, so that any man who slays a person unintentionally may flee there.

16] Anyone, however, who strikes another with an iron object so that death results is a murderer; the murderer must be put to death. 17] If one struck another with a stone tool that could cause death, and death resulted, that person is a murderer; the murderer must be put to death. 18] Similarly, if one struck another with a wooden tool that could cause death, and death resulted, that person is a murderer; the murderer must be put to death. 19] It is the blood-avenger who shall put the murderer to death; this is who shall put that person to death upon encounter. 20] So, too, if one pushed another in hate or hurled something at [the victim] on purpose and death resulted, 21] or if one struck another with the hand in enmity and death resulted, the assailant shall be put to death; that person is a murderer. The blood-avenger shall put the murderer to death upon encounter.

22] But if [a man] pushed without malice aforethought or hurled any object at [the victim] unintentionally, 23] or inadvertently dropped upon [the victim] any deadly object of stone, and death resulted—though not being an enemy and not seeking to harm— 24] in such cases the assembly shall decide between the slayer and the blood-avenger. 25] The assembly shall protect the killer from the blood-avenger, and the assembly shall restore him to the city of refuge to which he fled, and there he shall remain until the death of the high priest who was anointed with the sacred oil. 26] But if the killer ever goes outside the limits of the city of refuge to which he has fled, 27] and the blood-avenger comes upon him outside the limits of his city of refuge, and the blood-avenger kills the killer, there is no bloodguilt on his account. 28] For he must remain inside his city of refuge until the death of the high priest; after the death of the high priest, the killer may return to his land holding.

29] Such shall be your law of procedure throughout the ages in all your settlements.

30] If anyone slays a person, the killer may be executed only on the evidence of witnesses; the testimony of a single witness against a person shall not suffice for a sentence of death. 31] You may not accept a ransom for the life of a murderer who is guilty of a capital crime; [a murderer] must be put to death. 32] Nor may you accept ransom in lieu of flight to a city of refuge, enabling a man to return to live on his land before the death of the priest. 33] You shall not pollute the land in which you live; for blood pollutes the land, and the land can have no expiation for blood that is shed on it, except by the blood of the one who shed it. 34] You shall not defile the land in which you live, in which I Myself abide, for I the Eternal abide among the Israelite people.

36:1] The family heads in the clan of the descendants of Gilead son of Machir son of Manasseh, one of the Josephite clans, came forward and appealed to Moses and the chieftains, family heads of the Israelites. 2] They said, “The Eternal commanded my lord to assign the land to the Israelites as shares by lot, and my lord was further commanded by the Eternal to assign the share of our kinsman Zelophehad to his daughters. 3] Now, if they marry persons from another Israelite tribe, their share will be cut off from our ancestral portion and be added to the portion of the tribe into which they marry; thus our allotted portion will be diminished. 4] And even when the Israelites observe the jubilee, their share will be added to that of the tribe into which they marry, and their share will be cut off from the ancestral portion of our tribe.”

5] So Moses, at the Eternal’s bidding, instructed the Israelites, saying: “The plea of the Josephite tribe is just. 6] This is what the Eternal has commanded concerning the daughters of Zelophehad: They may marry anyone they wish, provided they marry into a clan of their father’s tribe. 7] No inheritance of the Israelites may pass over from one tribe to another, but the Israelite [heirs]—each of them—must remain bound to the ancestral portion of their tribe. 8] Every daughter among the Israelite tribes who inherits a share must marry someone from a clan of her father’s tribe, in order that every Israelite [heir] may keep an ancestral share. 9] Thus no inheritance shall pass over from one tribe to another, but the Israelite tribes shall remain bound each to its portion.”

10] The daughters of Zelophehad did as the Eternal had commanded Moses: 11] Mahlah, Tirzah, Hoglah, Milcah, and Noah, Zelophehad’s daughters, were married to sons of their uncles, 12] marrying into clans of descendants of Manasseh son of Joseph; and so their share remained in the tribe of their father’s clan.

13] These are the commandments and regulations that the Eternal enjoined upon the Israelites, through Moses, on the steppes of Moab, at the Jordan near Jericho.

Translation from The Torah: A Modern Commentary, copyright (c) 2016 by CCAR Press. All rights reserved. Translation of Exodus; Leviticus; Numbers; Deuteronomy from NJPS © 1962, 1985, 1999; CJPS © 2006. Used and adapted by CCAR Press with permission from The Jewish Publication Society and the University of Nebraska Press. No part of this translation may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, distributed, or be transmitted without express written permission from the Central Conference of American Rabbis. For permission, please contact CCAR Press.