The LORD said to Moses,
"Speak to the Israelites and get twelve staffs from them, one from the leader of each of their ancestral tribes. Write the name of each man on his staff.
On the staff of Levi write Aaron's name, for there must be one staff for the head of each ancestral tribe.
Place them in the Tent of Meeting in front of the Testimony, where I meet with you.
The staff belonging to the man I choose will sprout, and I will rid myself of this constant grumbling against you by the Israelites."
So Moses spoke to the Israelites, and their leaders gave him twelve staffs, one for the leader of each of their ancestral tribes, and Aaron's staff was among them.
Moses placed the staffs before the LORD in the Tent of the Testimony.
The next day Moses entered the Tent of the Testimony and saw that Aaron's staff, which represented the house of Levi, had not only sprouted but had budded, blossomed and produced almonds.
Then Moses brought out all the staffs from the LORD's presence to all the Israelites. They looked at them, and each man took his own staff.
The LORD said to Moses, "Put back Aaron's staff in front of the Testimony, to be kept as a sign to the rebellious. This will put an end to their grumbling against me, so that they will not die."
Moses did just as the LORD commanded him.
The Israelites said to Moses, "We will die! We are lost, we are all lost!
Anyone who even comes near the tabernacle of the LORD will die. Are we all going to die?"
The LORD said to Aaron, "You, your sons and your father's family are to bear the responsibility for offenses against the sanctuary, and you and your sons alone are to bear the responsibility for offenses against the priesthood.
Bring your fellow Levites from your ancestral tribe to join you and assist you when you and your sons minister before the Tent of the Testimony.
They are to be responsible to you and are to perform all the duties of the Tent, but they must not go near the furnishings of the sanctuary or the altar, or both they and you will die.
They are to join you and be responsible for the care of the Tent of Meeting-- all the work at the Tent-- and no one else may come near where you are.
"You are to be responsible for the care of the sanctuary and the altar, so that wrath will not fall on the Israelites again.
I myself have selected your fellow Levites from among the Israelites as a gift to you, dedicated to the LORD to do the work at the Tent of Meeting.
But only you and your sons may serve as priests in connection with everything at the altar and inside the curtain. I am giving you the service of the priesthood as a gift. Anyone else who comes near the sanctuary must be put to death."
Then the LORD said to Aaron, "I myself have put you in charge of the offerings presented to me; all the holy offerings the Israelites give me I give to you and your sons as your portion and regular share.
You are to have the part of the most holy offerings that is kept from the fire. From all the gifts they bring me as most holy offerings, whether grain or sin or guilt offerings, that part belongs to you and your sons.
Eat it as something most holy; every male shall eat it. You must regard it as holy.
"This also is yours: whatever is set aside from the gifts of all the wave offerings of the Israelites. I give this to you and your sons and daughters as your regular share. Everyone in your household who is ceremonially clean may eat it.
"I give you all the finest olive oil and all the finest new wine and grain they give the LORD as the firstfruits of their harvest.
All the land's firstfruits that they bring to the LORD will be yours. Everyone in your household who is ceremonially clean may eat it.
"Everything in Israel that is devoted to the LORD is yours.
The first offspring of every womb, both man and animal, that is offered to the LORD is yours. But you must redeem every firstborn son and every firstborn male of unclean animals.
When they are a month old, you must redeem them at the redemption price set at five shekels of silver, according to the sanctuary shekel, which weighs twenty gerahs.
"But you must not redeem the firstborn of an ox, a sheep or a goat; they are holy. Sprinkle their blood on the altar and burn their fat as an offering made by fire, an aroma pleasing to the LORD.
Their meat is to be yours, just as the breast of the wave offering and the right thigh are yours.
Whatever is set aside from the holy offerings the Israelites present to the LORD I give to you and your sons and daughters as your regular share. It is an everlasting covenant of salt before the LORD for both you and your offspring."
The LORD said to Aaron, "You will have no inheritance in their land, nor will you have any share among them; I am your share and your inheritance among the Israelites.
"I give to the Levites all the tithes in Israel as their inheritance in return for the work they do while serving at the Tent of Meeting.
From now on the Israelites must not go near the Tent of Meeting, or they will bear the consequences of their sin and will die.
It is the Levites who are to do the work at the Tent of Meeting and bear the responsibility for offenses against it. This is a lasting ordinance for the generations to come. They will receive no inheritance among the Israelites.
Instead, I give to the Levites as their inheritance the tithes that the Israelites present as an offering to the LORD. That is why I said concerning them: 'They will have no inheritance among the Israelites.'"
The LORD said to Moses,
"Speak to the Levites and say to them: 'When you receive from the Israelites the tithe I give you as your inheritance, you must present a tenth of that tithe as the LORD's offering.
Your offering will be reckoned to you as grain from the threshing floor or juice from the winepress.
In this way you also will present an offering to the LORD from all the tithes you receive from the Israelites. From these tithes you must give the LORD's portion to Aaron the priest.
You must present as the LORD's portion the best and holiest part of everything given to you.'
"Say to the Levites: 'When you present the best part, it will be reckoned to you as the product of the threshing floor or the winepress.
You and your households may eat the rest of it anywhere, for it is your wages for your work at the Tent of Meeting.
By presenting the best part of it you will not be guilty in this matter; then you will not defile the holy offerings of the Israelites, and you will not die.'"
A psalm of David. Ascribe to the LORD, O mighty ones, ascribe to the LORD glory and strength.
Ascribe to the LORD the glory due his name; worship the LORD in the splendor of his holiness.
The voice of the LORD is over the waters; the God of glory thunders, the LORD thunders over the mighty waters.
The voice of the LORD is powerful; the voice of the LORD is majestic.
The voice of the LORD breaks the cedars; the LORD breaks in pieces the cedars of Lebanon.
He makes Lebanon skip like a calf, Sirion like a young wild ox.
The voice of the LORD strikes with flashes of lightning.
The voice of the LORD shakes the desert; the LORD shakes the Desert of Kadesh.
The voice of the LORD twists the oaks and strips the forests bare. And in his temple all cry, "Glory!"
The LORD sits enthroned over the flood; the LORD is enthroned as King forever.
The LORD gives strength to his people; the LORD blesses his people with peace.
Again Jesus began to teach by the lake. The crowd that gathered around him was so large that he got into a boat and sat in it out on the lake, while all the people were along the shore at the water's edge.
He taught them many things by parables, and in his teaching said:
"Listen! A farmer went out to sow his seed.
As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up.
Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow.
But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root.
Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants, so that they did not bear grain.
Still other seed fell on good soil. It came up, grew and produced a crop, multiplying thirty, sixty, or even a hundred times."
Then Jesus said, "He who has ears to hear, let him hear."
When he was alone, the Twelve and the others around him asked him about the parables.
He told them, "The secret of the kingdom of God has been given to you. But to those on the outside everything is said in parables
so that, "'they may be ever seeing but never perceiving, and ever hearing but never understanding; otherwise they might turn and be forgiven!'"
Then Jesus said to them, "Don't you understand this parable? How then will you understand any parable?
The farmer sows the word.
Some people are like seed along the path, where the word is sown. As soon as they hear it, Satan comes and takes away the word that was sown in them.
Others, like seed sown on rocky places, hear the word and at once receive it with joy.
But since they have no root, they last only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, they quickly fall away.
Still others, like seed sown among thorns, hear the word;
but the worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth and the desires for other things come in and choke the word, making it unfruitful.
Others, like seed sown on good soil, hear the word, accept it, and produce a crop-- thirty, sixty or even a hundred times what was sown."
He said to them, "Do you bring in a lamp to put it under a bowl or a bed? Instead, don't you put it on its stand?
For whatever is hidden is meant to be disclosed, and whatever is concealed is meant to be brought out into the open.
If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear."
"Consider carefully what you hear," he continued. "With the measure you use, it will be measured to you-- and even more.
Whoever has will be given more; whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him."
He also said, "This is what the kingdom of God is like. A man scatters seed on the ground.
Night and day, whether he sleeps or gets up, the seed sprouts and grows, though he does not know how.
All by itself the soil produces grain-- first the stalk, then the head, then the full kernel in the head.
As soon as the grain is ripe, he puts the sickle to it, because the harvest has come."
Again he said, "What shall we say the kingdom of God is like, or what parable shall we use to describe it?
It is like a mustard seed, which is the smallest seed you plant in the ground.
Yet when planted, it grows and becomes the largest of all garden plants, with such big branches that the birds of the air can perch in its shade."
With many similar parables Jesus spoke the word to them, as much as they could understand.
He did not say anything to them without using a parable. But when he was alone with his own disciples, he explained everything.
That day when evening came, he said to his disciples, "Let us go over to the other side."
Leaving the crowd behind, they took him along, just as he was, in the boat. There were also other boats with him.
A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped.
Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said to him, "Teacher, don't you care if we drown?"
He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, "Quiet! Be still!" Then the wind died down and it was completely calm.
He said to his disciples, "Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?"
They were terrified and asked each other, "Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!"