Scripture Readings for the Fourth Week of Lent

The Gospels on the coffin of Pope John Paul II, May 1, 2011. (Vittorio Zunino Celotto/Getty Images)
The Gospels are displayed on the coffin of Pope John Paul II, May 1, 2011. (Photo by Vittorio Zunino Celotto/Getty Images)
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The Old Testament Priesthood and the Bronze Serpent Prefigure Christ

The Gospels on the coffin of Pope John Paul II, May 1, 2011. (Vittorio Zunino Celotto/Getty Images)
The Gospels are displayed on the coffin of Pope John Paul II, May 1, 2011. (Photo by Vittorio Zunino Celotto/Getty Images)

The Fourth Week of Lent begins with Laetare Sunday. We've passed the midpoint of Lent, and on Laetare Sunday the Church offers us a little break, substituting rose vestments for the penitential purple usually used during the Lenten season.

The Old Testament Passes Away, But Christ Endures

In the Scripture Readings for the Fourth Week of Lent, we see the institution of the Old Testament priesthood, which, unlike the eternal priesthood of Christ, passes away. The sacrifices of the priests of Israel, too, need to be repeated again and again, but Christ's sacrifice is offered only once, then made present again on the altar at every Mass. The contrast reminds us that the Promised Land that we strive for, unlike the one to which Moses led the Israelites, is one that will never pass away.

Laetare means "Rejoice," and this little reminder of our heavenly destiny refreshes us, as we prepare for the final three weeks before Easter.

The readings for each day of the Fourth Week of Lent, found on the following pages, come from the Office of the Readings, part of the Liturgy of the Hours, the official prayer of the Church.

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Scripture Reading for the Fourth Sunday of Lent (Laetare Sunday)

Albert of of Sternberk's pontifical, Strahov Monastery Library, Prague, Czech Republic
Albert of of Sternberk's pontifical, Strahov Monastery Library, Prague, Czech Republic. Fred de Noyelle/Getty Images

The Ordination of the Priests

Today, we leave the Book of Exodus, from which our readings for the first, second, and third weeks of Lent were drawn, and pass into the Book of Leviticus. The Lord, through Moses, institutes the Old Testament priesthood, which is bestowed on Aaron and his sons. The priests will offer holocausts on behalf of the people of Israel.

There is a difference between the Old Testament priesthood and the New Testament one, however. Aaron and those who followed him had to renew their sacrifice continually. But Christian priests share in the eternal priesthood of Jesus Christ, Who was both priest and victim. His sacrifice on the Cross was offered once for all, and it is made present to us again at every Mass.

Leviticus 8:1-17; 9:22-24 (Douay-Rheims 1899 American Edition)

And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying: Take Aaron with his sons, their vestments, and the oil of unction, a calf for sin, two rams, a basket with unleavened bread, and thou shalt gather together all the congregation to the door of the tabernacle.

And Moses did as the Lord had commanded. And all the multitude being gathered together before the door of the tabernacle, he said: This is the word that the Lord hath commanded to be done.

And immediately he offered Aaron and his sons: and when he had washed them, he vested the high priest with the strait linen garment, girding him with the girdle, and putting on him the violet tunick, and over it he put the ephod, and binding it with the girdle, he fitted it to the rational, on which was Doctrine and Truth. He put also the mitre upon his head: and upon the mitre over the forehead, he put the plate of gold, consecrated with sanctification, as the Lord had commanded him.

He took also the oil of unction, with which he anointed the tabernacle, with all the furniture thereof. And when he had sanctified and sprinkled the altar seven times, he anointed it, and all the vessels thereof, and the laver with the foot thereof, he sanctified with the oil. And he poured it upon Aaron's head, and he anointed and consecrated him : And after he had offered his sons, he vested them with linen tunicks, and girded them with girdles, and put mitres on them as the Lord had commanded.

He offered also the calf for sin: and when Aaron and his sons had put their hands upon the head thereof, He immolated it: and took the blood, and dipping his finger in it, he touched the horns of the altar round about. Which being expiated, and sanctified, he poured the rest of the blood at the bottom thereof. But the fat that was upon the entrails, and the caul of the liver, and the two little kidneys, with their fat, he burnt upon the altar: And the calf with the skin, and the flesh and the dung, he burnt without the camp, as the Lord had commanded.

And stretching forth his hands to the people, he blessed them. And so the victims for sin, and the holocausts, and the peace offerings being finished, he came down. And Moses and Aaron went into the tabernacle of the testimony, and afterwards came forth and blessed the people. And the glory of the Lord appeared to all the multitude: And behold a fire, coming forth from the Lord, devoured the holocaust, and the fat that was upon the altar: which when the multitude saw, they praised the Lord, falling on their faces.

  • Source: Douay-Rheims 1899 American Edition of the Bible (in the public domain)
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Scripture Reading for Monday of the Fourth Week of Lent

Man thumbing through a Bible
Man thumbing through a Bible. Peter Glass/Design Pics/Getty Images

The Day of Atonement

As the high priest, Aaron has to offer a sacrifice of atonement on behalf of the people of Israel. The sacrifice is accompanied by great ritual, and it must be performed again and again to make up for the Israelites' sins.

Aaron's sacrifice is a type of the New Testament sacrifice of Christ. But where Aaron offers the blood of calves and goats, Christ offered His own blood, once for all. The old sacrifice has passed away; today, our priests, partaking in the eternal priesthood of Christ, offer the unbloody sacrifice of the Mass.

Leviticus 16:2-28 (Douay-Rheims 1899 American Edition)

And he commanded him, saying, Speak to Aaron thy brother, that he enter not at all into the sanctuary, which is within the veil before the propitiatory, with which the ark is covered, lest he die, (for I will appear in a cloud over the oracle,) Unless he first do these things:

He shall offer a calf for sin, and a ram for a holocaust. He shall be vested with a linen tunick, he shall cover his nakedness with linen breeches: he shall be girded with a linen girdle, and he shall put a linen mitre upon his head: for these are holy vestments: all which he shall put on, after he is washed. And he shall receive from the whole multitude of the children of Israel two buck goats for sin, and one ram for a holocaust.

And when he hath offered the calf and prayed for himself, and for his own house, He shall make the two buck goats to stand before the Lord in the door of the tabernacle of the testimony: And casting lots upon them both, one to be offered to the Lord, and the other to be the emissary goat: That whose lot fell to be offered to the Lord, he shall offer for sin: But that whose lot was to be the emissary goat, he shall present alive before the Lord, that he may pour out prayers upon him, and let him go into the wilderness.

After these things are duly celebrated, he shall offer the calf, and praying for himself and for his own house, he shall immolate it: And taking the censer, which he hath filled with the burning coals of the altar, and taking up with his hand the compounded perfume for incense, he shall go in within the veil into the holy place: That when the perfumes are put upon the fire, the cloud and vapour thereof may cover the oracle, which is over the testimony, and he may not die. He shall take also of the blood of the calf, and sprinkle with his finger seven times towards the propitiatory to the east.

And when he hath killed the buck goat for the sin of the people, he shall carry in the blood thereof within the veil, as he was commanded to do with the blood of the calf, that he may sprinkle it over against the oracle, And may expiate the sanctuary from the uncleanness of the children of Israel, and from their transgressions, and all their sins.

According to this rite shall he do to the tabernacle of the testimony, which is fixed among them in the midst of the filth of their habitation. Let no man be in the tabernacle when the high priest goeth into the sanctuary, to pray for himself and his house, and for the whole congregation of Israel, until he come out. And when he is come out to the altar that is before the Lord, let him pray for himself, and taking the blood of the calf, and of the buck goat, let him pour it upon the horns thereof round about: And sprinkling with his finger seven times, let him expiate, and sanctify it from the uncleanness of the children of Israel.

After he hath cleansed the sanctuary, and the tabernacle, and the altar, then let him offer the living goat: And putting both hands upon his head, let him confess all the iniquities of the children of Israel, and all their offences and sins: and praying that they may light on his head, he shall turn him out by a man ready for it, into the desert.

And when the goat hath carried all their iniquities into an uninhabited land, and shall be let go into the desert, Aaron shall return into the tabernacle of the testimony, and putting off the vestments, which he had on him before when he entered into the sanctuary, and leaving them there, He shall wash his flesh in the holy place, and shall put on his own garments. And after that he has come out and hath offered his own holocaust, and that of the people, he shall pray both for himself, and for the people: And the fat that is offered for sins, he shall burn upon the altar.

But he that hath let go the emissary goat, shall wash his clothes, and his body with water, and so shall enter into the camp. But the calf and the buck goat, that were sacrificed for sin, and whose blood was carried into the sanctuary, to accomplish the atonement, they shall carry forth without the camp, e and shall burn with fire, their skins and their flesh, and their dung: And whosoever burneth them shall wash his clothes, and flesh with water, and so shall enter into the camp.

  • Source: Douay-Rheims 1899 American Edition of the Bible (in the public domain)
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Scripture Reading for Tuesday of the Fourth Week of Lent

A gold-leaf Bible
A gold-leaf Bible. Jill Fromer/Getty Images

The Avoidance of Sin

In this reading from the Book of Leviticus, we get another restatement of parts of the Ten Commandments and the Book of the Covenant. The emphasis here is on love of neighbor.

While much of the Law puts our duty toward our neighbor in the negative ("thou shalt not"), Christ's commandment, which fulfills the Law, is to love our neighbor as ourselves. If we have charity, then right behavior will follow. If we do not have charity, as Saint Paul reminds us, all of our good acts will mean nothing.

Leviticus 19:1-18, 31-37 (Douay-Rheims 1899 American Edition)

The Lord spoke to Moses, saying: Speak to all the congregation of the children of Israel, and thou shalt say to them: Be ye holy, because I the Lord your God am holy. Let every one fear his father, and his mother. Keep my sabbaths. I am the Lord your God.

Turn ye not to idols, nor make to yourselves molten gods. I am the Lord your God.

If ye offer in sacrifice a peace offering to the Lord, that he may be favourable, you shall eat it on the same day it was offered, and the next day: and whatsoever shall be left until the third day, you shall burn with fire. If after two days ally man eat thereof, he shall be profane and guilty of impiety: And shall bear his iniquity, because he hath defiled the holy thing of the Lord, and that soul shall perish from among his people.

When thou reapest the corn of thy land, thou shalt not cut down all that is on the face of the earth to the very ground: nor shalt thou gather the ears that remain. Neither shalt thou gather the bunches and grapes that fall down in thy vineyard, but shalt leave them to the poor and the strangers to take. I am the Lord your God.

You shall not steal. You shall not lie, neither shall any man deceive his neighbour. Thou shalt not swear falsely by my name, nor profane the name of thy God. I am the Lord.

Thou shalt not calumniate thy neighbour, nor oppress him by violence. The wages of him that hath been hired by thee shall not abide with thee until the morning. Thou shalt not speak evil of the deaf, nor put a stumblingblock before the blind: but thou shalt fear the Lord thy God, because I am the Lord.

Thou shalt not do that which is unjust, nor judge unjustly. Respect not the person of the poor, nor honour the countenance of the mighty. But judge thy neighbour according to justice. Thou shalt not be a detractor nor a whisperer among the people. Thou shalt not stand against the blood of thy neighbour. I am the Lord.

Thou shalt not hate thy brother in thy heart, but reprove him openly, lest thou incur sin through him. Seek not revenge, nor be mindful of the injury of thy citizens. Thou shalt love thy friend as thyself. I am the Lord.

Go not aside after wizards, neither ask any thing of soothsayers, to be defiled by them: I am the Lord your God.

Rise up before the hoary head, and honour the person of the aged man: and fear the Lord thy God. I am the Lord.

If a stranger dwell in your land, and abide among you, do not upbraid him : But let him be among you as one of the same country: and you shall love him as yourselves: for you were strangers in the land of Egypt. I am the Lord your God.

Do not any unjust thing in judgment, in rule, in weight, or in measure. Let the balance be just and the weights equal, the bushel just, and the sextary equal. I am the Lord your God, that brought you out of the land of Egypt.

Keep all my precepts, and all my judgments, and do them. I am the Lord.

  • Source: Douay-Rheims 1899 American Edition of the Bible (in the public domain)
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Scripture Reading for Wednesday of the Fourth Week of Lent

Prest With Lectionary
A priest with a lectionary. undefined

The Coming of the Spirit

Our brief stay in the Book of Leviticus has concluded, and today we move to the Book of Numbers, where we read another version of Moses' appointment of the judges. The Holy Spirit descends on the 70 elders, and they begin to prophesy.

Numbers 11:4-6, 10-30 (Douay-Rheims 1899 American Edition)

For a mixt multitude of people, that came up with them, burned with desire, sitting and weeping, the children of Israel also being joined with them, and said: Who shall give us flesh to eat? We remember the Ash that we ate in Egypt free cost: the cucumbers come into our mind, and the melons, and the leeks, and the onions, and the garlic. Our soul is dry, our eyes behold nothing else but manna.

Now Moses heard the people weeping by their families, every one at the door of his tent. And the wrath of the Lord was exceedingly enkindled: to Moses also the thing seemed insupportable. And he said to the Lord: Why hast thou afflicted thy servant? wherefore do I not find favour before thee? and why hast thou laid the weight of all this people upon me ? Have I conceived all this multitude, or begotten them, that thou shouldst say to me: Carry them in thy bosom as the nurse is wont to carry the little infant, and bear them into the land, for which thou hast sworn to their fathers? Whence should I have flesh to give to so great a multitude? they weep against me, saying: Give us flesh that we may eat. I am not able alone to bear all this people, because it is too heavy for me. But if it seem unto thee otherwise, I beseech thee to kill me, and let me find grace in thy eyes, that I be not afflicted with so great evils.

And the Lord said to Moses: Gather unto me seventy men of the ancients of Israel, whom thou knowest to be ancients and masters of the people: and thou shalt bring them to the door of the tabernacle of the covenant, and shalt make them stand there with thee, That I may come down and speak with thee: and I will take of thy spirit, and will give to them, that they may bear with thee the burden of the people, and thou mayest not be burthened alone.

And thou shalt say to the people: Be ye sanctified : to morrow you shall eat flesh: for I have heard you say: Who will give us flesh to eat? it was well with us in Egypt. That the Lord may give you flesh, and you may eat: Not for one day, nor two, nor five, nor ten, no nor for twenty. But even for a month of days, till it come out at your nostrils, and become loathsome to you, because you have cast off the Lord, who is in the midst of you, and have wept before him, saying: Why came we out of Egypt?

And Moses said: There are six hundred thousand footmen of this people, and sayest thou: I will give them flesh to eat a whole month? Shall then a multitude of sheep and oxen be killed, that it may suffice for their food? or shall the fishes of the sea be gathered together to fill them? And the Lord answered him: Is the hand of the Lord unable? Thou shalt presently see whether my word shall come to pass or no.

Moses therefore came, and told the people the words of the Lord, and assembled seventy men of the ancients of Israel, and made them to stand about the tabernacle. And the Lord came down in a cloud, and spoke to him, taking away of the spirit that was in Moses, and giving to the seventy men. And when the spirit had rested on them they prophesied, nor did they cease afterwards.

Now there remained in the camp two of the men, of whom one was called Eldad, and the other Medad, upon whom the spirit rested; for they also had been enrolled, but were not gone forth to the tabernacle. And when they prophesied in the camp, there ran a young man, and told Moses, saying: Eldad and Medad prophesy in the camp. Forthwith Josue the son of Nun, the minister of Moses, and chosen out of many, said: My lord Moses forbid them. But he said: Why hast thou emulation for me? O that all the people might prophesy, and that the Lord would give them his spirit! And Moses returned, with the ancients of Israel, into the camp.

  • Source: Douay-Rheims 1899 American Edition of the Bible (in the public domain)
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Scripture Reading for Thursday of the Fourth Week of Lent

Old Bible in Latin
Old Bible in Latin. Myron/Getty Images

Israel Refuses to Enter the Promised Land

Israel has come to the edge of the Promised Land of Canaan, and the Lord tells Moses to send a scouting party into the land. They return with the news that the land flows with milk and honey, as God had promised, but they are afraid to enter it, because it is occupied by men who are stronger than they are.

We, too, often turn aside at just the wrong moment, when we are about to score a victory over temptation and sin. Like the Israelites, we find ourselves confused and dispirited because we fail to put our trust in the Lord.

Numbers 12:16-13:3, 17-33 (Douay-Rheims 1899 American Edition)

And the people marched from Haseroth, and pitched their tents in the desert of Pharan.

And there the Lord spoke to Moses, saying: Send men to view the land of Chanaan, which I will give to the children of Israel, one of every tribe, of the rulers. Moses did what the Lord had commanded, sending from the desert of Pharan, principal men . . .

And Moses sent them to view the land of Chanaan, and said to them: Go you up by the south side. And when you shall come to the mountains, View the land, of what sort it is: and the people that are the inhabitants thereof, whether they be strong or weak: few in number or many: The land itself, whether it be good or bad: what manner of cities, walled or without walls: The ground, fat or barren, woody or without trees. Be of good courage, and bring us of the fruits of the land. Now it was the time when the first ripe grapes are fit to be eaten.

And when they were gone up, they viewed the land from the desert of Sin, unto Rohob as you enter into Emath. And they went up at the south side, and came to Hebron, where were Achiman and Sisai and Tholmai the sons of Enac. For Hebron was built seven years before Tanis the city of Egypt. And going forward as far as the torrent of the cluster of grapes, they cut off a branch with its cluster of grapes, which two men carried upon a lever. They took also of the pomegranates and of the figs of that place: Which was called Nehelescol, that is to say, the torrent of the cluster of grapes, because from thence the children of Israel had carried a cluster of grapes.

And they that went to spy out the land returned after forty days, having gone round all the country, And came to Moses and Aaron and to all the assembly of the children of Israel to the desert of Pharan, which is in Cades. And speaking to them and to all the multitude, they shewed them the fruits of the land: And they related and said: We came into the land to which thou sentest us, which in very deed floweth with milk and honey as may be known by these fruits: But it hath very strong inhabitants, and the cities are great and walled. We saw there the race of Enac. Amalec dwelleth in the south, the Hethite and the Jebusite and the Amorrhite in the mountains: but the Chanaanite abideth by the sea and near the streams of the Jordan.

In the mean time Caleb, to still the murmuring of the people that rose against Moses, said: Let us go up and possess the land, for we shall be able to conquer it. But the others, that had been with him, said: No, we are not able to go up to this people, because they are stronger than we.

And they spoke ill of the land, which they had viewed, before the children of Israel, saying: The land which we have viewed, devoureth its inhabitants: the people, that we beheld, are of a tall stature. There we saw certain monsters of the sons of Enac, of the giant kind: in comparison of whom, we seemed like locusts.

  • Source: Douay-Rheims 1899 American Edition of the Bible (in the public domain)
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Scripture Reading for Friday of the Fourth Week of Lent

Old Bible in English
Old Bible in English. Godong/Getty Images

Moses Saves the Israelites From God's Wrath

Having wandered for so long, the people of Israel are despondent over the news that the Promised Land is occupied by men who are stronger than they are. Instead of trusting in God, they complain to Moses, and God threatens to strike them down. Once again, it is only through Moses' intervention that the Israelites are saved. Still, the Lord refuses to allow those Israelites who doubted His word to enter into the Promised Land.

When we reject Him and doubt His promises, as the Israelites did, we cut ourselves off from the Promised Land of heaven. Because of the sacrifice of Christ, however, we can repent, and God will forgive us.

Numbers 14:1-25 (Douay-Rheims 1899 American Edition)

Wherefore the whole multitude crying wept that night. And all the children of Israel murmured against Moses and Aaron, saying: Would God that we had died in Egypt and would God we may die in this vast wilderness, and that the Lord may not bring us into this land, lest we fall by the sword, and our wives and children be led away captives. Is it not better to return into Egypt? And they said one to another: Let us appoint a captain, and let us return into Egypt.

And when Moses and Aaron heard this, they fell down flat upon the ground before the multitude of the children of Israel. But Josue the son of Nun, and Caleb the son of Jephone, who themselves also had viewed the land, rent their garments, And said to all the multitude of the children of Israel: The land which we have gone round is very good: If the Lord be favourable, he will bring us into it, and give us a land flowing with milk and honey. Be not rebellious against the Lord: and fear ye not the people of this land, for we are able to eat them up as bread. All aid is gone from them: the Lord is with us, fear ye not. And when all the multitude cried out, and would have stoned them, the glory of the Lord appeared over the tabernacle of the covenant to all the children of Israel.

And the Lord said to Moses: How long will this people detract me? how long will they not believe me for all the signs that I have wrought before them? I will strike them therefore with pestilence, and will consume them: but thee I will make a ruler over a great nation, and a mightier than this is.

And Moses said to the Lord: That the Egyptians, from the midst of whom thou hast brought forth this people, and the inhabitants of this land, (who have heard that thou, O Lord, art among this people, and art seen face to face, and thy cloud protecteth them, and thou goest before them in a pillar of a cloud by day, and in a pillar of fire by night,) may hear that thou hast killed so great a multitude as it were one man and may say: He could not bring the people into the land for which he had sworn, therefore did he kill them in the wilderness.

Let their the strength of the Lord be magnified, as thou hast sworn, saying: The Lord is patient and full of mercy, taking away iniquity and wickedness, and leaving no man clear, who visitest the sins of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation. Forgive, I beseech thee, the sins of this people, according to the greatness of thy mercy, as thou hast been merciful to them from their going out of Egypt unto this place.

And the Lord said: I have forgiven according to thy word. As I live: and the whole earth shall be filled with the glory of the Lord. But yet all the men that have seen my majesty, and the signs that I have done in Egypt, and in the wilderness, and have tempted me now ten times, and have not obeyed my voice, Shall not see the land for which I aware to their fathers, neither shall any one of them that hath detracted me behold it. My servant Caleb, who being full of another spirit hath followed me, I will bring into this land which he hath gone round: and his seed shall possess it. For the Amalecite and the Chanaanite dwell in the valleys. To morrow remove the camp, and return into the wilderness by the way of the Red Sea.

  • Source: Douay-Rheims 1899 American Edition of the Bible (in the public domain)
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Scripture Reading for Saturday of the Fourth Week of Lent

St. Chad Gospels at Lichfield Cathedral
St. Chad Gospels at Lichfield Cathedral. Philip Game/Getty Images

The Bronze Serpent

Our time of exodus draws to a close, and today, in our last reading from the Old Testament, we have another version of the story of Moses bringing water from the rock. Even after receiving this miraculous water, the Israelites continue to grumble against God, and so He sends a plague of serpents. Many of the Israelites die from their bites, until Moses intervenes and the Lord tells him to make a bronze serpent and mount it on a pole. Those who were bitten but looked at the serpent were cured.

It may seem odd to compare Jesus Christ to a serpent, but Christ Himself did so in John 3:14-15: "And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the desert, so must the Son of man be lifted up: That whosoever believeth in him, may not perish; but may have life everlasting." The Church's Lenten selections from the Old Testament end with this reading, as our own Lent ends with the death of Christ on the Cross.

Numbers 20:1-13; 21:4-9 (Douay-Rheims 1899 American Edition)

And the children of Israel, and all the multitude came into the desert of Sin, in the first month: and the people abode in Cades. And Mary died there, and was buried in the same place.

And the people wanting water, came together against Moses and Aaron: And making a sedition, they said: Would God we had perished among our brethren before the Lord. Why have you brought out the church of the Lord into the wilderness, that both we and our cattle should die? Why have you made us come up out of Egypt, and have brought us into this wretched place which cannot be sowed, nor bringeth forth figs, nor vines, nor pomegranates, neither is there any water to drink? And Moses and Aaron leaving the multitude, went into the tabernacle of the covenant, and fell flat upon the ground, and cried to the Lord, and said: O Lord God, hear the cry of this people, and open to them thy treasure, a fountain of living water, that being satisfied, they may cease to murmur. And the glory of the Lord appeared over them.

And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying: Take the rod, and assemble the people together, thou and Aaron thy brother, and speak to the rock before them, and it shall yield waters. And when thou hast brought forth water out of the rock, all the multitude and their cattle shall drink.

Moses therefore took the rod, which was before the Lord, as he had commanded him, And having gathered together the multitude before the rock, he said to them: Hear, ye rebellious and incredulous: Can we bring you forth water out of this rock? And when Moses had lifted up his hand, and struck the rook twice with the rod, there came forth water in great abundance, so that the people and their cattle drank,

And the Lord said to Moses and Aaron: Because you have not believed me, to sanctify me before the children of Israel, you shall not bring these people into the land, which I will give them.

This is the Water of contradiction, where the children of Israel strove with words against the Lord, and he was sanctified in them.

And they marched from mount Hor, by the way that leadeth to the Red Sea, to compass the land of Edom. And the people began to be weary of their journey and labour: And speaking against God end Moses, they said: Why didst thou bring us out of Egypt, to die in the wilderness? There is no bread, nor have we any waters: our soul now loatheth this very light food.

Wherefore the Lord sent among the people fiery serpents, which bit them and killed many of them. Upon which they came to Moses, and said: We have sinned, because we have spoken against the Lord and thee: pray that he may take away these serpents from us. And Moses prayed for the people. And the Lord said to him: Make brazen serpent, and set it up for a sign: whosoever being struck shall look on it, shall live. Moses therefore made a brazen serpent, and set it up for a sign: which when they that were bitten looked upon, they were healed.

  • Source: Douay-Rheims 1899 American Edition of the Bible (in the public domain)