Numbers 20: You Shall Not PASS!!!!

Maybe its because “The Hobbit” trailer is awesome. Maybe because of that, my wife and I read “The Hobbit” out loud to each other. And maybe we are reading “The Fellowship of The Ring” out loud to each other. And maybe we watched half of that movie last night. And maybe my friends and I are playing a lot of “The Lord of the Rings” board game right now (and losing every time!).

But I kinda have Lord of the Rings on my brain.

So when the king of Edom tells the Israelites, “You shall not pass,” all I can think of is Gandalf and the Balrog on the bridge of Khazad-Dum.

But seriously, the first part of Numbers 20 is two stories of people not passing. Part two of Numbers 20 will be coming tomorrow.

Let’s take a look at what gets people “Balrogged.”

Please Do Not Touch the Rocks.

The people are in a desert. They want water. Once again they talk about how Egypt was so much better with all its water in that river; completely forgetting that they were slaves.

Anyway, God gives Moses a way to bring water to the people: tell the rock to give up its water. Duh.

But instead of talking to the rock, Moses hits it with his stick. Twice.


God is not pleased with Moses’ behavior. He did not “trust in me, to show my holiness before the people.” As a result, Moses and Aaron will not enter the land with the people. Bummer.

So what exactly did Moses do? What was his crime? Was it hitting the rock instead of speaking to it? Was it hitting the rock twice? I feel like there may be some cultural disconnect with the story. If I was going to make up a story about how a great man like Moses screwed up big time, I don’t think I would do it like this.

So this must be a bigger deal than I think it is. Do you have any thoughts?

Yo, Bro, Let Me Go!

The people come to the land of the Edomites. Here is a little refresher for you: The Edomites are the descendants of Esau, the brother of Jacob. The Israelites are the descendants of Jacob, the brother of Esau.

These two people groups are related. Which is why I love that the letter Moses sends to their king starts with “Thus says your brother Israel.”

Back in Genesis, Jacob and Esau had their troubles, but they worked it out. Even when Jacob had pissed Esau off, Esau forgave him and welcomed him.

Not so this time.

Edom wants nothing to do with Israel. They will not let those former slaves pass through their land.


It is too bad that the reconciliation between Jacob and Esau did not last. Perhaps that is a reminder to all of us to continue building and healing our own relationships.

5 responses

  1. I always thought the disobedience had to do with Moses saying “Shall WE [ie, he and Aaron] bring water for you out of this rock?” and not giving the credit to God for saving them. It looks like their holiness instead of God’s. Although that doesn’t explain why this accounts for them not trusting God.

  2. Tried to comment yesterday, but Mobile Safari didn’t like me! Anyway…

    Here’s my modern retelling:

    God: “Moishe! Dude, quit slagging on the rock, mang! I ain’t pissed wit my peeps.”

    Moishe: “Well, I am. Them peeps you done give me ain’t nuttin but trouble.”

    God: “Holmes, you missing it. That my water, and I want them peeps all up ons, you dig? In fact, cause yo slaggin’ you ain’t a gittin to the promise lan.”

    Anyway, you get my point.


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