YEAR after year passes—10 years, 20 years, 30 years, 39 years! And the Israelites are still in the wilderness. But all these years Jehovah takes care of his people. He feeds them with manna. He leads them during the day with a pillar of cloud, and by night with a pillar of fire. And all during these years their clothes don’t wear out and their feet don’t get sore.
It is now the first month of the 40th year since leaving Egypt. The Israelites again camp at Kaʹdesh. This is where they were when the 12 spies were sent to spy out the land of Caʹnaan nearly 40 years before. Moses’ sister Mirʹi·am dies at Kaʹdesh. And as before, there is trouble here.
The people can’t find any water. So they complain to Moses: ‘It would have been better if we had died. Why did you bring us out of Egypt into this terrible place where nothing will grow? There are no grain, no figs, no grapes, no pomegranates. There isn’t even any water to drink.’
When Moses and Aaron go to the tabernacle to pray, Jehovah tells Moses: ‘Gather the people together. Then in front of them all speak to that rock over there. Enough water will come out of it for the people and all their animals.’
So Moses gathers the people, and says: ‘Listen, you who have no trust in God! Do Aaron and I have to get water out of this rock for you?’ Then Moses strikes the rock twice with a stick, and a great stream of water comes pouring out of the rock. There is enough water for all the people and animals to drink.
But Jehovah is angry with Moses and Aaron. Do you know why? It is because Moses and Aaron said that they were going to bring water from the rock. But really Jehovah did it. And because Moses and Aaron didn’t tell the truth about this, Jehovah says that he is going to punish them. ‘You will not lead my people into Caʹnaan,’ he says.
Soon the Israelites leave Kaʹdesh. After a short while they come to Mount Hor. Here, up on top of the mountain, Aaron dies. He is 123 years of age at the time of his death. The Israelites are very sad, and so for 30 days all the people weep for Aaron. His son E·le·aʹzar becomes the next high priest of the nation of Israel.