Judges 11-12:15 (Contemporary English Version)
1-5The leaders of the Gilead clan decided to ask a brave warrior named Jephthah son of Gilead to lead the attack against the Ammonites.
Even though Jephthah belonged to the Gilead clan, he had earlier been forced to leave the region where they had lived. Jephthah was the son of a prostitute, but his half brothers were the sons of his father's wife.
One day his half brothers told him, " You don't really belong to our family, so you can't have any of the family property." Then they forced Jephthah to leave home.
Jephthah went to the country of Tob, where he was joined by a number of men who would do anything for money.
So the leaders of Gilead went to Jephthah and said,
6" Please come back to Gilead! If you lead our army, we will be able to fight off the Ammonites."
7" Didn't you hate me?" Jephthah replied. " Weren't you the ones who forced me to leave my family? You're coming to me now, just because you're in trouble."
8" But we do want you to come back," the leaders said. " And if you lead us in battle against the Ammonites, we will make you the ruler of Gilead."
9" All right," Jephthah said. " If I go back with you and the LORD lets me defeat the Ammonites, will you really make me your ruler?"
10" You have our word," the leaders answered. " And the LORD is a witness to what we have said."
11So Jephthah went back to Mizpah [a] with the leaders of Gilead. The people of Gilead gathered at the place of worship and made Jephthah their ruler. Jephthah also made promises to them.
12After the ceremony, Jephthah sent messengers to say to the king of Ammon, " Are you trying to start a war? You have invaded my country, and I want to know why!"
13The king of Ammon replied, " Tell Jephthah that the land really belongs to me, all the way from the Arnon River in the south, to the Jabbok River in the north, and west to the Jordan River. When the Israelites came out of Egypt, they stole it. Tell Jephthah to return it to me, and there won't be any war."
14Jephthah sent the messengers back to the king of Ammon,
15and they told him that Jephthah had said:
Israel hasn't taken any territory from Moab or Ammon.
16When the Israelites came from Egypt, they traveled in the desert to the Red Sea [b] and then to Kadesh.
17They sent messengers to the king of Edom and said, " Please, let us go through your country." But the king of Edom refused. They also sent messengers to the king of Moab, but he wouldn't let them cross his country either. And so the Israelites stayed at Kadesh.
18A little later, the Israelites set out into the desert, going east of Edom and Moab, and camping on the eastern side of the Arnon River gorge. The Arnon is the eastern border of Moab, and since the Israelites didn't cross it, they didn't even set foot in Moab.
19The Israelites sent messengers to the Amorite King Sihon of Heshbon. " Please," they said, " let our people go through your country to get to our own land."
20Sihon didn't think the Israelites could be trusted, so he called his army together. They set up camp at Jahaz, then they attacked the Israelite camp.
21But the LORD God helped Israel defeat Sihon and his army. Israel took over all of the Amorite land where Sihon's people had lived,
22from the Arnon River in the south to the Jabbok River in the north, and from the desert in the east to the Jordan River in the west.
23The messengers also told the king of Ammon that Jephthah had said:
The LORD God of Israel helped his nation get rid of the Amorites and take their land. Now do you think you're going to take over that same territory?
24If Chemosh your god [c] takes over a country and gives it to you, don't you have a right to it? And if the LORD takes over a country and gives it to us, the land is ours!
25Are you better than Balak the son of Zippor? He was the king of Moab, but he didn't quarrel with Israel or start a war with us.
26For three hundred years, Israelites have been living in Heshbon and Aroer and the nearby villages, and in the towns along the Arnon River gorge. If the land really belonged to you Ammonites, you wouldn't have waited until now to try to get it back.
27I haven't done anything to you, but it's certainly wrong of you to start a war. I pray that the LORD will show whether Israel or Ammon is in the right.
28But the king of Ammon paid no attention to Jephthah's message.
29Then the LORD's Spirit took control of Jephthah, and Jephthah went through Gilead and Manasseh, raising an army. Finally, he arrived at Mizpah in Gilead, where
30he promised the LORD, " If you will let me defeat the Ammonites
31and come home safely, I will sacrifice to you whoever comes out to meet me first."
32From Mizpah, Jephthah attacked the Ammonites, and the LORD helped him defeat them.
33Jephthah and his army destroyed the twenty towns between Aroer and Minnith, and others as far as Abel-Keramim. After that, the Ammonites could not invade Israel any more.
34When Jephthah returned to his home in Mizpah, the first one to meet him was his daughter. She was playing a tambourine and dancing to celebrate his victory, and she was his only child.
35" Oh!" Jephthah cried. Then he tore his clothes in sorrow and said to his daughter, " I made a sacred promise to the LORD, and I must keep it. Your coming out to meet me has broken my heart."
36" Father," she said, " you made a sacred promise to the LORD, and he let you defeat the Ammonites. Now, you must do what you promised, even if it means I must die.
37But first, please let me spend two months, wandering in the hill country with my friends. We will cry together, because I can never get married and have children."
38" Yes, you may have two months," Jephthah said.
She and some other girls left, and for two months they wandered in the hill country, crying because she could never get married and have children.
39Then she went back to her father. He did what he had promised, and she never got married.
40every year, Israelite girls walk around for four days, weeping for [d] Jephthah's daughter.
The Ephraim Tribe Fights Jephthah's Army
1The men of the Ephraim tribe got together an army and went across the Jordan River to Zaphon to meet with Jephthah. They said, " Why did you go to war with the Ammonites without asking us to help? Just for that, we're going to burn down your house with you inside!"
2" But I did ask for your help," Jephthah answered. " That was back when the people of Gilead and I were having trouble with the Ammonites, and you wouldn't do a thing to help us.
3So when we realized you weren't coming, we risked our lives and attacked the Ammonites. And the LORD let us defeat them. There's no reason for you to come here today to attack me."
4But the men from Ephraim said, " You people of Gilead are nothing more than refugees from Ephraim. You even live on land that belongs to the tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh." [e] So Jephthah called together the army of Gilead, then they attacked and defeated the army from Ephraim.
5The army of Gilead also posted guards at all the places where the soldiers from Ephraim could cross the Jordan River to return to their own land.
Whenever one of the men from Ephraim would try to cross the river, the guards would say, " Are you from Ephraim?"
"No," the man would answer, "I'm not from Ephraim."
6The guards would then tell them to say "Shiboleth," because they knew that people of Ephraim could say "Sibboleth," but not "Shiboleth."
If the man said "Sibboleth," the guards would grab him and kill him right there. Altogether, forty-two thousand men from Ephraim were killed in the battle and at the Jordan.
7Jephthah was a leader [f] of Israel for six years, before he died and was buried in his hometown Mizpah [g] in Gilead.
8Ibzan, the next leader [h] of Israel, came from Bethlehem.
9He had thirty daughters and thirty sons, and he let them all marry outside his clan. Ibzan was a leader for seven years,
10before he died and was buried in Bethlehem.
11Elon from the Zebulun tribe was the next leader[i] of Israel. He was a leader for ten years,
12before he died and was buried in Aijalon that belonged to the Zebulun tribe.
13-15Abdon the son of Hillel was the next leader [j] of Israel. He had forty sons and thirty grandsons, and each one of them had his own donkey[k]. Abdon was a leader[l] for eight years, before he died and was buried in his hometown of Pirathon, which is located in the part of the hill country of Ephraim where Amalekites used to live.
Judges 11:11 Mizpah: In chapters 10-12, Mizpah is the name of a town in Gilead (see 11.29), not the same town as the Mizpah of chapters 20,21.
Judges 11:16 Red Sea: Hebrew yam suph, here referring to the Gulf of Aqaba, since the term is extended to include the northeastern arm of the Red Sea (see also the note at Exodus 13.18).
Judges 11:24 Chemosh your god: Chemosh was actually the national god of Moab, not Ammon. The land that Ammon was trying to take over had belonged to the Moabites before belonging to the Amorites (see Numbers 21.26). So the Ammonites may have thought that Chemosh controlled it.
Judges 11:40 weeping for: Or " remembering."
Judges 12:4 You people of Gilead. . . Ephraim and Manasseh: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text.
Judges 12:7 leader: See 2.16 and the note there.
Judges 12:7 his hometown Mizpah: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text.
Judges 12:8 leader: See 2.16 and the note there.
Judges 12:11 leader: See 2.16 and the note there.
Judges 12:13 follow special rules to stay that way (see Numbers 6.1,21).
Judges 12:13 each. . . donkey: A sign that the family was wealthy.
Judges 12:13 leader: See 2.16 and the note there.
John 1:1-28 (Contemporary English Version)
The Word of Life
1In the beginning was the one
who is called the Word.
The Word was with God
and was truly God.
2From the very beginning
the Word was with God.
3And with this Word,
God created all things.
Nothing was made
without the Word.
Everything that was created
4received its life from him,
and his life gave light
5The light keeps shining
in the dark,
and darkness has never
put it out. [a]
6God sent a man named John,
7who came to tell
about the light
and to lead all people
to have faith.
8John wasn't that light.
He came only to tell
about the light.
9The true light that shines
was coming into the world.
10The Word was in the world,
but no one knew him,
though God had made the world
with his Word.
11He came into his own world,
but his own nation
did not welcome him.
12Yet some people accepted him
and put their faith in him.
So he gave them the right
to be the children of God.
13They were not God's children
of any human desires.
God himself was the one
who made them his children.
14The Word became
a human being
and lived here with us.
We saw his true glory,
the glory of the only Son
of the Father.
From him all the kindness
and all the truth of God
have come down to us.
15John spoke about him and shouted, "This is the one I told you would come! He is greater than I am, because he was alive before I was born."
16Because of all that the Son is, we have been given one blessing after another. [b] 17The Law was given by Moses, but Jesus Christ brought us undeserved kindness and truth. 18No one has ever seen God. The only Son, who is truly God and is closest to the Father, has shown us what God is like.
John the Baptist Tells about Jesus
(Matthew 3.1-12; Mark 1.1-8; Luke 3.15-17)
19-20The Jewish leaders in Jerusalem sent priests and temple helpers to ask John who he was. He told them plainly, "I am not the Messiah." 21Then when they asked him if he were Elijah, he said, "No, I am not!" And when they asked if he were the Prophet, [c] he also said "No!" 22Finally, they said, "Who are you then? We have to give an answer to the ones who sent us. Tell us who you are!"
23John answered in the words of the prophet Isaiah, "I am only someone shouting in the desert, `Get the road ready for the Lord!' "
24Some Pharisees had also been sent to John. 25They asked him, "Why are you baptizing people, if you are not the Messiah or Elijah or the Prophet?"
26John told them, "I use water to baptize people. But here with you is someone you don't know. 27Even though I came first, I am not good enough to untie his sandals." 28John said this as he was baptizing east of the Jordan River in Bethany. [d]
John 1:5 put it out: Or " understood it."
John 1:16 one blessing after another: Or " one blessing in place of another."
John 1:21 the Prophet: Many of the Jewish people expected God to send them a prophet who would be like Moses, but with even greater power (see Deuteronomy 18.15,18).
John 1:28 Bethany: An unknown village east of the Jordan with the same name as the village near Jerusalem.
Psalm 101:1-8 (Contemporary English Version)
(A psalm by David.)
A King and His Promises
1I will sing to you, LORD!
I will celebrate your kindness
and your justice.
2Please help me learn
to do the right thing,
and I will be honest and fair
in my own kingdom.
3I refuse to be corrupt
or to take part
in anything crooked,
4and I won't be dishonest
5Anyone who spreads gossip
will be silenced,
and no one who is conceited
will be my friend.
6I will find trustworthy people
to serve as my advisors,
and only an honest person
will serve as an official.
7No one who cheats or lies
will have a position
in my royal court.
8Each morning I will silence
any lawbreakers I find
in the countryside
or in the city of the LORD.
Proverbs 14:13-14 (Contemporary English Version)
13Sorrow may hide
and happiness may end
14You harvest what you plant,
whether good or bad.