Today our passages are Joshua 5:1–7:15; Luke 15:1-32; Psalm 81:1-16; and Proverbs 13:1. The readings are the Contemporary English Version.
Joshua 5-7:15 (Contemporary English Version)
Joshua 51The Amorite kings west of the Jordan River and the Canaanite kings along the Mediterranean Sea lost their courage and their will to fight, when they heard how the LORD had dried up the Jordan River to let Israel go across.
Israel Gets Ready To Celebrate Passover2While Israel was camped at Gilgal, the LORD said, " Joshua, make some flint knives [a] and circumcise the rest of the Israelite men and boys." [b] 3Joshua made the knives, then circumcised those men and boys at Haaraloth Hill. [c] 4-7This had to be done, because none of Israel's baby boys had been circumcised during the forty years that Israel had wandered through the desert after leaving Egypt. And why had they wandered for forty years? It was because right after they left Egypt, the men in the army had disobeyed the LORD. And the LORD had said, " None of you men will ever live to see the land that I promised Israel. It is a land rich with milk and honey, and someday your children will live there, but not before you die here in the desert." 8Everyone who had been circumcised needed time to heal, and they stayed in camp.
9The LORD told Joshua, " It was a disgrace for my people to be slaves in Egypt, but now I have taken away that disgrace." So the Israelites named the place Gilgal, [d] and it still has that name. 10Israel continued to camp at Gilgal in the desert near Jericho, and on the fourteenth day of the same month, [e] they celebrated Passover. 11-12The next day, God stopped sending the Israelites manna [f] to eat each morning, and they started eating food grown in the land of Canaan. They ate roasted grain [g] and thin bread [h] made of the barley they had gathered from nearby fields.
Israel Captures Jericho13One day, Joshua was near Jericho when he saw a man standing some distance in front of him. The man was holding a sword, so Joshua walked up to him and asked, " Are you on our side or on our enemies' side?" 14" Neither," he answered. " I am here because I am the commander of the LORD's army."
Joshua fell to his knees and bowed down to the ground. " I am your servant," he said. " Tell me what to do."
15" Take off your sandals," the commander answered. " This is a holy place."
So Joshua took off his sandals.
Joshua 61Meanwhile, the people of Jericho had been locking the gates in their town wall because they were afraid of the Israelites. No one could go out or come in. 2-3The LORD said to Joshua:
With my help, you and your army will defeat the king of Jericho and his army, and you will capture the town. Here is how to do it: March slowly around Jericho once a day for six days. 4Take along the sacred chest and have seven priests walk in front of it, carrying trumpets. [i] But on the seventh day, march slowly around the town seven times while the priests blow their trumpets. 5Then the priests will blast on their trumpets, and everyone else will shout. The wall will fall down, and your soldiers can go straight in from every side.
6Joshua called the priests together and said, " Take the chest and have seven priests carry trumpets and march ahead of it."
7-10Next, he gave the army their orders: " March slowly around Jericho. A few of you will go ahead of the chest to guard it, but most of you will follow it. Don't shout the battle cry or yell or even talk until the day I tell you to. Then let out a shout!"
As soon as Joshua finished giving the orders, the army started marching. One group of soldiers led the way, with seven priests marching behind them and blowing trumpets. Then came the priests carrying the chest, followed by the rest of the soldiers. 11They obeyed Joshua's orders and carried the chest once around the town before returning to camp for the night.
12-14Early the next morning, Joshua and everyone else started marching around Jericho in the same order as the day before. One group of soldiers was in front, followed by the seven priests with trumpets and the priests who carried the chest. The rest of the army came next. The seven priests blew their trumpets while everyone marched slowly around Jericho and back to camp. They did this once a day for six days.
15On the seventh day, the army got up at daybreak. They marched slowly around Jericho the same as they had done for the past six days, except on this day they went around seven times. 16Then the priests blew the trumpets, and Joshua yelled:
Get ready to shout! The LORD will let you capture this town. 17But you must destroy it and everything in it, to show that it now belongs to the LORD. [j] The woman Rahab helped the spies we sent, [k] so protect her and the others who are inside her house. But kill everyone else in the town. 18-19The silver and gold and everything made of bronze and iron belong to the LORD and must be put in his treasury. Be careful to follow these instructions, because if you see something you want and take it, the LORD will destroy Israel. And it will be all your fault. [l] 20The priests blew their trumpets again, and the soldiers shouted as loud as they could. The walls of Jericho fell flat. Then the soldiers rushed up the hill, went straight into the town, and captured it. 21-25They killed everyone, men and women, young and old, everyone except Rahab and the others in her house. They even killed every cow, sheep, and donkey.
Joshua said to the two men who had been spies, " Rahab kept you safe when I sent you to Jericho. We promised to protect her and her family, and we will keep that promise. Now go into her house and bring them out."
The two men went into Rahab's house and brought her out, along with her father and mother, her brothers, and her other relatives. Rahab and her family had to stay in a place just outside the Israelite army camp. [m] But later they were allowed to live among the Israelites, and her descendants still do. The Israelites took the silver and gold and the things made of bronze and iron and put them with the rest of the treasure that was kept at the LORD's house. [n] Finally, they set fire to Jericho and everything in it. 26After Jericho was destroyed, Joshua warned the people, " Someday a man will rebuild Jericho, but the LORD will put a curse on him, and the man's oldest son will die when he starts to build the town wall. And by the time he finishes the wall and puts gates in it, all his children will be dead." [o] 27The LORD helped Joshua in everything he did, and Joshua was famous everywhere in Canaan.
Achan Is Punished for Stealing from the LORD1The LORD had said that everything in Jericho belonged to him. [p] But Achan [q] from the Judah tribe took some of the things from Jericho for himself. And so the LORD was angry with the Israelites, because one of them had disobeyed him. [r] 2While Israel was still camped near Jericho, Joshua sent some spies with these instructions: " Go to the town of Ai [s] and find out whatever you can about the region around the town." The spies left and went to Ai, which is east of Bethel and near Beth-Aven. 3They went back to Joshua and reported, " You don't need to send the whole army to attack Ai--two or three thousand troops will be enough. Why bother the whole army for a town that small?" 4-5Joshua sent about three thousand soldiers to attack Ai. But the men of Ai fought back and chased the Israelite soldiers away from the town gate and down the hill to the stone quarries. [t] Thirty-six Israelite soldiers were killed, and the Israelite army felt discouraged. 6Joshua and the leaders of Israel tore their clothes and put dirt on their heads to show their sorrow. They lay facedown on the ground in front of the sacred chest until sunset. 7Then Joshua said:
Our LORD, did you bring us across the Jordan River just so the Amorites could destroy us? This wouldn't have happened if we had agreed to stay on the other side of the Jordan. 8I don't even know what to say to you, since Israel's army has turned and run from the enemy. 9Everyone will think you weren't strong enough to protect your people. Now the Canaanites and everyone else who lives in the land will surround us and wipe us out.
10The LORD answered:
Stop lying there on the ground! Get up! 11I said everything in Jericho belonged to me and had to be destroyed. But the Israelites have kept some of the things for themselves. They stole from me and hid what they took. Then they lied about it. 12What they stole was supposed to be destroyed, and now Israel itself must be destroyed. I cannot help you anymore until you do exactly what I have said. That's why Israel turns and runs from its enemies instead of standing up to them.
13Tell the people of Israel, " Tomorrow you will meet with the LORD your God, so make yourselves acceptable to worship him. The LORD says that you have taken things that should have been destroyed. You won't be able to stand up to your enemies until you get rid of those things.
14" Tomorrow morning everyone must gather near the place of worship. You will come forward tribe by tribe, and the LORD will show which tribe is guilty. Next, the clans in that tribe must come forward, and the LORD will show which clan is guilty. The families in that clan must come, and the LORD will point out the guilty family. Finally, the men in that family must come, 15and the LORD will show who stole what should have been destroyed. That man must be put to death, his body burned, and his possessions thrown into the fire. He has done a terrible thing by breaking the sacred agreement that the LORD made with Israel."
- Joshua 5:2 flint knives: Flint is a stone that can be chipped until it forms a very sharp edge.
- Joshua 5:2 circumcise. . . men and boys: They could not celebrate Passover unless they were circumcised (see Exodus 12.43-49).
- Joshua 5:3 Haaraloth Hill: Or " Foreskin Hill."
- Joshua 5:9 Gilgal: In Hebrew " Gilgal" sounds like " take away."
- Joshua 5:10 the same month: See the note at 4.19.
- Joshua 5:11 manna: The special food that God provided for the Israelites while they were in the desert for forty years. It was about the size of a small seed, and it appeared on the ground during the night, except on the Sabbath. It was gathered early in the morning, ground up, and then baked or boiled (see Exodus 16.13-35; Numbers 11.4-9).
- Joshua 5:11 roasted grain: Roasted grain was made by cooking the grain in a dry pan or on a flat rock, or by holding a bunch of grain stalks over a fire.
- Joshua 5:11 thin bread: Bread made without yeast. Israelites were not supposed to eat bread made with yeast for the week following Passover. That week is called the Festival of Thin Bread (see Exodus 12.14-20; 13.3-7).
- Joshua 6:4 trumpets: These were hollowed-out ram's horns.
- Joshua 6:17 destroy. . . now belongs to the LORD: Destroying a city and everything in it, including its people and animals, showed that it belonged to the LORD and could no longer be used by humans.
- Joshua 6:17 sent: See 2.1,21.
- Joshua 6:18 Be careful. . . fault: One ancient translation; Hebrew " Don't keep any of it for yourself. If you do, the LORD will destroy both you and Israel."
- Joshua 6:21 camp: Rahab and her family were Canaanites and were considered unclean. If they stayed in the Israelite army camp, the Lord would not help the Israelite army in battle (see Deuteronomy 23.9-14). However, Rahab and her family later became part of Israel.
- Joshua 6:21 the LORD's house: A name for the place of worship, which at that time was the sacred tent.
- Joshua 6:26 by the time. . . dead: Or " when he puts gates into the town wall, his youngest son will die."
- Joshua 7:1 belonged to him: See the note at 6.17.
- Joshua 7:1 Achan: The Hebrew text has " Achan, son of Carmi, grandson of Abdi, and great-grandson of Zerah."
- Joshua 7:1 the LORD was angry. . . disobeyed him: Even though only one person had disobeyed, it meant that the LORD's instructions to the people of Israel had not been followed, and the whole nation was held responsible.
- Joshua 7:2 of Ai: Or " called The Ruins."
- Joshua 7:4 stone quarries: Or " Shebarim."
Luke 15:1-32 (Contemporary English Version)
(Matthew 18.12-14)1Tax collectors [a] and sinners were all crowding around to listen to Jesus. 2So the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law of Moses started grumbling, "This man is friendly with sinners. He even eats with them." 3Then Jesus told them this story: 4If any of you has a hundred sheep, and one of them gets lost, what will you do? Won't you leave the ninety-nine in the field and go look for the lost sheep until you find it? 5And when you find it, you will be so glad that you will put it on your shoulder 6and carry it home. Then you will call in your friends and neighbors and say, "Let's celebrate! I've found my lost sheep."
7Jesus said, "In the same way there is more happiness in heaven because of one sinner who turns to God than over ninety-nine good people who don't need to."
One Coin8Jesus told the people another story: What will a woman do if she has ten silver coins and loses one of them? Won't she light a lamp, sweep the floor, and look carefully until she finds it? 9Then she will call in her friends and neighbors and say, "Let's celebrate! I've found the coin I lost."
10Jesus said, "In the same way God's angels are happy when even one person turns to him."
Two Sons11Jesus also told them another story: Once a man had two sons. 12The younger son said to his father, "Give me my share of the property." So the father divided his property between his two sons.
13Not long after that, the younger son packed up everything he owned and left for a foreign country, where he wasted all his money in wild living. 14He had spent everything, when a bad famine spread through that whole land. Soon he had nothing to eat.
15He went to work for a man in that country, and the man sent him out to take care of his pigs. [b] 16He would have been glad to eat what the pigs were eating, [c] but no one gave him a thing. 17Finally, he came to his senses and said, "My father's workers have plenty to eat, and here I am, starving to death! 18I will go to my father and say to him, `Father, I have sinned against God in heaven and against you. 19I am no longer good enough to be called your son. Treat me like one of your workers.' "
20The younger son got up and started back to his father. But when he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt sorry for him. He ran to his son and hugged and kissed him.
21The son said, "Father, I have sinned against God in heaven and against you. I am no longer good enough to be called your son."
22But his father said to the servants, "Hurry and bring the best clothes and put them on him. Give him a ring for his finger and sandals [d] for his feet. 23Get the best calf and prepare it, so we can eat and celebrate. 24This son of mine was dead, but has now come back to life. He was lost and has now been found." And they began to celebrate. 25The older son had been out in the field. But when he came near the house, he heard the music and dancing. 26So he called one of the servants over and asked, "What's going on here?"
27The servant answered, "Your brother has come home safe and sound, and your father ordered us to kill the best calf." 28The older brother got so angry that he would not even go into the house.
His father came out and begged him to go in. 29But he said to his father, "For years I have worked for you like a slave and have always obeyed you. But you have never even given me a little goat, so that I could give a dinner for my friends. 30This other son of yours wasted your money on prostitutes. And now that he has come home, you ordered the best calf to be killed for a feast."
31His father replied, "My son, you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. 32But we should be glad and celebrate! Your brother was dead, but he is now alive. He was lost and has now been found."
- Luke 15:1 Tax collectors: See the note at 3.12.
- Luke 15:15 pigs: The Jewish religion taught that pigs were not fit to eat or even to touch. A Jewish man would have felt terribly insulted if he had to feed pigs, much less eat with them.
- Luke 15:16 what the pigs were eating: The Greek text has " (bean) pods," which came from a tree in Palestine. These were used to feed animals. Poor people sometimes ate them too.
- Luke 15:22 ring. . . sandals: These show that the young man's father fully accepted him as his son. A ring was a sign of high position in the family. Sandals showed that he was a son instead of a slave, since slaves did not usually wear sandals.
Psalm 81:1-16 (Contemporary English Version)
(By Asaph for the music leader. (Psalm 81 leader: See the note at Psalm 8.) )
God Makes Us Strong1Be happy and shout to God who makes us strong!
Shout praises to the God
2Sing as you play tambourines
and the lovely sounding
3Sound the trumpets and start
the New Moon Festival. [a] We must also celebrate
when the moon is full.
4This is the law in Israel,
and it was given to us
by the God of Jacob.
5The descendants of Joseph
were told to obey it,
when God led them out
from the land of Egypt.
In a language unknown to me,
I heard someone say:
6"I lifted the burden
from your shoulder
and took the heavy basket
from your hands.
7When you were in trouble,
I rescued you,
and from the thunderclouds,
I answered your prayers.
Later I tested you
at Meribah Spring. [b] 8"Listen, my people,
while I, the Lord,
Israel, if you would only
pay attention to me!
9Don't worship foreign gods
or bow down to gods
you know nothing about.
10I am the LORD your God.
I rescued you from Egypt.
Just ask, and I will give you
whatever you need.
11"But, my people, Israel,
you refused to listen,
and you would have nothing
to do with me!
12So I let you be stubborn
and keep on following
your own advice.
13"My people, Israel,
if only you would listen
and do as I say!
14I, the LORD, would quickly
defeat your enemies
with my mighty power.
15Everyone who hates me
would come crawling,
and that would be the end
16But I would feed you
with the finest bread
and with the best honey [c] until you were full."
- Psalm 81:3 New Moon Festival: Celebrated on the first day of each new moon, which was the beginning of the month. But this may refer to either the New Year celebration or the Harvest Festival. " The moon is full" suggests a festival in the middle of the month.
- Psalm 81:7 Meribah Spring: When the people of Israel complained to Moses about the need for water, God commanded Moses to strike a rock with his walking stick, and water came out. The place was then named Massah (" test" ) and Meribah (" complaining" ).
- Psalm 81:16 the best honey: The Hebrew text has " honey from rocks," referring to honey taken from beehives in holes or cracks in large rocks.
Proverbs 13:1 (Contemporary English Version)
Wise Friends Make You Wise1Children with good sense accept correction
from their parents,
but stubborn children
ignore it completely.
Verse of the Day
“Christ carried the burden of our sins. He was nailed to the cross, so that we would stop sinning and start living right. By his cuts and bruises you are healed.” - 1 Peter 2:24
Today's passage is from the Contemporary English Version.
Thought for the Day
English humourist whose body of work includes novels, short stories, plays, humorous verses, poems, song lyrics, and magazine articles, P. G. Wodehouse wrote, “Flowers are happy things.”