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Judges 5-6 New American Bible (Revised Edition) (NABRE)

Chapter 5

Song of Deborah. On that day Deborah sang this song—and Barak, son of Abinoam:

[a]When uprising broke out in Israel,
    when the people rallied for duty—bless the Lord!
Hear, O kings! Give ear, O princes!
    I will sing, I will sing to the Lord,
    I will make music to the Lord, the God of Israel.
[b]Lord, when you went out from Seir,
    when you marched from the plains of Edom,
The earth shook, the heavens poured,
    the clouds poured rain,
The mountains streamed,
    before the Lord, the One of Sinai,
    before the Lord, the God of Israel.
In the days of Shamgar, son of Anath,
    in the days of Jael, caravans ceased:
Those who traveled the roads
    now traveled by roundabout paths.
Gone was freedom beyond the walls,
    gone indeed from Israel.
When I, Deborah, arose,
    when I arose, a mother in Israel.[c]
New gods were their choice;
    then war was at the gates.
No shield was to be found, no spear,
    among forty thousand in Israel!
My heart is with the leaders of Israel,
    with the dedicated ones of the people—bless the Lord;
10 Those who ride on white donkeys,
    seated on saddle rugs,
    and those who travel the road,
Sing of them
11     to the sounds of musicians at the wells.
There they recount the just deeds of the Lord,
    his just deeds bringing freedom to Israel.
12 Awake, awake, Deborah!
    Awake, awake, strike up a song!
Arise, Barak!
    Take captive your captors, son of Abinoam!
13 Then down went Israel against the mighty,
    the army of the Lord went down for him against the warriors.
14 [d]From Ephraim, their base in the valley;
    behind you, Benjamin, among your troops.
From Machir came down commanders,
    from Zebulun wielders of the marshal’s staff.
15 The princes of Issachar were with Deborah,
    Issachar, faithful to Barak;
    in the valley they followed at his heels.
Among the clans of Reuben
    great were the searchings of heart!
16 Why did you stay beside your hearths
    listening to the lowing of the herds?
Among the clans of Reuben
    great were the searchings of heart!
17 Gilead stayed beyond the Jordan;
    Why did Dan spend his time in ships?
Asher remained along the shore,
    he stayed in his havens.
18 Zebulun was a people who defied death,
    Naphtali, too, on the open heights!
19 The kings came and fought;
    then they fought, those kings of Canaan,
At Taanach by the waters of Megiddo;
    no spoil of silver did they take.
20 From the heavens the stars[e] fought;
    from their courses they fought against Sisera.
21 The Wadi Kishon swept them away;
    the wadi overwhelmed them, the Wadi Kishon.
    Trample down the strong![f]
22 Then the hoofs of the horses hammered,
    the galloping, galloping of steeds.
23 “Curse Meroz,”[g] says the messenger of the Lord,
    “curse, curse its inhabitants!
For they did not come when the Lord helped,
    the help of the Lord against the warriors.”
24 Most blessed of women is Jael,
    the wife of Heber the Kenite,
    blessed among tent-dwelling women!
25 He asked for water, she gave him milk,
    in a princely bowl she brought him curds.
26 With her hand she reached for the peg,
    with her right hand, the workman’s hammer.
She hammered Sisera, crushed his head;
    she smashed, pierced his temple.
27 At her feet he sank down, fell, lay still;
    down at her feet he sank and fell;
    where he sank down, there he fell, slain.

28 [h]From the window she looked down,
    the mother of Sisera peered through the lattice:
“Why is his chariot so long in coming?
    why are the hoofbeats of his chariots delayed?”
29 The wisest of her princesses answers her;
    she even replies to herself,
30 “They must be dividing the spoil they took:
    a slave woman or two for each man,
Spoil of dyed cloth for Sisera,
    spoil of ornate dyed cloth,
    a pair of ornate dyed cloths for my neck in the spoil.”

31 So perish all your enemies, O Lord!
    But may those who love you be like the sun rising in its might!

And the land was at rest for forty years.

Chapter 6

The Call of Gideon. The Israelites did what was evil in the sight of the Lord, who therefore delivered them into the power of Midian for seven years, so that Midian held Israel subject. From fear of Midian the Israelites made dens in the mountains, the caves, and the strongholds. For it used to be that whenever the Israelites had completed sowing their crops, Midian, Amalek, and the Kedemites[i] would come up, encamp against them, and lay waste the produce of the land as far as the outskirts of Gaza, leaving no sustenance in Israel, and no sheep, ox, or donkey. For they would come up with their livestock, and their tents would appear as thick as locusts. They would be too many to count when they came into the land to lay it waste. Israel was reduced to utter poverty by Midian, and so the Israelites cried out to the Lord.

When Israel cried out to the Lord because of Midian, the Lord sent a prophet to the Israelites who said to them: Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel: I am the one who brought you up from Egypt; I brought you out of the house of slavery. I rescued you from the power of Egypt and all your oppressors. I drove them out before you and gave you their land. 10 And I said to you: I, the Lord, am your God; you shall not fear the gods of the Amorites in whose land you are dwelling. But you did not listen to me.

11 Then the messenger of the Lord came and sat under the terebinth in Ophrah that belonged to Joash the Abiezrite. Joash’s son Gideon was beating out wheat in the wine press to save it from the Midianites, 12 and the messenger of the Lord appeared to him and said: The Lord is with you, you mighty warrior! 13 “My lord,” Gideon said to him, “if the Lord is with us, why has all this happened to us? Where are his wondrous deeds about which our ancestors told us when they said, ‘Did not the Lord bring us up from Egypt?’ For now the Lord has abandoned us and has delivered us into the power of Midian.” 14 The Lord turned to him and said: Go with the strength you have, and save Israel from the power of Midian. Is it not I who send you? 15 But he answered him, “Please, my Lord, how can I save Israel? My family is the poorest in Manasseh, and I am the most insignificant in my father’s house.” 16 The Lord said to him: I will be with you,[j] and you will cut down Midian to the last man. 17 He answered him, “If you look on me with favor, give me a sign that you are the one speaking with me. 18 Please do not depart from here until I come to you and bring out my offering and set it before you.” He answered: I will await your return.

19 So Gideon went off and prepared a young goat and an ephah[k] of flour in the form of unleavened cakes. Putting the meat in a basket and the broth in a pot, he brought them out to him under the terebinth and presented them. 20 The messenger of God said to him: Take the meat and unleavened cakes and lay them on this rock; then pour out the broth. When he had done so, 21 the messenger of the Lord stretched out the tip of the staff he held. When he touched the meat and unleavened cakes, a fire came up from the rock and consumed the meat and unleavened cakes. Then the messenger of the Lord disappeared from sight. 22 [l]Gideon, now aware that it had been the messenger of the Lord, said, “Alas, Lord God, that I have seen the messenger of the Lord face to face!” 23 The Lord answered him: You are safe. Do not fear. You shall not die. 24 So Gideon built there an altar to the Lord and called it Yahweh-shalom.[m] To this day it is still in Ophrah of the Abiezrites.

25 That same night the Lord said to him: Take your father’s bull, the bull fattened for seven years, and pull down your father’s altar to Baal. As for the asherah[n] beside it, cut it down 26 and build an altar to the Lord, your God, on top of this stronghold with the pile of wood. Then take the fattened bull and offer it as a whole-burnt sacrifice on the wood from the asherah you have cut down. 27 So Gideon took ten of his servants and did as the Lord had commanded him. But he was too afraid of his family and of the townspeople to do it by day; he did it at night. 28 Early the next morning the townspeople found that the altar of Baal had been dismantled, the asherah beside it cut down, and the fattened bull offered on the altar that was built. 29 They asked one another, “Who did this?” They inquired and searched until they were told, “Gideon, son of Joash, did it.” 30 So the townspeople said to Joash, “Bring out your son that he may die, for he has dismantled the altar of Baal and cut down the asherah that was beside it.” 31 But Joash replied to all who were standing around him, “Is it for you to take action for Baal, or be his savior? Anyone who takes action for him shall be put to death by morning. If he is a god, let him act for himself, since his altar has been dismantled!” 32 So on that day Gideon was called Jerubbaal,[o] because of the words, “Let Baal take action against him, since he dismantled his altar.”

33 Then all Midian and Amalek and the Kedemites mustered and crossed over into the valley of Jezreel, where they encamped. 34 And Gideon was clothed with the spirit of the Lord,[p] and he blew the horn summoning Abiezer to follow him. 35 He sent messengers throughout Manasseh, and they, too, were summoned to follow him; he also sent messengers throughout Asher, Zebulun, and Naphtali, and they advanced to meet the others. 36 Gideon said to God, “If indeed you are going to save Israel through me, as you have said, 37 I am putting this woolen fleece on the threshing floor, and if dew is on the fleece alone, while all the ground is dry, I shall know that you will save Israel through me, as you have said.” 38 That is what happened. Early the next morning when he wrung out the fleece, he squeezed enough dew from it to fill a bowl. 39 Gideon then said to God, “Do not be angry with me if I speak once more. Let me make just one more test with the fleece. Let the fleece alone be dry, but let there be dew on all the ground.” 40 That is what God did that night: the fleece alone was dry, but there was dew on all the ground.


  1. 5:2–31 This canticle is an excellent example of early Hebrew poetry, even though some of its verses are now obscure.
  2. 5:4–5 The Lord himself marches to war in support of Israel. Storm and earthquake are part of the traditional imagery of theophany; cf. Ex 19:16, 18–20; Dt 33:2–3; Ps 18:7–15; 77:17–20; 144:5–7.
  3. 5:7 A mother in Israel: the precise meaning of the term “mother” is unclear, except that it seems to indicate Deborah’s position of leadership, and so may be a title (cf. 2 Sm 20:19).
  4. 5:14–22 The poet praises the tribes that participated in the war against Sisera: Ephraim, Benjamin, Machir (later regarded as a clan of Manasseh), Zebulun, Issachar, and Naphtali, the tribe of Barak (cf. 4:6). By contrast, the tribes of Reuben, Gilead (elsewhere a region occupied by Reubenites and Gadites), Dan, and Asher are chided for their lack of participation. The more distant tribes of Judah and Simeon are not mentioned, and some historians believe they were not part of Israel at this time.
  5. 5:20–21 Stars: the heavenly host, or angelic army. The roles played by the stars and the flash floods underscore the divine involvement in the battle (cf. 5:4–5).
  6. 5:21 Trample down the strong!: the meaning of these words is obscure. If this interpretation is correct, Deborah is the one addressed.
  7. 5:23 Meroz: an unknown locality in which Israelites probably resided, since its inhabitants are cursed for their failure to participate in the battle.
  8. 5:28–30 The scene shifts to the household of the slain Canaanite general, where the anxious foreboding of Sisera’s mother is countered by the assurances of the noblewomen.
  9. 6:3 Midian, Amalek, and the Kedemites: three groups of camel nomads, whose raids were a constant threat to settled peoples like the Israelites during the period of the Judges.
  10. 6:16 I will be with you: narratives telling how the Lord commissions someone for a task depict the person’s reactions of reluctance, confusion, or sense of inadequacy, and the Lord’s reassurance (“I will be with you”), sometimes accompanied by a sign (cf. Ex 3:12; Jer 1:8). Lk 1:28–37 is modeled on this pattern.
  11. 6:19 Ephah: see note on Is 5:10.
  12. 6:22 Ancient Israel thought that seeing God face to face meant mortal danger, as Ex 33:20 indicates and as Gideon’s reaction here shows. Compare the reaction of Samson’s parents (13:22–23) when they realize they have been conversing with the Lord.
  13. 6:24 Yahweh-shalom: a reference to the Lord’s words, “You are safe” (v. 23), lit., “Peace be to you!”
  14. 6:25 The asherah: see note on Ex 34:13.
  15. 6:32 Jerubbaal: similar in sound to the Hebrew words meaning, “Let Baal take action.”
  16. 6:34 Clothed with the spirit of the Lord: narratives about the selection of leaders in early Israel typically attribute their prowess to “the spirit of the Lord,” not to their own qualities (cf. v. 15). The Lord’s spirit “comes upon” them (3:10; 11:29; 13:25) or “rushes upon” them (14:6, 19; 15:14; 1 Sm 11:6), and they are transformed into effective leaders. Here, Gideon is “clothed” with the Lord’s spirit; cf. the clothing or vesture imagery in Is 59:17; 61:10; Ez 16:10–14; Jb 29:14.
New American Bible (Revised Edition) (NABRE)

Scripture texts, prefaces, introductions, footnotes and cross references used in this work are taken from the New American Bible, revised edition © 2010, 1991, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Inc., Washington, DC All Rights Reserved. No part of this work may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the copyright owner.

Psalm 117 New American Bible (Revised Edition) (NABRE)

Psalm 117[a]

The Nations Called to Praise

Praise the Lord, all you nations!
    Extol him, all you peoples!
His mercy for us is strong;
    the faithfulness of the Lord is forever.


  1. Psalm 117 This shortest of hymns calls on the nations to acknowledge God’s supremacy. The supremacy of Israel’s God has been demonstrated to them by the people’s secure existence, which is owed entirely to God’s gracious fidelity.
New American Bible (Revised Edition) (NABRE)

Scripture texts, prefaces, introductions, footnotes and cross references used in this work are taken from the New American Bible, revised edition © 2010, 1991, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Inc., Washington, DC All Rights Reserved. No part of this work may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the copyright owner.

James 2 New American Bible (Revised Edition) (NABRE)

Chapter 2

Sin of Partiality.[a] My brothers, show no partiality as you adhere to the faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ. For if a man with gold rings on his fingers and in fine clothes comes into your assembly, and a poor person in shabby clothes also comes in, and you pay attention to the one wearing the fine clothes and say, “Sit here, please,” while you say to the poor one, “Stand there,” or “Sit at my feet,” have you not made distinctions among yourselves and become judges with evil designs?[b]

Listen, my beloved brothers. Did not God choose those who are poor[c] in the world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom that he promised to those who love him? But you dishonored the poor person. Are not the rich oppressing you? And do they themselves not haul you off to court? Is it not they who blaspheme the noble name that was invoked over you? However, if you fulfill the royal[d] law according to the scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing well. But if you show partiality, you commit sin, and are convicted by the law as transgressors. 10 For whoever keeps the whole law, but falls short in one particular, has become guilty in respect to all of it. 11 For he who said, “You shall not commit adultery,” also said, “You shall not kill.” Even if you do not commit adultery but kill, you have become a transgressor of the law. 12 So speak and so act as people who will be judged by the law of freedom.[e] 13 For the judgment is merciless to one who has not shown mercy; mercy triumphs over judgment.

Faith and Works.[f] 14 What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? 15 If a brother or sister has nothing to wear and has no food for the day, 16 and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, keep warm, and eat well,” but you do not give them the necessities of the body, what good is it? 17 So also faith of itself, if it does not have works, is dead.

18 Indeed someone may say, “You have faith and I have works.” Demonstrate your faith to me without works, and I will demonstrate my faith to you from my works. 19 You believe that God is one. You do well. Even the demons believe that and tremble. 20 Do you want proof, you ignoramus, that faith without works is useless? 21 Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered his son Isaac upon the altar? 22 You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was completed by the works. 23 Thus the scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness,” and he was called “the friend of God.” 24 See how a person is justified by works and not by faith alone. 25 And in the same way, was not Rahab the harlot also justified by works when she welcomed the messengers and sent them out by a different route? 26 For just as a body without a spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead.


  1. 2:1–13 In the Christian community there must be no discrimination or favoritism based on status or wealth (Jas 2:2–4; cf. Mt 5:3; 11:5; 23:6; 1 Cor 1:27–29). Divine favor rather consists in God’s election and promises (Jas 2:5). The rich who oppress the poor blaspheme the name of Christ (Jas 2:6–7). By violating one law of love of neighbor, they offend against the whole law (Jas 2:8–11). On the other hand, conscious awareness of the final judgment helps the faithful to fulfill the whole law (Jas 2:12).
  2. 2:4 When Christians show favoritism to the rich they are guilty of the worst kind of prejudice and discrimination. The author says that such Christians set themselves up as judges who judge not by divine law but by the basest, self-serving motives.
  3. 2:5 The poor, “God’s poor” of the Old Testament, were seen by Jesus as particularly open to God for belief in and reliance on him alone (Lk 6:20). God’s law cannot tolerate their oppression in any way (Jas 2:9).
  4. 2:8 Royal: literally, “kingly”; because the Mosaic law came from God, the universal king. There may be an allusion to Jesus’ uses of this commandment in his preaching of the kingdom of God (Mt 22:39; Mk 12:31; Lk 10:27).
  5. 2:12–13 The law upon which the last judgment will be based is the law of freedom. As Jesus taught, mercy (which participates in God’s own loving mercy) includes forgiveness of those who wrong us (see Mt 6:12, 14–15).
  6. 2:14–26 The theme of these verses is the relationship of faith and works (deeds). It has been argued that the teaching here contradicts that of Paul (see especially Rom 4:5–6). The problem can only be understood if the different viewpoints of the two authors are seen. Paul argues against those who claim to participate in God’s salvation because of their good deeds as well as because they have committed themselves to trust in God through Jesus Christ (Paul’s concept of faith). Paul certainly understands, however, the implications of true faith for a life of love and generosity (see Gal 5:6, 13–15). The author of James is well aware that proper conduct can only come about with an authentic commitment to God in faith (Jas 2:18, 26). Many think he was seeking to correct a misunderstanding of Paul’s view.
New American Bible (Revised Edition) (NABRE)

Scripture texts, prefaces, introductions, footnotes and cross references used in this work are taken from the New American Bible, revised edition © 2010, 1991, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Inc., Washington, DC All Rights Reserved. No part of this work may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the copyright owner.


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