Joshua 7-9 Contemporary English Version (CEV)
Achan Is Punished for Stealing from the Lord
7 The Lord had said that everything in Jericho belonged to him.[a] But Achan[b] 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.[c]
2 While Israel was still camped near Jericho, Joshua sent some spies with these instructions: “Go to the town of Ai[d] 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. 3 They 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?”
4-5 Joshua 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.[e] Thirty-six Israelite soldiers were killed, and the Israelite army felt discouraged.
6 Joshua 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. 7 Then 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. 8 I don’t even know what to say to you, since Israel’s army has turned and run from the enemy. 9 Everyone 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.
10 The Lord answered:
Stop lying there on the ground! Get up! 11 I 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. 12 What 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.
13 Tell 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, 15 and 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.”
16 Joshua got up early the next morning and brought each tribe to the place of worship, where the Lord showed that the Judah tribe was guilty. 17 Then Joshua brought the clans of Judah to the Lord, and the Lord showed that the Zerah clan was guilty. One by one he brought the leader of each family in the Zerah clan to the Lord, and the Lord showed that Zabdi’s family was guilty. 18 Finally, Joshua brought each man in Zabdi’s family to the Lord, and the Lord showed that Achan was the guilty one.
19 “Achan,” Joshua said, “the Lord God of Israel has decided that you are guilty. Is this true? Tell me what you did, and don’t try to hide anything.”
20 “It’s true,” Achan answered. “I sinned and disobeyed the Lord God of Israel. 21-22 While we were in Jericho, I saw a beautiful Babylonian robe, two hundred pieces of silver, and a gold bar that weighed the same as fifty pieces of gold. I wanted them for myself, so I took them. I dug a hole under my tent and hid the silver, the gold, and the robe.”
Joshua had some people run to Achan’s tent, where they found the silver, the gold, and the robe. 23 They brought them back and put them in front of the sacred chest, so Joshua and the rest of the Israelites could see them. 24 Then everyone took Achan and the things he had stolen to Trouble Valley.[f] They also took along his sons and daughters, his cattle, donkeys, and sheep, his tent, and everything else that belonged to him.
25 Joshua said, “Achan, you caused us a lot of trouble. Now the Lord is paying you back with the same kind of trouble.”
The people of Israel then stoned to death Achan and his family. They made a fire and burned the bodies, together with what Achan had stolen, and all his possessions. 26 They covered the remains with a big pile of rocks, which is still there. Then the Lord stopped being angry with Israel.
That’s how the place came to be called Trouble Valley.
Israel Destroys the Town of Ai
8 1-2 The Lord told Joshua:
Don’t be afraid, and don’t be discouraged by what happened at the town of Ai. Take the army and attack again. But first, have part of the army set up an ambush on the other side of the town. I will help you defeat the king of Ai and his army, and you will capture the town and the land around it. Destroy Ai and kill its king as you did at Jericho. But you may keep the livestock and everything else you want.
3-4 Joshua quickly got the army ready to attack Ai. He chose thirty thousand of his best soldiers and gave them these orders:
Tonight, while it is dark, march to Ai and take up a position behind the town. Get as close to the town as you can without being seen, but be ready to attack.
5-6 The rest of the army will come with me and attack near the gate. When the people of Ai come out to fight, we’ll run away and let them chase us. They will think we are running from them just like the first time. But when we’ve let them chase us far enough away, 7 you come out of hiding. The Lord our God will help you capture the town. 8 Then set it on fire, as the Lord has told us to do. Those are your orders, 9 now go!
The thirty thousand soldiers went to a place on the west side of Ai, between Ai and Bethel, where they could hide and wait to attack.
That night, Joshua stayed in camp with the rest of the army. 10 Early the next morning he got his troops ready to move out, and he and the other leaders of Israel led them to Ai. 11 They set up camp in full view of the town, across the valley to the north. 12 Joshua had already sent five thousand soldiers to the west side of the town to hide and wait to attack. 13 Now all his troops were in place. Part of the army was in the camp to the north of Ai, and the others were hiding to the west, ready to make a surprise attack. That night, Joshua went into the valley.[g]
14-15 The king of Ai saw Joshua’s army, so the king and his troops hurried out early the next morning to fight them. Joshua and his army pretended to be beaten, and they let the men of Ai chase them toward the desert. The king and his army were facing the Jordan valley as Joshua had planned.
The king did not realize that some Israelite soldiers were hiding behind the town. 16-17 So he called out every man in Ai to go after Joshua’s troops. They all rushed out to chase the Israelite army, and they left the town gates wide open. Not one man was left in Ai or in Bethel.[h]
Joshua let the men of Ai chase him and his army farther and farther away from Ai. 18 Finally, the Lord told Joshua, “Point your sword[i] at the town of Ai, because now I am going to help you defeat it!”
As soon as Joshua pointed his sword at the town, 19 the soldiers who had been hiding got up and ran into the town. They captured it and set it on fire.
20-21 When Joshua and his troops saw smoke rising from the town, they knew that the other part of their army had captured it. So they turned and attacked.
The men of Ai looked back and saw smoke rising from their town. But they could not escape, because the soldiers they had been chasing had suddenly turned and started fighting. 22-24 Meanwhile, the other Israelite soldiers had come from the town and attacked the men of Ai from the rear. The Israelites captured the king of Ai and brought him to Joshua. They also chased the rest of the men of Ai into the desert and killed them.[j]
The Israelite army went back to Ai and killed everyone there. 25-26 Joshua kept his sword pointed at the town of Ai until every last one of Ai’s twelve thousand people was dead. 27 But the Israelites took the animals and the other possessions of the people of Ai, because this was what the Lord had told Joshua to do.
28-29 Joshua made sure every building in Ai was burned to the ground. He told his men to kill the king of Ai and hang his body on a tree. Then at sunset he told the Israelites to take down the body,[k] throw it in the gateway of the town, and cover it with a big pile of rocks. Those rocks are still there, and the town itself has never been rebuilt.
Joshua Reads the Blessings and Curses
30-32 One day, Joshua led the people of Israel to Mount Ebal, where he told some of his men, “Build an altar for offering sacrifices to the Lord. And use stones that have never been cut with iron tools,[l] because that is what Moses taught in The Book of the Law.”[m]
33-35 Moses had said that everyone in Israel was to go to the valley between Mount Ebal and Mount Gerizim, where they were to be blessed. So everyone went there, including the foreigners, the leaders, officials, and judges. Half of the people stood on one side of the valley, and half on the other side, with the priests from the Levi tribe standing in the middle with the sacred chest. Then in a loud voice, Joshua read the blessings and curses from The Book of the Law[q] of Moses.
The People of Gibeon Trick the Leaders of Israel
9 1-2 The kings west of the Jordan River heard about Joshua’s victories, and so they got together and decided to attack Joshua and Israel. These kings were from the hill country and from the foothills to the west, as well as from the Mediterranean seacoast as far north as the Lebanon Mountains. Some of them were Hittites, others were Amorites or Canaanites, and still others were Perizzites, Hivites, or Jebusites.
3 The people of Gibeon had also heard what Joshua had done to Jericho and Ai. 4 So they decided that some of their men should pretend to be messengers to Israel from a faraway country.[r] The men put worn-out bags on their donkeys and found some old wineskins that had cracked and had been sewn back together. 5 Their sandals were old and patched, and their clothes were worn out. They even took along some dry and crumbly bread. 6 Then they went to the Israelite camp at Gilgal, where they said to Joshua and the men of Israel, “We have come from a country that is far from here. Please make a peace treaty with us.”
7-8 The Israelites replied, “But maybe you really live near us. We can’t make a peace treaty with you if you live nearby.”[s]
The Gibeonites[t] said, “If you make a peace treaty with us, we will be your servants.”
“Who are you?” Joshua asked. “Where do you come from?”
9 We are your servants, and we live far from here. We came because the Lord your God is so famous. We heard what the Lord did in Egypt 10 and what he did to those two Amorite kings on the other side of the Jordan: King Og of Bashan, who lived in Ashtaroth, and King Sihon of Heshbon.
11 Our leaders and everyone who lives in our country told us to meet with you and tell you that all of us are your servants. They said to ask you to make a peace treaty with our people. They told us to be sure and take along enough food for our journey. 12 See this dry, crumbly bread of ours? It was hot out of the oven when we packed the food on the day we left our homes. 13 These cracked wineskins were new when we filled them, and our clothes and sandals are worn out because we have traveled so far.
14 The Israelites tried some of the food,[u] but they did not ask the Lord if he wanted them to make a treaty. 15 So Joshua made a peace treaty with the messengers and promised that Israel would not kill their people. Israel’s leaders swore that Israel would keep this promise.
16-17 A couple of days later,[v] the Israelites found out that these people actually lived in the nearby towns of Gibeon, Chephirah, Beeroth, and Kiriath-Jearim.[w] So the Israelites left the place where they had camped and arrived at the four towns two days later.[x] 18 But they did not attack the towns, because the Israelite leaders had sworn in the name of the Lord that they would let these people live.
The Israelites complained about their leaders' decision not to attack, 19-21 but the leaders reminded them, “We promised these people in the name of the Lord God of Israel that we would let them live, so we must not harm them. If we break our promise, God will punish us. We’ll let them live, but we’ll make them cut wood and carry water for our people.”
22 Joshua told some of his soldiers, “I want to meet with the Gibeonite leaders. Bring them here.”
When the Gibeonites came, Joshua said, “You live close to us. Why did you lie by claiming you lived far away? 23 Now you are under a curse, and your people will have to send workers to cut wood and carry water for the place of worship.”[y]
24 The Gibeonites answered, “The Lord your God told his servant Moses that you were to kill everyone who lives here and take their land for yourselves. We were afraid you would kill us, and so we tricked you into making a peace treaty. But we agreed to be your servants, 25 and you are strong enough to do anything to us that you want. We just ask you to do what seems right.”
26 Joshua did not let the Israelites kill the Gibeonites, 27 but he did tell the Gibeonites that they would have to be servants of the nation of Israel. They would have to cut firewood and bring it for the priests to use for burning sacrifices on the Lord’s altar, wherever the Lord decided the altar would be. The Gibeonites would also have to carry water for the priests. And that is still the work of the Gibeonites.
Luke 1:21-38 Contemporary English Version (CEV)
21 The crowd was waiting for Zechariah and kept wondering why he was staying so long in the temple. 22 When he did come out, he could not speak, and they knew he had seen a vision. He motioned to them with his hands, but did not say a thing.
23 When Zechariah’s time of service in the temple was over, he went home. 24 Soon after that, his wife was expecting a baby, and for five months she did not leave the house. She said to herself, 25 “What the Lord has done for me will keep people from looking down on me.”[a]
An Angel Tells about the Birth of Jesus
26 One month later God sent the angel Gabriel to the town of Nazareth in Galilee 27 with a message for a virgin named Mary. She was engaged to Joseph from the family of King David. 28 The angel greeted Mary and said, “You are truly blessed! The Lord is with you.”
29 Mary was confused by the angel’s words and wondered what they meant. 30 Then the angel told Mary, “Don’t be afraid! God is pleased with you, 31 and you will have a son. His name will be Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of God Most High. The Lord God will make him king, as his ancestor David was. 33 He will rule the people of Israel forever, and his kingdom will never end.”
34 Mary asked the angel, “How can this happen? I am not married!”
35 The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come down to you, and God’s power will come over you. So your child will be called the holy Son of God. 36 Your relative Elizabeth is also going to have a son, even though she is old. No one thought she could ever have a baby, but in three months she will have a son. 37 Nothing is impossible for God!”
38 Mary said, “I am the Lord’s servant! Let it happen as you have said.” And the angel left her.
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