Judges 4-6 Contemporary English Version (CEV)
Deborah and Barak
4 After the death of Ehud, the Israelites again started disobeying the Lord. 2 So the Lord let the Canaanite King Jabin of Hazor conquer Israel. Sisera, the commander of Jabin’s army, lived in Harosheth-Ha-Goiim. 3 Jabin’s army had nine hundred iron chariots, and for twenty years he made life miserable for the Israelites, until finally they begged the Lord for help.
4 Deborah the wife of Lappidoth was a prophet and a leader[a] of Israel during those days. 5 She would sit under Deborah’s Palm Tree between Ramah and Bethel in the hill country of Ephraim, where Israelites would come and ask her to settle their legal cases.
6 One day, Barak the son of Abinoam was in Kedesh in Naphtali, and Deborah sent word for him to come and talk with her. When he arrived, she said:
I have a message for you from the Lord God of Israel! You are to get together an army of ten thousand men from the Naphtali and Zebulun tribes and lead them to Mount Tabor. 7 The Lord will trick Sisera into coming out to fight you at the Kishon River. Sisera will be leading King Jabin’s army as usual, and they will have their chariots, but the Lord has promised to help you defeat them.
8 “I’m not going unless you go!” Barak told her.
9 “All right, I’ll go!” she replied. “But I’m warning you that the Lord is going to let a woman defeat Sisera, and no one will honor you for winning the battle.”
Deborah and Barak left for Kedesh, 10 where Barak called together the troops from Zebulun and Naphtali. Ten thousand soldiers gathered there, and Barak led them out from Kedesh. Deborah went too.
11 At this time, Heber of the Kenite clan was living near the village of Oak in Zaanannim,[b] not far from Kedesh. The Kenites were descendants of Hobab, the father-in-law of Moses, but Heber had moved and had set up his tents away from the rest of the clan.
12 When Sisera learned that Barak had led an army to Mount Tabor, 13 he called his troops together and got all nine hundred iron chariots ready. Then he led his army away from Harosheth-Ha-Goiim to the Kishon River.
14 Deborah shouted, “Barak, it’s time to attack Sisera! Because today the Lord is going to help you defeat him. In fact, the Lord has already gone on ahead to fight for you.”
Barak led his ten thousand troops down from Mount Tabor. 15 And during the battle, the Lord confused Sisera, his chariot drivers, and his whole army. Everyone was so afraid of Barak and his army, that even Sisera jumped down from his chariot and tried to escape. 16 Barak’s forces went after Sisera’s chariots and army as far as Harosheth-Ha-Goiim.
Sisera’s entire army was wiped out. 17 Only Sisera escaped. He ran to Heber’s camp, because Heber and his family had a peace treaty with the king of Hazor. Sisera went to the tent that belonged to Jael, Heber’s wife. 18 She came out to greet him and said, “Come in, sir! Please come on in. Don’t be afraid.”
After they had gone inside, Sisera lay down, and Jael covered him with a blanket. 19 “Could I have a little water?” he asked. “I’m thirsty.”
Jael opened a leather bottle and poured him some milk, then she covered him back up.
20 “Stand at the entrance to the tent,” Sisera told her. “If someone comes by and asks if anyone is inside, tell them ‘No.’”
21 Sisera was exhausted and soon fell fast asleep. Jael took a hammer and drove a tent-peg through his head into the ground, and he died.
22 Meanwhile, Barak had been following Sisera, and Jael went out to meet him. “The man you’re looking for is inside,” she said. “Come in and I’ll show him to you.”
They went inside, and there was Sisera—dead and stretched out with a tent-peg through his skull.
23 That same day the Israelites defeated the Canaanite King Jabin, and his army was no longer powerful enough to attack the Israelites. 24 Jabin grew weaker while the Israelites kept growing stronger, and at last the Israelites destroyed him.
Deborah and Barak Sing for the Lord
5 After the battle was over that day, Deborah and Barak sang this song:
2 We praise you, Lord!
4 Our Lord, God of Israel,
6 In the time of Shamgar
8 The Israelites worshiped
Then the Lord’s people marched
13 The Lord’s people who were left
But the tribe of Reuben
18 But soldiers of Zebulun
I will march on and be brave.
22 Sisera’s horses galloped off,
23 The Lord’s angel said,
24 But honor Jael,
28 Sisera’s mother looked out
31 Our Lord, we pray
Midian Steals Everything from Israel
There was peace in Israel for about forty years. 6 1 Then once again the Israelites started disobeying the Lord, so he let the nation of Midian control Israel for seven years. 2 The Midianites were so cruel that many Israelites ran to the mountains and hid in caves.
3 Every time the Israelites would plant crops, the Midianites invaded Israel together with the Amalekites and other eastern nations. 4-5 They rode in on their camels, set up their tents, and then let their livestock eat the crops as far as the town of Gaza. The Midianites stole food, sheep, cattle, and donkeys. Like a swarm of locusts,[p] they could not be counted, and they ruined the land wherever they went.
6-7 The Midianites took almost everything that belonged to the Israelites, and the Israelites begged the Lord for help. 8-9 Then the Lord sent a prophet to them with this message:
I am the Lord God of Israel, so listen to what I say. You were slaves in Egypt, but I set you free and led you out of Egypt into this land. And when nations here made life miserable for you, I rescued you and helped you get rid of them and take their land. 10 I am your God, and I told you not to worship Amorite gods, even though you are living in the land of the Amorites. But you refused to listen.
The Lord Chooses Gideon
11 One day an angel from the Lord went to the town of Ophrah and sat down under the big tree that belonged to Joash, a member of the Abiezer clan. Joash’s son Gideon was nearby, threshing grain in a shallow pit, where he could not be seen by the Midianites.
12 The angel appeared and spoke to Gideon, “The Lord is helping you, and you are a strong warrior.”
13 Gideon answered, “Please don’t take this wrong, but if the Lord is helping us, then why have all of these awful things happened? We’ve heard how the Lord performed miracles and rescued our ancestors from Egypt. But those things happened long ago. Now the Lord has abandoned us to the Midianites.”
14 Then the Lord himself said, “Gideon, you will be strong, because I am giving you the power to rescue Israel from the Midianites.”
15 Gideon replied, “But how can I rescue Israel? My clan is the weakest one in Manasseh, and everyone else in my family is more important than I am.”
16 “Gideon,” the Lord answered, “you can rescue Israel because I am going to help you! Defeating the Midianites will be as easy as beating up one man.”
17 Gideon said, “It’s hard to believe that I’m actually talking to the Lord. Please do something so I’ll know that you really are the Lord. 18 And wait here until I bring you an offering.”
“All right, I’ll wait,” the Lord answered.
19 Gideon went home and killed a young goat, then started boiling the meat. Next, he opened a big sack of flour and made it into thin bread.[q] When the meat was done, he put it in a basket and poured the broth into a clay cooking pot. He took the meat, the broth, and the bread and placed them under the big tree.
20 God’s angel said, “Gideon, put the meat and the bread on this rock, and pour the broth over them.” Gideon did as he was told. 21 The angel was holding a walking stick, and he touched the meat and the bread with the end of the stick. Flames jumped from the rock and burned up the meat and the bread.
When Gideon looked, the angel was gone. 22 Gideon realized that he had seen one of the Lord’s angels. “Oh!” he moaned. “Now I’m going to die.”[r]
23 “Calm down!” the Lord told Gideon. “There’s nothing to be afraid of. You’re not going to die.”
24 Gideon built an altar for worshiping the Lord and called it “The Lord Calms Our Fears.” It still stands there in Ophrah, a town in the territory of the Abiezer clan.
Gideon Tears Down Baal’s Altar
25 That night the Lord spoke to Gideon again:
Get your father’s second-best bull, the one that’s seven years old. Use it to pull down the altar where your father worships Baal and cut down the sacred pole[s] next to the altar. 26 Then build an altar for worshiping me on the highest part of the hill where your town is built. Use layers of stones for my altar, not just a pile of rocks. Cut up the wood from the pole, make a fire, kill the bull, and burn it as a sacrifice to me.
27 Gideon chose ten of his servants to help him, and they did everything God had said. But since Gideon was afraid of his family and the other people in town, he did it all at night.
28 When the people of the town got up the next morning, they saw that Baal’s altar had been knocked over, and the sacred pole next to it had been cut down. Then they noticed the new altar covered with the remains of the sacrificed bull.
29 “Who could have done such a thing?” they asked. And they kept on asking, until finally someone told them, “Gideon the son of Joash did it.”
30 The men of the town went to Joash and said, “Your son Gideon knocked over Baal’s altar and cut down the sacred pole next to it. Hand him over, so we can kill him!”
31 The crowd pushed closer and closer, but Joash replied, “Are you trying to take revenge for Baal? Are you trying to rescue Baal? If you are, you will be the ones who are put to death, and it will happen before another day dawns. If Baal really is a god, let him take his own revenge on someone who tears down his altar.”
32 That same day, Joash changed Gideon’s name to Jerubbaal, explaining, “He tore down Baal’s altar, so let Baal take revenge himself.”[t]
Gideon Defeats the Midianites
33 All the Midianites, Amalekites, and other eastern nations got together and crossed the Jordan River. Then they invaded the land of Israel and set up camp in Jezreel Valley.
34 The Lord’s Spirit took control of Gideon, and Gideon blew a signal on a trumpet to tell the men in the Abiezer clan to follow him. 35 He also sent messengers to the tribes of Manasseh, Asher, Zebulun, and Naphtali, telling the men of these tribes to come and join his army. Then they set out toward the enemy camp.
36-37 Gideon prayed to God, “I know that you promised to help me rescue Israel, but I need proof. Tonight I’ll put some wool on the stone floor of that threshing-place over there. If you really will help me rescue Israel, then tomorrow morning let there be dew on the wool, but let the stone floor be dry.”
38 And that’s just what happened. Early the next morning, Gideon got up and checked the wool. He squeezed out enough water to fill a bowl. 39 But Gideon prayed to God again. “Don’t be angry at me,” Gideon said. “Let me try this just one more time, so I’ll really be sure you’ll help me. Only this time, let the wool be dry and the stone floor be wet with dew.”
40 That night, God made the stone floor wet with dew, but he kept the wool dry.
Luke 4:31-44 Contemporary English Version (CEV)
A Man with an Evil Spirit
31 Jesus went to the town of Capernaum in Galilee and taught the people on the Sabbath. 32 His teaching amazed them because he spoke with power. 33 There in the Jewish meeting place was a man with an evil spirit. He yelled out, 34 “Hey, Jesus of Nazareth, what do you want with us? Are you here to get rid of us? I know who you are! You are God’s Holy One.”
35 Jesus ordered the evil spirit to be quiet and come out. The demon threw the man to the ground in front of everyone and left without harming him.
36 They all were amazed and kept saying to each other, “What kind of teaching is this? He has power to order evil spirits out of people!” 37 News about Jesus spread all over that part of the country.
Jesus Heals Many People
38 Jesus left the meeting place and went to Simon’s home. When Jesus got there, he was told that Simon’s mother-in-law was sick with a high fever. 39 So Jesus went over to her and ordered the fever to go away. Right then she was able to get up and serve them a meal.
40 After the sun had set, people with all kinds of diseases were brought to Jesus. He put his hands on each one of them and healed them. 41 Demons went out of many people and shouted, “You are the Son of God!” But Jesus ordered the demons not to speak because they knew he was the Messiah.
42 The next morning Jesus went out to a place where he could be alone, and crowds came looking for him. When they found him, they tried to stop him from leaving. 43 But Jesus said, “People in other towns must hear the good news about God’s kingdom. That’s why I was sent.” 44 So he kept on preaching in the Jewish meeting places in Judea.[a]
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