2 Kings 7-9 The Message (MSG)
7 Elisha said, “Listen! God’s word! The famine’s over. This time tomorrow food will be plentiful—a handful of meal for a shekel; two handfuls of grain for a shekel. The market at the city gate will be buzzing.”
2 The attendant on whom the king leaned for support said to the Holy Man, “You expect us to believe that? Trapdoors opening in the sky and food tumbling out?”
“You’ll watch it with your own eyes,” he said, “but you will not eat so much as a mouthful!”
3-4 It happened that four lepers were sitting just outside the city gate. They said to one another, “What are we doing sitting here at death’s door? If we enter the famine-struck city we’ll die; if we stay here we’ll die. So let’s take our chances in the camp of Aram and throw ourselves on their mercy. If they receive us we’ll live, if they kill us we’ll die. We’ve got nothing to lose.”
5-8 So after the sun went down they got up and went to the camp of Aram. When they got to the edge of the camp, surprise! Not a man in the camp! The Master had made the army of Aram hear the sound of horses and a mighty army on the march. They told one another, “The king of Israel hired the kings of the Hittites and the kings of Egypt to attack us!” Panicked, they ran for their lives through the darkness, abandoning tents, horses, donkeys—the whole camp just as it was—running for dear life. These four lepers entered the camp and went into a tent. First they ate and drank. Then they grabbed silver, gold, and clothing, and went off and hid it. They came back, entered another tent, and looted it, again hiding their plunder.
9 Finally they said to one another, “We shouldn’t be doing this! This is a day of good news and we’re making it into a private party! If we wait around until morning we’ll get caught and punished. Come on! Let’s go tell the news to the king’s palace!”
10 So they went and called out at the city gate, telling what had happened: “We went to the camp of Aram and, surprise!—the place was deserted. Not a soul, not a sound! Horses and donkeys left tethered and tents abandoned just as they were.”
11-12 The gatekeepers got the word to the royal palace, giving them the whole story. Roused in the middle of the night, the king told his servants, “Let me tell you what Aram has done. They knew that we were starving, so they left camp and have hid in the field, thinking, ‘When they come out of the city, we’ll capture them alive and take the city.’”
13 One of his advisors answered, “Let some men go and take five of the horses left behind. The worst that can happen is no worse than what could happen to the whole city. Let’s send them and find out what’s happened.”
14 They took two chariots with horses. The king sent them after the army of Aram with the orders, “Scout them out; find out what happened.”
15 They went after them all the way to the Jordan. The whole way was strewn with clothes and equipment that Aram had dumped in their panicked flight. The scouts came back and reported to the king.
16 The people then looted the camp of Aram. Food prices dropped overnight—a handful of meal for a shekel; two handfuls of grain for a shekel—God’s word to the letter!
17 The king ordered his attendant, the one he leaned on for support, to be in charge of the city gate. The people, turned into a mob, poured through the gate, trampling him to death. It was exactly what the Holy Man had said when the king had come to see him.
18-20 Every word of the Holy Man to the king—“A handful of meal for a shekel, two handfuls of grain for a shekel this time tomorrow in the gate of Samaria,” with the attendant’s sarcastic reply to the Holy Man, “You expect us to believe that? Trapdoors opening in the sky and food tumbling out?” followed by the response, “You’ll watch it with your own eyes, but you won’t eat so much as a mouthful”—proved true. The final stroke came when the people trampled the man to death at the city gate.
8 1-3 Years before, Elisha had told the woman whose son he had brought to life, “Leave here and go, you and your family, and live someplace else. God has ordered a famine in the land; it will last for seven years.” The woman did what the Holy Man told her and left. She and her family lived as aliens in the country of Philistia for seven years. Then, when the seven years were up, the woman and her family came back. She went directly to the king and asked for her home and farm.
4-5 The king was talking with Gehazi, servant to the Holy Man, saying, “Tell me some stories of the great things Elisha did.” It so happened that as he was telling the king the story of the dead person brought back to life, the woman whose son was brought to life showed up asking for her home and farm.
Gehazi said, “My master the king, this is the woman! And this is her son whom Elisha brought back to life!”
6 The king wanted to know all about it, and so she told him the story. The king assigned an officer to take care of her, saying, “Make sure she gets everything back that’s hers, plus all profits from the farm from the time she left until now.”
7 Elisha traveled to Damascus. Ben-Hadad, king of Aram, was sick at the time. He was told, “The Holy Man is in town.”
8 The king ordered Hazael, “Take a gift with you and go meet the Holy Man. Ask God through him, ‘Am I going to recover from this sickness?’”
9 Hazael went and met with Elisha. He brought with him every choice thing he could think of from Damascus—forty camel-loads of items! When he arrived he stood before Elisha and said, “Your son Ben-Hadad, king of Aram, sent me here to ask you, ‘Am I going to recover from this sickness?’”
10-11 Elisha answered, “Go and tell him, ‘Don’t worry; you’ll live.’ The fact is, though—God showed me—that he’s doomed to die.” Elisha then stared hard at Hazael, reading his heart. Hazael felt exposed and dropped his eyes. Then the Holy Man wept.
12 Hazael said, “Why does my master weep?”
“Because,” said Elisha, “I know what you’re going to do to the children of Israel:
burn down their forts,
13 Hazael said, “Am I a mongrel dog that I’d do such a horrible thing?”
“God showed me,” said Elisha, “that you’ll be king of Aram.”
14 Hazael left Elisha and returned to his master, who asked, “So, what did Elisha tell you?”
“He told me, ‘Don’t worry; you’ll live.’”
15 But the very next day, someone took a heavy quilt, soaked it in water, covered the king’s face, and suffocated him.
Now Hazael was king.
Jehoram of Judah
16-19 In the fifth year of the reign of Joram son of Ahab king of Israel, Jehoram son of Jehoshaphat king of Judah became king. He was thirty-two years old when he began his rule, and was king for eight years in Jerusalem. He copied the way of life of the kings of Israel, marrying into the Ahab family and continuing the Ahab line of sin—from God’s point of view, an evil man living an evil life. But despite that, because of his servant David, God was not ready to destroy Judah. He had, after all, promised to keep a lamp burning through David’s descendants.
20-21 During Jehoram’s reign, Edom revolted against Judah’s rule and set up their own king. Jehoram responded by taking his army of chariots to Zair.
Edom surrounded him, but in the middle of the night he and his charioteers broke through the lines and hit Edom hard. But his infantry deserted him.
22 Edom continues in revolt against Judah right up to the present. Even little Libnah revolted at that time.
23-24 The rest of the life and times of Jehoram, the record of his rule, is written in The Chronicles of the Kings of Judah. Jehoram died and was buried in the family grave in the City of David. His son Ahaziah succeeded him as king.
Ahaziah of Judah
25-27 In the twelfth year of the reign of Joram son of Ahab king of Israel, Ahaziah son of Jehoram king of Judah began his reign. Ahaziah was twenty-two years old when he became king; he ruled only a year in Jerusalem. His mother was Athaliah, granddaughter of Omri king of Israel. He lived and ruled just like the Ahab family had done, continuing the same evil-in-God’s-sight line of sin, related by both marriage and sin to the Ahab clan.
28-29 He joined Joram son of Ahab king of Israel in a war against Hazael king of Aram at Ramoth Gilead. The archers wounded Joram. Joram pulled back to Jezreel to convalesce from the injuries he had received in the fight with Hazael. Ahaziah son of Jehoram king of Judah paid a visit to Joram son of Ahab on his sickbed in Jezreel.
Jehu of Israel
9 1-3 One day Elisha the prophet ordered a member of the guild of prophets, “Get yourself ready, take a flask of oil, and go to Ramoth Gilead. Look for Jehu son of Jehoshaphat son of Nimshi. When you find him, get him away from his companions and take him to a back room. Take your flask of oil and pour it over his head and say, ‘God’s word: I anoint you king over Israel.’ Then open the door and get out of there as fast as you can. Don’t wait around.”
4-5 The young prophet went to Ramoth Gilead. On arrival he found the army officers all sitting around. He said, “I have a matter of business with you, officer.”
Jehu said, “Which one of us?”
“With you, officer.”
6-10 He got up and went inside the building. The young prophet poured the oil on his head and said, “God’s word, the God of Israel: I’ve anointed you to be king over the people of God, over Israel. Your assignment is to attack the regime of Ahab your master. I am avenging the massacre of my servants the prophets—yes, the Jezebel-massacre of all the prophets of God. The entire line of Ahab is doomed. I’m wiping out the entire bunch of that sad lot. I’ll see to it that the family of Ahab experiences the same fate as the family of Jeroboam son of Nebat and the family of Baasha son of Ahijah. As for Jezebel, the dogs will eat her carcass in the open fields of Jezreel. No burial for her!” Then he opened the door and made a run for it.
11 Jehu went back out to his master’s officers. They asked, “Is everything all right? What did that crazy fool want with you?”
He said, “You know that kind of man—all talk.”
12 “That’s a lie!” they said. “Tell us what’s going on.”
He said, “He told me this and this and this—in effect, ‘God’s word: I anoint you king of Israel!’”
13 They sprang into action. Each man grabbed his robe; they piled them at the top of the steps for a makeshift throne. Then they blew the trumpet and declared, “Jehu is king!”
14-15 That ignited the conspiracy of Jehu son of Jehoshaphat son of Nimshi against Joram.
Meanwhile, Joram and the entire army were defending Ramoth Gilead against Hazael king of Aram. Except that Joram had pulled back to Jezreel to convalesce from the injuries he got from the Arameans in the battle with Hazael king of Aram.
Jehu said, “If you really want me as king, don’t let anyone sneak out of the city and blab the news in Jezreel.”
16 Then Jehu mounted a chariot and rode to Jezreel, where Joram was in bed, resting. King Ahaziah of Judah had come down to visit Joram.
17 A sentry standing duty on the watchtower in Jezreel saw the company of Jehu arrive. He said, “I see a band of men.”
Joram said, “Get a horseman and send him out to meet them and inquire, ‘Is anything wrong?’”
18 The horseman rode out to meet Jehu and said, “The king wants to know if there’s anything wrong.”
Jehu said, “What’s it to you whether things are right or wrong? Fall in behind me.”
The sentry said, “The messenger reached them, but he’s not returning.”
19 The king then sent a second horseman. When he reached them he said, “The king wants to know if there’s anything wrong.”
Jehu said, “What’s it to you whether things are right or wrong? Fall in behind me.”
20 The sentry said, “The messenger reached them, but he’s not returning. The driving is like the driving of Jehu son of Nimshi—crazy!”
21 Joram ordered, “Get my chariot ready!” They hitched up his chariot. Joram king of Israel and Ahaziah king of Judah, each in his own chariot, drove out to meet Jehu. They met in the field of Naboth of Jezreel.
22 When Joram saw Jehu he called out, “Good day, Jehu!”
Jehu answered, “What’s good about it? How can there be anything good about it as long as the promiscuous whoring and sorceries of your mother Jezebel pollute the country?”
23 Joram wheeled his chariot around and fled, yelling to Ahaziah, “It’s a trap, Ahaziah!”
24 Jehu pulled on his bow and released an arrow; it hit Joram between the shoulder blades and went right through his heart. He slumped to his knees in his chariot.
25-26 Jehu ordered Bidkar, his lieutenant, “Quick—throw him into the field of Naboth of Jezreel. Remember when you and I were driving our chariots behind Ahab his father? That’s when God pronounced this doom upon him: ‘As surely as I saw the blood of murdered Naboth and his sons yesterday, you’ll pay for it on this exact piece of ground. God’s word!’ So take him and throw him out in the field. God’s instructions carried out to the letter!”
27 Ahaziah king of Judah saw what was going on and made his escape on the road toward Beth Haggan. Jehu chased him, yelling out, “Get him, too!” Jehu’s troops shot and wounded him in his chariot on the hill up to Gur, near Ibleam. He was able to make it as far as Megiddo; there he died.
28 His aides drove on to Jerusalem. They buried him in the family plot in the City of David.
29 In the eleventh year of the reign of Joram son of Ahab, Ahaziah had become king of Judah.
30-31 When Jezebel heard that Jehu had arrived in Jezreel, she made herself up—put on eyeshadow and arranged her hair—and posed seductively at the window. When Jehu came through the city gate, she called down, “So, how are things, ‘Zimri,’ you dashing king-killer?”
32 Jehu looked up at the window and called, “Is there anybody up there on my side?” Two or three palace eunuchs looked out.
33 He ordered, “Throw her down!” They threw her out the window. Her blood spattered the wall and the horses, and Jehu trampled her under his horse’s hooves.
34 Then Jehu went inside and ate his lunch. During lunch he gave orders, “Take care of that damned woman; give her a decent burial—she is, after all, a king’s daughter.”
35-36 They went out to bury her, but there was nothing left of her but skull, feet, and hands. They came back and told Jehu. He said, “It’s God’s word, the word spoken by Elijah the Tishbite:
In the field of Jezreel,
John 1:1-28 The Message (MSG)
1 1-2 The Word was first,
3-5 Everything was created through him;
6-8 There once was a man, his name John, sent by God to point out the way to the Life-Light. He came to show everyone where to look, who to believe in. John was not himself the Light; he was there to show the way to the Light.
9-13 The Life-Light was the real thing:
14 The Word became flesh and blood,
15 John pointed him out and called, “This is the One! The One I told you was coming after me but in fact was ahead of me. He has always been ahead of me, has always had the first word.”
16-18 We all live off his generous bounty,
Thunder in the Desert
19-20 When Jews from Jerusalem sent a group of priests and officials to ask John who he was, he was completely honest. He didn’t evade the question. He told the plain truth: “I am not the Messiah.”
21 They pressed him, “Who, then? Elijah?”
“I am not.”
22 Exasperated, they said, “Who, then? We need an answer for those who sent us. Tell us something—anything!—about yourself.”
23 “I’m thunder in the desert: ‘Make the road straight for God!’ I’m doing what the prophet Isaiah preached.”
24-25 Those sent to question him were from the Pharisee party. Now they had a question of their own: “If you’re neither the Messiah, nor Elijah, nor the Prophet, why do you baptize?”
26-27 John answered, “I only baptize using water. A person you don’t recognize has taken his stand in your midst. He comes after me, but he is not in second place to me. I’m not even worthy to hold his coat for him.”
28 These conversations took place in Bethany on the other side of the Jordan, where John was baptizing at the time.