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Genesis 49The Message (MSG)

49 Jacob called his sons and said, “Gather around. I want to tell you what you can expect in the days to come.”

Come together, listen sons of Jacob,
    listen to Israel your father.

3-4 Reuben, you’re my firstborn,
        my strength, first proof of my manhood,
        at the top in honor and at the top in power,
    But like a bucket of water spilled,
        you’ll be at the top no more,
    Because you climbed into your father’s marriage bed,
        mounting that couch, and you defiled it.

5-6 Simeon and Levi are two of a kind,
        ready to fight at the drop of a hat.
    I don’t want anything to do with their vendettas,
        want no part in their bitter feuds;
    They kill men in fits of temper,
        slash oxen on a whim.

A curse on their uncontrolled anger,
    on their indiscriminate wrath.
I’ll throw them out with the trash;
    I’ll shred and scatter them like confetti throughout Israel.

8-12 You, Judah, your brothers will praise you:
        Your fingers on your enemies’ throat,
        while your brothers honor you.
    You’re a lion’s cub, Judah,
        home fresh from the kill, my son.
    Look at him, crouched like a lion, king of beasts;
        who dares mess with him?
    The scepter shall not leave Judah;
        he’ll keep a firm grip on the command staff
    Until the ultimate ruler comes
        and the nations obey him.
    He’ll tie up his donkey to the grapevine,
        his purebred prize to a sturdy branch.
    He will wash his shirt in wine
        and his cloak in the blood of grapes,
    His eyes will be darker than wine,
        his teeth whiter than milk.

13 Zebulun settles down on the seashore;
    he’s a safe harbor for ships,
    right alongside Sidon.

14-15 Issachar is one tough donkey
        crouching between the corrals;
    When he saw how good the place was,
        how pleasant the country,
    He gave up his freedom
        and went to work as a slave.

16-17 Dan will handle matters of justice for his people;
        he will hold his own just fine among the tribes of Israel.
    Dan is only a small snake in the grass,
        a lethal serpent in ambush by the road
    When he strikes a horse in the heel,
        and brings its huge rider crashing down.

18 I wait in hope
    for your salvation, God.

19 Gad will be attacked by bandits,
    but he will trip them up.

20 Asher will become famous for rich foods,
    candies and sweets fit for kings.

21-26 Naphtali is a deer running free
        that gives birth to lovely fawns.
    Joseph is a wild donkey,
        a wild donkey by a spring,
        spirited donkeys on a hill.
    The archers with malice attacked,
        shooting their hate-tipped arrows;
    But he held steady under fire,
        his bow firm, his arms limber,
    With the backing of the Champion of Jacob,
        the Shepherd, the Rock of Israel.
    The God of your father—may he help you!
        And may The Strong God—may he give you his blessings,
    Blessings tumbling out of the skies,
        blessings bursting up from the Earth—
        blessings of breasts and womb.
    May the blessings of your father
        exceed the blessings of the ancient mountains,
        surpass the delights of the eternal hills;
    May they rest on the head of Joseph,
        on the brow of the one consecrated among his brothers.

27 Benjamin is a ravenous wolf;
    all morning he gorges on his kill,
    at evening divides up what’s left over.

28 All these are the tribes of Israel, the twelve tribes. And this is what their father said to them as he blessed them, blessing each one with his own special farewell blessing.

29-32 Then he instructed them: “I am about to be gathered to my people. Bury me with my fathers in the cave which is in the field of Ephron the Hittite, the cave in the field of Machpelah facing Mamre in the land of Canaan, the field Abraham bought from Ephron the Hittite for a burial plot. Abraham and his wife Sarah were buried there; Isaac and his wife Rebekah were buried there; I also buried Leah there. The field and the cave were bought from the Hittites.”

33 Jacob finished instructing his sons, pulled his feet into bed, breathed his last, and was gathered to his people.

The Message (MSG)

Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson

Genesis 50The Message (MSG)

50 Joseph threw himself on his father, wept over him, and kissed him.

2-3 Joseph then instructed the physicians in his employ to embalm his father. The physicians embalmed Israel. The embalming took forty days, the period required for embalming. There was public mourning by the Egyptians for seventy days.

4-5 When the period of mourning was completed, Joseph petitioned Pharaoh’s court: “If you have reason to think kindly of me, present Pharaoh with my request: My father made me swear, saying, ‘I am ready to die. Bury me in the grave plot that I prepared for myself in the land of Canaan.’ Please give me leave to go up and bury my father. Then I’ll come back.”

Pharaoh said, “Certainly. Go and bury your father as he made you promise under oath.”

7-9 So Joseph left to bury his father. And all the high-ranking officials from Pharaoh’s court went with him, all the dignitaries of Egypt, joining Joseph’s family—his brothers and his father’s family. Their children and flocks and herds were left in Goshen. Chariots and horsemen accompanied them. It was a huge funeral procession.

10 Arriving at the Atad Threshing Floor just across the Jordan River, they stopped for a period of mourning, letting their grief out in loud and lengthy lament. For seven days, Joseph engaged in these funeral rites for his father.

11 When the Canaanites who lived in that area saw the grief being poured out at the Atad Threshing Floor, they said, “Look how deeply the Egyptians are mourning.” That is how the site at the Jordan got the name Abel Mizraim (Egyptian Lament).

12-13 Jacob’s sons continued to carry out his instructions to the letter. They took him on into Canaan and buried him in the cave in the field of Machpelah facing Mamre, the field that Abraham had bought as a burial plot from Ephron the Hittite.

14-15 After burying his father, Joseph went back to Egypt. All his brothers who had come with him to bury his father returned with him. After the funeral, Joseph’s brothers talked among themselves: “What if Joseph is carrying a grudge and decides to pay us back for all the wrong we did him?”

16-17 So they sent Joseph a message, “Before his death, your father gave this command: Tell Joseph, ‘Forgive your brothers’ sin—all that wrongdoing. They did treat you very badly.’ Will you do it? Will you forgive the sins of the servants of your father’s God?”

When Joseph received their message, he wept.

18 Then the brothers went in person to him, threw themselves on the ground before him and said, “We’ll be your slaves.”

19-21 Joseph replied, “Don’t be afraid. Do I act for God? Don’t you see, you planned evil against me but God used those same plans for my good, as you see all around you right now—life for many people. Easy now, you have nothing to fear; I’ll take care of you and your children.” He reassured them, speaking with them heart-to-heart.

22-23 Joseph continued to live in Egypt with his father’s family. Joseph lived 110 years. He lived to see Ephraim’s sons into the third generation. The sons of Makir, Manasseh’s son, were also recognized as Joseph’s.

24 At the end, Joseph said to his brothers, “I am ready to die. God will most certainly pay you a visit and take you out of this land and back to the land he so solemnly promised to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.”

25 Then Joseph made the sons of Israel promise under oath, “When God makes his visitation, make sure you take my bones with you as you leave here.”

26 Joseph died at the age of 110 years. They embalmed him and placed him in a coffin in Egypt.

The Message (MSG)

Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson

Psalm 8The Message (MSG)

A David Psalm

God, brilliant Lord,
    yours is a household name.

Nursing infants gurgle choruses about you;
    toddlers shout the songs
That drown out enemy talk,
    and silence atheist babble.

3-4 I look up at your macro-skies, dark and enormous,
    your handmade sky-jewelry,
Moon and stars mounted in their settings.
    Then I look at my micro-self and wonder,
Why do you bother with us?
    Why take a second look our way?

5-8 Yet we’ve so narrowly missed being gods,
    bright with Eden’s dawn light.
You put us in charge of your handcrafted world,
    repeated to us your Genesis-charge,
Made us lords of sheep and cattle,
    even animals out in the wild,
Birds flying and fish swimming,
    whales singing in the ocean deeps.

God, brilliant Lord,
    your name echoes around the world.

The Message (MSG)

Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson

Luke 20The Message (MSG)

20 1-2 One day he was teaching the people in the Temple, proclaiming the Message. The high priests, religion scholars, and leaders confronted him and demanded, “Show us your credentials. Who authorized you to speak and act like this?”

3-4 Jesus answered, “First, let me ask you a question: About the baptism of John—who authorized it, heaven or humans?”

5-7 They were on the spot, and knew it. They pulled back into a huddle and whispered, “If we say ‘heaven,’ he’ll ask us why we didn’t believe him; if we say ‘humans,’ the people will tear us limb from limb, convinced as they are that John was God’s prophet.” They agreed to concede that round to Jesus and said they didn’t know.

Jesus said, “Then neither will I answer your question.”

The Story of Corrupt Farmhands

9-12 Jesus told another story to the people: “A man planted a vineyard. He handed it over to farmhands and went off on a trip. He was gone a long time. In time he sent a servant back to the farmhands to collect the profits, but they beat him up and sent him off empty-handed. He decided to try again and sent another servant. That one they beat black-and-blue, and sent him off empty-handed. He tried a third time. They worked that servant over from head to foot and dumped him in the street.

13 “Then the owner of the vineyard said, ‘I know what I’ll do: I’ll send my beloved son. They’re bound to respect my son.’

14-15 “But when the farmhands saw him coming, they quickly put their heads together. ‘This is our chance—this is the heir! Let’s kill him and have it all to ourselves.’ They killed him and threw him over the fence.

15-16 “What do you think the owner of the vineyard will do? Right. He’ll come and clean house. Then he’ll assign the care of the vineyard to others.”

Those who were listening said, “Oh, no! He’d never do that!”

17-18 But Jesus didn’t back down. “Why, then, do you think this was written:

That stone the masons threw out—
It’s now the cornerstone!?

“Anyone falling over that stone will break every bone in his body; if the stone falls on anyone, it will be a total smashup.”

19 The religion scholars and high priests wanted to lynch him on the spot, but they were intimidated by public opinion. They knew the story was about them.

Paying Taxes

20-22 Watching for a chance to get him, they sent spies who posed as honest inquirers, hoping to trick him into saying something that would get him in trouble with the law. So they asked him, “Teacher, we know that you’re honest and straightforward when you teach, that you don’t pander to anyone but teach the way of God accurately. Tell us: Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar or not?”

23-24 He knew they were laying for him and said, “Show me a coin. Now, this engraving, who does it look like and what does it say?”

25 “Caesar,” they said.

Jesus said, “Then give Caesar what is his and give God what is his.”

26 Try as they might, they couldn’t trap him into saying anything incriminating. His answer caught them off guard and left them speechless.

All Intimacies Will Be with God

27-33 Some Sadducees came up. This is the Jewish party that denies any possibility of resurrection. They asked, “Teacher, Moses wrote us that if a man dies and leaves a wife but no child, his brother is obligated to take the widow to wife and get her with child. Well, there once were seven brothers. The first took a wife. He died childless. The second married her and died, then the third, and eventually all seven had their turn, but no child. After all that, the wife died. That wife, now—in the resurrection whose wife is she? All seven married her.”

34-38 Jesus said, “Marriage is a major preoccupation here, but not there. Those who are included in the resurrection of the dead will no longer be concerned with marriage nor, of course, with death. They will have better things to think about, if you can believe it. All ecstasies and intimacies then will be with God. Even Moses exclaimed about resurrection at the burning bush, saying, ‘God: God of Abraham, God of Isaac, God of Jacob!’ God isn’t the God of dead men, but of the living. To him all are alive.”

39-40 Some of the religion scholars said, “Teacher, that’s a great answer!” For a while, anyway, no one dared put questions to him.

41-44 Then he put a question to them: “How is it that they say that the Messiah is David’s son? In the Book of Psalms, David clearly says,

God said to my Master,
“Sit here at my right hand
    until I put your enemies under your feet.”

“David here designates the Messiah as ‘my Master’—so how can the Messiah also be his ‘son’?”

45-47 With everybody listening, Jesus spoke to his disciples. “Watch out for the religion scholars. They love to walk around in academic gowns, preen in the radiance of public flattery, bask in prominent positions, sit at the head table at every church function. And all the time they are exploiting the weak and helpless. The longer their prayers, the worse they get. But they’ll pay for it in the end.”

The Message (MSG)

Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson

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