Joshua 21 The Message (MSG)
Cities for the Levites
21 1-2 The ancestral heads of the Levites came to Eleazar the priest and Joshua son of Nun and to the heads of the other tribes of the People of Israel. This took place at Shiloh in the land of Canaan. They said, “God commanded through Moses that you give us cities to live in with access to pastures for our cattle.”
3 So the People of Israel, out of their own inheritance, gave the Levites, just as God commanded, the following cities and pastures:
4-5 The lot came out for the families of the Kohathites this way: Levites descended from Aaron the priest received by lot thirteen cities out of the tribes of Judah, Simeon, and Benjamin. The rest of the Kohathites received by lot ten cities from the families of the tribes of Ephraim, Dan, and the half-tribe of Manasseh.
6 The Gershonites received by lot thirteen cities from the families of the tribes of Issachar, Asher, Naphtali, and the half-tribe of Manasseh in Bashan.
7 The families of the Merarites received twelve towns from the tribes of Reuben, Gad, and Zebulun.
8 So the People of Israel gave these cities with their pastures to the Levites just as God had ordered through Moses, that is, by lot.
Cities for the Descendants of Aaron
9-10 They assigned from the tribes of Judah, Simeon, and Benjamin the following towns, here named individually (these were for the descendants of Aaron who were from the families of the Kohathite branch of Levi because the first lot fell to them):
11-12 Kiriath Arba (Arba was the ancestor of Anak), that is, Hebron, in the hills of Judah, with access to the pastures around it. The fields of the city and its open lands they had already given to Caleb son of Jephunneh as his possession.
13-16 To the descendants of Aaron the priest they gave Hebron (the asylum-city for the unconvicted killers), Libnah, Jattir, Eshtemoa, Holon, Debir, Ain, Juttah, and Beth Shemesh, all with their accompanying pastures—nine towns from these two tribes.
17-18 And from the tribe of Benjamin: Gibeon, Geba, Anathoth, and Almon, together with their pastures—four towns.
19 The total for the cities and pastures for the priests descended from Aaron came to thirteen.
20-22 The rest of the Kohathite families from the tribe of Levi were assigned their cities by lot from the tribe of Ephraim: Shechem (the asylum-city for the unconvicted killer) in the hills of Ephraim, Gezer, Kibzaim, and Beth Horon, with their pastures—four towns.
23-24 From the tribe of Dan they received Eltekeh, Gibbethon, Aijalon, and Gath Rimmon, all with their pastures—four towns.
25 And from the half-tribe of Manasseh they received Taanach and Gath Rimmon with their pastures—two towns.
26 All told, ten cities with their pastures went to the remaining Kohathite families.
27 The Gershonite families of the tribe of Levi were given from the half-tribe of Manasseh: Golan in Bashan (an asylum-city for the unconvicted killer), and Be Eshtarah, with their pastures—two cities.
28-29 And from the tribe of Issachar: Kishion, Daberath, Jarmuth, and En Gannim, with their pastures—four towns.
30-31 From the tribe of Asher: Mishal, Abdon, Helkath, and Rehob, with their pastures—four towns.
32 From the tribe of Naphtali: Kedesh in Galilee (an asylum-city for the unconvicted killer), Hammoth Dor, and Kartan, with their pastures—three towns.
33 For the Gershonites and their families: thirteen towns with their pastures.
34-35 The Merari families, the remaining Levites, were given from the tribe of Zebulun: Jokneam, Kartah, Dimnah, and Nahalal, with their pastures—four cities.
36-37 From the tribe of Reuben: Bezer, Jahaz, Kedemoth, and Mephaath, with their pastures—four towns.
38-39 From the tribe of Gad: Ramoth in Gilead (an asylum-city for the unconvicted killer), Mahanaim, Heshbon, and Jazer, with their pastures—a total of four towns.
40 All these towns were assigned by lot to the Merarites, the remaining Levites—twelve towns.
41-42 The Levites held forty-eight towns with their accompanying pastures within the territory of the People of Israel. Each of these towns had pastures surrounding it—this was the case for all these towns.
43-44 And so God gave Israel the entire land that he had solemnly vowed to give to their ancestors. They took possession of it and made themselves at home in it. And God gave them rest on all sides, as he had also solemnly vowed to their ancestors. Not a single one of their enemies was able to stand up to them—God handed over all their enemies to them.
45 Not one word failed from all the good words God spoke to the house of Israel. Everything came out right.
Joshua 22 The Message (MSG)
22 1-5 Then Joshua called together the Reubenites, Gadites, and the half-tribe of Manasseh. He said: “You have carried out everything Moses the servant of God commanded you, and you have obediently done everything I have commanded you. All this time and right down to this very day you have not abandoned your brothers; you’ve shouldered the task laid on you by God, your God. And now God, your God, has given rest to your brothers just as he promised them. You’re now free to go back to your homes, the country of your inheritance that Moses the servant of God gave you on the other side of the Jordan. Only this: Be vigilant in keeping the Commandment and The Revelation that Moses the servant of God laid on you: Love God, your God, walk in all his ways, do what he’s commanded, embrace him, serve him with everything you are and have.”
6-7 Then Joshua blessed them and sent them on their way. They went home. (To the half-tribe of Manasseh, Moses had assigned a share in Bashan. To the other half, Joshua assigned land with their brothers west of the Jordan.)
7-8 When Joshua sent them off to their homes, he blessed them. He said: “Go home. You’re going home rich—great herds of cattle, silver and gold, bronze and iron, huge piles of clothing. Share the wealth with your friends and families—all this plunder from your enemies!”
9 The Reubenites, Gadites, and the half-tribe of Manasseh left the People of Israel at Shiloh in the land of Canaan to return to Gilead, the land of their possession, which they had taken under the command of Moses as ordered by God.
10 They arrived at Geliloth on the Jordan (touching on Canaanite land). There the Reubenites, Gadites, and the half-tribe of Manasseh built an altar on the banks of the Jordan—a huge altar!
11 The People of Israel heard of it: “What’s this? The Reubenites, Gadites, and the half-tribe of Manasseh have built an altar facing the land of Canaan at Geliloth on the Jordan, across from the People of Israel!”
12-14 When the People of Israel heard this, the entire congregation mustered at Shiloh to go to war against them. They sent Phinehas son of Eleazar the priest to the Reubenites, Gadites, and the half-tribe of Manasseh (that is, to the land of Gilead). Accompanying him were ten chiefs, one chief for each of the ten tribes, each the head of his ancestral family. They represented the military divisions of Israel.
15-18 They went to the Reubenites, Gadites, and the half-tribe of Manasseh and spoke to them: “The entire congregation of God wants to know: What is this violation against the God of Israel that you have committed, turning your back on God and building your own altar—a blatant act of rebellion against God? Wasn’t the crime of Peor enough for us? Why, to this day we aren’t rid of it, still living with the fallout of the plague on the congregation of God! Look at you—turning your back on God! If you rebel against God today, tomorrow he’ll vent his anger on all of us, the entire congregation of Israel.
19-20 “If you think the land of your possession isn’t holy enough but somehow contaminated, come back over to God’s possession, where God’s Dwelling is set up, and take your land there, but don’t rebel against God. And don’t rebel against us by building your own altar apart from the Altar of our God. When Achan son of Zerah violated the holy curse, didn’t anger fall on the whole congregation of Israel? He wasn’t the only one to die for his sin.”
21-22 The Reubenites, Gadites, and the half-tribe of Manasseh replied to the heads of the tribes of Israel:
The God of Gods is God,
22-23 “He knows and he’ll let Israel know if this is a rebellious betrayal of God. And if it is, don’t bother saving us. If we built ourselves an altar in rebellion against God, if we did it to present on it Whole-Burnt-Offerings or Grain-Offerings or to enact there sacrificial Peace-Offerings, let God decide.
24-25 “But that’s not it. We did it because we cared. We were anxious lest someday your children should say to our children, ‘You’re not connected with God, the God of Israel! God made the Jordan a boundary between us and you. You Reubenites and Gadites have no part in God.’ And then your children might cause our children to quit worshiping God.
26 “So we said to ourselves, ‘Let’s do something. Let’s build an altar—but not for Whole-Burnt-Offerings, not for sacrifices.’
27 “We built this altar as a witness between us and you and our children coming after us, a witness to the Altar where we worship God in his Sacred Dwelling with our Whole-Burnt-Offerings and our sacrifices and our Peace-Offerings.
“This way, your children won’t be able to say to our children in the future, ‘You have no part in God.’
28 “We said to ourselves, ‘If anyone speaks disparagingly to us or to our children in the future, we’ll say: Look at this model of God’s Altar which our ancestors made. It’s not for Whole-Burnt-Offerings, not for sacrifices. It’s a witness connecting us with you.’
29 “Rebelling against or turning our backs on God is the last thing on our minds right now. We never dreamed of building an altar for Whole-Burnt-Offerings or Grain-Offerings to rival the Altar of our God in front of his Sacred Dwelling.”
30 Phinehas the priest, all the heads of the congregation, and the heads of the military divisions of Israel who were also with him heard what the Reubenites, Gadites, and the half-tribe of Manasseh had to say. They were satisfied.
31 Priest Phinehas son of Eleazar said to Reuben, Gad, and Manasseh, “Now we’re convinced that God is present with us since you haven’t been disloyal to God in this matter. You saved the People of Israel from God’s discipline.”
32-33 Then Priest Phinehas son of Eleazar left the Reubenites, Gadites, and the half-tribe of Manasseh (from Gilead) and, with the chiefs, returned to the land of Canaan to the People of Israel and gave a full report. They were pleased with the report. The People of Israel blessed God—there was no more talk of attacking and destroying the land in which the Reubenites and Gadites were living.
34 Reuben and Gad named the altar:
A Witness Between Us.
Psalm 47 The Message (MSG)
A Psalm of the Sons of Korah
47 1-9 Applause, everyone. Bravo, bravissimo!
1 Corinthians 10 The Message (MSG)
10 1-5 Remember our history, friends, and be warned. All our ancestors were led by the providential Cloud and taken miraculously through the Sea. They went through the waters, in a baptism like ours, as Moses led them from enslaving death to salvation life. They all ate and drank identical food and drink, meals provided daily by God. They drank from the Rock, God’s fountain for them that stayed with them wherever they were. And the Rock was Christ. But just experiencing God’s wonder and grace didn’t seem to mean much—most of them were defeated by temptation during the hard times in the desert, and God was not pleased.
6-10 The same thing could happen to us. We must be on guard so that we never get caught up in wanting our own way as they did. And we must not turn our religion into a circus as they did—“First the people partied, then they threw a dance.” We must not be sexually promiscuous—they paid for that, remember, with 23,000 deaths in one day! We must never try to get Christ to serve us instead of us serving him; they tried it, and God launched an epidemic of poisonous snakes. We must be careful not to stir up discontent; discontent destroyed them.
11-12 These are all warning markers—danger!—in our history books, written down so that we don’t repeat their mistakes. Our positions in the story are parallel—they at the beginning, we at the end—and we are just as capable of messing it up as they were. Don’t be so naive and self-confident. You’re not exempt. You could fall flat on your face as easily as anyone else. Forget about self-confidence; it’s useless. Cultivate God-confidence.
13 No test or temptation that comes your way is beyond the course of what others have had to face. All you need to remember is that God will never let you down; he’ll never let you be pushed past your limit; he’ll always be there to help you come through it.
14 So, my very dear friends, when you see people reducing God to something they can use or control, get out of their company as fast as you can.
15-18 I assume I’m addressing believers now who are mature. Draw your own conclusions: When we drink the cup of blessing, aren’t we taking into ourselves the blood, the very life, of Christ? And isn’t it the same with the loaf of bread we break and eat? Don’t we take into ourselves the body, the very life, of Christ? Because there is one loaf, our many-ness becomes one-ness—Christ doesn’t become fragmented in us. Rather, we become unified in him. We don’t reduce Christ to what we are; he raises us to what he is. That’s basically what happened even in old Israel—those who ate the sacrifices offered on God’s altar entered into God’s action at the altar.
19-22 Do you see the difference? Sacrifices offered to idols are offered to nothing, for what’s the idol but a nothing? Or worse than nothing, a minus, a demon! I don’t want you to become part of something that reduces you to less than yourself. And you can’t have it both ways, banqueting with the Master one day and slumming with demons the next. Besides, the Master won’t put up with it. He wants us—all or nothing. Do you think you can get off with anything less?
23-24 Looking at it one way, you could say, “Anything goes. Because of God’s immense generosity and grace, we don’t have to dissect and scrutinize every action to see if it will pass muster.” But the point is not to just get by. We want to live well, but our foremost efforts should be to help others live well.
25-28 With that as a base to work from, common sense can take you the rest of the way. Eat anything sold at the butcher shop, for instance; you don’t have to run an “idolatry test” on every item. “The earth,” after all, “is God’s, and everything in it.” That “everything” certainly includes the leg of lamb in the butcher shop. If a nonbeliever invites you to dinner and you feel like going, go ahead and enjoy yourself; eat everything placed before you. It would be both bad manners and bad spirituality to cross-examine your host on the ethical purity of each course as it is served. On the other hand, if he goes out of his way to tell you that this or that was sacrificed to god or goddess so-and-so, you should pass. Even though you may be indifferent as to where it came from, he isn’t, and you don’t want to send mixed messages to him about who you are worshiping.
29-30 But, except for these special cases, I’m not going to walk around on eggshells worrying about what small-minded people might say; I’m going to stride free and easy, knowing what our large-minded Master has already said. If I eat what is served to me, grateful to God for what is on the table, how can I worry about what someone will say? I thanked God for it and he blessed it!
31-33 So eat your meals heartily, not worrying about what others say about you—you’re eating to God’s glory, after all, not to please them. As a matter of fact, do everything that way, heartily and freely to God’s glory. At the same time, don’t be callous in your exercise of freedom, thoughtlessly stepping on the toes of those who aren’t as free as you are. I try my best to be considerate of everyone’s feelings in all these matters; I hope you will be, too.