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Judges 11The Message (MSG)

11 1-3 Jephthah the Gileadite was one tough warrior. He was the son of a whore, but Gilead was his father. Meanwhile Gilead’s legal wife had given him other sons, and when they grew up, his wife’s sons threw Jephthah out. They told him: “You’re not getting any of our family inheritance—you’re the son of another woman.” So Jephthah fled from his brothers and went to live in the land of Tob. Some riffraff joined him and went around with him.

4-6 Some time passed. And then the Ammonites started fighting Israel. With the Ammonites at war with them, the elders of Gilead went to get Jephthah from the land of Tob. They said to Jephthah: “Come. Be our general and we’ll fight the Ammonites.”

But Jephthah said to the elders of Gilead: “But you hate me. You kicked me out of my family home. So why are you coming to me now? Because you are in trouble. Right?”

The elders of Gilead replied, “That’s it exactly. We’ve come to you to get you to go with us and fight the Ammonites. You’ll be the head of all of us, all the Gileadites.”

Jephthah addressed the elders of Gilead, “So if you bring me back home to fight the Ammonites and God gives them to me, I’ll be your head—is that right?”

10-11 They said, “God is witness between us; whatever you say, we’ll do.” Jephthah went along with the elders of Gilead. The people made him their top man and general. And Jephthah repeated what he had said before God at Mizpah.

12 Then Jephthah sent messengers to the king of the Ammonites with a message: “What’s going on here that you have come into my country picking a fight?”

13 The king of the Ammonites told Jephthah’s messengers: “Because Israel took my land when they came up out of Egypt—from the Arnon all the way to the Jabbok and to the Jordan. Give it back peaceably and I’ll go.”

14-27 Jephthah again sent messengers to the king of the Ammonites with the message: “Jephthah’s word: Israel took no Moabite land and no Ammonite land. When they came up from Egypt, Israel went through the desert as far as the Red Sea, arriving at Kadesh. There Israel sent messengers to the king of Edom saying, ‘Let us pass through your land, please.’ But the king of Edom wouldn’t let them. Israel also requested permission from the king of Moab, but he wouldn’t let them cross either. They were stopped in their tracks at Kadesh. So they traveled across the desert and circled around the lands of Edom and Moab. They came out east of the land of Moab and set camp on the other side of the Arnon—they didn’t set foot in Moabite territory, for Arnon was the Moabite border. Israel then sent messengers to Sihon king of the Amorites at Heshbon the capital. Israel asked, ‘Let us pass, please, through your land on the way to our country.’ But Sihon didn’t trust Israel to cut across his land; he got his entire army together, set up camp at Jahaz, and fought Israel. But God, the God of Israel, gave Sihon and all his troops to Israel. Israel defeated them. Israel took all the Amorite land, all Amorite land from Arnon to the Jabbok and from the desert to the Jordan. It was God, the God of Israel, who pushed out the Amorites in favor of Israel; so who do you think you are to try to take it over? Why don’t you just be satisfied with what your god Chemosh gives you and we’ll settle for what God, our God, gives us? Do you think you’re going to come off better than Balak son of Zippor, the king of Moab? Did he get anywhere in opposing Israel? Did he risk war? All this time—it’s been three hundred years now!—that Israel has lived in Heshbon and its villages, in Aroer and its villages, and in all the towns along the Arnon, why didn’t you try to snatch them away then? No, I haven’t wronged you. But this is an evil thing that you are doing to me by starting a fight. Today God the Judge will decide between the People of Israel and the people of Ammon.”

28 But the king of the Ammonites refused to listen to a word that Jephthah had sent him.

29-31 God’s Spirit came upon Jephthah. He went across Gilead and Manasseh, went through Mizpah of Gilead, and from there approached the Ammonites. Jephthah made a vow before God: “If you give me a clear victory over the Ammonites, then I’ll give to God whatever comes out of the door of my house to meet me when I return in one piece from among the Ammonites—I’ll offer it up in a sacrificial burnt offering.”

32-33 Then Jephthah was off to fight the Ammonites. And God gave them to him. He beat them soundly, all the way from Aroer to the area around Minnith as far as Abel Keramim—twenty cities! A massacre! Ammonites brought to their knees by the People of Israel.

34-35 Jephthah came home to Mizpah. His daughter ran from the house to welcome him home—dancing to tambourines! She was his only child. He had no son or daughter except her. When he realized who it was, he ripped his clothes, saying, “Ah, dearest daughter—I’m dirt. I’m despicable. My heart is torn to shreds. I made a vow to God and I can’t take it back!”

36 She said, “Dear father, if you made a vow to God, do to me what you vowed; God did his part and saved you from your Ammonite enemies.”

37 And then she said to her father, “But let this one thing be done for me. Give me two months to wander through the hills and lament my virginity since I will never marry, I and my dear friends.”

38-39 “Oh yes, go,” he said. He sent her off for two months. She and her dear girlfriends went among the hills, lamenting that she would never marry. At the end of the two months, she came back to her father. He fulfilled the vow with her that he had made. She had never slept with a man.

39-40 It became a custom in Israel that for four days every year the young women of Israel went out to mourn for the daughter of Jephthah the Gileadite.

The Message (MSG)

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

Judges 12The Message (MSG)

12 The men of Ephraim mustered their troops, crossed to Zaphon, and said to Jephthah, “Why did you go out to fight the Ammonites without letting us go with you? We’re going to burn your house down on you!”

2-3 Jephthah said, “I and my people had our hands full negotiating with the Ammonites. And I did call to you for help but you ignored me. When I saw that you weren’t coming, I took my life in my hands and confronted the Ammonites myself. And God gave them to me! So why did you show up here today? Are you spoiling for a fight with me?”

So Jephthah got his Gilead troops together and fought Ephraim. And the men of Gilead hit them hard because they were saying, “Gileadites are nothing but half breeds and rejects from Ephraim and Manasseh.”

5-6 Gilead captured the fords of the Jordan at the crossing to Ephraim. If an Ephraimite fugitive said, “Let me cross,” the men of Gilead would ask, “Are you an Ephraimite?” and he would say, “No.” And they would say, “Say, ‘Shibboleth.’” But he would always say, “Sibboleth”—he couldn’t say it right. Then they would grab him and kill him there at the fords of the Jordan. Forty-two Ephraimite divisions were killed on that occasion.

Jephthah judged Israel six years. Jephthah the Gileadite died and was buried in his city, Mizpah of Gilead.

Ibzan

8-9 After him, Ibzan of Bethlehem judged Israel. He had thirty sons and thirty daughters. He gave his daughters in marriage outside his clan and brought in thirty daughters-in-law from the outside for his sons.

10 He judged Israel seven years. Ibzan died and was buried in Bethlehem.

Elon

11-12 After him, Elon the Zebulunite judged Israel. He judged Israel ten years. Elon the Zebulunite died and was buried at Aijalon in the land of Zebulun.

Abdon

13-15 After him, Abdon son of Hillel the Pirathonite judged Israel. He had forty sons and thirty grandsons who rode on seventy donkeys. He judged Israel eight years. Abdon son of Hillel the Pirathonite died and was buried at Pirathon in the land of Ephraim in the Amalekite hill country.

The Message (MSG)

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

Psalm 50The Message (MSG)

An Asaph Psalm

50 1-3 The God of gods—it’s God!—speaks out, shouts, “Earth!”
    welcomes the sun in the east,
    farewells the disappearing sun in the west.
From the dazzle of Zion,
    God blazes into view.
Our God makes his entrance,
    he’s not shy in his coming.
Starbursts of fireworks precede him.

4-5 He summons heaven and earth as a jury,
    he’s taking his people to court:
“Round up my saints who swore
    on the Bible their loyalty to me.”

The whole cosmos attests to the fairness of this court,
    that here God is judge.

7-15 “Are you listening, dear people? I’m getting ready to speak;
    Israel, I’m about ready to bring you to trial.
This is God, your God,
    speaking to you.
I don’t find fault with your acts of worship,
    the frequent burnt sacrifices you offer.
But why should I want your blue-ribbon bull,
    or more and more goats from your herds?
Every creature in the forest is mine,
    the wild animals on all the mountains.
I know every mountain bird by name;
    the scampering field mice are my friends.
If I get hungry, do you think I’d tell you?
    All creation and its bounty are mine.
Do you think I feast on venison?
    or drink draughts of goats’ blood?
Spread for me a banquet of praise,
    serve High God a feast of kept promises,
And call for help when you’re in trouble—
    I’ll help you, and you’ll honor me.”

16-21 Next, God calls up the wicked:

“What are you up to, quoting my laws,
    talking like we are good friends?
You never answer the door when I call;
    you treat my words like garbage.
If you find a thief, you make him your buddy;
    adulterers are your friends of choice.
Your mouth drools filth;
    lying is a serious art form with you.
You stab your own brother in the back,
    rip off your little sister.
I kept a quiet patience while you did these things;
    you thought I went along with your game.
I’m calling you on the carpet, now,
    laying your wickedness out in plain sight.

22-23 “Time’s up for playing fast and
    loose with me.
I’m ready to pass sentence,
    and there’s no help in sight!
It’s the praising life that honors me.
    As soon as you set your foot on the Way,
I’ll show you my salvation.”

The Message (MSG)

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

2 Corinthians 1The Message (MSG)

1-2 I, Paul, have been sent on a special mission by the Messiah, Jesus, planned by God himself. I write this to God’s congregation in Corinth, and to believers all over Achaia province. May all the gifts and benefits that come from God our Father and the Master, Jesus Christ, be yours! Timothy, someone you know and trust, joins me in this greeting.

The Rescue

3-5 All praise to the God and Father of our Master, Jesus the Messiah! Father of all mercy! God of all healing counsel! He comes alongside us when we go through hard times, and before you know it, he brings us alongside someone else who is going through hard times so that we can be there for that person just as God was there for us. We have plenty of hard times that come from following the Messiah, but no more so than the good times of his healing comfort—we get a full measure of that, too.

6-7 When we suffer for Jesus, it works out for your healing and salvation. If we are treated well, given a helping hand and encouraging word, that also works to your benefit, spurring you on, face forward, unflinching. Your hard times are also our hard times. When we see that you’re just as willing to endure the hard times as to enjoy the good times, we know you’re going to make it, no doubt about it.

8-11 We don’t want you in the dark, friends, about how hard it was when all this came down on us in Asia province. It was so bad we didn’t think we were going to make it. We felt like we’d been sent to death row, that it was all over for us. As it turned out, it was the best thing that could have happened. Instead of trusting in our own strength or wits to get out of it, we were forced to trust God totally—not a bad idea since he’s the God who raises the dead! And he did it, rescued us from certain doom. And he’ll do it again, rescuing us as many times as we need rescuing. You and your prayers are part of the rescue operation—I don’t want you in the dark about that either. I can see your faces even now, lifted in praise for God’s deliverance of us, a rescue in which your prayers played such a crucial part.

12-14 Now that the worst is over, we’re pleased we can report that we’ve come out of this with conscience and faith intact, and can face the world—and even more importantly, face you with our heads held high. But it wasn’t by any fancy footwork on our part. It was God who kept us focused on him, uncompromised. Don’t try to read between the lines or look for hidden meanings in this letter. We’re writing plain, unembellished truth, hoping that you’ll now see the whole picture as well as you’ve seen some of the details. We want you to be as proud of us as we are of you when we stand together before our Master Jesus.

15-16 Confident of your welcome, I had originally planned two great visits with you—coming by on my way to Macedonia province, and then again on my return trip. Then we could have had a bon-voyage party as you sent me off to Judea. That was the plan.

17-19 Are you now going to accuse me of being flip with my promises because it didn’t work out? Do you think I talk out of both sides of my mouth—a glib yes one moment, a glib no the next? Well, you’re wrong. I try to be as true to my word as God is to his. Our word to you wasn’t a careless yes canceled by an indifferent no. How could it be? When Silas and Timothy and I proclaimed the Son of God among you, did you pick up on any yes-and-no, on-again, off-again waffling? Wasn’t it a clean, strong Yes?

20-22 Whatever God has promised gets stamped with the Yes of Jesus. In him, this is what we preach and pray, the great Amen, God’s Yes and our Yes together, gloriously evident. God affirms us, making us a sure thing in Christ, putting his Yes within us. By his Spirit he has stamped us with his eternal pledge—a sure beginning of what he is destined to complete.

23 Now, are you ready for the real reason I didn’t visit you in Corinth? As God is my witness, the only reason I didn’t come was to spare you pain. I was being considerate of you, not indifferent, not manipulative.

24 We’re not in charge of how you live out the faith, looking over your shoulders, suspiciously critical. We’re partners, working alongside you, joyfully expectant. I know that you stand by your own faith, not by ours.

The Message (MSG)

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

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