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Numbers 24 The Message (MSG)

24 1-3 By now Balaam realized that God wanted to bless Israel. So he didn’t work in any sorcery as he had done earlier. He turned and looked out over the wilderness. As Balaam looked, he saw Israel camped tribe by tribe. The Spirit of God came on him, and he spoke his oracle-message:

3-9 Decree of Balaam son of Beor,
        yes, decree of a man with 20/20 vision;
    Decree of a man who hears God speak,
        who sees what The Strong God shows him,
    Who falls on his face in worship,
        who sees what’s really going on.
    What beautiful tents, Jacob,
        oh, your homes, Israel!
    Like valleys stretching out in the distance,
        like gardens planted by rivers,
    Like sweet herbs planted by the gardener God,
        like red cedars by pools and springs,
    Their buckets will brim with water,
        their seed will spread life everywhere.
    Their king will tower over Agag and his ilk,
        their kingdom surpassingly majestic.
    God brought them out of Egypt,
        rampaging like a wild ox,
    Gulping enemies like morsels of meat,
        crushing their bones, snapping their arrows.
    Israel crouches like a lion and naps,
        king-of-the-beasts—who dares disturb him?
    Whoever blesses you is blessed,
        whoever curses you is cursed.

10-11 Balak lost his temper with Balaam. He shook his fist. He said to Balaam: “I got you in here to curse my enemies and what have you done? Blessed them! Blessed them three times! Get out of here! Go home! I told you I would pay you well, but you’re getting nothing. You can blame God.”

12-15 Balaam said to Balak, “Didn’t I tell you up front when you sent your emissaries, ‘Even if Balak gave me his palace stuffed with silver and gold, I couldn’t do anything on my own, whether good or bad, that went against God’s command’? I’m leaving for home and my people, but I warn you of what this people will do to your people in the days to come.” Then he spoke his oracle-message:

15-19 Decree of Balaam son of Beor,
        decree of the man with 20/20 vision,
    Decree of the man who hears godly speech,
        who knows what’s going on with the High God,
    Who sees what The Strong God reveals,
        who bows in worship and sees what’s real.
    I see him, but not right now,
        I perceive him, but not right here;
    A star rises from Jacob
        a scepter from Israel,
    Crushing the heads of Moab,
        the skulls of all the noisy windbags;
    I see Edom sold off at auction,
        enemy Seir marked down at the flea market,
        while Israel walks off with the trophies.
    A ruler is coming from Jacob
        who’ll destroy what’s left in the city.

20 Then Balaam spotted Amalek and delivered an oracle-message. He said,

Amalek, you’re in first place among nations right now,
    but you’re going to come in last, ruined.

21-22 He saw the Kenites and delivered his oracle-message to them:

Your home is in a nice secure place,
    like a nest high on the face of a cliff.
Still, you Kenites will look stupid
    when Asshur takes you prisoner.

23-24 Balaam spoke his final oracle-message:

Doom! Who stands a chance
    when God starts in?
Sea-Peoples, raiders from across the sea,
    will harass Asshur and Eber,
But they’ll also come to nothing,
    just like all the rest.

25 Balaam got up and went home. Balak also went on his way.

The Message (MSG)

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

Numbers 25 The Message (MSG)

The Orgy at Shittim

25 1-3 While Israel was camped at Shittim (Acacia Grove), the men began to have sex with the Moabite women. It started when the women invited the men to their sex-and-religion worship. They ate together and then worshiped their gods. Israel ended up joining in the worship of the Baal of Peor. God was furious, his anger blazing out against Israel.

God said to Moses, “Take all the leaders of Israel and kill them by hanging, leaving them publicly exposed in order to turn God’s anger away from Israel.”

Moses issued orders to the judges of Israel: “Each of you must execute the men under your jurisdiction who joined in the worship of Baal Peor.”

6-9 Just then, while everyone was weeping in penitence at the entrance of the Tent of Meeting, an Israelite man, flaunting his behavior in front of Moses and the whole assembly, paraded a Midianite woman into his family tent. Phinehas son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron the priest, saw what he was doing, grabbed his spear, and followed them into the tent. With one thrust he drove the spear through the two of them, the man of Israel and the woman, right through their private parts. That stopped the plague from continuing among the People of Israel. But 24,000 had already died.

10-13 God spoke to Moses: “Phinehas son of Eleazar, son of Aaron the priest, has stopped my anger against the People of Israel. Because he was as zealous for my honor as I myself am, I didn’t kill all the People of Israel in my zeal. So tell him that I am making a Covenant-of-Peace with him. He and his descendants are joined in a covenant of eternal priesthood, because he was zealous for his God and made atonement for the People of Israel.”

14-15 The name of the man of Israel who was killed with the Midianite woman was Zimri son of Salu, the head of the Simeonite family. And the name of the Midianite woman who was killed was Cozbi daughter of Zur, a tribal chief of a Midianite family.

16-18 God spoke to Moses: “From here on make the Midianites your enemies. Fight them tooth and nail. They turned out to be your enemies when they seduced you in the business of Peor and that woman Cozbi, daughter of a Midianite leader, the woman who was killed at the time of the plague in the matter of Peor.”

The Message (MSG)

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

Numbers 26 The Message (MSG)

Census on the Plains of Moab

26 1-2 After the plague God said to Moses and Eleazar son of Aaron the priest, “Number the entire community of Israel by families—count every person who is twenty years and older who is able to serve in the army of Israel.”

3-4 Obeying God’s command, Moses and Eleazar the priest addressed them on the Plains of Moab at Jordan-Jericho: “Count off from age twenty and older.”

4-7 The People of Israel who came out of the land of Egypt:

Reuben, Israel’s firstborn. The sons of Reuben were:

Hanoch and the Hanochite clan,

Pallu and the Palluite clan,

Hezron and the Hezronite clan,

Carmi and the Carmite clan.

These made up the Reubenite clans. They numbered 43,730.

The son of Pallu: Eliab.

9-11 The sons of Eliab: Nemuel, Dathan, and Abiram. (These were the same Dathan and Abiram, community leaders from Korah’s gang, who rebelled against Moses and Aaron in the Korah Rebellion against God. The Earth opened its jaws and swallowed them along with Korah’s gang who died when the fire ate them up, all 250 of them. After all these years, they’re still a warning sign. But the line of Korah did not die out.)

12-14 The sons of Simeon by clans:

Nemuel and the Nemuelite clan,

Jamin and the Jaminite clan,

Jakin and the Jakinite clan,

Zerah and the Zerahite clan,

Shaul and the Shaulite clan.

These were the clans of Simeon. They numbered 22,200 men.

15-18 The sons of Gad by clans:

Zephon and the Zephonite clan,

Haggi and the Haggite clan,

Shuni and the Shunite clan,

Ozni and the Oznite clan,

Eri and the Erite clan,

Arodi and the Arodite clan,

Areli and the Arelite clan.

These were the clans of Gad. They numbered 40,500 men.

19-22 Er and Onan were sons of Judah who died early on in Canaan. The sons of Judah by clans:

Shelah and the Shelanite clan,

Perez and the Perezite clan,

Zerah and the Zerahite clan.

The sons of Perez:

Hezron and the Hezronite clan,

Hamul and the Hamulite clan.

These were the clans of Judah. They numbered 76,500.

23-25 The sons of Issachar by clans:

Tola and the Tolaite clan,

Puah and the Puite clan,

Jashub and the Jashubite clan,

Shimron and the Shimronite clan.

These were the clans of Issachar. They numbered 64,300.

26-27 The sons of Zebulun by clans:

Sered and the Seredite clan,

Elon and the Elonite clan,

Jahleel and the Jahleelite clan.

These were the clans of Zebulun. They numbered 60,500.

28-34 The sons of Joseph by clans through Manasseh and Ephraim. Through Manasseh:

Makir and the Makirite clan

(now Makir was the father of Gilead),

Gilead and the Gileadite clan.

The sons of Gilead:

Iezer and the Iezerite clan,

Helek and the Helekite clan,

Asriel and the Asrielite clan,

Shechem and the Shechemite clan,

Shemida and the Shemidaite clan,

Hepher and the Hepherite clan.

Zelophehad son of Hepher had no sons, only daughters.

Their names were Mahlah, Noah, Hoglah, Milcah, and Tirzah.

These were the clans of Manasseh. They numbered 52,700.

35-37 The sons of Ephraim by clans:

Shuthelah and the Shuthelahite clan,

Beker and the Bekerite clan,

Tahan and the Tahanite clan.

The sons of Shuthelah:

Eran and the Eranite clan.

These were the clans of Ephraim. They numbered 32,500.

These are all the sons of Joseph by their clans.

38-41 The sons of Benjamin by clans:

Bela and the Belaite clan,

Ashbel and the Ashbelite clan,

Ahiram and the Ahiramite clan,

Shupham and the Shuphamite clan,

Hupham and the Huphamite clan.

The sons of Bela through Ard and Naaman:

Ard and the Ardite clan,

Naaman and the Naamite clan.

These were the clans of Benjamin. They numbered 45,600.

42-43 The sons of Dan by clan:

Shuham and the Shuhamite clan.

These are the clans of Dan, all Shuhamite clans. They numbered 64,400.

44-47 The sons of Asher by clan:

Imnah and the Imnite clan,

Ishvi and the Ishvite clan,

Beriah and the Beriite clan.

The sons of Beriah:

Heber and the Heberite clan,

Malkiel and the Malkielite clan.

Asher also had a daughter, Serah.

These were the clans of Asher. They numbered 53,400.

48-50 The sons of Naphtali by clans:

Jahzeel and the Jahzeelite clan,

Guni and the Gunite clan,

Jezer and the Jezerite clan,

Shillem and the Shillemite clan.

These were the clans of Naphtali. They numbered 45,400.

51 The total number of the People of Israel: 601,730.

52-54 God spoke to Moses: “Divide up the inheritance of the land based on population. A larger group gets a larger inheritance; a smaller group gets a smaller inheritance—each gets its inheritance based on the population count.

55-56 “Make sure that the land is assigned by lot.

“Each group’s inheritance is based on population, the number of names listed in its ancestral tribe, divided among the many and the few by lot.”

57-58 These are the numberings of the Levites by clan:

Gershon and the Gershonite clan,

Kohath and the Kohathite clan,

Merari and the Merarite clan.

The Levite clans also included:

the Libnite clan,

the Hebronite clan,

the Mahlite clan,

the Mushite clan,

the Korahite clan.

58-61 Kohath was the father of Amram. Amram’s wife was Jochebed, a descendant of Levi, born into the Levite family during the Egyptian years. Jochebed bore Aaron, Moses, and their sister Miriam to Amram. Aaron was the father of Nadab and Abihu, Eleazar and Ithamar; however, Nadab and Abihu died when they offered unauthorized sacrifice in the presence of God.

62 The numbering of Levite males one month and older came to 23,000. They hadn’t been counted in with the rest of the People of Israel because they didn’t inherit any land.

63-65 These are the ones numbered by Moses and Eleazar the priest, the People of Israel counted in the Plains of Moab at Jordan-Jericho. Not one of them had been among those counted by Moses and Aaron the priest in the census of the People of Israel taken in the Wilderness of Sinai. For God had said of them, “They’ll die, die in the wilderness—not one of them will be left except for Caleb son of Jephunneh, and Joshua son of Nun.”

The Message (MSG)

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

Numbers 27 The Message (MSG)

The Daughters of Zelophehad

27 The daughters of Zelophehad showed up. Their father was the son of Hepher son of Gilead son of Makir son of Manasseh, belonging to the clans of Manasseh son of Joseph. The daughters were Mahlah, Noah, Hoglah, Milcah, and Tirzah.

2-4 They came to the entrance of the Tent of Meeting. They stood before Moses and Eleazar the priest and before the leaders and the congregation and said, “Our father died in the wilderness. He wasn’t part of Korah’s rebel anti-God gang. He died for his own sins. And he left no sons. But why should our father’s name die out from his clan just because he had no sons? So give us an inheritance among our father’s relatives.”

Moses brought their case to God.

6-7 God ruled: “Zelophehad’s daughters are right. Give them land as an inheritance among their father’s relatives. Give them their father’s inheritance.

8-11 “Then tell the People of Israel, If a man dies and leaves no son, give his inheritance to his daughter. If he has no daughter, give it to his brothers. If he has no brothers, give it to his father’s brothers. If his father had no brothers, give it to the nearest relative so that the inheritance stays in the family. This is the standard procedure for the People of Israel, as commanded by God through Moses.”


12-14 God said to Moses, “Climb up into the Abarim Mountains and look over at the land that I am giving to the People of Israel. When you’ve had a good look you’ll be joined to your ancestors in the grave—yes, you also along with Aaron your brother. This goes back to the day when the congregation quarreled in the Wilderness of Zin and you didn’t honor me in holy reverence before them in the matter of the waters, the Waters of Meribah (Quarreling) at Kadesh in the Wilderness of Zin.”

15-17 Moses responded to God: “Let God, the God of the spirits of everyone living, set a man over this community to lead them, to show the way ahead and bring them back home so God’s community will not be like sheep without a shepherd.”

18-21 God said to Moses, “Take Joshua the son of Nun—the Spirit is in him!—and place your hand on him. Stand him before Eleazar the priest in front of the entire congregation and commission him with everyone watching. Pass your magisterial authority over to him so that the whole congregation of the People of Israel will listen obediently to him. He is to consult with Eleazar the priest who, using the oracle-Urim, will prayerfully advise him in the presence of God. He will command the People of Israel, the entire community, in all their comings and goings.”

22-23 Moses followed God’s orders. He took Joshua and stood him before Eleazar the priest in front of the entire community. He laid his hands on him and commissioned him, following the procedures God had given Moses.

The Message (MSG)

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

1 Corinthians 13 The Message (MSG)

The Way of Love

13 If I speak with human eloquence and angelic ecstasy but don’t love, I’m nothing but the creaking of a rusty gate.

If I speak God’s Word with power, revealing all his mysteries and making everything plain as day, and if I have faith that says to a mountain, “Jump,” and it jumps, but I don’t love, I’m nothing.

3-7 If I give everything I own to the poor and even go to the stake to be burned as a martyr, but I don’t love, I’ve gotten nowhere. So, no matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I’m bankrupt without love.

Love never gives up.
Love cares more for others than for self.
Love doesn’t want what it doesn’t have.
Love doesn’t strut,
Doesn’t have a swelled head,
Doesn’t force itself on others,
Isn’t always “me first,”
Doesn’t fly off the handle,
Doesn’t keep score of the sins of others,
Doesn’t revel when others grovel,
Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth,
Puts up with anything,
Trusts God always,
Always looks for the best,
Never looks back,
But keeps going to the end.

8-10 Love never dies. Inspired speech will be over some day; praying in tongues will end; understanding will reach its limit. We know only a portion of the truth, and what we say about God is always incomplete. But when the Complete arrives, our incompletes will be canceled.

11 When I was an infant at my mother’s breast, I gurgled and cooed like any infant. When I grew up, I left those infant ways for good.

12 We don’t yet see things clearly. We’re squinting in a fog, peering through a mist. But it won’t be long before the weather clears and the sun shines bright! We’ll see it all then, see it all as clearly as God sees us, knowing him directly just as he knows us!

13 But for right now, until that completeness, we have three things to do to lead us toward that consummation: Trust steadily in God, hope unswervingly, love extravagantly. And the best of the three is love.

The Message (MSG)

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


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