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Numbers 30-31

30 Moses gathered the heads of the twelve Israelite tribes and explained vows.

The situation concerning vows with men is clear and straightforward: keep your word. With women, it’s more complicated. The promises made by women have certain restrictions that don’t apply to men’s vows: whatever a woman promises to God or others is subject to review by her father, if she still lives at home, or by her husband, if she’s married. Those men have the power to nullify her promises.

Moses: Whatever a man promises to God or others, whether a vow or a binding oath with a pledge, he must do. He is bound by his word: no excuses and no exceptions.

3-12 If a woman makes such a binding statement in the hearing of her father (if she’s not married) or husband (if she is married), and he keeps quiet, then the promise stands. But if her father or her husband (depending on her marital status) disapproves of what she said, then she’s not bound by whatever she promised, and the Eternal won’t hold it against her. If she gets married after making a vow or pledge (even a rash one) and her husband knows about it but says nothing, then she’s responsible for keeping those promises. But if her husband hears about some rash promise she made and says that he thinks it’s foolish, then he can erase any obligation she had to keep it. The Eternal will forgive her. A woman who’s not connected to any man—a widow or divorcée—must take full responsibility for keeping her promises.[a] 13 Now if a woman is already married and vows to undertake some kind of self-denial, fasting or the like, her husband has the power to either approve or reject it. 14 If he doesn’t say anything about it while she is doing it, then whatever she’s pledged to do is truly binding; he cannot come back later and change his mind about it. 15 If he does require her to break her promise while she’s doing it, then the punishment for breaking it will be on him, not her.

16 This is what the Eternal determined should be the rules for fathers or husbands evaluating a woman’s vows, whether she’s a youngster still living under her father’s roof or has married.

31 Eternal One (to Moses): 1-2 It’s finally time for the Israelites to make the Midianites suffer for the trouble they caused back at Peor and then you will leave this world and join your ancestors.

The Israelites took Midianite women as wives and consequently started worshiping their gods. Some 24,000 Israelites died in that judgment. Moses is now told to pick up where the priest Phinehas left off and kill the Midianites.

Moses (to the Israelites): 3-5 Get yourselves ready for war. From among your men, select 1,000 from each of Israel’s tribes. Arm them, and send them out to fulfill God’s desire to make the Midianites pay for their treachery.

So it was that 12,000 Israelite men went off to war. Moses sent the zealous priest Phinehas (Priest Eleazar’s son) with each tribe’s contribution toward the army of 1,000 men, too, carrying the holy vessels and trumpets to sound the alarm. At the direction of God through Moses, the Israelites fought fiercely. By the time it was over, they had managed to kill every single Midianite male. They killed all five of Midian’s kings (Evi, Rekem, Zur, Hur, and Reba), and they even executed Balaam (Beor’s son) too.

This is a surprising note about Balaam. He honored the Lord and would only speak blessing over Israel (22–24). Here and later (Joshua 13:22; 24:9–10), Balaam is cast as an enemy of God’s people (also 2 Peter 2:15; Revelation 2:14).

9-11 They captured Midian’s women and children and everything of value—livestock, luxury items, whatever seemed good—to bring back with them, and they burned what was left of the cities and camps. 12 The victorious Israelites headed back to present these prisoners, animals, and things to Moses, Eleazar the priest, and all of the Israelites who had gathered at their camp on the Moabite plains, just across the Jordan River, east of Jericho.

13 Moses, Priest Eleazar, and the leaders of the community went out to meet them, just outside the settlement. But instead of commending them for their bravery and success, 14 in his anger, Moses berated the men who just a little while earlier were commanding battalions of hundreds or thousands of soldiers.

Moses: 15 What were you thinking that you would allow these women to live? 16 They are the ones, on the advice of that instigator Balaam, who are responsible for seducing our men by leading Israelites to reject the Eternal at Peor. They brought down on us that punishing plague that killed so many of the people of the Eternal One. 17 Now you must slaughter every last boy in this Midianite group and kill every woman who has ever slept with a man. 18 As for the virgins, you can take them, as you desire. 19-20 According to the purity laws, you must stay outside the boundaries of the camp for seven days. Anyone who has killed or otherwise touched a corpse, remember to wash up on the third and seventh days as prescribed. Every piece of clothing—cloth, leather, or goat’s hide—and every wooden object on your person must be purified too. This applies to you and your prisoners.

Because of the details concerning priestly matters of ritual process and purity, Eleazar the priest explains how the Lord commanded they should proceed. They have been in contact with corpses, blood, and pagan objects, and it is essential that they cleanse themselves properly as members of this holy congregation.

21 Then Eleazar stepped forward and took it from there.

Priest Eleazar (to the soldiers): It is a law that God made clear to us through Moses. 22-23 Whatever you wear or have with you that is not flammable—all metals such as gold, silver, bronze, iron, tin, and lead—shall be cleansed by fire. To fully purify such objects, wash them in the water for ritual impurity too. But anything that cannot stand fire, wash with the water. 24 On the seventh day, strip and wash what you’re wearing. After that, you shall be considered pure and may return to the camp.

25 The Eternal One told Moses how to divide the spoils.

Eternal One: 26 Get Priest Eleazar and the heads of the extended families of the group to help you inventory everything the soldiers brought back with them from Midian, prisoners and possessions. 27 Then divide it in half. One part will go to the men who went to war, and the other to the people who stayed here. 28 Out of the warriors’ half, take a portion as a gift to Me. For every 500 items of any kind—persons or animals—set one aside for God 29 by giving it to Eleazar the priest (who will make the actual offering to Me). 30 Out of the general population’s half, take one out of every 50 of any particular item—persons or animals—and give it to the Levites who are in charge of maintaining God’s special tent.

31 Moses and Priest Eleazar did as the Eternal One commanded Moses, 32 and even after they had killed the boys and a lot of the women, the war booty was substantial. There were 675,000 sheep, 33 72,000 oxen, 34 61,000 donkeys, 35 and 32,000 virgin women. 36 From the half that was for the warriors, there were 337,500 sheep 37 (675 for the Eternal), 38 36,000 large oxen (72 for the Eternal), 39 30,500 donkeys (61 for the Eternal), 40 and 16,000 people (32 for the Eternal). 41 Moses handed God’s portion over to the keeping of Eleazar the priest as the Eternal had commanded Moses. 42-46 The general community received the same amounts: 337,500 sheep, 36,000 large oxen, 30,500 donkeys, and 16,000 people. 47 Out of the general community’s half, Moses took one out of every 50 of any particular item—persons or animals—and gave it to the Levites, the ones who were in charge of maintaining God’s tent just as he had been told by the Eternal One. 48 Then the military officers of all ranks approached Moses with yet more stuff.

Officers (to Moses): 49 Each of us, who loyally answer your call to serve, has counted up the people in our battalions. We are happy to report that not a single person is missing. 50 Yet to cover any sins we may have committed before the Eternal, we wish to present to you all the articles of value we found in Midian—objects of gold, jewelry of all kinds (armlets, bracelets, rings, earrings, and pendants).

51-52 Moses and Eleazar the priest received from the commanders and officers these pieces of gold fashioned into all shapes and sizes. Collectively, the officers’ offering to the Eternal equaled 420 pounds. 53 The soldiers had also raided things for themselves. 54 But Moses and Eleazar set up the gold objects from the officers inside the congregation tent to commemorate the Israelites’ actions before the Eternal One Himself.

Footnotes:

  1. 30:3-12 These verses have been rearranged to help clarify meaning.
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Luke 4:1-30

While genealogies may seem tedious, for people in many cultures (including Luke’s), genealogies are important and meaningful because they give a sense of identity and history. Luke places Jesus in the mainstream of biblical history, connected to King David, Abraham, Noah, and Adam. By connecting Jesus with Adam, and ultimately with God, Luke shows how Jesus is connected to and relevant for all people, and he may also be suggesting that in Jesus God is launching a new humanity, with Jesus as the new Adam. Unlike the first Adam, though, Jesus will be completely faithful to God, as the next episode makes clear. Perhaps echoing Adam and Eve being tempted by the serpent in the garden (Genesis 3:1–7), Luke moves from the stories of Jesus’ beginnings to His temptation.

When Jesus returned from the Jordan River, He was full of the Holy Spirit, and the Holy Spirit led Him away from the cities and towns and out into the desert.

For 40 days, the Spirit led Him from place to place in the desert, and while there, the devil tempted Jesus. Jesus was fasting, eating nothing during this time, and at the end, He was terribly hungry. At that point, the devil came to Him.

Devil: Since You’re the Son of God, You don’t need to be hungry. Just tell this stone to transform itself into bread.

Jesus: It is written in the Hebrew Scriptures, “People need more than bread to live.”[a]

Then the devil gave Jesus a vision. It was as if He traveled around the world in an instant and saw all the kingdoms of the world at once.

Devil: All these kingdoms, all their glory, I’ll give to You. They’re mine to give because this whole world has been handed over to me. If You just worship me, then everything You see will all be Yours. All Yours!

Jesus: [Get out of My face, Satan!][b] The Hebrew Scriptures say, “Worship and serve the Eternal One your God—only Him—and nobody else.”[c]

Then the devil led Jesus to Jerusalem, and he transported Jesus to stand upon the pinnacle of the temple.

Devil: Since You’re the Son of God, just jump. Just throw Yourself into the air. 10 You keep quoting the Hebrew Scriptures. They themselves say,

    He will put His heavenly messengers in charge of You,
        to keep You safe in every way.

11 And,

    They will hold You up in their hands
        so that You do not smash Your foot against a stone.[d]

Jesus: 12 Yes, but the Hebrew Scriptures also say, “You will not presume on God; you will not test the Lord, the one True God.”[e]

13 The devil had no more temptations to offer that day, so he left Jesus, preparing to return at some other opportune time.

14 Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Holy Spirit, and soon people across the region had heard news of Him. 15 He would regularly go into their synagogues and teach. His teaching earned Him the respect and admiration of everyone who heard Him.

16 He eventually came to His hometown, Nazareth, and did there what He had done elsewhere in Galilee—entered the synagogue and stood up to read from the Hebrew Scriptures.

17 The synagogue attendant gave Him the scroll of the prophet Isaiah, and Jesus unrolled it to the place where Isaiah had written these words:

18 The Spirit of the Lord the Eternal One is on Me.
Why? Because the Eternal designated Me
    to be His representative to the poor, to preach good news to them.

Luke’s audience doesn’t divide the world into sacred vs. secular or religious vs. political. For them, life is integrated. And for them, these “religious” words from Isaiah have a powerful and “political” meaning: because they see themselves as oppressed by the Roman occupation, Jesus’ words suggest that His “good news” describes a powerful change about to come—a change that will rescue the people from their oppression. His fellow Jews have long been waiting for a savior to free them from Roman oppression. Jesus tells them their hopes are about to be fulfilled. But then, just as people speak well of Jesus, He lets them know their expectations aren’t in line with God’s plans. He tells them not to expect God to fit into their boxes and suggests the unthinkable: that God cares for the Gentiles, the very people who are oppressing them! They aren’t too pleased by this.

He sent Me to tell those who are held captive that they can now be set free,
    and to tell the blind that they can now see.
He sent Me to liberate those held down by oppression.
19 In short, the Spirit is upon Me to proclaim that now is the time;
    this is the jubilee season of the Eternal One’s grace.[f]

20 Jesus rolled up the scroll and returned it to the synagogue attendant. Then He sat down, as a teacher would do, and all in the synagogue focused their attention on Jesus, waiting for Him to speak. 21 He told them that these words from the Hebrew Scriptures were being fulfilled then and there, in their hearing.

22 At first everyone was deeply impressed with the gracious words that poured from Jesus’ lips. Everyone spoke well of Him and was amazed that He could say these things.

Everyone: Wait. This is only the son of Joseph, right?

Jesus: 23 You’re about to quote the old proverb to Me, “Doctor, heal yourself!” Then you’re going to ask Me to prove Myself to you by doing the same miracles I did in Capernaum. 24 But face the truth: hometowns always reject their homegrown prophets.

25 Think back to the prophet Elijah. There were many needy Jewish widows in his homeland, Israel, when a terrible famine persisted there for three and a half years. 26 Yet the only widow God sent Elijah to help was an outsider from Zarephath in Sidon.[g]

27 It was the same with the prophet Elisha. There were many Jewish lepers in his homeland, but the only one he healed—Naaman—was an outsider from Syria.[h]

28 The people in the synagogue became furious when He said these things. 29 They seized Jesus, took Him to the edge of town, and pushed Him right to the edge of the cliff on which the city was built. They would have pushed Him off and killed Him, 30 but He passed through the crowd and went on His way.

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Psalm 63

Psalm 63

A song of David while in the wilderness of Judah.

O True God, You are my God, the One whom I trust.
    I seek You with every fiber of my being.
In this dry and weary land with no water in sight,
    my soul is dry and longs for You.
    My body aches for You, for Your presence.
I have seen You in Your sanctuary
    and have been awed by Your power and glory.
Your steadfast love is better than life itself,
    so my lips will give You all my praise.
I will bless You with every breath of my life;
    I will lift up my hands in praise to Your name.

My soul overflows with satisfaction, as when I feast on foods rich in marrow and fat;
    with excitement in my heart and joy on my lips, I offer You praise.
Often at night I lie in bed and remember You,
    meditating on Your greatness till morning smiles through my window.
You have been my constant helper;
    therefore, I sing for joy under the protection of Your wings.
My soul clings to You;
    Your right hand reaches down and holds me up.

But as for those who try to destroy my life,
    they will descend into eternal shadows, deep beneath the earth.
10 They will fall by the sword,
    and wild dogs will feast on their corpses.
11 But the king will find his joy in the True God;
    all who make pledges and invoke His name will celebrate,
    while the mindless prattle of cheaters and deceivers will be silenced.

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Proverbs 11:20-21

20 The Eternal detests a crooked heart and a warped mind,
    but He takes great pleasure in those who follow the right way.
21 Certainly those who do wrong will not escape punishment,
    but those who do right will go free.

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The Voice (VOICE)

The Voice Bible Copyright © 2012 Thomas Nelson, Inc. The Voice™ translation © 2012 Ecclesia Bible Society All rights reserved.

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