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Judges 11-12

11 Now Jephthah of Gilead was the son of a prostitute but a mighty warrior. His father was Gilead, but Gilead’s wife bore other sons who grew up and drove Jephthah away because they did not want the son of another woman other than Gilead’s wife to inherit anything from their father. So he ran away to the land of Tob, where he became the leader of a gang of bandits who followed him.

4-6 When the Ammonites attacked Israel, the leaders of Gilead asked Jephthah to return from Tob to be their commander and lead them against the Ammonite invaders.

Jephthah replied.

Jephthah: Ha! Aren’t you the same people who hated me so much that you drove me from my father’s house? And you come to me now and ask me for help?

The leaders responded to Jephthah.

Leaders of Gilead: You’re right. All the same we need your help. Come lead us against the Ammonites, and we will make you leader over us and all who live in Gilead.

Jephthah asked the leaders of Gilead a question.

Jephthah: Let me make sure I understand this—if I come back with you to fight the Ammonites and the Eternal allows me to be victorious, you will really make me your leader?

Leaders of Gilead: 10 May the Eternal be our witness. We will do as you say.

11 So Jephthah returned with the leaders of Gilead; the people made him their leader and commander, and Jephthah repeated his words before the Eternal at Mizpah.

12 Jephthah sent messengers to the king of the Ammonites.

Jephthah’s Message: What do you have against me? Why are you attacking my people in my land?

13 This king of the Ammonites answered Jephthah’s messengers.

King of the Ammonites: Israel, when it traveled out of Egypt, took away my land from the Arnon River to the Jabbok and from the Jabbok all the way to the Jordan. Give it back, and we will be at peace.

14 Jephthah once again sent messengers to the king of the Ammonites.

Jephthah’s Message: 15 Here is my response to your claim: Israel did not take away the land of the Ammonites or the Moabites. 16 When my people came up out of Egypt, Israel passed through the desert to the Red Sea and on to Kadesh. 17 At that time, Israel sent a messenger to the king of Edom, asking for permission to travel through his country. But the king would not hear us. Israel also sent a request to the king of Moab, but he also refused. So Israel remained where they were, at Kadesh.

18 Then they traveled through the wilderness, passing around the lands of Edom and Moab; and on the eastern edge of Moab, they camped on the far bank of the Arnon, well outside the border of Moab. 19 Israel then sent messengers to Sihon, king of the Amorites, in Heshbon, asking, “Let us pass through your land to reach our own country.” 20 But Sihon, too, did not trust Israel. He gathered his armies at Jahaz and went to war with us. 21 Then the Eternal One, the True God of Israel, gave us victory over Sihon and all his people, and we defeated them utterly. That’s why Israel occupied the land of the Amorites, who had inhabited that territory, 22 all of the Amorite land from the Arnon to the Jabbok, from the wilderness to the Jordan. 23 The Eternal One, the True God of Israel, conquered the Amorites for the good of His people, Israel. Do you think you can replace them?

24 Are you unsatisfied with what your god, Chemosh, has given you? We will possess what the Eternal One, our True God has given us. 25 Are you a greater king than Balak, son of Zippor, king of Moab? Did he ever have a conflict with Israel or go to war against us? 26 For 300 years we have occupied Heshbon and its surrounding villages, Aroer and its villages, and all the towns along the Arnon. Why haven’t you ever attempted to recover them until now?

27 I have not done any wrong to you, but you have wronged me by going to war against me and my people. So let the Eternal, the Judge over us all, decide today who will triumph in this conflict between Israel and Ammon.

28 The king of the Ammonites ignored the message Jephthah sent him.

29 Then the Spirit of the Eternal descended on Jephthah, and he traveled through Gilead and Manasseh, through Mizpah of Gilead to confront the Ammonite army.

30 Jephthah made a vow to the Eternal One.

Jephthah: If you will give me victory over the Ammonites, 31 then I will make a burnt offering of the first thing that comes out of my door to meet me when I return in victory.

32 Jephthah went to battle, and the Eternal gave him victory over the Ammonites. 33 His army conquered 20 towns, from Aroer to near Minnith all the way to Abel-keramim, and Israel defeated Ammon decisively.

34 But when Jephthah came home in triumph to Mizpah, who should rush out to meet him but his daughter, dancing and playing a tambourine? She was his only child; he had no other sons or daughters. 35 When Jephthah saw her, he tore his clothes in grief.

Jephthah: O, my daughter, no! You have just made me miserable; you have brought me to my knees! I have made a vow to the Eternal, and I cannot break it.

Daughter: 36 My father, the Eternal God has given you victory over your enemies the Ammonites. If you have made a vow to Him, then do what you have promised to do to me.

37 But please give me two months to go and weep in the highlands with my friends, since I will never love a man and raise a family.

Jephthah: 38 You may go.

She and her friends went away and wailed upon the mountains because she would never know the love of a man; 39 then when two months had passed, she returned to her father, and he did to her as he had vowed. Since she had never slept with a man, a custom arose in Israel 40 that every year the young women in Israel would go out for four days to lament the fate of the daughter of Jephthah of Gilead.

The judges are often people of great faith or great strength or great power who lead and direct. But like all of us, they are imperfect and sometimes make grave mistakes. Jephthah’s name is now remembered mostly because of the foolish vow he makes to sacrifice the first thing he sees when he returns from his great victory. Although this vow comes out of his unfaithfulness—Jephthah does not trust God to give him victory—Jephthah shows immense faithfulness in keeping his word despite the tragic consequence of losing his only child.

12 Some time later, the men of the northern tribe of Ephraim mustered their forces, crossed over to Zaphon, and confronted Jephthah.

Ephraimites: What do you mean, going to war with the Ammonites without asking us to fight with you? You left us out of the battle just as Gideon did. We’ll burn your house down with you in it!

Jephthah: My people and I were in the middle of a great struggle with the Ammonites, who had us in an iron grip. But when I called for help, you didn’t show up to deliver me out of their hand. So when I saw you weren’t going to help, I took my fate in my own hands and crossed over to fight the Ammonites, and the Eternal gave me the victory. So why are you here now to fight against me?

Jephthah gathered the men of Gilead and went to war with Ephraim. The men of Gilead defeated them because the Ephraimites told them they were rabble, fugitives from the tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh, renegades who had abandoned their tribes.

The men of Gilead captured the fords in the Jordan that led to Ephraim. Whenever a surviving Ephraimite asked to cross over, the men of Gilead would ask, “Are you from Ephraim?” If the man said no, they told him, “All right. Say ‘Shibboleth.’” And if he said “Sibboleth,” they took him and killed him, for he could not pronounce it correctly, betraying that he was from Ephraim. So there at the fords of the Jordan 42,000 Ephraimites were killed in those days.

The dialect difference between the “sh” sound on the east side of the Jordan in Gilead and the “s” sound on the west side of the Jordan in Ephraim is noticeable to both tribes.

Jephthah led Israel as judge for 6 years, and when Jephthah of Gilead died, he was buried in a town in Gilead.

After Jephthah, Ibzan of Bethlehem rose as judge of Israel. He had 30 sons and 30 daughters. To marry his sons, he brought in 30 young women from outside the clan, and he gave his 30 daughters in marriage to outsiders. Ibzan judged Israel 7 years; 10 and when he died, he was buried at Bethlehem.

11 After Ibzan, Elon the Zebulunite was judge of Israel for 10 years. 12 When Elon the Zebulunite died, he was buried at Aijalon, in the land of Zebulun.

13 After Elon, Abdon, the son of Hillel the Pirathonite, was judge of Israel. 14-15 He had 40 sons and 30 grandsons; they rode on 70 donkeys. Abdon, son of Hillel the Pirathonite, judged Israel 8 years; and when he died, he was buried at Pirathon in the land of Ephraim, in the hill country of the Amalekites.

The Voice (VOICE)

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

John 1:1-27

This Gospel begins not with Jesus’ birth or John’s baptism but with a deliberate echo of the creation story in Genesis. It takes us back before time began to the moment when God interrupts the silence and speaks the cosmos into existence. Only John’s Gospel names Jesus as the Logos and declares that He existed long before time was measured. This Greek word carries a variety of meanings, all relating to the act of speaking. It could be translated “word,” a thought that comes to expression, message, declaration, reason, or the content of preaching; most are found in various translations. It is clear that John means that logos is declared to all creation.

John’s use of logos is unique and has often been rendered as “Word.” While this is a useful translation, even a casual understanding demonstrates that “Word” reflects only part of its meaning. Most readers will interpret “word” as a unit of language—a combination of sounds generally spoken but also written—that carries meaning. To understand what John means, readers need something more than their cultural understanding of “word”; they need a new way of thinking about it. This is why we have chosen to offer another rendering, an interpretive, poetic translation, of what may be one of the most theologically loaded words in Scripture. Since logos essentially refers to the act of speaking or bringing thoughts to expression, we have decided to use the word “voice” to capture that reality. John declares that truth has culminated in the person of Jesus. No single word captures the complete meaning of logos, but “voice” has a number of advantages.

First, “voice” manifests the act of speaking. Voice is that which is spoken and that which is heard; it comes on both sides of any communication event, bridging the gap between sender and receiver. John intends that in Jesus God is speaking and revealing Himself to the world.

Second, a voice is distinct and personal. We can distinguish people from one another simply by their voices. In John 10 Jesus describes the fact that the sheep hear the voice of the shepherd when he calls and they follow, but they refuse to follow a stranger because they do not know his voice (John 10:1-5). John desires that we know Jesus as the Son of God and believe in Him personally as the Good Shepherd.

Third, “voice” is dynamic in that it reflects the robust and powerful activity of a living God. It is historical in that any act of speaking comes to expression and takes place in the real world as a “voice” calling, demanding a response. It challenges any notion that the Christian faith can be reduced to rules, propositions, or doctrines that can be merely believed or dismissed and not lived out in our lives. Since in Jesus God is speaking and revealing Himself to the world, and since in Jesus we hear the Voice of God, then this new reality changes everything so we, too, must change.

In the beginning

Before time itself was measured, the Voice was speaking.

The Voice was and is God.
This celestial Word remained ever present with the Creator;
His speech shaped the entire cosmos.
Immersed in the practice of creating,
all things that exist were birthed in Him.
His breath filled all things
with a living, breathing light—
A light that thrives in the depths of darkness,
blazes through murky bottoms.
It cannot and will not be quenched.

A man named John, who was sent by God, was the first to clearly articulate the source of this Light. This baptizer put in plain words the elusive mystery of the Divine Light so all might believe through him. Some wondered whether he might be the Light, but John was not the Light. He merely pointed to the Light. The true Light, who shines upon the heart of everyone, was coming into the cosmos.

Jesus as the Light does not call out from a distant place but draws near by coming into the world.

10 He entered our world, a world He made; yet the world did not recognize Him. 11 Even though He came to His own people, they refused to listen and receive Him. 12 But for all who did receive and trust in Him, He gave them the right to be reborn as children of God; 13 He bestowed this birthright not by human power or initiative but by God’s will.

14 The Voice took on flesh and became human and chose to live alongside us. We have seen Him, enveloped in undeniable splendor—the one true Son of the Father—evidenced in the perfect balance of grace and truth. 15 John the Baptist testified about Him and shouted, “This is the one I’ve been telling you is coming. He is much greater than I am because He existed long before me.” 16 Through this man we all receive gifts of grace beyond our imagination. 17 You see, Moses gave us rules to live by, but Jesus the Anointed offered us gifts of grace and truth. 18 God, unseen until now, is revealed in the Voice, God’s only Son, straight from the Father’s heart.

Before Jesus comes along, many wonder whether John the Baptist might be the Anointed One sent by God. But when Jesus appears in the wilderness, John points others to Him. John knows his place in God’s redemptive plan: he speaks God’s message, but Jesus is the Word of God. John rejects any messianic claim outright. Jesus, though, accepts it with a smile, but only from a few devoted followers—at least at first. Of course John is crucial to the unfolding drama, but he isn’t the long awaited One sent to free His people. He preaches repentance and tells everybody to get ready for One greater to come along. The One who comes will cleanse humanity in fire and power, he says. John even urges some of his followers to leave him and go follow Jesus.

19 The reputation of John was growing; and many had questions, including Jewish religious leaders from Jerusalem. 28 So some priests and Levites approached John in Bethany just beyond the Jordan River while he was baptizing and bombarded him with questions:[a]

Religious Leaders: Who are you?

John the Baptist: 20 I’m not the Anointed One, if that is what you are asking.

Religious Leaders: 21 Your words sound familiar, like a prophet’s. Is that how we should address you? Are you the Prophet Elijah?

John the Baptist: No, I am not Elijah.

Religious Leaders: Are you the Prophet Moses told us would come?

John the Baptist: No.

Religious Leaders: 22 Then tell us who you are and what you are about because everyone is asking us, especially the Pharisees, and we must prepare an answer.

23 John replied with the words of Isaiah the prophet:

John the Baptist: Listen! I am a voice calling out in the wilderness.
Straighten out the road for the Lord. He’s on His way.[b]

24-25 Then some of those sent by the Pharisees questioned him again.

Religious Leaders: How can you travel the countryside baptizing[c] people if you are not the Anointed One or Elijah or the Prophet?

John the Baptist: 26 Baptizing with water is what I do; but the One whom I speak of, whom we all await, is standing among you; and you have no idea who He is. 27 Though He comes after me, I am not even worthy to unlace His sandals.[d]


  1. 1:28 Verse 28 has been inserted here to help retain the continuity of events.
  2. 1:23 Isaiah 40:3
  3. 1:24-25 Literally, immersing, to show repentance
  4. 1:27 Verse 28 has been moved before verse 20 to retain the continuity of events.
The Voice (VOICE)

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

Psalm 101

Psalm 101

A song of David.

I will sing of God’s unsparing love and justice;
to You, O Eternal One, I will sing praises.
I will seek to live a life of integrity;
when will You come to me?

I will walk in my house
with an honest and true heart.
I will refuse to look
on any sordid thing;

I detest the worthless deeds of those who stray;
evil will not get a hold on me.
I will rid my heart of all perversion;
I will not flirt with any evil.

Whoever secretly slanders his neighbor,
I will silence;
I will not tolerate
a condescending smirk, an arrogant heart.
I will look for those who are loyal in the land
so that they may live with me and know my pleasure.
Whoever walks with integrity
will enter my service.

The one who makes a habit of deceit
will not be welcome in my house;
The one who lies
will not remain in my presence for long.

Every morning I will purge
all the wicked from the land
So as to rid the city of the Eternal
of those who practice evil.

The Voice (VOICE)

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

Proverbs 14:13-14

13 Laughter can mask heartache,
and joy often gives way to grief.
14 A disloyal heart has its fill of disloyal ways,
but a good person will be satisfied from above.

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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