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17 Micah[a] belonged to the Ephraim tribe and lived in the hill country. 2 One day he told his mother, “Do you remember those eleven hundred pieces of silver[b] that were stolen from you? I was there when you put a curse on whoever stole them. Well, I’m the one who did it.”
His mother answered, “I pray that the Lord will bless[c] you, my son.”
3-4 Micah returned the silver to his mother, and she said, “I give this silver to the Lord, so my son can use it to make an idol.” Turning to her son, she said, “Micah, now the silver belongs to you.”
But Micah handed it back to his mother. She took two hundred pieces[d] of the silver and gave them to a silver worker, who made them into an idol.[e] They kept the idol in Micah’s house. 5 He had a shrine for worshiping God there at his home, and he had made some idols and a sacred priestly vest. Micah chose one of his own sons to be the priest for his shrine.
6 This was before kings ruled Israel, so all the Israelites did whatever they thought was right.
7-8 One day a young Levite came to Micah’s house in the hill country of Ephraim. He had been staying with one of the clans of Judah in Bethlehem, but he had left Bethlehem to find a new place to live[f] where he could be a priest.[g]
9 “Where are you from?” Micah asked.
“I am a Levite from Bethlehem in Judah,” the man answered, “and I’m on my way to find a new place to live.”
10 Micah said, “Why don’t you stay here with me? You can be my priest and tell me what God wants me to do. Every year I’ll give you ten pieces of silver and one complete set of clothes, and I’ll provide all your food.”
The young man went for a walk, 11-12 then he agreed to stay with Micah and be his priest. He lived in Micah’s house, and Micah treated him like one of his own sons. 13 Micah said, “I have a Levite as my own priest. Now I know that the Lord will be kind to me.”
18 These things happened before kings ruled Israel.
About this time, the tribe of Dan was looking for a place to live. The other tribes had land, but the people of Dan did not really have any to call their own. 2 The tribe chose five warriors to represent their clans and told them, “Go and find some land where we can live.”
The warriors left the area of Zorah and Eshtaol and went into the hill country of Ephraim. One night they stayed at Micah’s house, 3 because they heard the young Levite talking, and they knew from his accent that he was from the south. They asked him, “What are you doing here? Who brought you here?”
4 The Levite replied, “Micah hired me as his priest.” Then he told them how well Micah had treated him.
5 “Please talk to God for us,” the men said. “Ask God if we will be successful in what we are trying to do.”
6 “Don’t worry,” answered the priest. “The Lord is pleased with what you are doing.”
7 The five men left and went to the town of Laish, whose people were from Sidon,[h] but Sidon was too far away to protect them. Even though their town had no walls, the people thought they were safe from attack. So they had not asked anyone else[i] for protection, which meant that the tribe of Dan could easily take over Laish.[j]
8 The five men went back to Zorah and Eshtaol, where their relatives asked, “Did you find any land?”
9-10 “Let’s go!” the five men said. “We saw some very good land with enough room for all of us, and it has everything we will ever need. What are you waiting for? Let’s attack and take it. You’ll find that the people think they’re safe, but God is giving the land to us.”
11 Six hundred men from the tribe of Dan strapped on their weapons and left Zorah and Eshtaol with their families.[k] 12 One night they camped near Kiriath-Jearim in the territory of Judah, and that’s why the place just west of Kiriath-Jearim is still known as Dan’s Camp.[l] 13 Then they went into the hill country of Ephraim.
When they came close to Micah’s house, 14 the five men who had been spies asked the other warriors, “Did you know that someone in this village has several idols and a sacred priestly vest? What do you think we should do about it?”
15-18 The six hundred warriors left the road and went to the house on Micah’s property where the young Levite priest lived. They stood at the gate and greeted the priest. Meanwhile, the five men who had been there before went into Micah’s house and took the sacred priestly vest and the idols.
“Hey!” the priest shouted. “What do you think you’re doing?”
19 “Quiet!” the men said. “Keep your mouth shut and listen. Why don’t you come with us and be our priest, so you can tell us what God wants us to do? You could stay here and be a priest for one man’s family, but wouldn’t you rather be the priest for a clan or even a whole tribe of Israel?”
20 The priest really liked that idea. So he took the vest and the idols and joined the others 21 from the tribe of Dan. Then they turned and left, after putting their children, their cattle, and the rest of their other possessions in front.
22 They had traveled for some time, before Micah asked his neighbors to help him get his things back. He and his men caught up with the people of Dan 23 and shouted for them to stop.
They turned to face him and asked, “What’s wrong? Why did you bring all these men?”
24 Micah answered, “You know what’s wrong. You stole the gods[m] I made, and you took my priest. I don’t have anything left.”
25 “We don’t want to hear any more about it,” the people of Dan said. “And if you make us angry, you’ll only get yourself and your family killed.” 26 After saying this, they turned and left.
Micah realized there was no way he could win a fight with them, and so he went back home.
27-28 The tribe of Dan took Micah’s priest and the things Micah had made, and headed for Laish, which was located in a valley controlled by the town of Beth-Rehob. Laish was defenseless, because it had no walls and was too far from Sidon for the Sidonians to help defend it. The leaders of Laish had not even asked nearby towns to help them in case of an attack.
The warriors from Dan made a surprise attack on Laish, killing everyone and burning it down. Then they rebuilt the town and settled there themselves. 29 But they named it Dan, after one of Israel’s[n] sons, who was the ancestor of their tribe.
30-31 Even though the place of worship[o] was in Shiloh, the people of Dan set up the idol Micah had made. They worshiped the idol, and the Levite was their priest. His name was Jonathan, and he was a descendant of Gershom the son of Moses.[p] His descendants served as priests for the tribe of Dan, until the people of Israel were taken away as prisoners by their enemies.
3 There was a man named Nicodemus who was a Pharisee and a Jewish leader. 2 One night he went to Jesus and said, “Sir, we know that God has sent you to teach us. You could not work these miracles, unless God were with you.”
3 Jesus replied, “I tell you for certain that you must be born from above[a] before you can see God’s kingdom!”
4 Nicodemus asked, “How can a grown man ever be born a second time?”
5 Jesus answered:
I tell you for certain that before you can get into God’s kingdom, you must be born not only by water, but by the Spirit. 6 Humans give life to their children. Yet only God’s Spirit can change you into a child of God. 7 Don’t be surprised when I say that you must be born from above. 8 Only God’s Spirit gives new life. The Spirit is like the wind that blows wherever it wants to. You can hear the wind, but you don’t know where it comes from or where it is going.
9 “How can this be?” Nicodemus asked.
10 Jesus replied:
How can you be a teacher of Israel and not know these things? 11 I tell you for certain that we know what we are talking about because we have seen it ourselves. But none of you will accept what we say. 12 If you don’t believe when I talk to you about things on earth, how can you possibly believe if I talk to you about things in heaven?
13 No one has gone up to heaven except the Son of Man, who came down from there. 14 And the Son of Man must be lifted up, just as that metal snake was lifted up by Moses in the desert.[b] 15 Then everyone who has faith in the Son of Man will have eternal life.
16 God loved the people of this world so much that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who has faith in him will have eternal life and never really die. 17 God did not send his Son into the world to condemn its people. He sent him to save them! 18 No one who has faith in God’s Son will be condemned. But everyone who doesn’t have faith in him has already been condemned for not having faith in God’s only Son.
19 The light has come into the world, and people who do evil things are judged guilty because they love the dark more than the light. 20 People who do evil hate the light and won’t come to the light, because it clearly shows what they have done. 21 But everyone who lives by the truth will come to the light, because they want others to know that God is really the one doing what they do.
104 I praise you, Lord God,
with all my heart.
You are glorious and majestic,
dressed in royal robes
2 and surrounded by light.
You spread out the sky
like a tent,
3 and you built your home
over the mighty ocean.
The clouds are your chariot
with the wind as its wings.
4 The winds are your messengers,
and flames of fire
are your servants.
5 You built foundations
for the earth,
will never be shaken.
6 You covered the earth
with the ocean
above the mountains.
7 Then your voice thundered!
And the water flowed
8 down the mountains
and through the valleys
to the place you prepared.
9 Now you have set boundaries,
so that the water will never
flood the earth again.
10 You provide streams of water
in the hills and valleys,
11 so that the donkeys
and other wild animals
can satisfy their thirst.
12 Birds build their nests nearby
and sing in the trees.
13 From your home above
you send rain on the hills
and water the earth.
14 You let the earth produce
grass for cattle,
plants for our food,
15 wine to cheer us up,
olive oil for our skin,
and grain for our health.
16 Our Lord, your trees
always have water,
and so do the cedars
you planted in Lebanon.
17 Birds nest in those trees,
and storks make their home
in the fir trees.
18 Wild goats find a home
in the tall mountains,
and small animals can hide
between the rocks.
19 You created the moon
to tell us the seasons.
The sun knows when to set,
20 and you made the darkness,
so the animals in the forest
could come out at night.
21 Lions roar as they hunt
for the food you provide.
22 But when morning comes,
they return to their dens,
23 then we go out to work
until the end of day.
20 You have no friends
if you are poor,
but you have lots of friends
if you are rich.
21 It’s wrong to hate others,
but God blesses everyone
who is kind to the poor.