1 1-2 All the kings west of the Jordan in the hills and foothills and along the Mediterranean seacoast north toward Lebanon—the Hittites, Amorites, Canaanites, Perizzites, Hivites, Girgashites, and Jebusites—got the news. They came together in a coalition to fight against Joshua and Israel under a single command.
3-6 The people of Gibeon heard what Joshua had done to Jericho and Ai and cooked up a ruse. They posed as travelers: their donkeys loaded with patched sacks and mended wineskins, threadbare sandals on their feet, tattered clothes on their bodies, nothing but dry crusts and crumbs for food. They came to Joshua at Gilgal and spoke to the men of Israel, “We’ve come from a far-off country; make a covenant with us.”
7 The men of Israel said to these Hivites, “How do we know you aren’t local people? How could we then make a covenant with you?”
8 They said to Joshua, “We’ll be your servants.”
Joshua said, “Who are you now? Where did you come from?”
9-11 They said, “From a far-off country, very far away. Your servants came because we’d heard such great things about God, your God—all those things he did in Egypt! And the two Amorite kings across the Jordan, King Sihon of Heshbon and King Og of Bashan, who ruled in Ashtaroth! Our leaders and everybody else in our country told us, ‘Pack up some food for the road and go meet them. Tell them, We’re your servants; make a covenant with us.’
12-13 “This bread was warm from the oven when we packed it and left to come and see you. Now look at it—crusts and crumbs. And our cracked and mended wineskins, good as new when we filled them. And our clothes and sandals, in tatters from the long, hard traveling.”
14 The men of Israel looked them over and accepted the evidence. But they didn’t ask God about it.
15 So Joshua made peace with them and formalized it with a covenant to guarantee their lives. The leaders of the congregation swore to it.
16-18 And then, three days after making this covenant, they learned that they were next-door neighbors who had been living there all along! The People of Israel broke camp and set out; three days later they reached their towns—Gibeon, Kephirah, Beeroth, and Kiriath Jearim. But the People of Israel didn’t attack them; the leaders of the congregation had given their word before the God of Israel. But the congregation was up in arms over their leaders.
19-21 The leaders were united in their response to the congregation: “We promised them in the presence of the God of Israel. We can’t lay a hand on them now. But we can do this: We will let them live so we don’t get blamed for breaking our promise.” Then the leaders continued, “We’ll let them live, but they will be woodcutters and water carriers for the entire congregation.”
And that’s what happened; the leaders’ promise was kept.
22-23 But Joshua called the Gibeonites together and said, “Why did you lie to us, telling us, ‘We live far, far away from you,’ when you’re our next-door neighbors? For that you are cursed. From now on it’s menial labor for you—woodcutters and water carriers for the house of my God.”
24-25 They answered Joshua, “We got the message loud and clear that God, your God, commanded through his servant Moses: to give you the whole country and destroy everyone living in it. We were terrified because of you; that’s why we did this. That’s it. We’re at your mercy. Whatever you decide is right for us, do it.”
26-27 And that’s what they did. Joshua delivered them from the power of the People of Israel so they didn’t kill them. But he made them woodcutters and water carriers for the congregation and for the Altar of God at the place God chooses. They still are.
1 1-5 God, get me out of here, away from this evil;
protect me from these vicious people.
All they do is think up new ways to be bad;
they spend their days plotting war games.
They practice the sharp rhetoric of hate and hurt,
speak venomous words that maim and kill.
God, keep me out of the clutch of these wicked ones,
protect me from these vicious people;
All boast and swagger, they plot ways to trip me up,
determined to bring me down.
These crooks invent traps to catch me
and do their best to incriminate me.
6-8 I prayed, “God, you’re my God!
Listen, God! Mercy!
God, my Lord, Strong Savior,
protect me when the fighting breaks out!
Don’t let the wicked have their way, God,
don’t give them an inch!”
9-11 These troublemakers all around me—
let them drown in their own verbal poison.
Let God pile hellfire on them,
let him bury them alive in crevasses!
don’t let them be taken seriously;
let the Devil hunt them down!
12-13 I know that you, God, are on the side of victims,
that you care for the rights of the poor.
And I know that the righteous personally thank you,
that good people are secure in your presence.
1 1-2 God, come close. Come quickly!
Open your ears—it’s my voice you’re hearing!
Treat my prayer as sweet incense rising;
my raised hands are my evening prayers.
3-7 Post a guard at my mouth, God,
set a watch at the door of my lips.
Don’t let me so much as dream of evil
or thoughtlessly fall into bad company.
And these people who only do wrong—
don’t let them lure me with their sweet talk!
May the Just One set me straight,
may the Kind One correct me,
Don’t let sin anoint my head.
I’m praying hard against their evil ways!
Oh, let their leaders be pushed off a high rock cliff;
make them face the music.
Like a rock pulverized by a maul,
let their bones be scattered at the gates of hell.
8-10 But God, dear Lord,
I only have eyes for you.
Since I’ve run for dear life to you,
take good care of me.
Protect me from their evil scheming,
from all their demonic subterfuge.
Let the wicked fall flat on their faces,
while I walk off without a scratch.
1 God’s Message came to me as follows:
“If a man’s wife
walks out on him
And marries another man,
can he take her back as if nothing had happened?
Wouldn’t that raise a huge stink
in the land?
And isn’t that what you’ve done—
‘whored’ your way with god after god?
And now you want to come back as if nothing had happened.”
2-5 “Look around at the hills.
Where have you not had sex?
You’ve camped out like hunters stalking deer.
You’ve solicited many lover-gods,
Like a streetwalking whore
chasing after other gods.
And so the rain has stopped.
No more rain from the skies!
But it doesn’t even faze you. Brazen as whores,
you carry on as if you’ve done nothing wrong.
Then you have the nerve to call out, ‘My father!
You took care of me when I was a child. Why not now?
Are you going to keep up your anger nonstop?’
That’s your line. Meanwhile you keep sinning nonstop.”
6-10 God spoke to me during the reign of King Josiah: “You have noticed, haven’t you, how fickle Israel has visited every hill and grove of trees as a whore at large? I assumed that after she had gotten it out of her system, she’d come back, but she didn’t. Her flighty sister, Judah, saw what she did. She also saw that because of fickle Israel’s loose morals I threw her out, gave her her walking papers. But that didn’t faze flighty sister Judah. She went out, big as you please, and took up a whore’s life also. She took up cheap sex-and-religion as a sideline diversion, an indulgent recreation, and used anything and anyone, flouting sanity and sanctity alike, stinking up the country. And not once in all this did flighty sister Judah even give me a nod, although she made a show of it from time to time.” God’s Decree.
11-12 Then God told me, “Fickle Israel was a good sight better than flighty Judah. Go and preach this message. Face north toward Israel and say:
12-15 “‘Turn back, fickle Israel.
I’m not just hanging back to punish you.
I’m committed in love to you.
My anger doesn’t seethe nonstop.
Just admit your guilt.
Admit your God-defiance.
Admit to your promiscuous life with casual partners,
pulling strangers into the sex-and-religion groves
While turning a deaf ear to me.’”
“Come back, wandering children!”
“I, yes I, am your true husband.
I’ll pick you out one by one—
This one from the city, these two from the country—
and bring you to Zion.
I’ll give you good shepherd-rulers who rule my way,
who rule you with intelligence and wisdom.
16 “And this is what will happen: You will increase and prosper in the land. The time will come”—God’s Decree!—“when no one will say any longer, ‘Oh, for the good old days! Remember the Ark of the Covenant?’ It won’t even occur to anyone to say it—‘the good old days.’ The so-called good old days of the Ark are gone for good.
17 “Jerusalem will be the new Ark—‘God’s Throne.’ All the godless nations, no longer stuck in the ruts of their evil ways, will gather there to honor God.
18 “At that time, the House of Judah will join up with the House of Israel. Holding hands, they’ll leave the north country and come to the land I willed to your ancestors.
* * *
19-20 “I planned what I’d say if you returned to me:
‘Good! I’ll bring you back into the family.
I’ll give you choice land,
land that the godless nations would die for.’
And I imagined that you would say, ‘Dear father!’
and would never again go off and leave me.
But no luck. Like a false-hearted woman walking out on her husband,
you, the whole family of Israel, have proven false to me.”
21-22 The sound of voices comes drifting out of the hills,
the unhappy sound of Israel’s crying,
Israel lamenting the wasted years,
never once giving her God a thought.
“Come back, wandering children!
I can heal your wanderlust!”
* * *
22-25 “We’re here! We’ve come back to you.
You’re our own true God!
All that popular religion was a cheap lie,
duped crowds buying up the latest in gods.
We’re back! Back to our true God,
the salvation of Israel.
The Fraud picked us clean, swindled us
of what our ancestors bequeathed us,
Gypped us out of our inheritance—
God-blessed flocks and God-given children.
We made our bed and now lie in it,
all tangled up in the dirty sheets of dishonor.
All because we sinned against our God,
we and our fathers and mothers.
From the time we took our first steps, said our first words,
we’ve been rebels, disobeying the voice of our God.”
* * *
1 1-3 Six days later, three of them saw that glory. Jesus took Peter and the brothers, James and John, and led them up a high mountain. His appearance changed from the inside out, right before their eyes. Sunlight poured from his face. His clothes were filled with light. Then they realized that Moses and Elijah were also there in deep conversation with him.
4 Peter broke in, “Master, this is a great moment! What would you think if I built three memorials here on the mountain—one for you, one for Moses, one for Elijah?”
5 While he was going on like this, babbling, a light-radiant cloud enveloped them, and sounding from deep in the cloud a voice: “This is my Son, marked by my love, focus of my delight. Listen to him.”
6-8 When the disciples heard it, they fell flat on their faces, scared to death. But Jesus came over and touched them. “Don’t be afraid.” When they opened their eyes and looked around all they saw was Jesus, only Jesus.
9 Coming down the mountain, Jesus swore them to secrecy. “Don’t breathe a word of what you’ve seen. After the Son of Man is raised from the dead, you are free to talk.”
10 The disciples, meanwhile, were asking questions. “Why do the religion scholars say that Elijah has to come first?”
11-13 Jesus answered, “Elijah does come and get everything ready. I’m telling you, Elijah has already come but they didn’t know him when they saw him. They treated him like dirt, the same way they are about to treat the Son of Man.” That’s when the disciples realized that all along he had been talking about John the Baptizer.
14-16 At the bottom of the mountain, they were met by a crowd of waiting people. As they approached, a man came out of the crowd and fell to his knees begging, “Master, have mercy on my son. He goes out of his mind and suffers terribly, falling into seizures. Frequently he is pitched into the fire, other times into the river. I brought him to your disciples, but they could do nothing for him.”
17-18 Jesus said, “What a generation! No sense of God! No focus to your lives! How many times do I have to go over these things? How much longer do I have to put up with this? Bring the boy here.” He ordered the afflicting demon out—and it was out, gone. From that moment on the boy was well.
19 When the disciples had Jesus off to themselves, they asked, “Why couldn’t we throw it out?”
20 “Because you’re not yet taking God seriously,” said Jesus. “The simple truth is that if you had a mere kernel of faith, a poppy seed, say, you would tell this mountain, ‘Move!’ and it would move. There is nothing you wouldn’t be able to tackle.”
22-23 As they were regrouping in Galilee, Jesus told them, “The Son of Man is about to be betrayed to some people who want nothing to do with God. They will murder him—and three days later he will be raised alive.” The disciples felt scared to death.
* * *
24 When they arrived at Capernaum, the tax men came to Peter and asked, “Does your teacher pay taxes?”
25 Peter said, “Of course.”
But as soon as they were in the house, Jesus confronted him. “Simon, what do you think? When a king levies taxes, who pays—his children or his subjects?”
26-27 He answered, “His subjects.”
Jesus said, “Then the children get off free, right? But so we don’t upset them needlessly, go down to the lake, cast a hook, and pull in the first fish that bites. Open its mouth and you’ll find a coin. Take it and give it to the tax men. It will be enough for both of us.”