Genesis 15:1–18:21, CEB
After these events, the Lord’s word came to Abram in a vision, “Don’t be afraid, Abram. I am your protector. Your reward will be very great.”
But Abram said, “Lord God, what can you possibly give me, since I still have no children? The head of my household is Eliezer, a man from Damascus.”He continued, “Since you haven’t given me any children, the head of my household will be my heir.”
The Lord’s word came immediately to him, “This man will not be your heir. Your heir will definitely be your very own biological child.” Then he brought Abram outside and said, “Look up at the sky and count the stars if you think you can count them.” He continued, “This is how many children you will have.” Abram trusted the Lord, and the Lord recognized Abram’s high moral character.
He said to Abram, “I am the Lord, who brought you out of Ur of the Chaldeans to give you this land as your possession.”
But Abram said, “Lord God, how do I know that I will actually possess it?”
He said, “Bring me a three-year-old female calf, a three-year-old female goat, a three-year-old ram, a dove, and a young pigeon.” He took all of these animals, split them in half, and laid the halves facing each other, but he didn’t split the birds. When vultures swooped down on the carcasses, Abram waved them off. After the sun set, Abram slept deeply. A terrifying and deep darkness settled over him.
Then the Lord said to Abram, “Have no doubt that your descendants will live as immigrants in a land that isn’t their own, where they will be oppressed slaves for four hundred years. But after I punish the nation they serve, they will leave it with great wealth. As for you, you will join your ancestors in peace and be buried after a good long life. The fourth generation will return here since the Amorites’ wrongdoing won’t have reached its peak until then.”
After the sun had set and darkness had deepened, a smoking vessel with a fiery flame passed between the split-open animals. That day the Lord cut a covenant with Abram: “To your descendants I give this land, from Egypt’s river to the great Euphrates, together with the Kenites, the Kenizzites, the Kadmonites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Rephaim, the Amorites, the Canaanites, the Girgashites, and the Jebusites.”
Sarai, Abram’s wife, had not been able to have children. Since she had an Egyptian servant named Hagar, Sarai said to Abram, “The Lord has kept me from giving birth, so go to my servant. Maybe she will provide me with children.” Abram did just as Sarai said. After Abram had lived ten years in the land of Canaan, Abram’s wife Sarai took her Egyptian servant Hagar and gave her to her husband Abram as his wife. He slept with Hagar, and she became pregnant. But when she realized that she was pregnant, she no longer respected her mistress. Sarai said to Abram, “This harassment is your fault. I allowed you to embrace my servant, but when she realized she was pregnant, I lost her respect. Let the Lord decide who is right, you or me.”
Abram said to Sarai, “Since she’s your servant, do whatever you wish to her.” So Sarai treated her harshly, and she ran away from Sarai.
The Lord’s messenger found Hagar at a spring in the desert, the spring on the road to Shur, and said, “Hagar! Sarai’s servant! Where did you come from and where are you going?”
She said, “From Sarai my mistress. I’m running away.”
The Lord’s messenger said to her, “Go back to your mistress. Put up with her harsh treatment of you.” The Lord’s messenger also said to her,
“I will give you many children,
so many they can’t be counted!”
The Lord’s messenger said to her,
“You are now pregnant
and will give birth to a son.
You will name him Ishmael
because the Lord has heard about
your harsh treatment.
He will be a wild mule of a man;
he will fight everyone,
and they will fight him.
He will live at odds
with all his relatives.”
Hagar named the Lord who spoke to her, “You are El Roi” because she said, “Can I still see after he saw me?”Therefore, that well is called Beer-lahai-roi; it’s the well between Kadesh and Bered. Hagar gave birth to a son for Abram, and Abram named him Ishmael. Abram was 86 years old when Hagar gave birth to Ishmael for Abram.
When Abram was 99 years old, the Lord appeared to Abram and said to him, “I am El Shaddai. Walk with me and be trustworthy. I will make a covenant between us and I will give you many, many descendants.” Abram fell on his face, and God said to him, “But me, my covenant is with you; you will be the ancestor of many nations. And because I have made you the ancestor of many nations, your name will no longer be Abram but Abraham.I will make you very fertile. I will produce nations from you, and kings will come from you. I will set up my covenant with you and your descendants after you in every generation as an enduring covenant. I will be your God and your descendants’ God after you. I will give you and your descendants the land in which you are immigrants, the whole land of Canaan, as an enduring possession. And I will be their God.”
God said to Abraham, “As for you, you must keep my covenant, you and your descendants in every generation. This is my covenant that you and your descendants must keep: Circumcise every male. You must circumcise the flesh of your foreskins, and it will be a symbol of the covenant between us. On the eighth day after birth, every male in every generation must be circumcised, including those who are not your own children: those born in your household and those purchased with silver from foreigners. Be sure you circumcise those born in your household and those purchased with your silver. Your flesh will embody my covenant as an enduring covenant. Any uncircumcised male whose flesh of his foreskin remains uncircumcised will be cut off from his people. He has broken my covenant.”
God said to Abraham, “As for your wife Sarai, you will no longer call her Sarai. Her name will now be Sarah. I will bless her and even give you a son from her. I will bless her so that she will become nations, and kings of peoples will come from her.”
Abram fell on his face and laughed. He said to himself, Can a 100-year-old man become a father, or Sarah, a 90-year-old woman, have a child? To God Abraham said, “If only you would accept Ishmael!”
But God said, “No, your wife Sarah will give birth to a son for you, and you will name him Isaac. I will set up my covenant with him and with his descendants after him as an enduring covenant. As for Ishmael, I’ve heard your request. I will bless him and make him fertile and give him many, many descendants. He will be the ancestor of twelve tribal leaders, and I will make a great nation of him. But I will set up my covenant with Isaac, who will be born to Sarah at this time next year.” When God finished speaking to him, God ascended, leaving Abraham alone.
Abraham took his son Ishmael, all those born in his household, and all those purchased with his silver—that is, every male in Abraham’s household—and he circumcised the flesh of their foreskins that same day, just as God had told him to do. Abraham was 99 years old when he circumcised the flesh of his foreskin, and his son Ishmael was 13 years old when the flesh of his foreskin was circumcised. That same day Abraham and his son Ishmael were circumcised. All the men of his household, those born in his household and those purchased with silver from foreigners, were circumcised with him.
The Lord appeared to Abraham at the oaks of Mamre while he sat at the entrance of his tent in the day’s heat. He looked up and suddenly saw three men standing near him. As soon as he saw them, he ran from his tent entrance to greet them and bowed deeply. He said, “Sirs, if you would be so kind, don’t just pass by your servant. Let a little water be brought so you may wash your feet and refresh yourselves under the tree. Let me offer you a little bread so you will feel stronger, and after that you may leave your servant and go on your way—since you have visited your servant.”
They responded, “Fine. Do just as you have said.”
So Abraham hurried to Sarah at his tent and said, “Hurry! Knead three seahs of the finest flour and make some baked goods!” Abraham ran to the cattle, took a healthy young calf, and gave it to a young servant, who prepared it quickly. Then Abraham took butter, milk, and the calf that had been prepared, put the food in front of them, and stood under the tree near them as they ate.
They said to him, “Where’s your wife Sarah?”
And he said, “Right here in the tent.”
Then one of the men said, “I will definitely return to you about this time next year. Then your wife Sarah will have a son!”
Sarah was listening at the tent door behind him. Now Abraham and Sarah were both very old. Sarah was no longer menstruating. So Sarah laughed to herself, thinking, I’m no longer able to have children and my husband’s old.
The Lord said to Abraham, “Why did Sarah laugh and say, ‘Me give birth? At my age?’ Is anything too difficult for the Lord? When I return to you about this time next year, Sarah will have a son.”
Sarah lied and said, “I didn’t laugh,” because she was frightened.
But he said, “No, you laughed.”
The men got up from there and went over to look down on Sodom. Abraham was walking along with them to send them off when the Lord said, “Will I keep from Abraham what I’m about to do? Abraham will certainly become a great populous nation, and all the earth’s nations will be blessed because of him. I have formed a relationship with him so that he will instruct his children and his household after him. And they will keep to the Lord’s path, being moral and just so that the Lord can do for Abraham everything he said he would.” Then the Lord said, “The cries of injustice from Sodom and Gomorrah are countless, and their sin is very serious! I will go down now to examine the cries of injustice that have reached me. Have they really done all this? If not, I want to know.”
Job 3:1–5:27, MEV
After this Job opened his mouth, and cursed the day of his birth. Job said:
“Let the day perish in which I was born
and the night in which it was said, ‘A male child is conceived.’
As for that day, let it be darkness;
let God above not regard it;
and let not light shine upon it.
Let darkness and the shadow of death claim it;
let a cloud settle on it;
let the blackness of the day terrify it.
As for that night, let darkness capture it;
let it not rejoice among the days of the year;
let it not come into the number of the months.
Yes, as for that night, let it be barren!
Let no joyful cry come into it!
Let them curse it who curse any day,
those who are prepared to rouse Leviathan.
Let its morning stars be dark;
let it look for light, but have none;
let it not see the rays of dawn,
because it did not shut the doors of my mother’s womb,
nor hide trouble from my eyes.
“Why did I not die at birth?
Why did I not expire when I came out of the womb?
Why did her knees receive me?
And why her breasts that I should nurse?
For now I would be lying down and would be at peace;
I would have slept; then there would be rest for me,
with kings and counselors of the earth,
who built ruins for themselves,
or with princes who had gold,
who filled their houses with silver.
Or why was I not hidden like a stillborn child,
like infants who never saw light?
There the wicked will have stopped causing trouble,
and there the exhausted will rest.
Captives will relax together;
they do not hear the voice of the oppressor.
The small and great, they are there,
and the servant is free from his master.
“Why is light given to the miserable,
and life unto the bitter in soul,
who look for death, but it is not there;
and they search for it more than for hidden treasures;
who rejoice exceedingly,
and they are glad when they find the grave?
And why is light given to a man
whose way is hidden,
whom God has hedged in?
For my sighing comes before I eat,
and my groaning pours forth like the waters.
For the thing which I greatly feared has happened to me,
and that which I dreaded has come to me.
I am not at peace; I have no quiet,
I cannot rest, and turmoil has come.”
Then Eliphaz the Temanite answered:
“If one attempts a word with you, will you be impatient?
But who can keep from speaking?
Surely you have instructed many,
and you have strengthened the weak hands.
Your words have raised up him who was falling,
and you have fortified the feeble knees.
But now it comes upon you, and you are weary;
it reaches even you, and you are terrified.
Is not your reverence your confidence?
And the integrity of your ways your hope?
“Remember now, who being innocent ever perished?
Or where were the upright ever wiped out?
Just like I have seen, those who plow iniquity
and sow trouble, reap the same.
By the breath of God they perish,
and by the blast of His anger they are destroyed.
The roaring of the lion, and the voice of the fierce lion,
and the teeth of the young lions are broken.
The old lion perishes for lack of prey,
and the cubs of the lioness are scattered.
“Now a word was brought to me secretly,
and my ear received a whisper of it.
Amid disquieting thoughts from night visions,
when deep sleep falls on mortals,
terror and trembling came to me,
which made all my bones shake.
A breath of wind was passing before my face,
and the hair on my body was standing up.
It stood still,
but I could not recognize its appearance;
a form was in front of my eyes,
there was stillness, then I heard a voice saying:
‘Can a mortal be more righteous than God?
Can a man be more pure than his Maker?
He does not trust in His servants,
and He charges His angels with error;
Even more, those who dwell in houses of clay,
whose foundation is in the dust,
who are crushed before the moth.
They are broken in pieces from morning to evening;
they perish forever without anyone regarding it.
Are not their tent ropes plucked up,
so they die, even without wisdom?’
“Call out now; is anyone answering you?
And to whom among the holy ones will you turn?
For anger slays the foolish man,
and jealousy kills the gullible.
Yes, I saw the foolish taking root,
and quickly I cursed his dwelling.
May his children be far from safety,
and may they be crushed in the gate without a deliverer;
whose harvest the hungry eats up,
and takes it even out of the thorns,
and the thirsty captures his wealth.
For affliction does not come out of the dust,
nor does trouble sprout up out of the ground;
but man is born to trouble,
as the sparks fly upward.
“Indeed, I would appeal to God,
and before God I would set forth my case,
who does the great and the inscrutable,
wonders without number.
He gives rain on the surface of the earth
and sends water on the outdoor places.
He sets on high those who are lowly,
and those who mourn are lifted to safety.
He frustrates the schemes of the crafty,
so that their hands cannot perform their plans.
He catches the wise in their own craftiness,
and the scheme of the shrewd is swiftly stopped.
In the daytime they encounter darkness,
and at noontime they grope as in the night.
But the needy He saves from the sword,
from their mouth, and from the hand of the mighty.
So the helpless has hope,
and injustice shuts her mouth.
“How happy is the man whom God corrects!
Therefore do not despise the discipline of the Almighty,
for He wounds, but He applies the bandage;
He injures, but His hands also heal.
In six crises He will deliver you;
even in seven, disaster will not touch you.
In famine He will redeem you from death,
and in war from the power of the sword.
You will be hidden from the lash of the tongue,
and you will not fear violence when it comes.
You will laugh at devastation and famine,
and you will not fear wild animals.
For you will have a covenant with the stones of the field,
and the wild animals will be at peace with you.
You will know that your tent is peaceful,
and you will inspect your property and find nothing missing.
You will know that your offspring will be many
and your descendants as the grass of the earth.
You go to the grave in a full age,
as stalks of grain are gathered up in season.
“Look! We have investigated all this, and it is so;
hear it, and know for yourself.”
Isaiah 6–7, NLT
It was in the year King Uzziah died that I saw the Lord. He was sitting on a lofty throne, and the train of his robe filled the Temple. Attending him were mighty seraphim, each having six wings. With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they flew. They were calling out to each other,
“Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of Heaven’s Armies!
The whole earth is filled with his glory!”
Their voices shook the Temple to its foundations, and the entire building was filled with smoke.
Then I said, “It’s all over! I am doomed, for I am a sinful man. I have filthy lips, and I live among a people with filthy lips. Yet I have seen the King, the Lord of Heaven’s Armies.”
Then one of the seraphim flew to me with a burning coal he had taken from the altar with a pair of tongs. He touched my lips with it and said, “See, this coal has touched your lips. Now your guilt is removed, and your sins are forgiven.”
Then I heard the Lord asking, “Whom should I send as a messenger to this people? Who will go for us?”
I said, “Here I am. Send me.”
And he said, “Yes, go, and say to this people,
‘Listen carefully, but do not understand.
Watch closely, but learn nothing.’
Harden the hearts of these people.
Plug their ears and shut their eyes.
That way, they will not see with their eyes,
nor hear with their ears,
nor understand with their hearts
and turn to me for healing.”
Then I said, “Lord, how long will this go on?”
And he replied,
“Until their towns are empty,
their houses are deserted,
and the whole country is a wasteland;
until the Lord has sent everyone away,
and the entire land of Israel lies deserted.
If even a tenth—a remnant—survive,
it will be invaded again and burned.
But as a terebinth or oak tree leaves a stump when it is cut down,
so Israel’s stump will be a holy seed.”
When Ahaz, son of Jotham and grandson of Uzziah, was king of Judah, King Rezin of Syria and Pekah son of Remaliah, the king of Israel, set out to attack Jerusalem. However, they were unable to carry out their plan.
The news had come to the royal court of Judah: “Syria is allied with Israel against us!” So the hearts of the king and his people trembled with fear, like trees shaking in a storm.
Then the Lord said to Isaiah, “Take your son Shear-jashub and go out to meet King Ahaz. You will find him at the end of the aqueduct that feeds water into the upper pool, near the road leading to the field where cloth is washed. Tell him to stop worrying. Tell him he doesn’t need to fear the fierce anger of those two burned-out embers, King Rezin of Syria and Pekah son of Remaliah. Yes, the kings of Syria and Israel are plotting against him, saying, ‘We will attack Judah and capture it for ourselves. Then we will install the son of Tabeel as Judah’s king.’ But this is what the Sovereign Lord says:
“This invasion will never happen;
it will never take place;
for Syria is no stronger than its capital, Damascus,
and Damascus is no stronger than its king, Rezin.
As for Israel, within sixty-five years
it will be crushed and completely destroyed.
Israel is no stronger than its capital, Samaria,
and Samaria is no stronger than its king, Pekah son of Remaliah.
Unless your faith is firm,
I cannot make you stand firm.”
Later, the Lord sent this message to King Ahaz: “Ask the Lord your God for a sign of confirmation, Ahaz. Make it as difficult as you want—as high as heaven or as deep as the place of the dead.”
But the king refused. “No,” he said, “I will not test the Lord like that.”
Then Isaiah said, “Listen well, you royal family of David! Isn’t it enough to exhaust human patience? Must you exhaust the patience of my God as well? All right then, the Lord himself will give you the sign. Look! The virgin will conceive a child! She will give birth to a son and will call him Immanuel (which means ‘God is with us’). By the time this child is old enough to choose what is right and reject what is wrong, he will be eating yogurt and honey. For before the child is that old, the lands of the two kings you fear so much will both be deserted.
“Then the Lord will bring things on you, your nation, and your family unlike anything since Israel broke away from Judah. He will bring the king of Assyria upon you!”
In that day the Lord will whistle for the army of southern Egypt and for the army of Assyria. They will swarm around you like flies and bees. They will come in vast hordes and settle in the fertile areas and also in the desolate valleys, caves, and thorny places. In that day the Lord will hire a “razor” from beyond the Euphrates River—the king of Assyria—and use it to shave off everything: your land, your crops, and your people.
In that day a farmer will be fortunate to have a cow and two sheep or goats left. Nevertheless, there will be enough milk for everyone because so few people will be left in the land. They will eat their fill of yogurt and honey. In that day the lush vineyards, now worth 1,000 pieces of silver, will become patches of briers and thorns. The entire land will become a vast expanse of briers and thorns, a hunting ground overrun by wildlife. No one will go to the fertile hillsides where the gardens once grew, for briers and thorns will cover them. Cattle, sheep, and goats will graze there.
Matthew 5:33–6:4, The Bible for Everyone: A New Translation
‘Again, you heard that it was said to the people long ago: “You shall not swear falsely, but you shall give to the Lord what you promised under oath.” But I say to you: don’t swear at all! Don’t swear by heaven (it’s God’s throne!); don’t swear by the earth (it’s God’s footstool!); don’t swear by Jerusalem (it’s the city of the great king!); don’t swear by your head (you can’t make one hair of it turn white or black!). When you’re talking, say “Yes” when you mean Yes, and “No” when you mean No. Anything more than that comes from the evil one.’
‘You heard that it was said, “An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.” But I say to you: don’t use violence to resist evil! Instead, when someone hits you on the right cheek, turn the other one towards him. When someone wants to sue you and take your shirt, let him have your cloak, too. And when someone forces you to go one mile, go a second one with him. Give to anyone who asks you, and don’t refuse someone who wants to borrow from you.
‘You heard that it was said, “Love your neighbour and hate your enemy.” But I tell you: love your enemies! Pray for people who persecute you! That way, you’ll be children of your father in heaven! After all, he makes his sun rise on bad and good alike, and sends rain both on the upright and on the unjust. Look at it like this: if you love those who love you, do you expect a special reward? Even tax-collectors do that, don’t they? And if you only greet your own family, what’s so special about that? Even Gentiles do that, don’t they? Well then: you must be perfect, just as your heavenly father is perfect.’
‘When you are practising your piety, mind you don’t do it with an eye on the audience! Otherwise, you won’t have any reward from your father in heaven.
‘So when you give money to the poor, don’t sound a trumpet in front of you. That’s what people do when they’re just play-acting, in the synagogues and the streets. They do it so that people will be impressed at them. I’m telling you the truth: they’ve received their reward in full. No: when you give money, don’t let your left hand have any idea what your right hand is up to. That way, your giving will be in secret. And your father, who sees in secret, will repay you.