May 15 - Acts 22.30-23.22, Judges 19 and Psalm 44
Paul before the CouncilActs 22 30The commander wanted to find out for sure what the Jews were accusing Paul of; so the next day he had Paul's chains taken off and ordered the chief priests and the whole Council to meet. Then he took Paul and made him stand before them.
Acts 23 Paul looked straight at the Council and said, "My fellow Israelites! My conscience is perfectly clear about the way in which I have lived before God to this very day." 2The High Priest Ananias ordered those who were standing close to Paul to strike him on the mouth. 3Paul said to him, "God will certainly strike you--you whitewashed wall! You sit there to judge me according to the Law, yet you break the Law by ordering them to strike me!"
4The men close to Paul said to him, "You are insulting God's High Priest!"
5Paul answered, "My fellow Israelites, I did not know that he was the High Priest. The scripture says, 'You must not speak evil of the ruler of your people.'"
6When Paul saw that some of the group were Sadducees and the others were Pharisees, he called out in the Council, "Fellow Israelites! I am a Pharisee, the son of Pharisees. I am on trial here because of the hope I have that the dead will rise to life!"
7As soon as he said this, the Pharisees and Sadducees started to quarrel, and the group was divided. ( 8For the Sadducees say that people will not rise from death and that there are no angels or spirits; but the Pharisees believe in all three.) 9The shouting became louder, and some of the teachers of the Law who belonged to the party of the Pharisees stood up and protested strongly: "We cannot find a thing wrong with this man! Perhaps a spirit or an angel really did speak to him!"
10The argument became so violent that the commander was afraid that Paul would be torn to pieces. So he ordered his soldiers to go down into the group, get Paul away from them, and take him into the fort.
11That night the Lord stood by Paul and said, "Don't be afraid! You have given your witness for me here in Jerusalem, and you must also do the same in Rome."
The Plot against Paul's Life12The next morning some Jews met together and made a plan. They took a vow that they would not eat or drink anything until they had killed Paul. 13There were more than forty who planned this together. 14Then they went to the chief priests and elders and said, "We have taken a solemn vow together not to eat a thing until we have killed Paul. 15Now then, you and the Council send word to the Roman commander to bring Paul down to you, pretending that you want to get more accurate information about him. But we will be ready to kill him before he ever gets here."
16But the son of Paul's sister heard about the plot; so he went to the fort and told Paul. 17Then Paul called one of the officers and said to him, "Take this young man to the commander; he has something to tell him." 18The officer took him, led him to the commander, and said, "The prisoner Paul called me and asked me to bring this young man to you, because he has something to say to you."
19The commander took him by the hand, led him off by himself, and asked him, "What do you have to tell me?"
20He said, "The Jewish authorities have agreed to ask you tomorrow to take Paul down to the Council, pretending that the Council wants to get more accurate information about him. 21But don't listen to them, because there are more than forty men who will be hiding and waiting for him. They have taken a vow not to eat or drink until they have killed him. They are now ready to do it and are waiting for your decision."
22The commander said, "Don't tell anyone that you have reported this to me." And he sent the young man away.
The Levite and His ConcubineJudges 19 In those days before Israel had a king, there was a Levite living far back in the hill country of Ephraim. He took a young woman from Bethlehem in Judah to be his concubine. 2But she became angry with him, went back to her father's house in Bethlehem, and stayed there four months. 3Then the man decided to go after her and try to persuade her to return to him. He took his servant and two donkeys with him. The woman showed the Levite into the house, and when her father saw him, he gave him a hearty greeting. 4The father insisted that he stay, and so he stayed for three days. The couple had their meals and spent the nights there. 5On the morning of the fourth day they woke up early and got ready to go. But the woman's father said to the Levite, "Have something to eat first. You'll feel better. You can go later."
6So the two men sat down and ate and drank together. Then the woman's father told him, "Please spend the night and enjoy yourself."
7The Levite got up to go, but the father urged him to stay, so he spent another night there. 8Early in the morning of the fifth day he started to leave, but the woman's father said, "Eat something, please. Wait until later in the day." So the two men ate together.
9When the man, his concubine, and the servant once more started to leave, the father said, "Look, it's almost evening now; you might as well stay all night. It will be dark soon; stay here and have a good time. Tomorrow you can get up early for the trip and go home."
10-11But the man did not want to spend another night there, so he and his concubine started on their way, with their servant and two donkeys with pack saddles. It was late in the day when they came near Jebus (that is, Jerusalem), so the servant said to his master, "Why don't we stop and spend the night here in this Jebusite city?"
12-13But his master said, "We're not going to stop in a city where the people are not Israelites. We'll pass on by and go a little farther and spend the night at Gibeah or Ramah." 14So they passed by Jebus and continued on their way. It was sunset when they came to Gibeah in the territory of the tribe of Benjamin. 15They turned off the road to go and spend the night there. They went into town and sat down in the city square, but no one offered to take them home for the night.
16While they were there, an old man came by at the end of a day's work on the farm. He was originally from the hill country of Ephraim, but he was now living in Gibeah. (The other people there were from the tribe of Benjamin.) 17The old man noticed the traveler in the city square and asked him, "Where do you come from? Where are you going?"
18The Levite answered, "We have been in Bethlehem in Judah, and now we are on our way home deep in the hill country of Ephraim. No one will put us up for the night, 19even though we have fodder and straw for our donkeys, as well as bread and wine for my concubine and me and for my servant. We have everything we need."
20The old man said, "You are welcome in my home! I'll take care of you; you don't have to spend the night in the square." 21So he took them home with him and fed their donkeys. His guests washed their feet and had a meal.
22They were enjoying themselves when all of a sudden some sexual perverts from the town surrounded the house and started beating on the door. They said to the old man, "Bring out that man that came home with you! We want to have sex with him!"
23But the old man went outside and said to them, "No, my friends! Please! Don't do such an evil, immoral thing! This man is my guest. 24Look! Here is his concubine and my own virgin daughter. I'll bring them out now, and you can have them. Do whatever you want to with them. But don't do such an awful thing to this man!" 25But the men would not listen to him. So the Levite took his concubine and put her outside with them. They raped her and abused her all night long and didn't stop until morning.
26At dawn the woman came and fell down at the door of the old man's house, where her husband was. She was still there when daylight came. 27Her husband got up that morning, and when he opened the door to go on his way, he found his concubine lying in front of the house with her hands reaching for the door. 28He said, "Get up. Let's go." But there was no answer. So he put her body across the donkey and started on his way home. 29When he arrived, he went in the house and got a knife. He took his concubine's body, cut it into twelve pieces, and sent one piece to each of the twelve tribes of Israel. 30Everyone who saw it said, "We have never heard of such a thing! Nothing like this has ever happened since the Israelites left Egypt! We have to do something about this! What will it be?"
A Prayer for ProtectionPsalm 44 With our own ears we have heard it, O God--
our ancestors have told us about it,
about the great things you did in their time,
in the days of long ago:
2how you yourself drove out the heathen
and established your people in their land;
how you punished the other nations
and caused your own to prosper.
3Your people did not conquer the land with their swords;
they did not win it by their own power;
it was by your power and your strength,
by the assurance of your presence,
which showed that you loved them.
4You are my king and my God;
you give victory to your people,
5and by your power we defeat our enemies.
6I do not trust in my bow
or in my sword to save me;
7but you have saved us from our enemies
and defeated those who hate us.
8We will always praise you
and give thanks to you forever.
9But now you have rejected us and let us be defeated;
you no longer march out with our armies.
10You made us run from our enemies,
and they took for themselves what was ours.
11You allowed us to be slaughtered like sheep;
you scattered us in foreign countries.
12You sold your own people for a small price
as though they had little value.
13Our neighbors see what you did to us,
and they mock us and laugh at us.
14You have made us a joke among the nations;
they shake their heads at us in scorn.
15I am always in disgrace;
I am covered with shame
16from hearing the sneers and insults
of my enemies and those who hate me.
17All this has happened to us,
even though we have not forgotten you
or broken the covenant you made with us.
18We have not been disloyal to you;
we have not disobeyed your commands.
19Yet you left us helpless among wild animals;
you abandoned us in deepest darkness.
20If we had stopped worshiping our God
and prayed to a foreign god,
21you would surely have discovered it,
because you know our secret thoughts.
22But it is on your account that we are being killed all the time,
that we are treated like sheep to be slaughtered.
23Wake up, Lord! Why are you asleep?
Rouse yourself ! Don't reject us forever!
24Why are you hiding from us?
Don't forget our suffering and trouble!
25We fall crushed to the ground;
we lie defeated in the dust.
26Come to our aid!
Because of your constant love save us!
This reading is from The Holy
Bible, Today's English Version, Second Edition copyright © American
Bible Society, 1992;
Old Testament copyright © American Bible Society, 1976, 1992; New Testament © American Bible Society, 1966, 1971, 1976, 1992.
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