February 20 - Matthew 2, Exodus 22-23 and Proverbs 10

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Visitors from the East

Matthew 2 Jesus was born in the town of Bethlehem in Judea, during the time when Herod was king. Soon afterward, some men who studied the stars came from the East to Jerusalem 2and asked, "Where is the baby born to be the king of the Jews? We saw his star when it came up in the east, and we have come to worship him."
3When King Herod heard about this, he was very upset, and so was everyone else in Jerusalem. 4He called together all the chief priests and the teachers of the Law and asked them, "Where will the Messiah be born?"
5"In the town of Bethlehem in Judea," they answered. "For this is what the prophet wrote:
6'Bethlehem in the land of Judah,
you are by no means the least of the leading cities of Judah;
for from you will come a leader
who will guide my people Israel.'"
7So Herod called the visitors from the East to a secret meeting and found out from them the exact time the star had appeared. 8Then he sent them to Bethlehem with these instructions: "Go and make a careful search for the child; and when you find him, let me know, so that I too may go and worship him."
9-10And so they left, and on their way they saw the same star they had seen in the East. When they saw it, how happy they were, what joy was theirs! It went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. 11They went into the house, and when they saw the child with his mother Mary, they knelt down and worshiped him. They brought out their gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh, and presented them to him.
12Then they returned to their country by another road, since God had warned them in a dream not to go back to Herod.

The Escape to Egypt

13After they had left, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph and said, "Herod will be looking for the child in order to kill him. So get up, take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt, and stay there until I tell you to leave."
14Joseph got up, took the child and his mother, and left during the night for Egypt, 15where he stayed until Herod died. This was done to make come true what the Lord had said through the prophet, "I called my Son out of Egypt."

The Killing of the Children

16When Herod realized that the visitors from the East had tricked him, he was furious. He gave orders to kill all the boys in Bethlehem and its neighborhood who were two years old and younger--this was done in accordance with what he had learned from the visitors about the time when the star had appeared.
17In this way what the prophet Jeremiah had said came true:
18"A sound is heard in Ramah,
the sound of bitter weeping.
Rachel is crying for her children;
she refuses to be comforted,
for they are dead."

The Return from Egypt

19After Herod died, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt 20and said, "Get up, take the child and his mother, and go back to the land of Israel, because those who tried to kill the child are dead." 21So Joseph got up, took the child and his mother, and went back to Israel.
22But when Joseph heard that Archelaus had succeeded his father Herod as king of Judea, he was afraid to go there. He was given more instructions in a dream, so he went to the province of Galilee 23and made his home in a town named Nazareth. And so what the prophets had said came true: "He will be called a Nazarene."

Laws about Repayment

Exodus 22 "If someone steals a cow or a sheep and kills it or sells it, he must pay five cows for one cow and four sheep for one sheep. 2-4He must pay for what he stole. If he owns nothing, he shall be sold as a slave to pay for what he has stolen. If the stolen animal, whether a cow, a donkey, or a sheep, is found alive in his possession, he shall pay two for one.
"If a thief is caught breaking into a house at night and is killed, the one who killed him is not guilty of murder. But if it happens during the day, he is guilty of murder.
5"If someone lets his animals graze in a field or a vineyard and they stray away and eat up the crops growing in someone else's field, he must make good the loss with the crops from his own fields or vineyards.
6"If someone starts a fire in his own field and it spreads through the weeds to someone else's field and burns up grain that is growing or that has been cut and stacked, the one who started the fire is to pay for the damage.
7"If anyone agrees to keep someone else's money or other valuables for him and they are stolen from his house, the thief, if found, shall repay double. 8But if the thief is not found, the one who was keeping the valuables is to be brought to the place of worship and there he must take an oath that he has not stolen the other one's property.
9"In every case of a dispute about property, whether it involves cattle, donkeys, sheep, clothing, or any other lost object, the two people claiming the property shall be taken to the place of worship. The one whom God declares to be guilty shall pay double to the other one.
10"If anyone agrees to keep someone else's donkey, cow, sheep, or other animal for him, and the animal dies or is injured or is carried off in a raid, and if there was no witness, 11the man must go to the place of worship and take an oath that he has not stolen the other man's animal. If the animal was not stolen, the owner shall accept the loss, and the other man need not repay him; 12but if the animal was stolen, the man must repay the owner. 13If it was killed by wild animals, the man is to bring the remains as evidence; he need not pay for what has been killed by wild animals.
14"If anyone borrows an animal from someone else and it is injured or dies when its owner is not present, he must pay for it. 15But if that happens when the owner is present, he need not repay. If it is a rented animal, the loss is covered by the rental price.

Moral and Religious Laws

16"If a man seduces a virgin who is not engaged, he must pay the bride price for her and marry her. 17But if her father refuses to let him marry her, he must pay the father a sum of money equal to the bride price for a virgin.
18"Put to death any woman who practices magic.
19"Put to death any man who has sexual relations with an animal.
20"Condemn to death anyone who offers sacrifices to any god except to me, the LORD.
21"Do not mistreat or oppress a foreigner; remember that you were foreigners in Egypt. 22Do not mistreat any widow or orphan. 23If you do, I, the LORD, will answer them when they cry out to me for help, 24and I will become angry and kill you in war. Your wives will become widows, and your children will be fatherless.
25"If you lend money to any of my people who are poor, do not act like a moneylender and require him to pay interest. 26If you take someone's cloak as a pledge that he will pay you, you must give it back to him before the sun sets, 27because it is the only covering he has to keep him warm. What else can he sleep in? When he cries out to me for help, I will answer him because I am merciful.
28"Do not speak evil of God, and do not curse a leader of your people.
29"Give me the offerings from your grain, your wine, and your olive oil when they are due.
"Give me your first-born sons. 30Give me the first-born of your cattle and your sheep. Let the first-born male stay with its mother for seven days, and on the eighth day offer it to me.
31"You are my people, so you must not eat the meat of any animal that has been killed by wild animals; instead, give it to the dogs.

Justice and Fairness

Exodus 23 "Do not spread false rumors, and do not help a guilty person by giving false testimony. 2Do not follow the majority when they do wrong or when they give testimony that perverts justice. 3Do not show partiality to a poor person at his trial.
4"If you happen to see your enemy's cow or donkey running loose, take it back to him. 5If his donkey has fallen under its load, help him get the donkey to its feet again; don't just walk off.
6"Do not deny justice to a poor person when he appears in court. 7Do not make false accusations, and do not put an innocent person to death, for I will condemn anyone who does such an evil thing. 8Do not accept a bribe, for a bribe makes people blind to what is right and ruins the cause of those who are innocent.
9"Do not mistreat a foreigner; you know how it feels to be a foreigner, because you were foreigners in Egypt.

The Seventh Year and the Seventh Day

10"For six years plant your land and gather in what it produces. 11But in the seventh year let it rest, and do not harvest anything that grows on it. The poor may eat what grows there, and the wild animals can have what is left. Do the same with your vineyards and your olive trees.
12"Work six days a week, but do no work on the seventh day, so that your slaves and the foreigners who work for you and even your animals can rest.
13"Listen to everything that I, the LORD, have said to you. Do not pray to other gods; do not even mention their names.

The Three Great Festivals
(Exodus 34.18-26; Deuteronomy 16.1-17)

14"Celebrate three festivals a year to honor me. 15In the month of Abib, the month in which you left Egypt, celebrate the Festival of Unleavened Bread in the way that I commanded you. Do not eat any bread made with yeast during the seven days of this festival. Never come to worship me without bringing an offering.
16"Celebrate the Harvest Festival when you begin to harvest your crops.
"Celebrate the Festival of Shelters in the autumn, when you gather the fruit from your vineyards and orchards. 17Every year at these three festivals all your men must come to worship me, the Lord your God.
18"Do not offer bread made with yeast when you sacrifice an animal to me. The fat of animals sacrificed to me during these festivals is not to be left until the following morning.
19"Each year bring to the house of the LORD your God the first grain that you harvest.
"Do not cook a young sheep or goat in its mother's milk.

Promises and Instructions

20"I will send an angel ahead of you to protect you as you travel and to bring you to the place which I have prepared. 21Pay attention to him and obey him. Do not rebel against him, for I have sent him, and he will not pardon such rebellion. 22But if you obey him and do everything I command, I will fight against all your enemies. 23My angel will go ahead of you and take you into the land of the Amorites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Canaanites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites, and I will destroy them. 24Do not bow down to their gods or worship them, and do not adopt their religious practices. Destroy their gods and break down their sacred stone pillars. 25If you worship me, the LORD your God, I will bless you with food and water and take away all your sicknesses. 26In your land no woman will have a miscarriage or be without children. I will give you long lives.
27"I will make the people who oppose you afraid of me; I will bring confusion among the people against whom you fight, and I will make all your enemies turn and run from you. 28I will throw your enemies into panic; I will drive out the Hivites, the Canaanites, and the Hittites as you advance. 29I will not drive them out within a year's time; if I did, the land would become deserted, and the wild animals would be too many for you. 30Instead, I will drive them out little by little, until there are enough of you to take possession of the land. 31I will make the borders of your land extend from the Gulf of Aqaba to the Mediterranean Sea and from the desert to the Euphrates River. I will give you power over the inhabitants of the land, and you will drive them out as you advance. 32Do not make any agreement with them or with their gods. 33Do not let those people live in your country; if you do, they will make you sin against me. If you worship their gods, it will be a fatal trap for you."

Solomon's Proverbs

Proverbs 10 These are Solomon's proverbs:
Wise children make their fathers proud of them; foolish ones bring their mothers grief.
2Wealth you get by dishonesty will do you no good, but honesty can save your life.
3The LORD will not let good people go hungry, but he will keep the wicked from getting what they want.
4Being lazy will make you poor, but hard work will make you rich.
5A sensible person gathers the crops when they are ready; it is a disgrace to sleep through the time of harvest.
6Good people will receive blessings. The words of the wicked hide a violent nature.
7Good people will be remembered as a blessing, but the wicked will soon be forgotten.
8Sensible people accept good advice. People who talk foolishly will come to ruin.
9Honest people are safe and secure, but the dishonest will be caught.
10Someone who holds back the truth causes trouble, but one who openly criticizes works for peace.
11A good person's words are a fountain of life, but a wicked person's words hide a violent nature.
12Hate stirs up trouble, but love forgives all offenses.
13Intelligent people talk sense, but stupid people need to be punished.
14The wise get all the knowledge they can, but when fools speak, trouble is not far off.
15Wealth protects the rich; poverty destroys the poor.
16The reward for doing good is life, but sin leads only to more sin.
17People who listen when they are corrected will live, but those who will not admit that they are wrong are in danger.
18Anyone who hides hatred is a liar. Anyone who spreads gossip is a fool.
19The more you talk, the more likely you are to sin. If you are wise, you will keep quiet.
20A good person's words are like pure silver; a wicked person's ideas are worthless.
21A good person's words will benefit many people, but you can kill yourself with stupidity.
22It is the LORD's blessing that makes you wealthy. Hard work can make you no richer.
23It is foolish to enjoy doing wrong. Intelligent people take pleasure in wisdom.
24The righteous get what they want, but the wicked will get what they fear most.
25Storms come, and the wicked are blown away, but honest people are always safe.
26Never get a lazy person to do something for you; he will be as irritating as vinegar on your teeth or smoke in your eyes.
27Obey the LORD, and you will live longer. The wicked die before their time.
28The hopes of good people lead to joy, but wicked people can look forward to nothing.
29The LORD protects honest people, but destroys those who do wrong.
30Righteous people will always have security, but the wicked will not survive in the land.
31Righteous people speak wisdom, but the tongue that speaks evil will be stopped.
32Righteous people know the kind thing to say, but the wicked are always saying things that hurt.

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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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