Once when we were going to the place of prayer, we were met by a slave girl who had a spirit by which she predicted the future. She earned a great deal of money for her owners by fortune-telling.
This girl followed Paul and the rest of us, shouting, "These men are servants of the Most High God, who are telling you the way to be saved."
She kept this up for many days. Finally Paul became so troubled that he turned around and said to the spirit, "In the name of Jesus Christ I command you to come out of her!" At that moment the spirit left her.
When the owners of the slave girl realized that their hope of making money was gone, they seized Paul and Silas and dragged them into the marketplace to face the authorities.
They brought them before the magistrates and said, "These men are Jews, and are throwing our city into an uproar
by advocating customs unlawful for us Romans to accept or practice."
The crowd joined in the attack against Paul and Silas, and the magistrates ordered them to be stripped and beaten.
After they had been severely flogged, they were thrown into prison, and the jailer was commanded to guard them carefully.
Upon receiving such orders, he put them in the inner cell and fastened their feet in the stocks.
About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them.
Suddenly there was such a violent earthquake that the foundations of the prison were shaken. At once all the prison doors flew open, and everybody's chains came loose.
The jailer woke up, and when he saw the prison doors open, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself because he thought the prisoners had escaped.
But Paul shouted, "Don't harm yourself ! We are all here!"
The jailer called for lights, rushed in and fell trembling before Paul and Silas.
He then brought them out and asked, "Sirs, what must I do to be saved?"
They replied, "Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved--you and your household."
Then they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all the others in his house.
At that hour of the night the jailer took them and washed their wounds; then immediately he and all his family were baptized.
The jailer brought them into his house and set a meal before them; he was filled with joy because he had come to believe in God--he and his whole family.
When it was daylight, the magistrates sent their officers to the jailer with the order: "Release those men."
The jailer told Paul, "The magistrates have ordered that you and Silas be released. Now you can leave. Go in peace."
But Paul said to the officers: "They beat us publicly without a trial, even though we are Roman citizens, and threw us into prison. And now do they want to get rid of us quietly? No! Let them come themselves and escort us out."
The officers reported this to the magistrates, and when they heard that Paul and Silas were Roman citizens, they were alarmed.
They came to appease them and escorted them from the prison, requesting them to leave the city.
After Paul and Silas came out of the prison, they went to Lydia's house, where they met with the brothers and encouraged them. Then they left.
After Ehud died, the Israelites once again did evil in the eyes of the LORD.
So the LORD sold them into the hands of Jabin, a king of Canaan, who reigned in Hazor. The commander of his army was Sisera, who lived in Harosheth Haggoyim.
Because he had nine hundred iron chariots and had cruelly oppressed the Israelites for twenty years, they cried to the LORD for help.
Deborah, a prophetess, the wife of Lappidoth, was leading Israel at that time.
She held court under the Palm of Deborah between Ramah and Bethel in the hill country of Ephraim, and the Israelites came to her to have their disputes decided.
She sent for Barak son of Abinoam from Kedesh in Naphtali and said to him, "The LORD, the God of Israel, commands you: 'Go, take with you ten thousand men of Naphtali and Zebulun and lead the way to Mount Tabor.
I will lure Sisera, the commander of Jabin's army, with his chariots and his troops to the Kishon River and give him into your hands.' "
Barak said to her, "If you go with me, I will go; but if you don't go with me, I won't go."
"Very well," Deborah said, "I will go with you. But because of the way you are going about this, the honor will not be yours, for the LORD will hand Sisera over to a woman." So Deborah went with Barak to Kedesh,
where he summoned Zebulun and Naphtali. Ten thousand men followed him, and Deborah also went with him.
Now Heber the Kenite had left the other Kenites, the descendants of Hobab, Moses' brother-in-law, and pitched his tent by the great tree in Zaanannim near Kedesh.
When they told Sisera that Barak son of Abinoam had gone up to Mount Tabor,
Sisera gathered together his nine hundred iron chariots and all the men with him, from Harosheth Haggoyim to the Kishon River.
Then Deborah said to Barak, "Go! This is the day the LORD has given Sisera into your hands. Has not the LORD gone ahead of you?" So Barak went down Mount Tabor, followed by ten thousand men.
At Barak's advance, the LORD routed Sisera and all his chariots and army by the sword, and Sisera abandoned his chariot and fled on foot.
But Barak pursued the chariots and army as far as Harosheth Haggoyim. All the troops of Sisera fell by the sword; not a man was left.
Sisera, however, fled on foot to the tent of Jael, the wife of Heber the Kenite, because there were friendly relations between Jabin king of Hazor and the clan of Heber the Kenite.
Jael went out to meet Sisera and said to him, "Come, my Lord, come right in. Don't be afraid." So he entered her tent, and she put a covering over him.
"I'm thirsty," he said. "Please give me some water." She opened a skin of milk, gave him a drink, and covered him up.
"Stand in the doorway of the tent," he told her. "If someone comes by and asks you, 'Is anyone here?' say 'No.' "
But Jael, Heber's wife, picked up a tent peg and a hammer and went quietly to him while he lay fast asleep, exhausted. She drove the peg through his temple into the ground, and he died.
Barak came by in pursuit of Sisera, and Jael went out to meet him. "Come," she said, "I will show you the man you're looking for." So he went in with her, and there lay Sisera with the tent peg through his temple--dead.
On that day God subdued Jabin, the Canaanite king, before the Israelites.
And the hand of the Israelites grew stronger and stronger against Jabin, the Canaanite king, until they destroyed him.
On that day Deborah and Barak son of Abinoam sang this song:
"When the princes in Israel take the lead, when the people willingly offer themselves-- praise the LORD!
"Hear this, you kings! Listen, you rulers! I will sing to the LORD, I will sing; I will make music to the LORD, the God of Israel.
"O LORD, when you went out from Seir, when you marched from the land of Edom, the earth shook, the heavens poured, the clouds poured down water.
The mountains quaked before the LORD, the One of Sinai, before the LORD, the God of Israel.
"In the days of Shamgar son of Anath, in the days of Jael, the roads were abandoned; travelers took to winding paths.
Village life in Israel ceased, ceased until I, Deborah, arose, arose a mother in Israel.
When they chose new gods, war came to the city gates, and not a shield or spear was seen among forty thousand in Israel.
My heart is with Israel's princes, with the willing volunteers among the people. Praise the LORD!
"You who ride on white donkeys, sitting on your saddle blankets, and you who walk along the road, consider
the voice of the singers at the watering places. They recite the righteous acts of the LORD, the righteous acts of his warriors in Israel. "Then the people of the LORD went down to the city gates.
'Wake up, wake up, Deborah! Wake up, wake up, break out in song! Arise, O Barak! Take captive your captives, O son of Abinoam.'
"Then the men who were left came down to the nobles; the people of the LORD came to me with the mighty.
Some came from Ephraim, whose roots were in Amalek; Benjamin was with the people who followed you. From Makir captains came down, from Zebulun those who bear a commander's staff.
The princes of Issachar were with Deborah; yes, Issachar was with Barak, rushing after him into the valley. In the districts of Reuben there was much searching of heart.
Why did you stay among the campfires to hear the whistling for the flocks? In the districts of Reuben there was much searching of heart.
Gilead stayed beyond the Jordan. And Dan, why did he linger by the ships? Asher remained on the coast and stayed in his coves.
The people of Zebulun risked their very lives; so did Naphtali on the heights of the field.
"Kings came, they fought; the kings of Canaan fought at Taanach by the waters of Megiddo, but they carried off no silver, no plunder.
From the heavens the stars fought, from their courses they fought against Sisera.
The river Kishon swept them away, the age-old river, the river Kishon. March on, my soul; be strong!
Then thundered the horses' hoofs-- galloping, galloping go his mighty steeds.
'Curse Meroz,' said the angel of the LORD. 'Curse its people bitterly, because they did not come to help the LORD, to help the LORD against the mighty.'
"Most blessed of women be Jael, the wife of Heber the Kenite, most blessed of tent-dwelling women.
He asked for water, and she gave him milk; in a bowl fit for nobles she brought him curdled milk.
Her hand reached for the tent peg, her right hand for the workman's hammer. She struck Sisera, she crushed his head, she shattered and pierced his temple.
At her feet he sank, he fell; there he lay. At her feet he sank, he fell; where he sank, there he fell--dead.
"Through the window peered Sisera's mother; behind the lattice she cried out, 'Why is his chariot so long in coming? Why is the clatter of his chariots delayed?'
The wisest of her ladies answer her; indeed, she keeps saying to herself,
'Are they not finding and dividing the spoils: a girl or two for each man, colorful garments as plunder for Sisera, colorful garments embroidered, highly embroidered garments for my neck-- all this as plunder?'
"So may all your enemies perish, O LORD! But may they who love you be like the sun when it rises in its strength." Then the land had peace forty years.
Then Elihu said:
"Do you think this is just? You say, 'I will be cleared by God. '
Yet you ask him, 'What profit is it to me, and what do I gain by not sinning?'
"I would like to reply to you and to your friends with you.
Look up at the heavens and see; gaze at the clouds so high above you.
If you sin, how does that affect him? If your sins are many, what does that do to him?
If you are righteous, what do you give to him, or what does he receive from your hand?
Your wickedness affects only a man like yourself, and your righteousness only the sons of men.
"Men cry out under a load of oppression; they plead for relief from the arm of the powerful.
But no one says, 'Where is God my Maker, who gives songs in the night,
who teaches more to us than to the beasts of the earth and makes us wiser than the birds of the air?'
He does not answer when men cry out because of the arrogance of the wicked.
Indeed, God does not listen to their empty plea; the Almighty pays no attention to it.
How much less, then, will he listen when you say that you do not see him, that your case is before him and you must wait for him,
and further, that his anger never punishes and he does not take the least notice of wickedness.
So Job opens his mouth with empty talk; without knowledge he multiplies words."