Again Jesus called the crowd to him and said, "Listen to me, everyone, and understand this.15Nothing outside a man can make him 'unclean' by going into him. Rather, it is what comes out of a man that makes him 'unclean.' "17
After he had left the crowd and entered the house, his disciples asked him about this parable.
18"Are you so dull?" he asked. "Don't you see that nothing that enters a man from the outside can make him 'unclean'?19For it doesn't go into his heart but into his stomach, and then out of his body." (In saying this, Jesus declared all foods "clean.")
He went on: "What comes out of a man is what makes him 'unclean.'21For from within, out of men's hearts, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery,22greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly.23All these evils come from inside and make a man 'unclean.' "
Jesus left that place and went to the vicinity of Tyre. He entered a house and did not want anyone to know it; yet he could not keep his presence secret.
In fact, as soon as she heard about him, a woman whose little daughter was possessed by an evil spirit came and fell at his feet.
The woman was a Greek, born in Syrian Phoenicia. She begged Jesus to drive the demon out of her daughter.
27"First let the children eat all they want," he told her, "for it is not right to take the children's bread and toss it to their dogs."28
"Yes, Lord," she replied, "but even the dogs under the table eat the children's crumbs."
Then he told her, "For such a reply, you may go; the demon has left your daughter."30
She went home and found her child lying on the bed, and the demon gone.
Then Jesus left the vicinity of Tyre and went through Sidon, down to the Sea of Galilee and into the region of the Decapolis.
There some people brought to him a man who was deaf and could hardly talk, and they begged him to place his hand on the man.
After he took him aside, away from the crowd, Jesus put his fingers into the man's ears. Then he spit and touched the man's tongue.
He looked up to heaven and with a deep sigh said to him, ""Ephphatha!"" (which means, "Be opened!").
At this, the man's ears were opened, his tongue was loosened and he began to speak plainly.
Jesus commanded them not to tell anyone. But the more he did so, the more they kept talking about it.
People were overwhelmed with amazement. "He has done everything well," they said. "He even makes the deaf hear and the mute speak."
David mustered the men who were with him and appointed over them commanders of thousands and commanders of hundreds.
David sent the troops out--a third under the command of Joab, a third under Joab's brother Abishai son of Zeruiah, and a third under Ittai the Gittite. The king told the troops, "I myself will surely march out with you."
But the men said, "You must not go out; if we are forced to flee, they won't care about us. Even if half of us die, they won't care; but you are worth ten thousand of us. It would be better now for you to give us support from the city."
The king answered, "I will do whatever seems best to you." So the king stood beside the gate while all the men marched out in units of hundreds and of thousands.
The king commanded Joab, Abishai and Ittai, "Be gentle with the young man Absalom for my sake." And all the troops heard the king giving orders concerning Absalom to each of the commanders.
The army marched into the field to fight Israel, and the battle took place in the forest of Ephraim.
There the army of Israel was defeated by David's men, and the casualties that day were great--twenty thousand men.
The battle spread out over the whole countryside, and the forest claimed more lives that day than the sword.
Now Absalom happened to meet David's men. He was riding his mule, and as the mule went under the thick branches of a large oak, Absalom's head got caught in the tree. He was left hanging in midair, while the mule he was riding kept on going.
When one of the men saw this, he told Joab, "I just saw Absalom hanging in an oak tree."
Joab said to the man who had told him this, "What! You saw him? Why didn't you strike him to the ground right there? Then I would have had to give you ten shekels of silver and a warrior's belt."
But the man replied, "Even if a thousand shekels were weighed out into my hands, I would not lift my hand against the king's son. In our hearing the king commanded you and Abishai and Ittai, 'Protect the young man Absalom for my sake. '
And if I had put my life in jeopardy--and nothing is hidden from the king--you would have kept your distance from me."
Joab said, "I'm not going to wait like this for you." So he took three javelins in his hand and plunged them into Absalom's heart while Absalom was still alive in the oak tree.
And ten of Joab's armor-bearers surrounded Absalom, struck him and killed him.
Then Joab sounded the trumpet, and the troops stopped pursuing Israel, for Joab halted them.
They took Absalom, threw him into a big pit in the forest and piled up a large heap of rocks over him. Meanwhile, all the Israelites fled to their homes.
During his lifetime Absalom had taken a pillar and erected it in the King's Valley as a monument to himself, for he thought, "I have no son to carry on the memory of my name." He named the pillar after himself, and it is called Absalom's Monument to this day.
Now Ahimaaz son of Zadok said, "Let me run and take the news to the king that the LORD has delivered him from the hand of his enemies."
"You are not the one to take the news today," Joab told him. "You may take the news another time, but you must not do so today, because the king's son is dead."
Then Joab said to a Cushite, "Go, tell the king what you have seen." The Cushite bowed down before Joab and ran off.
Ahimaaz son of Zadok again said to Joab, "Come what may, please let me run behind the Cushite." But Joab replied, "My son, why do you want to go? You don't have any news that will bring you a reward."
He said, "Come what may, I want to run." So Joab said, "Run!" Then Ahimaaz ran by way of the plain and outran the Cushite.
While David was sitting between the inner and outer gates, the watchman went up to the roof of the gateway by the wall. As he looked out, he saw a man running alone.
The watchman called out to the king and reported it. The king said, "If he is alone, he must have good news." And the man came closer and closer.
Then the watchman saw another man running, and he called down to the gatekeeper, "Look, another man running alone!" The king said, "He must be bringing good news, too."
The watchman said, "It seems to me that the first one runs like Ahimaaz son of Zadok." "He's a good man," the king said. "He comes with good news."
Then Ahimaaz called out to the king, "All is well!" He bowed down before the king with his face to the ground and said, "Praise be to the LORD your God! He has delivered up the men who lifted their hands against my lord the king."
The king asked, "Is the young man Absalom safe?" Ahimaaz answered, "I saw great confusion just as Joab was about to send the king's servant and me, your servant, but I don't know what it was."
The king said, "Stand aside and wait here." So he stepped aside and stood there.
Then the Cushite arrived and said, "My lord the king, hear the good news! The LORD has delivered you today from all who rose up against you."
The king asked the Cushite, "Is the young man Absalom safe?" The Cushite replied, "May the enemies of my lord the king and all who rise up to harm you be like that young man."
The king was shaken. He went up to the room over the gateway and wept. As he went, he said: "O my son Absalom! My son, my son Absalom! If only I had died instead of you--O Absalom, my son, my son!"
"He will be succeeded by a contemptible person who has not been given the honor of royalty. He will invade the kingdom when its people feel secure, and he will seize it through intrigue.
Then an overwhelming army will be swept away before him; both it and a prince of the covenant will be destroyed.
After coming to an agreement with him, he will act deceitfully, and with only a few people he will rise to power.
When the richest provinces feel secure, he will invade them and will achieve what neither his fathers nor his forefathers did. He will distribute plunder, loot and wealth among his followers. He will plot the overthrow of fortresses--but only for a time.
"With a large army he will stir up his strength and courage against the king of the South. The king of the South will wage war with a large and very powerful army, but he will not be able to stand because of the plots devised against him.
Those who eat from the king's provisions will try to destroy him; his army will be swept away, and many will fall in battle.
The two kings, with their hearts bent on evil, will sit at the same table and lie to each other, but to no avail, because an end will still come at the appointed time.
The king of the North will return to his own country with great wealth, but his heart will be set against the holy covenant. He will take action against it and then return to his own country.
"At the appointed time he will invade the South again, but this time the outcome will be different from what it was before.
Ships of the western coastlands will oppose him, and he will lose heart. Then he will turn back and vent his fury against the holy covenant. He will return and show favor to those who forsake the holy covenant.
"His armed forces will rise up to desecrate the temple fortress and will abolish the daily sacrifice. Then they will set up the abomination that causes desolation.
With flattery he will corrupt those who have violated the covenant, but the people who know their God will firmly resist him.
"Those who are wise will instruct many, though for a time they will fall by the sword or be burned or captured or plundered.
When they fall, they will receive a little help, and many who are not sincere will join them.
Some of the wise will stumble, so that they may be refined, purified and made spotless until the time of the end, for it will still come at the appointed time.
"The king will do as he pleases. He will exalt and magnify himself above every god and will say unheard-of things against the God of gods. He will be successful until the time of wrath is completed, for what has been determined must take place.
He will show no regard for the gods of his fathers or for the one desired by women, nor will he regard any god, but will exalt himself above them all.
Instead of them, he will honor a god of fortresses; a god unknown to his fathers he will honor with gold and silver, with precious stones and costly gifts.
He will attack the mightiest fortresses with the help of a foreign god and will greatly honor those who acknowledge him. He will make them rulers over many people and will distribute the land at a price.
"At the time of the end the king of the South will engage him in battle, and the king of the North will storm out against him with chariots and cavalry and a great fleet of ships. He will invade many countries and sweep through them like a flood.
He will also invade the Beautiful Land. Many countries will fall, but Edom, Moab and the leaders of Ammon will be delivered from his hand.
He will extend his power over many countries; Egypt will not escape.
He will gain control of the treasures of gold and silver and all the riches of Egypt, with the Libyans and Nubians in submission.
But reports from the east and the north will alarm him, and he will set out in a great rage to destroy and annihilate many.
He will pitch his royal tents between the seas at the beautiful holy mountain. Yet he will come to his end, and no one will help him.