1When Paul and his companions had passed through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica, where there was a Jewish synagogue.2As was his custom, Paul went into the synagogue, and on three Sabbath days he reasoned with them from the Scriptures,3explaining and proving that the Messiah had to suffer and rise from the dead. “This Jesus I am proclaiming to you is the Messiah,” he said.4Some of the Jews were persuaded and joined Paul and Silas, as did a large number of God-fearing Greeks and quite a few prominent women.5But other Jews were jealous; so they rounded up some bad characters from the marketplace, formed a mob and started a riot in the city. They rushed to Jason’s house in search of Paul and Silas in order to bring them out to the crowd.6But when they did not find them, they dragged Jason and some other believers before the city officials, shouting: “These men who have caused trouble all over the world have now come here,7and Jason has welcomed them into his house. They are all defying Caesar’s decrees, saying that there is another king, one called Jesus.”8When they heard this, the crowd and the city officials were thrown into turmoil.9Then they made Jason and the others post bond and let them go.
10As soon as it was night, the believers sent Paul and Silas away to Berea. On arriving there, they went to the Jewish synagogue.11Now the Berean Jews were of more noble character than those in Thessalonica, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.12As a result, many of them believed, as did also a number of prominent Greek women and many Greek men.13But when the Jews in Thessalonica learned that Paul was preaching the word of God at Berea, some of them went there too, agitating the crowds and stirring them up.14The believers immediately sent Paul to the coast, but Silas and Timothy stayed at Berea.15Those who escorted Paul brought him to Athens and then left with instructions for Silas and Timothy to join him as soon as possible.
1The Israelites did evil in the eyes of the LORD, and for seven years he gave them into the hands of the Midianites.2Because the power of Midian was so oppressive, the Israelites prepared shelters for themselves in mountain clefts, caves and strongholds.3Whenever the Israelites planted their crops, the Midianites, Amalekites and other eastern peoples invaded the country.4They camped on the land and ruined the crops all the way to Gaza and did not spare a living thing for Israel, neither sheep nor cattle nor donkeys.5They came up with their livestock and their tents like swarms of locusts. It was impossible to count them or their camels; they invaded the land to ravage it.6Midian so impoverished the Israelites that they cried out to the LORD for help.7When the Israelites cried out to the LORD because of Midian,8he sent them a prophet, who said, “This is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: I brought you up out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.9I rescued you from the hand of the Egyptians. And I delivered you from the hand of all your oppressors; I drove them out before you and gave you their land.10I said to you, ‘I am the LORD your God; do not worship the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you live.’ But you have not listened to me.”11The angel of the LORD came and sat down under the oak in Ophrah that belonged to Joash the Abiezrite, where his son Gideon was threshing wheat in a winepress to keep it from the Midianites.12When the angel of the LORD appeared to Gideon, he said, “The LORD is with you, mighty warrior.”13“Pardon me, my lord,” Gideon replied, “but if the LORD is with us, why has all this happened to us? Where are all his wonders that our ancestors told us about when they said, ‘Did not the LORD bring us up out of Egypt?’ But now the LORD has abandoned us and given us into the hand of Midian.”14The LORD turned to him and said, “Go in the strength you have and save Israel out of Midian’s hand. Am I not sending you?”15“Pardon me, my lord,” Gideon replied, “but how can I save Israel? My clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my family.”16The LORD answered, “I will be with you, and you will strike down all the Midianites, leaving none alive.”17Gideon replied, “If now I have found favor in your eyes, give me a sign that it is really you talking to me.18Please do not go away until I come back and bring my offering and set it before you.” And the LORD said, “I will wait until you return.”19Gideon went inside, prepared a young goat, and from an ephah of flour he made bread without yeast. Putting the meat in a basket and its broth in a pot, he brought them out and offered them to him under the oak.20The angel of God said to him, “Take the meat and the unleavened bread, place them on this rock, and pour out the broth.” And Gideon did so.21Then the angel of the LORD touched the meat and the unleavened bread with the tip of the staff that was in his hand. Fire flared from the rock, consuming the meat and the bread. And the angel of the LORD disappeared.22When Gideon realized that it was the angel of the LORD, he exclaimed, “Alas, Sovereign LORD! I have seen the angel of the LORD face to face!”23But the LORD said to him, “Peace! Do not be afraid. You are not going to die.”24So Gideon built an altar to the LORD there and called it The LORD Is Peace. To this day it stands in Ophrah of the Abiezrites.25That same night the LORD said to him, “Take the second bull from your father’s herd, the one seven years old. Tear down your father’s altar to Baal and cut down the Asherah pole beside it.26Then build a proper kind of altar to the LORD your God on the top of this height. Using the wood of the Asherah pole that you cut down, offer the second bull as a burnt offering.”27So Gideon took ten of his servants and did as the LORD told him. But because he was afraid of his family and the townspeople, he did it at night rather than in the daytime.28In the morning when the people of the town got up, there was Baal’s altar, demolished, with the Asherah pole beside it cut down and the second bull sacrificed on the newly built altar!29They asked each other, “Who did this?” When they carefully investigated, they were told, “Gideon son of Joash did it.”30The people of the town demanded of Joash, “Bring out your son. He must die, because he has broken down Baal’s altar and cut down the Asherah pole beside it.”31But Joash replied to the hostile crowd around him, “Are you going to plead Baal’s cause? Are you trying to save him? Whoever fights for him shall be put to death by morning! If Baal really is a god, he can defend himself when someone breaks down his altar.”32So because Gideon broke down Baal’s altar, they gave him the name Jerub-Baal that day, saying, “Let Baal contend with him.”33Now all the Midianites, Amalekites and other eastern peoples joined forces and crossed over the Jordan and camped in the Valley of Jezreel.34Then the Spirit of the LORD came on Gideon, and he blew a trumpet, summoning the Abiezrites to follow him.35He sent messengers throughout Manasseh, calling them to arms, and also into Asher, Zebulun and Naphtali, so that they too went up to meet them.36Gideon said to God, “If you will save Israel by my hand as you have promised—37look, I will place a wool fleece on the threshing floor. If there is dew only on the fleece and all the ground is dry, then I will know that you will save Israel by my hand, as you said.”38And that is what happened. Gideon rose early the next day; he squeezed the fleece and wrung out the dew—a bowlful of water.39Then Gideon said to God, “Do not be angry with me. Let me make just one more request. Allow me one more test with the fleece, but this time make the fleece dry and let the ground be covered with dew.”40That night God did so. Only the fleece was dry; all the ground was covered with dew.
1Elihu continued:2“Bear with me a little longer and I will show you that there is more to be said in God’s behalf.3I get my knowledge from afar; I will ascribe justice to my Maker.4Be assured that my words are not false; one who has perfect knowledge is with you.5“God is mighty, but despises no one; he is mighty, and firm in his purpose.6He does not keep the wicked alive but gives the afflicted their rights.7He does not take his eyes off the righteous; he enthrones them with kings and exalts them forever.8But if people are bound in chains, held fast by cords of affliction,9he tells them what they have done— that they have sinned arrogantly.10He makes them listen to correction and commands them to repent of their evil.11If they obey and serve him, they will spend the rest of their days in prosperity and their years in contentment.12But if they do not listen, they will perish by the swordand die without knowledge.13“The godless in heart harbor resentment; even when he fetters them, they do not cry for help.14They die in their youth, among male prostitutes of the shrines.15But those who suffer he delivers in their suffering; he speaks to them in their affliction.16“He is wooing you from the jaws of distress to a spacious place free from restriction, to the comfort of your table laden with choice food.17But now you are laden with the judgment due the wicked; judgment and justice have taken hold of you.18Be careful that no one entices you by riches; do not let a large bribe turn you aside.19Would your wealth or even all your mighty efforts sustain you so you would not be in distress?20Do not long for the night, to drag people away from their homes.21Beware of turning to evil, which you seem to prefer to affliction.22“God is exalted in his power. Who is a teacher like him?23Who has prescribed his ways for him, or said to him, ‘You have done wrong’?24Remember to extol his work, which people have praised in song.25All humanity has seen it; mortals gaze on it from afar.26How great is God—beyond our understanding! The number of his years is past finding out.27“He draws up the drops of water, which distill as rain to the streams ;28the clouds pour down their moisture and abundant showers fall on mankind.29Who can understand how he spreads out the clouds, how he thunders from his pavilion?30See how he scatters his lightning about him, bathing the depths of the sea.31This is the way he governs the nations and provides food in abundance.32He fills his hands with lightning and commands it to strike its mark.33His thunder announces the coming storm; even the cattle make known its approach.