"Is this true?" the high priest asked.
"Brothers and fathers," he said, "listen: The God of glory appeared to our father Abraham when he was in Mesopotamia, before he settled in Haran,
and said to him: Get out of your country and away from your relatives, and come to the land that I will show you.
"Then he came out of the land of the Chaldeans and settled in Haran. And from there, after his father died, God had him move to this land in which you now live.
He didn't give him an inheritance in it, not even a foot of ground, but He promised to give it to him as a possession, and to his descendants after him, even though he was childless.
God spoke in this way: His descendants would be strangers in a foreign country, and they would enslave and oppress them for 400 years.
I will judge the nation that they will serve as slaves, God said. After this, they will come out and worship Me in this place.
Then He gave him the covenant of circumcision. This being so, he fathered Isaac and circumcised him on the eighth day; Isaac did the same with Jacob, and Jacob with the 12 patriarchs.
"The patriarchs became jealous of Joseph and sold him into Egypt, but God was with him
and rescued him out of all his troubles. He gave him favor and wisdom in the sight of Pharaoh, king of Egypt, who appointed him governor over Egypt and over his whole household.
Then a famine came over all of Egypt and Canaan, with great suffering, and our forefathers could find no food.
When Jacob heard there was grain in Egypt, he sent our forefathers the first time.
The second time, Joseph was revealed to his brothers, and Joseph's family became known to Pharaoh.
Joseph then invited his father Jacob and all his relatives, 75 people in all,
and Jacob went down to Egypt. He and our forefathers died there,
were carried back to Shechem, and were placed in the tomb that Abraham had bought for a sum of silver from the sons of Hamor in Shechem.
"As the time was drawing near to fulfill the promise that God had made to Abraham, the people flourished and multiplied in Egypt
until a different king ruled over Egypt who did not know Joseph.
He dealt deceitfully with our race and oppressed our forefathers by making them leave their infants outside so they wouldn't survive.
At this time Moses was born, and he was beautiful before God. He was nursed in his father's home three months,
and when he was left outside, Pharaoh's daughter adopted and raised him as her own son.
So Moses was educated in all the wisdom of the Egyptians, and was powerful in his speech and actions.
"As he was approaching the age of 40, he decided to visit his brothers, the sons of Israel.
When he saw one of them being mistreated, he came to his rescue and avenged the oppressed man by striking down the Egyptian.
He assumed his brothers would understand that God would give them deliverance through him, but they did not understand.
The next day he showed up while they were fighting and tried to reconcile them peacefully, saying, 'Men, you are brothers. Why are you mistreating each other?'
"But the one who was mistreating his neighbor pushed him away, saying: Who appointed you a ruler and a judge over us?
Do you want to kill me, the same way you killed the Egyptian yesterday?
"At this disclosure, Moses fled and became an exile in the land of Midian, where he fathered two sons.
After 40 years had passed, an angel appeared to him in the desert of Mount Sinai, in the flame of a burning bush.
When Moses saw it, he was amazed at the sight. As he was approaching to look at it, the voice of the Lord came:
I am the God of your forefathers-the God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob. So Moses began to tremble and did not dare to look.
"Then the Lord said to him: Take the sandals off your feet, because the place where you are standing is holy ground.
I have certainly seen the oppression of My people in Egypt; I have heard their groaning and have come down to rescue them. And now, come, I will send you to Egypt.
"This Moses, whom they rejected when they said, Who appointed you a ruler and a judge? -this one God sent as a ruler and a redeemer by means of the angel who appeared to him in the bush.
This man led them out and performed wonders and signs in the land of Egypt, at the Red Sea, and in the desert for 40 years.
"This is the Moses who said to the sons of Israel, God will raise up for you a Prophet like me from among your brothers.
He is the one who was in the congregation in the desert together with the angel who spoke to him on Mount Sinai, and with our forefathers. He received living oracles to give to us.
Our forefathers were unwilling to obey him, but pushed him away, and in their hearts turned back to Egypt.
They told Aaron: Make us gods who will go before us. As for this Moses who brought us out of the land of Egypt, we don't know what's become of him.
They even made a calf in those days, offered sacrifice to the idol, and were celebrating what their hands had made.
Then God turned away and gave them up to worship the host of heaven, as it is written in the book of the prophets: Did you bring Me offerings and sacrifices for 40 years in the desert, O house of Israel?
No, you took up the tent of Moloch and the star of your god Rephan, the images that you made to worship. So I will deport you beyond Babylon!
"Our forefathers had the tabernacle of the testimony in the desert, just as He who spoke to Moses commanded him to make it according to the pattern he had seen.
Our forefathers in turn received it and with Joshua brought it in when they dispossessed the nations that God drove out before our fathers, until the days of David.
He found favor in God's sight and asked that he might provide a dwelling place for the God of Jacob.
But it was Solomon who built Him a house.
However, the Most High does not dwell in sanctuaries made with hands, as the prophet says:
Heaven is My throne, and earth My footstool. What sort of house will you build for Me? says the Lord, or what is My resting place?
Did not My hand make all these things?
"You stiff-necked people with uncircumcised hearts and ears! You are always resisting the Holy Spirit; as your forefathers did, so do you.
Which of the prophets did your fathers not persecute? They even killed those who announced beforehand the coming of the Righteous One, whose betrayers and murderers you have now become.
You received the law under the direction of angels and yet have not kept it."
When they heard these things, they were enraged in their hearts and gnashed their teeth at him.
But Stephen, filled by the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven. He saw God's glory, with Jesus standing at the right hand of God, and he said,
"Look! I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God!"
Then they screamed at the top of their voices, stopped their ears, and rushed together against him.
They threw him out of the city and began to stone him. And the witnesses laid their robes at the feet of a young man named Saul.
They were stoning Stephen as he called out: "Lord Jesus, receive my spirit!"
Then he knelt down and cried out with a loud voice, "Lord, do not charge them with this sin!" And saying this, he fell asleep.
Holman Christian Standard Bible ® Copyright © 2003, 2002, 2000, 1999 by Holman Bible Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.