Genesis 49; Genesis 50; Matthew 13:31-58

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Genesis 49

1 Then Jacob sent for his sons. He said, "Gather around me so I can tell you what will happen to you in days to come.
2 "Sons of Jacob, come together and listen. Listen to your father Israel.
3 "Reuben, you are my oldest son. You were my first child. You were the first sign of my strength. You were first in honor. You were first in power.
4 But you are as unsteady as water. So you won't be first anymore. You had sex with your father's concubine in his bed. You lay on his couch and made it 'unclean.'
5 "Simeon and Levi are brothers. Their swords have killed a lot of people.
6 I won't share in their plans. I won't have anything to do with them. They became angry and killed people. They cut the legs of oxen just for the fun of it.
7 May the LORD put a curse on them because of their terrible anger. I will scatter them in Jacob's land. I will spread them around in Israel.
8 "Judah, your brothers will praise you. Your enemies will be brought under your control. Your father's sons will bow down to you.
9 Judah, you are like a lion's cub. You return from hunting, my son. Like a lion, you lie down and sleep. You are like a mother lion. Who dares to wake you up?
10 The right to rule will not leave Judah. The ruler's rod will not be taken from between his feet. It will be his until the king it belongs to comes. It will be his until the nations obey him.
11 He will tie his donkey to a vine. He will tie his colt to the very best branch. He will wash his clothes in wine. He will wash his robes in the red juice of grapes.
12 His eyes will be darker than wine. His teeth will be whiter than milk.
13 "Zebulun will live by the seashore. He will become a safe harbor for ships. His border will go out toward Sidon.
14 "Issachar is like a donkey lying down between two saddlebags.
15 He sees how good his resting place is. He sees that his land is pleasant. So he'll carry a heavy load on his back. He will obey when he's forced to work.
16 "Dan will do what is fair for his people. He will do it as one of the tribes of Israel.
17 Dan will be a serpent by the side of the road. He will be a poisonous snake along the path. It bites the horse's heels so that the rider falls off backward.
18 "Lord, I look to you to save me.
19 "Gad will be attacked by a group of robbers. But he'll attack them as they run away.
20 "Asher's food will be rich and sweet. He will provide food that even a king would enjoy.
21 "Naphtali is a female deer that is set free and gives birth to beautiful fawns.
22 "Joseph is a vine that grows a lot of fruit. It grows close by a spring. Its branches climb over a wall.
23 Mean people shot arrows at him. They shot at him because they were angry.
24 But his bow remained steady. His strong arms moved freely. The hand of the Mighty One of Jacob was with him. The Shepherd, the Rock of Israel, stood by him.
25 Your father's God helps you. The Mighty One blesses you. He gives you blessings from the highest heavens. He gives you blessings from the deepest oceans. He blesses you with children and with a mother's milk.
26 Your father's blessings are great. They are greater than the blessings from the age-old mountains. They are greater than the gifts from the ancient hills. Let all of those blessings rest on the head of Joseph. Let them rest on the head of the one who is prince among his brothers.
27 "Benjamin is a hungry wolf. In the morning he eats what he has killed. In the evening he shares what he has stolen."
28 All of those are the 12 tribes of Israel. That's what their father said to them when he blessed them. He gave each one the blessing that was just right for him.
29 Then Jacob gave directions to his sons. He said, "I'm about to join the members of my family who have already died. Bury me with them in the cave in the field of Ephron the Hittite.
30 "The cave is in the field of Machpelah near Mamre in Canaan. Abraham had bought it as a place where he could bury his wife's body. He had bought the cave from Ephron the Hittite, along with the field.
31 "The bodies of Abraham and his wife Sarah were buried there. So were the bodies of Isaac and his wife Rebekah. I also buried Leah's body there.
32 Abraham bought the field and the cave from the Hittites."
33 When Jacob had finished telling his sons what to do, he pulled his feet up into his bed. Then he took his last breath and joined the members of his family who had already died.
Holy Bible, New International Reader's Version® Copyright © 1995, 1996, 1998 by Biblica.   All rights reserved worldwide.

Genesis 50

1 Joseph threw himself on his father's body. He sobbed over him and kissed him.
2 Then Joseph talked to the doctors who served him. He told them to prepare the body of his father Israel to be buried. So the doctors prepared it.
3 They took 40 days to do it. They needed that much time to prepare a body in the right way. The Egyptians sobbed over Jacob for 70 days.
4 After the days of sorrow had passed, Joseph went to Pharaoh's officials. He said to them, "If you are pleased with me, speak to Pharaoh for me. Tell him,
5 'My father made me take an oath and make a promise to him. He said, "I'm about to die. Bury me in the tomb I dug for myself in the land of Canaan." So let me go up and bury my father. Then I'll come back.' "
6 Pharaoh said, "Go up and bury your father. Do what he made you promise to do."
7 So Joseph went up to bury his father. All of Pharaoh's officials went with him. They were the important people of his court and all of the leaders of Egypt.
8 All of Joseph's family also went. His brothers and all of the rest of his father's family went too. Only their children and their flocks and herds were left in Goshen.
9 Chariots and horsemen also went up with him. It was a very large group.
10 They came to the threshing floor of Atad. It was near the Jordan River. There they sobbed loudly and bitterly. Joseph set apart seven days of sadness to honor his father's memory.
11 The people of Canaan who were living there saw how sad all of them were at the threshing floor of Atad. They said, "The Egyptians are having a very special service for the dead." That's why that place near the Jordan River is called Abel of the Egyptians.
12 So Jacob's sons did exactly as he had commanded them.
13 They carried his body to the land of Canaan. They buried it in the cave in the field of Machpelah near Mamre. Abraham had bought the cave as a place where he could bury his wife's body. He had bought it from Ephron the Hittite, along with the field.
14 After Joseph buried his father, he went back to Egypt. His brothers and all of the others who had gone to help him bury his father went back with him.
15 Now that their father was dead, Joseph's brothers were worried. They said, "Remember all of the bad things we did to Joseph? What if he decides to hold those things against us? What if he pays us back for them?"
16 So they sent a message to Joseph. They said, "Your father gave us directions before he died.
17 He said, 'Here's what you must say to Joseph. Tell him, "I'm asking you to forgive your brothers. Forgive the terrible things they did to you. Forgive them for treating you so badly." ' Now then, please forgive our sins. We serve the God of your father." When their message came to Joseph, he sobbed.
18 Then his brothers came and threw themselves down in front of him. "We are your slaves," they said.
19 But Joseph said to them, "Don't be afraid. Do you think I'm God?
20 You planned to harm me. But God planned it for good. He planned to do what is now being done. He wanted to save many lives.
21 "So then, don't be afraid. I'll provide for you and your children." He set them free from their fears. And he spoke in a kind way to them.
22 Joseph stayed in Egypt, along with all of his father's family. He lived 110 years.
23 He lived long enough to see Ephraim's children and grandchildren. When the children of Makir were born, they were placed on Joseph's knees and counted as his own children. Makir was the son of Manasseh.
24 Joseph said to his brothers, "I'm about to die. But I'm sure that God will come to help you. He'll take you up out of this land. He'll bring you to the land he promised with an oath to give to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob."
25 Joseph made the sons of Israel take an oath and make a promise to him. He said, "I'm sure that God will come to help you. Then you must carry my bones up from this place."
26 So Joseph died at the age of 110. They prepared his body to be buried. Then he was placed in a casket in Egypt.
Holy Bible, New International Reader's Version® Copyright © 1995, 1996, 1998 by Biblica.   All rights reserved worldwide.

Matthew 13:31-58

31 Jesus told the crowd another story. He said, "The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed. Someone took the seed and planted it in a field.
32 It is the smallest of all your seeds. But when it grows, it is the largest of all garden plants. It becomes a tree. Birds come and rest in its branches."
33 Jesus told them still another story. "The kingdom of heaven is like yeast," he said. "A woman mixed it into a large amount of flour. The yeast worked its way all through the dough."
34 Jesus spoke all these things to the crowd by using stories. He did not say anything to them without telling a story.
35 So the words spoken by the prophet came true. He had said, "I will open my mouth and tell stories. I will speak about things that were hidden since the world was made." (Psalm 78:2)
36 Then Jesus left the crowd and went into the house. His disciples came to him. They said, "Explain to us the story of the weeds in the field."
37 He answered, "The one who planted the good seed is the Son of Man.
38 The field is the world. The good seed stands for the people who belong to the kingdom. The weeds are the people who belong to the evil one.
39 The enemy who plants them is the devil. The harvest is judgment day. And the workers are angels.
40 "The weeds are pulled up and burned in the fire. That is how it will be on judgment day.
41 The Son of Man will send out his angels. They will weed out of his kingdom everything that causes sin. They will also get rid of all who do evil.
42 They will throw them into the blazing furnace. There people will sob and grind their teeth.
43 Then God's people will shine like the sun in their Father's kingdom. Those who have ears should listen.
44 "The kingdom of heaven is like treasure that was hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again. He was very happy. So he went and sold everything he had. And he bought that field.
45 "Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a trader who was looking for fine pearls.
46 He found one that was very valuable. So he went away and sold everything he had. And he bought that pearl.
47 "Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net. It was let down into the lake. It caught all kinds of fish.
48 When it was full, the fishermen pulled it up on the shore. Then they sat down and gathered the good fish into baskets. But they threw the bad fish away.
49 This is how it will be on judgment day. The angels will come. They will separate the people who did what is wrong from those who did what is right.
50 They will throw the evil people into the blazing furnace. There the evil ones will sob and grind their teeth.
51 "Do you understand all these things?" Jesus asked. "Yes," they replied.
52 He said to them, "Every teacher of the law who has been taught about the kingdom of heaven is like the owner of a house. He brings new treasures out of his storeroom as well as old ones."
53 Jesus finished telling these stories. Then he moved on from there.
54 He came to his hometown of Nazareth. There he began teaching the people in their synagogue. They were amazed. "Where did this man get this wisdom? Where did he get this power to do miracles?" they asked.
55 "Isn't this the carpenter's son? Isn't his mother's name Mary? Aren't his brothers James, Joseph, Simon and Judas?
56 Aren't all his sisters with us? Then where did this man get all these things?"
57 They were not pleased with him at all. But Jesus said to them, "A prophet is not honored in his hometown. He doesn't receive any honor in his own home."
58 He did only a few miracles there because they had no faith.
Holy Bible, New International Reader's Version® Copyright © 1995, 1996, 1998 by Biblica.   All rights reserved worldwide.