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The Israelites in Egypt
1Â These are the names of the sons of Israel (that is, Jacob) who moved to Egypt with their father, each with his family:Â 2Â Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah,Â 3Â Issachar, Zebulun, Benjamin,4Â Dan, Naphtali, Gad, and Asher.Â 5Â In all, Jacob had seventyÂ descendants in Egypt, including Joseph, who was already there.
6Â In time, Joseph and all of his brothers died, ending that entire generation.Â 7Â But their descendants, the Israelites, had many children and grandchildren. In fact, they multiplied so greatly that they became extremely powerful and filled the land.
8Â Eventually, a new king came to power in Egypt who knew nothing about Joseph or what he had done.Â 9Â He said to his people, â€œLook, the people of Israel now outnumber us and are stronger than we are.Â 10Â We must make a plan to keep them from growing even more. If we donâ€™t, and if war breaks out, they will join our enemies and fight against us. Then they will escape from the country.â€
11Â So the Egyptians made the Israelites their slaves. They appointed brutal slave drivers over them, hoping to wear them down with crushing labor. They forced them to build the cities of Pithom and Rameses as supply centers for the king.Â 12Â But the more the Egyptians oppressed them, the more the Israelites multiplied and spread, and the more alarmed the Egyptians became.Â 13Â So the Egyptians worked the people of Israel without mercy.Â 14Â They made their lives bitter, forcing them to mix mortar and make bricks and do all the work in the fields. They were ruthless in all their demands.
15Â Then Pharaoh, the king of Egypt, gave this order to the Hebrew midwives, Shiphrah and Puah:16Â â€œWhen you help the Hebrew women as they give birth, watch as they deliver.Â If the baby is a boy, kill him; if it is a girl, let her live.â€Â 17Â But because the midwives feared God, they refused to obey the kingâ€™s orders. They allowed the boys to live, too.
18Â So the king of Egypt called for the midwives. â€œWhy have you done this?â€ he demanded. â€œWhy have you allowed the boys to live?â€
19Â â€œThe Hebrew women are not like the Egyptian women,â€ the midwives replied. â€œThey are more vigorous and have their babies so quickly that we cannot get there in time.â€
20Â So God was good to the midwives, and the Israelites continued to multiply, growing more and more powerful.Â 21Â And because the midwives feared God, he gave them families of their own.
22Â Then Pharaoh gave this order to all his people: â€œThrow every newborn Hebrew boy into the Nile River. But you may let the girls live.â€
The Birth of Moses
2Â About this time, a man and woman from the tribe of Levi got married.Â 2Â The woman became pregnant and gave birth to a son. She saw that he was a special baby and kept him hidden for three months.Â 3Â But when she could no longer hide him, she got a basket made of papyrus reeds and waterproofed it with tar and pitch. She put the baby in the basket and laid it among the reeds along the bank of the Nile River.Â 4Â The babyâ€™s sister then stood at a distance, watching to see what would happen to him.
5Â Soon Pharaohâ€™s daughter came down to bathe in the river, and her attendants walked along the riverbank. When the princess saw the basket among the reeds, she sent her maid to get it for her.Â 6Â When the princess opened it, she saw the baby. The little boy was crying, and she felt sorry for him. â€œThis must be one of the Hebrew children,â€ she said.
7Â Then the babyâ€™s sister approached the princess. â€œShould I go and find one of the Hebrew women to nurse the baby for you?â€ she asked.
8Â â€œYes, do!â€ the princess replied. So the girl went and called the babyâ€™s mother.
9Â â€œTake this baby and nurse him for me,â€ the princess told the babyâ€™s mother. â€œI will pay you for your help.â€ So the woman took her baby home and nursed him.
10Â Later, when the boy was older, his mother brought him back to Pharaohâ€™s daughter, who adopted him as her own son. The princess named him Moses,Â for she explained, â€œI lifted him out of the water.â€
Moses Escapes to Midian
11Â Many years later, when Moses had grown up, he went out to visit his own people, the Hebrews, and he saw how hard they were forced to work. During his visit, he saw an Egyptian beating one of his fellow Hebrews.Â 12Â After looking in all directions to make sure no one was watching, Moses killed the Egyptian and hid the body in the sand.
13Â The next day, when Moses went out to visit his people again, he saw two Hebrew men fighting. â€œWhy are you beating up your friend?â€ Moses said to the one who had started the fight.
14Â The man replied, â€œWho appointed you to be our prince and judge? Are you going to kill me as you killed that Egyptian yesterday?â€
Then Moses was afraid, thinking, â€œEveryone knows what I did.â€Â 15Â And sure enough, Pharaoh heard what had happened, and he tried to kill Moses. But Moses fled from Pharaoh and went to live in the land of Midian.
When Moses arrived in Midian, he sat down beside a well.Â 16Â Now the priest of Midian had seven daughters who came as usual to draw water and fill the water troughs for their fatherâ€™s flocks.17Â But some other shepherds came and chased them away. So Moses jumped up and rescued the girls from the shepherds. Then he drew water for their flocks.
18Â When the girls returned to Reuel, their father, he asked, â€œWhy are you back so soon today?â€
19Â â€œAn Egyptian rescued us from the shepherds,â€ they answered. â€œAnd then he drew water for us and watered our flocks.â€
20Â â€œThen where is he?â€ their father asked. â€œWhy did you leave him there? Invite him to come and eat with us.â€
21Â Moses accepted the invitation, and he settled there with him. In time, Reuel gave Moses his daughter Zipporah to be his wife.Â 22Â Later she gave birth to a son, and Moses named him Gershom,Â for he explained, â€œI have been a foreigner in a foreign land.â€
23Â Years passed, and the king of Egypt died. But the Israelites continued to groan under their burden of slavery. They cried out for help, and their cry rose up to God.Â 24Â God heard their groaning, and he remembered his covenant promise to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.Â 25Â He looked down on the people of Israel and knew it was time to act.
Moses and the Burning Bush
3Â One day Moses was tending the flock of his father-in-law, Jethro,Â the priest of Midian. He led the flock far into the wilderness and came to Sinai,Â the mountain of God.Â 2Â There the angel of theLordÂ appeared to him in a blazing fire from the middle of a bush. Moses stared in amazement. Though the bush was engulfed in flames, it didnâ€™t burn up.Â 3Â â€œThis is amazing,â€ Moses said to himself. â€œWhy isnâ€™t that bush burning up? I must go see it.â€
4Â When theÂ LordÂ saw Moses coming to take a closer look, God called to him from the middle of the bush, â€œMoses! Moses!â€
â€œHere I am!â€ Moses replied.
5Â â€œDo not come any closer,â€ theÂ LordÂ warned. â€œTake off your sandals, for you are standing on holy ground.Â 6Â I am the God of your fatherâ€”the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.â€ When Moses heard this, he covered his face because he was afraid to look at God.
7Â Then theÂ LordÂ told him, â€œI have certainly seen the oppression of my people in Egypt. I have heard their cries of distress because of their harsh slave drivers. Yes, I am aware of their suffering.Â 8Â So I have come down to rescue them from the power of the Egyptians and lead them out of Egypt into their own fertile and spacious land. It is a land flowing with milk and honeyâ€”the land where the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites, and Jebusites now live.Â 9Â Look! The cry of the people of Israel has reached me, and I have seen how harshly the Egyptians abuse them.Â 10Â Now go, for I am sending you to Pharaoh. You must lead my people Israel out of Egypt.â€
11Â But Moses protested to God, â€œWho am I to appear before Pharaoh? Who am I to lead the people of Israel out of Egypt?â€
12Â God answered, â€œI will be with you. And this is your sign that I am the one who has sent you: When you have brought the people out of Egypt, you will worship God at this very mountain.â€
13Â But Moses protested, â€œIf I go to the people of Israel and tell them, â€˜The God of your ancestors has sent me to you,â€™ they will ask me, â€˜What is his name?â€™ Then what should I tell them?â€
14Â God replied to Moses, â€œIÂ Am WhoÂ IÂ Am.Â Say this to the people of Israel: IÂ AmÂ has sent me to you.â€Â 15Â God also said to Moses, â€œSay this to the people of Israel: Yahweh,Â the God of your ancestorsâ€”the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacobâ€”has sent me to you.
This is my eternal name,
16Â â€œNow go and call together all the elders of Israel. Tell them, â€˜TheÂ Lord, the God of your ancestorsâ€”the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacobâ€”has appeared to me. He told me, â€œI have been watching closely, and I see how the Egyptians are treating you.Â 17Â I have promised to rescue you from your oppression in Egypt. I will lead you to a land flowing with milk and honeyâ€”the land where the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites, and Jebusites now live.â€â€™
18Â â€œThe elders of Israel will accept your message. Then you and the elders must go to the king of Egypt and tell him, â€˜TheÂ Lord, the God of the Hebrews, has met with us. So please let us take a three-day journey into the wilderness to offer sacrifices to theÂ Lord, our God.â€™
19Â â€œBut I know that the king of Egypt will not let you go unless a mighty hand forces him.Â 20Â So I will raise my hand and strike the Egyptians, performing all kinds of miracles among them. Then at last he will let you go.Â 21Â And I will cause the Egyptians to look favorably on you. They will give you gifts when you go so you will not leave empty-handed.Â 22Â Every Israelite woman will ask for articles of silver and gold and fine clothing from her Egyptian neighbors and from the foreign women in their houses. You will dress your sons and daughters with these, stripping the Egyptians of their wealth.â€
Parable of the Wheat and Weeds
24Â Here is another story Jesus told:Â â€œThe Kingdom of Heaven is like a farmer who planted good seed in his field.Â 25Â But that night as the workers slept, his enemy came and planted weeds among the wheat, then slipped away.Â 26Â When the crop began to grow and produce grain, the weeds also grew.
27Â â€œThe farmerâ€™s workers went to him and said, â€˜Sir, the field where you planted that good seed is full of weeds! Where did they come from?â€™
28Â â€œâ€˜An enemy has done this!â€™ the farmer exclaimed.
â€œâ€˜Should we pull out the weeds?â€™ they asked.
29Â â€œâ€˜No,â€™ he replied, â€˜youâ€™ll uproot the wheat if you do.Â 30Â Let both grow together until the harvest. Then I will tell the harvesters to sort out the weeds, tie them into bundles, and burn them, and to put the wheat in the barn.â€™â€
Parable of the Mustard Seed
31Â Here is another illustration Jesus used:Â â€œThe Kingdom of Heaven is like a mustard seed planted in a field.Â 32Â It is the smallest of all seeds, but it becomes the largest of garden plants; it grows into a tree, and birds come and make nests in its branches.â€
Parable of the Yeast
33Â Jesus also used this illustration:Â â€œThe Kingdom of Heaven is like the yeast a woman used in making bread. Even though she put only a little yeast in three measures of flour, it permeated every part of the dough.â€
34Â Jesus always used stories and illustrations like these when speaking to the crowds. In fact, he never spoke to them without using such parables.Â 35Â This fulfilled what God had spoken through the prophet:
â€œI will speak to you in parables.
Parable of the Wheat and Weeds Explained
36Â Then, leaving the crowds outside, Jesus went into the house. His disciples said, â€œPlease explain to us the story of the weeds in the field.â€
37Â Jesus replied,Â â€œThe Son of ManÂ is the farmer who plants the good seed.Â 38Â The field is the world, and the good seed represents the people of the Kingdom. The weeds are the people who belong to the evil one.Â 39Â The enemy who planted the weeds among the wheat is the devil. The harvest is the end of the world,Â and the harvesters are the angels.
40Â â€œJust as the weeds are sorted out and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of the world.Â 41Â The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will remove from his Kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil.Â 42Â And the angels will throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.Â 43Â Then the righteous will shine like the sun in their Fatherâ€™s Kingdom. Anyone with ears to hear should listen and understand!
Parables of the Hidden Treasure and the Pearl
44Â â€œThe Kingdom of Heaven is like a treasure that a man discovered hidden in a field. In his excitement, he hid it again and sold everything he owned to get enough money to buy the field.
45Â â€œAgain, the Kingdom of Heaven is like a merchant on the lookout for choice pearls.Â 46Â When he discovered a pearl of great value, he sold everything he owned and bought it!
Parable of the Fishing Net
47Â â€œAgain, the Kingdom of Heaven is like a fishing net that was thrown into the water and caught fish of every kind.Â 48Â When the net was full, they dragged it up onto the shore, sat down, and sorted the good fish into crates, but threw the bad ones away.Â 49Â That is the way it will be at the end of the world. The angels will come and separate the wicked people from the righteous,Â 50Â throwing the wicked into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.Â 51Â Do you understand all these things?â€
â€œYes,â€ they said, â€œwe do.â€
52Â Then he added,Â â€œEvery teacher of religious law who becomes a disciple in the Kingdom of Heaven is like a homeowner who brings from his storeroom new gems of truth as well as old.â€
Jesus Rejected at Nazareth
53Â When Jesus had finished telling these stories and illustrations, he left that part of the country.Â 54Â He returned to Nazareth, his hometown. When he taught there in the synagogue, everyone was amazed and said, â€œWhere does he get this wisdom and the power to do miracles?â€Â 55Â Then they scoffed, â€œHeâ€™s just the carpenterâ€™s son, and we know Mary, his mother, and his brothersâ€”James, Joseph,Â Simon, and Judas.Â 56Â All his sisters live right here among us. Where did he learn all these things?â€57Â And they were deeply offended and refused to believe in him.
Then Jesus told them,Â â€œA prophet is honored everywhere except in his own hometown and among his own family.â€Â 58Â And so he did only a few miracles there because of their unbelief.