Parashot

Week Ending Saturday, August 18, 2018

שפטים

SHOF’TIM (JUDGES)

 


Deuteronomy 16:18-21:9

Parashat Shoftim

Judges Appointed

18 “Judges and officers you are to appoint within all your gates that Adonai your God is giving you, according to your tribes; and they are to judge the people with righteous judgment. 19 You are not to twist justice—you must not show partiality or take a bribe, for a bribe blinds the eyes of the wise and distorts the words of the righteous. 20 Justice, justice you must pursue, so that you may live and possess the land that Adonai your God is giving you. 21 You are not to plant for yourself an Asherah pole of any kind of wood beside the altar of Adonai your God that you make for yourself. 22 Nor are you to set up a pillar for yourself—Adonai your God hates this.

Investigations and Witnesses

17 “You are not to sacrifice to Adonai your God a bull or a sheep that has a defect or anything bad—for that would be an abomination to Adonai your God. Suppose there is found in your midst—within one of your gates that Adonai your God is giving you—a man or woman who does what is evil in the eyes of Adonai your God by transgressing His covenant. This person goes and serves other gods and worships them—the sun or moon or any of the heavenly host, which I have not commanded. It is told to you and you have heard about it, and you investigate thoroughly and indeed it is true and the thing certain—this abomination has been done in Israel. Then you are to bring out to your gates that man or woman who has done this evil thing, and stone that man or woman with stones to death. By the word of two or three witnesses,[a] the one who is to die is to be put to death. No one is to be put to death by the word of one witness. The hand of the witnesses is to be first to put him to death, and afterward the hand of all the people. So you are to purge the evil from your midst.

“Suppose a matter arises that is too hard for you to judge—over bloodshed, legal claims or assault—matters of controversy within your gates. Then you should go up to the place Adonai your God chooses, and come to the Levitical kohanim and the judge in charge at that time. And you will inquire, and they will tell you the sentence of judgment. 10 You are to act according to the sentence they tell you from that place Adonai chooses, and take care to do all that they instruct you. 11 You are to act according to the instruction they teach you and the judgment they tell you—you must not turn aside from the sentence they tell you, to the right or to the left. 12 The man who acts presumptuously by not listening to the kohen who stands to serve there before Adonai your God, or to the judge, that man must die. So you are to purge the evil from Israel. 13 Then all the people will hear and be afraid, and not act presumptuously again.

Torah for Kings

14 “When you come to the land that Adonai your God is giving you, possess it and dwell in it, and you say, ‘I will set a king over me, like all the nations around me,’ 15 you will indeed set over yourselves a king, whom Adonai your God chooses. One from among your brothers will be appointed as king over you—you may not put a foreigner over you, who is not your brother. 16 Only he should not multiply horses for himself or make the people return to Egypt to multiply horses, because Adonai has said to you, “You must never go back that way again.” 17 Nor should he multiply wives for himself, so that his heart does not turn aside, nor multiply much silver and gold for himself.

18 “Now when he sits on the throne of his kingdom, he is to write for himself a copy of this Torah on a scroll, from what is before the Levitical kohanim. 19 It will remain with him, and he will read in it all the days of his life, in order to learn to fear Adonai his God and keep all the words of this Torah and these statutes. 20 Then his heart will not be exalted above his brothers, and he will not turn from the commandment to the right or to the left—so that he may prolong his days in his kingship, he and his sons, in the midst of Israel.

18 “The Levitical kohanim, all the tribe of Levi, are to have no portion or inheritance with Israel. They are to eat the offerings made to Adonai by fire as His inheritance. [b] They will have no inheritance among their brothers—Adonai is their inheritance, just as He promised them. So this will be the share due to the kohanim from the people—from those who offer a sacrifice, whether a bull or sheep, they are to give the kohen the shoulder, two cheeks, and the stomach. The firstfruits of your grain, of your new wine, of your oil, and the first fleece of your sheep, you are to give him. For Adonai your God has chosen him from all your tribes to stand and serve in the Name of Adonai—him and his sons forever.

“Suppose a Levite comes from one of your towns, wherever he is living in all of Israel, and he comes whenever his soul desires to the place Adonai chooses, and serves in the Name of Adonai his God like all his fellow Levites who stand there before Adonai. They are to eat equal portions, regardless of their fathers’ goods.

Occultism Loathsome to Adonai

When you enter the land Adonai your God is giving you, you are not to learn to do the abominations of those nations. 10 There must not be found among you anyone who makes his son or daughter pass through the fire, or a fortune-teller, soothsayer, omen reader, or sorcerer, 11 or one who casts spells, or a medium, a spiritist, or one who calls up the dead. 12 For whoever does these things is an abomination to Adonai, and because of these abominations Adonai your God is driving them out from before you. 13 You are to be blameless before Adonai your God.

14 “For these nations, which you are about to dispossess, listen to soothsayers and fortune-tellers, but as for you, Adonai your God will not allow you to do so.

A Prophet is Promised

15 Adonai your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from your midst—from your brothers. To him you must listen. [c] 16 This is just what you asked of Adonai your God in Horeb on the day of the assembly when saying, ‘I cannot continue to hear the voice of Adonai my God or see this great fire any more, or I will die.’

17 Adonai said to me, ‘They have done well in what they have spoken. 18 I will raise up a prophet like you for them from among their brothers. I will put My words in his mouth, and he will speak to them all that I command him. [d] 19 Now whoever does not listen to My words that this prophet speaks in My Name, I Myself will call him to account. [e] 20 But the prophet who presumes to speak a word in My Name, which I have not commanded him to speak, or who speaks in the name of other gods—that prophet will die.’

21 “Now should you say in your heart, ‘How would we recognize the word that Adonai has not spoken?’ 22 When a prophet speaks in Adonai’s Name and the word does not happen or come true, that is a word that Adonai has not spoken. The prophet has spoken it presumptuously—do not be afraid of him.

Cities of Refuge

19 “When Adonai your God cuts off the nations whose land Adonai your God is giving you, and you dispossess them and dwell in their cities and houses, you are to set apart three cities for yourself within the land He is giving you to possess. You are to prepare the way for yourself and divide into three parts the borders of your land that Adonai your God enables you to inherit, so that anyone who kills may flee there. Now this is the case of the one who kills, who may flee there and live—whoever kills his neighbor unintentionally and did not hate him in the past— as when someone goes into the forest with his neighbor to chop wood, and his hand takes a swing with the axe to cut down the tree, and the iron flies off the wood and hits his neighbor so that he dies. He may flee to one of these cities and live. Otherwise if the way is long, the avenger of the blood, while his heart is hot, may chase the manslayer, catch up to him and strike him dead. Yet no death sentence is on him, since he did not hate him in the past. Therefore I am commanding you—set apart three cities for yourself.

“Suppose Adonai your God enlarges your territory, as He has sworn to your fathers, and He gives you all the land that He promised to give to your fathers— when you take care to do all this mitzvah that I am commanding you today, to love Adonai your God and to always walk in His ways. Then you are to add three more cities for yourself, besides these three. 10 Then innocent blood will not be shed within your land that Adonai your God is giving you as an inheritance, and there would be blood upon you.

11 “But suppose someone hates his neighbor, waits in hiding for him, rises up against him, strikes him dead, then flees to one of these cities. 12 Then the elders of his hometown should send and take him from there and hand him over to the avenger of blood, to die. 13 Your eye should not pity him, but you must purge the innocent blood from Israel, so that it may go well with you.

14 “You must not move your neighbor’s boundary marker that the first generations marked out, in the inheritance you will receive in the land Adonai your God is giving you to possess.

15 A single witness shall not rise up against a person for any offense or sin that he commits. By the word of two or three witnesses is a case to be established. [f] 16 Suppose a hostile witness rises up against someone to accuse him of wrongdoing. 17 Then both people who have the dispute will stand before Adonai, before the kohanim and judges in charge at that time. 18 The judges are to investigate thoroughly, and if indeed the witness is a false witness and has testified falsely against his brother, 19 then you are to do to him just as he had plotted to do to his brother. So you will purge the evil from your midst. 20 Those who remain will hear and be afraid, and they will no longer do such an evil thing as this in your midst. 21 Your eye must not show pity—life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot.

Confidence in Battle

20 “When you go out to battle against your enemies and see horse and chariot—a people more numerous than you—do not be afraid of them. For Adonai your God, the One who brought you up from the land of Egypt, is with you. When you draw near to the battle, the kohen will come forward and speak to the people. He will say to them, ‘Hear, O Israel, you are drawing near today to the battle against your enemies. Don’t be fainthearted! Don’t fear or panic or tremble because of them. For Adonai your God is the One who goes with you, to fight for you against your enemies to save you.’

“The officers are to speak to the troops saying, ‘What man has built a new house but has not dedicated it? Let him go back to his house—otherwise he might die in the battle and another man would dedicate it. What man has planted a vineyard but has not put it to use? Let him go back to his house—otherwise he might die in the battle and another man would begin to use it. What man has become engaged to a woman but has not married her? Let him go back to his house—otherwise he might die in the battle and another man would marry her.’ The officers will speak further to the troops and say, ‘What man is afraid and fainthearted? Let him go back to his house—so he does not weaken his brothers’ heart like his own.’ Then when the officers have finished speaking to the troops, they should appoint army commanders at the head of the troops.

10 “When you go near a city to fight against it, call out shalom to it. 11 Now if it answers you shalom and opens up to you, then all the people found in it will serve you as forced laborers. 12 If it does not make peace with you but makes war against you, then lay siege against that city. 13 When Adonai your God hands it over to you, you are to strike all its males with the sword. 14 Only the women, children, livestock and all that is in the city—all its spoil—may you take as plunder for yourself. So you may consume your enemies’ spoil, which Adonai your God has given you. 15 Thus you will do to all the cities that are very distant from you, which are not among the towns of these nations nearby. 16 However, only from the cities of these peoples, which Adonai your God is giving you as an inheritance, you must not let anything that breathes live. 17 You must utterly destroy them—the Hittites, the Amorites, the Canaanites, the Perizzites, the Hivites and the Jebusites—just as Adonai your God has commanded you. 18 You are to do this so they will not teach you to do all the abominations as they have done for their gods, and so you would sin against Adonai your God.

19 “When you lay siege to a city for a long time, making war against it to capture it, you are not to destroy its trees by swinging an axe at them. For from them you may eat, so you shall not chop them down. For is the tree of the field human, that it should enter the siege before you? 20 You may destroy and chop down only the trees that you know are not trees for food, so that you may build siege equipment against the city that is making war with you until its downfall.

Purging Innocent Blood

21 “Suppose a slain person is found fallen in a field, on the land Adonai your God is giving you to possess—who struck him is unknown. Then your elders and judges must come out and measure the distance to the towns that are around the slain one. Now the town nearest to the slain one—the elders of that city are to take from the herd a heifer that has not been used for work or pulled a yoke. Then the elders of that city are to bring the heifer down to a flowing wadi that has not been plowed or sown, and break the heifer’s neck there in the wadi. The kohanim, the sons of Levi, will come forward—for Adonai your God has chosen them to serve Him and pronounce blessings in His Name, and by their mouth every dispute and assault is to be settled. All the elders of that city nearest to the slain one will wash their hands over the heifer whose neck was broken in the wadi. Then they will answer and say, ‘Our hands did not shed this blood, nor did our eyes see. Grant atonement for Your people Israel whom You have redeemed, Adonai, and do not put innocent blood on Your people Israel.’ Then atonement will be granted to them for the blood. So you will purge the guilt of innocent blood from your midst, when you do what is right in Adonai’s sight.


Isaiah 51:12-52

12 “I, I am the One who comforts you.
Who are you that you should fear man,
    who dies, or a son of man,
    who is given up like grass?”

13 But you forgot Adonai your Maker,
who stretched out the heavens
and laid the foundations of the earth.
Are you in constant dread all day
    because of the fury of the oppressor
    as he makes ready to destroy?
But where is the fury of the oppressor?
14 Soon one bowed down will be released.
He will not die and go to the Pit,
nor will his bread be lacking.

15 “For I am Adonai your God,
who stirs up the sea so that its waves roar—
Adonai-Tzva’ot is His Name.
16 I have put My words in your mouth,
and covered you with the shadow of My hand—
I who set the heavens in place,
who laid the foundations of the earth,
and say to Zion, ‘You are My people.’”

17 Awake, awake!
Stand up, Jerusalem!
From Adonai’s hand you have drunk the cup of His fury,
    the chalice of reeling
that you have drained to the dregs.

18 There is none to guide her
    among all the sons she has borne,
nor is there one to take her by the hand
    among all the sons she has raised.

19 These two things have befallen you
—who will mourn for you?—
devastation and destruction, famine and the sword.
How will I comfort you?
20 Your sons have fainted.
They lie at every street corner,
    like an antelope in a net.
They are full of Adonai’s fury,
    the rebuke of your God.
21 Therefore hear this, you who are afflicted,
who are drunk, but not with wine.
22 Thus says your Lord, Adonai your God who defends His people:
    “Behold, I have taken from your hand the cup of reeling,
    the bowl of My wrath.
    You will never drink it again.
23 Then I will put it into the hand of your tormentors,
who said to you, ‘Lie down, so we may walk over you.’
You have made your back like the ground
    and like a street for passersby.

Ma Navu: The Song of Salvation

52 Awake, awake!
Clothe yourself in your strength, Zion!
Clothe yourself in beautiful garments, Jerusalem, the holy city,
for the uncircumcised and the unclean
    will never invade you again.
Shake off the dust and arise!
Be enthroned, Jerusalem.
Loose the bonds off your neck,
    captive Daughter of Zion.

For thus says Adonai:
“You were sold for nothing.
So you will be redeemed without silver.”
For thus says Adonai Elohim:
“At first My people went down to Egypt to reside there,
    then the Assyrian oppressed them for nothing.
“Now therefore, what do I have here?”
—it is a declaration of Adonai
“My people are taken away for nothing?
Its rulers wail”
—it is Adonai’s declaration—
“and My Name is continually blasphemed all day long.[a]
Therefore My people will know My Name.
Therefore in that day,
    I am the One who will be saying, ‘Hineni!’”

How beautiful on the mountains are
the feet of him who brings good news,
who announces shalom,
who brings good news of happiness,[b]
who announces salvation,
who says to Zion, “Your God reigns!”
The voice of your watchmen—they will lift up their voices.
Together they are shouting for joy!
For they will see eye to eye
    when Adonai returns to Zion.
Break forth in joy, sing together,
you ruins of Jerusalem,
for Adonai has comforted His people.
He has redeemed Jerusalem.
10 Adonai has bared His holy arm
before the eyes of all the nations.
All the ends of the earth will see
    the salvation of our God.[c]

11 Leave, leave! Get out of there!
Touch no unclean thing.
Go out of her midst. Purify yourselves,
    you who carry the vessels of Adonai.
12 For you will not go out in haste,
nor will you go in flight,
for Adonai will go before you,
and the God of Israel will be your rear guard.


Matthew 3

John’s Witness to Israel’s Leaders

In those days, John the Immerser came proclaiming in the wilderness of Judea, “Turn away from your sins, for the kingdom of heaven is near!” [a] For he is the one Isaiah the prophet spoke about, saying,

“The voice of one crying in the wilderness,
‘Prepare the way of Adonai, and make His paths straight.’”[b]

Now John wore clothing from camel’s hair and a leather belt around his waist, and his food was locusts[c] and wild honey. Then Jerusalem was going out to him, and all Judea and all the region around the Jordan. Confessing their sins, they were being immersed by him in the Jordan River.

But when he saw many Pharisees and Sadducees coming to his immersion, he said to them, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath? Therefore produce fruit worthy of repentance; and do not think that you can say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father’! For I tell you that from these stones God can raise up children for Abraham. 10 Already the axe is laid at the root of the trees; therefore every tree that does not produce good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire!

11 “As for me, I immerse you in water for repentance. But the One coming after me is mightier than I am; I am not worthy to carry His sandals. He will immerse you in the Ruach ha-Kodesh and fire. 12 His winnowing fork is in His hand, and He shall clear His threshing floor and gather His wheat into the barn; but the chaff He shall burn up with inextinguishable fire.”[d]

The Heavens Open at Yeshua’s Mikveh

13 Then Yeshua came from the Galilee to John, to be immersed by him in the Jordan. 14 But John tried to prevent Him, saying, “I need to be immersed by You, and You are coming to me?”

15 But Yeshua responded, “Let it happen now, for in this way it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” So John yielded to Him.

16 After being immersed, Yeshua rose up out of the water; and behold, the heavens were opened to Him, and He saw the Ruach Elohim[e] descending like a dove and coming upon Him. 17 And behold, a voice from the heavens said, “This is My Son, whom I love; with Him I am well pleased!”[f]


Acts 10-12

The Centurion’s Vision

10 Now in Caesarea there was a man named Cornelius, a centurion of what was called the Italian Cohort. He was a devout man, revering God with all his household. He gave tzedakah generously to the people and prayed to God continually. About the ninth hour of the day,[a] he saw clearly in a vision an angel of God coming and saying to him, “Cornelius!”

He stared at him in terror and said, “What is it, Lord?”

The angel said to him, “Your prayers and tzedakah have gone up as a memorial offering before God. Now send men to Joppa and call for Simon, also named Peter. He is being entertained as a guest by Simon the tanner, whose house is beside the sea.”

When the angel speaking to him had left, he called two of his servants and a soldier from among those attached to his command. After he explained everything to them, he sent them to Joppa.

Peter’s Vision

The next day, as the soldiers were traveling and approaching the city, Peter went up to the rooftop to pray, at about the sixth hour. [b] 10 Now he became very hungry and wanted to eat; but while they were preparing something, he fell into a trance. 11 He saw the heavens opened, and something[c] like a great sheet coming down, lowered by its four corners to the earth. 12 In it were all sorts of four-footed animals and reptiles and birds of the air.

13 A voice came to him, “Get up, Peter. Kill and eat.”

14 But Peter said, “Certainly not, Lord! For never have I eaten anything unholy or unclean.”[d]

15 Again a voice came to him, a second time: “What God has made clean, you must not consider unholy.” 16 This happened three times, and the sheet was immediately taken up to heaven.

17 Now while Peter was puzzling about what the vision he had seen might mean, behold, the men sent by Cornelius found Simon’s house and appeared before the gate. 18 They called out and began to ask whether Simon, also called Peter, was staying in this place as a guest.

19 Now while Peter was mulling over the vision, the Ruach said to him, “Look here, three men are looking for you. 20 But get up, go downstairs, and go with them without hesitating, because I Myself have sent them.”

21 Going down to the men, Peter said, “Here, I’m the one you’re looking for. What is the reason for your coming?”

22 And they said, “Cornelius, a centurion, a righteous and God-fearing man well-spoken of by all the Jewish people, was directed by a holy angel to summon you to his house and to hear a message from you.”

23 So Peter invited them in to be his guests. The next day he got up and went with them, and some of the brothers from Joppa accompanied him.

Peter Goes to Cornelius

24 The following day he entered Caesarea. Cornelius was waiting for them and had called together his relatives and close friends. 25 As Peter entered, Cornelius met him and fell down at his feet and worshiped him.

26 But Peter pulled him up, saying, “Stand up! I too am just a man.”

27 Talking with him, Peter went inside and found many people gathered. 28 He said to them, “You yourselves know that it is not permitted for a Jewish man to associate with a non-Jew or to visit him. Yet God has shown me that I should call no one unholy or unclean. 29 So I came without objection when I was sent for. I ask, then, what is the reason why you sent for me?”

30 Cornelius declared, “Four days ago at this hour, I was praying minchah[e] in my house. Suddenly, a man stood in front of me in shining clothes. 31 He says, ‘Cornelius, your prayer has been heard and your tzedakah remembered before God. 32 Therefore send to Joppa and ask for Simon, who is also called Peter. He is staying in the house of Simon the tanner, by the sea.’ 33 So I sent for you immediately, and you have been kind enough to come. Now then, we are all here before God to hear all that you have been commanded by the Lord.”

34 Then Peter opened his mouth and said, “I truly understand that God is not one to show favoritism, [f] 35 but in every nation the one who fears Him and does what is right is acceptable to Him. 36 You know the message He sent to Bnei-Yisrael, proclaiming shalom through Messiah Yeshua—He is Lord of all. 37 You know the message that has spread throughout all Judea, beginning from Galilee after the immersion that John proclaimed. 38 You know how God anointed Yeshua of Natzeret with the Ruach ha-Kodesh and power—how He went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, because God was with Him. 39 We are witnesses to all He did, both in the Judean countryside and in Jerusalem. They put Him to death by hanging Him on a tree, 40 but God raised Him up on the third day and caused Him to be visible— 41 not to all the people, but to us, witnesses who were chosen beforehand by God. We ate and drank with Him after He rose from the dead. 42 And He commanded us to proclaim to the people and to testify that He is the One ordained by God as Judge of the living and the dead. 43 All the prophets testify about Him—that everyone who puts his trust in Him receives forgiveness of sins through His name.”

The Ruach Falls on the Gentiles

44 While Peter was still speaking these words, the Ruach ha-Kodesh fell on all those hearing the message. 45 All the circumcised believers who came with Peter were astonished, because the gift of the Ruach ha-Kodesh had been poured out even on the Gentiles. 46 For they were hearing them speaking in tongues and magnifying God.

Then Peter answered, 47 “Can anyone refuse water for these to be immersed, who have received the Ruach ha-Kodesh just as we did?” 48 So he commanded them to be immersed in the name of Messiah Yeshua. Then they asked him to stay for a few days.

Peter’s Report to Jerusalem

11 Now the emissaries and brothers throughout Judea heard that the Gentiles also had received the word of God. But when Peter went up to Jerusalem, those of the circumcision took issue with him, saying, “You went to uncircumcised men and ate with them!”

So Peter began explaining to them point by point, saying, “I was in the city of Joppa praying, and in a trance I saw a vision—something like a great sheet coming down, being lowered from heaven by its four corners, and it came right to me. I looked inside, considering it carefully, and saw four-footed creatures of the earth, wild animals, reptiles, and birds of the air. I also heard a voice saying, ‘Get up, Peter. Kill and eat.’

“But I said, ‘Certainly not, Lord! For never has anything unholy or unclean entered my mouth.’ But a voice from heaven answered a second time, ‘What God has made clean, you must not consider unholy.’ 10 This happened three times, and then everything was pulled up to heaven.

11 “At that very moment, three men arrived at the house where we were, sent to me from Caesarea. 12 The Ruach told me to go with them without hesitating. These six brothers also went with me, and we entered the man’s house. 13 He reported to us how he had seen an angel standing in his house and saying, ‘Send to Joppa and bring Simon called Peter. 14 He will speak words to you by which you will be saved—you and all your household.’

15 “As I began to speak, the Ruach ha-Kodesh fell on them, just as on us at the beginning. 16 And I remembered the word of the Lord, how He used to say, ‘John immersed with water, but you will be immersed in the Ruach ha-Kodesh.’ 17 Therefore if God gave them the same gift as also to us after we put our trust in the Lord Messiah Yeshua, who was I to stand in God’s way?”

18 When they heard this they became quiet, and they glorified God, saying, “Then even to the Gentiles God has granted repentance leading to life!”

Discipling in Diaspora

19 Now those scattered because of the persecution that happened in connection with Stephen traveled as far as Phoenicia and Cyprus and Antioch, telling the message only to Judeans. 20 However, there were some of them, men of Cyprus and Cyrene, who came to Antioch and began speaking to the Hellenists also, proclaiming the Lord Yeshua. 21 The hand of the Lord was with them, and a great number who believed turned to the Lord.

22 News about these things reached the ears of the community in Jerusalem, and they sent Barnabas to Antioch. 23 When he arrived and saw the grace of God, he was thrilled. He encouraged them all to remain true to the Lord with heartfelt devotion. 24 For Barnabas was a good man, full of the Ruach ha-Kodesh and faith. And a large number was added to the Lord.

25 Then Barnabas left for Tarsus to look for Saul, 26 and when he had found him, he brought him to Antioch. For a whole year they met together with Messiah’s community and taught a large number. Now it was in Antioch that the disciples were first called “Christianoi.”[g]

27 Now in these days prophets came down from Jerusalem to Antioch. 28 One of them, named Agabus, stood up and predicted through the Ruach that there was going to be a great famine over all the world. (This took place during the reign of Claudius.) 29 So the disciples decided to send relief to those brothers and sisters living in Judea, each according to his ability. 30 This they did, sending it to the elders by the hand of Barnabas and Saul.

Persecution and Deliverance

12 Now at that time Herod the king seized some from Messiah’s community to do them harm. He had Jacob, John’s brother, put to death with the sword. Seeing it pleased the Judean leaders, he proceeded to capture Peter as well. This was during the Days of Matzah. After seizing him, he put him in prison, handing him over to four squads with four soldiers each to guard him. He was intending to bring him before the people after Passover. So Peter was kept in prison, but prayer for him was being offered fervently to God by Messiah’s community.

Now that very night when Herod was about to bring him out, Peter was sleeping—bound with two chains between two soldiers, while guards before the gate were keeping watch over the prison. Suddenly an angel of the Lord appeared, and a light shone in the cell. He poked Peter on the side and woke him up, saying, “Get up! Quick!” And the chains fell off his hands. Then the angel said to him, “Get dressed and put on your sandals,” and he did so. Then he tells him, “Put on your cloak and follow me.” Peter went out and kept following him—he didn’t know that what was happening with the angel was real, but thought he was seeing a vision. 10 After they passed a first guard and a second, they came to the iron gate leading into the city. It opened for them by itself. They went out and walked along a narrow street. Suddenly the angel left him.

11 When Peter came to himself, he said, “Now I know for real that the Lord has sent His angel[h] and delivered me from the hand of Herod and from all that the Judean people were expecting.” 12 When he realized this, he went to the house of Miriam, the mother of John (also called Mark), where many were assembled together and praying. 13 When he knocked on the door of the entrance gate, a maid named Rhoda came to answer. 14 Although she recognized Peter’s voice, out of joy she did not open the gate but ran in and announced that Peter was standing in front of the gate. 15 They said to her, “You’re crazy!” But she kept insisting it was so. But they were saying, “It is his angel.”

16 But Peter kept on knocking. When they opened the gate, they saw him and were amazed! 17 But he motioned with his hand for them to be silent, and he explained to them how the Lord had brought him out of the prison. He said, “Go tell these things to Jacob and the brothers.” Then he left and went to another place.

18 When day came, there was no small commotion among the soldiers as to what had become of Peter. 19 After Herod made a search for him and did not find him, he interrogated the guards and commanded that they be led away to execution. Then he went down from Judea and stayed in Caesarea.

Herod Gets His Due

20 Now it happened that Herod was furious with the people of Tyre and Sidon. So they came to him, united. Having won over Blastus, the king’s personal aide, they began asking for peace—because their country was supplied with food from the king’s country.

21 On an appointed day, Herod donned his royal robes and, taking his seat upon the throne, began to make a speech to them. 22 The people were shouting, “The voice of a god and not a human!” 23 Immediately, an angel of the Lord struck him down—because he did not give God the glory. And he was eaten by worms and died.

24 But the word of God kept on growing and multiplying. 25 And Barnabas and Saul returned to Jerusalem when they had fulfilled their service, taking along John (who was also called Mark).