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Genesis 34:1–35:15 (LEB)

The Rape of Dinah and the Massacre at Shechem

34 Now Dinah the daughter of Leah, whom she had borne to Jacob, went out to see the daughters of the land. And Shechem, the son of Hamor the Hivite, the prince of the land, saw her. And he took her and lay with her and raped her. And his soul clung to Dinah, the daughter of Jacob, and he loved the girl and spoke tenderly to the girl. So Shechem said to Hamor his father, saying, “Get this girl for me as a wife.”

And Jacob heard that Dinah his daughter had been defiled, but his sons were with his flocks in the field. And Jacob kept silent until they came. And Hamor, father of Shechem, went out to Jacob to speak with him. And the sons of Jacob came in from the field when they heard it. And the men were distressed and very angry because he had done a disgraceful thing in Israel by having sexual relations with the daughter of Jacob—something that should not be done. And Hamor spoke with them saying, “Shechem my son is in love with your daughter. Please give her to him for a wife. Make marriages with us. Give us your daughters and take our daughters for yourselves. 10 You shall dwell with us and the land shall be before you; settle and trade in it, and acquire property in it.” 11 Then Shechem said to her father and to her brothers, “Let me find favor in your eyes, and whatever you say to me I will do. 12 Make the bride price and gift as high as you like; I will give what you say to me. But give me the girl as a wife.” 13 Then the sons of Jacob answered Shechem and his father Hamor speaking deceitfully, because he had defiled Dinah their sister. 14 And they said to them, “We cannot do this thing, to give our sister to a man who is uncircumcised, for that is a disgrace for us. 15 Only on this condition will we give consent to you; if you will become like us—every male among you to be circumcised. 16 Then we will give our daughters to you, and we will take for ourselves your daughters, and we will live with you and become one family. 17 But if you will not listen to us, to be circumcised, then we will take our daughters and we will go.” 18 And their words were good in the eyes of Hamor and in the eyes of Shechem, the son of Hamor. 19 And the young man did not delay to do the thing, for he wanted the daughter of Jacob. Now he was the most honored of his father’s house. 20 Then Hamor and his son Shechem came to the gate of their city, and they spoke to the men of their city, saying, 21 “These men are at peace with us. Let them dwell in the land and let them trade in it. Now, behold, the land is broad enough for them. Let us take their daughters as wives, and let us give our daughters to them. 22 Only on this condition will the men give consent to us, to live with us and to become one family—when every male among us is circumcised as they are circumcised. 23 Will not their livestock and their property and all their animals be ours? Only let us give consent to them so they will live among us.” 24 And all those who went out of the gate of his city listened to Hamor and his son Shechem. Every male was circumcised, all those who went out of the gate of his city. 25 And it happened that on the third day, while they were in pain, two of the sons of Jacob, Simeon and Levi, the brothers of Dinah, each took his sword and came against the unsuspecting city and killed all the males. 26 They killed Hamor and his son Shechem with the edge of the sword, and they took Dinah from the house of Shechem and went out. 27 The other sons of Jacob came upon the slain and plundered the city, because they had defiled their sister. 28 They took their flocks and their cattle and their donkeys, and whatever was in the city and whatever was in the field. 29 They captured and plundered all that was in the houses—all their wealth, their little ones, and their women. 30 Then Jacob said to Simeon and Levi, “You have brought trouble on me, making me stink among the inhabitants of the land, among the Canaanites and the Perizzites! I am few in number! If they gather against me and attack me, I will be destroyed—I and my household!” 31 But they said, “Shall he treat our sister like a prostitute?”

Jacob Goes Back to Bethel

35 And God said to Jacob, “Arise, go up to Bethel and dwell there, and make an altar to the God who appeared to you when you fled from before Esau your brother.” Then Jacob said to his household and to all who were with him, “Get rid of the foreign gods that are in your midst and purify yourselves and change your garments. Then let us make ready and let us go up to Bethel, so that I can make an altar there to the God who answered me in the day of my trouble, and who has been with me on the way that I have gone.” So they gave to Jacob all the foreign gods that were in their hands, and the ornamental rings that were in their ears. And Jacob buried them under the oak which was near Shechem. Then they set out on their journey, and the terror of God was upon the cities that were all around them, so that they did not pursue after the sons of Jacob. And Jacob came to Luz which was in the land of Canaan (that is Bethel), he and all the people that were with him. And he built an altar there and called the place El-Bethel, for there God had appeared to him when he fled before his brother. And Deborah, the nurse of Rebekah, died. And she was buried below Bethel, under the oak. And its name was called Allon-Bacuth. And God appeared to Jacob again when he came from Paddan-Aram, and he blessed him. 10 And God said to him, “Your name is Jacob. Your name shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel shall be your name.” Then his name was called Israel. 11 And God said to him, “I am El-Shaddai. Be fruitful and multiply. A nation and an assemblage of nations shall be from you, and kings shall go out from your loins. 12 And as for the land that I gave to Abraham and to Isaac, I will give it to you. And to your descendants after you I will give the land. 13 And God went up from him at the place where he spoke with him. 14 And Jacob set up a pillar at the place where God had spoken with him, a pillar of stone. And he poured out a drink offering upon it, and poured oil on it. 15 And Jacob called the name of the place where God had spoken with him Bethel.


Matthew 25:14–26:13 (LEB)

The Parable of the Talents

14 For it is like a man going on a journey. He summoned his own slaves and handed over his property to them. 15 And to one he gave five talents, and to another two, and to another one, to each one according to his own ability, and he went on a journey immediately. 16 The one who had received the five talents went out and​ traded with them and gained five more. 17 In the same way the one who had the two gained two more. 18 But the one who had received the one went away and​ dug up the ground and hid his master’s money. 19 Now after a long time, the master of those slaves came and settled accounts with them. 20 And the one who had received the five talents came up and​ brought five more talents, saying, ‘Master, you handed over to me five talents. See, I have gained five more talents!’ 21 His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful slave! You were faithful over a few things; I will put you in charge over many things. Enter into the joy of your master!’ 22 And the one who had the two talents also came up and​ said, ‘Master, you handed over to me two talents. See, I have gained two talents more!’ 23 His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful slave! You were faithful over a few things; I will put you in charge over many things. Enter into the joy of your master!’ 24 And the one who had received the one talent came up also and​ said, ‘Master, because I​ knew you, that you are a hard man, reaping where you did not sow and gathering from where you did not scatter seed.​ 25 And because I​ was afraid, I went away and​ hid your talent in the ground. See, you have what is yours!’ 26 But his master answered and​ said to him, ‘Evil and lazy slave! You knew that I reap where I did not sow and gather from where I did not scatter seed.​ 27 Then you ought to have deposited my money with the bankers, and when I​ returned I would have gotten back what was mine with interest! 28 Therefore take the talent from him and give it​ to the one who has the ten talents. 29 For to everyone who has, more will be given, and he will have an abundance. But from the one who does not have, even what he has will be taken away from him. 30 And throw the worthless slave into the outer darkness—in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth!’

The Judgment of the Sheep and the Goats

31 Now when the Son of Man comes in his glory and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. 32 And all the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate them from one another like a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 And he will place the sheep on his right and the goats on the left. 34 Then the king will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father. Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world! 35 For I was hungry and you gave me something​ to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something​ to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me as a guest, 36 I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you cared for me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ 37 Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you,​ or thirsty and give you something​ to drink? 38 And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you​ as a guest, or naked and clothe you?​ 39 And when did we see you sick or in prison and come to you?’ 40 And the king will answer and​ say to them, ‘Truly I say to you, in as much as you did it​ to one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did it​ to me.’ 41 Then he will also say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you accursed ones, into the eternal fire that has been prepared for the devil and his angels! 42 For I was hungry and you did not give me anything​ to eat, I was thirsty and you did not give me anything​ to drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not welcome me as a guest, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not care for me.’ 44 Then they will also answer, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison and not serve you?’ 45 Then he will answer them, saying, ‘Truly I say to you, in as much as you did not do it​ to one of the least of these, you did not do it​ to me.’ 46 And these will depart into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”

The Chief Priests and Elders Plot to Kill Jesus

26 And it happened that when Jesus had finished all these sayings, he said to his disciples, “You know that after two days the Passover takes place, and the Son of Man will be handed over in order to be crucified.”

Then the chief priests and the elders of the people assembled in the palace of the high priest, who was named Caiaphas, and plotted in order that they could arrest Jesus by stealth and kill him.​ But they were saying, “Not during the feast, so that there will not be an uproar among the people.”

Jesus’ Anointing at Bethany

Now while​ Jesus was at Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, a woman came up to him holding an alabaster flask of very expensive perfumed oil, and poured it​ out on his head while he​ was reclining at table. And when​ the disciples saw it​ they were indignant, saying, “Why this waste? For this could have been sold for a large sum and given to the poor!” 10 But Jesus, knowing this,​ said to them, “Why do you cause trouble for the woman? For she has done a good deed for me. 11 For the poor you always have with you, but you do not always have me. 12 For when​ this woman poured this ointment on my body, she did it​ in order to prepare me for burial. 13 Truly I say to you, wherever this gospel is proclaimed in the whole world, what this woman has done will also be told in memory of her.”


Ecclesiastes 8:1–9 (LEB)

Wisdom is Valuable

8 Who is like the sage?

Who knows the interpretation of a thing?

A man’s wisdom makes his face shine,

and the hardness of his face is changed.

Keep the command of the king

because of your oath to God.

Do not be terrified of his presence!

Go at once and do not delay when a matter is unpleasant,

for he can do anything that he desires.

Since the word of the king is supreme,

no one can say to him, “What are you doing?”

Whoever obeys his command will not suffer disaster.

The wise mind knows the proper time and the right procedure.

For there is a proper time and right procedure for every matter,

even though the trouble of man weighs heavy upon him.

No One Knows the Future

Surely no one knows what will be,

so who can tell anyone what will happen?

Just as no one can control the wind to restrain the wind,

so also no one can control the day of his death.

Just as no one is discharged in time of war,

so wickedness will not deliver the wicked.

The World Marred by Oppression and Injustice

I saw all this as I applied my heart to all the deeds done under the sun: sometimes those in authority harm others.


January 21

“For there is a time and a way for everything, although man’s trouble lies heavy on him. For he does not know what is to be, for who can tell him how it will be?” (Eccl 8:6).

We all struggle with the future and the vast uncertainty it creates in our minds. It’s rarely the present that keeps us awake at night; it’s our concerns about what will happen if the present changes for better or worse.

But unlike other places in the Bible when we’re told not to worry, the words of Ecclesiastes 8:6 are set in the context of a request to obey the king of the land. This is not because the king is offered as a solution to the problems, although he could potentially help, but because like many other things, there is nothing that can be done about him. Why worry about that which you cannot change?

This situation is equated to life and death itself: “No man has power to retain the spirit, or power over the way of death” (Eccl 8:8). The Preacher of Ecclesiastes then goes on to reflect the cultural reality of the time: “There is no discharge from war, nor will wickedness deliver those who are given to it.” Again, what can you change about it? If the king is corrupt, it will destroy him, like it will destroy others—it’s only a matter of time. Wickedness has no power to deliver; only the power to destroy.

And this is most pressing for reflection: Sin is often cast as an escape from life’s pains and sometimes feelings of meaninglessness, yet it really destroys life. (If only this reasoning was present in our thinking every time we were tempted.)

The Preacher of Ecclesiastes begins to draw his thoughts to a close by telling us: People’s power over one another is “hurt”—it’s painful (Eccl 8:9). Here in a passage about the need for people to be governed (that’s likely written by one in power), we see the author admit that power will inflict pain, or more literally “evil” or “badness.”

This startling reality forms another realization: In a world that was meant to have God as its king and ruler—in a world where that power only shifted after people sinned and were no longer allowed in the presence of their creator—it makes sense that power would corrupt. But we’re told: what can we do about it? The only thing we can do is to be people who choose to follow the good—the good God—and work toward the overthrowing of evil and the battle against corruption. But we must, along the way, realize that worry and anxiety will only paralyze, not help.

What do you need to pray about that is a worry or anxiety of yours? In what ways can you be an agent of change in the world, without succumbing to the pains it can bring?


John D. Barry is the publisher of Lexham Press, general editor of Faithlife Study Bible and Lexham Bible Dictionary, and the previous editor-in-chief of Bible Study Magazine. He is the author of The Resurrected Servant in Isaiah, Cutting Ties with Darkness, and Letters to a Christian, as well as the coauthor of Mary: Devoted to God's Plan. John is also the author of Not Your Average Bible Study volumes on Malachi, Colossians, Hebrews, James, and 1 Peter, and the coauthor of a study on 2 Peter–Jude.


Connect the Testaments: A Daily Devotional

Author: John D. Barry & Rebecca Van Noord

Publisher: Lexham Press

Publication Date: 2012

This 365-day devotional walks you through the Bible in a year, following a custom reading plan that delves into the stories of the Bible from five unique perspectives.