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All References Week Starting March 24
of the Bible
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Bible Reading: Genesis 47-50
No. 1: Genesis 48:17-49:7
No. 2: The Events Associated With Christ’s Presence Take Place Over a Period of Years—rs p. 341 par. 1,2
No. 3: Abimelech—Presumptuousness Ends in Personal Disaster—it 1 p. 24, Abimelech #4
Talk #2 – The Events Associated With Christ’s Presence Take Place Over a Period of Years
*** rs p. 341 Return of Christ ***
Do the events associated with Christ’s presence take place in a very brief time or over a period of years?
Matt. 24:37-39: “Just as the days of Noah were, so the presence [“coming,” RS, TEV; “presence,” Yg, Ro, ED; Greek, pa•rou•si′a] of the Son of man will be. For as they were in those days before the flood, eating and drinking, men marrying and women being given in marriage, until the day that Noah entered into the ark; and they took no note until the flood came and swept them all away, so the presence of the Son of man will be.” (The events of “the days of Noah” that are described here took place over a period of many years. Jesus compared his presence with what occurred back then.)
At Matthew 24:37 the Greek word pa•rou•si′a is used. Literally it means a “being alongside.” Liddell and Scott’s Greek-English Lexicon (Oxford, 1968) gives “presence, of persons,” as its first definition of pa•rou•si′a. The sense of the word is clearly indicated at Philippians 2:12, where Paul contrasts his presence (pa•rou•si′a) with his absence (a•pou•si′a). On the other hand, in Matthew 24:30, which tells of the “Son of man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory” as Jehovah’s executioner at the war of Armageddon, the Greek word er•kho′me•non is used. Some translators use ‘coming’ for both Greek words, but those that are more careful convey the difference between the two.
Talk #3 – Abimelech—Presumptuousness Ends in Personal Disaster
*** it-1 p. 24 Abimelech ***
4. A son of Judge Gideon born to his concubine at Shechem. After his father’s death, Abimelech with presumptuous impudence sought to make himself king. Cunningly, he appealed to the landowners of Shechem through his mother’s influential family. Upon obtaining their financial support he hired some ruffians, went to his father’s house at Ophrah, and there massacred his half brothers upon a single stone. Of the 70 half brothers, only the youngest, Jotham, escaped the slaughter.
Abimelech was then proclaimed king, but Jehovah allowed a bad spirit to develop between the Shechemites and their new “king,” in order to avenge the bloodguilt of all those connected with the conspiracy. A revolt was organized by Gaal. Abimelech quickly crushed it, captured and destroyed the city of Shechem, and sowed it with salt. Then he attacked the vault of the house, or sanctuary, of El-berith and set it afire, and in the conflagration about a thousand of his previous collaborators, the landowners of the tower of Shechem who had taken refuge there, were burned to death. Immediately Abimelech followed up this success by attacking Thebez to the N, only to have a woman on the city tower hurl an upper millstone down upon his head. Abimelech’s three-year “reign” came to an end when his armor-bearer, in compliance with his dying request, ran him through with the sword, so that it could not be said that a woman had killed him.—Jg 8:30, 31; 9:1-57; 2Sa 11:21.
Highlights of the Bible
Highlights for the Week of March 24-30, 2014
Gen 47:19 - *** w87 5/1 p. 15 pars. 2-4 Preserving Life in Time of Famine ***
(Genesis 47:19) 19 Why should we die before your eyes, both we and our land? Buy us and our land in exchange for food, and we together with our land will become slaves to Phar′aoh. Give us seed so that we may live and not die and that our land may not become desolate.”
2 The seven years of plenty ended, and the famine began as Jehovah had foretold—a famine not just in Egypt but “over all the surface of the earth.” When the famished people in Egypt began to cry out to Pharaoh for bread, Pharaoh told them: “Go to Joseph. Whatever he says to you, you are to do.” Joseph sold grain to the Egyptians until their money ran out. Then he accepted their livestock in payment. Finally, the people came to Joseph, saying: “Buy us and our land for bread, and we together with our land will become slaves to Pharaoh.” So Joseph bought all the land of the Egyptians for Pharaoh.—Genesis 41:53-57; 47:13-20.
Provision for Spiritual Feeding
3 Just as the grain distributed by Joseph meant life to the Egyptians, so true spiritual food is essential for sustaining Christians who become slaves of Jehovah by their dedication to Him through the Greater Joseph, Jesus Christ. During his earthly ministry, Jesus foretold that his anointed footstep followers would bear the responsibility of dispensing these provisions. He asked: “Who really is the faithful and discreet slave whom his master appointed over his domestics, to give them their food at the proper time? Happy is that slave if his master on arriving finds him doing so.”—Matthew 24:45, 46.
4 The faithful remnant of this “discreet slave” class today go to any Scriptural lengths to see that Jehovah’s dedicated witnesses, as well as interested people out in the world, receive life-sustaining spiritual food. This trust is recognized as a sacred duty and is performed as a sacred service to Jehovah. Moreover, the “slave” has organized congregations and supplied these with Bible literature in such quantity that they have ample Kingdom “seed” for scattering publicly in their assigned fields. This corresponds to Joseph’s day, when he gathered the people into cities and provided them with grain not only for sustenance but also for sowing with a later harvest in view.—Genesis 47:21-25; Mark 4:14, 20; Matthew 28:19, 20.
Gen 47:21 - *** w87 5/1 p. 15 par. 1 Preserving Life in Time of Famine ***
(Genesis 47:21) 21 Then he moved the people into cities, from one end of the territory of Egypt to its other end.
IMMEDIATELY after his appointment as food administrator, Joseph toured the land of Egypt. He had matters well organized by the time the years of plenty began. Now the land yielded its produce by the handfuls! Joseph kept collecting the foodstuffs from the field around each city, storing it up in the city. He kept “piling up grain in very great quantity, like the sand of the sea, until finally they gave up counting it, because it was without number.”—Genesis 41:46-49.
Gen 47:22 - *** it-2 p. 684 Priest ***
(Genesis 47:22) 22 Only the land of the priests he did not buy, because the rations for the priests were from Phar′aoh and they lived on their rations that Phar′aoh gave them. That is why they did not sell their land.
This provision for the priesthood, though abundant, was in contrast to the luxury and financial power attained by the priesthood of pagan nations. In Egypt, for example, the priests owned portions of the land (Ge 47:22, 26) and by crafty maneuvering eventually were the richest and most powerful men in Egypt. James H. Breasted, in A History of the Ancient Egyptians (1908, pp. 355, 356, 431, 432), records that during the so-called Twentieth Dynasty the Pharaoh was reduced to a mere puppet. The priesthood had possession of the Nubian gold country and the great province of the Upper Nile. The high priest was the most important fiscal officer of the state, next to the chief treasurer himself. He commanded all the armies and held the treasury in his hands. He is represented more prominently in the monuments than the Pharaoh.
Gen 47:29 - *** it-1 p. 217 Attitudes and Gestures ***
(Genesis 47:29) 29 The time was approaching for Israel to die, so he called his son Joseph and said: “If, now, I have found favor in your eyes, place your hand, please, under my thigh, and show loyal love and faithfulness to me. Please, do not bury me in Egypt.
Another method of confirming an oath was to place one’s hand under the other’s thigh (hip), as Abraham’s steward did in swearing that he would get a wife for Isaac from Abraham’s relatives (Ge 24:2, 9), and as Joseph did for Jacob in swearing not to bury Jacob in Egypt. (Ge 47:29-31) The word “thigh” applies to the upper part of the leg from the hip to the knee, in which the femur is located. According to the Jewish rabbi Rashbam, this method of swearing was used when a superior adjured an inferior, such as a master his servant or a father his son, who also owes him obedience. And according to another Jewish scholar, Abraham Ibn Ezra, it was the custom in those days for a servant to take an oath in this manner, placing his hand under his master’s thigh, the latter sitting upon his hand. This signified that the servant was under his master’s authority.—The Soncino Chumash, edited by A. Cohen, London, 1956, p. 122.
Gen 47:30 - *** it-1 p. 377 Burial, Burial Places ***
(Genesis 47:30) 30 When I die, you must carry me out of Egypt and bury me in the grave of my forefathers.” Accordingly, he said: “I will do just as you say.”
Jacob was seriously concerned that his body not be buried in Egypt but, rather, with his forefathers. (Ge 47:29-31) This necessitated the embalming of his body, which otherwise would have putrefied during the hot journey from Egypt to the cave of Machpelah. (Ge 50:1-3, 13) Joseph expressed a similar desire, and his body was likewise embalmed and placed in a coffin, awaiting the time of the Exodus for transferal. (Ge 50:24-26; Jos 24:32) This desire doubtless related to their sharing the same faith in God’s promises and was an expression of their conviction as to the eventual fulfillment of these.—Heb 11:13-22, 39.
Gen 48:22 - *** it-1 p. 97 Amorite ***
(Genesis 48:22) 22 As for me, I do give you one portion of land more than to your brothers, which I took from the hand of the Am′or•ites with my sword and my bow.”
Shortly before Jacob’s death in Egypt, that patriarch promised Joseph: “I do give you one shoulder of land more than to your brothers, which I took from the hand of the Amorites by my sword and by my bow.” (Ge 48:22) Since the word rendered “shoulder” in this text is shekhem′ in Hebrew, some have claimed that Jacob was here referring to the plot of ground he had purchased near Shechem (Heb., Shekhem′). (Ge 33:18, 19) The purchase was a peaceable transaction, however, and there is no record of any battle waged by Jacob in connection with the land. While Jacob’s sons later did make a savage attack on the people of Shechem, Jacob disavowed responsibility for the act at the time (Ge 34:30); and on his deathbed he cursed the anger of Simeon and Levi that had motivated the attack. (Ge 49:5-7) Thus, it seems more reasonable to understand Jacob’s promise as a prophetic utterance in which he envisioned by faith the future conquest of Canaan as though it were already effected, with Jacob ‘taking the land of the Amorites’ vicariously through the sword and bow of his descendants.
Gen 49:1 - *** it-2 p. 206 Last Days ***
Jacob’s Deathbed Prophecy. When Jacob said to his sons, “Gather yourselves together that I may tell you what will happen to you in the final part of the days” or “in days to come” (AT), he meant in that future time when his words would begin undergoing fulfillment. (Ge 49:1) Over two centuries earlier Jehovah had stated to Jacob’s grandfather Abram (Abraham) that his offspring would suffer affliction for 400 years. (Ge 15:13) Therefore, in this case, the future time referred to by Jacob as “the final part of the days” could not begin until after the 400 years of affliction ended. (For details on Genesis 49, see the articles on the sons of Jacob under their respective names.) A later application of the prophecy that would involve the spiritual “Israel of God” could also be expected.—Ga 6:16; Ro 9:6.
Gen 49:3,4 - *** it-2 p. 795 Reuben ***
Jacob dealt with Reuben first, saying: “Reuben, you are my firstborn, my vigor and the beginning of my generative power, the excellence of dignity and the excellence of strength. With reckless license like waters, do not you excel, because you have gone up to your father’s bed. At that time you profaned my lounge. He went up to it!”—Ge 49:3, 4.
Jacob recalled a disqualification for Reuben that affected his future privileges. Reuben had disgraced his father. He had committed incestuous immorality with his father’s concubine, Bilhah, the maidservant of Jacob’s beloved wife Rachel. This was shortly after Rachel died following her giving birth to Benjamin. The Bible record does not explain whether firstborn Reuben violated the maidservant Bilhah to prevent her from taking Rachel’s place in Jacob’s affection, thus becoming more favored than Reuben’s mother Leah, or whether Reuben acted out of sheer lust for Bilhah. It simply says: “And it came about while Israel was tabernacling in that land that once Reuben went and lay down with Bilhah his father’s concubine, and Israel got to hear of it.” (Ge 35:22) The Greek Septuagint adds: “And it appeared evil in his sight.”—Ge 35:21, LXX, Thomson.
Reuben was not disowned and cast out for this. It was years later, when he blessed his sons, that Jacob said to Reuben, by divine inspiration: “Do not you excel.” Thus Reuben was stripped of privileges that would otherwise have been his as a firstborn son. This was because he acted with “reckless license like waters.” He proved himself either unstable like waters or turbulent and headlong like waters bursting a dam or raging down a torrent valley. Reuben should have exercised self-control. He should have shown a son’s respect for his father’s dignity and for the honor of the two sons of Bilhah, his father’s concubine.
Gen 49:7 - *** g98 4/22 p. 30 From Our Readers ***
(Genesis 49:7) 7 Cursed be their anger, because it is cruel, and their fury, because it is harsh. Let me disperse them in Jacob, and let me scatter them in Israel.
Anger In the article “Why Control Your Anger?” (June 8, 1997), you say that Simeon and Levi were cursed by their father. I’m sure I’ve read somewhere that it was their anger that Jacob cursed.
Our reader is correct on this point. “The Watchtower” of June 15, 1962, explained: “Jacob did not, in his dying breath, curse Simeon and Levi themselves. He cursed their anger, ‘because it is cruel.’ He cursed their fury, ‘because it acts harshly.’”—ED.
Gen 49:8 - *** it-2 p. 124 Judah ***
(Genesis 49:8) 8 “As for you, Judah, your brothers will praise you. Your hand will be on the neck of your enemies. The sons of your father will bow down before you. . .
Superior Among His Brothers. By his concern for his aged father and his noble effort to preserve Benjamin’s freedom at the cost of his own, Judah proved himself to be superior among his brothers. (1Ch 5:2) No longer was he the Judah who in his youth had shared in plundering the Shechemites and who had been party to wronging his half brother Joseph and then deceiving his own father. His fine qualities of leadership entitled Judah, as one of the heads of the 12 tribes of Israel, to receive a superior prophetic blessing from his dying father. (Ge 49:8-12) Its fulfillment is considered below.
Gen 49:9 - *** re chap. 15 pp. 83-84 par. 5 “Who Is Worthy to Open the Scroll?” ***
“A lion cub Judah is. From the prey, my son, you will certainly go up. He bowed down, he stretched himself out like a lion and, like a lion, who dares rouse him? The scepter will not turn aside from Judah, neither the commander’s staff from between his feet, until Shiloh comes; and to him the obedience of the peoples will belong.” (Genesis 49:9, 10) The royal line of God’s people stemmed from Judah. Starting with David, all the kings who ruled in Jerusalem until the Babylonians destroyed that city were Judah’s descendants. But not one of them was the Shiloh prophesied by Jacob. Shiloh means “He Whose [Right] It Is.” Prophetically, this name pointed to Jesus, the one to whom the Davidic Kingdom now permanently belongs.—Ezekiel 21:25-27; Luke 1:32, 33; Revelation 19:16.
Gen 49:10 - *** w11 8/15 p. 9 par. 6 They Waited for the Messiah ***
6 The Messiah was to be born of Israel’s tribe of Judah. In his deathbed blessing of his sons, the patriarch Jacob foretold: “The scepter will not turn aside from Judah, neither the commander’s staff from between his feet, until Shiloh comes; and to him the obedience of the peoples will belong.” (Gen. 49:10) Many Jewish scholars of the past associated those words with the Messiah. Starting with the rule of Judean King David, the scepter (royal sovereignty) and the commander’s staff (power to command) resided with the tribe of Judah. “Shiloh” signifies “He Whose It Is; He to Whom It Belongs.” The regal line of Judah would end in “Shiloh” as the permanent kingly Heir, for God told Zedekiah, the last Judean king, that rulership would be given to one having the legal right to it. (Ezek. 21:26, 27) After Zedekiah, Jesus was the only descendant of David to whom kingship was promised. Before Jesus’ birth, the angel Gabriel told Mary: “Jehovah God will give him the throne of David his father, and he will rule as king over the house of Jacob forever, and there will be no end of his kingdom.” (Luke 1:32, 33) Shiloh must be Jesus Christ, who was a descendant of Judah and David.—Matt. 1:1-3, 6; Luke 3:23, 31-34.
Gen 49:19 - *** w04 6/1 p. 15 par. 5 Blessed Are Those Who Give Glory to God ***
5 How would the tribe of Gad fare under such unrelenting pressure? Centuries earlier, in his death-bed prophecy, their forefather Jacob foretold: “As for Gad, a marauder band will raid him, but he will raid the extreme rear.” (Genesis 49:19) At first glance those words may seem gloomy. In reality, though, they amounted to a command for the Gadites to strike back. Jacob assured them that if they did so, the raiders would make a humiliating retreat, with the Gadites pursuing their extreme rear.
Gen 49:21 - *** w02 8/15 p. 12 par. 10 “I Set the Pattern for You” ***
(Genesis 49:21) 21 “Naph′ta•li is a slender doe. He is speaking words of elegance.
Inspired prophecies had suggested that the Messiah would speak with ‘charm on his lips,’ using “words of elegance.” (Psalm 45:2; Genesis 49:21) Jesus fulfilled those prophecies by keeping his message fresh and alive, using “winsome words” as he taught the truths he so loved. (Luke 4:22) No doubt his enthusiasm animated his features, and his eyes shone with a lively interest in his subject. What a pleasure it must have been to listen to him, and what a fine pattern for us to follow when we talk to others about what we have learned!
Gen 49:24,25 - *** it-2 p. 110 Joseph ***
(Genesis 49:24, 25) 24 And yet his bow remained in place, and his hands stayed strong and agile. This was from the hands of the powerful one of Jacob, from the shepherd, the stone of Israel. 25 He is from the God of your father, and he will help you, and he is with the Almighty, and he will bless you with the blessings of the heavens above, with the blessings of the deep below, with the blessings of the breasts and womb.
Being from God, Joseph had Jehovah’s help. He was with the Almighty in that he was on Jehovah’s side and therefore was a recipient of his blessing.—Ge 49:24, 25.
The blessing of Jehovah also was to be experienced by the tribes to descend from Joseph through Ephraim and Manasseh. Said Jacob: “He [the Almighty] will bless you with the blessings of the heavens above, with the blessings of the watery deep lying down below, with the blessings of the breasts and womb.” (Ge 49:25) This assured Joseph’s descendants of needed water supplies from heaven and from underground, as well as a large population.—Compare De 33:13-16; Jos 17:14-18.
Gen 49:27 - *** ia chap. 16 p. 142 She Acted Wisely, Bravely, and Selflessly ***
A Prophecy Fulfilled
In fighting for God’s people, Esther and Mordecai fulfilled an ancient Bible prophecy. Over a dozen centuries earlier, Jehovah inspired the patriarch Jacob to foretell regarding one of his sons: “Benjamin will keep on tearing like a wolf. In the morning he will eat the animal seized and at evening he will divide spoil.” (Gen. 49:27) In “the morning” of Israel’s kingly history, Benjamin’s descendants included King Saul and other mighty warriors for Jehovah’s people. In the “evening” of that royal history, after the sun had set on Israel’s kingly line, Esther and Mordecai, both of the tribe of Benjamin, warred effectively against Jehovah’s enemies. In a sense, they also divided spoil, in that Haman’s vast estate went to them.
Gen 50:2 - *** w02 3/15 p. 29 Embalming—Is It for Christians? ***
(Genesis 50:2) 2 After that Joseph commanded his servants, the physicians, to embalm his father. So the physicians embalmed Israel,
JOSEPH honored his father’s request by taking advantage of a custom that prevailed in Egypt at the time. He commanded “his servants, the physicians, to embalm his father.” According to the account found in Genesis chapter 50, the physicians took the customary 40 days to prepare the corpse. The embalming of Jacob allowed for the large, slow-moving caravan of family members and Egyptian dignitaries to travel about 250 miles [400 km] to take Jacob’s remains to Hebron for burial.—Genesis 50:1-14.
Is it possible that Jacob’s embalmed body will be found one day? The chances are, at best, remote. Israel was a well-watered region, which limits the type of archaeological artifacts discovered there. (Exodus 3:8) Ancient metal and stone objects abound, but most of the more fragile items, such as cloth, leather, and embalmed bodies, have not withstood moisture and the vicissitudes of time.
Gen 50:13 - *** it-1 p. 377 Burial, Burial Places ***
(Genesis 50:13) 13 His sons carried him into the land of Ca′naan and buried him in the cave of the field of Mach•pe′lah, the field in front of Mam′re that Abraham had purchased from E′phron the Hit′tite as property for a burial place.
Jacob was seriously concerned that his body not be buried in Egypt but, rather, with his forefathers. (Ge 47:29-31) This necessitated the embalming of his body, which otherwise would have putrefied during the hot journey from Egypt to the cave of Machpelah. (Ge 50:1-3, 13)
Gen 50:23 - *** w95 9/15 pp. 20-21 Godly Families of the Past—A Pattern for Our Day ***
A glimpse into the affection that children commonly received is given at Genesis 50:23. There it says of the great-grandsons of Joseph: “They were born upon Joseph’s knees.” While this could simply mean that Joseph acknowledged the children as his descendants, it could also indicate that he affectionately played with the children, dandling them upon his knees. Fathers today do well to show their children similar affection.
Gen 50:25 - *** w07 6/1 p. 28 pars. 10-11 Elderly Ones—A Blessing to the Young ***
(Genesis 50:25) 25 So Joseph made the sons of Israel swear, saying: “God will without fail turn his attention to you. You must take my bones up out of here.”
10 Older ones can also be a good influence on fellow believers. In his old age, Jacob’s son Joseph performed a simple act of faith that had a profound effect on millions of true worshippers who lived after him. He was 110 when “he gave a command concerning his bones,” namely, that when the Israelites finally left Egypt, they were to take his bones with them. (Hebrews 11:22; Genesis 50:25) That command served as an added ray of hope for Israel during the many years of hard slavery that followed Joseph’s death, providing assurance that their deliverance would come.
11 Among those nourished by Joseph’s expression of faith was Moses. When Moses was 80, he was privileged to carry Joseph’s bones up out of the land of Egypt. (Exodus 13:19)
Gen 50:26 - *** it-1 p. 377 Burial, Burial Places ***
(Genesis 50:26) 26 And Joseph died at the age of 110, and they had him embalmed, and he was put in a coffin in Egypt.
Joseph expressed a similar desire, and his body was likewise embalmed and placed in a coffin, awaiting the time of the Exodus for transferal. (Ge 50:24-26; Jos 24:32) This desire doubtless related to their sharing the same faith in God’s promises and was an expression of their conviction as to the eventual fulfillment of these.—Heb 11:13-22, 39.
Service Meeting Schedule:
- 10min: Imitate the Example of Nehemiah. Discussion. Invite comments from the audience on how Nehemiah’s example can help us as evangelizers.
- 10min: Use Questions to Teach Eﬀectively —Part 1. Discussion based on the Ministry School book, page 236, to page 237, paragraph 2. Briefly demonstrate at least one of the points from the material.
- 10 min: Jehovah’s Ears Listen to the Supplication of the Righteous. (1 Pet. 3:12) Discussion based on the 2013 Yearbook, page 66, paragraphs 1-3; and pages 104-105. Invite audience to comment on the lessons learned.
10 Min - Imitate the Example of Nehemiah.
*** it-2 pp. 486-487 Nehemiah ***
3. Son of Hacaliah and brother of Hanani; cupbearer to Persian King Artaxerxes (Longimanus) and, later, governor of the Jews, rebuilder of Jerusalem’s wall, and writer of the Bible book bearing his name.—Ne 1:1, 2, 11; 2:1; 5:14, 16.
During the 20th year of King Artaxerxes, in the month Chislev (November-December), Nehemiah, while in Shushan the castle, received visitors, his brother Hanani and other men from Judah. Upon his inquiry, they told him about the bad plight of the Jews and that the wall and gates of Jerusalem were still in ruins. Nehemiah was moved to tears. For days thereafter he mourned, continually fasting and praying. He confessed Israel’s sin and, on the basis of God’s words to Moses (De 30:1-4), petitioned Jehovah to “make him an object of pity” before King Artaxerxes so that his plan to rebuild Jerusalem’s wall might be successful.—Ne 1.
Later, in the month of Nisan (March-April), Nehemiah’s prayers were answered. The king noticed that Nehemiah’s face was gloomy and asked why. Nehemiah then informed him about the sorry state of affairs in Jerusalem. When asked what he was seeking to secure, Nehemiah, immediately praying to God, requested permission from the king to return and rebuild Jerusalem. The request was granted. Additionally, Nehemiah received letters from the king, entitling him to freedom of passage through the areas under the jurisdiction of governors W of the Euphrates River and also granting timber supplies for the project. With chiefs of the military force and horsemen, he departed for Jerusalem.—Ne 2:1-9.
Jerusalem’s Wall Rebuilt. After being in Jerusalem for three days, Nehemiah, unknown to anyone except a few men who were with him, made a nighttime inspection of the city. While the rest were on foot, Nehemiah rode an animal, probably a horse or an ass. When the ruins became so extensive as to obstruct passage, Nehemiah dismounted and continued on foot.—Ne 2:11-16.
Following the completion of his survey, Nehemiah revealed his plan to the Jews, drawing to their attention Jehovah’s hand in the matter. Encouraged thereby, they responded: “Let us get up, and we must build.” Despite the derisive words of Sanballat the Horonite, Tobiah the Ammonite, and Geshem the Arabian, repair work began on about the fourth of Ab (July-August).—Ne 2:17-20; compare Ne 6:15.
As the work progressed, Sanballat and Tobiah continued to deride and mock the efforts of the Jews to repair the wall of Jerusalem. Nehemiah made this a subject of prayer, “and the people continued to have a heart for working.” When the wall reached half its height, Sanballat, Tobiah, and neighboring peoples intensified their opposition to the point of conspiring to fight against Jerusalem. Nehemiah repeatedly received reports to that effect from Jews living near the city. Again Nehemiah manifested prayerful reliance on Jehovah. To meet the tense situation, he armed the workmen, arranged for others to stand guard, and outlined an alarm system. Nehemiah did not even take off his clothes at night, evidently to be ready to fight in the event of an alarm signal from the watch.—Ne 4.
Urgent as the situation was, Nehemiah was not too busy to give due consideration to the outcry of the Jews. Hearing their complaints that they were being oppressed by having to pay interest, he censured the nobles and deputy rulers, arranged a great assembly, and, after exposing this evil, instructed that the situation be rectified.—Ne 5:1-13.
It was after this that the enemies made attempts to stop the rebuilding work. Four times they tried to allure Nehemiah away from his project, but he informed them that he was unable to take time off from the great work that he was doing. Thereafter Sanballat sent an open letter that contained false charges and suggested that they meet for counsel. Nehemiah replied: “Things such as you are saying have not been brought about, but it is out of your own heart that you are inventing them.” Trying still another trick, Tobiah and Sanballat hired a Jew to frighten Nehemiah into wrongfully hiding in the temple. Nehemiah, however, did not give way to fear, and the repair work came to a successful completion on the 25th day of Elul (August-September), just 52 days after construction work began. Nevertheless, Tobiah continued to send intimidating letters to Nehemiah.—Ne 6.
With the wall completed, Nehemiah directed his attention to the work of organizing the temple servants. Next he placed two men in command of the city, one of these being his brother Hanani. Nehemiah also gave instructions regarding the opening and the closing of the city gates and the guarding of them.—Ne 7:1-3.
Genealogical Enrollment. At this time Jerusalem’s population was quite small. This seemingly was why God put it into Nehemiah’s heart to assemble the nobles, deputy rulers, and people to get them enrolled genealogically, for the information procured thereby could have served as a basis for taking steps to increase the population of Jerusalem. Apparently while Nehemiah was giving consideration to this genealogical enrollment, he found the record of those who had returned from Babylonian exile with Zerubbabel.—Ne 7:4-7.
Law Observance Restored. It was probably at Nehemiah’s direction that an assembly was held in the public square near the Water Gate. Although Ezra the priest evidently took the lead in giving instruction in the Law, Nehemiah also shared therein. (Ne 8:1-12) Next, the eight-day Festival of Booths was held. Two days later the Israelites convened again. During this assembly a general confession of Israel’s sin was made. Thereafter a written confession contract was drawn up. This confession contract or “trustworthy arrangement” was attested by the princes, Levites, and priests. Nehemiah, “the Tirshatha [governor],” was the first to attest it by seal. (Ne 8:13–10:1) All the people agreed to refrain from intermarriage with foreigners, to observe the Sabbaths, and to support the temple service. Next, one person out of every ten was selected by lot to dwell permanently in Jerusalem.—Ne 10:28–11:1.
It was after this that the wall of Jerusalem was inaugurated. For the occasion Nehemiah appointed two large thanksgiving choirs and processions to make a tour of the wall in opposite directions. This was done, and all met at the temple to offer sacrifices. Additionally, men were appointed to be in charge of the contributions for the priests and Levites.—Ne 12:27-47.
About 12 years later, in the 32nd year of Artaxerxes, Nehemiah left Jerusalem. Upon his return, he found deplorable conditions among the Jews. Eliashib the high priest had made a dining hall in the courtyard of the temple for the use of Tobiah, the very man who earlier had viciously opposed the work of Nehemiah. Immediately Nehemiah took action. He threw all of Tobiah’s furniture outside the dining hall and instructed that the dining hall be cleansed.
Additionally, Nehemiah took measures to ensure the contributions for the Levites and enforced strict Sabbath observance. He also administered discipline against those who had taken foreign wives, whose sons by these women were not even able to speak the Jewish tongue: “And I began to find fault with them and call down evil upon them and strike some men of them and pull out their hair and make them swear by God: ‘You should not give your daughters to their sons, and you should not accept any of their daughters for your sons or yourselves.’”
Nehemiah’s ‘finding fault’ with these men doubtless was his reproving and rebuking them by means of God’s law, exposing their wrong action. These men were bringing the restored nation into disfavor with God, after God had kindly repatriated them from Babylon to restore true worship at Jerusalem. Nehemiah ‘called down evil upon them,’ meaning that he recited the judgments of God’s law against such violators. He ‘struck’ them, probably not personally, but ordered them flogged as an official judicial action. He ‘pulled out (a portion of) their hair.’ This was a symbol of moral indignation and ignominy before the people. (Compare Ezr 9:3.) Nehemiah then chased away the grandson of High Priest Eliashib, who had become a son-in-law of Sanballat the Horonite.—Ne 13:1-28.
Nehemiah, an Outstanding Example. Nehemiah stands out as a sterling example of faithfulness and devotion. He was unselfish, leaving behind a prominent position as cupbearer in the courtyard of Artaxerxes to undertake the rebuilding of Jerusalem’s walls. As there were many enemies, Nehemiah willingly exposed himself to danger in behalf of his people and true worship. Not only did he direct the work of repairing the wall of Jerusalem but he also had an active, personal share in the task. He wasted no time, was courageous and fearless, relied fully on Jehovah, and was discreet in what he did. Zealous for true worship, Nehemiah knew God’s law and applied it. He was concerned about building up the faith of his fellow Israelites. He showed himself to be a man who manifested a proper fear of Jehovah God. Though enforcing God’s law zealously, he did not domineer over others for selfish benefit but showed concern for the oppressed. Never did he demand the bread due the governor. Instead, he provided food for a considerable number of persons at his own expense. (Ne 5:14-19) Appropriately Nehemiah could pray: “Do remember me, O my God, for good.”—Ne 13:31.
10 Min – Use Questions to Teach Eﬀectively —Part 1.
Discussion based on the Ministry School book, page 236, to page 237, paragraph 2What do you need to do?
Use questions in a way that will achieve a desired result. Your aim may be to get an oral response; it may be to stimulate a mental response. What you ask and how you ask it have a direct bearing on your success in the use of questions.
Why is it important?
Questions that are effective help listeners to get involved. Answers to well-chosen questions may also provide valuable feedback for a teacher.
BECAUSE questions call for a response—either oral or mental—they help to get your listeners involved. Questions can help you to start conversations and to enjoy a stimulating exchange of thoughts. As a speaker and a teacher, you may use questions to arouse interest, to help someone reason on a subject, or to add emphasis to what you say. When you make good use of questions, you encourage others to think actively instead of listening passively. Have an objective in mind, and ask your questions in a manner that will help to achieve it.
To Encourage Conversation. When you engage in the field ministry, be alert to opportunities to invite people to express themselves if they are willing to do so.
Many Witnesses begin interesting discussions by simply asking, “Have you ever wondered . . . ?” When they choose a question that truly is on the minds of many people, they will almost assuredly have a fine time in the field ministry. Even if the question is new to the thinking of the other person, it may stimulate curiosity. A wide variety of matters can be introduced with such expressions as “What do you think . . . ?,” “How do you feel . . . ?,” and “Do you believe . . . ?”
When the evangelizer Philip approached an Ethiopian court official who was reading aloud the prophecy of Isaiah, Philip simply asked: “Do you actually know [or, do you understand] what you are reading?” (Acts 8:30) This question opened the way for Philip to explain truths about Jesus Christ. Using a similar question, some modern-day Witnesses have found people who were truly hungering for a clear understanding of Bible truth.
Once they are given opportunity to express their own views, many people will be more inclined to listen to you. After asking a question, listen attentively. Be kind rather than critical in acknowledging the person’s response. Offer commendation when you can do so sincerely. On one occasion, after a scribe had “answered intelligently,” Jesus commended him, saying: “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” (Mark 12:34) Even if you do not share the same view as the other person, you can thank him for expressing himself. What he said may make you aware of an attitude that you need to take into account in sharing Bible truth with him.
To Introduce Important Thoughts. When you talk to a group or converse with an individual, try to use questions to lead up to important thoughts. Be sure that your questions involve matters of genuine interest to your audience. You may also use questions that are intriguing because the answer is not readily apparent. If you pause briefly after posing a question, your audience will likely listen with heightened interest to what follows.
On one occasion, the prophet Micah used a number of questions. After asking what God expects of those who worship him, the prophet set out four more questions, each including a possible answer. All those questions help to prepare readers for the insightful answer with which he concluded that part of his discussion. (Mic. 6:6-8) Could you do something like that when teaching? Try it.
(Micah 6:6-8) With what will I come before Jehovah? With what will I bow before God on high? Will I come before him with whole burnt offerings, With year-old calves? 7 Will Jehovah be pleased with thousands of rams, With tens of thousands of torrents of oil? Will I give my firstborn son for my revolt, The fruit of my body for my sin? 8 He has told you, O man, what is good. And what is Jehovah requiring of you? Only to exercise justice, to cherish loyalty, And to walk in modesty with your God!
10 Min – Jehovah’s Ears Listen to the Supplication of the Righteous.
2013 Yearbook, page 66, paragraphs 1-3She Prayed That She Could Help
Irene, who lives in Sweden, wrote: “I am 80 years old, and because of pain I am unable to go out in field service. I prayed to Jehovah that I might help someone whom I visited long ago and who would now be willing to have conversations or visits.
“One day, our telephone rang, and my husband answered. It was a woman who said to him: ‘Excuse me, you were the only ones I could remember, so I made this call. Would your wife like to visit me to discuss God’s Word? I studied 15 or 20 years ago, but my late husband was opposed, so I quit the study.’
“I remembered that I had visited the woman with another sister, who studied with her. To my astonishment, the woman remembered me. Delighted, I arranged to meet with her. Since then, we have had a study each week. She attended the Memorial and the special talk. She has also been attending meetings. I thank Jehovah every day for answering my prayer.”
2013 Yearbook pages 104-105
Jehovah Gave Me a New Spirit
BORN 1924 BAPTIZED 1955
PROFILE This former robber worked hard to change his personality and has served as a special pioneer for 54 years.
♦WHEN I was young, I learned boxing, wrestling, and judo. As a result, I developed a violent, angry personality. By the age of 19, I was an armed robber in a gang. Eventually, I was caught and served eight years in jail, where I reflected on my bad way of life and prayed a lot. Deep down, I wanted to know more about God.
After my release, I moved to Yangon, where I attended meetings of Jehovah’s Witnesses. Eventually, I qualified for baptism, thanks to patient help from several kind brothers.
After my baptism, I still struggled to display the Christian personality. (Eph. 4:24) I tended to be very critical of others and often got upset with them. I wanted to be a better person but found it difficult to control my emotions. I felt that I was such a failure that sometimes I went to the river and cried for hours.
In 1957, I was appointed as a special pioneer. My first assignment was in Mandalay. There I worked alongside missionary Robert Richards. Robert was like a father to me. He taught me to focus on people’s good points and humbly remember my own imperfections. (Gal. 5:22, 23) Whenever I got stirred up, I begged Jehovah to give me “a new spirit, a steadfast one” governed by peace. (Ps. 51:10) Jehovah answered my prayers, and over time my personality improved.
Later, I studied with an 80-year-old man who was a Baptist. The members of his church angrily accused me of “stealing” their sheep. One of them held a knife to my face and snarled, “Is it a sin to kill someone?” Blind anger reared up inside me. I immediately said a silent prayer to Jehovah and then replied in a steady voice, “You answer the question yourself.” The man hesitated, then turned and left. I thanked Jehovah for helping me to remain calm. My elderly Bible student was baptized soon afterward, and he remained a faithful Witness up to his death.
Over the years, I have served in 17 different special pioneer assignments and helped 64 people learn the truth. When I reflect on how good Jehovah has been to me, my eyes well up with tears. He helped a violent, angry, unhappy young man to cultivate a peaceable new spirit.
(Ephesians 4:24) and should put on the new personality that was created according to God’s will in true righteousness and loyalty.
(Galatians 5:22, 23) On the other hand, the fruitage of the spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith, 23 mildness, self-control. Against such things there is no law.
(Psalms 51:10) Create in me a pure heart, O God, And put within me a new spirit, a steadfast one.
Congregation Bible Study
“Draw Close to Jehovah”
cl chap. 4 ¶19-23, box on p. 45
Week of Mar 24-30, 2014
SONG 104 - Praise Jah With MeParagraph 20
(Nahum 1:3) Jehovah is slow to anger and great in power, But by no means will Jehovah hold back due punishment. His path is in destructive wind and storm, And the clouds are the dust of his feet.
(Psalm 78:37-41) Their heart was not steadfast toward him; And they were not faithful to his covenant. 38 But he was merciful; He would forgive their error and not bring them to ruin. He often held back his anger Instead of stirring up all his wrath. 39 For he remembered that they were flesh, A wind that blows past and does not return. 40 How often they rebelled against him in the wilderness And made him feel hurt in the desert! 41 Again and again they put God to the test, And they grieved the Holy One of Israel.
(Deuteronomy 30:19, 20) I take the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you today that I have put life and death before you, the blessing and the curse; and you must choose life so that you may live, you and your descendants, 20 by loving Jehovah your God, by listening to his voice, and by sticking to him, for he is your life and by him you will endure a long time in the land that Jehovah swore to give to your forefathers, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.”
(2 Corinthians 9:7) Let each one do just as he has resolved in his heart, not grudgingly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.
(Matthew 28:18) Jesus approached and spoke to them, saying: “All authority has been given me in heaven and on the earth.
(1 Chronicles 29:11, 12) Yours, O Jehovah, are the greatness and the mightiness and the beauty and the splendor and the majesty, for everything in the heavens and on the earth is yours. Yours is the kingdom, O Jehovah. You are the One exalting yourself as head over all. 12 The riches and the glory are from you, and you rule over everything, and in your hand there are power and mightiness, and your hand is able to make great and to give strength to all.
(2 Corinthians 4:7) However, we have this treasure in earthen vessels, so that the power beyond what is normal may be God’s and not from us.
Questions for Meditation(2 Chronicles 16:7-13)
At that time Ha•na′ni the seer came to King A′sa of Judah and said to him: “Because you relied on the king of Syria and did not rely on Jehovah your God, the army of the king of Syria has escaped out of your hand. 8 Were not the E•thi•o′pi•ans and the Lib′y•ans a very great army with many chariots and horsemen? But because you relied on Jehovah, he gave them into your hand. 9 For the eyes of Jehovah are roving about through all the earth to show his strength in behalf of those whose heart is complete toward him. You have acted foolishly in this matter; from now on there will be wars against you.” 10 However, A′sa became offended at the seer and put him in prison because he was enraged at him over this. And A′sa began to mistreat others among the people at that same time. 11 Now the history of A′sa, from beginning to end, is written in the Book of the Kings of Judah and of Israel. 12 In the 39th year of his reign, A′sa developed an ailment in his feet until he became very sick; and even in his sickness, he turned, not to Jehovah, but to the healers. 13 Then A′sa was laid to rest with his forefathers; he died in the 41st year of his reign.
(Psalm 89:6-18) For who in the skies can compare to Jehovah? Who among the sons of God is like Jehovah? 7 God is held in awe in the council of holy ones; He is grand and awe-inspiring to all who are around him. 8 O Jehovah God of armies, Who is mighty like you, O Jah? Your faithfulness surrounds you. 9 You rule over the raging of the sea; When its waves surge, you calm them. 10 You have crushed Ra′hab like one who is slain. With your strong arm you have scattered your enemies. 11 The heavens are yours, and the earth is yours; The productive land and what fills it—you have founded them. 12 The north and the south—you created them; Ta′bor and Her′mon joyously praise your name. 13 Your arm is mighty; Your hand is strong; Your right hand is exalted. 14 Righteousness and justice are the foundation of your throne; Loyal love and faithfulness stand before you. 15 Happy are the people who know the joyful shouting. O Jehovah, they walk in the light of your face. 16 They rejoice in your name all day long, And in your righteousness they are exalted. 17 For you are the glory of their strength, And by your approval our strength is exalted. 18 For our shield belongs to Jehovah, Our king belongs to the Holy One of Israel.
(Isaiah 40:10-31) Due to length not incorporated
(Revelation 11:16-18) And the 24 elders who were seated before God on their thrones fell upon their faces and worshipped God, 17 saying: “We thank you, Jehovah God, the Almighty, the one who is and who was, because you have taken your great power and begun ruling as king. 18 But the nations became wrathful, and your own wrath came, and the appointed time came for the dead to be judged and to reward your slaves the prophets and the holy ones and those fearing your name, the small and the great, and to bring to ruin those ruining the earth.”
Week of Mar 24-30, 2014
Serving Jehovah Before the Days of Distress Come
“Remember . . . your Grand Creator.”—ECCL. 12:1.
January 15, 2014. Page 22
We Must Have the Faith
(Hebrews 10:38, 39)
(Ecclesiastes 12:1-5) Remember, then, your Grand Creator in the days of your youth, before the days of distress come and the years arrive when you will say: “I have no pleasure in them”; 2 before the sun and the light and the moon and the stars grow dark, and the clouds return after the downpour; 3 in the day when the guards of the house become shaky, and the strong men stoop over, and the women quit grinding because they have become few, and the ladies looking out the windows find it dark; 4 when the doors to the street have been closed, when the sound of the grinding mill becomes low, when one gets up at the sound of a bird, and all the daughters of song grow faint. 5 Also, one is afraid of heights, and there are terrors in the street. And the almond tree blossoms, and the grasshopper drags itself along, and the caper berry bursts, because man is walking to his lasting house and the mourners walk about in the street;
(Psalm 143:5) I remember the days of old; I meditate on all your activity; I eagerly ponder over the work of your hands.
(Ecclesiastes 12:13) The conclusion of the matter, everything having been heard, is: Fear the true God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole obligation of man.
(Psalm 71:17, 18) O God, you have taught me from my youth, And until now I keep declaring your wonderful works. 18 Even when I am old and gray, O God, do not abandon me. Let me tell the next generation about your power And about your mightiness to all those who are to come.
(Job 32:7) I thought, ‘Let age speak, And let a multitude of years declare wisdom.’
(Titus 2:3) Likewise, let the older women be reverent in behavior, not slanderous, not enslaved to a lot of wine, teachers of what is good,
(Galatians 6:1) Brothers, even if a man takes a false step before he is aware of it, you who have spiritual qualifications try to readjust such a man in a spirit of mildness. But keep an eye on yourself, for fear you too may be tempted.
(Job 12:12) Is not wisdom found among the aged, And does not understanding come with a long life?
(Proverbs 20:29) The glory of young men is their strength, And the splendor of old men is their gray hair.
(2 Corinthians 11:23-27) Are they ministers of Christ? I reply like a madman, I am more outstandingly one: I have done more work, been imprisoned more often, suffered countless beatings, and experienced many near-deaths. 24 Five times I received 40 strokes less one from the Jews, 25 three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I experienced shipwreck, a night and a day I have spent in the open sea; 26 in journeys often, in dangers from rivers, in dangers from robbers, in dangers from my own people, in dangers from the nations, in dangers in the city, in dangers in the wilderness, in dangers at sea, in dangers among false brothers, 27 in labor and toil, in sleepless nights often, in hunger and thirst, frequently without food, in cold and lacking clothing.
(1 Timothy 1:3) Just as I encouraged you to stay in Eph′e•sus when I was about to go to Mac•e•do′ni•a, so I do now, in order for you to command certain ones not to teach different doctrine,
(Titus 1:5) I left you in Crete so that you would correct the things that were defective and make appointments of elders in city after city, as I instructed you:
(Romans 15:24) Therefore, when I journey to Spain, I hope that I will see you and be accompanied partway there by you after I have first enjoyed your company for a time.
(Romans 15:28) So after I have finished with this and have delivered this contribution securely to them, I will depart by way of you for Spain.
(Acts 15:7) After much intense discussion had taken place, Peter rose and said to them: “Men, brothers, you well know that from early days God made the choice among you that through my mouth people of the nations should hear the word of the good news and believe.
(Galatians 2:9) and when they recognized the undeserved kindness that was given me, James and Ce′phas and John, the ones who seemed to be pillars, gave Bar′na•bas and me the right hand of fellowship, so that we should go to the nations but they to those who are circumcised.
(1 Peter 5:13) She who is in Babylon, a chosen one like you, sends you her greetings, and so does Mark, my son.
(Acts 28:16) When finally we entered Rome, Paul was permitted to stay by himself with the soldier guarding him.
(Acts 28:30, 31) So he remained there for an entire two years in his own rented house, and he would kindly receive all those who came to him, 31 preaching the Kingdom of God to them and teaching about the Lord Jesus Christ with the greatest freeness of speech, without hindrance.
(Luke 21:2-4) Then he saw a needy widow drop in two small coins of very little value, 3 and he said: “Truly I say to you that this poor widow put in more than they all did. 4 For all of these put in gifts out of their surplus, but she, out of her want, put in all the means of living she had.”
(Luke 2:36, 37) Now there was a prophetess, Anna the daughter of Phan′u•el, of Ash′er’s tribe. This woman was well along in years and had lived with her husband for seven years after they were married, 37 and she was a widow now 84 years old. She was never missing from the temple, rendering sacred service night and day with fasting and supplications.
(Luke 2:38) In that very hour she came near and began giving thanks to God and speaking about the child to all who were waiting for Jerusalem’s deliverance.
(Psalm 92:13, 14) They are planted in the house of Jehovah; They flourish in the courtyards of our God. 14 Even in old age they will still be thriving; They will remain vigorous and fresh,
(Proverbs 16:31) Gray hair is a crown of beauty When it is found in the way of righteousness.
(Ecclesiastes 12:1) Remember, then, your Grand Creator in the days of your youth, before the days of distress come and the years arrive when you will say: “I have no pleasure in them”;
Forward, You Witnesses!