At this time,
To King Nebuchadnezzar.
Have made a decree
The sound of the horn,
The entire musical ensemble,
Shall fall down!
They shall worship
The golden statue.
Whoever does not
Who does not
Shall be thrown
Into a furnace
Of a blazing fire.’”
Certain Chaldeans went to King Nebuchadnezzar to denounce the Jews. They reminded him that he had sent out a decree that everyone who heard the sound of the horn, the pipe, the lyre, the trigon, the harp, the drum, or any musical instrument should fall down and worship this golden statue. Anyone who failed to do so, would be thrown into a fiery furnace.
“The bed is too short
To stretch oneself on it.
The covering is too narrow
To wrap oneself in it.
Yahweh will rise up
As on Mount Perazim.
He will rage
As in the valley of Gibeon.
To do his deed!
Strange is his deed!
To work his work!
Alien is his work!
Now therefore do not scoff!
Your bonds will be made stronger.
I have heard a decree of destruction
From Yahweh God of hosts
Upon the whole land.”
Isaiah explains that your beds will be too short and the covers on your beds too narrow to cover you. This would indicate that he was referring to taller people like giants who could not get a comfortable bed. Yahweh was going to rise in anger as he had done at Mount Perazim and Gibeon. Perazim was a place between Jerusalem and Hebron where King David defeated the Philistines in 2 Samuel, chapter 5 and 1 Chronicles, chapter 14. There it was called Baal-Perazim. Gibeon was a place north of Jerusalem where Joshua defeated 5 kings in Joshua, chapter 10. Yahweh’s work was going to happen, even if an alien had to do it. They were not to be scoffers. Yahweh, God of hosts, had issued a decree of destruction for the whole land.
“On the monthly celebration of the king’s birthday, the Jews were taken, under bitter constraint, to partake of the sacrifices. When a festival of Dionysus was celebrated, they were compelled to wear wreaths of ivy and to walk in the procession in honor of Dionysus. At the suggestion of the people of Ptolemais, a decree was issued to the neighboring Greek cities that they should adopt the same policy toward the Jews. They should make them partake of the sacrifices. They should kill those who did not choose to change over to the Greek customs. One could see, therefore, the misery that had come upon them.”
Here we have in some detail, the various pagan worship services that were introduced in Jerusalem instead of the generic comments of 1 Maccabees, chapter 1. First they had to celebrate the king’s birthday on a monthly basis with sacrifices. Then they had to celebrate the feast of Dionysius, the god of wine and grapes by processing with ivy wreaths on their heads. On top of that, the people of Ptolemais on the seacoast sent a decree that all the Greek cities should have the Jews participate in the Greek sacrifices. If they did not change to the Greek ways, they would be killed. This is something like what happened in the later Roman Empire times, when the emperor wanted to be worshiped as a divinity. Those Christians who failed to do so were killed and became Christian martyrs. Perhaps there was some Jewish martyrs but their names are not mentioned here.
“Then Haman said to King Artaxerxes.
‘There is a certain people scattered,
Among the other people in the provinces of your kingdom.
Their laws are different from those of every other people.
They do not keep the king’s laws.
It is not expedient for the king to tolerate them.
If it pleases the king,
Let it be decreed that they are to be destroyed.
I will pay ten thousand talents of silver into the king’s treasure.’”
Haman went to the king with his plan. He never mentions the Jews by name here. Obviously, picking on a minority group is always a safe bet. Haman said these people were different from every other people, so let us get rid of them. Have you ever heard that before? Their laws are different so that they do not follow the king’s laws. He did not think that the king should tolerate them. However, the kings of Persia were in fact, very tolerant. They were not seeking a uniform standard for the 127 provinces. Now the kicker comes. If it pleased the king, send out a decree to have them destroyed. Haman, who apparently was rich, offered to pay 10,000 talents of silver, worth approximately $60,000,000.00 USA, to the king’s treasury. Was this a bribe or a gift? That is always difficult to determine.