Judas Maccabeus and the nomads (2 Macc 12:10-12:12)

“When they had gone more than a mile from there, on their march against Timothy, at least five thousand Arabs with five hundred cavalry attacked them. After a hard fight Judas Maccabeus and his companions, with God’s help, were victorious. The defeated nomads begged Judas Maccabeus to grant them pledges of friendship, promising to give livestock. They promised to help his people in all other ways. Judas Maccabeus, realizing that they might indeed be useful in many ways, agreed to make peace with them. After receiving his pledges, they went back to their tents.”

This episode is not linked with the preceding episodes on the coast because this takes place on the east side of the Jordan River. This is more about the battles with Timothy, even though it says that they were only a mile away. In fact, it is fairly similar to 1 Maccabees, chapter 5.   5,000 Arabs and 500 cavalry attacked Judas Maccabeus and his troops. With God’s help he was victorious. However, the defeated nomads wanted to make friends with Judas Maccabeus. They promised to give him livestock and be helpful in other ways. Judas Maccabeus realized that they might be useful. Thus he made peace with them. This is one of the few stories where the defeated people begged for peace and Judas Maccabeus agreed to it. Otherwise, he normally just wiped them out.

The deposed high priest Jason leads an unsuccessful uprising (2 Macc 5:5-5:10)

“When a false rumor arose that King Antiochus was dead, Jason took no fewer than a thousand men. He suddenly made an assault on the city. When the troops upon the wall had been forced back, at last the city was taken. Menelaus took refuge in the citadel. Jason kept relentlessly slaughtering his compatriots, not realizing that success at the cost of one’s kindred is the greatest misfortune. He imagined that he was setting up trophies of victory over enemies and not over compatriots. He did not, however, gain control of the government. In the end he got only disgrace from his conspiracy. He fled again into the country of the Ammonites. Finally he met a miserable end. He was accused before Aretas the ruler of the Arabs. He had to flee from city to city, pursued by everyone, hated as a rebel against the laws, and abhorred as the executioner of his country and his compatriots. He was cast ashore in Egypt. There he who had driven many from their own country into exile died in exile. He embarked to go to the Lacedaemonians in hope of finding protection because of their kinship. He who had cast out many to lie unburied had no one to mourn for him. He had no funeral of any sort and no place in the tomb of his ancestors.”

Jason, the former high priest, thought that the Syrian King Antiochus IV had died. Since Jason was pro-Egypt, he wanted to take back Jerusalem for them. He attacked Jerusalem with 1,000 troops. He was initially successful as he forced the high priest Menelaus to flee to the Seleucid citadel in Jerusalem. However, like the late 18th century French revolutionaries, he started killing his fellow Israelites in Jerusalem. He thought that he was killing the enemy but it was his own Jewish compatriots. He was not successful. He was once again driven into the land of Ammonites, east of the Jordan River. However, the Arabs pursued him from country to country. He finally made his way to Egypt but he was not accepted there either. Finally, he died in Sparta where no one mourned for him since he had no funeral or ancestral tomb.

The fighting power of King Uzziah (2 Chr 26:6-26:8)

“King Uzziah went out and made war against the Philistines. He broke down the wall of Gath, the wall of Jabneh, and the wall of Ashdod. He built cities in the territory of Ashdod and elsewhere among the Philistines. God helped him against the Philistines, against the Arabs that dwelt in Gur Baal, and against the Meunites. The Ammonites paid tribute to King Uzziah. His fame spread even to the border of Egypt, for he became very strong.”

Most of this material was not mentioned in 2 Kings. King Uzziah was a great warrior. As usual like all Judah warriors, he fought with the Philistines, the Arabs, the Ammonites, and Meunites. Gath and Ashdod were Philistine strong cities with walls that were destroyed by King Uzziah here. Jabneh is only mentioned here but probably refers to Jabneel about 12 miles south of Joppa. King Uzziah rebuilt the Philistine cities for Judah. He was also successful over the Arabs and the Meunites, a group southeast of the Dead Sea. Thus his fame spread to Egypt.

The destruction of Judah (2 Chr 21:16-21:17)

“Yahweh aroused the anger of the Philistines and the Arabs who are near the Ethiopians against King Jehoram. They came up against Judah. They invaded Judah. They carried away all the possessions they found that belonged to the king’s house. They took his sons and his wives, so that no son was left to him except Jehoahaz, his youngest son.”

Once again, this was not in 2 Kings. Yahweh aroused those pesky Philistines and Arabs on the southern border close to Egypt. They invaded Judah and took away all of the king’s possession, including his sons and wives. Only the youngest son Jehoahaz remained. Things do not look good for Judah or King Jehoram.


The growing strength of King Jehoshaphat (2 Chr 17:10-17:12)

“The fear of Yahweh fell on all the kingdoms of the lands around Judah. They did not make war against King Jehoshaphat. Some of the Philistines brought King Jehoshaphat presents and silver for tribute. The Arabs also brought him seven thousand seven hundred rams and seven thousand seven hundred male goats. King Jehoshaphat grew steadily greater.”

King Jehoshaphat lived in peace. All those around him feared Yahweh. This is strange since most of the other countries were not Yahweh worshipers. The Philistines and the Arabs came with tribute of silver and livestock. This biblical author does not specify how much silver the Philistines brought. However, the 7,700 rams and 7,700 goats of the Arabs were very specific. Notice the usage of the lucky number 7. King Jehoshaphat was getting more powerful.