Exhortation to seek good (Am 5:14-5:15)

“Seek good!

Do not seek evil!

Thus,

You may live!

So,

Yahweh!

The God of hosts!

Will be with you,

Just as you have said.

Hate evil!

Love good!

Establish justice

At the gate!

It may be

That Yahweh,

The God of hosts,

Will be gracious

To the remnant

Of Joseph.”

The Israelites were to seek good and not evil, so that they could live. Yahweh, the God of the heavenly hosts or armies, was going to be with them. They were to hate evil and love good things. They should establish justice at the gate proceedings. Then Yahweh might be gracious to the remnant of Joseph, the remaining people of Ephraim and the northern kingdom.

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The arrogant Babylonians (Jer 50:30-50:32)

“‘Therefore,

Her young men

Shall fall

In her squares.

All her soldiers

Shall be destroyed

On that day.’

Says Yahweh.

‘I am against you!

O arrogant one!’

Says Yahweh!

God of hosts!

‘Your day has come!

It is the time

When I will punish you.

The arrogant one

Shall stumble.

The arrogant one

Shall fall.

There will be no one

To raise him up.

I will kindle a fire

In his cities.

It will devour

Everything around him.’”

Yahweh proclaims that the arrogant Babylonians would suffer defeat, so that their young men would die in their town squares. Their soldiers would be wiped out. Yahweh with all his hosts and armies would be against Babylon. Their time for their punishment was coming. These arrogant Babylonians would stumble and fall, but no one would help them up. Yahweh was going to set them on fire in their cities. Everything would be devoured around them. Bad times were coming to these proud Babylonians.

The new Exodus (Isa 43:16-43:19)

“Thus says Yahweh.

He makes a way

In the sea.

He makes a path

In the mighty waters.

He brings out chariots.

He brings out horses.

He brings out armies.

He brings out warriors.

They lie down.

They cannot rise.

They are extinguished.

They are quenched like a wick.

Do not remember the former things!

Do not consider the things of old!

I am about to do a new thing.

Now it springs forth.

Do you not perceive it?

I will make a way in the wilderness.

I will make rivers in the desert.”

Second Isaiah seems to have Yahweh imply that there will be second Exodus. Yahweh would make a way for them through the sea and the mighty warriors. Despite the fact that chariots, horses, armies, and warriors will come after them, these armies will lie down and not rise again. They will be extinguished like a candle wick. They should not remember the former past old things because there will be a new way in the wilderness. They should be able to see it, since there will be rivers in the desert.

The power of Yahweh (Ps 89:8-89:11)

“Yahweh!

God of hosts!

Who is as mighty as you?

Yahweh!

Your faithfulness surrounds you.

You rule the raging of the sea.

When its waves rise,

You still them.

You crushed Rahab like a carcass.

You scattered your enemies with your mighty arm.

The heavens are yours.

The earth also is yours.”

Yahweh is the powerful God with hosts of large armies. He is mighty, so that there is no one as mighty as him. His faithfulness is all around him. He controls the raging sea and the rising waves. He crushed the sea monster Rahab. He scattered his enemies. He has power over heaven and earth.

King Antiochus got the bad news about Judah (1 Macc 6:5-6:7)

“Then someone came to King Antiochus in Persia. He reported that the armies which had gone into the land of Judah had been routed. Lysias had gone out with a strong force, but had been turned away. He fled before the Jews. The Jews had grown strong from the arms, supplies, and abundant spoils which they had taken from the armies they had cut down. They had torn down the abomination that he had erected upon the altar in Jerusalem. They had surrounded the sanctuary with high walls as before, and also Beth-zur, his town.”

King Antiochus IV was in Persia, probably Ecbatana the former capital when he got word about the failure of Lysias in Judah. The Jews had taken the spoils from his army and grew stronger. They had taken down his statue of a god in Jerusalem. The biblical author calls it an abomination. They had taken back the town of Jerusalem.

The fortifications of King Arphaxad (Jdt 1:1-1:4)

“It was the twelfth year of the reign of King Nebuchadnezzar, who ruled over the Assyrians in the great city of Nineveh. In those days, King Arphaxad, ruled over the Medes in Ecbatana. He built walls around Ecbatana with hewn stones three cubits thick and six cubits long. He made the walls seventy cubits high and fifty cubits wide. At the gates he built towers one hundred cubits high and sixty cubits wide at the foundations. He made its gates seventy cubits high and forty cubits wide to allow his armies to march out in force and his infantry form their ranks.”

This story has an exact date, the 12th year of the rule of King Nebuchadnezzar. This is a portrayal of a war between Babylonia and Media. King Nebuchadnezzar had actually defeated the Assyrians in Nineveh. Nebuchadnezzar lived from 634-562 BCE. He was a Chaldean, in other words, he ruled Babylonia, 605-562 BCE, from what we call present day Baghdad. It was under his rule that Jerusalem was destroyed in 586 BCE as depicted in 2 Chronicles, chapter 32, and 2 Kings, chapters 24-25. The 12th year of his rule would put this at 593 BCE, a few years before the final destruction of Jerusalem. King Arphaxad was a supposed contemporary Median king during the conquest of the Assyrians. If he was a contemporary of King Nebuchadnezzar, he might be identified with King Cyaxares (625–585 BC) of Media. Anyway these were the two protagonists in this story. Ecbatana was the capital of Media, as we saw in Tobit, chapter 3. This King Arphaxad fortified his city of Ecbatana with stones that were 4 ½ feet thick and 9 feet long that made the walls 105 feet high and 75 feet wide. The towers were 150 feet high and 90 feet wide at their foundation. The gates were very wide, 105 feet high and 60 feet wide, so that his army could get in and out of the gates. Although the name of the book is Judith, she will not make an appearance until chapter 8 of this book.