False tongue (Sir 28:22-28:26)

“A false tongue

Has no power

Over the godly.

They will not be burned

In its flame.

Whoever forsakes the Lord

Will fall into its power.

It will burn among them.

It will not be put out.

It will be sent out against them

Like a lion.

Like a leopard,

It will mangle them.

As you fence in your property

With thorns,

So make a door.

Make a bolt

For your mouth.

As you lock up your silver,

So make balances

For your words.

As you lock up your gold,

So make scales

For your words.

Take care!

Do not err

With your tongue.

Otherwise you will fall victim

To one lying in wait.”

Sirach says that this false tongue does not have any power over the godly. They will not be burned by its flames. However, those who forsake the Lord will fall under the power of these false tongues. The fire will burn in them so that they will not be able to put out this fire. They will feel like they are being attacked by a lion or mauled by a leopard. You need to put a door and a bolt on your mouth just as you fence in your property with thorn bushes to keep you from false speech. You should weigh what you say and balance your words, just as you protect your silver and gold. Do not make mistakes with your tongue by falling victim to those who are waiting to catch you.

Locusts and flies (Wis 16:8-16:9)

“By this also you convinced our enemies

That it is you

Who delivered them from every evil.

They were killed

By the bites of locusts.

They were killed

By the bites of flies.

No healing was found for them.

Because they deserved

To be punished

By such things.”

Here then is allusion to the plagues in Egypt in Exodus, chapters 6-11, when the locusts and flies attacked and killed the Egyptians. However, they deserved to be punished in this way.

The Canaanites (Wis 12:8-12:11)

“But even these you spared,

Since they were but mortals.

You sent wasps

As forerunners of your army.

They were to destroy them

Little by little.

You were not unable

To give the ungodly

Into the hands of the righteous in battle.

You were able to destroy them

With one blow

By dread wild beasts.

You were also able to destroy them

With your stern word.

But judging them

Little by little

You gave them an opportunity to repent.

You were not unaware

That their origin was evil.

You were not unaware

That their wickedness was inborn.

You were not unaware

That their way of thinking

Would never change.

They were an accursed race

From the beginning.

It was not through fear of any one

That you left them unpunished

For their sins.”

This section on the Canaanites is loosely based on Exodus, chapter 23 and applied to all the inhabitants prior to the Israelite takeover, not just the Canaanites. The Israelites are called the righteous (δικαίοις), while the original inhabitants of this land are called the ungodly (ἀσεβεῖς). Some people were spared since they were fellow human beings. However, he had sent wasps, hornets, or pestilence before the Israelite army attacked in order to destroy them, little by little. Not all the ungodly were handed over to the Israelites in battle, even though God had the ability to destroy them with one blow or one word. Instead he gave them time to repent (μετανοίας) with this gradual takeover. These ungodly inhabitants were evil with inborn wickedness. They would never change or repent since they were an accursed seed or race. God did not let their sins go unpunished because of fear of anyone. There is a definite prejudice against the former inhabitants of the Promised Land, before the Israelites arrived. Yahweh wanted them all destroyed, but some persisted.

The attacks (Ps 129:1-129:4)

A Song of Ascents

“Often have they attacked me from my youth.

Let Israel now say.

‘Often have they attacked me from my youth.

Yet they have not prevailed against me.

The plowers plowed on my back.

They made their furrows long.’

Yahweh is righteous.

He has cut the cords of the wicked.”

Psalm 129 is another in this series of pilgrimage songs or psalms on the ascent to Jerusalem. In this particular song the psalmist claims to have been attacked since his youth. This youth may be a reference to Israel in its early stages in Canaan as Israel proclaimed the same message. They tried to plow the back of the psalmist. However, his enemies have not succeeded. Yahweh is the righteous one who has cut the cords of the wicked ones.

The curse for David’s enemies (Ps 69:22-69:29)

“Let their own table be a trap for them!

Let their own table be a snare for their allies!

Let their eyes be darkened,

So that they cannot see!

Make their loins tremble continually!

Pour out your indignation upon them!

Let our burning anger overtake them!

May their camp be desolation!

Let no one live in their tents!

They persecute those

Whom you have struck down.

They persecute those

Whom you have wounded.

They attack still more.

Add guilt to their guilt!

May they have no acquittal from you!

Let them be blotted out of the book of the living!

Let them not be enrolled among the righteous!

But I am lowly.

I am in pain.

Let your salvation!

O God!

Protect me high!”

These are a series of curses or wishes against the enemies of David. His enemies’ tables should be a trap or snare to them and their friends. He wanted them to lose their sight and to tremble all the time. God’s indignation and anger should be upon them. Their camp should be desolate so that they could not live in their tents. They had persecuted and attacked those who had been wounded. Their guilt pilled on guilt. They should not be acquitted. They should be blotted out of the book of the living. They should not be listed among the righteous. They should die. Then there is the cry of David to protect him and bring him salvation.

Yahweh cares about David (Ps 18:16-18:19)

“He reached down from on high.

He took me.

He drew me out of mighty waters.

He delivered me from my strong enemy.

He delivered me from those who hated me.

They were too mighty for me.

They confronted me.

In the day of my calamity,

However Yahweh was my support.

He brought me out into a broad place.

He rescued me,

Because he delighted in me.”

The psalmist David seems to imply that Yahweh had a special place for him. This is almost word for word from the canticle in 2 Samuel, chapter 22. Yahweh reached down from the heavens. He took David out of the mighty waters. More than anything, he rescued David from his strong enemy and those who hated him. David realized that he was not strong enough by himself. He needed the help of Yahweh in the day of his calamity when his enemies confronted him. Yahweh was his support who had brought him forward. Yahweh delighted in David. His enemies attacked him, but Yahweh was always with him because he loved him.

The fate of the wicked ones (Ps 5:9-5:10)

“There is no truth in their mouth.

Their hearts are destruction.

Their throats are open graves.

They flatter with their tongues.

Make them bear their guilt!

O God!

Let them fall by their own counsels!

Because of their many criminal transgressions,

Cast them out!

They have rebelled against you.”

Now David attacked his enemies, the wicked ones. They were liars. They have cruel destructive hearts. Their throats were like open graves. They flattered everyone. David wanted them to confess and bear their guilt. He wanted vengeance. He wanted them to fall because of their many transgressions. They were to be cast out from the sight of Yahweh. They had rebelled against Yahweh. There was no greater sin than that.

The strange peace treaty (2 Macc 13:20-13:23)

“Judas Maccabeus sent in to the garrison whatever was necessary. However, Rhodocus, a man from the ranks of the Jews, gave secret information to the enemy. He was sought for, caught, and put in prison. The king negotiated a second time with the people in Beth-zur. He gave pledges and received theirs. Then he withdrew. He then attacked Judas Maccabeus and his men. However, he was defeated. He got word that Philip, who had been left in charge of the government, had revolted in Antioch. He was dismayed. Thus he called in the Jews. He yielded. He swore to observe all their rights as he settled with them. He offered a sacrifice, honored the sanctuary, and showed generosity to the holy place.”

This is similar to 1 Maccabees, chapter 6. Here, however, there is a Jewish traitor named Rhodocus who was imprisoned for revealing secrets to the army of Lysias and King Antiochus V. Meanwhile the king was defeated at Beth-zur. Nevertheless, the real turning point was the news that Philip in Antioch was revolting against his rule and that of Lysias. Thus he and Lysias decided to set up a peace treaty with the Jews. He let them observe all their rights, with their sanctuary and Temple.

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.

Judas Maccabeus attacks Joppa and Jamnia (2 Macc 12:5-12:9)

“When Judas Maccabeus heard of the cruelty visited on his compatriots, he gave orders to his men, calling upon God the righteous judge, to attack the murderers of his kindred. He set fire to the harbor by night. He burned the boats. He massacred those who had taken refuge there. Then, because the city’s gates were closed, he withdrew, intending to come again and root out the whole community of Joppa. But learning that the people in Jamnia meant in the same way to wipe out the Jews who were living among them, he attacked the people of Jamnia by night. He also set fire to the harbor and the fleet, so that the glow of the light was seen in Jerusalem, thirty miles distant.”

Judas Maccabeus gave orders to his men to attack the murders of his compatriots and relatives. This was after he called upon the righteous God to help him. He burned the harbor and the boats there with the people in them. He was not able to get into the city because the city gates were locked. However, he heard that the people of Jamnia were about to drown the people there. Jamnia was about 12 miles south of Joppa on the Mediterranean coast. Thus he went there where he once again set fire to the boats in the harbor. The fire was so great that you could see it in Jerusalem some 30 miles away. The motto of this story was “do not try to drown Jews.”