Personal distress (Lam 3:4-3:6)

Beth

“Yahweh has made

my flesh waste away.

He has made

My skin waste away.

He has broken

My bones.

He has besieged me.

With bitterness.

He has enveloped me

With tribulation.

He has made me

Sit in darkness

Like the dead

Of long ago.”

Almost like the sufferings of Job, this author complains about his own personal suffering. His flesh and his skin are wasting away, since his bones are broken. He has been besieged and enveloped in bitterness and tribulation, sitting in darkness like a person dead for a long time. Throughout this poem, these three verses start with the Hebrew consonant letter Beth. Each three verse section after this will use the next letter of the Hebrew alphabet in this personal acrostic poem.

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The death of Timothy (2 Macc 10:32-10:38)

“Timothy himself fled to a stronghold called Gazara, especially well garrisoned, where Chaereas was the commander. Then Judas Maccabeus and his men were glad. They besieged the fort for four days. The men within the town, relying on the strength of the place, kept blaspheming terribly. They uttered wicked words. But at dawn on the fifth day, twenty young men in the army of Judas Maccabeus, filled with anger because of the blasphemies, bravely stormed the wall. With savage fury, they cut down every one they met. Others who came up in the same way wheeled around against the defenders. They set fire to the towers. They kindled fires and burned the blasphemers alive. Others broke open the gates. They let in the rest of the force as they occupied the city. They killed Timothy, who was hiding in a cistern, and his brother Chaereas and Apollophanes. When they had accomplished these things, with hymns and thanksgivings they blessed the Lord who shows great kindness to Israel. He gave them the victory.”

In 1 Maccabees, chapter 13, the attack on Gazara was led by Simon, much later after the death of Judas Maccabeus. Here it takes place under the leadership of Judas Maccabeus. There Simon just deported the citizens, not killed them as here. Chaereas, the brother of Timothy, was the commander at Gazara, where Timothy had fled. They besieged the fort for 4 days. During that time, the men inside blasphemed against the Jewish God. On the fifth day, 20 young men from the army of Judas Maccabeus stormed the wall, killing everyone they men. They set fire to the towers and opened the gates. After they occupied the city, then they killed Timothy and his 2 brothers, Chaereas and Apollophanes. Finally they blessed the Lord with hymns and thanksgivings for the victory. So ends the story of Timothy, the enemy of the Jews. Notice that they praise God before and after they kill their enemy.

King Antiochus VII and the dispute with Simon (1 Macc 15:25-15:31)

“King Antiochus besieged Dor for the second time. He continued to throw his forces against it. He was making engines of war. He shut Trypho up and kept him from going out or in. Simon sent to King Antiochus two thousand picked troops, to fight for him, with silver and gold and much military equipment. However, King Antiochus refused to receive them. He broke all the agreements he formerly had made with Simon. He became estranged from him. He sent to him Athenobius, one of his friends, to confer with him, saying.

‘You hold control of Joppa and Gazara

And the citadel in Jerusalem.

They are cities of my kingdom.

You have devastated their territory.

You have done great damage in the land.

You have taken possession of many places in my kingdom.

Now then, hand over the cities which you have seized.

Pay the tribute money of the places

That you have conquered outside the borders of Judea.

Or else pay me five hundred talents of silver,

For the destruction that you have caused.

Pay me five hundred talents more

For the tribute money of the cities.

Otherwise we will come and make war on you.’”

Now we are back to the situation at Dor. When Simon heard about the siege there, he sent 2,000 troops with gold and silver as well as military equipment to help King Antiochus VII. However, King Antiochus VII took offense at this. He broke all his agreements with Simon that he had made in writing earlier in this chapter. He sent his friend Athenobius with a message for Simon. He complained that Simon have taken over Joppa, Gaza, and the citadel in Jerusalem. He contended that they were not in Judea. Simon had done a lot of damage. He either wanted those places back or money since Simon had left the borders of Judea and taken parts of his kingdom. However, King Antiochus VII was still not technically in charge since King Demetrius II was in prison and King Trypho was in Dor. He also wanted the tribute from those 3 places. Otherwise he was going to make war on Simon. What a change of heart!

Jonathan is on the offensive at Gaza (1 Macc 11:60-11:62)

“Then Jonathan set out and traveled beyond the river. He traveled among the towns. All the army of Syria gathered to him as allies. When he came to Askalon, the people of the city met him and paid him honor. From there he departed to Gaza, but the people of Gaza shut him out. So he besieged it. He burned its suburbs with fire and plundered them. Then the people of Gaza pleaded with Jonathan so he made peace with them. He took the sons of their rulers as hostages. He sent them to Jerusalem. He passed through the country as far as Damascus.”

Jonathan crossed the Jordan River, where all the Syrian troops joined him. The people of Askalon, one of the 5 Philistine cities on the coast, received him well and honored him. However, the people of Gaza, another old Philistine city, did not treat him well so that he besieged the city and burned its suburbs. Finally they asked for peace but Jonathan took the sons of the rulers as hostages, sending them to Jerusalem. He seems to have gone anywhere he wanted up as far north as Damascus.