The attack of the king of the south (Dan 11:7-11:9)

“In those times,

A branch from her roots

Shall rise up

In his place.

He shall come

Against the army.

He shall enter the fortress

Of the king of the north.

He shall take action

Against them.

He shall prevail.

He shall carry off

To Egypt

Even their gods,

With their idols,

With their precious vessels

Of silver,

Of gold,

As spoils of war.

For some years,

He shall refrain

From attacking

The king of the north.

Then the latter

Shall invade

The realm

Of the king of the south.

But he shall return

To his own land.”

The southern King Ptolemy III (247-221 BCE) attacked the northern King Seleucus II (246-225 BCE). Ptolemy III would enter the fortress of the king of the north, as he would be successful. He would take their spoils and booty back to Egypt, including the idols of their gods, as well as their precious silver and gold vessels. There were a few years of peace, but then the northern King Seleucus II attacked the south unsuccessfully and returned home.

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Abominable images (Ezek 7:20-7:21)

“They had

Beautiful ornaments.

They took such pride

In them.

They made

Their abominable images.

They made

Their detestable things.

Therefore I will make of it

An unclean thing

To them.

I will hand it over

To strangers

As booty.

I will give it

To the wicked

Of the earth

As plunder.

They shall profane it.”

These Israelites had made beautiful ornaments into idols. They took such great pride in these abominable and detestable images that they had made. Yahweh was now going to make them into unclean things. He was going to hand them over to strangers as booty. He was going to give them to the wicked ones of the earth as plunder. Then they could profane these false idol god images.

Watch your companions (Prov 1:10-1:19)

“My child!

If sinners entice you,

Do not consent!

If they say.

‘Come with us!

Let us lie in wait for blood!

Let us wantonly ambush the innocent!

Like Sheol,

Let us swallow them alive and whole!

Like those who go down to the Pit,

We shall find all kinds of costly things.

We shall fill our houses with booty.

Throw in your lot among us!

We will all have one purse.’

My child!

Do not walk in their way!

Keep your foot from their paths!

Their feet run to evil.

They hurry to shed blood.

For in vain is a net baited,

While the bird is looking on.

Yet they lie in wait,

To kill themselves.

They set an ambush

For their own lives.

Such is the end

Of all who are greedy for gain.

It takes away the life of its possessors.”

The main parental advice of these proverbs is to stay away from evil people. Do not let sinners entice you! Stay away from those who want to ambush innocent people in order to spill their blood. They seem to think that they can swallow people up like Sheol or the pit, the grave, does. This part appears to not sound enticing, but the kicker enticement was filling up your house with spoils and booty. They would all share together with one purse. Parents should warn their children not to walk in their paths or let their feet walk in their ways. These wicked ones hurry to shed blood. However, they set a net while the birds are watching so that their own ambush will kill them. This is the end for those who are greedy and want to kill others so that they would have their goods.

Judas Maccabeus recalls the past aid to their ancestors (2 Macc 8:19-8:20)

“Moreover, Judas Maccabeus told them of the occasions when help came to their ancestors. There was once in the time of Sennacherib, when one hundred eighty-five thousand people perished. There was the time of the battle against the Galatians that took place in Babylonia, when eight thousand Jews fought along with four thousand Macedonians. When the Macedonians were hard pressed, the eight thousand, by the help that came to them from heaven, destroyed one hundred twenty thousand people. They took a great amount of booty.”

Judas Maccabeus recalled the great moments in Israelite battles. First there was the classic victory in 2 Kings, chapter 19, when King Hezekiah of Judah defeated and killed 185,000 troops of the Assyrian King Sennacherib, who was attacking Jerusalem around 700 BCE. This incident is often cited. However, the 2nd story about 8,000 Jews helping the Macedonians against the Galatians in Babylonia is only found here. Apparently the Galatians were mercenary troops in Asia. Apparently these Jewish troops helped King Antiochus III to defeat the Galatians in the time frame between 223-187 BCE. So that would have been only about a half-century earlier than Judas Maccabeus.

King Alexander I honors Jonathan (1 Macc 10:86-10:89)

“Then Jonathan left there. He encamped against Askalon, where the people of the city came out to meet him with a great pomp. Jonathan and those with him returned to Jerusalem with a large amount of booty. When King Alexander heard of these things, he honored Jonathan still more. He sent to him a golden buckle, such as it is the custom to give to the king’s kinsmen. He also gave him Ekron and all its environs as his possession.”

Askalon had been one of the 5 major Philistine cities on the coast. There the people came out to praise Jonathan. Obviously, when he got back to Jerusalem they had a big celebration because he had brought back a large amount of booty. When King Alexander I heard about his activities in defeating the governor of King Demetrius I, he honored him by giving him a gold buckle as a token of his friendship. Now Jonathan was one of the great friends of the king, almost a relative. King Alexander I gave Jonathan the land of Ekron which was the most northern Philistine city. It almost seems like this is the completion of the wars of David against the Philistines.

The Assyrians flee (Jdt 15:1-15:7)

“When the men in the tents heard it, they were amazed at what had happened. Overcome with fear and trembling, they did not wait for one another. With one impulse, all rushed out. They fled by every path across the plain and through the hill country. Those who had camped in the hills around Bethulia also took flight. Then the Israelites, everyone that was a soldier, rushed out upon them. Uzziah sent men to Betomesthaim, Choba, and Kola, and to all the frontiers of Israel, to tell them what had taken place. He urged all the Israelites to rush out upon their enemies to destroy them. When the Israelites heard it, with one accord they fell upon the enemy. They cut them down as far as Choba. Those in Jerusalem and all the hill country also came. They were told what had happened in the camp of the enemy. The men of Gilead and in Galilee outflanked them with great slaughter, even beyond Damascus and its borders. The rest of the people of Bethulia fell upon the Assyrian camp and plundered it, acquiring great riches. The Israelites, when they returned from the slaughter, took possession of what remained. Even the villages and towns in the hill country and in the plain got a great amount of booty, since there was a vast quantity of it.”

When all the foot soldiers in the camp heard what had happened, they were overcome with fear and trembling. Many of them rushed to the various paths to get out of the area. With all this going on, the Israelite soldiers rushed the camp. Meanwhile Uzziah, the lead elder in Bethulia, sent word out by messengers about what had happened there. He sent people to Betomesthaim, Choba, and Kola, but unfortunately no one has been able to pinpoint where these places are, but they probably were close to Dothan. He wanted the men at the frontiers to destroy their enemy as he was escaping. He sent word to Jerusalem and the hill country. Apparently, he was more successful in the northern areas of Galilee and Gilead, as they chased the enemy as far as Damascus. The men of Bethulia attacked the Assyrian camp killing the confused soldiers and taking their stuff as booty, since there were many supplies there for this famished town.

 

The Israelites fasting in sack cloths (Jdt 4:9-4:12)

“Every man of Israel cried out to God with great fervor. They humbled themselves with much fasting. They, their wives, and their children put sackcloth around their waist. Their cattle, every resident alien, every hired laborer, and purchased slaves, all put sackcloth around their waists. All the Israelites, men, women, and children, living at Jerusalem, prostrated themselves before the Temple. They put ashes on their heads. They spread out their sackcloth before the Lord. They even draped the altar with sackcloth. They cried out in unison, praying fervently to the God of Israel not to allow their infants to be carried off and their wives to be taken as booty. They did not want their towns to be destroyed. They did not want the sanctuary to be profaned and desecrated by the malicious joy of the Gentiles.”

The Israelite men cried out to God. They humbled themselves. Fasting was a key element of prayer preparation. Their whole family, including wives and children put on sackcloth. However, the text says that the cattle put on sackcloth, but I do not understand why. They apparently were well to do since they had resident aliens, hired laborers, and slaves working for them. They all prostrated before the Temple with ashes on their heads. They even draped the altar in sackcloth. There was this insistence on sackcloth and ashes. They did not want their children and wives taken as booty. They did not want their so-called inherited towns taken away. They finally did not want their sanctuary desecrated by the Gentiles. All of this prayer sounds post-exilic in tone.