“The older son called
One of the servants.
‘What is going on?’”
καὶ προσκαλεσάμενος ἕνα τῶν παίδων ἐπυνθάνετο τί ἂν εἴη ταῦτα.
This long parable story about the 2 sons can only be found in Luke, not in any of the other gospel stories. Luke indicated that Jesus said that the older son called one of his male servants (καὶ προσκαλεσάμενος ἕνα τῶν παίδων) and asked or inquired of him (ἐπυνθάνετο) what was going on (τί ἂν εἴη ταῦτα)? This older hard-working son wanted to know what all the music, dancing, and celebrating was all about. How come nobody told him what was going on? Have you ever been confused about a celebration?”
“‘You shall not go
Into the house of feasting
To sit with them,
To eat with them,
To drink with them.’
Thus says Yahweh of hosts!
The God of Israel!
‘I am going to banish
From this place,
Before your eyes,
In your days,
The voice of mirth.
I will banish
The voice of gladness.
I will banish
The voice of the bridegroom.
I will banish
The voice of the bride.’”
Yahweh, the God of Israel, told Jeremiah that he should stay away from any place that was feasting and celebrating. He should not sit, eat, or drink with these merrymakers. They were going to be banished from Judah and Jerusalem. No longer would there be the voice of mirth or gladness in his days. In fact, the voice of the bride and bridegroom would be banished also, hinting at no more weddings.
“In encounters with the forces of Timothy and Bacchides, they killed more than twenty thousand of them. They got possession of some exceedingly high strongholds. They divided a very great amount of plunder. They give it to those who had been tortured, to the orphans, widows, and aged, shares equal to their own. They collected the arms of the enemy. They carefully stored them all of them in strategic places. They carried the rest of the spoils to Jerusalem. They killed the commander of Timothy’s forces, a most unholy man, one who had greatly troubled the Jews. While they were celebrating the victory in the city of their ancestors, they burned those who had set fire to the sacred gates, Callisthenes and some others. They had fled into one little house. Thus they received the proper recompense for their impiety.”
This is loosely connected to stories and battles in 1 Maccabees, chapters 5 and 7. Timothy was a leader of the gentiles on the east side of the Jordan River. Bacchides was a governor and general of King Demetrius I. Both of them were considered the enemy. These enemy troops had lost 20,000 men. The spoils had been taken and distributed to the tortured, the widows, the orphans, and the aged. However, they always kept some for themselves as they had done with the spoils from the defeat of Nicanor. Here it says that they had killed the commander of the troops of the unholy man Timothy. When they were celebrating in Jerusalem, they also burned the house of this unknown man named Callisthenes and others because they had been impious. Perhaps these were the Hellenizing Jews in Jerusalem.
We are about to celebrate the purification,
We write to you.
Will you therefore please keep the days?
It is God who has saved all his people.
He has returned the inheritance to all,
And the consecration.
He had promised this through the law.
For we have hope in God
That he will soon have mercy on us.
He will gather us from everywhere
Under heaven into his holy place.
He has rescued us from great evils.
He has purified the place.”
Finally, this long letter ends with its purpose, an invitation to the Egyptian Jews at Alexandria to keep the 8 days of worship celebrating the renewal of the Temple in Jerusalem under Judas Maccabeus. God has saved his people. He has returned that inheritance which is kingship, priesthood, and consecration through the law. They hoped that God would have mercy on them, so that they all could gather everyone together in this holy place. God had already rescued them from many great evils and purified this place. The ideal would be to have all Jews returning to Jerusalem.