Egypt was more culpable than Sodom (Wis 19:13-19:17)

“The punishments did not come upon the sinners

Without prior signs

With the violence of thunder.

They justly suffered

Because of their wicked acts.

They practiced a more bitter hatred of strangers.

Others had refused to receive strangers

When they came to them.

But these made slaves of guests

Who were their benefactors.

Not only so,

While punishment of some sort

Will come upon the former

For having received strangers with hostility,

The latter,

Having first received them with festal celebrations,

Afterward afflicted them with terrible sufferings.

They had already shared the same rights.

They were stricken also with loss of sight.

Just as were those at the door of the righteous man.

When surrounded by yawning darkness,

Each tried to find the way through their own door.”

Who was worse, the Egyptians or the Sodomites from Genesis, chapters 18-19? Did the Egyptians deserve to be punished? The decision rested on how they treated strangers. Interesting enough, the argument is not about immorality but about hospitality. There is no explicit mention of Sodom or Egypt, but the implications are clear. These Egyptians were clearly warned with the various plagues. Instead of refusing strangers, the Egyptians had welcomed the Israelites, especially based on the stories about Joseph in Genesis, chapters 37-47. There his whole family, father and brothers, the sons of Jacob were welcomed into Egypt. However, as pointed out at the beginning of Exodus, chapters 1 and 5, they then enslaved them and tried to kill the Israelite male babies. Unlike the Sodomites they were not blind, but simply lived in darkness. This story about blindness is clearly from the Sodomite story in Genesis.

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Slow to anger (Prov 16:31-16:33)

“Grey hair is a crown of glory.

It is gained in a righteous life.

Whoever is slow to anger

Is better than the mighty.

The one whose temper is controlled

Is better than one who captures a city.

The lot is cast into the lap.

But the decision is Yahweh’s alone.”

Grey was a crown of glory because you had to be righteous to live a long life. If you were slow to anger, you were stronger than the mighty ones. You were better than someone who captured a city. Finally, the lot that was chosen from the priestly ephod was really the decision of Yahweh alone. Thus casting lots was a way of putting the decision in God’s hands, not human hands.

God’s victory at Modein (2 Macc 13:13-13:17)

“After consulting privately with the elders, he determined to march out and decide the matter by the help of God before the king’s army could enter Judea and get possession of the city. So, committing the decision to the Creator of the world, he exhorted his troops to fight nobly to the death for the laws, the temple, the city, the country, and the commonwealth. He pitched his camp near Modein. He gave his troops the watchword.

‘God’s victory.’

He picked a force of the bravest young men. He attacked the king’s pavilion at night. He killed as many as two thousand men in the camp. He stabbed the leading elephant and its rider. In the end they filled the camp with terror and confusion as they withdrew in triumph. This happened, just as day was dawning, because the Lord’s help protected him.”

Clearly the success of Judas Maccabeus came because of divine intervention on his side. Everything was done with the help of God. He first consulted with the elders, which seems to be a common practice. He committed his decision to the Creator, not the God of Israel. He wanted his troops to defend the laws, the Temple, the city, and the country. This took place near Modein, where his father was from, although there is no mention of his father Mattathias in 2 Maccabees. The key word was ‘God’s victory.’ He picked a few brave young men to lead the attack on the king’s pavilion at night. He killed 2,000 that night as well as the lead elephant. This led to confusion in the camp, another common biblical theme.

They cast lots to determine the perfect day (Esth 3:7-3:9)

“In the first month, which is the month of Nisan, in the twelfth year of King Artaxerxes, Heman came to a decision by casting lots. This casting of lots takes the days and the months one by one, in order to fix on one day in order to destroy the whole race of Mordecai. The lot fell on the fourteenth day of the month of Adar, which is the twelfth month.”

Haman came to a decision on when to destroy the Jews by casting lots, known as pur. This was a common practice in the Middle East. It happened a lot in the biblical literature, even for such important things as allocating the land for the tribes of Israel in Joshua, chapters 14-19. This was now the 12th year of King Artaxerxes, 5 years after Esther has become queen. There never seems to be any mention of the king’s children, either with Queen Vashti or Queen Esther. The date chosen for destroying the race of Mordecai is the 14th day of the 12th month, so that there will 11 months to get ready for this perfect massacre day.