Yahweh comes (Isa 28:20-28:22)

“The bed is too short

To stretch oneself on it.

The covering is too narrow

To wrap oneself in it.

Yahweh will rise up

As on Mount Perazim.

He will rage

As in the valley of Gibeon.

To do his deed!

Strange is his deed!

To work his work!

Alien is his work!

Now therefore do not scoff!

Your bonds will be made stronger.

I have heard a decree of destruction

From Yahweh God of hosts

Upon the whole land.”

Isaiah explains that your beds will be too short and the covers on your beds too narrow to cover you. This would indicate that he was referring to taller people like giants who could not get a comfortable bed. Yahweh was going to rise in anger as he had done at Mount Perazim and Gibeon. Perazim was a place between Jerusalem and Hebron where King David defeated the Philistines in 2 Samuel, chapter 5 and 1 Chronicles, chapter 14. There it was called Baal-Perazim. Gibeon was a place north of Jerusalem where Joshua defeated 5 kings in Joshua, chapter 10. Yahweh’s work was going to happen, even if an alien had to do it. They were not to be scoffers. Yahweh, God of hosts, had issued a decree of destruction for the whole land.

The future defeat of Egypt (Isa 19:16-19:17)

“On that day,

The Egyptians will be

Like women.

They will tremble with fear

Before the hand

That Yahweh of hosts

Raises against them.

The land of Judah

Will become a terror

To the Egyptians.

Everyone to whom it is mentioned

Will fear

Because of the plan

That Yahweh of hosts

Is planning against them.”

Once again, Yahweh, via Isaiah, talks about a specific future day, ‘on that day,’ when the Egyptians will be defeated. They would be afraid like women, trembling and fearing the hand of Yahweh. Judah would become a name to be feared in Egypt, where everyone there would fear Yahweh. However, the only great defeat of Egypt did not come until the time of Alexander the Great in the 4th century BCE, some 400 years after the time of Isaiah, but not under the name of Judah.

Samuel (Sir 46:13-46:20)

“Samuel was beloved by his Lord.

He was a prophet of the Lord.

He established the kingdom.

He anointed rulers over his people.

By the law of the Lord

He judged the congregation.

The Lord watched over Jacob.

By his faithfulness,

He proved to be a prophet.

By his words,

He became known as a trustworthy seer.

He called upon the Lord,

The Mighty One,

When his enemies

Pressed him on every side.

He offered in sacrifice

A sucking lamb.

Then the Lord thundered from heaven.

He made his voice heard

With a mighty sound.

He subdued the leaders of the enemy

In Tyre.

He subdued all the rulers of the Philistines.

Before the time of his eternal sleep,

Samuel bore witness before the Lord.

Samuel bore witness before his anointed.

‘No property,

Not so much as a pair of shoes,

Have I taken from anyone!’

No one accused him.

Even after he had fallen asleep,

He prophesied.

He made known to the king his death.

He lifted up his voice from the ground.

In prophecy,

He wanted to blot out

The wickedness of the people.”

Next Sirach praises Samuel, the prophet who was a judge and founder of the monarchy. There is a Hebrew biblical book called Samuel that was later divided into 2 parts. He was a beloved trustworthy faithful prophet. He called upon the Lord when the enemies surrounded him. He offered a sacrifice of a lamb. He defeated the enemies at Tyre and the Philistines. Samuel anointed 2 kings, Saul and David. He never took any property from anyone, not even a pair of shoes. Even after his death, prophecies from the grave came to the king. He continually wanted to blot out the wickedness of his people.

Wickedness (Wis 17:11-17:14)

“Wickedness is a cowardly thing.

It is condemned

By its own testimony.

Distressed by conscience,

It has always exaggerated the difficulties.

Fear is nothing but a giving up of the helps

That come from reason.

Fear gives up hope.

It is defeated

By this inward weakness.

It prefers ignorance of what causes the torment.

Throughout the night,

That was really powerless,

Which came upon them

From the recesses of powerless Hades.

They all slept the same sleep.”

Wickedness (πονηρία) is cowardly. Its own witness (μαρτυρεῖ) condemns it. Wickedness always exaggerates difficulties so that it fears (φόβος) everything that comes from reason (λογισμοῦ). The wicked give up hope. They are defeated by their own inner weakness. They prefer ignorance of what causes problems. They are powerless throughout the night, like a powerless hell or Hades (ἀδυνάτου ᾅδου). However, everyone sleeps the same sleep, no matter what.

You defeated our enemies in the past (Ps 83:9-83:12)

“Do to them as you did to Midian.

Do as you did to Sisera.

Do as you did to Jabin at the river Kishon.

You destroyed them at En-dor.

They became dung for the ground.

Make their nobles like Oreb and Zeeb.

Make all their princes like Zebah and Zalmunna.

They said.

‘Let us take the pastures of God

For our own possession.’”

The psalmist recounted the times in the past when Yahweh had helped them against enemies. He was calling on Yahweh to act now as he had in the past. Gideon defeated the Midianites in Judges, chapter 7. Deborah defeated General Sisera and King Jabin in Judges, chapter 4. En-dor was a Canaanite city. Gideon defeated Oreb and Zeeb, 2 captains of the Midianites, in Judges, chapter 7. Gideon also defeated Zebah and Zalmunna in Judges, chapter 8. Obviously this psalmist had the Book of Judges or something similar at his disposal, as he recounted the deeds of Deborah and Gideon before the time of King Saul and King David.

God helped to defeat enemies (Ps 68:11-68:14)

“Yahweh gives the command.

Great is the company

Of those who bore the tidings.

‘The kings of the armies,

They flee!

They flee!’

The women at home

Divide the spoils.

Although they stayed among the sheepfolds,

They found

The wings of a dove covered with silver,

Its pinions with green gold.

When the almighty Shaddai scattered kings there,

Snow fell on Zalmon.”

When Yahweh gave the command, the armies of the enemy kings were defeated. They fled. The women at home or in the sheepfolds divided the spoils of the fleeing armies. This sounds like a settled people rather than a group in the wilderness. Among these spoils they found a silver dove with green gold feathers. When the almighty Shaddai, as opposed to Yahweh, scattered these kings, snow fell on Mount Zalmon, which was near Shechem. This mountain was mentioned in Judges, chapter 9. Snow would have been rare as this incident was not mentioned elsewhere in the biblical literature.

Israel has been defeated (Ps 44:9-44:12)

“Yet you have rejected us.

You have abased us.

You have not gone out with our armies.

You make us turn back from the foe.

Our enemies have gotten spoils.

You have made us like sheep for slaughter.

You have scattered us among the nations.

You have sold your people for a trifle.

You demanded no high price for them.”

This is one of the few times that the psalmist talks about a defeat. They have been rejected by God since God has not gone out with their armies. Thus they were defeated. They were not able to turn back their enemies. In fact, the foes have taken spoils from them. They were like sheep brought to slaughter. They were scattered among the nations, a clear allusion to the captivity. They were sold for a trifle, since there was no high price placed on them.

Prayer for help (Ps 41:10-41:12)

“But You!

Yahweh!

Be gracious to me!

Raise me up!

Thus I may repay them.

By this I know

That you are pleased with me.

My enemy has not triumphed over me.

But you have upheld me

Because of my integrity.

You have set me in your presence forever.”

David prayed to Yahweh. Once again he wanted Yahweh to be gracious to him and raise him up out of his sick bed. Then he would be able to repay all those who were not kind to him. David knew that Yahweh was pleased with him because his enemy had not defeated him. He had been sustained by Yahweh because of his integrity. Therefore he would be in the presence of Yahweh forever. Is this an indication of eternal life?

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.

King Antiochus V attacks the Jews (2 Macc 13:18-13:19)

“The king, having had a taste of the daring of the Jews, tried a strategy in attacking their positions. He advanced against Beth-zur, a strong fortress of the Jews. However, he was turned back. He attacked again and was defeated.”

This is once again similar to 1 Maccabees, chapter 6. The young King Antiochus V with his leader Lysias decided to use some strategy against the Jews.   He would attack, then fall back, and then attack again. However, he was defeated.