The worship of the statue (Dan 3:7-3:7)

“Therefore,

As soon as

All the people

Heard the sound

Of the horn,

The pipe,

The lyre,

The trigon,

The harp,

The drum,

The entire musical ensemble,

All the people,

All the nations,

All the language groups,

Fell down.

They worshiped

The golden statue

That King Nebuchadnezzar

Had set up.”

According, everyone fell down and worshiped this statue of King Nebuchadnezzar, including all the various people, countries, and language groups. When they heard these various musical instruments, they reacted immediately. Just as in the preceding section, these were the horn, the pipe, the lyre, the trigon, the harp, and the drum, some with a Semitic origin, while others were Greek or Egyptian. Obviously, not everyone in the world could hear these musical sounds.

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The idol sacrifices in high places (Ezek 20:28-20:29)

“I had brought them

Into the land

That I swore

To give them.

Then wherever they saw

Any high hill

Or any leafy tree,

There they offered

Their sacrifices.

They presented

The provocation

Of their offering.

There they sent up

Their pleasing odors.

There they poured out

Their drink offerings.

I said to them.

What is the high place

To which you go?

It is called Bamah

To this day.”

Now Yahweh reminded them, via Ezekiel, that when he brought them into the land that he swore to give to their ancestors, they ran to every high hill or leafy tree. There they set up altars of sacrifice. They provoked Yahweh with their sacrifices. They presented their offerings with sweet smelling incense and drink offerings. This may have been some sort of Canaanite or Egyptian fertility rite, since they had not given up their old ways. There is a play on words as Yahweh wanted to know what this high place was called. Bamah meant a high place of worship that had been used by the Canaanites, but still existed at the time of Ezekiel.

The idol worship service of the seventy Jerusalem elders (Ezek 8:10-8:11)

“So I went in.

I looked.

There portrayed

On the wall,

All around,

Were all kinds

Of creeping things,

Loathsome animals,

With all the idols

Of the house of Israel.

Before them

Stood seventy

Of the elders

Of the house

Of Israel,

With Jaazaniah,

The son of Shaphan,

Standing among them.

Each had his censer

In his hand.

The fragrant cloud

Of incense

Was ascending.”

Ezekiel went into the worship service room on the other side of the wall. He saw various inscriptions or pictures all around the walls that included creeping things, despicable animals, and all kinds of idols from the house of Israel. This must have indicated some kind of Egyptian or Babylonian idol gods, perhaps the god Osiris. However, this might be a mishmash of various idol gods. Even more shocking was to see the 70 Jerusalem elders of Israel, including Jaazaniah, the son of Shaphan, standing there with lit censers in their hands as the fragrant smell of incense ascended in the air. This was a shocking sight to see.

The oracle about the stones for King Nebuchadnezzar (Jer 43:8-43:10)

“Then the word of Yahweh

Came to Jeremiah

In Tahpanhes.

‘Take some large stones

In your hands!

Bury them

In the clay pavement

At the entrance

To Pharaoh’s palace

In Tahpanhes!

Let the Judeans

See you do it!

Then say to them.

‘Thus says Yahweh of hosts!

The God of Israel!

I am going to send

King Nebuchadnezzar.

I am going to take

King Nebuchadnezzar

Of Babylon,

My servant.

He will set his throne

Above these stones

That I have buried.

He will spread

His royal canopy

Over them.’”

Yahweh utters an oracle to Jeremiah, even though he is in the Egyptian northeastern border town of Tahpanhes, where the Suez Canal is today. Once again Yahweh wants Jeremiah to do some symbolic action to get a point across. Jeremiah was to take large stones and then bury them in the pavement at the entrance to the palace of the Egyptian Pharaoh. He was to do this in front of all his fellow Judean expatriates. Then he uttered God’s prophetic oracle that King Nebuchadnezzar, his servant like his own servant prophets, would put his throne on top of these stones. He would then spread out his royal canopy over them. In other words, the Babylonian king was going to take over Egypt. It actually happened in 568 BCE, about 20 years after this action.

Jewelry (Song 1:9-1:11)

Male lover

“My love!

I compare you

To a mare among Pharaoh’s chariots.

Your cheeks are comely

With ornaments.

Your neck is comely

With strings of jewels.

We will make you ornaments of gold,

Studded with silver.”

The male lover responded as if he were a rich man. He compared his female lover to a horse among the Egyptian Pharaoh’s chariot horses. I am not sure how well she took this comparison. Her cheeks and neck were good looking. She had some kind of ornaments on her cheeks with jewels around her neck. Maybe she had some sort of tattoo on her cheeks. However, this male lover was going to bring ornaments of gold studded with silver. Nothing was too good for her.

The thirty sayings (Prov 22:20-22:21)

“Have I not written for you thirty sayings

Of admonition and knowledge?

They are to show you

What is right and true.

Thus you may give a true answer

To those who sent you.”

These 30 sayings have a certain similarity or loose comparison with the Egyptian Instructions of Amenemope with its 30 chapters from around 1300-1075 BCE. They sayings are about admonitions and knowledge. They intend to show you what is right and true. That way, you can answer anyone who sent you. These sayings are more international in tone.

King Ptolemy VI gives his daughter to King Demetrius II (1 Macc 11:8-11:12)

“King Ptolemy gained control of the coastal cities as far as Seleucia by the sea. He kept devising evil designs against Alexander. He sent envoys to King Demetrius, saying.

‘Come!

Let us make a covenant with each other.

I will give you in marriage my daughter

Who was Alexander’s wife.

You shall reign over your father’s kingdom.

I now regret that I gave him my daughter,

He has tried to kill me.’

He threw blame on King Alexander because he coveted his kingdom. He took his daughter away from him and gave her to Demetrius. He was estranged from Alexander. Their enmity became manifest.”

The Egyptian King Ptolemy VI had gained control of the coastal cities in Palestine. In fact, Seleucia was the main port for the city of Antioch. Then he sent messengers to King Demetrius II. He wanted to make a covenant with him. He was going to take his daughter, Cleopatra III, who was married to King Alexander, and give her to him. He regretted giving his daughter to King Alexander I because he had tried to kill him. There was a growing feud between King Ptolemy VI of Egypt and King Alexander I of Antioch, especially when he took his wife away. I wonder if Cleopatra had any say in these marriage arrangements.