“Now when the Chaldean army
At the approach
Of Pharaoh’s army,
Jeremiah set out
To go to
The land of Benjamin
His share of the property
Among the people there.”
After the conversation with the two envoys of King Zedekiah, Jeremiah set out to go to the Benjamin territory, right next to Jerusalem. As the Chaldean army siege had been lifted with the approach of the Egyptian army, people were free to come and go from Jerusalem. Perhaps Jeremiah was going to see and get his land that he had purchased in chapter 32. It may have been just to see what was going on. Certainly he was going to see the people there.
The son of Shelemiah,
With the priest Zephaniah
The son of Maaseiah,
To the prophet Jeremiah.
‘Please pray for us
Now Jeremiah was still
Going in and out
Among the people.
He had not yet been
Put in prison.”
King Zedekiah sent envoys to Jeremiah to ask him to pray to Yahweh for them. He sent Jehucal, who in the next chapter will turn against Jeremiah, with the priest Zephaniah, to Jeremiah. Zephaniah seemed to be the high priest at the Temple, since he was involved with Pashhur in chapter 21, as well as in chapter 29, as the priest who read the letter from the first exiles. At this time, Jeremiah was still free to roam about his people, since this was before he was put in prison. This was a nice gesture on the part of the king.
“King Hezekiah welcomed
The ambassadors of Merodach.
He showed them
All his treasure house,
The precious oil,
His whole armory,
All that was found
In his storehouses.
There was nothing in his house
Or in the entire realm
That King Hezekiah
Did not show them.”
Once again, this is almost word for word from 2 Kings, chapter 20. King Hezekiah was very generous to these envoys. He wanted to show off all the treasures of his realm, his silver, his gold, his spices, his precious oil, his whole armor, and the entire storehouses. He showed them everything in his kingdom.
“When King Hezekiah heard this,
He also tore his clothes.
He covered himself with sackcloth.
He went into the house of Yahweh.”
Once again, this is almost word for word from 2 Kings, chapter 19. The 3 envoys of the king reported to him what they had heard. King Hezekiah also tore his clothes. Apparently it was common to tear your clothes whenever you heard bad news. If you were a pessimist, you would need a large wardrobe or you would often wear torn clothes. Here the king also put on sack cloth, the cloth that carried the various vegetables or foods. Being a good king, King Hezekiah (716-687 BCE) went into the house of Yahweh, the temple.
“The Romans also sent them a letter, which read thus.
‘Quintus Memmius and Titus Manius,
Envoys of the Romans,
To the people of the Jews,
With regard to what Lysias the kinsman of the king has granted you,
We also give consent.
But as to the matters which he decided
Those are to be referred to the king,
As soon as you have considered them,
Send someone promptly,
So that we may make proposals appropriate for you.
For we are on our way to Antioch.
Therefore make haste and send some men,
So that we may have your judgment.
The one hundred and forty-eighth year,
All these letters are in the same time frame in 164 BCE after King Antiochus V has taken over as the king. This letter is 2 days after the previous letter. Little is known about these 2 Roman envoys. They were on their way to Antioch. The Romans had some kind of relationship with the Jews as later indicated in 1 Maccabees, chapter 12-15. However, this is the time of Judas and not Jonathan or Simon. These envoys seem concerned about the status of the Jews in the Seleucid Empire. They wanted more information about what was happening.
“When the quadrennial games were being held at Tyre, the king was present. The vile Jason sent envoys, chosen as being citizens of Antioch from Jerusalem. They were to carry three hundred silver drachmas for the sacrifice to Hercules. Those who carried the money, however, thought best not to use it for sacrifice, because that was inappropriate. They spent if for another purpose. So this money that was intended by the sender for the sacrifice to Hercules, but by the decision of its carriers it was applied to the construction of triremes.”
Now we have the Olympics in the biblical tradition. The quadrennial Olympics were held in Tyre. The Greek Olympics began in 776 BCE. However, they were eliminated by the Christian Emperor Theodosius in 393 CE as a pagan cult. Although the Olympics were only held in Olympia in Greece, there were other gatherings of athletes in what might be called Pan-Hellenic Games that were held throughout the ancient world in various cities at different times what were also called Olympics. Tyre was an important sea port town north of Palestine. Hercules was the name of god of Tyre. Instead of offering the sacrifice to Hercules, these so-called Antiochian envoys to these games made triremes, war vessels with rowers on each side.