The hands of the Lord and fear of the Lord (Sir 2:15-2:18)

“Those who fear the Lord

Will not disobey his words.

Those who love him

Will keep his ways.

Those who fear the Lord

Will seek to please him.

Those who love him

Will be filled with his law.

Those who fear the Lord

Will prepare their hearts.

Those who fear the Lord

Will humble themselves before him.

Let us fall into the hands of the Lord.

But let us not fall into the hands of men.

Equal to his majesty is his mercy.

Equal to his name are his works.”

If you fear the Lord, you will not disobey his words. If you love the Lord, you will keep his ways. If you fear the Lord, you will try to please him. Those who love God will be filled with his law. Here we see the combination of law and love, not separated. If you love, you will follow the law. If you fear the Lord, you will prepare your hearts and humble yourselves before the Lord. We should be in the hands of the Lord and not the hands of men. God’s majesty is equal to his mercy. His name and his works are the same.

The former friends (Ps 55:12-55:15)

“It is not enemies who taunt me.

I could bear that.

It is not adversaries

Who deal insolently with me.

I could hide from them.

But it is you,

My equal,

My companion,

My familiar friend

I kept pleasant company with you.

We walked in the house of God with the throng.

Let death come upon them.

Let them go down alive to Sheol.

Evil is in their homes.

Evil is in their hearts.”

Now David derides his former friends.  His enemies and adversaries have always taunted him and been mean to him.  He understood that and could hide from them.  The problem was that it was his former friends who were against him.  These were his equals, his companions, his good buddies.  He had great conversations with them.  He enjoyed their company.  They used to worship together in the Temple.  This was the great betrayal.  David may be thinking of the uprising of his son Absalom against him.  His response to them was very stark.  He wanted them dead.  He wanted them to go to hell.  He wanted them to go to Sheol, the underground place of death while still living.  This was very harsh because he beloved that they had evil in their houses and hearts.

The power of Leviathan (Job 41:30-41:34)

“It’s under parts are like sharp potsherds.

It spreads itself like a threshing sledge on the mire.

It makes the deep boil like a pot.

It makes the sea like a pot of ointment.

It leaves a shining wake behind it.

One would think that the deep to be white-haired.

On earth it has no equal.

It is a creature without fear.

It surveys everything that is lofty.

It is king over all that are proud.”

The Leviathan is powerful. Yahweh reminded Job that the Leviathan was the king of the proud. Its underbelly had sharp ceramic pieces that come from the breaking of pots. It is like sledge as it is so big it makes the sea seem like a bottle of ointment. Somehow it has control of the waters since there is nothing equal to it on earth. It has no fear since it is in charge of all the proud folks as it leader king. So ends this long description of the Leviathan, as Yahweh explained it to Job.

King Antiochus IV reverses himself about the Jews (2 Macc 9:13-9:18)

“Then the abominable fellow made a vow to the Lord, who would no longer have mercy on him. He stated that the holy city, which he was hastening to level to the ground in order to make it a cemetery, was now declared to be free. He had not considered the Jews worth burying. He had planned to throw them out with their children for the wild animals and for the birds to pick on. However, now he would make all of them equal to citizens of Athens. The holy sanctuary, which he had formerly plundered, he would adorn with the finest offerings. All the holy vessels he would give back many times over. The expenses, incurred for the sacrifices, he would provide from his own revenues. In addition to all this he also would become a Jew. He would visit every inhabited place to proclaim the power of God. However, when his sufferings did not in any way abate, for the judgment of God had justly come upon him, he gave up all hope for himself.”

This deathbed reversal of King Antiochus IV goes into greater detail here than in 1 Maccabees, chapter 6. For Jerusalem, the city that he was going to make into a cemetery, now he was declaring it a free city. For the Jews themselves, instead of letting their bodies lay in the open for the wild animals and birds, he was making them citizens like the people in Athens. He was going to give fine offerings for the sanctuary he had plundered. He was going to return all the holy vessels that he took and more. He would pay for the expenses of the sacrifices out of his own revenue. He also was willing to become a Jew. He was going to go every place to proclaim God. However, his own just sufferings did not stop. He gave up all hope for himself. Thus this born again conversion of the king included the idea of becoming a Jew, which was extraordinary.

King Antiochus IV accepts God (2 Macc 9:11-9:12)

“Then it was that, broken in spirit, he began to lose much of his arrogance. He came to his senses under the scourge of God. He was tortured with pain every moment. When he could not endure his own stench, he uttered these words.

‘It is right to be subject to God.

No mortal should think that they are equal to God.’”

This torture got to King Antiochus IV. His arrogance was broken since he was so tortured with pain. He could not endure his smell anymore. He then uttered the words that everyone was subject to God. No mortal should think himself equal to God. This almost sounds like the deathbed conversion of this same king like in 1 Maccabees, chapter 6. This is the great saying that no human mortal should think himself equal to the powerful God.

Timothy and Bacchides are defeated (2 Macc 8:30-8:33)

“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.