“An oracle concerning Egypt.
Yahweh is riding on a swift cloud.
He comes to Egypt.
The idols of Egypt
Will tremble at his presence.
The heart of the Egyptians
Will melt within them.
‘I will stir up
Egyptians against Egyptians.
They will fight
One against the other,
Neighbor against neighbor,
City against city,
Kingdom against kingdom.
The spirit of the Egyptians,
Will be emptied out.
I will confound their plans.
They will consult
The spirits of the dead,
And the familiar spirits.
I will destroy the Egyptians
Into the hand of a hard master.
A fierce king will rule over them.’
So says the Sovereign,
Yahweh of hosts.”
Isaiah presents an oracle of Yahweh about Egypt. He said that Yahweh was riding high on a cloud as he came to Egypt as the false idols of Egypt trembled. The hearts of the Egyptians began to melt. Then Yahweh said that he was going to stir up fighting among the Egyptians themselves against each other, brother against brother, neighbor against neighbor, city against city, and kingdom against kingdom. They would all lose their spirit. They would be confused. Then they would consult their idols, their dead spirits, their ghosts, their mediums, their wizards, and all kinds of their strange spirits. Yahweh said that he was going to destroy the Egyptians as he was going to hand them over to a fierce king. Clearly Yahweh has spoken.
“Wine is a mocker.
Strong drink is a brawler.
Whoever is led astray by wine
Is not wise.
The dread wrath of a king is
Like the growling of a lion.
Anyone who provokes the king to anger
Forfeits his life.”
Wine makes people mock each other. Strong alcoholic drink will lead to brawling and fighting. Whoever is led astray by wine is not wise. Once again we have the comparison of the anger of a king to that of a growling lion as in the preceding parable. If you provoke the king to anger, then you forfeit your life.
“Nicanor and his troops advanced with trumpets and battle songs. Judas Maccabeus and his troops met the enemy in battle with invocations to God and prayers. So, fighting with their hands and praying to God in their hearts, they laid low no less than thirty-five thousand men. They were greatly gladdened by God’s manifestation. When the action was over, they were returning with joy. They recognized Nicanor, lying dead, in full armor.”
Nicanor and his army advanced with trumpets and battle songs. On the other hand, Judas Maccabeus and his troops went to fight with prayers in their hearts to God. Thus they fought and prayed at the same time. This seemed to have worked quite well. They killed 35,000 troops of Nicanor. They were glad because God had manifested his gladness with their actions. After the action was all over, they too were happy. Then they recognized Nicanor in full armor dead. There is something similar to this in 1 Maccabees, chapter 7, where Nicanor was defeated.
“The people were encouraged by the words of Judas Maccabeus. They were so noble and so effective in arousing the valor and awaking the courage in the souls of the young. Thus, they determined not to remain in camp, but to attack bravely. They would decide the matter, by fighting hand to hand with all courage, because the city, the sanctuary, and the temple were in danger. Their concern for their wives and children, and also for their brothers, sisters, and relatives, lay upon them less heavily. Their greatest and first fear was for the consecrated sanctuary. Those who had to remain in the city were in no little distress, being anxious over the encounter in the open country.”
Judas Maccabeus had encouraged the people to have courage, especially the young. Instead of staying in camp, they were willing to attack bravely. They wanted to fight hand to hand with courage. They were more worried about the city, the Temple, and sanctuary rather than their wives, children, brothers, sisters, or other relatives. Their greatest fear was for the consecrated sanctuary. The people who remained in the city were anxious about the battle encounter in the open country.
“A certain Dositheus, one of Bacenor’s men, who was a strong man on horseback, caught hold of Gorgias. He was grasping his cloak, while dragging him off by his hand strength. He wished to take the accursed man alive. However, one of the Thracian cavalry bore down upon him and cut off his arm. Thus Gorgias escaped and reached Marisa. As Esdris and his men had been fighting for a long time, they were weary. Judas Maccabeus called upon the Lord to show himself as their ally and leader in the battle. In the language of their ancestors he raised the battle cry with hymns. Then he charged against Gorgias’ troops when they were not expecting it. He put them to flight.”
Dositheus, who was one of those who had captured Timothy earlier in this chapter, caught Gorgias. He was dragging him by his cloak, when another Thracian cavalry man cut his hand off. Thus Gorgias escaped to Marisa, which was southwest of Jerusalem. The Thracians were a group of mercenaries from Asia Minor. Apparently one of Judas Maccabeus’ leaders Esdris and his group were weary. Judas asked the Lord to lead them in battle with hymns in the language of their ancestors. He then unexpectedly charged the troops of Gorgias and put them to flight.
“In those days Simon encamped against Gazara. He surrounded it with troops. He made a siege engine. He brought it up to the city so that he battered and captured one tower. The men in the siege engine leaped out into the city as a great tumult arose in the city. The men in the city, with their wives and children, went up on the wall with their clothes torn. They cried out with a loud voice, asking Simon to make peace with them. They said.
‘Do not treat us according to our wicked acts
But according to your mercy.’
So Simon reached an agreement with them. He stopped fighting against them. However, he expelled them from the city. He cleansed the houses in which the idols were located. He then entered it with hymns and praise. He removed all the wickedness from it. He settled in it men who observed the law. He also strengthened its fortifications. He then built in it a house for himself.”
Apparently this Gazara was Gaza. Simon surrounded it with his troops. The siege war engine was like a tower on wheels with catapults and battering rams that could break fortifications. As the people in Gaza saw this, they tore their clothes and asked for mercy. Simon decided not to kill them, but to expel them from the Gaza strip. He then put law abiding Jewish people there and built a house for himself. Does that sound familiar? Before he entered the city of Gaza, he cleansed the houses that had idols so that all the wicked things were gone when he entered the town singing hymns.
“Simon heard that Trypho had assembled a large army to invade the land of Judah and destroy it. He saw that the people were trembling and fearful. So he went up to Jerusalem. He gathered the people together. He encouraged them, saying to them.
‘You yourselves know
What great things
My brothers and I
And the house of my father
Have done for the laws and the sanctuary.
You know also the wars
And the difficulties
That my brothers and I have seen.
By reason of this,
All my brothers have perished for the sake of Israel.
I alone am left.
Now, far be it from me
To spare my life
In any time of distress.
I am not better than my brothers.
But I will avenge my nation
And the sanctuary
And your wives and children.
All the nations have gathered together out of hatred to destroy us.’”
Simon, who was the governor of the coastal states, saw how afraid the Israelites were. He knew that Trypho had a large army that was attempting to destroy the people of Judah. He went to Jerusalem to gather the people there in a great assembly. He spoke to the people to encourage them to keep going. He reminded them of what his family had done. His father and all his brothers had died fighting for Judah and the law. He was the only one left, even though he was not better than his brothers. Simon had assumed that Jonathan was dead and not captured. He wanted to avenge all the nations that had attacked the Jewish people. He was going to defend the sanctuary, their wives, and their children.