That it may not be
προσεύχεσθε δὲ ἵνα μὴ γένηται χειμῶνος·
There is something similar in Matthew, chapter 24:20, but not in Luke. Mark indicated that Jesus said that they should pray (προσεύχεσθε δὲ) that their flight would not happen in the winter (ἵνα μὴ γένηται χειμῶνος). Matthew added the comment about the Sabbath, since Matthew considered himself and the followers of Jesus as faithful Jews. However, Mark made no mention about fleeing on the Sabbath.
“Pray that your flight
May not be
In the winter
Or on a Sabbath.”
προσεύχεσθε δὲ ἵνα μὴ γένηται ἡ φυγὴ ὑμῶν χειμῶνος μηδὲ σαββάτῳ·
Mark, chapter 13:18, mentions only the problem of winter, while Luke does not mention a bad time at all. Jesus said to pray (προσεύχεσθε δὲ) that their flight would not be in the winter (ἵνα μὴ γένηται ἡ φυγὴ ὑμῶν χειμῶνος) or on a Sabbath (μηδὲ σαββάτῳ). Matthew added the comment about the Sabbath since he considered himself and the followers of Jesus as faithful Jews.
“My heart is in anguish within me.
The terrors of death have fallen upon me.
Fear and trembling come upon me.
Horror overwhelms me.
‘O that I had wings like a dove!
I would fly away.
I would be at rest.
I would flee far away.
I would lodge in the wilderness.”
David was in anguish. He feared death. Fear and trembling came over him as horror overwhelmed him. This concept of fear and trembling became a major concept and the name of a writing of the 19th century theologian or philosopher Soren Kierkegaard. David finally said that he wished that he was a dove that could fly away. He wanted to rest somewhere far away where no one knew him. He would love to live in the wilderness. This idea of flight from a problem is still common today. We like to get away from our problems. This section ended with the musical interlude meditative pause, Selah.
“Your hand will find out all your enemies.
Your right hand will find out those who hate you.
You will make them like a fiery furnace
When you appear.
Yahweh will swallow them up in his wrath.
Fire will consume them.
You will destroy their offspring from the earth.
You will destroy their children from among humankind.
If they plan evil against you,
If they devise mischief,
They will not succeed.
You will put them to flight.
You will aim at their faces,
With your bows.”
Yahweh will find his enemies and those who hate him. He will then defeat them as a fiery furnace or swallow them up. Fire will consume them, even their offspring. Their children will be destroyed. Anyone who tried to plan or devise evil or mischief against Yahweh will not succeed. They will be put to flight as arrows will hit them in the face.
“Depart from me!
All you workers of evil,
Yahweh has heard the sound of my weeping.
Yahweh has heard my supplication.
Yahweh accepts my prayer.
All my enemies shall be ashamed.
They shall be struck with terror.
They shall turn back.
In a moment,
They shall be put to shame.”
Finally David can say to the evildoers, be gone. Yahweh has heard his weeping, his prayers, and supplications. Yahweh has accepted his prayers. Now his enemies were ashamed because they were struck with terror. They were turning back and being put to flight in shame.
“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.
“Invading Judea, Lysias approached Beth-zur, which was a fortified place about five stadia from Jerusalem. He pressed it hard. When Judas Maccabeus and his men got word that Lysias was besieging the strongholds, they and all the people, with lamentations and tears, prayed the Lord to send a good angel to save Israel. Judas Maccabeus himself was the first to take up arms. He urged the others to risk their lives with him to aid their kindred. Then they eagerly rushed off together. There, while they were still near Jerusalem, a horseman appeared at their head, clothed in white and brandishing weapons of gold. Together they all praised the merciful God. They were strengthened in heart, ready to assail not only humans, but the wildest animals or walls of iron. They advanced in battle order, having their heavenly ally, for the Lord had mercy on them. They hurled themselves like lions against the enemy. They laid low eleven thousand of them and sixteen hundred cavalry. They forced all the rest to flee. Most of them got away stripped and wounded. Lysias himself escaped by disgraceful flight.”
Beth-zur was about 20 miles south of Jerusalem, on the way to Hebron. Here, like 1 Maccabees, chapter 4, Judas Maccabeus prayed for a heavenly angel to help him. Although he had prayed in 1 Maccabees, there was no divine intervention. Here a heavenly horseman with a gold weapon led them to victory as they were lions in battle. Here they killed 11,000 infantry instead of 5,000 as in 1 Maccabees. In both versions of the story, Lysias escaped, either as here in “disgraceful flight” or simply withdrawing to Antioch as in 1 Maccabees.
“About that time, as it happened, King Antiochus had retreated in disorder from the region of Persia. He had entered the city called Persepolis. He attempted to rob the temples and control the city. Therefore the people rushed to the rescue with arms. King Antiochus and his army were defeated. The result was that he was put to flight by the inhabitants as he beat a shameful retreat. While he was in Ecbatana, news came to him of what had happened to Nicanor and the forces of Timothy. Transported with rage, he conceived the idea of turning upon the Jews the injury done by those who had put him to flight. He ordered his charioteer to drive without stopping until he completed the journey. But the judgment of heaven rode with him! In his arrogance he said.
‘When I get there,
I will make Jerusalem a cemetery of Jews.’”
A similar story can be found in 1 Maccabees, chapter 6, where the beginning of the story is the same. Some of the details are different. The town with the temple was called Elymais in 1 Maccabees, but magnificent former capital Persepolis here. Instead of returning to Babylon in 1 Maccabees, here it is the summer capital of Persia, Ecbatana. In 1 Maccabees, it is Lysias who seemed to be in charge, while here it appears to be Nicanor and Timothy. However, there is a major difference in the reaction of King Antiochus IV. In 1 Maccabees, when King Antiochus IV heard the news about the Jewish victory, he was depressed and fell sick. He then had deathbed repentance for all that he had done to the Jews. Here instead of that, he got angry and wanted to make Jerusalem a Jewish cemetery. However, it is later in this chapter that he has his deathbed repentance. On top of that, there are more details about his illness here.
“As soon as Judas Maccabeus got his army organized, the gentiles could not withstand him. The wrath of the Lord had turned to mercy. Coming without warning, he would set fire to towns and villages. He captured strategic positions. He put to flight not a few of the enemy. He found the nights most advantageous for such attacks. Talk of his valor spread everywhere.”
Suddenly, the army of Judas Maccabeus was able to attack the gentiles. The anger of God turned to mercy. Judas Maccabeus and his group would set fire to towns and villages, the supposed strategic positions of the enemy. However, they were in Israel or Judah. The enemies were sent fleeing. He mostly attacked at night because it was easier then as talk of his exploits began to spread everywhere.
“Many acts of sacrilege had been committed in the city by Lysimachus with the connivance of Menelaus. When the report of them had spread abroad, the populace gathered against Lysimachus because many of the gold vessels had already been stolen. The crowds were becoming aroused and filled with anger. Lysimachus armed about three thousand men. He launched an unjust attack, under the leadership of a certain Auranus, a man advanced in years and no less advanced in folly. But when the Jews became aware that Lysimachus was attacking them, some picked up stones, some blocks of wood, and others took handfuls of the ashes that were lying around. They threw them in wild confusion at Lysimachus and his men. As a result, they wounded many of them. They killed some. They put all the rest of them to flight. The temple robber himself they killed close by the treasury.”
Lysimachus was the brother of Menelaus who was the second in command to the high priesthood of Menelaus. He had stolen the golden vessels from the Temple and committed other acts of sacrilege. The Jerusalem crowds became aroused and filled with anger. Lysimachus decided to get about 3,000 people led by a foolish old man named Auranus to attack the crowds. The crowds fought back by heaving, stones, wood, and ashes. I am not so sure about the value of throwing ashes. Anyway, they wounded many and killed some of these 3,000 men including Lysimachus. The rest fled. Finally, they were rid of the Temple robbers.