“Come out of here!
Each of you!
Save your lives
From the fierce anger
Do not be fainthearted!
Do not be fearful
At the rumors
Heard in the land!
One rumor comes!
The next year
Another rumor is
Of violence in the land!
There will be
Ruler against ruler.”
Yahweh warned them that they should get out of Babylon. They should save their lives from the fierce anger of Yahweh. However, they should not be fainthearted or fearful about the various rumors in the land. Each year there was a new rumor. There were always rumors of violence, as rulers fought against each other.
“Rabshakeh returned to his king.
He found the king of Assyria
Fighting against Libnah.
He had heard
That the king had left Lachish.
Now the king of Assyria heard
Concerning King Tirhakah of Ethiopia.
‘He has set out to fight against you.’”
Once again, this is almost word for word from 2 Kings, chapter 19. Rabshakeh wanted to return to his king to let him know what was happening in Jerusalem. However, the king of Assyria had left Lachish to fight against the town of Libnah since Lachish and Libnah were about 10 miles apart in the Judah territory, about 25 miles west of Jerusalem. The Assyrian king also got word that the Ethiopian King Tirhakah was setting out to fight against him. This King Tirhakah is sometimes known as Taharqa. As a young 20 year old general, he fought with King Sennacherib in Palestine. He then served as king of Egypt and Ethiopia from 690-664 BCE. So he would not have been king when this occurred about 10-15 years earlier. Nevertheless, there was a constant war between these two great Mideast powers, Egypt and Assyria.
A wise son rose up.
Because of David,
He lived in security.
In an age of peace.
Made all his borders tranquil,
He was able
To build a house for his name.
He provided a sanctuary
To stand forever.
How wise you were
When you were young!
Like the Nile River
Your influence spread
Throughout the earth.
You filled it with proverbs
Having deep meaning.
Your fame reached
To far-off islands.
You were loved
For your peaceful reign.
With the answers you gave
Astonished the nations.
In the name of the Lord God,
Who is called the God of Israel,
You gathered gold like tin.
You amassed silver like lead.”
Sirach points out that King Solomon inherited a peaceful nation with secure borders because his father, King David had fought so many battles. Thus Solomon was able to build a Temple for the name of Yahweh and a sanctuary that would exist forever. King Solomon was wise from his youth with an understanding like that of the great Nile River. His proverbs had deep meanings, as his influence and fame spread throughout the whole world, even to far-off islands. Solomon’s songs, proverbs, and parables astonished everyone. When Solomon called upon the name of the Lord, he amassed a great fortune in gold and silver, as if they were like tin or lead.
“Lysias was not without intelligence. He pondered over the defeat that had befallen him. He realized that the Hebrews were invincible because the mighty God fought on their side. Thus he sent to them and persuaded them to settle everything on just terms. He promised that he would persuade the king. He constrained the king to be their friend. Judas Maccabeus, having regard for the common good, agreed to all that Lysias urged. For the king granted every request on behalf of the Jews that Judas Maccabeus had delivered to Lysias in writing.”
The peace treaty with Lysias does not come until 2 chapters later in 1 Maccabees, chapter 6, after many more battles, with King Antiochus V. In 1 Maccabees, chapter 4, Lysias returned to Antioch because King Antiochus IV had died. He feared that Philip might take over. However, the resulting peace treaty was pretty much the same. Lysias realized that he could not defeat the Hebrews because their mighty God was on their side. He promised to persuade the king who was only 10 years old. Judas Maccabees got everything that he wanted. So now we have a peace treaty. Now we will have a series of letters concerning this peace treaty.
“Besides Gorgias, the Idumeans, who had control of important strongholds, were harassing the Jews. They received those who were banished from Jerusalem. They endeavored to keep up the war. But Judas Maccabeus and his men, after making solemn supplication and beseeching God to fight on their side, rushed to the strongholds of the Idumeans. Attacking them vigorously, they gained possession of the places. They beat off all who fought upon the wall. They slaughtered those whom they encountered. They killed no fewer than twenty thousand.”
Once again, this conflict can be found in 1 Maccabees, chapter 5, where there was some burning, but without the number of people who died. The Idumeans were the people from Edom who continuously harassed the Jews. The supporters of the banished high priest Menelaus had fled here. Here, Judas Maccabeus and his men prayed to God that he might be on their side as they rushed the strongholds of the Idumeans. Then they attacked and took the strongholds, as they killed 20,000 Idumeans, quite a slaughter.
“This is the story of Judas Maccabeus and his brothers. This is about the purification of the great temple and the dedication of the altar. Further there is an explanation of the wars against Antiochus Epiphanes and his son Eupator. There were appearances that came from heaven to those who fought bravely for Judaism. Although few in number, they seized the whole land and pursued the barbarian hordes. They regained possession of the temple famous throughout the world. They freed the city. They re-established the laws that were about to be abolished. The Lord with great kindness became gracious to them.”
For the first time, we have a biblical author tell us what he is going to do. This style is based on the custom of Greek historians. He summarized what he was going to do. This is the story of Judas Maccabeus and his brothers. They purified the Temple and dedicated the altar. They fought wars with King Antiochus IV and his son, King Antiochus V. There was heavenly help for the Jews. Although small in number, they chased the barbarian hordes. They took possession of the Temple and freed the holy city of Jerusalem. They reestablished the laws because God was kind to them. This so-called historical work has a clear Theo-centric basis. God was on their side.
“Then Jonathan heard that the officers of King Demetrius had come to Kadesh in Galilee with a large army, intending to remove him from office. He went to meet them, but he left his brother Simon in the country. Simon encamped before Beth-zur. He fought against the town for many days until he had hemmed it in. Then they asked him to grant them terms of peace. He did so, but he removed them from there. He took possession of the town and set a garrison over it.”
While Jonathan set out to meet the officers of the army of the deposed King Demetrius II at Kedesh in the Galilee area, his brother Simon was left in the country. Simon went to Beth-zur and made the people there settle for a peace treaty when he took possession of the town with a garrison of troops.
“After this happened, Trypho returned. He had with him the young boy Antiochus who began to reign and put on the crown. All the troops that Demetrius had discharged gathered around him. They fought against Demetrius until he fled and was routed. Trypho captured the elephants. He gained control of Antioch.”
Trypho showed up earlier in this chapter. He was a supporter and friend of King Alexander I, who King Demetrius II had defeated. He had with him the son of King Alexander I, Antiochus, who he then made King Antiochus VI. All the troops that King Demetrius II had let go, now went and fought with Trypho so that King Demetrius II fled. Never leave the troops sit idle. Trypho took his elephants and control of Antioch, the capital of the Syrian empire with the new young king. This King Antiochus VI may have been only 3 or 4 years old. His mother would have been Cleopatra III, the wife of deposed King Demetrius II also.
“When Jonathan heard the words of Apollonius, his spirit was aroused. He chose ten thousand men and set out from Jerusalem. His brother Simon met him to help him. He encamped before Joppa, but the men of the city closed its gates. Apollonius had a garrison in Joppa. So they fought against it. Then the people of the city became afraid. They opened their gates so that Jonathan gained possession of Joppa.”
When Jonathan heard the words of the message from Apollonius who represented King Demetrius II, he was annoyed. This time Jonathan had a large force of 10,000 men when he also met with his brother Simon. He decided to go to Joppa, one of the ancient Mediterranean seaports, about 35 miles northwest of Jerusalem. Apollonius had a garrison there, but Jonathan fought against them. The people in the city became afraid so that they opened the gates and let Jonathan take over.
“Now King Alexander heard of all the promises that King Demetrius had sent to Jonathan. He had heard of the battles that Jonathan and his brothers had fought. He heard of the brave deeds that they had done and of the troubles that they had endured. So he said.
‘Shall we find another such man?
We will make him our friend and ally.’
King Alexander in Ptolemais heard that King Demetrius in Antioch was trying to get Jonathan as his ally against him. They were both cousins vying for the throne of the Seleucid Empire. However, he also had heard of the great brave deeds of Jonathan and his brothers in battle. How they had suffered so much. He said, that it would be hard to find a man like him, so why not make him our friend and ally?