King Alexander I sends a message to Egypt (1 Macc 10:51-10:54)

“Then Alexander sent ambassadors to King Ptolemy of Egypt with the following message.

‘I have returned to my kingdom.

I have taken my seat on the throne of my ancestors.

I have established my rule.

I crushed Demetrius.

I gained control of our country.

I met him in battle.

He and his army were crushed by us.

We have taken our seat on the throne of his kingdom.

Now therefore let us establish friendship with one another.

Give me now your daughter as my wife.

I will become your son-in-law.

I will make gifts to you

And to her,

In keeping with your position.’”

King Alexander I of Syria called Balas sent ambassadors to the king of Egypt, King Ptolemy. His message was simple. He was in charge of the Seleucid Empire now since he had defeated King Demetrius I. He wanted to have friendly relationships with the Egyptians. In order to cement their relationship he wanted the king of Egypt to give him his daughter in marriage. He would then send appropriate gifts to him and her. This seems like a simple solution.

The letter of King Demetrius I (1 Macc 10:25-10:28)

“So King Demetrius sent a message to them in the following words.

‘King Demetrius

To the nation of the Jews,

Greetings!

Since you have kept your agreement with us,

You have continued your friendship with us.

You have not sided with our enemies.

We have heard of it and rejoiced.

Now continue still to keep faith with us.

We will repay you with good

For what you do for us.

We will grant you many immunities.

We will give you gifts.’”

King Demetrius I decided to address the whole nation of Jews rather than just Jonathan. He pretended that they have kept their agreement with him and that they were still on friendly terms. He acted as if they have not sided with his enemy. He was going to repay them for their friendship. He was going to grant them many immunities and give gifts to them.

King Demetrius I realizes what King Alexander has done (1 Macc 10:22-10:24)

“When Demetrius heard of these things he was distressed and said.

‘What is this that we have done?

Alexander has gotten ahead of us

In forming a friendship with the Jews

To strengthen himself.

I also will write to them words of encouragement.

I will promise them honor and gifts,

So that I may have their help.’”

King Demetrius I heard what King Alexander had done to Jonathan. He was upset. How did King Alexander get ahead of him with his friendship with the Jews? He was going to offer Jonathan more words of encouragement. He was going to promise honors and gifts so that Jonathan would be with him.

The inspectors at Modein (1 Macc 2:15-2:18)

“The king’s officers who were enforcing the apostasy came to the city of Modein to make them offer sacrifice. Many from Israel came to them. Mattathias and his sons were assembled. Then the king’s officers spoke to Mattathias as follows.

‘You are a leader,

Honored and great in this city,

Supported by sons and brothers.

Now be the first to come.

Do what the king commands,

As all the gentiles

And the men of Judah

And those that are left in Jerusalem have done.

Then you and your sons

Will be numbered among the friends of the king.

You and your sons will be honored with silver, gold, and many gifts.’”

These inspectors of the king were zealous. They came to Modein to make sure that the Israelites there were offering the correct sacrifices. Mattathias and his sons were assembled there. These inspectors spoke specifically to Mattathias and his sons. They said that he and his sons were honored and great. They should be the first to follow the king’s command to sacrifice to the idols since everyone elsewhere had done the same. If they were to be first in Modein, they would become friends of the king, a special title that the Persian kings often used. They would be honored with silver, gold, and other gifts.

Esther becomes the new queen (Esth 2:15-2:18)

“When the turn came for Esther daughter of Abihail, the uncle of Mordecai who had adopted her as his own daughter, to go in to the king, she asked for nothing except what Hegai the king’s eunuch who had charge of the women, advised. Now Esther was admired by all as she found favor in the eyes of all who saw her. When Esther was taken to King Artaxerxes into his royal palace in the twelfth month, which is Adar, in the seventh year of his reign, the king loved Esther more than all the other women. She won his favor and grace over all the virgins. He set the royal diadem crown on her head as she became queen. Then the king gave a great banquet to all his friends and officials lasting seven days to celebrate his marriage to Esther. He also granted a holiday remission of taxes to all the provinces under his rule. He gave gifts with royal liberality.”

Esther finally got her turn to audition with the king. She simply followed the advice of the eunuch Hegai. This was now the 7th year of the king’s rule, around 458 BCE. The original feast where the argument took place about Queen Vashti was in the 3rd year of his rule. Now after 4 years, Vashti was gone, without any mention of what happened to her. Now King Artaxerxes was smitten with Esther as he said that she was the one, since he loved her more than all the others. He immediately gave her the crown as she became Queen Esther. He gave a big wedding banquet in Esther’s honor. He also gave a tax holiday. Now that is a real holiday. He also gave gifts, which seems the opposite of most weddings where the bride and groom get the gifts. There is no specific mention of a wedding ceremony, but it might be presumed if they had a wedding banquet. There seems to be no problem about a Jewish woman marrying a non-Jewish person as there was in Ezra, chapters 9-10, and Nehemiah, chapter 10, which would have been about the same time frame. That prohibition was more about Jewish men marrying non-Jewish women.

Jerusalem shall be the light to the world (Tob 13:11-13:13)

“A bright light will shine to all the ends of the earth.

Many nations will come to you from far away.

The inhabitants of the remotest parts of the earth,

They will come to your holy name.

They will bear gifts in their hands.

For the King of heaven.

Generation after generation will give joyful praise in you.

The name of the chosen city will endure forever.

Cursed are all who speak a harsh word against you.

Cursed are all who conquer you.

Curses are all who pull down your walls.

Cursed are all who overthrow your towers.

Cursed are all who set your homes on fire.

Blessed forever will be all who revere you.

Go then!

Rejoice over the children of the righteous.

The righteous will be gathered together.

The righteous will praise the Lord of the ages.”

Jerusalem will be the light of the world. Every nation will come to Jerusalem. The people from the most remote part of the earth will come to Jerusalem. They will bring gifts to the king of heaven. For generations, people will give praise to this chosen city. However, people will be cursed who speak against Jerusalem. Anyone who tries to conquer it or pull down its walls will be cursed. People will be cursed who try to set fire to Jerusalem or overthrow its towers. The righteous people, on the other hand, will gather together in Jerusalem to praise the Lord of all ages.

 

The importance of almsgiving (Tob 12:8-12:10)

“Prayer with fasting is good.

Better than both is almsgiving with righteousness.

A little with righteousness is better

Than wealth with wrongdoing.

It is better to give alms

Than to lay up gold.

Almsgiving saves from death.

Almsgiving purges away every sin.

Those who give alms will enjoy a full life.

Those who commit sin

Those who do wrong

Are their own worst enemies.”

Raphael’s prayer continues by insisting on the importance of almsgiving. Raphael says that almsgiving is better than prayer and fasting. Being poor and righteous is better than having wealth doing wrong. It is better to give than to lay away gold. Almsgiving will save you from death and purge away every sin. If you give gifts, you will enjoy a full life. Here then is the final admonition like the wisdom literature. Those who commit sin and do wrong are their own worst enemies. In other words, sin and wrong doing will come back at you.

 

The admonition of Tobit about almsgiving (Tob 4:7-4:11)

The admonition of Tobit about almsgiving (Tob 4:7-4:11)

“To all those who practice righteousness,

Give alms from your possessions.

Do not let your eye begrudge the gift when you make it.

Do not turn your face away from anyone who is poor.

Then the face of God will not be turned away from you.

If you have many possessions,

Make your gift from them in proportion.

If you have few possessions,

Do not be afraid to give according to the little you have.

So you will be laying up a good treasure for yourself

Against the day of necessity.

Almsgiving delivers from death.

Almsgiving keeps you from going into the darkness.

Indeed, almsgiving for all who practice charity

Is an excellent offering in the presence of the Most High.”

Tobit wanted his son to give to the poor people who are righteous. He wanted him to give ungrudgingly from his possession. He wanted him to never turn his face away from the poor because then God would never turn his face away from him. His gifts should be proportionate. If he has a lot, give a lot. Otherwise, he should give out of the little that he has. This almsgiving will be a good treasure against death and darkness. He wanted his son to always practice charity as an excellent offering to the Most High God. This is an excellent prayer presentation about helping the poor.