The great deeds of Yahweh (Isa 63:7-63:7)

“I will recount

The gracious deeds of Yahweh.

I will recount

The praiseworthy acts of Yahweh.

Because of all that

Yahweh has done for us.

Because he has done

Great favors to the house of Israel.

He has shown them

According to his mercy.

He has shown them

According to the abundance

Of his steadfast love.”

Now the prophet breaks into a psalm about the great deeds of Yahweh. He was going to tell everybody about Yahweh’s gracious deeds and praiseworthy acts, since he had done do much for them. He had granted so many favors to the house of Israel. He has shown them mercy and abundant steadfast love.

Apprenticeship of wisdom (Sir 6:32-6:37)

“If you are willing,

My child,

You can be disciplined.

If you apply yourself.

You will become clever.

If you love to listen,

You will pay attention,

You will become wise.

Stand in the assembly of the elders.

Who is wise?

Attach yourself to such a one.

Be ready to listen to every godly discourse.

Let no wise proverbs escape you.

If you see an intelligent person,

Rise early.

Visit him.

Let your foot wear out his doorstep.

Reflect on the statutes of the Lord.

Meditate at all times on his commandments.

It is he who will give insight to your mind.

Your desire for wisdom will be granted.”

Sirach now gives clear directions on how to be wise. You must go through an apprenticeship, just like a Trump apprentice. However, here it is the wisdom apprentice. If you are willing and disciplined, you can become clever and wise. You have to apply yourself and listen attentively. You should stand in the assembly of the elders. You should attach yourself to an intelligent person who has a godly discourse and wise proverbs. You should rise early. Go wear out his doorstep with your many visits to this wise man. If you reflect on the statutes of the Lord and meditate on his commandments, you will gain insight. Wisdom will be granted to you after your time of trial.

Blessings of Yahweh (Prov 10:22-10:29)

“The blessing of Yahweh makes us rich.

Bur he adds no sorrow with it.

Doing wrong is like sport to a fool.

But wise conduct is pleasure to a man of understanding.

What the wicked dread will come upon them.

But the desire of the righteous will be granted them.

When the tempest passes,

The wicked are no more.

But the righteous are established forever.

Like vinegar to the teeth,

Like smoke to the eyes,

So are the lazy to their employers.

The fear of Yahweh prolongs life.

But the years of the wicked will be short.

The hope of the righteous one ends in gladness.

But the expectation of the wicked ones comes to nothing.

The way of Yahweh is a stronghold for the upright.

But the way of Yahweh is destruction for the evildoers.”

Yahweh has an important impact on our lives. The blessings of Yahweh make us rich with no sorrow. Fools do wrong things as if it was some kind of sport. On the other hand, the understanding people take pleasure in wise conduct. Whatever the wicked fear, it will happen to them. However, the righteous will be granted their wishes. After a storm, the wicked will no longer exist, but the righteous are established forever. Lazy people are like vinegar to your teeth or smoke to your eyes. The fear of Yahweh will prolong your life so that the wicked will have a short life. Righteous hope ends in gladness, while wicked expectations come to nothing. Yahweh’s way is a stronghold for the upright, but destruction for the evildoers.

Yahweh is not angry (Ps 85:3-85:7)

“You withdrew all your wrath.

You turned from your hot anger.

Restore us again!

O God of our salvation!

Put away your indignation toward us!

Will you be angry with us forever?

Wilt you prolong your anger to all generations?

Will you not revive us again?

Thus your people may rejoice in you.

Show us your steadfast love!

Yahweh!

Grant us your salvation!”

The psalmist wanted Yahweh to put away his hot anger for them. They wanted to be restored again. Yahweh was the God who granted salvation to them. They wanted to know if God was going to be angry with them forever into future generations. They wanted to be revived so that they could rejoice with Yahweh and his steadfast love. That was their salvation to live in the love of God.

The peace treaty with Lysias (2 Macc 11:13-11:15)

“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.

The letter of King Antiochus VII to Simon (1 Macc 15:2-15:9)

“The contents of the letter of King Antiochus were as follows.

‘King Antiochus

To Simon the high priest and the ethnarch

And to the nation of the Jews,

Greetings!

Whereas certain scoundrels

Have gained control of the kingdom of our fathers,

I intend to lay claim to the kingdom

So that I may restore it as it formerly was.

I have recruited a host of mercenary troops.

I have equipped warships.

I intend to make a landing in the country

So that I may proceed

Against those who have destroyed our country

Against those who have devastated many cities in my kingdom.

Now therefore I confirm to you

All the tax remissions that the kings before me have granted you.

I release you from all the other payments

From which they have released you.

I permit you to mint your own coinage as money for your country.

I grant freedom to Jerusalem and the sanctuary.

All the weapons which you have prepared

All the strongholds which you have built

All the strongholds that you now hold

Shall remain yours.

Every debt you owe to the royal treasury

Any such future debts shall be canceled for you

From henceforth and for all time.

When we gain control of our kingdom,

We will bestow great honor upon you,

Your nation and the temple,

So that your glory will become manifest in all the earth.’”

King Antiochus VII was about to take over for his brother because he was complaining about the scoundrels who had taken over his country, probably King Trypho. He sent his greetings to Simon and the whole Jewish nation. He talked about how he was going to land and take his country back, so that it is clear he is not there yet. However, he granted to Simon and Jews all the tax exemptions that his brother and father had granted them. He went one step further when he said that they could mint their own coins. This was a strong sign of an independent nation. He allowed them to keep all their weapons and strongholds. All future debts would be cancelled. That is unique and seems to be saying take my money, you do not have to pay it back. Once again, there is the hypothetical “when” he gained control then he was going to honor Simon. He wanted the Jewish glory manifested on the whole earth. He was offering a lot before he had anything.

King Demetrius II’s letter to Jonathan (1 Macc 11:29-11:37)

“The king wrote a letter to Jonathan about all these things. It contents were as follows.

‘King Demetrius to his brother Jonathan

And to the nation of the Jews,

Greetings!

This copy of the letter that we wrote concerning you

To our kinsman Lasthenes,

We have written to you also,

So that you may know what it says.

‘King Demetrius to his father Lasthenes,

Greetings!

We have determined to do good to the nation of the Jews.

They are our friends.

They fulfill their obligations to us.

They have shown us good will.

We have confirmed as their possession

Both the territory of Judea,

And the three districts of Aphairema, Lydda, and Rathamin.

The latter with the region bordering them.

They were added to Judea from Samaria.

To all those who offer sacrifice in Jerusalem,

We have granted release from the royal taxes

That the king formerly received from them each year,

From the crops of the land

And the fruit of the trees.

The other payments henceforth due to us of the tithes,

And the other taxes due to us,

And the salt pits

And the crown taxes due to us.

From all these we shall grant them release.

Not one of these grants shall be canceled

From this time on forever.

Now therefore take care to make a copy of this.

Let it be given to Jonathan.

Let it be put up in a conspicuous place on the holy mountain.’”

King Demetrius II sent a copy of a letter that he had sent to Lasthenes, who was probably the governor of Coele-syria. He granted to Jonathan and the Jewish nation most of things that his father, King Demetrius I had promised them in the fight against King Alexander I in preceding chapter. He was very particular about taxes and the annexation of the 3 territories of Samaria that were within 20 miles of Judea. Everything seemed in good shape.

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.