God would listen to Job (Job 31:35-31:37)

“O that I had one to hear me!

Here is my signature!

Let the Almighty Shaddai answer me!

O that I had the indictment written by my adversary!

Surely I would carry it on my shoulder.

I would bind it on me like a crown.

I would give him an account of all my steps.

Like a prince I would approach him.”

Job wanted God, the almighty Shaddai to listen to him. Job was willing to give his signature which would have been the Hebrew “taw,” the last letter of Semitic alphabets. More than listening, Job wanted an answer to his prayers and petitions. He wanted a written indictment against him so that he could defend himself. This sounds like he lived in a time where legal documents were disputed. He wanted to explain his whole life. He had nothing to hide. He would wear this indictment on his shoulders or like a crown on his head.

Job remembers the good old days (Job 29:1-29:6)

“Job again took up his discourse.

He said.

‘O that I were as in the months of old.

As in the days when God watched over me,

When his lamp shone over my head,

By his light I walked through darkness.

As I was in my prime,

When the friendship of God was upon my tent,

When the Almighty Shaddai was still with me,

When my children were around me,

When my steps were washed with milk,

The rock poured out for me streams of oil!’”

Now it is back to the old complaining Job. Once again this is a solemn discourse, not a mere complaint with his friends. This time he was reminiscing about the “good old days.” God was watching over him as his head had something like a lamp around it. Job was able to walk through darkness because God liked him in his tent. He was in the prime years of his life. The friendship of the almighty Shaddai was still with him. His children were all around him. His steps were washed with milk, while oil gushed out of rocks. In other words, these were metaphors for the fact that he was prosperous and happy.

Job recalls his creation by God (Job 10:8-10:17)

“Your hands fashioned and made me.

Now you turn and destroy me.

Remember that you fashioned me like clay.

Will you turn me to dust again?

Did you not pour me out like milk?

Did you not curdle me like cheese?

You clothed me with skin and flesh.

You knit me together with bones and sinews.

You granted me life.

You granted me steadfast love.

Your care has preserved my spirit.

Yet these things you hide in your heart.

I know that this was your purpose.

If I sin, you watch me.

You do not acquit me of my iniquity.

If I am wicked,

Woe to me!

If I am righteous,

I cannot lift up my head.

I am filled with disgrace.

Look upon my affliction.

Bold as a lion,

You hunt me.

You repeat your exploits against me.

You renew your witnesses against me.

You increase your vexation toward me.

You bring fresh troops against me.”

Job used very descriptive terms to explain his creation by God. The concept of the hands and eyes of God were a common theme among these biblical writers who were talking about a spiritual God. The God who created Job was now trying to destroy him. Job was like clay and would return to dust. He could be poured out like milk or curdled like cheese. His skin was like clothes and his bones were knit together. God had given Job life and love. However, God’s heart is hidden. Job knew that if he sinned or was wicked, he would not be acquitted. He could not lift his head because of his disgrace and affliction. He knew that God would come after him like a lion, with many witnesses and fresh troops.

Job prays to Yahweh (Job 1:20-1:21)

“Then Job arose. He tore his robe. He shaved his head. He fell upon the ground. He worshiped. He said.

‘Naked I came from my mother’s womb.

Naked shall I return.

Yahweh gave.

Yahweh has taken away.

Blessed be the name of Yahweh.’”

Job tore his clothes and shaved his head, as these actions were the rituals of mourning.  He fell on the ground and prayed to Yahweh, even though he was not an Israelite. As an upright man in this story, he would have worshipped Yahweh, if he knew about him. Nevertheless, the author of this work has him refer to God as Yahweh. He came into the world naked and so he would leave this earth without anything. He seemed to make a parallel between his mother’s womb and mother earth, where he came from and where he is going. Thus the earth was both womb and tomb. Yahweh gave him wealth and now Yahweh has taken it away. Blessed be Yahweh, with or without wealth. This is the great wisdom thought, that wealth was not that important. However wisdom was important.

Thanksgiving for the punishment to King Antiochus IV (2 Macc 1:11-1:17)

‘Having been saved by God,

Out of grave dangers.

We thank him greatly

For taking our side against the king.

God drove out those who fought against the holy city.

When the leader reached Persia

With a force that seemed irresistible,

They were cut to pieces in the temple of Nanea

By a deception employed by the priests of Nanea.

On the pretext of intending to marry her,

Antiochus came to the place together with his friends,

To secure most of its treasures as a dowry.

When the priests of the temple of Nanea

Had set out the treasures,

Antiochus had come with a few men

Inside the wall of the sacred precinct,

They closed the temple as soon as he entered it.

Opening the secret door in the ceiling,

They threw stones.

They struck down the leader and his men,

They dismembered them.

They cut off their heads.

They threw them to the people outside.

Blessed in every way be our God,

Who has brought judgment

Upon those who have behaved impiously.”

They were thankful that God had taken King Antiochus IV in 164 BCE. He had brought great dangers to Jerusalem by his attack as in 1 Maccabees, chapter 1. He died about the same time of the writing of this letter, according to 1 Maccabees, chapter 5. However, there was no indication there on how he died, but this story in 2 Maccabees is very explicit. Here the king died at the hands of the Nanea priests, since Nanea was some kind of Syrian goddess. Perhaps King Antiochus IV was trying to take money from the temple. This story shows how the king suffered a brutal death with stones dropped on him and his men. Then they dismembered him, cutting off his head, and throwing him outside the temple.   All this they did because he had acted impiously. However, in 1 Maccabees, chapter 6, King Antiochus IV had repentance for what he had done. However, there is no mention of that here. Remember that this same King Antiochus IV had invaded Egypt also. He had received his just reward.

Jonathan and the battle at Hazor (1 Macc 11:67-11:74)

“Jonathan and his army encamped by the waters of Gennesaret. Early in the morning they marched to the plain of Hazor. There in the plain, the army of the foreigners met him. They had set an ambush against him in the mountains, but they themselves met him face to face. Then the men in ambush emerged from their places and joined battle. All the men with Jonathan fled. Not one of them was left except Mattathias son of Absalom and Judas son of Chalphi, commanders of the forces of the army. Jonathan tore his clothes. He put dust on his head, and prayed. Then he turned back to the battle against the enemy and routed them. They fled. When his men who were fleeing saw this, they returned to him. They joined him in the pursuit as far as Kadesh, to their camp. There they encamped. As many as three thousand of the foreigners fell that day. Jonathan returned to Jerusalem.”

Jonathan and his army rested at the Sea of Galilee, Gennesaret. They went out into the plains of Hazor where they met the foreign troops who were the followers of the deposed King Demetrius II. Another set of these troops ambushed them from the hills. However, Jonathan’s troops all fled. Only two officers were left, Mattathias and Judas, not his dead father or dead brother, but people with the same name. Then Jonathan went into mourning by ripping his clothes, putting ashes on his head, and praying. Suddenly he returned to battle and defeated the foreign troops as they fled. When his own army saw the others fleeing, they rejoined the battle. They chased them as far as Kadesh as they killed 3,000 foreigners that day. Then Jonathan returned to Jerusalem.