The sea storm (Jon 1:4-1:4)

“But Yahweh

Hurled a great wind

Upon the sea.

Such a mighty storm

Came upon the sea,

That the ship

Threatened

To break up.”

After the ship had set out to sea, Yahweh hurled a great wind on the Mediterranean Sea, since Yahweh controlled the weather.  The ship seemed to feel like it was threatening to break up into pieces.

Dreams of death (Wis 18:17-18:19)

“Then at once

Apparitions in dreadful dreams

Greatly troubled them.

Unexpected fears assailed them.

One here

Another there,

They were hurled down half dead.

They were made known why they were dying.

The dreams that disturbed them

Forewarned them of this.

Thus they might not perish

Without knowing Why they suffered.”

Apparently, this section is not really tied to the Exodus story, but does concern the problem of death. It is not clear what this refers to since most of the first-born killed were infants and not capable of knowing why they were perishing. However, it could have been the first-born grown children of some families whose first-born would have been older and thus capable of understanding what was happening. Anyway, dreadful or fearful (φόβοι) dreams or apparitions (φαντασίαι) definitely troubled these people before they were hurled half dead. They knew why they were dying because they had been warned. They knew why they were suffering.

The tragic suicide death of Razis (2 Macc 14:37-14:46)

“A certain Razis, one of the elders of Jerusalem, was denounced to Nicanor as a man who loved his compatriots. He was very well thought of. For his good will, he was called father of the Jews. In former times, when there was no mingling with the gentiles, he had been accused of Judaism. He had most zealously risked body and life for Judaism. Nicanor, wishing to exhibit the enmity which he had for the Jews, sent more than five hundred soldiers to arrest him. He thought that by arresting him, he would do them an injury. When the troops were about to capture the tower, they forced the door of the courtyard. They ordered that fire be brought and the doors burned. Being surrounded, Razis fell upon his own sword. He preferred to die nobly rather than to fall into the hands of sinners and suffer outrages unworthy of his noble birth. But in the heat of the struggle he did not hit exactly. The crowd was now rushing in through the doors. He courageously ran up on the wall. He bravely threw himself down into the crowd. But as they quickly drew back, a space opened and he fell in the middle of the empty space. Still alive and aflame with anger, he rose up. Although his blood gushed forth and his wounds were severe, he ran through the crowd. Standing upon a steep rock, with his blood now completely drained from him, he tore out his entrails. He took them with both hands and hurled them at the crowd, calling upon the Lord of life and spirit to give them back to him again. This was the manner of his death.”

Wow, what a gruesome description of the death of Razis! Razis was a well respected Jewish elder, sometimes referred to as the father of the Jews. He was accused of Judaism because he would not mingle with the gentiles. Nicanor wanted to make an example of him so he sent 500 troops to arrest him. So far this does not sound outlandish. Then when they got to his house, they decided to set fire to his door to get in. Then Razis was surrounded and decided to kill himself with a sword, a common Roman practice, rather than die in disgrace. However, in the heat of the excitement with the 500 troops running at him, he somehow missed killing himself but merely cut himself. So Razis ran to the top of the wall. He wanted to hurl himself into the crowd, but they stepped back and he fell into an empty space. Now as he was angry and still alive, he ran through the crowd of troops until he got to a sharp rock. The blood was gushing out all over the place. Somehow he tore out his own intestines and threw them at the crowd. This was some weird scene. Here then is the main point. He cried to the Lord of life to give them back to him. Of course, he died. Somehow this father of Judaism believed that his intestines would be restored in some kind of afterlife, a resurrection. This is one of the few times that we have a Jewish attempted suicide.

The divine intervention at Beth-zur (2 Macc 11:5-11:12)

“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.

The punishment for circumcision (2 Macc 6:10-6:10)

“For example, two women were brought in for having circumcised their children. They publicly paraded them around the city, with their babies hung at their breasts. Then they hurled them down headlong from the wall.”

This is a reference to some incidents that occurred in 1 Maccabees, chapter 1. Here it is only 2 women who had their children circumcised. They were then publically displayed with their dead children on their breasts. Then they were thrown from a wall and killed.