“When they had sung
They went out
To the Mount of Olives.”
Καὶ ὑμνήσαντες ἐξῆλθον εἰς τὸ ὄρος τῶν Ἐλαιῶν.
This is exactly word for word in Mark, chapter 14:26, and similar in Luke, chapter 22:39. Both Matthew and Mark agree that after they had sung the praise hymns (Καὶ ὑμνήσαντες), they went out to the hill or the Mount of Olives (ἐξῆλθον εἰς τὸ ὄρος τῶν Ἐλαιῶν). The hymns that they would have sung would be the Hallel Psalms 115-118, that were usually associated with the Passover service. The Mount of Olives was about 2 miles east of the old city of Jerusalem, where many people had been buried for thousands of years. Thus, when Jesus and his 12 disciples had finished with their Passover hymn singing of the Hallel psalms, they went outside the city about 2 miles to this graveyard where there was a hill with a lot of olive trees on it.
Sunday worship on the Sabbath is the key Christian ritual, with special emphasis on the Easter and Christmas ceremonies. Sunday is the day of worship rather than Saturday because Sunday is the day of the Lord’s resurrection. Thus, every Sunday is a little Easter celebration. Worship centers on Bible readings and their interpretation with sermons and testimonials. Prayers, hymns, chants and the Lord’s Supper, or the Eucharistic meal, remain a mainstay of most Christian worship services. The various Christian symbolic actions or sacraments grow out of a Trinitarian baptism based on a belief in Jesus Christ.
“I cried out.
You are my Father!
Do not forsake me
In the days of trouble!
There is no help
Against the proud.
I will praise your name continually!
I will sing hymns of thanksgiving!’
My prayer was heard.
You saved me from destruction.
You rescued me in the time of trouble.
For this reason,
I thank you.
I praise you.
I will bless
The name of the Lord.”
This author prayed to the Lord like he was asking his father to help him. A father does not give up on his son in times of trouble. He had no help against the proud people. However, he was going to praise the name of God continually by singing hymns of thanksgiving. Fortunately, his prayers were heard as he was saved from destruction. He was rescued in his time of trouble. Therefore, he thanked and praised the Lord. He blessed the name of the Lord.
O my soul!
I will praise Yahweh
As long as I live.
I will sing praises to my God
All my life long.”
Psalm 146 is the first of these last few psalms that are the alleluia hymns since they have no title. They all begin and end with the phrase alleluia or praise Yahweh, another way of saying the Hebrew “Hallelujah.” These psalms or hymns were usually recited in the morning. The opening verses are clearly about praising Yahweh. This psalmist will praise Yahweh as long as he would live. He was going to praise his God all his whole life.
“A certain Dositheus, one of Bacenor’s men, who was a strong man on horseback, caught hold of Gorgias. He was grasping his cloak, while dragging him off by his hand strength. He wished to take the accursed man alive. However, one of the Thracian cavalry bore down upon him and cut off his arm. Thus Gorgias escaped and reached Marisa. As Esdris and his men had been fighting for a long time, they were weary. Judas Maccabeus called upon the Lord to show himself as their ally and leader in the battle. In the language of their ancestors he raised the battle cry with hymns. Then he charged against Gorgias’ troops when they were not expecting it. He put them to flight.”
Dositheus, who was one of those who had captured Timothy earlier in this chapter, caught Gorgias. He was dragging him by his cloak, when another Thracian cavalry man cut his hand off. Thus Gorgias escaped to Marisa, which was southwest of Jerusalem. The Thracians were a group of mercenaries from Asia Minor. Apparently one of Judas Maccabeus’ leaders Esdris and his group were weary. Judas asked the Lord to lead them in battle with hymns in the language of their ancestors. He then unexpectedly charged the troops of Gorgias and put them to flight.
“Timothy himself fled to a stronghold called Gazara, especially well garrisoned, where Chaereas was the commander. Then Judas Maccabeus and his men were glad. They besieged the fort for four days. The men within the town, relying on the strength of the place, kept blaspheming terribly. They uttered wicked words. But at dawn on the fifth day, twenty young men in the army of Judas Maccabeus, filled with anger because of the blasphemies, bravely stormed the wall. With savage fury, they cut down every one they met. Others who came up in the same way wheeled around against the defenders. They set fire to the towers. They kindled fires and burned the blasphemers alive. Others broke open the gates. They let in the rest of the force as they occupied the city. They killed Timothy, who was hiding in a cistern, and his brother Chaereas and Apollophanes. When they had accomplished these things, with hymns and thanksgivings they blessed the Lord who shows great kindness to Israel. He gave them the victory.”
In 1 Maccabees, chapter 13, the attack on Gazara was led by Simon, much later after the death of Judas Maccabeus. Here it takes place under the leadership of Judas Maccabeus. There Simon just deported the citizens, not killed them as here. Chaereas, the brother of Timothy, was the commander at Gazara, where Timothy had fled. They besieged the fort for 4 days. During that time, the men inside blasphemed against the Jewish God. On the fifth day, 20 young men from the army of Judas Maccabeus stormed the wall, killing everyone they men. They set fire to the towers and opened the gates. After they occupied the city, then they killed Timothy and his 2 brothers, Chaereas and Apollophanes. Finally they blessed the Lord with hymns and thanksgivings for the victory. So ends the story of Timothy, the enemy of the Jews. Notice that they praise God before and after they kill their enemy.
“It happened that on the same day on which the sanctuary had been profaned by the foreigners, the purification of the sanctuary took place, that is, on the twenty-fifth day of the same month, which was Chislev. They celebrated it for eight days with rejoicing, in the manner of the festival of booths. They remembered how not long before, during the feast of booths, they had been wandering in the mountains and caves like wild animals. Therefore bearing ivy-wreathed wands and beautiful branches with also fronds of palm, they offered hymns of thanksgiving to him who had given success to the purifying of his own holy place. They decreed by public edict, ratified by vote, that the whole nation of the Jews should observe these days every year. Such then was the end of King Antiochus, who was called Epiphanes.”
This is very reminiscent of 1 Maccabees, chapter 4. However, the festival of booths was usually in September, but Chislev is December. As they were not able to celebrate it then, they celebrated it here for 8 days. This might be the source of Hanukkah. This took place 2 years to the day that the profanation of the Temple took place. It is the same time frame as the story in Esther. Yet it is reminiscent of the restoration of the Temple of King Hezekiah in 2 Chronicles, chapter 29. Here there is an official decree that is voted upon. This is the first mention of any kind of vote. Previously, questions were answered by lot. Perhaps this is the Greek influence. Nevertheless, this is the end of King Antiochus IV as now they have a restored Temple in Jerusalem to celebrate and remember.