“Jesus came down
On a level place,
With a great crowd
Of his disciples
And a great multitude
From all Judea,
And the coast
καὶ καταβὰς μετ’ αὐτῶν ἔστη ἐπὶ τόπου πεδινοῦ, καὶ ὄχλος πολὺς μαθητῶν αὐτοῦ, καὶ πλῆθος πολὺ τοῦ λαοῦ ἀπὸ πάσης τῆς Ἰουδαίας καὶ Ἱερουσαλὴμ καὶ τῆς παραλίου Τύρου καὶ Σιδῶνος,
Luke said that Jesus came down from the mountain with his new apostles (καὶ καταβὰς μετ’ αὐτῶν). He stood on a level place (ἔστη ἐπὶ τόπου πεδινοῦ), with a great crowd of his disciples (καὶ ὄχλος πολὺς μαθητῶν αὐτοῦ). There was a lot of people (καὶ πλῆθος πολὺ τοῦ λαοῦ) from all Judea (ἀπὸ πάσης τῆς Ἰουδαίας), Jerusalem (καὶ Ἱερουσαλὴμ), and the coast of Tyre and Sidon (καὶ τῆς παραλίου Τύρου καὶ Σιδῶνος). Clearly, Jesus had become very popular, but there was no mention of anybody from Galilee. Mark, chapter 3:7-8, said that Jesus left with his disciples to go to the Sea of Galilee, where, a great big crowd from Galilee and Judea that followed him. People from everywhere were coming to listen to Jesus. Jesus was no longer a local Galilean hero. Mark said that people came to him in great numbers from Jerusalem, Idumea, beyond the Jordan and also from the regions around Tyre and Sidon. Obviously, Jerusalem would be interested in Jesus. Idumea was south of Judah and part of the old country of Edom. The other side of the Jordan would have been the old territories of Manasseh, Gad, and Reuben. Tyre and Sidon were the coastal towns of the Phoenicians in the old Asher territory. These would have been mostly Jewish people of Israelite heritage. Matthew, chapter 4:24-25, said that the fame of Jesus had spread all over Syria, so that huge crowds followed Jesus in Galilee. Also, the people from Decapolis, Jerusalem, Judea, and from the east bank of the Jordan River were all following Jesus.
“In the fifteenth year,
Of the reign
Of Emperor Tiberius,
Pontius Pilate was
Governor of Judea.
Herod was the ruler
His brother Philip
Was the ruler
Of the region
Lysanias was the ruler
Ἐν ἔτει δὲ πεντεκαιδεκάτῳ τῆς ἡγεμονίας Τιβερίου Καίσαρος καὶ τετρααρχοῦντος τῆς Γαλιλαίας Ἡρῴδου, Φιλίππου δὲ τοῦ ἀδελφοῦ αὐτοῦ τετρααρχοῦντος τῆς Ἰτουραίας καὶ Τραχωνίτιδος χώρας, καὶ Λυσανίου τῆς Ἀβιληνῆς τετρααρχοῦντος,
Luke tried to set the public activities of John and Jesus within a larger historical context. Thus, here he said that it was the 15th year of the reign of the Roman Emperor Tiberius (Ἐν ἔτει δὲ πεντεκαιδεκάτῳ τῆς ἡγεμονίας Τιβερίου Καίσαρος). Pontius Pilate was the Governor of Judea (Ἐν ἔτει δὲ πεντεκαιδεκάτῳ τῆς ἡγεμονίας Τιβερίου Καίσαρος). Herod was the tetrarch ruler of Galilee (καὶ τετρααρχοῦντος τῆς Γαλιλαίας Ἡρῴδου,). Herod’s brother Philip was the tetrarch ruler of Ituraea and Trachonitis (Φιλίππου δὲ τοῦ ἀδελφοῦ αὐτοῦ τετρααρχοῦντος τῆς Ἰτουραίας καὶ Τραχωνίτιδος χώρας), while Lysanias was the tetrarch ruler of Abilene (καὶ Λυσανίου τῆς Ἀβιληνῆς τετρααρχοῦντος). Who and what is this all about? Tiberius was the Roman Emperor from 14-37 CE. 15 years into his rule would be the year 29 CE. Pontius Pilate was the Governor of Judea, but also Samaria to the north, and Idumea to the south, from 26-36 CE, so that this time frame is consistent. Herod Antipas and Philip were the sons of Herod the Great (37-4 BC). Herod Antipas ruled as tetrarch of northern Galilee and Perea that was east of the Jordan River from 4 BCE-39 CE. His brother Philip ruled Ituraea and Trachonitis that were north of Galilee from 4 BCE-34 CE. Finally, some unknown leader named Lysanias ruled as the tetrarch of Abilene that was north of Damascus, but included Lebanon. Thus, these were all the rulers of the area where John and Jesus might have traveled within this time frame
That he was doing,
They came to him
In great numbers
From beyond the Jordan,
From the regions
καὶ ἀπὸ Ἱεροσολύμων καὶ ἀπὸ τῆς Ἰδουμαίας καὶ πέραν τοῦ Ἰορδάνου καὶ περὶ Τύρον καὶ Σιδῶνα, πλῆθος πολύ, ἀκούοντες ὅσα ποιεῖ, ἦλθον πρὸς αὐτόν.
This is another short summary of Mark, that is somewhat similar to Luke, chapter 6:17, and Matthew, chapter 4:25. People from everywhere were coming to listen to Jesus. Jesus was no longer a local Galilean hero. Mark said that people hearing all that he was doing, came to him in great numbers (πλῆθος πολύ, ἀκούοντες ὅσα ποιεῖ, ἦλθον πρὸς αὐτόν) from Jerusalem (καὶ ἀπὸ Ἱεροσολύμων), Idumea (καὶ ἀπὸ τῆς Ἰδουμαίας), and beyond the Jordan (καὶ πέραν τοῦ Ἰορδάνου), also from the regions around Tyre and Sidon (καὶ περὶ Τύρον καὶ Σιδῶνα). Obviously, Jerusalem would be interested in Jesus. Idumea was south of Judah and part of the old country of Edom. The other side of the Jordan would have been the old territories of Manasseh, Gad, and Reuben. Tyre and Sidon were the coastal towns of the Phoenicians in the old Asher territory. These would have been mostly Jewish people of Israelite heritage.
“King Antiochus was enraged when he heard this. He assembled all his friends, the commanders of his forces and those in authority. Mercenary forces also came to him from other kingdoms and from the islands of the seas. The number of his forces was one hundred thousand foot soldiers, twenty thousand cavalry, and thirty-two elephants accustomed to war. They came through Idumea. They encamped against Beth-zur. For many days they fought and built engines of war. However, the Jews sallied out and burned these with fire. They fought courageously.”
The 10 year old King Antiochus V was mad when he heard this. He called all his friends and the commanders of the army. Probably Lysias was in command of the army since he had fought and lost to Judas Maccabeus. They also had mercenary forces from other kingdoms and islands. The total force for King Antiochus V and Lysias was 100,000 foot soldiers, 20,000 horsemen, and 32 elephants. That is something new. They came from the south via Idumea. They camped at Beth-zur, 18 miles south of Jerusalem, where Judas had defeated Lysias 3 years earlier in 165 BCE in chapter 4 of this book. However, the Jews fought courageously here.
“At that time they fortified Mount Zion with high walls and strong towers all around. This was to keep the gentiles from coming and trampling them down as they had done before. Judas stationed a garrison there to guard it. He also fortified Beth-zur to guard it. Thus the people might have a stronghold that faced Idumea.”
They also fortified the Temple by making the walls taller with towers all around it. This was to keep the gentiles from coming back to trample on them as they did before. Judas also had a guard there. He also put a guard in Beth-zur, which was about 18 miles south of Jerusalem to protect the city of David from the south side that faced Idumea.
“Those of the foreigners who escaped went and reported to Lysias all that had happened. When he heard it, he was perplexed and discouraged. Things had not happened to Israel as he had intended. They had not turned out as the king had commanded him. But the next year he mustered sixty thousand picked infantrymen and five thousand cavalry to subdue them. They came into Idumea and encamped at Beth-zur. Judas met them with ten thousand men.”
When those who had escaped from this battle of Emmaus went to see Lysias, he was upset. He was perplexed and discouraged because things had not turned out the way he wanted them to go. He had not succeeded in following the king’s orders. Thus he waited a year and went out with a force of 60,000 infantry and 5,000 cavalry to subdue the Israelites. He camped in Idumea at Beth-zur, about 18 miles south of Jerusalem near Hebron. This time, Judas has 10,000 men instead of just 3,000 like against Gorgias. There was no indication of whether or not Gorgias had survived the last battle.
“When the foreigners looked up, they saw them coming against them. They went out from their camp to battle. Then the men with Judas blew their trumpets. They engaged in the battle. The gentiles were crushed. They fled into the plain. All those in the rear fell by the sword. They pursued them to Gazara, and to the plains of Idumea, as well as to Azotus and Jamnia. Three thousand of them fell.”
When Judas and his men attacked, the foreign gentiles saw them coming as they went out to do battle. Then Judas and his men sounded the trumpet. This trumpet blowing was a sign of encouragement that seemed to have worked. They crushed the gentiles. Somehow they had enough swords to kill 3,000 of the 6,000 soldiers against them. They pursued them in four different directions. Gazara was 5 miles northwest of Emmaus. Idumea was to the south, while Azotus was in the west and Jamnia was southwest.