The plague on Egypt (Zech 14:18-14:19)

“If the family of Egypt

Does not go up,

If they do not

Present themselves,

Then upon them

Shall come

The plague

That Yahweh inflicts

On the nations

That do not go up

To keep the festival of booths.

This shall be the punishment

Of Egypt.

This shall be the punishment

Of all the nations

That do not go up

To keep the festival of booths.”

Egypt would suffer a plague, if they did not present themselves for the festival of booths or tents.  However, this same punishment would be inflicted on other countries that did not show up of this festival of booths.  Suddenly, this festival has become an important universal religious festival for all countries, not just the Israelites.

Advertisements

Jonah’s justifying prayer to Yahweh (Jon 4:2-4:2)

“Jonah prayed

To Yahweh.

He said.

‘O Yahweh!

Is this not what I said

While I was still

In my country?

That is why I fled

To Tarshish

At the beginning.

I knew that

You are a gracious God.

You are merciful.

You are slow to anger.

You are abounding

In steadfast love.

You are ready

To relent from punishing.’”

Jonah in his prayer to Yahweh tried to justify his former actions.  He claimed that Yahweh was so gracious and merciful that he would not have inflicted any damage on Nineveh.  Jonah gave that as his reason for originally trying to flee to Tarshish.  He knew that Yahweh was slow to anger and abounding with steadfast love.  Thus, he knew that Yahweh was eager and ready to not punish the people of Nineveh.

The sorrow in Jerusalem (Lam 1:12-1:12)

Lamed

“Is it nothing to you?

All you who pass by!

Look!

See!

If there is any sorrow

Like my sorrow?

It was brought

Upon me.

Yahweh inflicted it

On the day

Of his fierce anger.”

Now this is no longer a description of Jerusalem, but Jerusalem herself speaking out. She wants the passers-by to notice the great sorrow that is in Jerusalem. They should look and see what Yahweh in his anger has inflicted on her. There is no sorrow like the sorrow in Jerusalem. This verse starts with the Hebrew consonant letter Lamed. Each verse after this will use the next letter of the Hebrew alphabet in this acrostic poem.

King Antiochus IV dies (2 Macc 9:28-9:29)

“Thus the murderer and blasphemer, having endured more intense suffering, such as he had inflicted on others, came to the end of his life by a most pitiable fate, among the mountains in a strange land. Philip, one of his courtiers, took his body home. Then, fearing the son of Antiochus, he withdrew to Ptolemy Philometor in Egypt.”

King Antiochus IV, despite his kind words in the preceding letter, was perceived to be a murder and blasphemer. He endured justly the most intense suffering because he had inflicted suffering on others. He even died in a strange mountain land at the age of 51. Philip, according to 1 Maccabees, chapter 6, was to be in charge of his young son, now King Antiochus V. However, Lysias, who was in Antioch was helping the 9 year old king rule, according to the same source. Thus Philip went to the king of Egypt, King Ptolemy VI (180-145 BCE), who had been the young king that King Antiochus IV had defeated earlier in his reign.

The importance of the Romans (1 Macc 8:1-8:11)

“Judas heard of the fame of the Romans since they were very strong. They were well-disposed toward all who made an alliance with them. They pledged friendship to those who came to them since they were very strong. He had been told of their wars and of the brave deeds which they were doing among the Gauls. They had defeated them and forced them to pay tribute. He learned what they had done in the land of Spain to get control of the silver and gold mines there. They had gained control of the whole region by their planning and patience, even though the place was far distant from them. They also subdued the kings who came against them from the ends of the earth, until they crushed them. They inflicted great disaster upon them. The rest paid them tribute every year. They had crushed in battle and conquered Philip, King Perseus of the Macedonians, and the others who rose up against them. They also had defeated King Antiochus the Great, king of Asia, who went to fight against them with one hundred twenty elephants, cavalry, chariots, and a very large army. He was crushed by them. They took him alive. They decreed that he and those who should rule after him should pay a heavy tribute, give hostages, and surrender some of their best provinces, the countries of India, Media, and Lydia. These they took from him and gave to King Eumenes. The Greeks planned to come and destroy them. However, this became known to them. Then they sent a general against the Greeks who attacked them. Many of them were wounded and fell. The Romans took captive their wives and children. They plundered them, conquered the land, tore down their strongholds, and enslaved them to this day. The remaining kingdoms and islands, as many as ever opposed them, they destroyed and enslaved.”

For some reason, the Romans made a big impression on Judas Maccabeus as they were beginning their ascendancy in the Mediterranean world. He knew that the Romans were strong and faithful in their alliances. Then this biblical author presented the great feats of the Romans. First they had conquered the Gauls and the Spaniards, these western territories around 190 BCE and the Punic wars with Carthage in North Africa from the 3rd century BCE. Prior to this time the only thing west was Egypt and Greece. Now Rome and the west made an impression. These Romans had gone and subdued kings from the ends of the earth. The Romans had defeated the last of the Macedonian kings, King Perseus in 168 BCE, the son of King Philip who had had been defeated in 179 BCE. Obviously this author had some sense of history. As noted, King Antiochus V was not killed, but had to give hostages to Rome, one of which was this King Demetrius I. However, he kept Medes, but did give up Lydia and other parts of Asia Minor. King Eumenes was a Cappadocian ruler. The Romans also defeated the Greeks. Although the Roman Empire did not come to its full height for a few centuries, it was well on its way in the 2nd century BCE.

The problem of the thirteenth day of Adar (Greek text only)

“You will therefore do well

Not to put in execution

The letters sent by Haman son of Hammedatha.

Haman, the man who did these things,

Has been hanged at the gate of Susa,

With his entire household.

God, who rules over all things,

God has speedily inflicted on him the punishment he deserved.

Therefore post a copy of this letter publicly in every place.

Permit the Jews to live under their own laws.

Give them reinforcements,

So that on the thirteenth day of the twelfth month,

Adar, on that very day,

They may defend themselves

Against those who attack them at the time of oppression.

God, who rules over all things,

God has made this day to be a joy

For his chosen people

Instead of a day of destruction for them.”

We continue on with the Greek text of the second letter to the Persian people from King Artaxerxes. However, here the king and Mordecai clearly state that the original letter was sent by Haman and not the king. Until this point, the king was presumed to have sent the first letter also. However, Haman has been hung at the gate to Susa with his whole family. God inflicted on him the punishment that he deserved. This new public document should be published so that all the Jews may live under their own laws. On the 13th day of Adar, they were to give reinforcements to the Jews so that they might defend themselves against any attacks. God will make this a day of joy rather than a day of destruction.