Inheritance (Prov 13:22-13:25)

“The good leave an inheritance to their children’s children.

But the sinner’s wealth is laid up for the righteous.

The field of the poor may yield much food.

But it is swept away through injustice.

Those who spare the rod

Hate their children.

But those who love them

Are diligent to discipline them.

The righteous have enough

To satisfy their appetite.

But the belly of the wicked

Is empty.”

Good people leave an inheritance to their children and grandchildren. However, the sinner’s wealth is taken over by the righteous. There is no indication how this is done. The fields of the poor have a good yield, but someone unjustly takes it away. This sounds strange, but once again there is no explanation as to how this is done. Then there is the famous phrase about sparing the rod. If you did not use the stick on your children it meant that you disliked your children. If you loved them, you disciplined them. The righteous would always have enough to satisfy their appetites. However, the wicked will have an empty belly.

Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (Ps 105:6-105:11)

“O offspring of his servant!

Abraham!

Children of Jacob!

His chosen ones!

He is Yahweh our God!

His judgments are over all the earth.

He is mindful of his covenant forever.

He is mindful of the word that he commanded,

For a thousand generations.

That is the covenant

That he made with Abraham.

He had a sworn promise to Isaac.

He confirmed it to Jacob as a statute.

He has an everlasting covenant with Israel.

He said.

‘To you I will give the land of Canaan.

It is as your portion for an inheritance.’”

The people of Israel are offspring of Abraham. They are the children of Jacob. They are the chosen ones. Yahweh is their God. He judges the whole earth. He has made a covenant forever that he does not forget so that it will last 1,000 generations. This is the covenant that he made with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. It was a promise to Isaac and a statute to Jacob. There would be an everlasting covenant with Israel as Jacob became Israel. The land of Canaan will be their inheritance.

Judah over Joseph (Ps 78:67-78:72)

“He rejected the tent of Joseph.

He did not choose the tribe of Ephraim.

But he chose the tribe of Judah.

He loves Mount Zion.

He built his sanctuary

Like the high heavens,

Like the earth,

Which he has founded forever.

He chose his servant David.

He took him from the sheepfolds.

He brought him from tending the nursing ewes.

He made him the shepherd of his people Jacob.

He made him his inheritance of Israel.

With upright heart,

He tended them.

He guided them with skilful hand.”

This psalm ends with God choosing the sons of Judah over the sons of Joseph. He did not choose the tribe of Ephraim, but the tribe of Judah. He loved Mount Zion. Thus he built his sanctuary there just like the high heavens and the earth that he had founded. He chose his servant David when he was nursing the young sheep. He made him the shepherd of his people, Jacob not Israel. His inheritance was Israel. He tended and guided them with an upright heart and a skilful hand.

Yahweh restores the fortune of Job (Job 42:10-42:15)

“Yahweh restored the fortunes of Job, when he had prayed for his friends. Yahweh gave Job twice as much as he had before. Then there came to him all his brothers and sisters as well as all who had known him before. They ate bread with him in his house. They showed him sympathy and comforted him for all the evil that Yahweh had brought upon him. Each of them gave him some money and a ring of gold. Yahweh blessed the latter days of Job more than his beginnings. He had fourteen thousand sheep, six thousand camels, a thousand yoke of oxen, and a thousand donkeys. He also had seven sons and three daughters. He named the first Jemimah, the second Keziah, and the third Keren-happuch. In all the land there were no women as beautiful as Job’s daughters. Their father gave them an inheritance along with their brothers.”

Yahweh restored Job to good health and fortune because he had prayed for his 3 friends. In fact, he got twice as much as he had before. His brothers and sisters, who were not involved in what happened to Job, came and ate with him. There is no indication of how long this anguishing trial went on for Job. I wonder where they were during the troubles of Job. However, they were generous with money and gold rings. There is no exact number of brothers and sisters mentioned. Now, however, he had 14,000 sheep instead of 7,000, 6,000 camels instead of 3,000, 1,000 oxen instead of 500, and 1,000 donkeys instead of 500. However, his family did not double. He once again had 7 sons and 3 daughters, who somehow replaced the 10 children who had died. The daughters were the most beautiful of all the women in the land. The 3 girls were named, Jemimah, or dove, Keziah or cinnamon, and Keren-happuch or eye cosmetic. He gave all 10 of his children an inheritance. Thus the story has a happy ending, despite all the trials and tribulations during this ancient mythic tale.

The invitation to the dedication festival (2 Macc 2:16-2:18)

“Since, therefore,

We are about to celebrate the purification,

We write to you.

Will you therefore please keep the days?

It is God who has saved all his people.

He has returned the inheritance to all,

The kingship,

The priesthood,

And the consecration.

He had promised this through the law.

For we have hope in God

That he will soon have mercy on us.

He will gather us from everywhere

Under heaven into his holy place.

He has rescued us from great evils.

He has purified the place.”

Finally, this long letter ends with its purpose, an invitation to the Egyptian Jews at Alexandria to keep the 8 days of worship celebrating the renewal of the Temple in Jerusalem under Judas Maccabeus. God has saved his people. He has returned that inheritance which is kingship, priesthood, and consecration through the law. They hoped that God would have mercy on them, so that they all could gather everyone together in this holy place. God had already rescued them from many great evils and purified this place. The ideal would be to have all Jews returning to Jerusalem.

The siege of the citadel in Jerusalem (1 Macc 6:18-6:27)

“Meanwhile, the garrison in the citadel kept hemming Israel in around the sanctuary. They were trying in every way to harm the Israelites and strengthen the gentiles. Judas, therefore, resolved to destroy them. He assembled all the people to besiege them. They gathered together and besieged the citadel in the one hundred fiftieth year. Judas built siege towers and other engines of war. But some of the garrison escaped from the siege. Even some of the ungodly Israelites joined them. They went to the king and said.

‘How long will you fail to do justice?

How long will you fail to avenge our kindred?

We were happy to serve your father.

We were happy to live by what he said.

We were happy to follow his commands.

For this reason the sons of our people besieged the citadel.

They became hostile to us.

Moreover, they have put to death

As many of us as they have caught.

They have seized our inheritances.

It is not against us alone that they have stretched out their hands.

They have also attacked all the lands on their borders.

See, today they have encamped

Against the citadel in Jerusalem to take it.

They have fortified both the sanctuary and Beth-zur.

Unless you quickly prevent them,

They will do still greater things.

You will not be able to stop them.’”

The citadel was the high point in Jerusalem. The small garrison of Syrian soldiers there kept the Jews hemmed in around the Temple. This took place 1 year after the death of King Antiochus IV, in 162 so that the new young King Antiochus V was only 10 years old. Judas Maccabeus gathered the people together and set up siege towers against the citadel. However, the gentiles and even some of the ungodly Israelites went to the young king to complain. They were willing to follow his father’s commands, which is why they took the citadel. Now these Jews have seized their inheritance. They have attacked the people on their borders. Now they are attacking the citadel in the city itself. Unless something was done quickly, they would not be able to stop these people.

The prayer of Mordecai to God to save Israel (Greek text only)

“Now, O Lord God and King,

God of Abraham,

Spare your people!

The eyes of our foes are upon us

To annihilate us.

They desire to destroy the inheritance

That has been yours from the beginning.

Do not neglect your portion.

You redeemed us for yourself

Out of the land of Egypt.

Hear my prayer!

Have mercy upon your inheritance!

Turn our mourning into feasting,

That we may live and sing praise to your name,

O Lord.

Do not destroy the lips of those who praise you.

All Israel cried out mightily!

Their death was before their eyes.”

Once again the Greek text prayer of Mordecai asked for God’s intervention to save Israel. Here he called God lord and king, the God of Abraham. He pleaded for God to save his people. He used some of the arguments of Moses in Exodus that their foes were trying to eliminate his people. Mordecai said that God had saved them from Egypt. He wanted God to hear his prayer so as to have mercy on his own inheritance. He wanted to turn mourning into feasting so that all Israel could live and sing his praises. He did not want God to destroy the very lips that praised him. All of Israel was crying because death was before their eyes.

Let us not fall into slavery (Jdt 8:21-8:24)

“If we are captured,

All Judea will be captured.

Our sanctuary will be plundered.

He will make us pay for its desecration.

The slaughter of our kindred,

The captivity of the land,

The desolation of our inheritance,

All this he will bring upon our heads among the Gentiles.

Wherever we serve as slaves,

We shall be an offense and a disgrace,

In the eyes of those who acquire us.

Our slavery will not bring us into favor,

But the Lord our God will turn it to dishonor.

Therefore, my brothers,

Let us set an example for our kindred.

Their lives depend upon us.

The sanctuary,

Both the temple and the altar,

Rests upon us.”

If they suffer defeat, Judea will be defeated. It is no longer Judah. The sanctuary in Jerusalem will be desecrated. Our relatives will be killed. Our inheritance will be lost. The captivity will be a reality. We will be slaves to the Gentiles, an offense and disgrace to all. Our slavery will not bring us favor but dishonor with God. We have to set an example for all our kindred. They depend on us to defend the sanctuary, the Temple, and the altar. It is our challenge.

 

The overseers (Neh 11:20-11:24)

“The rest of Israel, and the priests and the Levites, were in all the towns of Judah. All of them were in their own inheritance. But the temple servants lived on Ophel. Ziha and Gishpa were over the temple servants. The overseer of the Levites in Jerusalem was Uzzi son of Bani, son of Hashabiah, son of Mattaniah, son of Mica, of the descendents of Asaph, the singers, in charge of the work of the house of God. There was a command from the king concerning them. A settled provision for the singers was required every day. Pethahiah son of Meshezabel, of the descendents of Zerah, son of Judah, was at the king’s hand in all matters concerning the people.”

The rest of the people lived in their own towns with their own inheritance. It is hard to figure out their inheritance since they returned from captivity with what they had. Did they get back their family inheritance? The Temple servants lived on the Ophel hill. Ziha and Gishpa were in charge of them. The overseer of the Levites in Jerusalem was Uzzi. He was a descended from Asaph, the singer, so he was in charge of the singers. The singers were to be provided for each day. It says the king commanded this, but the king was in Persia. There was no king in Jerusalem. Perhaps Nehemiah and Ezra were acting in the name of the king, but it is not clear. Another descendent of Judah from the Zerah line was Pethahiah who someone was the king’s hand in all this. It is not clear what his connection to the King of Persia was.