The good news of peace (Nah 1:15-1:15)

To Judah

“Look

On the mountains!

The feet of one

Brings good tidings.

He proclaims peace!

Celebrate your festivals!

O Judah!

Fulfil your vows!

Never again,

Shall the wicked

Invade you!

They are utterly cut off.”

Nahum wanted Judah to look to the mountains, where there was someone bringing good news that there would be peace.  Now, they could celebrate their festivals and fulfill their vows at the Temple.  Never again, would anyone wicked invade them, because all their enemies were cut off.

Future wars (Dan 11:40-11:40)

“At the time of the end,

The king of the south

Shall attack him.

But the king of the north

Shall rush upon him

Like a whirlwind,

With chariots,

With horsemen,

With many ships.

He shall advance

Against countries.

He shall pass through

Like a flood.”

Gabriel then made another prediction about King Antiochus IV. He said that the king of the south, King Ptolemy V, would invade the north, but be defeated because of the great military of King Antiochus with his chariots, horsemen, and ships. In fact, this northern king would advance through countries like a moving flood storm. This apparently never happened, as opposed to the preceding that actually took place.

King Hezekiah (Sir 48:17-48:22)

“King Hezekiah fortified his city.

He brought water into its midst.

He tunneled the sheer rock

With iron tools.

He built cisterns for the water.

In his days,

Sennacherib invaded the country.

He sent his commander from Lachish.

He departed.

He shook his fist against Zion.

He made great boasts in his arrogance.

Then their hearts were shaken.

Their hands trembled.

They were in anguish,

Like women in labor.

But they called upon the Lord

Who is merciful.

They spread out their hands

Toward him.

The Holy One quickly heard them

From heaven.

He delivered them

Through Isaiah.

The Lord struck down

The camp of the Assyrians.

His angel wiped them out.

King Hezekiah did

What was pleasing to the Lord.

He kept firmly to the ways

Of his ancestor King David.”

Of all the kings from King Solomon to the captivity, Sirach singled out King Hezekiah (716-687 BCE) of Judah, based on the stories in 2 Kings, chapters 18-20, and 2 Chronicles, chapters 29-32. He was the king who followed Yahweh’s commandments, during the time of the prophet Isaiah. Just before his reign, the northern kingdom of Israel at Samaria fell to the Assyrians. During his reign the population grew from 5,000 at the time of King Solomon to about 25,000 people because of the many migrant Israelites from the north. Thus King Hezekiah fortified Jerusalem by building walls around it with tunnels to get water that has been verified by archeological discoveries. Ten years later, King Sennacherib decided to invade Judah. He sent his general Rabshakeh from Lachish to negotiate a deal, but King Hezekiah went to the prophet Isaiah for advice. Despite the fears of the folks in Jerusalem, Isaiah said not to yield. King Hezekiah prayed to Yahweh. King Sennacherib of Assyria decided not to invade the city, but 185,000 of his troops were wiped out by an angel of the Lord. Thus King Hezekiah was pleasing to the Lord like King David.

Cendebeus, commander of the coastal country (1 Macc 15:37-15:41)

“Meanwhile King Trypho embarked on a ship as he escaped to Orthosia. Then King Antiochus made Cendebeus the commander-in-chief of the coastal country. He gave him troops of infantry and cavalry. He commanded him to encamp against Judea. He commanded him to build up Kedron and fortify its gates. He was to make war on the people. However, the king was going to pursue Trypho. So Cendebeus came to Jamnia. He began to provoke the people and invade Judea. He took the people captive and killed them. He built up Kedron. Then he stationed horsemen and troops there, so that they might go out and make raids along the highways of Judea, as the king had ordered him.”

The siege at Dor did not work that well. King Trypho escaped from King Antiochus VII as he got on a boat and went to Orthosia, which was north of Tripolis. At the same time, King Antiochus VII was concerned about Simon and Judea. He made Cendebeus the commander of the coastal country with cavalry troops and infantry. His orders were to harass Judea, while the king went after King Trypho, so that he could claim the throne. Cendebeus built up the town of Kedron, probably southwest of Ekron, where he stationed horses and troops so that they could go out and make raids on the Judea highways, as he had been ordered to do.

The letter from Rome to the Egyptian king (1 Macc 15:15-15:21)

“The following was written.

‘Lucius, consul of the Romans,

To King Ptolemy,

Greetings!

The envoys of the Jews

Have come to us as our friends and allies.

They have come to renew our ancient friendship and alliance.

They had been sent by the high priest Simon and the Jewish people.

They have brought a gold shield weighing one thousand minas.

We therefore have decided to write

To the kings and the countries

So that they should not seek their harm.

They should not make war against them.

They should not make war against their cities and their country.

That they should not make alliances with those who war against them.

It has seemed good to us to accept the shield from them.

Therefore if any scoundrels have fled to you from their country,

Hand them over to Simon the high priest,

So that he may punish them according to their law.’”

This Roman letter is from Lucius Calpurnius Piso the Roman Consul of the Roman Senate from 140-139 BCE. He seems to be sending this letter to King Ptolemy VII who ruled in Egypt from 145-116 BCE, so this is the right time frame. Envoys had been sent by Simon and the Jews to Rome to renew their alliance and friendship. They brought with them a gold shield that was mentioned in the previous chapter. The Romans accepted this shield. Lucius then decided to write to the kings and countries that no one should invade their cities, fight a war with them, or form an alliance against them. If there were any problems with scoundrels fleeing, see Simon the high priest, although he was not called a king or even an ethnarch.

The death of Jonathan (1 Macc 13:20-13:24)

“After this, Trypho came to invade the country. He wanted to destroy it. He circled around by the way to Adora. But Simon and his army kept marching along opposite him to every place he went. Now the men in the citadel kept sending envoys to Trypho urging him to come to them by way of the wilderness and to send them food. So Trypho got all his cavalry ready to go, but that night a very heavy snow fell. He did not go because of the snow. He marched off and went into the land of Gilead. When he approached Baskama, he killed Jonathan. He was buried there. Then Trypho turned back. He went back to his own land.”

Trypho came to invade and destroy Judah by way of Adora, about 5 miles southwest of Hebron. However, Simon and his army were marching opposite him. This seems strange. Who was following who? The Syrian men in the Jerusalem citadel sent messengers to Trypho to go through the wilderness. They needed food. This plan was cancelled when a strange snow storm hit. This is the first mention of snow, since it obviously was not that common. Trypho decided to head north to Gilead where he killed and buried Jonathan at Baskama, which is northeast of the Sea of Galilee. Then he went home without fighting any battle.

Trypho sends a message to Simon (1 Macc 13:12-13:16)

“Then Trypho departed from Ptolemais with a large army to invade the land of Judah. Jonathan was with him under guard. Simon encamped in Adida, facing the plain. Trypho learned that Simon had risen up in place of Jonathan his brother. He learned that he was about to join battle with him. Thus he sent envoys to Simon and said.

It is for the money that Jonathan your brother

Owed the royal treasury,

In connection with the offices he held,

That we are detaining him.

Send now a hundred talents of silver

And two of his sons as hostages,

So that when released

He will not revolt against us.

Then we will release him.’”

Trypho set out from Ptolemais with a large army to invade Judah. He had Jonathan under guard. Simon went out to meet Trypho in battle in Adida. Simon learned that his brother Jonathan was not dead, while Trypho learned that Simon was leading the large army. Trypho sent messengers to Simon. He told him that the dispute was about money since Jonathan had not paid the money to Syria that was owed to Trypho. If Simon brought 100 talents of silver and Jonathan’s 2 sons as hostages, he would release Jonathan as long as Jonathan would not revolt against him again.