These shepherds do not take care of their sheep (Ezek 34:3-34:4)

“You eat the fat.

You clothe yourselves

With wool.

You slaughter

The fatlings.

But you do not

Feed the sheep.

You have not strengthened

The weak ones.

You have not healed

The sick ones.

You have not bound up

The injured ones.

You have not brought back

The strayed ones.

You have not sought

The lost ones.

You have ruled them

With force.

You have ruled them

With harshness.”

Yahweh complained, via Ezekiel, to these shepherds that they ate the good fat things and clothed themselves with wool clothing. They slaughtered the fat livestock, but they did not feed the sheep. They did not strengthen the weak ones or heal the sick or injured sheep. They never brought back the straying or lost sheep. These shepherds ruled over the sheep with force and harshness.

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Arabia (Ezek 27:21-27:21)

“Arabia,

With all the princes

Of Kedar,

Were your favored dealers

In lambs,

Rams,

Goats.

They did business

With you

In these things.”

The princes of the Arabian Peninsula were the favorite trading partners of Tyre as regards livestock, especially lambs, rams, and goats. The princes of Kedar referred to those dark skinned Arabs who were descendants of Ishmael that lived in the northwestern section of the Arabian Peninsula.

Job maintains that the wicked do not get punished (Job 21:7-21:13)

“Why do the wicked live on?

Why do they reach old age?

Why do they grow mighty in power?

Their children are established in their presence.

Their offspring are established before their eyes.

Their houses are safe from fear.

No rod of God is upon them.

Their bull breeds without fail.

Their cow calves.

Their cows never miscarry.

They send out their little ones like a flock.

Their children dance around.

They sing to the tambourine and the lyre.

They rejoice to the sound of the pipe.

They spend their days in prosperity.

In peace they go down to Sheol.”

Job was very clear. The wicked live to reach old age. They actually grow stronger. They have many children. Their houses are safe. He did not see any punishment from God coming to them. In fact, their livestock are able to multiply without problems. The little children grew, danced, and sang to musical instruments. They seemed like very happy people. They spent their days in prosperity before they had a peaceful death and entered Sheol. Thus he was refuting the claim of Bildad that the wicked would not have children and not prosper. He maintained the opposite since the wicked seem to do quite well.

The problems of Job (Job 1:13-1:19)

“One day Job’s sons and daughters were eating and drinking wine in the eldest brother’s house. A messenger came to Job and said.

‘The oxen were plowing.

The donkeys were feeding beside them.

The Sabeans fell upon them.

They carried them off.

They killed the servants with the edge of the sword.

I alone have escaped to tell you.’

While he was still speaking, another messenger came and said.

‘The fire of God fell from heaven.

It burned up the sheep and the servants.

It consumed them.

I alone have escaped to tell you.’

While he was still speaking, another messenger came and said.

‘The Chaldeans formed three columns.

They made a raid upon the camels.

They carried them off.

They killed the servants with the edge of the sword.

I alone have escaped to tell you.’

While he was still speaking, another messenger came and said.

‘Your sons and daughters were eating

And drinking wine in their eldest brother’s house.

Suddenly a great wind came across the desert.

It struck the four corners of the house.

It fell on the young people.

They are dead.

I alone have escaped to tell you.’”

Once again, we begin with the once upon a time concept of “one day” back here on earth. The 10 children of Job were eating and drinking wine together. In a very oral stylistic format, 4 messengers, one after another come to tell him the bad news about his estate and his family. The repetition of lines for each group indicates an oral tradition that made it easy to remember. First, the Sabeans, a southern Arab tribe or traders where present day Yemen is, stole his 500 oxen and 500 donkeys. They also killed all the servants except one. The queen of Sheba may have been from Sheba and part of the Semitic Sabeans, somehow a descendent of Shem, the son of Noah. Secondly, lightning from heaven, the fire of God, destroyed and burned the 7,000 sheep as well as the servants watching them, except for one. Thirdly, the Chaldeans, a predominant Semitic tribe near the Persian Gulf that was taken over by the Babylonians around 600 BCE, stole all his 3,000 camels. They killed all his servants watching them except one. Finally, all his 10 children died when their house fell on them during a great wind storm. The servants all died, except one. Disaster has hit Job on many fronts. Foreigners stole his livestock. Lightning and windstorms destroyed his family and sheep.

Judas Maccabeus and the nomads (2 Macc 12:10-12:12)

“When they had gone more than a mile from there, on their march against Timothy, at least five thousand Arabs with five hundred cavalry attacked them. After a hard fight Judas Maccabeus and his companions, with God’s help, were victorious. The defeated nomads begged Judas Maccabeus to grant them pledges of friendship, promising to give livestock. They promised to help his people in all other ways. Judas Maccabeus, realizing that they might indeed be useful in many ways, agreed to make peace with them. After receiving his pledges, they went back to their tents.”

This episode is not linked with the preceding episodes on the coast because this takes place on the east side of the Jordan River. This is more about the battles with Timothy, even though it says that they were only a mile away. In fact, it is fairly similar to 1 Maccabees, chapter 5.   5,000 Arabs and 500 cavalry attacked Judas Maccabeus and his troops. With God’s help he was victorious. However, the defeated nomads wanted to make friends with Judas Maccabeus. They promised to give him livestock and be helpful in other ways. Judas Maccabeus realized that they might be useful. Thus he made peace with them. This is one of the few stories where the defeated people begged for peace and Judas Maccabeus agreed to it. Otherwise, he normally just wiped them out.

A copy of the letter sent to Onias, the high priest (1 Macc 12:19-12:23)

“This is a copy of the letter that they had sent to Onias.

‘King Arius of the Spartans,

To high priest Onias,

Greetings!

It has been found in writing

Concerning the Spartans and the Jews

That they are brothers.

They are of the family of Abraham.

Now that we have learned this,

Please write us concerning your welfare.

We on our part write to you

That your livestock and your property belong to us.

Ours belong to you.

We therefore command that our envoys report to you accordingly.”

The basis of this alliance was a letter written by King Arius of Sparta in the early 3rd century BCE, about 150 years earlier. Onias was the high priest from 323-290 BCE. This seems to indicate that the Spartans are descendent from Abraham. Perhaps this goes back to the time of Moses in Numbers, chapter 25. Moses said that God wanted them to kill anyone who had sex with the women of Peor who were Baal worshippers. Phinehas saw an Israelite man from the tribe of Simeon with a Median woman, so he killed both of them. Well, then supposedly the ½ tribe of Simeon left for Greece. Part of this is based on Flavius Josephus (37-100 CE), in his Antiquities of the Jews, an early Jewish history written around 93 CE. I bet not many Greeks know that they were brothers of the Jews, especially the Spartans. They had to look out for each other’s welfare. They would share their property and livestock.

King Demetrius I says no more taxes (1 Macc 10:29-10:33)

“I now free you.

I exempt all the Jews from payment of tribute

And salt tax and crown levies.

Instead of collecting the third of the grain

And the half of the fruit of the trees that I should receive,

I release them from this day and henceforth.

I will not collect them from the land of Judah

Or from the three districts added to it from Samaria and Galilee,

From this day and for all time.

Let Jerusalem and her environs,

Her tithes and her revenues,

Shall be holy and free from tax.

I release also my control of the citadel in Jerusalem.

I give it to the high priest,

So that he may station in it men of his own choice to guard it.

Every one of the Jews taken as a captive

From the land of Judah into any part of my kingdom,

I set free without payment.

Let all officials cancel also the taxes on their livestock.”

The no taxes people would love this. All the Jews would not have to pay any more taxes. King Demetrius I was very specific. There was no more wealth tax (tribute), salt tax, or crown taxes. This applied not only to Judea but the 3 areas annexed to Judea under Alexander the Great, in Samaria and Galilee. These areas would also be tax free. They did not have to give 1/3 of their grain or half of the fruits from the trees. There would be no more taxes on the livestock either. Jerusalem would be tax free city. The citadel or prison in Jerusalem would be handed over to the high priest in Jerusalem.