Good companions (Prov 13:20-13:21)

“Whoever walks with the wise

Becomes wise.

But the companions of fools

Suffer harm.

Misfortune pursues sinners.

But prosperity rewards the righteous.”

Be careful who you hang around with. If you walk with the wise ones, you will be wise. However, if you hang out with fools, you probably are one. You will suffer harm. Misfortune seems to follow sinners, but prosperity is the reward of the righteous.

Job responds with sarcasm (Job 12:1-12:6)

“Then Job answered.

‘No doubt you are the voice of the people.

Wisdom will die with you.

But I have understanding as well as you.

I am not inferior to you.

Who does not know such things as these?

I am a laughingstock to my friends.

I, who called upon God,

God answered me.

A just and blameless man,

I am a laughingstock.

In the thought of one who is at ease,

There is contempt for misfortune.

They are ready for those whose feet slip.

The tents of robbers are at peace.

Those who provoke God are secure.

They bring their god in their hand.’”

Job responded that they have wisdom, but he too had understanding. He was not inferior to them even though right now he was a laughing stock to his friends. Job had called God. God had answered him because he was a just and blameless man. Now while he was a laughingstock, those with an easy life do not care about his misfortune. However, the tents of robbers are at peace. The people who provoke God are secure. They think that they control God with their own idol gods in their hands. Job hits back at them since they have a false security.

The happy visit to Scythopolis (2 Macc 12:29-12:31)

“Setting out from Ephron, they hastened to Scythopolis, which is seventy-five miles from Jerusalem. However, the Jews who lived there bore witness to the goodwill that the people of Scythopolis had shown them. They had shown their kind treatment of them in times of misfortune. Thus the men of Judas Maccabeus thanked them. They exhorted them to be well disposed to their race in the future also.”

Scythopolis was about 75 miles northeast of Jerusalem on the Jordan River. There had been many battles fought here under the Hebrew name of Beth-Shan, where King Saul was defeated by the Philistines. By the 2nd century BCE it had the Greek name of Scythopolis. This time the Jews there said that the folks in this town treated them with good will. Since they had been treated kindly, they thanked them and moved on. There was no battle here.

The deposed high priest Jason leads an unsuccessful uprising (2 Macc 5:5-5:10)

“When a false rumor arose that King Antiochus was dead, Jason took no fewer than a thousand men. He suddenly made an assault on the city. When the troops upon the wall had been forced back, at last the city was taken. Menelaus took refuge in the citadel. Jason kept relentlessly slaughtering his compatriots, not realizing that success at the cost of one’s kindred is the greatest misfortune. He imagined that he was setting up trophies of victory over enemies and not over compatriots. He did not, however, gain control of the government. In the end he got only disgrace from his conspiracy. He fled again into the country of the Ammonites. Finally he met a miserable end. He was accused before Aretas the ruler of the Arabs. He had to flee from city to city, pursued by everyone, hated as a rebel against the laws, and abhorred as the executioner of his country and his compatriots. He was cast ashore in Egypt. There he who had driven many from their own country into exile died in exile. He embarked to go to the Lacedaemonians in hope of finding protection because of their kinship. He who had cast out many to lie unburied had no one to mourn for him. He had no funeral of any sort and no place in the tomb of his ancestors.”

Jason, the former high priest, thought that the Syrian King Antiochus IV had died. Since Jason was pro-Egypt, he wanted to take back Jerusalem for them. He attacked Jerusalem with 1,000 troops. He was initially successful as he forced the high priest Menelaus to flee to the Seleucid citadel in Jerusalem. However, like the late 18th century French revolutionaries, he started killing his fellow Israelites in Jerusalem. He thought that he was killing the enemy but it was his own Jewish compatriots. He was not successful. He was once again driven into the land of Ammonites, east of the Jordan River. However, the Arabs pursued him from country to country. He finally made his way to Egypt but he was not accepted there either. Finally, he died in Sparta where no one mourned for him since he had no funeral or ancestral tomb.

Simon and Onias (2 Macc 4:1-4:6)

“The previously mentioned Simon, who had informed about the money against his own country, slandered Onias. Simon said that it was Onias who had incited Heliodorus. Onias had been the real cause of the misfortune. Simon dared to designate as a plotter against the government the man who was the benefactor of the city, the protector of his fellow countrymen, and a zealot for the laws. His hatred progressed to such a degree that even murders were committed by one of Simon’s approved agents. Onias recognized that the rivalry was serious. Apollonius son of Menestheus, and governor of Coele-syria and Phoenicia, was intensifying the malice of Simon. So he appealed to the king, not accusing his compatriots but having in view the welfare, both public and private, of all the people. He saw that without the king’s attention public affairs could not again reach a peaceful settlement. Simon would not stop his folly.”

Simon, the one who complained about the money in the Temple treasury, then slandered Onias. He said the Onias was the cause of the problem when he incited Heliodorus to look for the money. Simon was calling the kettle black. He was the one who started the investigation, but he was saying the Onias was the one who started the problem. Some of Simon’s men committed murder. Onias realized that Apollonius, the governor of the area, was siding with Simon. He decided that he would go directly to the king. Otherwise, there was no way to stop Simon. By this time Onias and Heliodorus were good friends, which bothered Simon also.