The second campaign against Egypt (Dan 11:29-11:31)

“At the time appointed,

He shall return.

He shall come

Into the south.

But this time,

It shall not be

As it was before.

The ships of Kittim

Shall come against him.

He shall lose heart.

He shall withdraw.

He shall be enraged.

He shall take action

Against the holy covenant.

He shall turn back.

He shall give heed

To those who forsake

The holy covenant.

Forces sent by him

Shall occupy the temple.

They shall profane

The temple.

They shall occupy

The fortress.

They shall abolish

The regular burnt offering.

They shall set up

The abominations

That make it desolate.”

The second time that King Antiochus IV attacked Egypt, he was not as successful as the first time. The ships of Kittim, or the ships of the Romans, came against him. Kittim was the name for Cyprus and thus applied to all western troops. Once again, on his way home, in 167 BCE, he attacked Jerusalem. This time, there was a clear explanation of what he did. He turned against the people of the covenant. He even helped those who had forsaken the covenant, taking sides in a dispute there as explained in 2 Maccabees, chapters 3 and 4. He occupied the Temple and the fortress citadel in Jerusalem. He even profaned the Temple by abolishing the regular burnt offerings. These invaders even set up abominations in the Temple to make it a desolation.

The Zadok Levitical priests (Ezek 44:15-44:16)

“‘But the Levitical priests,

The descendants of Zadok,

Who kept the charge

Of my sanctuary,

When the people of Israel

Went astray

From me,

Shall come near

To me

To minister

To me.

They shall attend me

To offer me

The fat

With the blood.’

Says Yahweh God.

‘They shall enter

My sanctuary.

They shall approach

My table.

They shall

Minister

To me.

They shall

Keep my charge.’”

It was a different story for the Zadok Levitical priests, as mentioned in the previous chapter. These Levitical priests from the family of Zadok came from a righteous priest, who was descended from Eleazar, the son of Aaron. This Zadok aided King David during the revolt of his son Absalom in 2 Samuel, chapters 13-22. Then this Zadok helped bring King Solomon to the throne in 1 Kings, chapters 1-2. After Solomon’s building of The First Temple in Jerusalem, this Zadok was the first High Priest to serve there in 1 Kings, chapter 4. Thus, the house of Zadok occupied the high priesthood throughout much of the Second Temple period. These Zadok Levitical priests had been loyal to Yahweh, when the other Levites went astray. They were the ones who could come near to Yahweh to minister to him. They would offer the fat and the blood. They would enter Yahweh’s sanctuary and approach his table. They would be in charge and directly minister to Yahweh.

The dedication of the altar (Ezek 43:18-43:20)

“‘On the day

When it is erected

For offering

Burnt offerings

Upon it,

For dashing blood

Against it,

You shall give

A bull

For a sin offering.

The Levitical priests

Of the family of Zadok,

Who draw near to me

Shall minister to me.’

Says Yahweh God.

‘You shall take

Some of its blood.

You will put it on

The four horns

Of the altar.

You will put it on

The four corners

Of the ledge.

You will put it

On the rim,

All around.

Thus,

You shall purify it.

You will make atonement

for it.’”

The first thing to be done on this new altar, after it was erected for offerings, was a burnt offering. The Levitical priests of the family of Zadok was based on a righteous priest, who was descended from Eleazar, the son of Aaron. Zadok had aided King David during the revolt of his son Absalom in 2 Samuel, chapters 13-22. Then this Zadok helped bring King Solomon to the throne in 1 Kings, chapters 1-2. After Solomon’s building of The First Temple in Jerusalem, Zadok was the first High Priest to serve there in 1 Kings, chapter 4. Thus, it was not strange that the house of Zadok occupied the high priesthood throughout much of the Second Temple period. These Levitical priests were the ones who came near to Yahweh to minister to him. The first of the sin offerings was a bull. These Zadok Levitical priests were to put its blood on the 4 horns of the altar, plus on the rim all around it for a purification and an atonement at the same time.

 

The restoration in Israel (Ezek 36:9-36:12)

“See now,

I am for you.

I will turn to you.

You shall be tilled.

You shall be sown.

I will multiply

Your population,

The whole house

Of Israel,

All of it.

The towns

Shall be inhabited.

The waste places

Rebuilt.

I will multiply

Human beings,

As well as animals

Among you.

They shall increase.

They shall be fruitful.

I will cause you

To be inhabited,

As in your former times.

I will do more good

To you

Than ever before.

Then you will know

That I am Yahweh.

I will lead people

Upon you,

My people Israel.

They shall possess you.

You shall be

Their inheritance.

No longer shall you

Bereave their children.”

Yahweh, via Ezekiel, told the mountains of Israel that he was for them. He was going to turn their land into a place that was tilled and sown with crops. He was going to multiply the population of the whole house of Israel. The towns would be inhabited and the ruined places rebuilt. Humans and animals would multiply, as the land would be occupied again. Yahweh was going to do more good than ever before. They would know that he was Yahweh, their God. There would be new leaders in this inherited land, so that they would no longer mourn for their lost children. His land and his people would be reunited again.

Manual work versus wisdom (Sir 38:24-38:26)

“The wisdom of the scribe

Depends on the opportunity

Of leisure.

Only the one who has little business

Can become wise.

How can one become wise

Who handles the plow?

How can one become wise

Who glories in the shaft of a goad?

How can one become wise

Who drives oxen?

How can one become wise

Who is occupied with their work?

How can one become wise

Whose talk is about bulls?

He sets his heart on plowing furrows.

He is careful about fodder

For the heifers.”

Sirach recognizes that you cannot be a wise writer if you do not have leisure time. If you are doing business deals, you do not have time for wisdom. Most people were too busy with getting their oxen moving a plow, in the good old days before John Deere tractors. If you are occupied with your work in the fields, and taking care of bulls and heifers, how would you have any leisure time to be wise?

Enjoy your wealth (Eccl 5:18-5:20)

“This is what I have seen to be good.

It is fitting is to eat and drink.

It is fitting to find enjoyment

In all the toil

With which one toils under the sun

The few days of the life

That God gives us.

This is our lot.

Likewise,

God gives wealth.

God gives possessions.

He enables them to enjoy them.

They should accept their lot.

They should find enjoyment

In their toil.

This is the gift of God.

They will scarcely brood

Over the days of their life

Because God keeps them occupied

With joy in their hearts.”

Qoheleth finally found something good. It was appropriate to eat and drink. You should find enjoyment in your work when you toil under the sun. God has given you a few days to enjoy all this. This is your lot in life, accept it. You may have wealth and possession, so enjoy them. Enjoy your work and any wealth that comes with it as a gift from God. Do not brood over the few days you have here on earth because God can keep you occupied with joy in your heart.

The death of Timothy (2 Macc 10:32-10:38)

“Timothy himself fled to a stronghold called Gazara, especially well garrisoned, where Chaereas was the commander. Then Judas Maccabeus and his men were glad. They besieged the fort for four days. The men within the town, relying on the strength of the place, kept blaspheming terribly. They uttered wicked words. But at dawn on the fifth day, twenty young men in the army of Judas Maccabeus, filled with anger because of the blasphemies, bravely stormed the wall. With savage fury, they cut down every one they met. Others who came up in the same way wheeled around against the defenders. They set fire to the towers. They kindled fires and burned the blasphemers alive. Others broke open the gates. They let in the rest of the force as they occupied the city. They killed Timothy, who was hiding in a cistern, and his brother Chaereas and Apollophanes. When they had accomplished these things, with hymns and thanksgivings they blessed the Lord who shows great kindness to Israel. He gave them the victory.”

In 1 Maccabees, chapter 13, the attack on Gazara was led by Simon, much later after the death of Judas Maccabeus. Here it takes place under the leadership of Judas Maccabeus. There Simon just deported the citizens, not killed them as here. Chaereas, the brother of Timothy, was the commander at Gazara, where Timothy had fled. They besieged the fort for 4 days. During that time, the men inside blasphemed against the Jewish God. On the fifth day, 20 young men from the army of Judas Maccabeus stormed the wall, killing everyone they men. They set fire to the towers and opened the gates. After they occupied the city, then they killed Timothy and his 2 brothers, Chaereas and Apollophanes. Finally they blessed the Lord with hymns and thanksgivings for the victory. So ends the story of Timothy, the enemy of the Jews. Notice that they praise God before and after they kill their enemy.