The weakness of the Egyptian wise sages (Isa 19:11-19:15)

“The princes of Zoan

Are utterly foolish.

The wise counselors of Pharaoh

Give stupid counsel.

How can you say to Pharaoh?

‘I am one of the sages.

I am a descendant of the ancient kings.’

Where now are your sages?

Let them tell you!

Let them make known!

What has Yahweh of hosts

Planned against Egypt?

The princes of Zoan

Have become fools.

The princes of Memphis

Are deluded.

Those who are the cornerstones

Of its tribes

Have led Egypt astray.

Yahweh has poured into them

A spirit of confusion.

They have made Egypt

Stagger in all its doings.

They are as a drunken man

Staggers around in vomit.

Neither head nor tail,

Palm branch or reed,

Will be able to do

Something for Egypt.”

Now Isaiah attacks the wise sages of Egypt since he calls them stupid. Isaiah mentions the capital cities of Egypt, Zoan in the north and Memphis in the south. The princes and the wise men in these places were giving stupid advice. These wise sages had no idea what Yahweh was planning for them since they were like deluded fools. They were supposed to be the cornerstones of their tribes, but they were really in confusion. In colorful language, Isaiah says that they were like drunkards staggering around in their own vomit. Nobody could do anything for Egypt, head, tail, palm branch, or reed. The rulers were the head and palm trees, while the tail and the reed represented the ordinary people. They were all getting foolish stupid advice from their so-called wise sages.

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The letter of King Demetrius II to Simon (1 Macc 13:35-13:40)

King Demetrius sent him a favorable reply to this request. He wrote him a letter as follows.

‘King Demetrius

To Simon, the high priest and friend of kings,

And to the elders and nation of the Jews,

Greetings!

We have received the gold crown

And the palm branch that you sent.

We are ready to make a general peace with you.

We are ready to write to our officials

To grant you release from tribute.

All the grants that we have made to you remain valid.

Let the strongholds that you have built be your possession.

We pardon any errors and offenses committed to this day.

We cancel the crown tax that you owe.

Whatever other tax has been collected in Jerusalem

Shall be collected no longer.

If any of you are qualified to be enrolled in our bodyguard,

Let them be enrolled.

Let there be peace between us.’”

In a strong letter to Simon, the deposed King Demetrius II granted sovereignty to Judah. The letter was addressed to Simon, the elders, and the whole Jewish nation. King Demetrius II still considered himself the King of Syria. He accepted the gifts that Simon had sent him, the gold crown and the palm branch. He wanted to have peace with Simon. He said that the Jews no longer had to pay tribute or the crown tax to him. He also stated that all the grants that he had given before still stand. He pardoned all offenses committed to that day. There were to be no more taxes in Jerusalem. Anyone qualified could become part of his bodyguard. He just wanted peace between the two of them.