The goat attacked the ram (Dan 8:6-8:7)

“The goat came toward

The ram

With the two horns,

That I had seen

Standing

Beside the river.

It ran at him

With a savage force.

I saw it

Approaching

The ram.

The goat was enraged

Against it.

The goat struck

The ram,

Breaking

Its two horns.

The ram

Did not have power

To withstand it.

The goat threw

The ram down

To the ground.

The goat trampled

Upon the ram.

There was no one

Who could rescue

The ram

From its power.”

Next Daniel witnessed the attack of the goat against the ram. The goat was angry, so that it struck the ram, breaking its 2 horns. Here is an indication that Alexander the Great, the goat, had attacked the Persians and Medes, the 2-horned ram. The ram could not recover, as the goat threw the ram to the ground and trampled over it. There was no one there to rescue the ram from the power of this goat.

The death of King Belshazzar (Dan 5:30-5:30)

“That very night

King Belshazzar,

The Chaldean king

Was killed.”

Right after Daniel became the 3rd in command, this Chaldean King Belshazzar was killed. How did he die? Apparently, the Medes and Persians invaded Babylon without any resistance. They took over and killed the sitting king. Was there any connection to the hand writing on the wall and Daniel’s intervention? Did this mean that Daniel was now 2nd in command? What would happen to him?

The nations prepare for war against Babylon (Jer 51:27-51:28)

“Raise a standard

In the land!

Blow the trumpet

Among the nations!

Prepare the nations

For war

Against her!

Summon

Against her

The kingdoms,

Of Ararat,

Of Minni,

Of Ashkenaz!

Appoint a marshal

Against her!

Bring up horses

Like bristling locusts!

Prepare the nations

For war

Against her!

The kings

Of the Medes,

With their governors,

Their deputies,

With every land

Under their dominion

Shall come!”

Yahweh via Jeremiah wants to call various nations to fight against Babylon. The standard and the trumpet of war should sound to prepare nations to attack her. In particular 3 countries are named. Ararat was considered the place where Noah’s ark landed in Genesis, chapter 8. The assumption is that this mountain was in southern Turkey, what today is in Kurdish land, near the Russian and Iranian borders. Minni may be a reference to the Mannaeans who lived in what is now northwestern Iran or Armenia. Ashkenaz was a son of Noah and a land around Asia Minor near Armenia. Jewish people from the Rhineland area were called Ashkenazi, and this term was later adapted for all eastern European Jews. These countries would have joined with the Persians to attack Babylon. They would have so many horses that they would seem like swarms of locusts. Joining them would be the kings of Medes with all their officials and deputies, plus all the people from the land that they dominated. These were the ancient Persian people in what is now northwestern Iran. There was no specific mention of the Persians here.

Assyria will be erased (Isa 14:24-14:27)

“Yahweh of hosts has sworn.

‘As I have designed,

So shall it be.

As I have planned,

So shall it come to pass.

I will break the Assyrian

In my land.

On my mountains

I will trample him under foot.

His yoke shall be removed

From them.

His burden shall be removed

From their shoulders.’

This is the plan that is planned

Concerning the whole earth.

This is the hand that is stretched out

Over all the nations.

Yahweh of hosts has planned.

Who will annul it?

His hand is stretched out.

Who will turn it back?”

Having dealt with Babylon and its city, Yahweh turned to the Assyrians themselves. He says that the Assyrians would be wiped out. Around 610 BCE, they were wiped out by the Persians. The Assyrian Empire went back a couple of millennium BCE. However, the so-called neo-Assyrian Empire went from about 911-610 BCE. This large neo-Assyrian Empire is what the Israelites faced during this time frame. Isaiah has Yahweh clearly plan the destruction of the Assyrian Empire. The theme here is that whatever Yahweh has planned, it will come to pass. He was going to break the Assyrians and trample them underfoot. Yahweh said that the Assyrians would no longer be in his land and his mountains. The Assyrian yoke and burden would be removed from the Israelites. However, Yahweh’s plan was also for the whole world. He had planned it and stretched out his hand. It was going to happen. Who was going to stop Yahweh? Thus it came to pass that the Persians attacked and destroyed the Assyrian Empire in the 7th century BCE, because of the plan of Yahweh.

Army from a distant land (Isa 13:4-13:5)

“Listen!

A tumult on the mountains

As a great multitude!

Listen!

An uproar of kingdoms,

Of nations gathering together!

Yahweh of hosts is mustering

An army for battle.

They come from a distant land,

From the end of the heavens.

Yahweh comes.

The weapons of his indignation

Comes to destroy

The whole earth.”

Yahweh told Isaiah to listen to the great multitude on the mountains. All the nations were getting together. Yahweh was going to bring a great army from a distant land, even from the ends of heaven. Yahweh was going to bring his weapons of indignation to destroy the whole earth. Although at times it seems like an attempt to destroy the vast Babylonian Empire via the far away Persians, there are apocalyptic end time tones with the idea of the end of the whole earth and the heavens.

The oracle against Babylon (Isa 13:1-13:1)

“The oracle

Concerning Babylon

That Isaiah

Son of Amoz

Saw.”

Now begins a series of divine oracles against foreign countries. Obviously despite the title indicating that Isaiah, the son of Amoz, saw this, the Babylonian captivity did not happen in the 8th century BCE, but in the 6th and 7th century BCE. Babylon was the largest city in the world with over 200,000 people, probably the first city to have this many people living in one place during the 18th century BCE (Hammurabi, 1792–1750 BCE), and 6th-7th century BCE (Nebuchadnezzar II, 604–561 BC). This city was located about 50 miles south of present day Baghdad, in present day Hillah, Iraq, between the Tigris River and the Euphrates River, but mostly on the Euphrates River. Babylon was the capital city of the Assyrian Empire from around 911-609 BCE. In 539 BCE, the Persians put an end to the Assyrians after a century of disputes. In the 4th century BCE the Greeks under Alexander the Great took over Babylon. Babylon may have been the inspiration for the story about the Tower of Babel in Genesis, chapter 11.

The importance of fire (2 Macc 1:19-1:23)

“When our ancestors were being led captive to Persia,

The pious priests of that time took

Some of the fire of the altar.

They secretly hid it in the hollow of a dry cistern.

They took such precautions

That the place was unknown to anyone.

But after many years had passed,

When it pleased God,

Nehemiah, having been commissioned by the king of Persia,

Sent the descendants of the priests

Who had hidden the fire to get it.

When they reported to us

That they had not found fire

But only a thick liquid,

He ordered them to dip it out and bring it.

When the materials for the sacrifices were presented,

Nehemiah ordered the priests

To sprinkle the liquid on the wood

And on the things laid upon it.

When this was done,

Some time had passed.

The sun, which had been clouded over,

Shone out,

A great fire blazed up,

So that all marveled.

While the sacrifice was being consumed,

The priests offered prayer.

The priests and everyone,

Jonathan led.

The rest responded,

As did Nehemiah.”

There is nothing in the book of Nehemiah about this fire incident. If anything it is a reference to the cult of fire among the Persians. Somehow the captured Israelite priests hid a fire that had been on an altar in a dry cistern that no one knew about. How could a fire keep going it no feeds it? When Nehemiah asked the descendents of these priests to get the fire, they told him that they only had a thick liquid that could have been naphtha or petro-chemical oil, which of course, was found in the Persian area. They put wood on it. When the sun shone it, it burst into flames so that it consumed the sacrifice. Obviously, the priests and everyone offered sacrifices. A certain Jonathan seemed to be the priest leader of this ceremony.

Alexander the Great (1 Macc 1:1-1:4)

“After Alexander son of Philip, the Macedonian, who came from the land of Kittim, had defeated King Darius of the Persians and the Medes, he succeeded him as king. He had previously become king of Greece. King Alexander fought many battles. He conquered strongholds. He put to death the kings of the earth. He advanced to the ends of the earth. He plundered many nations. When the earth became quiet before him, he was exalted. His heart was lifted up. He gathered a very strong army. He ruled over countries, nations, and princes. They became tributary to him.”

Once again, we have a book that is not in the Hebrew canon and therefore not in the King James Bible. However, it was part of the Septuagint, and the Vulgate of Jerome. Thus it is part of the Catholic tradition that places these books about the Maccabees as the last books of the so-called historical books of the Bible, as in the Jerusalem Bible that I am following. This is a semi-historical book of the late 2nd century BCE.

It starts out with the real historical figure of Alexander the Great (356-323 BCE), the son of Philip of Macedonia (382-336 BCE). Alexander was the king of Greece who defeated the Persian King Darius III (380-330 BCE). Alexander had gone to the ends of the earth, which meant India in the east. He killed many kings with his strong army. All the nations were beholden to him as he attempted to Hellenize the whole empire with a dominant Greek culture. This Greek culture produced the holy books of the Greek Jewish Old Testament Septuagint and the Greek Christian New Testament. At some point there were more Greek speaking Jews in Alexandria than there were Jews in Jerusalem.

The value of the prophets (Tob 14:3-14:4)

When he was about to die, he called his son Tobias and the seven sons of Tobias. He gave them his command.

‘My son, take your children and hurry off to Media.

I believe the word of God that Nahum spoke about Nineveh.

All these things will take place and overtake Assyria and Nineveh.

Everything that was spoken by the prophets of Israel,

Whom God sent,

Will occur.

None of their words will fail.

All will come true at their appointed times.

It will be safer in Media than in Assyria and Babylon.

I know and believe that whatever God has said

Will be fulfilled

And will come true.

Not a single word of the prophecies will fail.

All our kindred,

Inhabitants of the land of Israel,

Will be scattered.

They will be taken as captives from the good land.

The whole land of Israel,

Even Samaria and Jerusalem,

Will be desolate.

The temple of God in it will be burned to the ground.

It will be desolate for a while.’”

As Tobit was about to die, he called his son Tobias and his 7 grandchildren. See the number 7 again. He told them to go to Media because there was going to be trouble in Nineveh. Tobit believed in all prophets and how valuable their prophecies were. He was a strong believer in the prophets proclaiming the word of God. He even said that not a single word of the prophecies would fail. Nahum was considered a minor prophet of the 7th century that he would have known. Nahum saw the destruction of Jerusalem by the Assyrians, but he predicted the downfall of Nineveh, which of course led to the ascent of the Persians. Tobit here also predicted the ruin of both the north and south in Israel, including Jerusalem and also the Temple itself. There would be desolation.