Tell everyone that someone stole the body of Jesus (Mt 28:12-28:14)

“After the chief priests

Had assembled

With the elders,

They devised

A plan

To give large sums

Of silver money

To the soldiers.

They said.

‘Tell the people!

‘His disciples came

By night.

They stole him away

While we were asleep.’

If the governor

Hears this story,

We will take care of him.

We will keep you

Out of trouble.’”

 

καὶ συναχθέντες μετὰ τῶν πρεσβυτέρων συμβούλιόν τε λαβόντες ἀργύρια ἱκανὰ ἔδωκαν τοῖς στρατιώταις

λέγοντες Εἴπατε ὅτι Οἱ μαθηταὶ αὐτοῦ νυκτὸς ἐλθόντες ἔκλεψαν αὐτὸν ἡμῶν κοιμωμένων.

καὶ ἐὰν ἀκουσθῇ τοῦτο ἐπὶ τοῦ ἡγεμόνος, ἡμεῖς πείσομεν καὶ ὑμᾶς ἀμερίμνους ποιήσομεν.

 

This is unique to Matthew, who continued with this story about the guards and the Jerusalem chief priestsAfter these chief priests had assembled with the elders or presbyters in consultation (καὶ συναχθέντες μετὰ τῶν πρεσβυτέρων), they decided or devised a plan to give large sums of silver money to these soldiers (συμβούλιόν τε λαβόντες ἀργύρια ἱκανὰ ἔδωκαν τοῖς στρατιώταις).  These custodian guards (κουστωδίας) have now become soldiers (στρατιώταις).  The chief priests said (λέγοντες) to tell the people that Jesus’ disciples came at night (Εἴπατε ὅτι Οἱ μαθηταὶ αὐτοῦ νυκτὸς ἐλθόντες).  They stole the body of Jesus away (ἔκλεψαν αὐτὸν), while they were asleep (ἡμῶν κοιμωμένων).  If the governor heard this story (καὶ ἐὰν ἀκουσθῇ τοῦτο ἐπὶ τοῦ ἡγεμόνος), they would take care of him or urge or persuade him (ἡμεῖς πείσομεν καὶ ὑμᾶς) to keep these soldiers out of trouble (ἀμερίμνους ποιήσομεν).  The problem, of course, is whether Roman soldiers would trust these Jewish leaders in Jerusalem.  The better option was that these were Jewish guards who could be persuaded by the Jewish leaders with a little financial incentive.

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Locusts ate the vegetation (Am 7:2-7:3)

“When they had finished

Eating the grass

Of the land,

I said.

‘O Yahweh God!

Forgive!

I beg you!

How can Jacob stand?

He is so small!’

Yahweh relented

Concerning this.

‘It shall not be.’

Said Yahweh.”

Amos was able to persuade Yahweh not to send any more locusts, after they had finished eating the grass of the land. The term grass probably indicates all vegetation. Amos asked God to forgive them, since Jacob was so small that it could not stand. His begging worked, since Yahweh said okay.

Patience and honey (Prov 25:14-25:16)

“Like clouds and wind

Without rain

Is one who boasts of a gift never given.

With patience

A ruler may be persuaded.

A soft tongue can break bones.

If you have found honey,

Eat only enough for you.

Otherwise having too much,

You will vomit it.”

Do not be a phony giver. Do not boast about a gift that you never gave. Then you will be like dry clouds and wind without rain. You can persuade a king with patience. A soft tongue can break bones. If you have some honey, eat just enough to be filled. Otherwise, you will eat too much and vomit it anyway. Honey seems to the favorite delicacy that people over indulge in.

The peace treaty with Lysias (2 Macc 11:13-11:15)

“Lysias was not without intelligence. He pondered over the defeat that had befallen him. He realized that the Hebrews were invincible because the mighty God fought on their side. Thus he sent to them and persuaded them to settle everything on just terms. He promised that he would persuade the king. He constrained the king to be their friend. Judas Maccabeus, having regard for the common good, agreed to all that Lysias urged. For the king granted every request on behalf of the Jews that Judas Maccabeus had delivered to Lysias in writing.”

The peace treaty with Lysias does not come until 2 chapters later in 1 Maccabees, chapter 6, after many more battles, with King Antiochus V. In 1 Maccabees, chapter 4, Lysias returned to Antioch because King Antiochus IV had died. He feared that Philip might take over. However, the resulting peace treaty was pretty much the same. Lysias realized that he could not defeat the Hebrews because their mighty God was on their side. He promised to persuade the king who was only 10 years old. Judas Maccabees got everything that he wanted. So now we have a peace treaty. Now we will have a series of letters concerning this peace treaty.

The mother appeals to her youngest son (2 Macc 7:24-7:29)

“King Antiochus felt that he was being treated with contempt. He was suspicious of her reproachful tone. The youngest brother being still alive, King Antiochus not only appealed to him in words, but promised with oaths that he would make him rich and enviable if he would turn from the ways of his ancestors. He would take him for his friend and entrust him with public affairs. Since the young man would not listen to him at all, the king called the mother to him. He urged her to advise the youth to save himself. After much urging on his part, she undertook to persuade her son. But, leaning close to him, she spoke in their native language as follows, deriding the cruel tyrant.

‘My son,

Have pity on me.

I carried you nine months in my womb.

I nursed you for three years.

I have reared you.

I have brought you up to this point in your life.

I have taken care of you.

I beg you,

My child,

To look at the heaven and the earth.

See everything that is in them!

Recognize that God did not make them out of things that existed.

In the same way,

The human race came into being.

Do not fear this butcher!

Prove worthy of your brothers!

Accept death!

So that in God’s mercy

I may get you back again with your brothers.’”

King Antiochus IV was upset at the way things were going. As there was only 1 son left, he urged him to give up his traditional ways. He promised to make him rich and powerful in his kingdom. The son would not listen. Then the king urged the mother to try and convince her son to save his life. Instead she urged him on to resist the king. In a moving passage, she spoke about carrying him for 9 months, nursing him for 3 years, and then bringing him up. Now she wanted him to recognize the creator God in heaven who made the human race. She wanted him to be worthy of his brothers. She wanted him to accept death so that God’s mercy would bring him back to his brothers. These seven sons were like suicide bombers willing to die for the laws of their God. The theology of creation and the afterlife predominated in their views of the ancestral laws. Notice that she spoke in their native language.

The invitation of General Holofernes (Jdt 12:10-12:11)

“On the fourth day, General Holofernes held a banquet for his personal attendants only. He did not invite any of his officers. He said to Bagoas, the eunuch, who had charge of his personal affairs.

‘Go and persuade the Hebrew woman.

As she is in your care

To join us

To eat

And to drink with us.

It would be a disgrace

If we let such a woman go,

Without having intercourse with her.

If we do not seduce her,

She will laugh at us.’”

The plan of General Holofernes was very clear. He was having a banquet with only his own personal attendants and no officers. Bagoas, who was the eunuch in charge of the general’s personal affairs, was to invite Judith and persuade her to come to the banquet. Apparently there was a real Persian eunuch named Bagoas, who lived in the 4th century BCE, about 200 years after the supposed setting of this story. Eunuchs were men who were castrated or sometimes just impotent or celibate. They were not interested in sex or marriage so that leaders felt safe having them take care of their personal matters for them, particularly their women. General Holofernes felt it would be a disgrace to him if he did not have sex with Judith before she left camp. If he did not seduce her, she would probably laugh at him.