“Yahweh has sworn.
He will not change his mind,
‘You are a priest forever
According to the order of Melchizedek.’”
Yahweh then somehow makes David a priest also. The allusion here is to Melchizedeck, the ancient priest and king at the time of Abraham. This King Melchizedek of Salem, as found in Genesis, chapter 14, offered a sacrifice of bread and wine for Abraham. Here there is an order of Melchizedek, which will become an important Christian emphasis within the Roman Catholic concept of the priesthood. This same phrase was repeated in the New Testament Epistle to the Hebrews, chapter 5.
We are about to celebrate the purification,
We write to you.
Will you therefore please keep the days?
It is God who has saved all his people.
He has returned the inheritance to all,
And the consecration.
He had promised this through the law.
For we have hope in God
That he will soon have mercy on us.
He will gather us from everywhere
Under heaven into his holy place.
He has rescued us from great evils.
He has purified the place.”
Finally, this long letter ends with its purpose, an invitation to the Egyptian Jews at Alexandria to keep the 8 days of worship celebrating the renewal of the Temple in Jerusalem under Judas Maccabeus. God has saved his people. He has returned that inheritance which is kingship, priesthood, and consecration through the law. They hoped that God would have mercy on them, so that they all could gather everyone together in this holy place. God had already rescued them from many great evils and purified this place. The ideal would be to have all Jews returning to Jerusalem.
“Then they gathered together. They went to Mizpah, opposite Jerusalem, because Israel formerly had a place of prayer in Mizpah. They fasted that day. They put on sackcloth and sprinkled ashes on their heads. They tore their clothes. They opened the book of the law to inquire into those matters about which the gentiles were consulting the images of their gods. They also brought the vestments of the priesthood, the first fruits, and the tithes. They stirred up the Nazirites who had completed their days.”
The troops of Judas Maccabeus assembled at Mizpah, where Samuel had gathered the Israelites for repentance in 1 Samuel, chapter 7. Mizpah was close to Jerusalem. Like at the time of Samuel, they fasted, put on sackcloth, and tore their clothes in repentance. The Jewish people consulted their book of the law rather than the images of the divine oracles of the Greek gentiles. They had a cultic experience by bringing the vestments of the priests, even though there was no mention of any Levite priests here. They also brought first fruits and tithes. It is difficult to see what they did with these things since the Temple at Jerusalem had been destroyed. They also stirred up the Nazirites who had finished their obligations. Obviously this revolutionary group was inspired by the Nazirite movement as outlined in Numbers, chapter 6.