Do not worry (Dan 12:9-12:12)

“He said.

‘Go your way!

Daniel!

The words are

To remain secret.

They are to be sealed

Until the time of the end.

Many shall be

Purified,

Cleansed,

Refined.

But the wicked

Shall continue

To do wickedly.

None of the wicked

Shall understand.

But those who are wise

Shall understand.’”

The man in the linen clothes told Daniel not to worry.  Daniel was to go on his way.  These words were secret.  Thus, they would be sealed up until the end times.  Many had to be purified, cleansed and refined until then.  The wicked would continue to do wicked things, since they have no understanding.  However, the wise ones understand what is going on.  This is a kind of back handed slap at Daniel, since he claimed he did not understand what the angel had been telling him.

The disputes and the resistance (Dan 11:32-11:35)

“He shall seduce,

With flattery,

Those who violate

The covenant.

But the people

Who are loyal

To their God

Shall stand firm.

They shall take action.

The wise among the people

Shall give understanding

To many.

For some days,

However,

They shall fall

By the sword,

By the flame.

They shall suffer

Captivity,

As well as plunder.

When they fall victim,

They shall receive

A little help.

Many shall join

Them insincerely.

Some of the wise

Shall fall.

Thus,

They may be

Refined,

Purified,

Cleansed,

Until the time

Of the end.

There is still an interval

Until the time appointed.

As indicated in 1 Maccabees, chapter 2, King Antiochus IV seduced some of the Hellenizing Judeans to abandon the covenant. However, there were many who remained loyal to their God. They stood firm and sided with the wise ones of Jerusalem. However, they also fell by the sword and the flames. They suffered captivity and plunder, but they received a little help. Some of these people were insincere. Even some of the wise ones fell, so that they could be refined, purified, and cleansed until the end times. Nevertheless, there was going to be an interval until this appointed time came.

The burnt sin offerings of various animals (Ezek 43:22-43:24)

“On the second day,

You shall offer

A male goat

Without blemish

For a sin offering.

The altar

Shall be purified,

As it was purified

With the bull.

When you have finished

Purifying it,

You shall offer

A bull

Without blemish.

You shall offer

A ram

From the flock

Without blemish.

You shall present them

Before Yahweh.

The priests

Shall sprinkle salt

On them.

They will offer them up

As a burnt offering

To Yahweh.”

After the first day of consecrating the altar, the following day they were to offer an unblemished male goat as a sin offering. However, the altar had to be purified as it had been the previous day. Then, they were to offer another unblemished bull, as well as an unblemished ram. These burnt offerings were to be offered to Yahweh. The priests should sprinkle salt on them, before they were offered up to Yahweh.

David wants purification (Ps 51:6-51:9)

“You desire truth in the inward being.

Therefore teach me wisdom

In my secret heart.

Purge me with hyssop!

Then I shall be clean.

Wash me!

Then I shall be whiter than snow.

Let me hear joy and gladness!

Let the bones that you have crushed rejoice!

Hide your face from my sins!

Blot out all my iniquities!”

David wanted to be purified. He wanted wisdom in his heart. He wanted to be purged or purified with some ritual that involved a hyssop, a ceremonial plant that was used to sprinkle water in a cleansing ritual. The hyssop was used in cleansing lepers in Leviticus, chapter 14. This cleansing hyssop was more explicit in Numbers, chapter 19, as the main tool used in sprinkling water to ritually clean things. He wanted to be clean, whiter than snow. There was a mention of some crushed bones. He wanted to be joyful, not with broken bones. He wanted his sins hidden and blotted out. He wanted a clean slate.

The prayer of the priests in Jerusalem (2 Macc 14:34-14:36)

“Having said this, he went away. Then the priests stretched out their hands toward heaven. They called upon the constant defender of our nation, in these words.

‘O Lord of all,

Although you have need of nothing,

You were pleased

That there should be a temple for thy habitation among us.

So now,

O holy One,

Lord of all holiness,

Keep undefiled forever this house that has been so recently purified.’”

When Nicanor left the Temple, the priests stretched out their hands to heaven and began to pray. They prayed to the defender of their nation. They realized that God, the Lord of all, did not need anything. However, he had been pleased by this Temple so that he could live among them. Now they were asking him, the holy one, the Lord of all holiness, to keep this Temple or house of the Lord undefiled since it had been so recently purified.

The Sabbath at Adullam (2 Macc 12:38-12:38)

“Then Judas Maccabeus assembled his army. They went to the city of Adullam. As the seventh day was coming on, they purified themselves according to the custom. They kept the Sabbath there.”

Judas Maccabeus brought his army to Adullam, which was northeast of Marisa. There, instead of fighting, they purified themselves and kept the Sabbath as a day of rest.

Purification of the Temple (2 Macc 10:1-10:4)

“Now Judas Maccabeus and his followers, the Lord leading them on, recovered the temple and the city. They tore down the altars which that had been built in the public square by the foreigners. They also destroyed the sacred precincts. They purified the sanctuary. They made another altar of sacrifice. Then, striking fire out of flint, they offered sacrifices. After a lapse of two years, they burned incense. They lighted lamps. They set out the bread of the Presence. When they had done this, they fell prostrate. They implored the Lord that they might never again fall into such misfortunes. If they should ever sin, they might be disciplined by him with forbearance and not be handed over to blasphemous and barbarous nations.”

This purification of the Temple by Judas Maccabeus took place earlier in 1 Maccabees, chapter 4, about a year before the death of King Antiochus IV. Here it is 2 years after the desecration of the Temple. In fact, the description in 1 Maccabees was more elaborate, but pretty much the same as here. There was no lamentation and mourning for the city and the Temple here. The Lord led them on here as the altars were in the public square. In 1 Maccabees, they saved the old stones. Here they just made another altar. They offered sacrifices, burned incense, lighted lamps, and set out the bread of Presence as in 1 Maccabees. Here there is a prayer to be more lenient next time if they do sin.

The invitation to the dedication festival (2 Macc 2:16-2:18)

“Since, therefore,

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,

The kingship,

The priesthood,

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.

The worship in Jerusalem (Jdt 16:18-16:20)

“When they arrived at Jerusalem, they worshiped God. As soon as the people were purified, they offered their burnt offerings, their freewill offerings, and their gifts. Judith also dedicated to God all the possessions of General Holofernes, which the people had given her. The canopy that she taken for herself from his bedchamber she gave as a votive offering. For three months, the people continued fasting in Jerusalem before the sanctuary. Judith remained with them.”

When they went down to Jerusalem, they worshipped God as they offered burnt offerings and freewill offerings. Judith then took all the possession of General Holofernes that she had taken and gave it to the Temple as a votive offering. The people of Bethulia stayed in Jerusalem for 3 months fasting.

Judith goes out to pray (Jdt 12:5-12:9)

“Then the servants of General Holofernes brought her into the tent. She slept until midnight. Toward the morning watch she got up. She sent this message to General Holofernes.

‘Let my lord now give orders to allow your servant

To go out and pray.’

So General Holofernes commanded his guards not to hinder her. She remained in the camp three days. She went out each night to the valley of Bethulia. She bathed at the spring in the camp. After bathing, she prayed the Lord God of Israel to direct her way for the triumph of his people. Then she returned purified. She stayed in the tent until she ate her food toward evening.”

Judith seems to have a tent near the general or in part of the general’s tent. She slept until midnight. However, at the morning watch she sent a message to the general. She wanted her and her servant to go out to pray. Then General Holofernes ordered his guards to let her go. She stayed in the army camp 3 days. Each night she would go out to the valley of Bethulia and bathe in the guarded springs. Then she would pray to the God of Israel for direction. Once purified or cleansed, she would return to the tent and eat her food at night. This seems like a simple routine so that she would not be suspected of anything.