‘You have rebelled
Have brought this
This is your doom.
It is bitter.
It has reached
Your very heart.’”
Yahweh, via Jeremiah, says that they had rebelled against him. Their ways and actions brought this destruction upon themselves. They were doomed because this bitterness had reached their hearts.
The name of Yahweh
Comes from far away.
It burns with his anger,
In thick rising smoke.
His lips are
Full of indignation.
His tongue is
Like a devouring fire.
His breath is
Like an overflowing stream
That reaches up to the neck.
He sifts the nations
With the sieve of destruction.
He places on the jaws of the people
A bridle that leads them astray.”
Is this an allusion to the Assyrians as they attack Jerusalem? The name of Yahweh comes from a distance. Could this be an indication of the far off Assyrians? Or was this Yahweh himself angry? He burns with anger so that smoke is rising up. His lips and tongue were full of indignation and fire. His breath was like an overflowing stream that reached to your neck. He used a sieve to sift out the destruction of the various nations. He placed a bridle on the jaws of the people to lead them in the wrong direction. This is either a description of an anthropomorphic mad Yahweh or how Yahweh made the Assyrians mad.
“Therefore those who lived
In an unrighteous way,
In a life of folly,
Through their own abominations.
They went far astray
On the paths of error.
They accepted as gods
That even their enemies despised.
They were deceived like foolish infants.
Therefore as though like children,
Who cannot reason,
You sent your judgment to mock them.
But those who have not heeded
The warning of light rebukes
Will experience the deserved judgment of God.
When in their suffering,
They became incensed
At those creatures
That they had thought to be gods,
They were punished by means of them.
They saw the true God.
They recognized the true God
Whom they had before refused to know.
Therefore the utmost condemnation
Came upon them.”
Once again, we are reflecting on God’s actions in Egypt. The unrighteous ones (ἀδίκους) were tormented by their own abominations. They had accepted various animals as gods (θεοὺς) as if they were unknowing little infants. When they reached the age of reason you mocked their gods with mild rebukes or the so-called plagues. But they did not heed these mild rebukes or plagues. Finally they recognized the true God (Θεὸν ἐπέγνωσαν ἀληθῆ) and thus they received the ultimate condemnation at the end. This was an attempt to justify the killing of the first born of Egypt. The Egyptians should have known better.
“The Israelites angered Yahweh at the waters of Meribah.
It went ill with Moses on their account.
They made his spirit bitter.
He spoke words that were rash.”
Then there was another incident from Numbers, chapter 20. Once again, the Israelites were angry with Moses and Aaron since they had no water. This was when Moses struck the rock at Meribah, where water came pouring out. This is similar to Exodus, chapter 12 that was mentioned in the previous psalm. However, there was a twist here in the story of Numbers. Moses and Aaron were punished for not believing that water could come from a rock. Their punishment was that they too would die before they reached the Promised Land. Moses was rash in his hesitation to strike the rock.
We ponder your steadfast love
In the midst of your temple.
Is like your praise.
It reaches to the ends of the earth.
Your right hand is filled with victory.”
They pondered the love of God in the great Temple. In the middle of the Temple, they glorified his name. They praised him so much that this praise reached until the ends of the earth. God’s right hand was filled with victory.
“When this agreement had been reached, Lysias returned to the king. The Jews went about their farming. But some of the governors in various places, Timothy and Apollonius son of Gennaeus, as well as Hieronymus and Demophon, and in addition to these Nicanor the governor of Cyprus, would not let them live quietly and in peace.”
Everything was settled with Antioch and the Seleucid Empire. However, there were others who would not leave the Jewish people live in peace. Timothy had already arrived on the scene, and had already been killed off earlier in chapter 10 of this book. This appears to be a different Apollonius, who was the brother of Timothy. Nicanor had already fought with the Jews. Here he was called the governor of Cyprus. The others are even more difficult to identify.
“Now I urge those who read this book not to be depressed by such calamities. You ought to recognize that these punishments were designed not to destroy but to discipline our people. In fact, it is a sign of great kindness not to let the impious alone for long, but to punish them immediately. In the case of the other nations, the Lord waits patiently to punish them until they have reached the full measure of their sins. However, he does not deal in this way with us. So that he may not take vengeance on us afterward when our sins have reached their height, he never withdraws his mercy from us. Although he disciplines us with calamities, he does not forsake his own people. Let what we have said serve as a reminder. We must go on briefly with the story.”
Here is a little editorial note of the biblical writer. In fact, he used the first person singular “I.” He did not want the reader to be depressed by these incidents. These punishments came to the Jewish people in order to discipline them, not to destroy them. With other nations, the Lord waited until they were totally sinful before he punished them. God’s mercy was always with the Jews, even when they were sinful. Although he disciplines the Jews, he never abandons them. Now that the author has put in this little reminder, he was going to continue on with the story. This is a rare look at the perspective of this biblical author. The Jews were unique in that God was merciful, no matter what.
“When he finished speaking, Judas Maccabeus rushed suddenly against Seron and his army. They were crushed before him. They pursued them down the descent of Beth-horon to the plain. Eight hundred of them fell. The rest fled into the land of the Philistines. Then Judas and his brothers began to be feared. Terror fell upon the gentiles all around them. His fame reached the king, as the gentiles talked of the battles of Judas.”
When his words of encouragement were complete, Judas then rushed at Seron and his Syrian army. He crushed them and pursued them down the hill of Beth-horon as they fled to the land of the Philistines. I guess those Philistine guys are still around. 800 of the Syrian army died. People began to fear Judas and his brothers. Terror struck the heart of the gentiles as word of his escapades reached the king.