Yahweh is with you (Zeph 3:16-3:17)

“On that day,

It shall be said

To Jerusalem.

‘Do not fear!

O Zion!

Do not let your hands

Grow weak!

Yahweh!

Your God!

Is in your midst!

He is a warrior

Who gives victory.

He will rejoice

Over you

With gladness.

He will renew you

In his love.

He will exult

Over you

With loud singing

As on a day of festival.”

Zephaniah emphasized that on that great day, Jerusalem would have Yahweh in their midst.  They were not to fear or let their hands grow weak.  Yahweh, their God, would be a warrior for them.  Yahweh was going to rejoice and be glad about them.  He would renew them with his love.  He would exult over them with loud singing, as on the various festival days.

Oracle about the alliance with Yahweh (Isa 59:21-59:21)

“‘As for me,

This is my covenant with them.’

Says Yahweh.

‘My spirit is upon you.

My words

That I have put in your mouth,

Shall not depart out of your mouth.

They shall not depart

Out of the mouth of your children.

They shall not depart

Out of the mouths of your children’s children,

From now on and forever.’

Says Yahweh.”

Third Isaiah brings this chapter to a close with another oracle from Yahweh. He was going to renew his alliance with his holy people. The covenant continues down to their children and their children’s children now and forever, since his Spirit is upon them. He has put his words into their mouths and it will not leave them because of this everlasting covenant.

The cities along the Mediterranean Sea should listen (Isa 41:1-41:1)

“Listen to me in silence!

O coastlands!

Let the people renew their strength!

Let them approach!

Let them speak!

Let us together

Draw near for judgment.”

Second Isaiah asks for people in the cities along the Mediterranean Sea to pay attention. They should renew their strength, approach him, and speak together in order to render judgment in some kind of court situation.

The letter from Rome to the Egyptian king (1 Macc 15:15-15:21)

“The following was written.

‘Lucius, consul of the Romans,

To King Ptolemy,

Greetings!

The envoys of the Jews

Have come to us as our friends and allies.

They have come to renew our ancient friendship and alliance.

They had been sent by the high priest Simon and the Jewish people.

They have brought a gold shield weighing one thousand minas.

We therefore have decided to write

To the kings and the countries

So that they should not seek their harm.

They should not make war against them.

They should not make war against their cities and their country.

That they should not make alliances with those who war against them.

It has seemed good to us to accept the shield from them.

Therefore if any scoundrels have fled to you from their country,

Hand them over to Simon the high priest,

So that he may punish them according to their law.’”

This Roman letter is from Lucius Calpurnius Piso the Roman Consul of the Roman Senate from 140-139 BCE. He seems to be sending this letter to King Ptolemy VII who ruled in Egypt from 145-116 BCE, so this is the right time frame. Envoys had been sent by Simon and the Jews to Rome to renew their alliance and friendship. They brought with them a gold shield that was mentioned in the previous chapter. The Romans accepted this shield. Lucius then decided to write to the kings and countries that no one should invade their cities, fight a war with them, or form an alliance against them. If there were any problems with scoundrels fleeing, see Simon the high priest, although he was not called a king or even an ethnarch.

The letter of the Spartans (1 Macc 14:20-14:23)

“This is a copy of the letter that the Spartans sent.

‘The rulers and the city of the Spartans

To the high priest Simon

And the elders

And the priests

And the rest of the Jewish people,

Our brothers,

Greetings!

The envoys you sent to our people

They have told us about your glory and honor.

We rejoiced at their coming.

We have recorded in our public decrees,

As follows.

‘Numenius son of Antiochus

And Antipater son of Jason,

Envoys of the Jews,

They have come to us

To renew their friendship with us.

It has pleased our people to receive these men with honor.

We put a copy of their words in the public archives,

So that the people of the Spartans may have a record of them.

They have sent a copy of this to the high priest Simon.’”

Once again like the letter in chapter 12, it is the leader and all the people who are involved in this letter writing. The envoys of Numenius and Antipater are mentioned by name. They spoke highly of Simon. They wanted to renew their friendship so that that their words were put in the public archives.

The response of Sparta and Rome (1 Macc 14:16-14:19)

“When it was heard in Rome, and as far away as Sparta, that Jonathan had died, they were deeply grieved. Then they heard that his brother Simon had become high priest in his place, and was ruling over the country and the towns in it. Thus they wrote to him on bronze tablets to renew with him the friendship and alliance which they had established with his brothers Judas and Jonathan. These were read before the assembly in Jerusalem.”

The people or leaders in Rome and Sparta were upset when they heard that Jonathan had died since they had an alliance with him. However, when they found out that his brother Simon had taken his place, they were relieved. Simon had become the high priest and the ruler of the country and the towns. The Romans and Spartans wrote on bronze tablets to renew their friendship and alliance. Remember that important documents at this time were usually inscribed in bronze. Rome had a good relationship with Jonathan, but it was not clear that Judas had good relations with the Romans. Nevertheless, these new bronze tablets were read before the assembly in Jerusalem.

The letter to the Spartans about the present (1 Macc 12:9-12:18)

“Therefore, though we have no need of these things,

Since we have as encouragement

The holy books that are in our hands.

We have undertaken to send

To renew our family ties and friendship with you,

So that we may not become estranged from you.

Considerable time has passed

Since you sent your letter to us.

We therefore remember you constantly on every occasion,

Both in our festivals and on other appropriate days,

At the sacrifices which we offer

And in our prayers,

As it is right and proper to remember brothers.

We rejoice in your glory.

But as for ourselves,

Many trials and many wars have encircled us.

The kings around us have waged war against us.

We were unwilling to annoy you

And our other allies and friends with these wars.

We have the help that comes from Heaven for our aid.

We were delivered from our enemies.

Our enemies were humbled.

We therefore have chosen Numenius son of Antiochus

And Antipater son of Jason,

We have sent them to Rome to renew our former friendship

And alliance with them.

We have commanded them to go also to you,

To greet you

To deliver to you this letter from us

Concerning the renewal of our family ties.

Now please send us a reply to this.”

Jonathan’s letter continued to remind them that they relied on their holy books, which would have been the law, Torah, and the prophets. Nevertheless, Jonathan thought that it was time to renew their alliance and friendship. Almost a century and a half had passed without any renewal. During this time, they had remembered the Spartans in their prayers and festivals. Funny, this is the first mention of the Spartans. The Jews have had some problems, but their aid from heaven has helped them to defeat their enemies on every side. He was sending Numenius and Antipater to Rome to renew their friendship. However, he also wanted to renew the family ties with the Spartans. Jonathan also wanted a reply from them.