Sit in the dust!
O virgin daughter Babylon!
Sit on the ground
Without a throne!
O daughter Chaldea!
You shall no more
Be called tender!
You shall no more
Be called delicate!
Take the millstones!
Grind the meal!
Remove your veil!
Strip off your robe!
Uncover your legs!
Pass through the rivers!
Your nakedness shall be uncovered.
Your shame shall be seen.
I will take vengeance.
I will spare no one.
Is the Holy One of Israel.
Yahweh of hosts
Is his name!”
This is a unique kind of Hebrew lamentation. Yahweh God has stripped the unconquered virgin Babylon of its royal throne. The Chaldeans, who were from the southern part of Babylon, would no longer be considered tender and delicate. Now they were to do the work of slaves, grinding the meal with millstones. On top of that, they were to strip down, taking their veils off and removing their robes, so that their legs would be uncovered. They would be shamefully naked as washing in a river. Yahweh with his army was going to take vengeance on them, so that no one would be spared. Yahweh is the redeemer and the Holy One of Israel.
“While gentle silence enveloped all things,
Night in its swift course was now half gone.
Your all powerful word leaped from heaven.
He leaped from the royal throne,
Into the midst of the land that was doomed.
He was a stern warrior.
He carried the sharp sword of your authentic command.
He filled all things with death.
He touched heaven
While standing on the earth.”
That night in silence, the all powerful word of God (ὁ παντοδύναμός σου λόγος) leapt from heaven (ἀπ᾿ οὐρανῶν). In the original Exodus story in chapters 11-12, it is God, Yahweh himself, who kills the infants at midnight. Here it is the word of God who came from his royal throne (ἐκ θρόνων βασιλειῶν) as a stern warrior with a sharp sword. He was the one who killed all the first born children while still touching heaven (οὐρανοῦ) here on earth (γῆς).
“In the one hundred fifty-first year, Demetrius son of Seleucus set out from Rome. He sailed with a few men to a city by the sea. There he began to reign. As he was entering the royal palace of his ancestors, the army seized King Antiochus and Lysias to bring them to him. But when this act became known to him, he said.
‘Do not let me see their faces!’
So the army killed them. Then Demetrius took his seat on the throne of his kingdom.”
Now we have a new player on the scene King Demetrius I (185-150 BCE), who was the son of King Seleucus IV, the brother of King Antiochus IV. He would rule from 161-150 BCE. He had escaped from Rome, who liked the 11 year old King Antiochus V. King Demetrius I was 24 years old in 161 BCE, when he began to rule. He came by boat to a small town. When he arrived at the royal palace, the army seized King Antiochus V and Lysias. When King Demetrius I heard about this, he told them to kill them since he did not want to see their faces. Thus he killed his nephew to begin to rule as King Demetrius I.
“On the third day Queen Esther put on her royal robes. She stood in the inner court of the king’s palace, opposite the king’s hall. The king was sitting on his royal throne inside the palace opposite the entrance to the palace. As soon as the king saw Queen Esther standing in the court, she won his favor. He held out to her the golden scepter that was in his hand. Then Queen Esther approached and touched the top of the scepter. The king said to her.
‘What is it, Queen Esther?
What is your request?
It shall be given you, even to the half of my kingdom.’”
Now we are back to the Hebrew text which is a summary of what preceded in the Greek text with a slightly different ending. It is the 3rd day. However, here she stands in the court opposite the king’s hall. He summons her because she is so beautiful. There is no fainting. She just accepts the golden scepter. The king spoke first. He was willing to give her any request she might make, even giving half the kingdom to her. Surprisingly the Hebrew text shows the king as more gentle.