Jonah runs away to Tarshish (Jon 1:3-1:3)

“But Jonah set out

To flee

To Tarshish,

From the presence

Of Yahweh.

He went down

To Joppa.

There he found a ship

Going to Tarshish.

He paid the fare.

He went on board,

To go with them

To Tarshish.

He wanted to get away

From the presence

Of Yahweh.”

Unlike all the other prophets, Jonah refused his mission.  He decided to run away to Tarshish, probably in Spain, as far away as he could get from Yahweh and Israel at that time.  Most of the ancient people considered it to be the end of the world.  Tarshish was often mentioned in the biblical literature as a rich ship building area, as in Isaiah, chapter 23 and Ezekiel, chapter 27.  Jonah went to Joppa, a seacoast town on the Mediterranean Sea.  There, he had enough money to purchase a fare to board a ship headed for Tarshish.  He really wanted to get away from the presence of Yahweh, as far as he could go.

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The gathering from the whole world (Isa 66:19-66:19)

“I will set a sign among them.

From them,

I will send survivors to the nations,

To Tarshish,

To Put,

To Lud,

To those who draw the bow,

To Tubal

To Javan,

To the coastlands far away.

They have not heard of my fame.

They have not seen my glory.

They shall declare my glory

Among the nations.”

How were they going to get all these people into Jerusalem? Some people would go out to various places and have people from there come to Jerusalem to see the glory of Yahweh. Tarshish was the place that had the famous sailing ships. Perhaps it was some place in Spain or on the Mediterranean Sea. Put or Pul may have been in Somalia. Lud refers to some place in Libya or Asia Minor. Tubal and Javan were probably wealthy places in Asia Minor that would send ships to Tyre on the Mediterranean coast. Obviously all the coastal cities on the great sea were to be included. They had no idea about the fame and glory of Yahweh. They would all like to see the fame and glory of Jerusalem. The glory of Yahweh was to be declared to all these nations.

The importance of the Romans (1 Macc 8:1-8:11)

“Judas heard of the fame of the Romans since they were very strong. They were well-disposed toward all who made an alliance with them. They pledged friendship to those who came to them since they were very strong. He had been told of their wars and of the brave deeds which they were doing among the Gauls. They had defeated them and forced them to pay tribute. He learned what they had done in the land of Spain to get control of the silver and gold mines there. They had gained control of the whole region by their planning and patience, even though the place was far distant from them. They also subdued the kings who came against them from the ends of the earth, until they crushed them. They inflicted great disaster upon them. The rest paid them tribute every year. They had crushed in battle and conquered Philip, King Perseus of the Macedonians, and the others who rose up against them. They also had defeated King Antiochus the Great, king of Asia, who went to fight against them with one hundred twenty elephants, cavalry, chariots, and a very large army. He was crushed by them. They took him alive. They decreed that he and those who should rule after him should pay a heavy tribute, give hostages, and surrender some of their best provinces, the countries of India, Media, and Lydia. These they took from him and gave to King Eumenes. The Greeks planned to come and destroy them. However, this became known to them. Then they sent a general against the Greeks who attacked them. Many of them were wounded and fell. The Romans took captive their wives and children. They plundered them, conquered the land, tore down their strongholds, and enslaved them to this day. The remaining kingdoms and islands, as many as ever opposed them, they destroyed and enslaved.”

For some reason, the Romans made a big impression on Judas Maccabeus as they were beginning their ascendancy in the Mediterranean world. He knew that the Romans were strong and faithful in their alliances. Then this biblical author presented the great feats of the Romans. First they had conquered the Gauls and the Spaniards, these western territories around 190 BCE and the Punic wars with Carthage in North Africa from the 3rd century BCE. Prior to this time the only thing west was Egypt and Greece. Now Rome and the west made an impression. These Romans had gone and subdued kings from the ends of the earth. The Romans had defeated the last of the Macedonian kings, King Perseus in 168 BCE, the son of King Philip who had had been defeated in 179 BCE. Obviously this author had some sense of history. As noted, King Antiochus V was not killed, but had to give hostages to Rome, one of which was this King Demetrius I. However, he kept Medes, but did give up Lydia and other parts of Asia Minor. King Eumenes was a Cappadocian ruler. The Romans also defeated the Greeks. Although the Roman Empire did not come to its full height for a few centuries, it was well on its way in the 2nd century BCE.