The second beatitude about mourning (Mt 5:4-5:4)

“Blessed are

Those who mourn!

They shall be comforted.”

 

μακάριοι οἱ πενθοῦντες, ὅτι αὐτοὶ παρακληθήσονται.

 

Once again, Matthew and Luke are not in agreement.  Matthew wanted the mourners (οἱ πενθοῦντες) to be comforted (ὅτι αὐτοὶ παρακληθήσονται), while Luke, chapter 6:21, talked about the hungry, that will be a later spiritual beatitude in Matthew, chapter 5:6.  These humble righteous ones who suffer now in their mourning will be comforted or strengthened.  Thus, they are the blessed or fortunate ones (μακάριοι).  For some reason the Bible of Jerusalem has this beatitude the 3rd instead of the 2rd beatitude.

They have turned against God (Hos 7:14-7:16)

“They do not cry to me

From the heart.

But they wail

Upon their beds.

They gash themselves

For grain,

For wine.

They rebel against me.

I trained them.

I strengthened

Their arms.

Yet they devise evil

Against me.

They turn to Baal,

A useless unprofitable god.

They have become

Like a defective bow.

Their officials

Shall fall

By the sword,

Because of the rage

Of their tongues.

So much for babbling

In the land of Egypt.”

The Israelites were not crying out to Yahweh from their hearts. Instead they were weeping and wailing in their own beds. They gashed themselves that had been forbidden by the law of Moses, hoping for grain and wine. They had rebelled against Yahweh. Yet it was Yahweh who had trained them and strengthened their arms. However, they continually devised evil against Yahweh, turning to the useless Baal gods. They had become defective bows that could not shoot arrows. Thus, their officials would fall by the sword. Their raging tongues sent them babbling to the Egyptians.

Daniel gets stronger (Dan 10:18-10:19)

“Again,

One in a human form

Touched me.

He strengthened me.

He said.

‘Do not fear!

Greatly beloved!

You are safe!

Be strong!

Be courageous!’

When he spoke

To me,

I was strengthened.

I said.

‘Let my lord speak!

You have strengthened me.’”

Then this appearance of a man or the angel Gabriel touched Daniel again. This time, it made Daniel stronger. This angel told Daniel not to fear because he was greatly loved and safe. Instead, Daniel was to be strong and courageous. When this figure spoke, Daniel felt strengthened. Finally, he told him, his lord, to speak because he had made him stronger.

Comparisons to other evil people (Jer 23:13-23:14)

“In the prophets of Samaria,

I saw a disgusting thing.

They prophesied by Baal.

They led my people Israel astray.

But in the prophets of Jerusalem,

I have seen a more shocking thing.

They commit adultery.

They walk in lies.

They strengthen

The hands of evildoers.

Thus no one turns from wickedness.

All of them have become

Like Sodom to me.

Its inhabitants are

Like Gomorrah.”

Yahweh makes a comparison between the evil prophets of Jerusalem with the false prophets of Samaria as well as the inhabitants of Sodom and Gomorrah. There is no doubt that the false prophets of Samaria worshipped and prophesized by Baal. Thus they led the Israelites astray by these disgusting practices. However, the prophets of Jerusalem have done a more shocking thing. They committed adultery and walked in lies. Thus they strengthened the hands of the evil doers. Thus, no one turned away from wickedness. They became like the famous sinful cities of Sodom and Gomorrah, in Genesis, chapter 19.

Give thanks to Yahweh (Ps 138:1-138:3)

A Psalm of David

“Yahweh!

I give you thanks

With my whole heart.

Before the gods,

I sing your praise.

I bow down toward your holy temple.

I give thanks to your name.

Because of your steadfast love.

I give thanks to your name.

Because of your faithfulness.

You have exalted your name

Above everything.

You have exalted your word

Above everything.

On the day I called,

You did answer me.

You increased my strength of soul.”

Psalm 138 is a thanksgiving psalm of David as indicated in the title. David gives thanks to Yahweh from his whole heart. He sings his praises in his holy Temple. Yahweh is greater than any of the other gods or angels. He gave thanks to his holy name for his steadfast love and faithfulness. His name and word were to be exalted above everything. On the day that David called, Yahweh answered him. There was no delay here. Thus this strengthened his soul.

The divine intervention at Beth-zur (2 Macc 11:5-11:12)

“Invading Judea, Lysias approached Beth-zur, which was a fortified place about five stadia from Jerusalem. He pressed it hard. When Judas Maccabeus and his men got word that Lysias was besieging the strongholds, they and all the people, with lamentations and tears, prayed the Lord to send a good angel to save Israel. Judas Maccabeus himself was the first to take up arms. He urged the others to risk their lives with him to aid their kindred. Then they eagerly rushed off together. There, while they were still near Jerusalem, a horseman appeared at their head, clothed in white and brandishing weapons of gold. Together they all praised the merciful God. They were strengthened in heart, ready to assail not only humans, but the wildest animals or walls of iron. They advanced in battle order, having their heavenly ally, for the Lord had mercy on them. They hurled themselves like lions against the enemy. They laid low eleven thousand of them and sixteen hundred cavalry. They forced all the rest to flee. Most of them got away stripped and wounded. Lysias himself escaped by disgraceful flight.”

Beth-zur was about 20 miles south of Jerusalem, on the way to Hebron. Here, like 1 Maccabees, chapter 4, Judas Maccabeus prayed for a heavenly angel to help him. Although he had prayed in 1 Maccabees, there was no divine intervention. Here a heavenly horseman with a gold weapon led them to victory as they were lions in battle. Here they killed 11,000 infantry instead of 5,000 as in 1 Maccabees. In both versions of the story, Lysias escaped, either as here in “disgraceful flight” or simply withdrawing to Antioch as in 1 Maccabees.

Simon takes the citadel in Jerusalem (1 Macc 13:49-13:53)

“The men who were in the citadel at Jerusalem were prevented from going in and out to the country to buy and sell things. So they were very hungry. Many of them perished from famine. Then they cried to Simon to make peace with them. So he did. He expelled them from there. He cleansed the citadel from its pollutions. On the twenty-third day of the second month, in the one hundred seventy-first year, the Jews entered it with praise and palm branches. They had harps, cymbals, and stringed instruments. They sang hymns and songs because a great enemy had been crushed and removed from Israel. Simon decreed that every year they should celebrate this day with rejoicing. He strengthened the fortifications of the temple hill alongside the citadel. He and his men lived there. Simon saw that his son John had reached manhood, so he made him commander of all the forces. He lived at Gazara.”

The Syrian men who were in the Jerusalem citadel could not go in or out to buy or sell anything. Thus they became hungry like a famine. Finally, they wanted to make peace with Simon. He decided to expel them from the citadel. There was a big celebration with praise and palm branches as the Jews entered the citadel in 141 BCE, about a year after their independence. Before they went in with harps, cymbals, and stringed instruments singing hymns and songs, they had the citadel cleansed from the foreign pollutions. They were going to celebrate this every year on the 23rd day of the 2nd month, that is sometime in May. Simon and his men decided to live in the citadel. He sent his son John to be the commander of the armed forces and live in Gaza. This apparently was his son John Hyrcanus who was the high priest from 134-104 BCE.