“I will pour out
A spirit of compassion,
A spirit of supplication
On the house of David,
On the inhabitants of Jerusalem.
When they look on the one
Whom they have pierced,
They shall mourn for him,
Like for an only child.
They shall weep bitterly
Like one weeps
Over a first-born.”
The house of David and the people of Jerusalem would have a spirit of compassion and supplication that came from Yahweh. When they killed anyone with the sword, they would mourn for them, as if they were their own first born only child. Unlike most warriors, Yahweh’s people would have compassion and mourn for their dead enemies.
A song of ascent
“Out of the depths,
I cry to you!
Hear my voice!
Let your ears be attentive
To the voice of my supplications!”
Psalm 130 is another in this series of pilgrimage songs or psalms on the ascent to Jerusalem. However, this is more a penitential psalm that cries from the depths of despair. This psalmist cried out to Yahweh. He wanted Yahweh to listen. He wanted Yahweh to have his ears attentive to his prayers of supplication.
To the choirmaster leader with stringed instruments, a Maskil of David
“Give ear to my prayer!
Do not hide yourself from my supplication!
Attend to me!
I am troubled in my complaint.
I am distraught,
By the noise of the enemy,
Because of the clamor of the wicked,
They bring trouble upon me.
They cherish enmity against me.”
Psalm 55 is a prayer of David. He felt that he was being persecuted and betrayed. Once again this is a choral psalm with stringed instruments attributed to David. David wanted God to hear his prayer and not hide from him. He wanted an answer right away. He was in trouble and distraught because of his enemies, a common theme of these psalms. The wicked enemies were out to get him. He was going to call on God to help him.
“On the next day, as had now become necessary, Judas Maccabeus and his men went to take up the bodies of the fallen. He wanted to bring them back to lie with their kindred in the sepulchres of their ancestors. Then under the tunic of every one of the dead they found sacred tokens of the idols of Jamnia, which the law forbids the Jews to wear. It became clear to all that this was the reason that these men had fallen. So they all blessed the ways of the Lord, the righteous judge, who reveals the things that are hidden. They turned to supplication, praying that the sin that had been committed might be wholly blotted out. The noble Judas Maccabeus exhorted the people to keep themselves free from sin. They had seen with their own eyes what had happened as the result of the sin of those who had fallen.”
This is one of the few passages where there seems to be respect for the fallen soldiers, other than the leaders. They went out to pick up the bodies of the dead Jewish fighters so that they could be put in the tomb of their ancestors. To their surprise, they found that all the dead Jewish fighters were wearing the sacred tokens of the idols from Jamnia. How and why they had these tokens was not clear. Of course, this was forbidden to all Jewish people. They then prayed that the sins of these fallen men might be blotted out. Judas Maccabeus reminded them to keep themselves from sin. They had seen with their own eyes what happened to sinners.
“Timothy, who had been defeated by the Jews before, gathered a tremendous force of mercenaries. He collected the cavalry from Asia in no small number. He came on, intending to take Judea by storm. As he drew near, Judas Maccabeus and his men sprinkled dust on their heads. They girded their loins with sackcloth, in supplication to God. Falling upon the steps before the altar, they implored God to be gracious to them. They wanted him to be an enemy to their enemies and an adversary to their adversaries, as the law declares.”
Timothy, the head of the Ammonites, had been defeated before in chapter 8 of this work and in 1 Maccabees, chapter 5. This time he had a large cavalry from Asia and a tremendous mercenary force. However, Judas Maccabeus and his troops put dust on their heads and sackcloth on their loins. They prayed to God before his altar in Jerusalem. They asked God to be gracious to them. He wanted God to be the enemy of his enemies and the adversary of his adversaries. This he proclaimed what the law said. God was with his people and against the others. This is the great cry of all wars. “God is on our side.”
“People also hurried out of their houses in crowds to make a general supplication because the holy place was about to be brought into dishonor. Women, girded with sackcloth under their breasts, thronged the streets. Some of the young women who were kept indoors ran together to the gates, and some to the walls, while others peered out of the windows. Holding up their hands to heaven, they all made supplication. There was something pitiable in the prostration of the whole populace and the anxiety of the high priest in his great anguish. While they were calling upon the Almighty Lord that he would keep what had been entrusted safe and secure for those who had entrusted it, Heliodorus went on with what had been decided.”
Not only the priests were upset, the whole town was in turmoil. They gathered in small crowds as they worried about the dishonor to their holy Temple. The women wore sackcloth under their breasts. This was the common clothing of those in mourning. Here it seems only the women were wearing these goat hair robes. They young unmarried women were kept indoors. However, they were trying to find out what was going on, as they ran to the gates and walls, and peeked out the windows. They all prayed to heaven. The biblical author called them pitiable, since even the high priest was in anguish. This anxiety was about honor and money. They called upon the Almighty Lord to keep their treasures safe. Nevertheless, Heliodorus was determined to do what he had decided to do, to inspect the Temple finances.