The restoration in Samaria (Jer 31:4-31:6)

“Again I will build you!

You shall be built!

O virgin Israel!

Again you shall take

Your tambourines!

You shall go forth

In the dance

Of the merrymakers!

Again you shall plant vineyards

On the mountains of Samaria.

The planters shall plant.

They shall enjoy the fruit.

There shall be a day

When sentinels will call

In the hill country

Of Ephraim.

‘Come!

Let us go up to Zion!

Let us go to Yahweh

Our God.’”

Yahweh was going to build up his virgin Israel again. Once again, they would have tambourines, merrymaking, and dancing. They would be able to plant vineyards on the Samarian mountains. Clearly, this was an outreach to the old northern Israelites who had been captured in 721 BCE. Their vineyard planters would enjoy the fruit of their crops. There would even come a day when the hill country of Ephraim, just north of Benjamin, would cry out that that they were going to Jerusalem to worship Yahweh, their God. In other words, the local places of worship in the north would be abandoned. They would all worship their one God, Yahweh. This was the wish of Yahweh, via Jeremiah.

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The solemn processions (Ps 68:24-68:27)

“Your solemn processions are seen!

O God!

The processions

Of my God,

My King,

Into the sanctuary!

The singers are in front.

The musicians are last.

Between them are girls playing tambourines.

‘Bless God in the great congregation!

Yahweh!

O you who are of Israel’s fountain!’

There is Benjamin,

The least of them,

In the lead.

The princes of Judah are in a body.

The princes of Zebulun are there.

The princes of Naphtali are there.”

This is a description of a great procession into the Temple area. Yahweh is king and God. They head into the sanctuary area. The singers are in front with the musicians last, as girls with tambourines are in the middle. They are there to bless God who is the fountain and foundation of Israel. Only 4 tribes are mentioned, 2 from the north, Zebulun and Naphtali, and 2 from the south. Benjamin was the small tribe that King Saul had come from, while King David was from Judah. Thus the solemn march to the temple took place.

Jonathan attacks the Jambri wedding party (1 Macc 9:37-9:42)

“After these things were reported to Jonathan and his brother Simon, they said.

‘The family of Jambri was celebrating a great wedding.

They were conducting the bride,

A daughter of one of the great nobles of Canaan,

From Nadabath with a large escort.’

They remembered how their brother John had been killed. They went up and hid under the cover of the mountains. They looked out and saw a tumultuous procession with a great amount of baggage. The bridegroom came out with his friends and his brothers to meet them with tambourines, musicians, and many weapons. Then they rushed upon them from the ambush. They began killing them. Many were wounded and fell. The rest fled to the mountains. The Jews took all their goods. Thus the wedding was turned into mourning. The voice of their musicians was turned into a funeral dirge. After they had fully avenged the blood of their brother, they returned to the marshes of the Jordan River.”

            Jonathan and his brother Simon were upset about the attack and death of their brother John at the hands of the Jambri family. They saw that the Jambri family was celebrating a big wedding. One of daughters of a Canaanite was marrying a man from Jambri. They were having a great procession with tambourines and musicians. Jonathan, Simon, and his group attacked the wedding party. They wounded and killed some, while others fled. Their joyous wedding music turned into a mourning funeral dirge. After they avenged the blood of their brother, they returned to the marshes along the Jordan River.

The thanksgiving canticle of Judith (Jdt 15:14-16:4)

“Judith began this thanksgiving before all Israel. All the people loudly sang this song of praise. Judith said.

‘Begin a song to my God with tambourines!

Sing to my Lord with cymbals!

Raise to him a new psalm!

Exalt him!

Call upon his name!

The Lord is a God who crushes wars.

He sets up his camp among his people.

He delivered me form the hands of my pursuers.

The Assyrian came down from the mountains of the north.

He came with myriads of his warriors.

Their numbers blocked up the Wadis.

Their cavalry covered the hills.

He boasted that he would burn up my territory.

He would kill my young men with the sword.

He would dash my infants to the ground.

He would seize my children as booty.

He would take my virgins as spoil.’”

This appears to be a canticle of Judith. In a sense, it is like the summary canticle in Tobit, chapter 13. Yet all the people seem to sing this song. This beautiful hymn harkens back to Exodus, chapter 15, where there is a victory chant of Moses after they got out of Egypt. This also seems like the short victory chant of Miriam, the sister of Moses. This song is to be sung with tambourines and cymbals. Once again, there is a correlation to the psalms also. You are to exalt the Lord because he crushes or decides wars. God delivered Judith from the hands of her enemies. The mighty Assyrian strong northern warrior blocked the brooks, the valleys, and the mountains. They were going to burn our territory, kill our young men and infants, and seize our children and virgins. The enemy is always portrayed in the worst light.

The conquest of the seacoast (Jdt 3:6-3:9)

“Then Holofernes went down to the seacoast with his army. He stationed garrisons in the fortified towns. He took picked men from them as his auxiliaries. These people and all in the countryside welcomed him with garlands, dances, and tambourines. Yet he demolished all their shrines. He cut down their sacred groves. He had been commanded to destroy all the gods of the land. All the nations should worship King Nebuchadnezzar alone. All their dialects and tribes should call upon him as a god. Then he came toward Esdraelon, near Dothan, fronting the great ridge of Judea. He camped between Geba and Scythopolis. He remained for a whole month in order to collect all the supplies for his army.”

General Holofernes went down along the seacoast and set up garrisons of his troops in the fortified cities. He even picked some men from the local area to serve in his auxiliary army. They all welcomed him with garlands, dances, and tambourines as a conquering hero. Everything seemed great until he decided to tear down their shrines and sacred groves. He wanted all the local gods destroyed. The only god would be King Nebuchadnezzar. However, this is a misplaced historical event since the idea of king or ruler as a god only came with the Greeks and the Romans, not the Assyrians or Persians who were very tolerant of various religions. Besides, the unity of religious beliefs was not part of the original assignment of Holofernes. Finally, he rested a month at Esdraelon, on the border of Judah, to get more supplies for his troops. Esdraelon was on the plains of Jezreel between the coast and the Jordan River in the old Ephraim territory. Geba was actually in the Benjamin territory. So Holofernes was already in Israel, when he camped with his troops for a month.