Who was called Belteshazzar,
Was severely distressed
For a while.
Daniel was called Belteshazzar, his Babylonian name. He was distressed about what he had just heard. His own thoughts terrified him. Perhaps, this was not going to be as easy as it sounded.
Was living at ease
In my house.
I was prospering
In my palace.
I saw a dream
That frightened me.
My fantasies in bed
The visions of my head
This author of the Book of Daniel has the king of Babylon speaking in the first-person singular. He was living at ease in his house, prospering in his palace. Everything was all good. Then he had a dream that frightened him. These fantasies and visions terrified and alarmed him.
“‘I will bring upon Elam
The four winds,
From the four quarters
I will scatter them
To all those winds.
There shall be
No nation to which
The exiles from Elam
Shall not come.
I will terrify Elam
Before their enemies,
Who seek their life.
I will bring disaster
With my fierce anger.’
‘I will send the sword
Until I have consumed them.
I will set my throne
I will destroy their king
With their officials.’
Yahweh was going to cast the Elamites to the 4 winds from 4 different directions. They were going to be scattered to practically every country on the earth. They would be terrified before their enemies who wanted to kill them. There is no mention of a specific enemy, even though disaster would fall upon them. The sword would come upon them until all of them, with their king and his officials, were destroyed. Yahweh would then take their throne. This looks like a complete wipeout.
“‘Set forth your case!’
‘Bring your proofs!’
Says the King of Jacob.
Let them bring them!
What is to happen?
Tell us the former things!
What are they?
Thus we may consider them.
Thus we may know their outcome.
Declare to us the things to come!
Tell us what is to come hereafter!
Thus we may know that you are gods!
Thus we may be afraid.
Thus we may be terrified.
You are indeed nothing!
Your work is nothing at all!
Whoever chooses you
Is an abomination.”
Yahweh challenges the people with other gods to respond. He wanted them to present their case or proof for their gods. Could their gods tell people about past things or future things? Can they do some good or harm? Can they make people afraid or terrified? Instead, Yahweh maintains that these gods are nothing and their work is nothing at all. Thus anyone who chooses these gods is an abomination, pure and simple.
“‘Then the Assyrian shall fall
By a sword
Not of mortals.
Not of humans,
Shall devour him.
He shall flee from the sword.
His young men
Shall be put to forced labor.
His rock shall pass away in terror.
His officers desert the standard in panic.’
So says Yahweh.
‘His fire is in Zion.
His furnace is in Jerusalem.’”
Once again, we have an oracle of Yahweh, via Isaiah. Yahweh proclaimed that the Assyrians would not die from the sword of men or humans. They would flee and be put into forced labor. They would be terrified as their officers would desert their places. This oracle of Yahweh indicates that his fire was in Zion, while his furnace was in Jerusalem.
“O my God!
Make them like whirling dust!
Make them like chaff before the wind.
As fire consumes the forest,
As the flame sets the mountains ablaze,
So pursue them with your tempest!
Terrify them with your hurricane!
Fill their faces with shame!
Thus they may seek your name.
Let them be put to shame!
Let them be dismayed forever!
Let them perish in disgrace!
Let them know that you alone,
Whose name is Yahweh,
Are the Most High over all the earth.”
This psalm ends with a call for Yahweh to do as he had done in the past. Very specifically this psalmist wants Yahweh to make all the Israelite enemies like whirling dust or chaff before the wind. He wanted them burned like a forest or mountain fire. He wanted them pursued and terrified like in a hurricane. They were to be filled with shame. They were to die in disgrace. They were to know that there was only one God, Yahweh, who ruled the earth. In a certain sense, this prayer was a curse to the present and traditional enemies of Israel.
“If I have rejoiced at the ruin of those who hated me,
If I have exulted when evil overtook them,
I have not let my mouth sin.
I have not asked for their lives with a curse.
If those of my tent ever not said
‘O that we might be sated his flesh!’
The stranger has not lodged in the street.
I have opened my doors to the traveler.
If I have concealed my transgressions as others do
By hiding my iniquity in my bosom,
Because I stood in great fear of the multitude,
If the contempt of families terrified me,
That I kept silence,
I did not go out of doors.”
Job never rejoiced in the ruin of others, even if they were his enemies. He had never cursed anyone or wished them death. He had always passed the food in his tent so that no one went hungry, that is known as passing the flesh. He never let strangers sleep in the street as he opened his doors to travelers. He never hid any of his transgressions in his bosom. He kept silent about those that terrified him.
“If I go forward,
He is not there.
If I go backward,
I cannot perceive him.
On the left, he hides.
I cannot behold him.
I turn to the right.
But I cannot see him.
But he knows the way that I take.
When he has tested me,
I shall come out like gold.
My foot has held fast to his steps.
I have kept his way.
I have not turned aside.
I have not departed from the commandment of his lips.
I have treasured in my bosom the words of his mouth.
But he stands alone.
Who can dissuade him?
What he desires,
That he does.
He will complete what he appoints for me.
Many such things are in his mind.
Therefore I am terrified at his presence.
When I consider,
I am in dread of him.
God has made my heart faint.
The Almighty Shaddai has terrified me.
If only I could vanish in darkness,
Thick darkness would cover my face.”
Whether Job went forwards, backwards, left, or right, he could not find God. No matter what direction, east, west, north, or south, he could not see God. Yet he would be like gold when tested. His steps were in line since he followed God’s way and commandments. Here is the problem. He was not a Jew following the Torah. Who could change God? He does what he desires. Whatever he has appointed for him, it will come to pass. Thus Job was terrified in his presence and feared the almighty Shaddai. If he could vanish into darkness that would cover his face, he would be fine.
“Jonathan heard that the commanders of Demetrius had returned with a larger force than before, to wage war against him. So he marched away from Jerusalem. He met them in the region of Hamath, so that he gave them no opportunity to invade his own country. He sent spies to their camp. They returned and reported to him that the enemy was being drawn up in formation to fall upon the Jews by night. So when the sun set, Jonathan commanded his troops to be alert. He commanded them to keep their arms at hand so as to be ready all night for battle. He stationed outposts around the camp. When the enemy heard that Jonathan and his men were prepared for battle, they were afraid. They were terrified at heart. So they kindled fires in their camp and withdrew. But Jonathan and his troops did not know it until morning, for they saw the fires burning. Then Jonathan pursued them, but he did not overtake them. They had crossed the Eleutherus River. So Jonathan turned aside against the Arabs who are called Zabadeans. He crushed them and plundered them. Then he broke camp and went to Damascus. He marched throughout that region.”
The old commanders of the deposed King Demetrius II returned with a larger force to wage war against Jonathan. However, Jonathan wanted to fight them not in his own country so he went out to Hamath, a city in Syria. Then he sent spies, who returned to tell him that they were going to attack him at night. Jonathan had all his men ready that night. When the commanders of the deposed King Demetrius II saw that Jonathan was waiting for them, they were afraid and left. When morning came, Jonathan realized that they were gone. He tried to overtake them, but it was impossible. Instead, he decided to fight against the Zabadean Arabs. He crushed them and took their spoils. Then he headed out of the region towards Damascus.
“The next day General Holofernes ordered his whole army, and all the allies who had joined him, to break camp. They were to move against Bethulia. They were to seize the passes up into the hill country. They were going to make war on the Israelites. All their warriors marched out that day. Their fighting forces numbered one hundred seventy thousand infantry and twelve thousand cavalry, not counting the baggage and the foot soldiers handling it, a very great multitude. They encamped in the valley near Bethulia, beside the spring. They spread out in breadth over Dothan as far as Balbaim, and in length from Bethulia to Cyamon, which faces Esdraelon. When the Israelites saw their vast numbers they were greatly terrified. They said to one another.
‘They will now strip clean the whole land.
Neither the high mountains, the valleys, nor the hills
Will bear their weight.’
Yet they all seized their weapons. When they had kindled fires on their towers, they remained on guard all that night.”
The very day after they got rid of Achior, General Holofernes ordered his army to break camp. They were going to invade Bethulia. They were going to seize the mountain passes and make war on the Israelites. This huge fighting army marched out. They had 170,000 foot soldiers, 12,000 cavalry, plus foot soldiers to take care of their baggage. They camped near Bethulia, close to Dothan with Esdraelon at their back. When the Israelites finally saw how big the army was, they were terrified. However, they lit fires in their towers to stand watch that night.