“Say to your brother!
Say to your sister!
In a play on words, the Hebrew text drops the “Lo” or “not” in front of the names of the brother and sister. Lo-ammi has become Ammi. Lo-ruhamah has become Ruhamah. Jezreel remained the same. Thus, the brother and sister now represent pity, love, and my people, instead of the negative connotation, as in the first chapter. Now, all is well.
Came to Jeremiah
In the days
Of King Jehoiakim,
The son of King Josiah
Once again we have an earlier time frame for this oracle from Yahweh to Jeremiah. The text of Jeremiah now goes back to the preceding king of Judah, King Jehoiakim, or King Eliakim (609-598 BCE), the brother of King Zedekiah or King Mattaniah (598-587 BCE). They both had the same father, King Josiah (640-609 BCE). Like the preceding chapter, this is a different numbered chapter in the Greek translation of the Septuagint, chapter 42, not chapter 35 as here.
Shall be wholly burned.
This will be done
Twice every day continually.
Moses ordained him.
He anointed Aaron
With holy oil.
It was an everlasting covenant for him.
It was for his descendants
As long as the heavens continue.
They were to minister to the Lord.
They were to serve as priests.
They were to bless his people
In his name.
He chose him out of all the living
To offer sacrifice to the Lord.
He was to offer incense
With a pleasing odor
As a memorial portion,
To make atonement for your people.
In his commandments,
He gave him authority.
He gave him statutes.
He gave him judgments.
He was to teach Jacob the testimonies.
He was to enlighten Israel with his law.”
Sirach says that the sacrifices of Aaron should be completely burned, twice a day, continually. Moses had ordained Aaron and anointed him with oil, as it was indicated in Exodus, chapter 29. The Lord had an everlasting covenant with Aaron and his descendants as long as the heavens existed. They were to be the priests that ministered to the Lord. They were chosen out of all the living in the world to offer this memorial sacrifice with sweet smelling incense in order to make atonement for their people. In fact, Aaron was the brother of Moses. In the Mosaic commandments, the Lord gave Aaron and his descendants’ authority, statutes, and judgments so that they could teach and enlighten Jacob about the Israelite law.
“The Lord exalted Aaron,
The brother of Moses.
He was a holy man
He was of the tribe of Levi.
The Lord made
An everlasting covenant
He gave him
The priesthood of the people.”
It is interesting to note that this section on Aaron is much longer than the section about Moses, due to Sirach’s emphasis on the Levitical priests and their role. The Levitical priests were considered the direct descendants of Aaron, who was the brother of Moses. He, also like Moses, was a holy man that God exalted. However, there is a greater emphasis on the fact that Aaron belonged to the tribe of Levi. Although both Moses and Aaron were brothers, there was very little mention about Moses being of the tribe of Levi. Aaron was considered a priest, but Moses was not. The Lord then made an everlasting covenant with Aaron as he received the priesthood of the people, which Moses did not receive.
“When the Jews heard of Nicanor’s coming and the gathering of the gentiles, they sprinkled dust upon their heads. They prayed to him who established his own people forever. He always upholds his own heritage by manifesting himself. At the command of the leader, they set out from there immediately and engaged them in battle at a village called Dessau. Simon, the brother of Judas Maccabees, had encountered Nicanor, but had been temporarily checked because of the sudden consternation created by the enemy.”
Once again this is similar to 1 Maccabees, chapter 7. Here the Jews sprinkled their heads with dust and prayed, while there was no mention of that in 1 Maccabees. Here they are battling at Dessau and not Caphar-salama as in 1 Maccabees. Simon, the brother of Judas Maccabeus seems to have suffered a minor setback because of some consternation.
“In the reign of King Demetrius,
In the one hundred and sixty-ninth year,
We Jews wrote to you.
In the critical distress that came upon us,
In those years
After Jason and his company
Revolted from the holy land and the kingdom.
He burned the gate and shed innocent blood.
We prayed to the Lord.
We were heard.
We offered sacrifice and cereal offering.
We lighted the lamps.
We set out the loaves.
Now see that you keep the festival of booths
In the month of Chislev,
In the one hundred and eighty-eighth year.”
Here is the reason for the letter. They want the Jews in Egypt to celebrate the festival of Booths in 124 BCE in the month of Chislev, the 188th year. Apparently this is not the first letter since there is a reference to an earlier letter around 143 BCE, the 169th year mentioned here, when King Demetrius II was the Seleucid leader. All these calendar dates are from the beginning of this Seleucid Empire in 312 BCE. The distress was the capture and murder of Jonathan Apphus, the son of Mattathias in 143 BCE. Jason was the brother of the high priest Onias, who turned on the Maccabees. The destruction and shedding of innocent blood can be found in 1 Maccabees, chapter 1. However, under Simon, they were able to recover and rebuild the Temple. Thus they were asking the Jews in Egypt to celebrate with them the feast of Booths in Chislev. However, the normal time of festival of Tents or Booths, according to Leviticus, chapter 23, was in the 7th month, 1 week after the Day of Atonement. Clearly this work must have been written after 124 BCE.
“John chose out of the country twenty thousand warriors and cavalry. They marched against Cendebeus. They camped for the night in Modein. Early in the morning they started out and marched into the plain. There a large force of infantry and cavalry was coming to meet them. A stream lay between them. Then he and his army lined up against them. He saw that the soldiers were afraid to cross the stream, so he crossed over first. When his troops saw him, they crossed over after him. Then he divided the army. He placed the cavalry in the center of the infantry. The cavalry of the enemy were very numerous. They sounded the trumpets. Cendebeus and his army were put to flight. Many of them were falling wounded. The rest fled into the stronghold. At that time Judas the brother of John was wounded. However, John pursued them until Cendebeus reached Kedron that he had built. They also fled into the towers that were in the fields of Azotus. John burned it with fire. About two thousand of them fell. He then returned to Judea safely.”
John, the son of Simon, had 20,000 warriors and cavalry. This is the first mention of cavalry on the Israelite side. They stopped at Modein one night on their march to meet Cendebeus. The next day on the plain they saw a large army coming at them. There was a stream between the 2 armies. John led his troops across the stream because they seemed afraid. He put the cavalry in the middle of his foot soldiers. They sounded the trumpets. Suddenly the army of Cendebeus fled. Judas, the brother of John, was wounded. John took after the fleeing army chasing them to the fields of Azotus where he burned the fields. About 2,000 of the enemy fell. Then John returned to Judea.