The alliance (Isa 55:3-55:5)

“Incline your ear!

Come to me!

Hear!

Thus you may live!

I will make with you

An everlasting covenant.

Because of my steadfast one!

My sure love for David!

See!

I made him a witness to the people.

I made him a leader.

I made him commander for the people.

See!

You shall call nations

That you do not know.

Nations that you do not know

Shall run to you.

Because of Yahweh

Your God,

The Holy One of Israel,

Has glorified you.”

Second Isaiah notes that Yahweh has made an alliance with Israel. Once again, there is the command or call for people to listen or see, as if they are not. Yahweh was going to make an everlasting covenant because of his love for King David, so that they might live. He had made David a witness, a leader, and a commander for his people. Now many nations that they do not know, or nations that do not know them, will come to them because of Yahweh. Their God, the Holy One of Israel, will glorify the name of Israel.

The environment (Sir 39:28-39:31)

“There are winds.

They have been created

For vengeance.

In their anger,

They can dislodge mountains.

On the day of reckoning,

They will pour out their strength.

They will calm

The anger of their Maker.

Fire has been created

For vengeance.

Hail has been created

For vengeance.

Famine has been created

For vengeance.

Pestilence has been created

For vengeance.

The following delight in doing his bidding.

The fangs of wild animals,

Scorpions,

Vipers,

And the sword that punishes

The ungodly with destruction.

They are always ready

For his service on earth.

When their time comes,

They never disobey his command.”

Sirach says that the environmental follows the command of the Lord. The winds can dislodge mountains with their strength in order to calm the Lord’s wrath. Fire, hail, famine, and pestilence show the vengeance of the Lord. Wild animal fangs, scorpions, vipers, and swords will punish the ungodly. All these things are ready to obey the command of the Lord here on earth when the time comes for destruction, since they never disobey the Lord.

Yahweh as the creator of earth (Ps 104:5-104:9)

“You set the earth on its foundations.

Thus it shall never be shaken.

You cover it with the deep

As with a garment.

The waters stood above the mountains.

At your rebuke

They fled.

At the sound of your thunder

They took to flight.

They rose up to the mountains.

They ran down to the valleys.

They all went to the place that you appointed for them.

You set a boundary.

They may not pass this boundary.

Thus the waters might not again cover the earth.”

The earth had foundations like any building in a very static way. There was no hint of a round world in this flat world concept of the earth. However, they did seem to understand that the solid earth came from the waters. At the command of Yahweh, the waters receded, much like at the time of Noah in Genesis, chapters 6-10. The thunder served as the voice of Yahweh telling the waters to recede, which they did. Then the earth was formed as the mountains rose and the valley sunk, all due to the water that had been there. Everything took its place as it was appointed by Yahweh. Yahweh put boundaries on the waters so that they would never again cover the earth. This was the victory of Yahweh over the chaos of the waters.

God helped to defeat enemies (Ps 68:11-68:14)

“Yahweh gives the command.

Great is the company

Of those who bore the tidings.

‘The kings of the armies,

They flee!

They flee!’

The women at home

Divide the spoils.

Although they stayed among the sheepfolds,

They found

The wings of a dove covered with silver,

Its pinions with green gold.

When the almighty Shaddai scattered kings there,

Snow fell on Zalmon.”

When Yahweh gave the command, the armies of the enemy kings were defeated. They fled. The women at home or in the sheepfolds divided the spoils of the fleeing armies. This sounds like a settled people rather than a group in the wilderness. Among these spoils they found a silver dove with green gold feathers. When the almighty Shaddai, as opposed to Yahweh, scattered these kings, snow fell on Mount Zalmon, which was near Shechem. This mountain was mentioned in Judges, chapter 9. Snow would have been rare as this incident was not mentioned elsewhere in the biblical literature.

The unification of the kingdom (1 Macc 1:41-1:50)

“Then King Antiochus wrote to his whole kingdom that all should be one people. Everyone should give up their particular customs. All the gentiles accepted the command of the king. Many even from Israel gladly adopted his religion. They sacrificed to idols and profaned the Sabbath. The king sent letters by messengers to Jerusalem and the towns of Judah. He directed them to follow customs strange to the land. He forbade burnt offerings, sacrifices, and drink offerings in the sanctuary. He wanted them to profane the Sabbath and the feasts. He wanted them to defile the sanctuary and the priests. He wanted them to build altars and sacred precincts with shrines for idols. He wanted them to sacrifice swine and unclean animals. He wanted them to leave their sons uncircumcised. They were to make themselves abominable by everything unclean and profane. Thus they should forget the law and change all the ordinances. He added.

‘Whoever does not obey the command of the king shall die.’’’

King Antiochus IV wanted his whole kingdom unified, which included Syria, Palestine, Mesopotamia, Persia, and Asia Minor, quite a large kingdom. This might be difficult to enforce. It was later rescinded by King Antiochus V (172-161 BCE) since he was only 9 when he became king and died at the age of 11. Sometimes it is not good to be the king. King Antiochus IV was not as tolerant as his father King Antiochus III (223-187 BCE), who allowed the Israelites to follow the Mosaic Law. The Persian kings had also been tolerant towards following the Mosaic Law. King Antiochus IV wanted everyone to give up their particular customs, not a good idea in a large kingdom. The gentiles and some Israelites said okay, no big deal. He said that anyone who did not comply would be killed. He wanted them to sacrifice to idols, by building altars and shrines for his idols. He wanted them to profane the Sabbath and their own festivals. He wanted them to do away with their sanctuaries and priests. He wanted them to sacrifice swine and other unclean animals. He wanted them not to have their sons circumcised. Basically, he wanted them to forget about their own laws and just follow his ordinances.