The queen talked about the importance of Daniel (Dan 5:11-5:12)

“There is a man

In your kingdom,

Who is endowed

With a spirit

Of the holy gods.

In the days

Of your father,

He was found to have

Enlightenment,

Understanding,

Wisdom,

Like the wisdom

Of the gods.

Your father,

King Nebuchadnezzar,

Made him chief

Of the magicians,

Of the enchanters,

Of the Chaldeans,

Of the diviners.

He had

An excellent spirit,

Knowledge,

Understanding.

He was able

To interpret dreams,

To explain riddles,

To solve problems.

These were found

In this Daniel,

Whom the king named

Belteshazzar.

Now let Daniel

Be called!

He will give

The interpretation.’”

This queen seemed to know all about Daniel and his ability to interpret dreams, probably because she was the queen mother. She reminded King Belshazzar that his father or grandfather, King Nebuchadnezzar, had found Daniel to have enlightenment, understanding, and wisdom, like the wisdom of the gods. Thus, he made Daniel the chief of the magicians, the enchanters, the Chaldeans, and the diviners. It is not clear why he was not still the chief. This Daniel had an excellent spirit, like that of gods, to interpret dreams, explain riddles, and solve problems. The former king gave him a new name, Belteshazzar. She said that this Belteshazzar should be called to give an interpretation to this mysterious writing.

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The mythical tall cedar in Lebanon (Ezek 31:3-31:5)

“Consider a cedar

Of Lebanon!

It has fair branches.

It has forest shade.

It has great height.

Its top is

Among the clouds.

The waters nourished it.

The deep made it

Grow tall.

Its rivers flow

Around the place

It was planted,

Sending forth

Its streams

To all the trees

of the forest.

So it towered high

Above all the trees

Of the forest.

Its boughs grew large.

Its branches were long

From abundant water

In its shoots.”

Yahweh, via Ezekiel, compared Egypt to a tall cedar tree in Lebanon. This majestic tree had fair branches in a forest shade. It was extremely tall so that its top reached into the clouds. Ezekiel seems to be referring to an ancient Babylonian myth about the deep abyss or a dragon from the watery chaos that made trees grow tall. Thus they would enter the heaven of the gods in the clouds. The nourishing water from this deep abyss made this cedar tree grow tall. Streams from this water abyss flowed all around the place where this tree was planted. Even the other trees in the forest were able to grow because of this water. Nevertheless, this high cedar tree towered over all the other trees in the forest, because it had large long branches, due to the abundance of water in its shoots.

The prince of Tyre pretends to be god (Ezek 28:1-28:2)

“The word of Yahweh

Came to me.

‘Son of man!

Say!

To the prince of Tyre!

Thus says Yahweh God!

‘Your heart

Is proud!

You have said.

‘I am a god!  

I sit

In the seat

Of the gods

In the heart

Of the seas.’

Yet you are

But a mortal!

You are no god!

Even though

You compare

Your mind

With the mind

Of a god.”

A usual, the word of Yahweh came to Ezekiel, the son of man. He was to tell the prince of Tyre what Yahweh had said. This Tyre prince had a proud heart. He thought that he was a god. He claimed to sit among the gods in the heart of the sea. However, he was just a mere mortal human. He was no god, even though he compared his own mind to that of a god. Was this King Ittobaal II (760-740 BCE), but that would precede the time frame of Ezekiel by over a 100 years.

The elimination of the false idol gods (Jer 10:11-10:11)

“Thus shall you say to them.

 ‘The gods who did not make the heavens,

 The gods who did not make the earth,

  Shall perish

  From the earth,

  From under the heavens.’”

This is a unique Aramaic passage among the rest of the Hebrew texts of Jeremiah. Yahweh tells Jeremiah to let the people know that the gods who did not make the heavens and earth, like he did in Genesis, will perish from this earth that is under the heavens.

The false worship of natural forces (Wis 13:1-13:2)

“All people who were ignorant of God

Were foolish by nature.

They were unable

From the good things that are seen

To know the one who exists.

They did not recognize the artisan

While paying heed to his works.

They supposed that either

Fire,

Or wind,

Or swift air,

Or the circle of the stars,

Or turbulent water,

Or the luminaries of heaven

Were the gods that rule the world.”

All these vain foolish men (πάντες ἄνθρωποι) are ignorant of God (Θεοῦ ἀγνωσία). They see the good things of this earth, but they do not recognize the creative artisan who made them. Instead they worship the very works that he has made such as fire, wind, air, stars, water, or other heavenly bodies. They claim that these are the gods that rule the world (κόσμου θεοὺς ἐνόμισαν).

How to handle the Leviathan (Job 41:3-40:11)

“Will it make many supplications to you?

Will it speak soft words to you?

Will it make a covenant with you?

Will it be taken as your servant forever?

Will you play with it as with a bird?

Will you put it on a leash for your girls?

Will traders bargain over it?

Will they divide it up among the merchants?

Can you fill its skin with harpoons?

Can you fill its head with fishing spears?

Lay hands on it!

Think of the battle!

You will not do it again!

Any hope of capturing it will be disappointed.

The gods were even overwhelmed at the sight of it.

No one is so fierce as to dare to stir it up.

Who can stand before it?

Who can confront it?

Who can be safe?

Who?

No one under the whole heaven can confront it?”

Like the popular children’s movie series, How to Train a Dragon, how are you to handle this big sea monster? However, this is not a play thing. Yahweh asks who can confront this Leviathan. Will it pray softy for him? Will it make a treaty with him? Would you play with it or put it on a leash? Do the traders buy and sell it? Could you put spears and harpoons into it? Leviathan cannot be captured because even the gods are overwhelmed seeing it. No one under the heavens could confront it or stand up to it. The Leviathan was the original bully since it did whatever it wanted to do.

The letter of King Antiochus V to Lysias (2 Macc 11:22-11:26)

“King Antiochus’ letter ran thus.

‘King Antiochus to his brother Lysias,

Greetings!

Now that our father has gone on to the gods,

We desire that the subjects of the kingdom

Be undisturbed in caring for their own affairs.

We have heard that the Jews

Do not consent to our father’s change to Greek customs

But they prefer their own way of living.

They ask that their own customs be allowed them.

Accordingly, since we choose

That this nation also should be free from disturbance,

Our decision is that their temple be restored to them,

That they shall live

According to the customs of their ancestors.

You will do well, therefore,

To send word to them.

Give them pledges of friendship,

So that they may know our policy.

They may be of good cheer,

Let them go on happily in the conduct of their own affairs.’”

The young King Antiochus V noted the death of his father, King Antiochus IV, since he had gone on to the gods. He did not want people in the kingdom disturbed. He had learned that the Jews did not like the Greek customs imposed on them by his father, but they preferred their own customs. The 10 year old king decided that the Temple should be restored. They should be allowed to follow the customs of their ancestors. He was pledging his friendship so that they should be of good cheer and happily conduct their own affairs. Everything seems to be in good order with this agreement.