“Yet I will rejoice
I will exult
In the God
Of my salvation!
Is my strength.
He makes my feet
Like the feet of a deer.
He makes me tread
Upon the heights.”
To the choirmaster: with stringed instruments.
Habakkuk ended his song or hymn with great rejoicing in Yahweh his God, who saves him. Clearly this was a psalm or canticle with the notation about the leader or choirmaster and the stringed instruments. Yahweh, God, was his strength, who gave him the ability to run like a deer. He could even ascend to the heights. This psalm has a very optimistic ending.
Son of Eleazar
Is the third in glory.
He was zealous
In the fear of the Lord.
He stood firm,
When the people turned away.
In the noble courage of his soul,
He made atonement for Israel.
Therefore a covenant of peace
Was established with him.
He should be the leader of the sanctuary.
He should be the leader of his people.
He with his descendants
Should have the dignity
Of the priesthood forever.
Just as a covenant
Was established with David,
Son of Jesse,
Of the tribe of Judah,
That the king’s heritage
Passes only from son to son,
So the heritage of Aaron
Is for his descendants alone.”
This story of Phinehas was based on Numbers, chapter 25. It is strange that Sirach has given him such an important place. In fact, Sirach says that he ranks 3rd behind Moses and Aaron. Phinehas was the grandson of Aaron via Eleazar, the son of Aaron. However, his claim to fame was that he stopped a plague among the Israelites by killing a fellow Israelite who was having sex with a Midianite woman at Peor. Thus he made atonement for the Israelites who were involved in intermarriage situations with the Midianites. Yahweh rewarded Phinehas with a perpetual covenant of friendship. He then became the leader of the future sanctuary so that his descendants would be priests forever. However, he already was in the line of Aaron. This covenant was like the later covenant with David and his descendants. Thus the descendants of the Phinehas often became the head high priest of Jerusalem.
You went out before your people!
You marched through the wilderness!”
The psalmist remembers that God led his people through the desert. God was the leader of the march through the wilderness. They could not have made it without God. Once again, this verse ends with the musical interlude meditative pause, the Selah.
“This is a copy of the letter that the Spartans sent.
‘The rulers and the city of the Spartans
To the high priest Simon
And the elders
And the priests
And the rest of the Jewish people,
The envoys you sent to our people
They have told us about your glory and honor.
We rejoiced at their coming.
We have recorded in our public decrees,
‘Numenius son of Antiochus
And Antipater son of Jason,
Envoys of the Jews,
They have come to us
To renew their friendship with us.
It has pleased our people to receive these men with honor.
We put a copy of their words in the public archives,
So that the people of the Spartans may have a record of them.
They have sent a copy of this to the high priest Simon.’”
Once again like the letter in chapter 12, it is the leader and all the people who are involved in this letter writing. The envoys of Numenius and Antipater are mentioned by name. They spoke highly of Simon. They wanted to renew their friendship so that that their words were put in the public archives.
“The gentiles in Gilead gathered together against the Israelites who lived in their territory. They planned to destroy them. However, they fled to the stronghold of Dathema. They sent to Judas and his brothers a letter which said.
‘The gentiles around us have gathered together against us
To destroy us.
They are preparing to come
And capture the stronghold
To which we have fled.
Timothy is leading their forces.
Now then come and rescue us from their hands.
Many of us have fallen.
All our kindred who were in the land of Tob have been killed.
The enemy has captured their wives, children, and goods.
They have destroyed about a thousand persons there.’”
The Jews who were in Gilead, which is on the east side of the border in the old Gad territory, were having troubles with the gentiles also. The gentiles there were planning to destroy them. They fled to a stronghold in Dathema in Gilead where they sent a letter to Judas and his brothers. They said that the gentiles had gathered around them to destroy them. They mentioned that the leader of the group against them was Timothy, which is the same name as the guy in charge of the Ammonites. We might assume that this group is also Ammonites. Nearby, about 13 miles southeast of Sea of Galilee was the land of Tob, where 1,000 Jewish people had been killed there. This was near the land of Ammon