The bad leaders (Zeph 3:3-3:4)

“The officials within her

Are roaring lions.

Her judges

Are evening wolves.

They leave nothing

Until the morning.

Her prophets

Are reckless persons.

They are faithless persons.

Her priests

Have profaned

What is sacred.

They have done violence

To the law.”

Zephaniah rebuked not only the city, but the leaders in the city of Jerusalem.  Their officials were like roaring lions.  Their judges were like evening wolves preying on people at night.  Their prophets were reckless faithless people.  Their priests profaned the sacred things, by doing violence to the law of Yahweh.

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The bad rulers (Mic 3:1-3:3)

“I said.

‘Listen!

You officials

Of Jacob!

You rulers

Of the house of Israel!

Should you not know justice?

You hate the good!

You love the evil!

You tear the skin

Off my people!

You tear the flesh

Off their bones!

You eat the flesh

Of my people!

You flay their skin

Off them!

You break their bones

In pieces!

You chop them up

Like meat in a kettle,

Like flesh in a caldron!’”

Micah has a bitter rebuke concerning the savage behavior of the leaders in Israel and Jacob.  Yahweh, via Micah, used descriptive language to explain what these leaders were doing to their people, treating them like cattle.  Micah wanted them to listen to what he had to say.  They hated the good things, but loved the evil things.  They were skinning the people, tearing off their flesh, and eating them like cannibals.  They were breaking their bones and chopping them up to boil them like meat in a kettle.  This was despicable behavior.

God saves Nineveh (Jon 3:10-3:10)

“When God saw

What they did,

How they turned

From their evil ways,

God changed his mind

About the calamity

That he had said

He would bring upon them.

Thus,

He did not do it.”

This is one of the few cases where God changing his mind.  God did not bring destruction to Nineveh.  God saw how the people and the leaders of Nineveh had turned from their evil ways.  Thus, he decided not to bring destruction to this non-Israelite town, because of their repentance.  God showed mercy to them.

The sinful prophets and priests (Lam 4:13-4:13)

Mem

“It was for the sins

Of her prophets

With the iniquities

Of her priests.

They shed

The blood

Of the righteous

In the midst of her.”

Yahweh was angry because the prophets had sinned and the priests had committed iniquities. They had shed the blood of the righteous in the middle of Jerusalem. Everyone was at fault, especially the leaders of the city who should have known better. This verse starts with the Hebrew consonant letter Mem in this acrostic poem.

They refuse to accept the words of Jeremiah (Jer 43:1-43:3)

“Thus Jeremiah finished speaking

To all the people

All these words

Of Yahweh their God,

With which Yahweh their God

Had sent him to them.

Then Azariah,

The son of Hoshaiah,

Johanan,

The son of Kareah,

With all the other insolent men,

Said to Jeremiah.

‘You are telling a lie.

Yahweh our God

Did not send you

To say.

‘Do not go to Egypt

To settle there!’

But Baruch,

The son of Neriah,

Is inciting you

Against us.

He wants to hand us over

To the Chaldeans.

Thus they may kill us.

Or they may take us

Into exile in Babylon.’”

During the 10 days that Jeremiah waited for Yahweh, there must have been a change of heart in the camp. Some people think that this section should have been in the preceding chapter. This chapter equivalent in the Greek Septuagint is chapter 50, not chapter 43 as here. So once that Jeremiah had finished speaking the words that Yahweh, their God, gave him, both the leaders of this insolent remnant group, Azariah and Johanan, called into question Jeremiah’s veracity. They said that Jeremiah was lying. Yahweh did not say to him that they should not settle in Egypt. It must have been his secretary Baruch who incited Jeremiah against the main group. They said that Baruch wanted them to be captured or killed by the Chaldeans, if they stayed in this Judean territory. They might he sent into captivity in Babylon, if they were caught there. Basically, it was a fight between the interests of Egypt versus the interests of Babylon.

Johanan asks Jeremiah for help (Jer 42:1-42:3)

“Then all the commanders

Of the forces,

With Johanan,

The son of Kareah,

Also with Azariah,

The son of Hoshaiah,

All the people,

From the least

To the greatest,

Approached

The prophet Jeremiah.

They said to him.

‘Be good enough

To listen

To our plea!

Pray to Yahweh!

Your God!

For us!

For all this remnant!

There are only a few

Of us left

Out of the many,

As you can see.

Let Yahweh

Your God

Show us

Where we should go!

What we should do!’”

Apparently this small group of Judeans, with the leaders Johanan and Azariah decided to approach Jeremiah. As he had been released to the protection of Governor Gedaliah, he probably was at Mizpah while the attack of Ishmael had taken place. Thus he was with the freed group at Gibeon. Interesting enough, they referred to Yahweh as Jeremiah’s God not their God. They wanted Jeremiah to intercede for them with Yahweh, as Moses had done centuries earlier. They were only a small group or remnant of what had been many people. They wanted to know where they should go and what to do. Like the preceding chapter, this section has a different numbered chapter in the Greek translation of the Septuagint, chapters 49 and 50, not chapter 42 as here.

The problem of bribery (2 Macc 10:18-10:23)

“At least nine thousand people took refuge in two very strong towers well equipped to withstand a siege. Judas Maccabeus left Simon and Joseph, as well as Zacchaeus and his troops, a force sufficient to besiege them. He himself set off for places where he was more urgently needed. But those with Simon, who were money-hungry, were bribed by some of those who were in the towers. On receiving seventy thousand drachmas, they let some of people slip away. When word of what had happened came to Judas Maccabeus, he gathered the leaders of the people. He accused these men of having sold their kindred for money by setting their enemies free to fight against them. Then he killed these men who had turned traitor. He then immediately captured the two towers. Having success at arms in everything he undertook, he destroyed more than twenty thousand in the two strongholds.”

This incident was not found in 1 Maccabees. Judas Maccabeus set up a siege around 2 towers. He left his brothers Simon and Joseph in charge with Zacchaeus and his troops to keep up the siege. However, some money-hungry men with Simon, his brother, were bribed by people in the tower. A drachma was a Greek coin probably worth about $25.00 USA. 70,000 of these would be about a little less than 2 million ($2,000,000.00) dollars, a handsome sum. I do not know what they were going to do with this money. Anyway, Judas Maccabeus found out that many had escaped by paying this bribe. Apparently there were only a few people under Simon who were doing this so he had them killed. Then they captured the strongholds and killed the rest of them, some 20,000 people.