King Josiah (Sir 49:1-49:3)

“The memory of King Josiah is

Like a blending of incense.

This was prepared

By the skilful art of the perfumer.

His memory is

As sweet as honey

To every mouth.

His memory is

Like music

At a banquet of wine.

He did what was right

By reforming the people.

He removed the wicked abominations.

He kept his heart

On the Lord.

In lawless times,

He made

Godliness prevail.”

Now Sirach takes on the memory of the long reign of Judah King Josiah (640-609 BCE) as found in 2 Kings, chapters 22-23, and 2 Chronicles, chapters 34-35. He was a substantial king for over 30 years, so his impact was great. His memory was like the beautiful aroma of incense and sweeter than honey. His memory was like music at a wine banquet because he did what was right. He refurnished the Jerusalem Temple by collecting money to repair it. During this remodeling, they discovered the book of the law, probably Deuteronomy. After reading this book, he called for a religious reform in Judah, apparently reinstating monotheism. He then set out to destroy all the other religious shrines or wicked abominations that were not in Jerusalem. He kept his heart fixed on the Lord. He changed the lawless times into the times of godliness. What a great king!

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Lysias was put in charge of half the Syrian army (1 Macc 3:32-3:37)

“King Antiochus left Lysias, a distinguished man of royal lineage, in charge of the king’s affairs from the Euphrates River to the borders of Egypt.  Lysias was also to take care of his son Antiochus until he returned.  He turned over to Lysias half of his forces and the elephants.  He gave him orders about all that he wanted done.  As for the residents of Judea and Jerusalem, Lysias was to send a force against them to wipe out and destroy the strength of Israel and the remnant of Jerusalem.  He was to banish the memory of them from that place, settle aliens in all their territory, and distribute their land.  Then the king took the remaining half of his troops.  He left from his capital Antioch in the one hundred forty-seventh year.  He crossed the Euphrates River as he went through the upper provinces.”

Lysias was a Syrian nobleman who took over half the Seleucid army, the so-called western district from the Euphrates River to Egypt, what used to be called, the Province Beyond the River.  King Antiochus IV also put Lysias in charge of his son who was to become King Antiochus V.  Lysias’ half of the army was to destroy Judea and Jerusalem.  He was to reestablish that area with other people so that the memory of Judea would be forgotten, much like the Assyrians and Babylonians had done in the 7th and 6th century BCE.  King Antiochus IV would leave the capital of Antioch and take the other half of the army to Persia, the eastern side of the Euphrates River.  This all took place in the 147th year since the beginning of the Greek Seleucid reign, about 165 BCE.