“The swine herdsmen ran off.
They went into the town.
The whole story
About what had happened
To the demoniacs.”
οἱ δὲ βόσκοντες ἔφυγον, καὶ ἀπελθόντες εἰς τὴν πόλιν ἀπήγγειλαν πάντα καὶ τὰ τῶν δαιμονιζομένων.
All three synoptic gospels. Mark, chapter 5;14, and Luke, chapter 8:34, and Matthew here, have the herdsmen of these pigs tell everybody in the area what happened, with slight nuances in each story. The shepherds of these herds of pigs ran off (οἱ δὲ βόσκοντες ἔφυγον) when they saw what had happened to their flocks. They went into the town (καὶ ἀπελθόντες εἰς τὴν πόλιν), probably Gadara. Then they told the whole story about what had happened to the demoniacs (ἀπήγγειλαν πάντα καὶ τὰ τῶν δαιμονιζομένων) and their herd of pigs. They were without a job.
“I will stand
At my watch post.
I will station myself
On the rampart tower.
I will keep watch
What he will answer
Concerning my complaint.”
Habakkuk was going to wait for Yahweh to respond to his complaint about the wicked ones. He was going to stand at the watch post or guard shack. He would station himself at the ramparts to the town in the tower. He was going to watch to see if Yahweh was going to respond to his complaints.
Thus says Yahweh!
The God of hosts!
‘In all the squares.
There shall be wailing.
In all the streets,
They shall say.
They shall call
They shall call
In all the vineyards,
There shall be wailing.
I will pass through
The midst of you.’
Amos has this oracle of Yahweh that talks about the coming wailing and mourning all over the place. Yahweh, the God of the heavenly army or hosts is the Lord who speaks to them. In the streets and the squares of the town, there will be wailing and mourning. They will cry out, “alas, alas.” The farmers will mourn. They will need skilled mourners because of the great grief that they face. The people with vineyards will wail and mourn also. Yahweh was going to pass through them the middle of them.
“Rabshakeh returned to his king.
He found the king of Assyria
Fighting against Libnah.
He had heard
That the king had left Lachish.
Now the king of Assyria heard
Concerning King Tirhakah of Ethiopia.
‘He has set out to fight against you.’”
Once again, this is almost word for word from 2 Kings, chapter 19. Rabshakeh wanted to return to his king to let him know what was happening in Jerusalem. However, the king of Assyria had left Lachish to fight against the town of Libnah since Lachish and Libnah were about 10 miles apart in the Judah territory, about 25 miles west of Jerusalem. The Assyrian king also got word that the Ethiopian King Tirhakah was setting out to fight against him. This King Tirhakah is sometimes known as Taharqa. As a young 20 year old general, he fought with King Sennacherib in Palestine. He then served as king of Egypt and Ethiopia from 690-664 BCE. So he would not have been king when this occurred about 10-15 years earlier. Nevertheless, there was a constant war between these two great Mideast powers, Egypt and Assyria.
“We have heard
Of the pride of Moab.
How proud he is!
We have heard
Of his arrogance.
We have heard
Of his pride.
We have heard
Of his insolence.
His boasts are false.
Therefore let Moab wail!
Let everyone wail for Moab!
It is utterly stricken.
They cry for
The raisin-cakes of Kir-hareseth.”
Isaiah here assumes the first person plural “we,” instead of the first person singular, “I.” Now the tone is not as forgiving. They have heard of the pride, the arrogance, and insolence of Moab. Those Moabites make false boasts. Therefore, let them cry. Let everyone wail away, because they have been decimated. They cry out for their raisin cakes from Kir-hareseth. The raisin cakes were made from the grapes that dried up. These must have been some good bakery cakes from the town of Kir or Kerak in Moab, the probable names for Kir-hareseth.
“However, Jonathan left his brother Simon in the town, while he went out into the country. He went with only a few men. He struck down Odomera and his kindred and the people of Phasiron in their tents. Then he began to attack. He went into battle with his forces. Simon and his men sallied out from the town. They set fire to the machines of war. They fought with Bacchides. He was crushed by them. They pressed him very hard. His plan and his expedition had been in vain. So he was greatly enraged at the renegades who had counseled him to come into the country. He killed many of them. Then he decided to depart to his own land.”
Jonathan split up his forces. He left his brother Simon in the town and he went into the countryside with a few men. He attacked and defeated Odomera and Phasiron. Odomera was either an independent wandering chief or an officer of the army of the Syrian General Bacchides. Phasiron was another independent Arab chief. Simon and his group set fire to the war machines of General Bacchides that were set to attack the Jews people. He was defeated but he did not die. There is no indication of how many people he lost, but he was discouraged because his plan and invasion had not worked. Thus General Bacchides decided to kill some of the men who had encouraged him to invade Judea. Then he left in disgust to go back to his own land.
“Now while Judas and Jonathan were in Gilead and their brother Simon was in Galilee before Ptolemais, Joseph son of Zechariah, and Azariah, the commanders of the forces, heard of their brave deeds. They heard about the heroic wars they had fought. So they said.
‘Let us also make a name for ourselves.
Let us go and make war on the gentiles around us.’
They issued orders to the men of the forces that were with them. They marched against Jamnia. Gorgias and his men came out of the town to meet them in battle. Then Joseph and Azariah were routed. They were pursued to the borders of Judea. As many as two thousand of the people of Israel fell that day. Thus the people suffered a great rout because, thinking to do a brave deed, they did not listen to Judas and his brothers. They did not belong to the family of those men through whom deliverance was given to Israel.”
While all this success of Judas and his brothers were happening, the folks back in Jerusalem got antsy. The leaders there, Joseph and Azariah, despite being told by Judas to stay in Jerusalem, decided to do battle with the people of Jamnia, south of Jerusalem. This was probably not too far from Jerusalem, but it is difficult to locate. Anyway, the reverse of what had happened to Judas and his brother happened. Gorgias came out to do battle and killed 2,000 Israelites as they fled back to Judea. The author once again notes that since they did not belong to the family of Judas, the people who will be called Hasmoneans, they could not deliver Israel from its enemies. Only the relatives of Judas could do that.
“Then Judas ordered a proclamation to be made to the army that all should encamp where they were. The men of the forces encamped. Judas fought against the town all that day and all the night. Finally, the town was delivered into his hands. He destroyed every male by the edge of the sword. He razed and plundered the town. Then he passed through the town over the bodies of the dead.”
After they refused his friendly request, Judas Maccabeus told his troops to camp out. He took a few of his forces and attacked the town all day and night. Finally, he won. As usual, he killed every male, razed, and plundered the town. His whole group marched through the town over the dead bodies there. In every instance Judas killed every male in these towns that led to the total destruction of these people and their town.
“Then Judas and his army quickly turned back through the wilderness road to Bozrah. He took the town. He killed every male by the edge of the sword. Then he seized all its spoils. He burned it with fire. He left the place at night.”
Judas Maccabeus and his army attacked Bozrah, an ancient Edomite town. Judas and his army killed every male. Then they took all the things of the people in that town and burned it. Finally, they left at night. This was an easy success.
“Uzziah said to them.
‘Courage, my brothers and sisters!
Let us hold out for five more days.
By that time the Lord our God will turn his mercy to us again.
He will not forsake us utterly.
But if these days pass by,
And no help comes for us,
I will do what you say.’
Then he dismissed the people to their various posts. They went up on the walls and the towers of their town. The women and children he sent home. In the town, they were in great misery.”
Uzziah wanted them to have courage. He asked for 5 more days that would bring them to the great 40 day number, since they have suffered for 34 days already. He believed that God would have mercy on them. He would not forsake them. However, if they got to day 40, he would do what they wanted and surrender the town. The Israelites seemed to accept this, as they went back to their watch posts with the women and children going home. However, there was great misery in this town.