The oracle during the time of King Zedekiah (Jer 32:1-32:1)

“The word

That came to Jeremiah

From Yahweh

In the tenth year

Of King Zedekiah

Of Judah.

This was the eighteenth year

Of King Nebuchadnezzar.”

Once again, we have an exact date for this oracle of Yahweh to Jeremiah. It was the 10th year of the rule of King Zedekiah of Judah that began in 598 BCE, so that this would be 588 BCE. It also was the 18th year of the rule of King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon that had begun in 605 BCE, which would be in 587 BCE. Anyway, it is right around the time of the victory of Babylon over Jerusalem, with the subsequent captivity of Judah and Jerusalem. Like the preceding chapter, this is a different numbered chapter in the Greek translation of the Septuagint, chapter 39, not chapter 32 as here.

Yahweh predicts the invader from the north (Isa 41:25-41:29)

“I stirred up one from the north.

He has come.

From the rising of the sun,

He was summoned by name.

He shall trample on rulers

Like on mortar,

Like the potter treads clay.

Who declared it from the beginning?

We might know before time.

We might say.

‘He is right!’

There was none

Who declared it.

None who proclaimed it.

None who heard your words.

I first have declared it to Zion.

I give to Jerusalem

A herald of good tidings.

But when I look

There is no one.

Among these,

There is no counselor.

When I ask,

Who gives an answer?

No!

They are all a delusion.

Their works are nothing.

Their images are empty wind.”

Although most interpret this passage as the predicting the victory of King Cyrus of Persia, his name is never explicitly mentioned. He is an invader from the northeast, which could be Persia. Second Isaiah says that he was summoned by name, but no name is mentioned. This invader was going to trample underfoot the rulers, as if they were like mortar or potter’s clay. This was an indication of things to come. No one else is talking about the future. However, Second Isaiah and Yahweh had declared this herald of good tidings in Jerusalem. There was no one with advice, no one to give an answer. Their works were all an empty delusion because all their false image idols were like an empty wind.

Victory song (Ps 144:9-144:11)

“I will sing a new song to you!

O God!

Upon a ten-stringed harp

I will play to you!

You give victory to kings.

Who rescue his servant David.

Rescue me from the cruel sword!

Deliver me from the hand of aliens!

Their mouths speak lies.

Their right hands are false.”

David was going to sing a new song to God on the 10 stringed harp. He was going to play because of the victory of the kings. God had rescued his servant David. I thought that this was David singing a new song. Instead, there is a reference to David, the servant of God, then a cry to rescue him, as if they were two different people. This psalmist wanted to be rescued from the cruel sword of aliens or strangers. Just like in the preceding verses, these aliens spoke lies and their right hands were false.

The victory (Ps 108:5-108:6)

“Be exalted

Above the heavens!

O God!

Let your glory                                                   

Be over all the earth!

Give victory

With your right hand!

Answer me!

Thus those whom you love

May be rescued.”

This refrain is one of the few sections in this psalm that is unique. This section is a call to achieve victory. God was to be exalted above the heavens. His glory should be all over the earth. David wanted victory from the right hand of God. He wanted an answer. He wanted to be rescued because God loved him.

Judas Maccabeus prepares to attack (2 Macc 15:6-15:11)

“Thus Nicanor in his utter boastfulness and arrogance had determined to erect a public monument of victory over Judas and his forces. But Judas Maccabeus did not cease to trust with all confidence that he would get help from the Lord. He exhorted his troops not to fear the attack of the gentiles. Rather, they should keep in mind the former times when help had come to them from heaven. They were now to look for the victory which the All powerful would give them. Encouraging them from the law and the prophets, he reminded them also of the struggles they had won. He made them the more eager. When he had aroused their courage, he issued his orders. At the same time he pointed out the perfidy of the gentiles and their violation of oaths. He armed each of them not so much with confidence in shields and spears as with the inspiration of brave words. He cheered them all by relating a dream, a sort of vision, which was worthy of belief.”

Nicanor was so confident that he wanted to create a public monument of his victory over Judas Maccabeus that not yet happened. On the other hand, Judas Maccabeus was confident that his help would come from the Lord. He told his troops not to feat the attack of the gentiles. They should remember the former times when help came from heaven. Victory would come from the all powerful God. He encouraged them by reading from the Law and the prophets and all their struggles. The troops became more eager to fight as their courage was aroused. Judas also pointed out the lying and the violations of the gentiles. They had confidence in their shields and spears, but his troops would have confidence in the inspired words of God. He cheered them all by talking about a visionary dream.

Timothy and Bacchides are defeated (2 Macc 8:30-8:33)

“In encounters with the forces of Timothy and Bacchides, they killed more than twenty thousand of them. They got possession of some exceedingly high strongholds. They divided a very great amount of plunder. They give it to those who had been tortured, to the orphans, widows, and aged, shares equal to their own. They collected the arms of the enemy. They carefully stored them all of them in strategic places. They carried the rest of the spoils to Jerusalem. They killed the commander of Timothy’s forces, a most unholy man, one who had greatly troubled the Jews. While they were celebrating the victory in the city of their ancestors, they burned those who had set fire to the sacred gates, Callisthenes and some others. They had fled into one little house. Thus they received the proper recompense for their impiety.”

This is loosely connected to stories and battles in 1 Maccabees, chapters 5 and 7. Timothy was a leader of the gentiles on the east side of the Jordan River. Bacchides was a governor and general of King Demetrius I. Both of them were considered the enemy. These enemy troops had lost 20,000 men. The spoils had been taken and distributed to the tortured, the widows, the orphans, and the aged. However, they always kept some for themselves as they had done with the spoils from the defeat of Nicanor. Here it says that they had killed the commander of the troops of the unholy man Timothy. When they were celebrating in Jerusalem, they also burned the house of this unknown man named Callisthenes and others because they had been impious. Perhaps these were the Hellenizing Jews in Jerusalem.