Oracle of restoration (Mic 7:11-7:13)

“This is a day

For the building

Of your walls!

In that day,

The boundary

Shall be far extended.

In that day,

They will come

To you,

From Assyria to Egypt,

From Egypt to the River,

From sea to sea,

From mountain to mountain.

But the earth

Will be desolate,

Because of its inhabitants,

For the fruit of their doings.”

This is a post-exilic call to restore Israel.  They would build walls around their buildings.  They would have an extended boundary for their country.  The Israelites would all return from Assyria to Egypt, from the Nile River to the Euphrates River, from sea to sea, and mountain to mountain, from everywhere.  However, the earth would be desolate, because of what the living people were doing.  The fruit of their activity left them in bad shape, desolate.

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Israel will no longer be a disgrace (Ezek 36:13-36:15)

“Thus says Yahweh God!

They say to you.

‘You devour people.

You bereave

Your nation of children.’

‘Therefore,

You shall no longer

Devour people.

You shall no longer

Bereave

Your nation of children.’

Says Yahweh God!

‘I will not let you

Hear any more

Of the insults

Of the nations.

You shall no longer

Bear the disgrace

Of the people.

You shall no longer

Cause your nation

To stumble.’

Says Yahweh God!”

Yahweh God, via Ezekiel, commented that people around Israel were saying that the Israelites devoured their own people and bereaved their own children. Perhaps, this was a reference to the human sacrifices at the fertility rites on the Israelite hill tops. However, Yahweh was insistent that this was going to stop. He did not want to hear any more insults from these various countries. Israel would no longer bear the disgrace of the many people around them. No one would cause their country to stumble.

Yahweh returns them to the good pastures of Israel (Ezek 34:13-34:15)

“‘I will bring them

Out from the various people.

I will gather them

From the various countries.

I will bring them

Into their own land.

I will feed them

On the mountains

Of Israel.

They will be

By the water fountains,

In all the inhabited places

Of the country.

I will feed them

With good pasture.

The mountain heights

Of Israel

Shall be their pasture.

They shall lie down there

In good grazing land.

They shall feed

On rich pasture

On the mountains

Of Israel.

I myself

Will be the shepherd

Of my sheep.

I will make them

Lie down.’

Says Yahweh God.”

Somewhat reminiscent of Psalm 23 about the good shepherd, Yahweh, their God, said that he was going to bring all his lost sheep together from the various countries where they had been. They were going to go back to their own land. Yahweh was going to feed them on the mountains of Israel with flowing water in all the inhabited places of their country. He was going to feed them from the good pastures in the mountain heights of Israel. There they would lie down in this good grazing land. They would eat from the rich pastures on the mountains of Israel. Yahweh was going to be their shepherd, the good shepherd of his sheep. He was going to make them lie down in great green pastures.

Rachel laments her children (Jer 31:15-31:17)

“Thus says Yahweh.       

‘A voice is heard in Ramah.

There is lamentation.

There is bitter weeping.

Rachel is weeping

For her children.

She refuses to be comforted

For her children.

Because they are no more.’

Thus says Yahweh.

‘Keep your voice

From weeping!

Keep your eyes

From tears!

There is a reward

For your work.’

Says Yahweh.

‘They shall come back

From the land of the enemy.

There is hope for your future.’

Says Yahweh.

‘Your children shall come back

To their own country.’”

Jeremiah seems to have a dialogue with Rachel, the mother of Joseph and Benjamin, and Yahweh. Rachel has been dead and buried for a long time at Ramah, during the time of Jacob as in Genesis, chapter 35. However, there the resting place was called Bethlehem. Here it is Ramah, someplace in Benjamin that makes more sense. The prophet Samuel may have lived in this place as in 1 Samuel, chapter 25. However, here Rachel is lamenting from her grave. She is weeping bitterly for her lost children. She refuses to be comforted because they too are dead and gone. This passage had an influence on the later Gospel of Matthew, chapter 2, where he used this saying to apply to the innocent children killed by Herod. However, Yahweh tells her to stop weeping and dry her tears, because she was going to be rewarded. The descendants of her children were going to come back to their country from the land of their enemies. Thus the northern tribes would be restored.

Nicanor sends friendly emissaries (2 Macc 14:18-14:19)

“Nevertheless Nicanor heard about the valor of Judas Maccabeus and his troops as well as their courage in battle for their country. He shrank from deciding the issue by bloodshed. Therefore he sent Posidonius, Theodotus, and Mattathias to give and receive pledges of friendship.”

Nicanor realized that Judas Maccabeus and his troops were courageous. He decided not to solve the issue by war. In 1 Maccabees, chapter 7, it clearly said that Nicanor was trying to deceive Judas Maccabeus. Here that is not said as 3 Seleucid military leaders, who were not mentioned in 1 Maccabees, were sent as friendly emissaries to Judas Maccabeus. One of them even has the name of Judas’ father, Mattathias.

Judas Maccabeus gives his brothers assignments (2 Macc 8:21-8:23)

“With these words Judas Maccabeus filled them with good courage. He made them ready to die for their laws and their country. Then he divided his army into four parts. He appointed his brothers also, Simon, Joseph, and Jonathan, each to command a division, putting fifteen hundred men under each. Besides, he appointed Eleazar to read aloud from the holy book. He gave the watchword.

‘God’s help!’

Then, leading the first division himself, he joined battle with Nicanor.”

Judas Maccabeus had filled his 6,000 troops with courage as they were ready to die for their laws and their country. He divided his army into 4 parts among his brothers. There was Simon, who will become the high priest from 142-134 BCE. Then there was Joseph or as he was called in 1 Maccabees, chapter 2, John. This John died in 1 Maccabees, chapter 9, at the hands of the Nabateans. Jonathan is perhaps the next most famous as he succeeded Judas and was the high priest from 160-142 BCE.   Eleazar here is asked to read the holy book of scripture. There might have been an attempt to put this Eleazar with the Eleazar of chapter 6 of this book. However, in 1 Maccabees, chapter 6, Eleazar died at the battle of Beth-zechariah, killing an elephant. Interesting enough, the cry “God’s Help!” was found in one of the 1st century Qumran War Scrolls for those returning from war. There might be a connection here.