The boastful man (Ps 52:1-52:3)

To the choirmaster leader, a Maskil of David, when Doeg, the Edomite, came and told Saul, ‘David has come to the house of Ahimelech’

“Why do you boast?

O mighty man!

Why do you boast?

What is the mischief done against the godly?

All day long

You are plotting destruction.

Your tongue is like a sharp razor.

You are a worker of treachery.

You love evil more than good.

You love lying more than speaking the truth.”

Selah

Psalm 52 is loosely based on 1 Samuel, chapter 22, where Doeg the Edomite told Saul where David was hiding.  This choral Davidic psalm asked why he was boastful.  This probably refers to Saul rather Doeg the Edomite.  He was planning all day mischief against the good godly people.  His tongue was like a sharp razor as he loved evil more than good.  He was a worker of treachery.  He loved lies more than truth.  This first section ends with a meditative musical interlude pause, a Selah.

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The murder of the high priest Onias (2 Macc 4:30-4:34)

“While such was the state of affairs, it happened that the people of Tarsus and of Mallus revolted because their cities had been given as a present to Antiochis, the king’s concubine. So the king went hurriedly to settle the trouble. He left Andronicus, a man of high rank, to act as his deputy. But Menelaus, thinking he had obtained a suitable opportunity, stole some of the gold vessels of the temple. He gave them to Andronicus. As it happened, he had sold other vessels to Tyre and the neighboring cities. When Onias became fully aware of these acts he publicly exposed them. He had first withdrawn to a place of sanctuary at Daphne near Antioch. Therefore Menelaus, taking Andronicus aside, urged him to kill Onias. Andronicus came to Onias. Resorting to treachery, he offered him sworn pledges and gave him his right hand. He persuaded Onias, though still suspicious, to come out from the place of sanctuary. Then, with no regard for justice, he immediately put him out of the way.”

When there was a revolt in Tarsus and Mallus because of a present to his concubine, King Antiochus IV had to go there to settle the problem. He left Andronicus as his deputy in charge. Menelaus then stole some gold vessels from the Temple and gave them to Andronicus. Menelaus then sold other vessels to Tyre and the neighboring seacoast towns. When deposed high priest Onias III heard about this he first went to an Apollo sanctuary in Daphne about 5 miles from Antioch. There he publically exposed the actions of Menelaus. Menelaus then persuaded the deputy of the king, Andronicus, to kill Onias. Andronicus tricked Onias when he swore not to hurt him, but when he came out of the sanctuary, he killed him. There was no regard for justice.

The tragic death of Simon and his sons (1 Macc 16:11-16:17)

“Now Ptolemy son of Abubus had been appointed governor over the plain of Jericho. He had much silver and gold. He was the son-in-law of the high priest. His heart was lifted up. He determined to get control of the country. He made treacherous plans against Simon and his sons, to do away with them. Now Simon was visiting the towns of the country, attending to their needs. He went down to Jericho with his sons Mattathias and Judas, in the one hundred and seventy-seventh year, in the eleventh month, which is the month of Shebat. The son of Abubus received them treacherously in the little stronghold called Dok, which he had built. He gave them a great banquet, but he hid men there. When Simon and his sons were drunk, Ptolemy and his men rose up. They took their weapons and rushed in against Simon in the banquet hall. They killed him and his two sons, as well as some of his servants. So he committed an act of great treachery. He returned evil for good.”

Ptolemy, the son of Abubus, was the son-in- law of Simon, since he had married Simon’s daughter, who was the sister of John, Judas, and Mattathias. He had been appointed the governor of the area around Jericho, which was north of Jerusalem. This made sense since he was member of the family by marriage. However, he plotted to take over the whole country. While Simon and his sons Judas and Mattathias were visiting various towns, they probably dropped in to see their sister and her family. After they had a great banquet where the 3 visitors got drunk, Ptolemy and his men killed all the visitors and their servants. The moral of the story is to watch out how much you drink when you visit in-laws. This all took place in 134 BCE.