Against Moab (Am 2:1-2:3)

“Thus says Yahweh.

‘For three transgressions

Of Moab,

And for four,

I will not revoke

The punishment.

Because he burned to lime

The bones

Of the king of Edom.

So,

I will send a fire

On Moab.

It shall devour

The strongholds

Of Kerioth.

Moab shall die

Amid uproar,

Amid shouting,

Amid the sound

Of the trumpet.

I will cut off

The ruler

From its midst.

I will kill

All its officials with him.’

Says Yahweh.”

Moab was the ancient enemy of Israel on the southeast side of the Jordan River. According to Genesis, chapter 19, the Moabites were the descendants of Lot through the incest he had with his daughter. Yahweh, via Amos, invoked the same language as he had used against Damascus, the Philistines, Tyre, Edom, and Ammon. He also used the same non-forgiving numeric formula of 3 and 4, as in Proverbs, chapter 30. The Moabites apparently burned the bones of the king of Edom in lime. Edom was their southern neighbors, so that this was a terrible insulting crime. Thus, Yahweh was going to punish the people of Moab by devouring their fortresses at Kerioth. Moab was going to die in a great tumult, with uproars, shouts, and trumpets. Yahweh would kill their ruler and all their officials. This clearly was an oracle of Yahweh, via Amos.

The death of Nicanor (2 Macc 15:25-15:28)

“Nicanor and his troops advanced with trumpets and battle songs. Judas Maccabeus and his troops met the enemy in battle with invocations to God and prayers. So, fighting with their hands and praying to God in their hearts, they laid low no less than thirty-five thousand men. They were greatly gladdened by God’s manifestation. When the action was over, they were returning with joy. They recognized Nicanor, lying dead, in full armor.”

Nicanor and his army advanced with trumpets and battle songs. On the other hand, Judas Maccabeus and his troops went to fight with prayers in their hearts to God. Thus they fought and prayed at the same time. This seemed to have worked quite well. They killed 35,000 troops of Nicanor. They were glad because God had manifested his gladness with their actions. After the action was all over, they too were happy. Then they recognized Nicanor in full armor dead. There is something similar to this in 1 Maccabees, chapter 7, where Nicanor was defeated.

The battle begins (1 Macc 9:11-9:13)

“Then the army of Bacchides marched out from the camp. They took their stand for the encounter. The cavalry was divided into two companies. The slingers and the archers went ahead of the army, as well as all the chief warriors. Bacchides was on the right wing. Flanked by the two companies, the phalanx advanced to the sound of the trumpets. The men with Judas also blew their trumpets. The earth was shaken by the noise of the armies. The battle raged from morning until evening.”

The large army of Bacchides and the Syrians marched out from camp ready to engage the battle. There were 2 companies of cavalry. The slingers, the archers, and the chief warriors were ahead of the army.   Both sides sounded their trumpets as the earth shook from the noise of the armies. The battle raged from morning until evening.

The defeat of Nicanor (1 Macc 7:43-7:50)

“The armies met in battle on the thirteenth day of the month of Adar. The army of Nicanor was crushed. He himself was the first to fall in the battle. When his army saw that Nicanor had fallen, they threw down their arms and fled. The Jews pursued them a day’s journey, from Adasa as far as Gazara. As they followed, they kept sounding the battle call on the trumpets. People came out of all the surrounding villages of Judea. They outflanked the enemy. They drove them back to their pursuers, so that they all fell by the sword. Not even one of them was left. Then the Jews seized the spoils and the plunder. They cut off Nicanor’s head and the right hand that he had so arrogantly stretched out. They brought them and displayed them just outside Jerusalem. The people rejoiced greatly and celebrated that day as a day of great gladness. They decreed that this day should be celebrated each year on the thirteenth day of Adar. So the land of Judah had rest for a few days.”

The 2 armies met on the 13th day of Adar, the same month and practically the same day as the crushing defeat in the story of Esther, chapter 9, where Purim was instituted as a feast day memorial. Nicanor was like Haman, the Jewish hater. In this case Nicanor was the first to fall. When his army saw this, they fled. This was a common occurrence. When the leader fell, the armies just took off. However, the Jews pursued them as they sounded their trumpets. Then everyone came out from the villages and towns sending the fleeing troops back to their pursuers. In the end, everyone was wiped out. The author did not give a specific number, but the reminders of 2 Kings, chapter 19 are striking. They cut off the head of Nicanor and his right hand. Then they displayed it outside of Jerusalem. This is somewhat reminiscent of Judith, chapter 13, and her beheading of General Holofernes, when she took his head to display. There was great rejoicing over this as they declared the 13th of Adar a day to be celebrated. This was another layer to the Purim festival. The author notes that there was peace in Judah for just a few days, not years.

The king’s army prepares to do battle (1 Macc 6:33-6:39)

“Early in the morning the king set out. He took his army by a forced march along the road to Beth-zechariah. His troops made ready for battle and sounded their trumpets. They offered their elephants the juice of grapes and mulberries to arouse them for battle. They distributed the beasts among the phalanxes. With each elephant they stationed a thousand men armed with coats of mail and with brass helmets on their heads. Five hundred picked cavalry were assigned to each beast. These took their position beforehand wherever the beast was. Wherever it went, they went with it. They never left it. On the elephants were wooden towers, strong and covered. They were fastened on each beast by a special harness. On each were four armed men who fought from there. They also had an Indian driver. The rest of the cavalry were stationed on either side, on the two flanks of the army, to harass the enemy while being themselves protected by the phalanxes. When the sun shone upon the shields of gold and brass, the hills were ablaze with them. They gleamed like flaming torches.”

King Antiochus V, the 10 year old king, or Lysias, his general got ready for the battle with Judas Maccabeus. They had elephants all juiced up and roaring to go. Each elephant had 1,000 men and 500 cavalry with them. On top of the elephants they had wooden towers fastened by a harness with 4 armed men in each tower. Beside these men there was an Indian driver of the elephant. They were an extraordinary sight so that when the sun shone on them, their shields looks like flaming torches.

The attack on Dathema (1 Macc 5:29-5:34)

“They went all the way to the stronghold of Dathema. At dawn, they looked out and saw a large company that could not be counted, carrying ladders and engines of war to capture the stronghold. They were attacking the Jews within it. Judas saw that the battle had begun. The cry of the town went up to heaven with trumpets and loud shouts. Judas said to the men of his forces.

‘Fight today for your kindred’

Then he came up behind them in three companies. They sounded their trumpets. They cried aloud in prayer. When the army of Timothy realized that it was Maccabeus, they fled before him. He had dealt them a heavy blow. As many as eight thousand of them fell that day.”

Next Judas Maccabeus and his men went back to the stronghold of Dathema, where many of the Jews were at as was indicated earlier in this chapter. It must not have been that far from Bozrah since it only took one night to get there. However, when they arrived, the place was under attack by that wicked Timothy and his army. Judas Maccabeus called his troops to fight for their relatives. When Timothy and his group realized that Judas Maccabeus was attacking them, they fled with a loss of about 8,000 men.

Judas Maccabeus sees the desolation in Jerusalem (1 Macc 4:36-4:40)

“Then Judas and his brothers said.

‘Behold, our enemies are crushed.

Let us go up to cleanse the sanctuary

Let us go up to dedicate the sanctuary.’

All the army assembled and went up to Mount Zion. There they saw the sanctuary desolate. The altar was profaned. The gates were burned. In the courts they saw bushes springing up as in a thicket, or as on one of the mountains. They saw also the chambers of the priests in ruins. Then they tore their clothes. They mourned with great lamentation. They sprinkled themselves with ashes. They fell face down on the ground. When the signal was given with the trumpets, they cried out to heaven.”

Judas Maccabeus with his brothers decided that since they had defeated their enemies, they would cleanse the Jerusalem sanctuary. Thus the whole army when to Mount Zion, Jerusalem. There they saw the sorry state of affairs. The altar was profaned. The gates were burned. The courtyards were full of thick bushes. The priestly chambers were ruined. Therefore, they did what any good man would do. They tore their clothes as a sign of mourning and upset. To get the mood right, they sprinkled ashes on themselves and fell to the ground. When the trumpets sounded they prayed to God in heaven.

The battle of Emmaus (1 Macc 4:12-4:15)

“When the foreigners looked up, they saw them coming against them. They went out from their camp to battle. Then the men with Judas blew their trumpets. They engaged in the battle. The gentiles were crushed. They fled into the plain. All those in the rear fell by the sword. They pursued them to Gazara, and to the plains of Idumea, as well as to Azotus and Jamnia. Three thousand of them fell.”

When Judas and his men attacked, the foreign gentiles saw them coming as they went out to do battle. Then Judas and his men sounded the trumpet. This trumpet blowing was a sign of encouragement that seemed to have worked. They crushed the gentiles. Somehow they had enough swords to kill 3,000 of the 6,000 soldiers against them. They pursued them in four different directions. Gazara was 5 miles northwest of Emmaus. Idumea was to the south, while Azotus was in the west and Jamnia was southwest.

Nehemiah leads the other group (Neh 12:38-12:43)

“The other company of those who gave thanks went to the left. I followed them with half of the people, upon the wall. We walked to the Tower of the Ovens, to the Broad Wall, and above the Gate of Ephraim, and by the Old Gate. We walked by the Fish Gate and the Tower of Hananel and the Tower of the Hundred, to the Sheep Gate. They came to a halt at the Gate of the Guard. So both companies of those who gave thanks stood in the house of God. I and half of the officials were with me. The priests Eliakim, Maaseiah, Miniamin, Micaiah, Elioenai, Zechariah, and Hananiah were with trumpets. Maaseiah, Shemaiah, Eleazar, Uzzi, Jehohanan, Malchijah, Elam, and Ezer were there also. The singers sang with Jezrahiah as their leader. They offered great sacrifices that day. They rejoiced, for God had made them rejoice with great joy. The women and children also rejoiced. The joy of Jerusalem was heard far away.”

Nehemiah led the other group on the wall going around the west and north side of the wall. They passed by the Tower of Ovens, the Broad Wall, the Gate of Ephraim, the Old Gate, the Fish Gate, the Tower of Hananel and the Tower of the Hundred. Finally they came to the Sheep Gate and the Gate of the Guard. There they met at the house of God with the first group. Nehemiah’s group met Ezra’s first group at the Temple. Nehemiah’s priests had trumpets. These singers were led by Jezrahiah, who is only mentioned here and nowhere else. They offered great sacrifices, without being specific how much and what kind. They also rejoiced with all their families including women and children. They made such a noise that they could be heard far away.

The celebration at the gates (Neh 12:31-12:37)

“Then I brought up the leaders of Judah onto the wall. I appointed two great companies which gave thanks. They went in procession. One went to the right upon the wall to the Dung Gate. After them went Hoshaiah and half of the princes of Judah. There was Azariah, Ezra, Meshullam, Judah, Benjamin, Shemaiah, Jeremiah, and some of the young priests with trumpets. There was Zechariah son of Jonathan, son of Shemaiah, son of Mattaniah, son of Micaiah, son of Zaccur, son of Asaph. His kindred were Shemaiah, Azarel, Milalai, Gilalai, Maai, Nethanel, Judah, and Hanani, with the musical instruments of King David, the man of God. The scribe Ezra went in front of them. At the Fountain Gate, in front of them, they went straight up by the stairs of the city of David, at the ascent of the wall, above the house of David, to the Water Gate on the east.”

Once again, we come back to the 1st person singular, “I”, after all that went before in the 3rd person singular. Nehemiah divided the people into 2 groups. One group walked the wall on the southeast side from the Dung Gate at the south side to the Fountain Gate and then to the Water Gate. At the Fountain Gate they walked the stairs into the city of David. This group was led by the scribe Ezra. This is the only mention of Hoshaiah, who must have been some kind of leader. While Azariah, Ezra, Meshullam, Judah, Benjamin, Shemaiah, and Jeremiah are mentioned elsewhere, there were also the young priests who were the sons of famous priests with their trumpets. Some of the kindred only appear here, Azarel, Milalai, Gilalai, and Maai, while the others are more familiar like Shemaiah, Nethanel, Judah, and Hanani. They played the instruments of King David, lyre, harps, and cymbals.