Lack of self control (Prov 25:26-25:28)

“Like a muddied spring,

Or a polluted fountain,

Is the righteous

Who give way before the wicked.

It is not good

To eat much honey.

It is not good

To seek honor on top of honor.

Like a city breached without walls,

Is one who lacks self control.”

The righteous who give into the wicked are like muddied spring water or polluted fountains. Do not eat too much honey. Do not seek too many honors. You need self control. Otherwise you are like an open city where there are no gates and no walls. Self control is important.

Yahweh gave us the holy land (Ps 80:8-80:13)

“You brought a vine out of Egypt.

You drove out the nations.

You planted it.

You cleared the ground for it.

It took deep root.

It filled the land.

The mountains were covered with its shade.

The mighty cedars were covered with its branches.

It sent out its branches to the sea.

It sent out its shoots to the River.

Why then have you broken down its walls?

Thus all who pass along the way pluck its fruit.

The boar from the forest ravages it.

All that move in the field feed on it.”

This is a great parable about the vine and Israel that was so familiar to all. The vine was taken from Egypt. Then the ground was prepared for it and planted. Thus nations were cleared out to let the vine grow as it took deep root. This vine spread all over the land as it covered the mountains and the trees. Its branches went from the Mediterranean Sea to the Euphrates River. However, then its walls were broken down. Now anyone can come along and pluck its fruit. All the wild animals and any animals come to feed on it. Israel was being ravaged by all sets of animals and people.

The wicked city (Ps 55:8-55:11)

“‘I would hurry to find a shelter for myself,

From the raging wind and tempest.’

Confuse them!

Yahweh!

Confound their speech!

I see violence and strife in the city.

Day and night they go around it

On its walls.

Iniquity and trouble are within it.

Ruin is in its midst.

Oppression and fraud

Do not depart from its marketplace.”

David wanted to find a shelter for himself in the wilderness that would protect him from the raging wind and stormy rain.  At the same time, he wanted Yahweh to confuse the speech of those in the city.  Like today, he said that there was so much violence and strife in the city.  Does that sound like the good old days?  Violence in the cities has been around for over 2,500 years.  So what is new?  There was iniquity and trouble within the city both day and night, around the walls of the city.  Ruin was coming to them because of the oppression and fraud of their marketplace.  Those old fashioned business men were cheating in the marketplace.  Wow!  That is strange to hear.

Beautiful Mount Zion (Ps 48:1-48:3)

A song, a psalm of the Korahites

“Great is Yahweh!

Greatly to be praised

In the city of our God!

His holy mountain,

Beautiful in elevation,

Is the joy of all the earth.

Mount Zion is

In the far north,

In the city of the great king.

Within its citadels

God has shown himself

A sure defense.”

Psalm 48 is yet another of the 11 psalms of the sons of the Korah, like the preceding ones. There is a glorification of Mount Zion, the northern mountain in Jerusalem, where the Temple and the palace of David were built. Yahweh was great and thus greatly praised. His holy beautiful mountain was a joy to the whole world. This Mount Zion was in the far northern part of the city of the great king, the city of David. Within its walls, God had shown himself to be a great defender of this mountain.

The attack of Judas Maccabeus on Caspin (2 Macc 12:13-12:16)

“Judas Maccabeus also attacked a certain city that was strongly fortified with earthworks and walls. Inhabited by all sorts of gentiles, its name was Caspin. Those who were within, relying on the strength of the walls and on their supply of provisions, behaved most insolently toward Judas Maccabeus and his men. They railed at them, even blaspheming and saying unholy things. But Judas Maccabeus and his men, calling upon the great Sovereign of the world, who without battering-rams or engines of war overthrew Jericho in the days of Joshua, rushed furiously upon the walls. They took the town by the will of God. They slaughtered untold numbers, so that the adjoining lake, a quarter of a mile wide, appeared to be running over with blood.”

This Caspin may be the same as Chaspho in 1 Maccabees, chapter 5. The only apparent reason for attacking this strongly fortified town was because they had some gentiles there. However, for some reason, the people in this town were insolent to Judas Maccabeus and his men. They blasphemed and said unholy things. Judas Maccabeus, after calling on the sovereign Lord, rushed the walls of this town named Caspin. Once again, by the will of God, they took this town like in the days of Joshua at Jericho. Here they killed so many people that a lake a quarter of a mile wide looked like it was running over with blood.

The distress of the women of Jerusalem (2 Macc 3:18-3:23)

“People also hurried out of their houses in crowds to make a general supplication because the holy place was about to be brought into dishonor. Women, girded with sackcloth under their breasts, thronged the streets. Some of the young women who were kept indoors ran together to the gates, and some to the walls, while others peered out of the windows. Holding up their hands to heaven, they all made supplication. There was something pitiable in the prostration of the whole populace and the anxiety of the high priest in his great anguish. While they were calling upon the Almighty Lord that he would keep what had been entrusted safe and secure for those who had entrusted it, Heliodorus went on with what had been decided.”

Not only the priests were upset, the whole town was in turmoil. They gathered in small crowds as they worried about the dishonor to their holy Temple. The women wore sackcloth under their breasts. This was the common clothing of those in mourning. Here it seems only the women were wearing these goat hair robes. They young unmarried women were kept indoors. However, they were trying to find out what was going on, as they ran to the gates and walls, and peeked out the windows. They all prayed to heaven. The biblical author called them pitiable, since even the high priest was in anguish. This anxiety was about honor and money. They called upon the Almighty Lord to keep their treasures safe. Nevertheless, Heliodorus was determined to do what he had decided to do, to inspect the Temple finances.

The peace of Simon (1 Macc 14:35-14:37)

“The people saw Simon’s faithfulness.

They saw the glory

That he had resolved to win for his nation.

They made him their leader and high priest.

Because he had done all these things,

Because he had been justice and loyal toward his nation,

He sought in every way to exalt his people.

In his days things prospered in his hands.

The gentiles were put out of the country.

He put out the men in the city of David in Jerusalem,

Who had built themselves a citadel

from which they used to sally forth.

They defiled the environs of the sanctuary.

They did great damage to its purity.

He settled Jews in it.

He fortified it for the safety of the country and of the city.

He built the walls of Jerusalem higher.”

This proclamation continued. Simon clearly joined his political and religious power as leader and high priest. Simon brought religious and political peace. He was faithful, just, and loyal. He exalted the people as everyone prospered. He got rid of the gentiles and those who had been in the citadel in Jerusalem. He cleaned up the sanctuary and put Jews in it and the citadel. He fortified the city with higher walls. He protected the safety of the country.

Simon wants to contact the deposed King Demetrius II (1 Macc 13:33-13:35)

“Simon built up the strongholds of Judea. He walled them all around, with high towers and great walls, gates, and bolts. He stored food in the strongholds. Simon also chose emissaries and sent them to King Demetrius the king with a request to grant relief to the country. All that Trypho did was to plunder.”

Simon decided to build up the strongholds of Judea. He built walls around them with towers and gates. He stored food in them. He also sent messengers to the deposed King Demetrius II because he said that all King Trypho did was plunder the country. I guess that he was pushing for King Demetrius II to regain the kingship of Syria now that the pretence of the young King Antiochus VI was gone.

Fortifications in Jerusalem (1 Macc 12:35-12:38)

“When Jonathan returned, he convened the elders of the people and planned with them to build strongholds in Judea. He wanted to build the walls of Jerusalem still higher. He wanted to erect a high barrier between the citadel and the city to separate it from the city. He wanted to isolate it so that the people in the garrison could neither buy nor sell items. So they gathered together to rebuild the city. Part of the wall on the valley to the east had fallen. He repaired the section called Chaphenatha. Simon also built Adida in the Shephelah. He fortified it and installed gates with bolts.”

When Jonathan returned to Jerusalem, he convened the elders to build strongholds in Judea. He wanted the walls around Jerusalem to be still higher. He also wanted a barrier between the citadel and the city so that the troops in the citadel could not come into the city to buy or sell things. Thus they rebuilt the city since part of the east wall had fallen. Simon also did some work in the Shephelah.

King Demetrius I will give money to Jerusalem (1 Macc 10:38-10:45)

“As for the three districts that have been added to Judea

From the country of Samaria,

Let them be so annexed to Judea,

So that they may be considered to be under one ruler.

They will obey no other authority than the high priest.

Ptolemais and the land adjoining it,

I have given as a gift to the sanctuary in Jerusalem,

To meet the necessary expenses of the sanctuary.

I also grant fifteen thousand shekels of silver yearly

Out of the king’s revenues from appropriate places.

All the additional funds

That the government officials have not paid

As they did in the first years,

They shall give from now on for the service of the temple.

Moreover, the five thousand shekels of silver

That my officials have received every year

From the income of the services of the temple,

This too is canceled,

Because it belongs to the priests who minister there.

All who take refuge at the temple in Jerusalem,

Or in any of its precincts,

Because they owe money to the king

Or are in debt,

Let him be released

And receive back all their property in my kingdom.

Let the cost of rebuilding and restoring

The structures of the sanctuary be paid

From the revenues of the king.

Let the cost of rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem

And fortifying it all around,

And the cost of rebuilding the walls in Judea,

Also be paid from the revenues of the king.”

King Demetrius I was very willing to be very generous with Jerusalem. The 3 new areas annexed to Judea would be under the rule of the high priest at Jerusalem. In fact, the land that Alexander had taken was Ptolemais, King Demetrius was now giving to the Jerusalem sanctuary. He was going to give 5,000 shekels yearly to the sanctuary. He also was going to give them the additional funds that stopped coming when King Antiochus IV was in charge. On top of giving money, he also was cancelling the money owed from the Temple. Anyone who fled to the Jerusalem Temple would find sanctuary and forgiveness of their debt. He was also going to pay with his royal revenues for the rebuilding and restoring the walls of Jerusalem. This seems like a very generous guy.