The locusts are everywhere (Joel 2:6-2:9)

“Before them,

People are in anguish.

All faces grow pale.

Like warriors,

They charge.

Like soldiers,

They scale the wall.

Each keeps

To his own course.

They do not swerve

From their paths.

They do not jostle

One another.

Each keeps

To his own track.

They burst

Through the weapons

They are not halted.

They leap upon the city.

They run upon the walls.

They climb up

Into the houses.

They enter

Through the windows,

Like a thief.”

Joel continued his description of the swarm of locusts as they attacked the city and the people in it. The people there were in aguish, as their faces turned pale. These grasshoppers charged like warriors. They scaled the walls like soldiers. These locusts stayed in formation, not wandering around. They did not try to push each other around. They were able to go straight through any barriers or weapons. They leapt into the city on its walls and in its houses. These locusts came through the windows, like a thief in the night. This plague of grasshoppers was really strong and powerful in their destruction.

Babylon is caught (Jer 50:23-50:25)

“How the hammer

Of the whole earth

Is cut down!

It is broken!

How Babylon has become

A horror

Among the nations!

You set a snare

For yourself!

You were caught!

O Babylon!

But you did not know it.

You were discovered.

You were seized

Because you challenged

Yahweh.

Yahweh has opened

His armory.

He has brought out

The weapons

Of his wrath.

Yahweh,

God of hosts,

Has a task to do

In the land

Of the Chaldeans.”

Babylon has become a broken hammer, a horror to all the countries. They had set a trap, but they themselves fell into it. The other countries found the trapped Babylon and seized it, because the Babylonians had challenged Yahweh by burning down his Temple. Thus Yahweh used all the weapons in his great armory of anger against Babylon. He had a task to do in the land of the Chaldeans. Why did Yahweh not do this sooner?

The battles in southern and eastern Babylon (Jer 50:21-50:22)

“‘Go to the land

Of Merathaim!

Go up against her!

Attack the inhabitants

Of Pekod!

Utterly destroy

The last of them!’

Says Yahweh.

‘Do all

That I have commanded you!

The noise of battle

Is in the land

With great destruction!’”

They were to go to the southern Babylonian town of Merathaim, meaning “double rebellion.” They were to attack the people at Pekod, an eastern Babylonian tribe that means “punishment.” They were to utterly destroy all these people down to the very last of them. Yahweh was commanding this so that they should battle until there was great destruction in the land. It is not clear how the Judeans and Israelites got weapons since they were in captivity. However, this may be a description of the Persian invasion of Babylon.

The punishment in Egypt (Jer 44:13-44:14)

“I will punish

Those who live

In the land of Egypt,

As I have punished Jerusalem,

With the sword,

With famine,

With pestilence.

Thus none

Of the remnant of Judah

Who have come

To settle

In the land of Egypt

Shall escape,

Or survive,

Or return

To the land of Judah.

Although they long

To go back

To live there,

They shall not go back,

Except some fugitives.”

In a twist of irony, Yahweh was going to punish the Judeans who had left Judah to settle in Egypt. Just as he had punished the Egyptians centuries earlier so that the Israelites could leave Egypt, he now will punish the Judeans who came to live in Egypt. Thus this great symbiotic relationship of the Israelites and the Egyptians continues, even until the present day. Yahweh was determined to punish this remnant from Judah, as he had punished Jerusalem, with his often repeated 3 weapons, the sword, famine, and pestilence. None of these Judean remnants would escape or survive to return to their beloved Judah. The only exception would be those who

In a twist of irony, Yahweh was going to punish the Judeans who had left Judah to settle in Egypt. Just as he had punished the Egyptians centuries earlier so that the Israelites could leave Egypt, he now will punish the Judeans who came to live in Egypt. Thus this great symbiotic relationship of the Israelites and the Egyptians continues, even until the present day. Yahweh was determined to punish this remnant from Judah, as he had punished Jerusalem, with his often repeated 3 weapons, the sword, famine, and pestilence. None of these Judean remnants would escape or survive to return to their beloved Judah. The only exception would be those who turned out to be fugitives.

turned out to be fugitives.

Preparations for the invasion (Isa 22:8-22:11)

“On that day,

You looked

To the weapons

Of the House of the Forest.

You saw

That there were so many breaches

In the city of David.

You then collected

The waters of the lower pool.

You counted

The houses of Jerusalem.

You broke down the houses

To fortify the wall.

You made a reservoir

Between the two walls

To hold the water of the old pool.

But you did not look

To him who did it.

You did not have regard

For him who planned it long ago.”

Isaiah now reprimands the inhabitants of Jerusalem in the second person plural. They made preparations to protect Jerusalem from invaders. The weapons were in the House of the Forest, which was the royal palace, since it had so much wood in it. The city of David was the older southeastern part of Jerusalem. They tried to fix the holes in the wall around Jerusalem by tearing down houses in the city to fill the holes. They also tried to make a reservoir for the water within the city from the old pool. Isaiah points out that there was a fatal flaw to their preparations. They forgot to consider who had made the city for them, God. They did not regard Yahweh who had planned this city with King David and King Solomon. They had forgotten the Lord.

The divine intervention at Beth-zur (2 Macc 11:5-11:12)

“Invading Judea, Lysias approached Beth-zur, which was a fortified place about five stadia from Jerusalem. He pressed it hard. When Judas Maccabeus and his men got word that Lysias was besieging the strongholds, they and all the people, with lamentations and tears, prayed the Lord to send a good angel to save Israel. Judas Maccabeus himself was the first to take up arms. He urged the others to risk their lives with him to aid their kindred. Then they eagerly rushed off together. There, while they were still near Jerusalem, a horseman appeared at their head, clothed in white and brandishing weapons of gold. Together they all praised the merciful God. They were strengthened in heart, ready to assail not only humans, but the wildest animals or walls of iron. They advanced in battle order, having their heavenly ally, for the Lord had mercy on them. They hurled themselves like lions against the enemy. They laid low eleven thousand of them and sixteen hundred cavalry. They forced all the rest to flee. Most of them got away stripped and wounded. Lysias himself escaped by disgraceful flight.”

Beth-zur was about 20 miles south of Jerusalem, on the way to Hebron. Here, like 1 Maccabees, chapter 4, Judas Maccabeus prayed for a heavenly angel to help him. Although he had prayed in 1 Maccabees, there was no divine intervention. Here a heavenly horseman with a gold weapon led them to victory as they were lions in battle. Here they killed 11,000 infantry instead of 5,000 as in 1 Maccabees. In both versions of the story, Lysias escaped, either as here in “disgraceful flight” or simply withdrawing to Antioch as in 1 Maccabees.

The heavenly horsemen (2 Macc 10:29-10:31)

“When the battle became fierce, there appeared to the enemy from heaven five resplendent men on horses with golden bridles, leading the Jews. Two of them took Judas Maccabeus between them. They shielded him with their own armor and weapons. They kept him from being wounded. They showered arrows and thunderbolts on the enemy. Confused and blinded, they were thrown into disorder and cut to pieces. Twenty thousand five hundred were slaughtered, besides six hundred cavalry.”

Suddenly, 5 men on horses with golden bridles appeared leading the Jews. This is somewhat reminiscent of the battle with King Antiochus IV in chapter 5 of this book with the divine intervention. 2 of these heavenly horsemen protected Judas Maccabeus from being wounded with their armor and weapons. They threw arrows and thunderbolts at the enemy so that they were confused and blinded. They killed 25,500 men and 600 cavalry that day. This was a total victory thanks to the 5 heavenly horsemen.