The good future plans (Jer 29:11-29:11)

“Yahweh says.

‘Surely I know the plans

I have for you.

These are plans

For your welfare,

Not for your harm.

I want

To give you

A future with hope.”

Once again, Yahweh, via the letter of Jeremiah, said that he would take care of their future, since he had plans for them.   He would not harm them, but rather watch out for their welfare. He wanted to give them a future with hope.

Praise for Yahweh (Ps 35:27-35:28)

“Let those who desire my vindication

Shout for joy!

Let them be glad!

Let them say evermore!

‘Great is Yahweh!

He delights in the welfare of his servant!’

Then my tongue shall tell

Of your righteousness.

My tongue shall tell

Of your praise

All the day long.”

This psalm ends with those who were in favor of David shouting for joy. They were glad. They would be able to say that Yahweh is great because he delighted in the welfare of his servant David. The tongue of David would tell everyone about the righteousness of Yahweh. He would sing his praises all day long. David seems to think that he is doing Yahweh a favor by praising him, if Yahweh helps him out of his bad situations.

The death of the high priest Menelaus (2 Macc 13:3-13:8)

“Menelaus also joined King Antiochus and Lysias. With utter hypocrisy he urged King Antiochus on, not for the sake of his country’s welfare, but because he thought that he would be established in office. But the king of kings aroused the anger of King Antiochus against the scoundrel. When Lysias informed him that this man was to blame for all the trouble, he ordered them to take him to Beroea. He was to be put to death by the method which is customary in that place. There is a tower there, fifty cubits high, full of ashes. It has a rim running around it on all sides that inclines precipitously into the ashes. There they all push to destruction anyone guilty of sacrilege or notorious for other crimes. By such a fate it came about that Menelaus the lawbreaker died, without even burial in the earth. This was eminently just. He had committed many sins against the altar whose fire and ashes were holy. Thus he met his death in ashes.”

Menelaus was not mentioned in 1 Maccabees, but was the high priest in Jerusalem here during the time of Judas Maccabeus from 171-161 BCE. He had purchased the high priest by outbidding Jason under King Antiochus IV. Now, he was urging on King Antiochus V, his son, to make sure he stayed in office. Somehow, the king of kings, a reference to God, aroused the anger of the young King Antiochus V, after Lysias, his guardian, informed the king that Menelaus was the cause of all the problems in Jerusalem. They sent him to Beroea, which was in northern Syria. There they had a Persian execution plan with a tower about 75 foot high filled with ashes that had a rim around the top of it that leaned into the ashes. They would push people into the ashes, like a farm silo that would suffocate them to death. Thus Menelaus, the lawbreaker, justly died in ashes without a burial because he had committed many sins against the holy altar.

The letter of Lysias to the Jews (2 Macc 11:16-11:21)

“King Antiochus’ letter ran thus.

‘King Antiochus to his brother Lysias,

Greetings!

Now that our father has gone on to the gods,

We desire that the subjects of the kingdom

Be undisturbed in caring for their own affairs.

We have heard that the Jews

Do not consent to our father’s change to Greek customs

But they prefer their own way of living.

They ask that their own customs be allowed them.

Accordingly, since we choose

That this nation also should be free from disturbance,

Our decision is that their temple be restored to them,

That they shall live

According to the customs of their ancestors.

You will do well, therefore,

To send word to them.

Give them pledges of friendship,

So that they may know our policy.

They may be of good cheer,

Let them go on happily in the conduct of their own affairs.’”

The young King Antiochus V noted the death of his father, King Antiochus IV, since he had gone on to the gods. He did not want people in the kingdom disturbed. He had learned that the Jews did not like the Greek customs imposed on them by his father, but they preferred their own customs. The 10 year old king decided that the Temple should be restored. They should be allowed to follow the customs of their ancestors. He was pledging his friendship so that they should be of good cheer and happily conduct their own affairs. Everything seems to be in good order with this agreement.

Simon and Onias (2 Macc 4:1-4:6)

“The previously mentioned Simon, who had informed about the money against his own country, slandered Onias. Simon said that it was Onias who had incited Heliodorus. Onias had been the real cause of the misfortune. Simon dared to designate as a plotter against the government the man who was the benefactor of the city, the protector of his fellow countrymen, and a zealot for the laws. His hatred progressed to such a degree that even murders were committed by one of Simon’s approved agents. Onias recognized that the rivalry was serious. Apollonius son of Menestheus, and governor of Coele-syria and Phoenicia, was intensifying the malice of Simon. So he appealed to the king, not accusing his compatriots but having in view the welfare, both public and private, of all the people. He saw that without the king’s attention public affairs could not again reach a peaceful settlement. Simon would not stop his folly.”

Simon, the one who complained about the money in the Temple treasury, then slandered Onias. He said the Onias was the cause of the problem when he incited Heliodorus to look for the money. Simon was calling the kettle black. He was the one who started the investigation, but he was saying the Onias was the one who started the problem. Some of Simon’s men committed murder. Onias realized that Apollonius, the governor of the area, was siding with Simon. He decided that he would go directly to the king. Otherwise, there was no way to stop Simon. By this time Onias and Heliodorus were good friends, which bothered Simon also.

A copy of the letter sent to Onias, the high priest (1 Macc 12:19-12:23)

“This is a copy of the letter that they had sent to Onias.

‘King Arius of the Spartans,

To high priest Onias,

Greetings!

It has been found in writing

Concerning the Spartans and the Jews

That they are brothers.

They are of the family of Abraham.

Now that we have learned this,

Please write us concerning your welfare.

We on our part write to you

That your livestock and your property belong to us.

Ours belong to you.

We therefore command that our envoys report to you accordingly.”

The basis of this alliance was a letter written by King Arius of Sparta in the early 3rd century BCE, about 150 years earlier. Onias was the high priest from 323-290 BCE. This seems to indicate that the Spartans are descendent from Abraham. Perhaps this goes back to the time of Moses in Numbers, chapter 25. Moses said that God wanted them to kill anyone who had sex with the women of Peor who were Baal worshippers. Phinehas saw an Israelite man from the tribe of Simeon with a Median woman, so he killed both of them. Well, then supposedly the ½ tribe of Simeon left for Greece. Part of this is based on Flavius Josephus (37-100 CE), in his Antiquities of the Jews, an early Jewish history written around 93 CE. I bet not many Greeks know that they were brothers of the Jews, especially the Spartans. They had to look out for each other’s welfare. They would share their property and livestock.