The curse for David’s enemies (Ps 69:22-69:29)

“Let their own table be a trap for them!

Let their own table be a snare for their allies!

Let their eyes be darkened,

So that they cannot see!

Make their loins tremble continually!

Pour out your indignation upon them!

Let our burning anger overtake them!

May their camp be desolation!

Let no one live in their tents!

They persecute those

Whom you have struck down.

They persecute those

Whom you have wounded.

They attack still more.

Add guilt to their guilt!

May they have no acquittal from you!

Let them be blotted out of the book of the living!

Let them not be enrolled among the righteous!

But I am lowly.

I am in pain.

Let your salvation!

O God!

Protect me high!”

These are a series of curses or wishes against the enemies of David. His enemies’ tables should be a trap or snare to them and their friends. He wanted them to lose their sight and to tremble all the time. God’s indignation and anger should be upon them. Their camp should be desolate so that they could not live in their tents. They had persecuted and attacked those who had been wounded. Their guilt pilled on guilt. They should not be acquitted. They should be blotted out of the book of the living. They should not be listed among the righteous. They should die. Then there is the cry of David to protect him and bring him salvation.

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.

The defeat of the army of Nicanor (2 Macc 8:24-8:29)

“With the Almighty as their ally, Judas Maccabeus killed more than nine thousand of the enemy. They wounded and disabled most of Nicanor’s army. They forced them all to flee. They captured the money of those who had come to buy them as slaves. After pursuing them for some distance, they were obliged to return because the hour was late. It was the day before the Sabbath. For that reason they did not continue their pursuit. When they had collected the arms of the enemy and stripped them of their spoils, they kept the Sabbath. They gave great praise and thanks to the Lord, who had preserved them for that day. He allotted it to them as the beginning of mercy. After the Sabbath, they gave some of the spoils to those who had been tortured, the widows, and the orphans. They distributed the rest among themselves and their children. When they had done this, they made common supplication. They implored the merciful Lord to be wholly reconciled with his servants.”

This section is a little like the battles in 1 Maccabees, chapter 4, but not quite the same. The leader of the army is Nicanor and Gorgias. As God Almighty was on their side, Judas and his men killed more than 9,000 of the 20,000 enemy soldiers. They also wounded and disabled most of Nicanor’s army, as those who were able, fled the scene. They even got the money that was going to be used to buy Jewish slaves. They had to stop pursuing them since it was the eve of the Sabbath. They then celebrated the Sabbath with great praise and thanksgiving for the Lord’s mercy to them. Then on the day after the Sabbath, they gave some, but not all, of the spoils to those who had been tortured, as well as the widows and orphans. The rest of the money they distributed it among themselves and their children. They once again prayed to the Lord so that he might be reconciled with his servants. There is no longer any mention of religious sacrifices of any kind.

The activities of Lysimachus (2 Macc 4:39-4:42)

“Many acts of sacrilege had been committed in the city by Lysimachus with the connivance of Menelaus. When the report of them had spread abroad, the populace gathered against Lysimachus because many of the gold vessels had already been stolen. The crowds were becoming aroused and filled with anger. Lysimachus armed about three thousand men. He launched an unjust attack, under the leadership of a certain Auranus, a man advanced in years and no less advanced in folly. But when the Jews became aware that Lysimachus was attacking them, some picked up stones, some blocks of wood, and others took handfuls of the ashes that were lying around. They threw them in wild confusion at Lysimachus and his men. As a result, they wounded many of them. They killed some. They put all the rest of them to flight. The temple robber himself they killed close by the treasury.”

Lysimachus was the brother of Menelaus who was the second in command to the high priesthood of Menelaus. He had stolen the golden vessels from the Temple and committed other acts of sacrilege. The Jerusalem crowds became aroused and filled with anger. Lysimachus decided to get about 3,000 people led by a foolish old man named Auranus to attack the crowds. The crowds fought back by heaving, stones, wood, and ashes. I am not so sure about the value of throwing ashes. Anyway, they wounded many and killed some of these 3,000 men including Lysimachus. The rest fled. Finally, they were rid of the Temple robbers.

The distress of the priests in Jerusalem (2 Macc 3:14-3:17)

“There was no little distress throughout the whole city. The priests prostrated themselves before the altar in their priestly vestments. They called toward heaven upon him who had given the law about deposits, that he should keep them safe for those who had deposited them. To see the appearance of the high priest was to be wounded at heart. His face and the change in his color disclosed the anguish of his soul. For terror and bodily trembling had come over the man, which plainly showed to those who looked at him, the pain lodged in his heart.”

The priests were rightly afraid that the raid on the Temple treasury would have a sever effect on them. They prostrated in their priestly vestments before the altar. They wanted those deposits kept safe. The high priest was upset also. He was wounded to the heart that this had come on his watch. He was anguished as the pain appeared on his face and in his heart.

John defeats Cendebeus (1 Macc 16:4-16:10)

“John chose out of the country twenty thousand warriors and cavalry. They marched against Cendebeus. They camped for the night in Modein. Early in the morning they started out and marched into the plain. There a large force of infantry and cavalry was coming to meet them. A stream lay between them. Then he and his army lined up against them. He saw that the soldiers were afraid to cross the stream, so he crossed over first. When his troops saw him, they crossed over after him. Then he divided the army. He placed the cavalry in the center of the infantry. The cavalry of the enemy were very numerous. They sounded the trumpets. Cendebeus and his army were put to flight. Many of them were falling wounded. The rest fled into the stronghold. At that time Judas the brother of John was wounded. However, John pursued them until Cendebeus reached Kedron that he had built. They also fled into the towers that were in the fields of Azotus. John burned it with fire. About two thousand of them fell. He then returned to Judea safely.”

John, the son of Simon, had 20,000 warriors and cavalry. This is the first mention of cavalry on the Israelite side. They stopped at Modein one night on their march to meet Cendebeus. The next day on the plain they saw a large army coming at them. There was a stream between the 2 armies. John led his troops across the stream because they seemed afraid. He put the cavalry in the middle of his foot soldiers. They sounded the trumpets. Suddenly the army of Cendebeus fled. Judas, the brother of John, was wounded. John took after the fleeing army chasing them to the fields of Azotus where he burned the fields. About 2,000 of the enemy fell. Then John returned to Judea.

Jonathan attacks the Jambri wedding party (1 Macc 9:37-9:42)

“After these things were reported to Jonathan and his brother Simon, they said.

‘The family of Jambri was celebrating a great wedding.

They were conducting the bride,

A daughter of one of the great nobles of Canaan,

From Nadabath with a large escort.’

They remembered how their brother John had been killed. They went up and hid under the cover of the mountains. They looked out and saw a tumultuous procession with a great amount of baggage. The bridegroom came out with his friends and his brothers to meet them with tambourines, musicians, and many weapons. Then they rushed upon them from the ambush. They began killing them. Many were wounded and fell. The rest fled to the mountains. The Jews took all their goods. Thus the wedding was turned into mourning. The voice of their musicians was turned into a funeral dirge. After they had fully avenged the blood of their brother, they returned to the marshes of the Jordan River.”

            Jonathan and his brother Simon were upset about the attack and death of their brother John at the hands of the Jambri family. They saw that the Jambri family was celebrating a big wedding. One of daughters of a Canaanite was marrying a man from Jambri. They were having a great procession with tambourines and musicians. Jonathan, Simon, and his group attacked the wedding party. They wounded and killed some, while others fled. Their joyous wedding music turned into a mourning funeral dirge. After they avenged the blood of their brother, they returned to the marshes along the Jordan River.

The death of Judas Maccabeus (1 Macc 9:14-9:18)

“Judas saw that Bacchides and the strength of his army were on the right side. Then all the stouthearted men went with him. They crushed the right wing. He pursued them as far as Mount Azotus. When those on the left wing saw that the right wing was crushed, they turned and followed close behind Judas and his men. The battle became desperate. Many on both sides were wounded and fell. Judas also fell, while the rest fled.”

Judas Maccabeus saw how strong the right side of the army was, so he decided to attack it with his stouthearted men. They crushed this right side and pursued them for 6 miles to Mount Azotus. However, the left side of the Syrian army followed behind Judas and his men. Then they had a great battle where many people died, including Judas Maccabeus himself. The rest of his men fled.

The defeat of Apollonius (1 Macc 3:10-3:12)

“Apollonius now gathered together gentiles and a large force from Samaria to fight against Israel. When Judas learned of it, he went out to meet him. He defeated and killed him. Many were wounded and fell. The rest fled. Then they seized their spoils. Judas took the sword of Apollonius. He used it in battle the rest of his life.”

Apparently this Apollonius was the governor of Samaria. He gathered a group of gentiles in Samaria, which normally did not like Judea anyway. Judas Maccabeus then out to battle, defeated, and killed him. He seized the spoils of the group around Apollonius including his sword, which he seems to like so much that he used in future battles.