Monday, September 17, 2012

Daily Bible Reading: 1 Maccabees 5 and 1 Timothy 6

1 Maccabees 5 - When the nations surrounding Judaea – also under the control of the Seleucids but more compliant - hear that the Temple has been restored, they “determined to destroy the whole race of Jacob living among them; they began murdering and evicting Jewish citizens” (6:2). In response, Judas makes war on a number of these people: the “sons of Esau in Idumaea” (south of Palestine), and the Ammonites. The warfare described here is what people did back then, but it is not easy to read about. They are defeated, plundered, destroyed “under the ban” (6:5). It is pretty clear that the Jews were not the only ones to conduct war in this fashion; they all did.
In Gilead, the “pagans” there banded together to fight the Israelites in their territory. The Israelites flee and call upon Judas to help them. They tell him “All our countrymen living among the Tubians have been put to death, their women and children have been taken into captivity, their property has been seized, and a force about a thousand strong has been wiped out there” (6:13). Similarly, the “pagans” of Galilee gather against the Jews living near them. Judas sends his brother Simon and 3000 to aid them; Judas and brother Jonathan go with 8000 men to Gilead. A man named Joseph is left to guard Judea.

Simon defeats the pagans of Galilee, and brings the Jews living there back to Judea with him.

Judas and Jonathan cross the Jordan into Gilead. The Nabateans greet them in peace and tell them what the enemy has been doing. Judas goes to towns in what is today northern Syria where Jews are held up and in danger. He goes from town to town, killing the enemy in these towns. Timotheus, the Seleucid commander opposing him, gathers men and hires Arab mercenaries to fight the Jews. It seems as if Judas’ purpose is not only to defeat the Seleucids but to gather Jews together who are scattered around the region, being attacked in these towns and bring them to Judea. If people en route do not let them pass, they slaughter them (5:48-51).
They reach Mount Zion with joy and offer burnt offerings at the newly rededicated Temple. Meanwhile, another Jewish leader named Joseph [not a Maccabaean] orders his men to Jamnia where he meets the high Seleucid commander, Gorgias and his army; but Joseph and his cohort Azariah lose the fight. The defeat is ascribed to Joseph’s failure to do as he was told by Judas. Judas and his brother go and fight the Edomites to the south—Hebron and the lands of the Philistines. Then he returns to Judea.

1 Timothy 6 – Slaves are told they must be respectful to masters so as not to bring the Christian “movement” or church into disrepute. But masters should see them as “brothers.” Paul criticizes those with a mania for “questioning everything and arguing about words” (6:4). The only thing that comes from this is bad feeling and distrust.

“The love of money is the root of all evils” (6:10). Those who are rich should not look down on others and should “not . . .set their hopes on money, which is untrustworthy, but on God who, out of his riches, gives us all that we need for our happiness” (6:17).

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