Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Daily Old Testament: 2 Maccabees 10 and My Own Article on "Friends' Testimonies" (Part 8)

2 Maccabees 10 - The Maccabaeans restore the Temple, pull down foreign altars and then encourage a penitent spirit among the people, begging God’s forgiveness and praying that never again will the people be subject to such cruel and godless oppression.

They celebrate for eight days and institute this celebration for future times as well – the Festival of Shelters [Sukkot].

Then the story goes on to the history of Antiochus’ Epiphanes’ son Antiochus Eupator – age 8. He [or someone] appoints a man named Lysias to be chief governor of Greater Syria, “replacing Ptolemy Macron, who had been the first governor to treat the Jews fairly” (10:12).

The king’s friends go to Eupator and accuse Macron of being a traitor because he abandoned the island of Cyprus, which King Philometor of Egypt had placed under his command, and gone over to Antiochus Epiphanes. . . . No longer able to maintain the respect that his office demanded, he [Ptolemy Macron] committed suicide by taking poison” (10:13).

Another military assault against the Jews is recounted, this time by Gorgias, governor of Idumea and the Idumaeans. Judas Maccabaeus and his men capture the town and kill about 20,000. About 9,000 take refuge in two forts and Judas has to move on to other places. He leaves his brothers Simon and Joseph behind to continue the siege. Some of Simon’s men are lured into accepting a bribe of some silver in return for letting some of the men escape from the fortresses. Judas is furious when he learns this and has the men executed (10:22). He then is successful in taking the forts.

A general named Timothy [or Timotheus] brings a large force from Asia against Judea. As “the enemy forces were approaching, Judas and his men prayed to God. They put on sackcloth, threw earth on their heads, and lay face downwards on the steps of the altar, begging God to help them by fighting against their enemies, as he had promised in his Law” (10:25-26).

The fight begins. “When the fighting was at its worst, the enemy saw five handsome men riding on horses with gold bridles and leading the Jewish forces. These five men surrounded Judas, protecting him with their own armor and showering the enemy with arrows and thunderbolts” (10:29-30). The enemy becomes so confused, they are easily defeated. Timothy escapes to a fortress at Gezer but Judas and his men take the fort on the fifth day, killing Timothy and his brothers. The Jews celebrate the victory “by singing hymns and songs of thanksgiving to the Lord, who had shown them great kindness and had given them victory” (10:38).

“Friends’ Testimonies”
Part 8
The other virtue closely connected with simplicity for early Friends was the call to integrity. When they stood before a magistrate, they refused to make a ceremony of honesty by employing oaths. They simply kept to “yes” and “no” as Jesus had urged (Matt. 5:37). Fox and other leaders continually stressed the importance of integrity as part of the witness they made:

Do rightly, justly, truly, holily, equally to all people in all things . . .

Wrong no man, over-reach no man, if it be never so much to your advantage, but be plain, righteous and holy. . . . Let justice be acted and holiness in all things, without any guile, fraud or deceit. . . .

Loathe deceit . . . hard-heartedness, wronging, cozening, cheating or unjust dealing. But live and reign in the righteous Life and Power of God . . . doing the Truth to all, without respect to persons, high or low whatsoever, young or old, rich or poor . . .

. . . live in the Power of Truth and Wisdom of God, to answer the just Principle of God in all people upon the earth. And so answering . . . it, thereby you come to be as a city set upon a hill. . . .So, let your lives preach, let your Light shine, that your works may be seen, your Father may be glorified, your fruits may be unto holiness and that your end may be everlasting Life. . . .” (Fox, Letters, 154-155).
Friends’ reputation for honesty and fair dealing became legendary and remains a source of justifiable pride among Friends. Honesty had always been something important to me, but now I fully recognized and acknowledged God’s part in that in my life.

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