Day 194 – July 13, 2022

1 Maccabees 6:18-7:50; Psalm 16; Proverbs 3:1–5; Acts 17:16–34

1 Maccabees 6:18-7:50

18 Now men from the citadel were confining Israel to the area around the sanctuary. They were attempting by whatever means to injure them, and to bring strength to the Gentiles. 19 So he gathered all the men to defeat them. 20 They assembled the army and attacked the city in the hundred and fiftieth year. He also built engines of war and other instruments of battle.
  21 But some of these enemies escaped from the enclosure, and some ungodly Israelites sided with them. 22 They approached the king, saying, “How long will it be until you render a judgment to avenge our brothers? 23 We were pleased to serve your father, and to follow what he said and obey his orders. 24 Because of this the sons of our people attacked the citadel and became our enemies. Besides this, they killed as many of us as they found, and our inheritances were taken away. 25 But they have not stretched out their hand against us alone, but also against all the lands on their borders; 26 and behold, today they have surrounded the citadel in Jerusalem to defeat it. They have strengthened the sanctuary and Beth-zur as well. 27 So unless you quickly overtake them, they will do worse things than these, and you will be unable to stop them.”
Campaign of Antiochus V and Lysias
28 The king was angered greatly when he heard this, so he assembled all his friends, the military leaders, and those who ruled. 29 Armies of mercenaries came to him as well from other nations and from various islands of the seas. 30 So the number of his armies was one hundred thousand foot soldiers, twenty thousand calvary, and thirty-two elephants trained for battle. 31 They arrived through Idumea and marched against Beth-zur, fighting for many days and building engines of war. But Israel went out, set them on fire, and battled heroically.
32 Judas then marched out from the citadel and set up camp at Beth-zechariah, across from the king’s camp. 33 The next morning the king rose at dawn and led his army on a forced march on the highway to Beth-zechariah. His soldiers prepared themselves for warfare and blew the trumpets. 34 They also showed the elephants the juice of grapes and mulberries to ready them for the campaign. 35 Then they stationed the elephants among the phalanxes and set alongside each animal a thousand men, covered with coats of mail and with bronze helmets on their heads. Five hundred horsemen were chosen and assigned to each elephant. 36 These positioned themselves beforehand wherever the animal was, and wherever it went, they rode alongside and never left it alone. 37 Sturdy covered wooden towers were strapped upon each elephant by a special harness, and four armed men fought from inside each tower with its Indian driver. 38 They positioned the remainder of the horsemen on each side, on the two flanks of the forces, disturbing the enemy while they themselves were protected by the phalanxes. 39 As the sun shined on the golden and bronze shields, the hills glistened from them and lit up like a flaming fire.
40 While one sector of the king’s forces was stretched out on the high hills and some were on the plain, they marched on steadfastly in good order. 41 Everyone trembled when they heard the sounds of the soldiers as they marched along, and the clanging of their weapons, for the army was massive and very strong. 42 But Judas drew near with his army in battle formation, and six hundred of the king’s men fell. 43 Then Eleazar, called Avran, saw one of the elephants covered with royal armor. It was taller than the rest, and he reasoned the king was riding it. 44 So he laid down his life to rescue his people and to make an everlasting name for himself. 45 He ran boldly into the center of the phalanx, killing soldiers to the right and left, and they got out of his way on both flanks. 46 Then he crawled under the elephant, struck it from beneath, and killed it. It fell to the ground on top of him, and he died there.
47 When the Israelites saw the royal might and the fierce attack of the troops, they turned away from them in flight. 48 But the soldiers of the king’s army went up to Jerusalem to attack them, and the king set up camp in Judea and on Mount Zion. 49 He reached a peace accord with the men of Beth-zur, who evacuated the city because they had no food there to withstand a siege, for it was a sabbatical year for the land. 50 So the king captured Beth-zur and set a guard there to secure it. 51 He then set a camp opposite the sanctuary for several days and built siege towers, engines of war which threw fire and stones, machines to fire off arrows, and catapults. 52 The defenders also made engines of war to match theirs. So they battled several days. 53 But with no food stored up, because it was the seventh year, and the men who survived in Judea against the Gentiles had eaten the remaining provisions, 54 few men remained in the sanctuary, for hunger had overtaken them. They scattered, each to his own place.
  55 Now Lysias got word that Philip, whom Antiochus the king had chosen while still alive to raise Antiochus his son to rule, 56 had returned from Persia and Media with the armies that had gone there with the king, and that he was trying to gain control of the kingdom. 57 So Lysias decided immediately to send a message to the king, the commanders, and the men, saying, “We grow weaker each day, our food supply is running out, the force we are fighting against is strong, and governing the kingdom puts pressure on us. 58 Therefore, let us come to agreement with these men and have peace with them and their nation. 59 We should arrange for them to live by their laws as before; for it was because of their laws which we abolished that they became furious and did all the things they have done.”
60 This word pleased the king and the commanders, so he sent an offer of peace to the Israelites, which they accepted. 61 Thus the king and the commanders gave them their oath. On these conditions the Israelites evacuated the fortress. 62 But when the king came to Mount Zion and saw the fortification of the place, he broke his promise and commanded his men to pull down the surrounding wall. 63 Then he left hastily and came back to Antioch. There he discovered Philip in charge, so he attacked him and captured the city by force.
Demetrius I Becomes King
1 Demetrius the son of Seleucus set forth from Rome in the one hundred and fifty-first year, sailed with a few men into the city by the sea, and reigned there. 2 As he entered the royal house of his fathers, his army seized Antiochus and Lysias and brought them to him. 3 When he became aware of this action, he said, “Do not show me their faces.” 4 So the soldiers put them to death, and Demetrius occupied the throne of his kingdom.
5 Then all the lawless and ungodly men of Israel came to him. Alcimus, who wanted to be a priest, led them. 6 They brought charges against the people before the king, saying, “Judas and his brothers have destroyed all your friends and scattered us from our land. 7 Therefore, send a man you trust, and let him see all the destruction he did to us and to the country of the king. Then let him bring punishment to them and all who serve them.”
Bacchides and Alcimus Control Judah
8 The king then appointed Bacchides, one of his friends, who ruled the province of Beyond-the-River, for he was prominent in the kingdom and loyal to the king. 9 Then he sent him and the ungodly Alcimus, whom he appointed to the priesthood, and ordered him to avenge the sons of Israel. 10 They marched on with a large army and came into the land of Judah, and sent envoys to Judas and his brothers with peaceful words full of deceit. 11 But they did not heed their words, for they noticed they came with a large army.
12 Then a delegation of scribes was sent to meet with Alcimus and Bacchides to request justice. 13 The Hasideans were the first among the sons of Israel to seek peace with them. 14 For they said, “A man, a priest from the seed of Aaron, came with their forces, and he will not do us wrong.” 15 The priest spoke peacefully to them and promised them, saying, “We will not seek to injure you or your friends.” 16 They believed him, but he overtook sixty of their men and put them to death in one day, according to the word which was written:
17 “They poured out the flesh of your saints
And their blood around Jerusalem,
But there was no one to bury them.”
18 Then fear and trembling fell upon all the people, for they said, “There is no truth and uprightness in them. For they violated the promise and oath they swore.”
  19 So Bacchides departed from Jerusalem and marched to Beth-zaith. He sent for and captured many of the soldiers who deserted him, and some of the people, and he slaughtered them at the great well. 20 He put Alcimus in charge of the region and left an army with him to serve him. Then Bacchides returned to the king.
21 Alcimus then strove for the high priesthood, 22 and all who harassed their people also gathered with him. They took control of the country of Judah and damaged Israel greatly. 23 Now Judas saw all the evil Alcimus and those with him had done among the sons of Israel; it was worse than what the Gentiles did. 24 Thus Judas departed to all the regions surrounding Judea and took vengeance on the men who had deserted. He forbade those in the city to journey out to the countryside. 25 But when Alcimus realized Judas and his followers were growing strong and knew that he could not prevail against them, he went back and brought evil charges against them before the king.
Nicanor Marches on Israel
26 The king then sent Nicanor, one of his renowned commanders who hated and disdained Israel, and ordered him to get rid of the people. 27 Nicanor came up to Jerusalem with a large army, and he sent Judas and his brothers peaceful words full of deceit, saying, 28 “Let there be no quarrel between us. I will come peacefully with a few men to see you in person.” 29 So he approached Judas, and they greeted each other peacefully. But the adversaries prepared to seize Judas. 30 Then Judas was aware that Nicanor had come with deceit; and he feared him, so he did not care to meet him again. 31 When Nicanor learned his plot had been discovered, he went into battle with Judas at Caphar-salamah. 32 Some five hundred of Nicanor’s soldiers fell; the remainder fled to the city of David.
33 After this, Nicanor went up to Mount Zion. Then some priests came out of the sanctuary, along with some elders of the people, to greet him in peace, showing him the whole burnt offering which they had sacrificed on behalf of the king. 34 However, he mocked and ridiculed them. He defiled them and spoke with arrogance to them. 35 He also swore an oath angrily, saying, “Unless Judas and his troops are delivered into my hands now, then if I come back in peace, I will set this house on fire.” Then he stormed out in great rage. 36 The priests then entered and stood facing the altar and the sanctuary. They wept and cried out, 37 “You chose this place to be called by Your name that it might be a house of prayer and supplication for Your people. 38 Take vengeance on this man and on his soldiers, and let them die by the sword. Remember their blasphemies and let them be alive no longer.”
39 Soon Nicanor left Jerusalem and camped at Beth-horon, and the army of Syria joined him. 40 But Judas took position in Adassa with three thousand troops. Judas prayed, saying, 41 “When the ambassadors from the king uttered blasphemy, Your angel went forth and struck one hundred and eighty-five thousand of the Assyrians. 42 Crush also this army before us today, and let the others know that he spoke blasphemy against Your sanctuary; and judge him according to his malice.”
  Nicanor Falls in Battle
43 So the armies faced off in war the thirteenth day of the month Adar, and Nicanor’s army was scattered. He himself was the first to fall in the war. 44 When his soldiers saw Nicanor die, they dropped their weapons and ran. 45 Israel even chased them a day’s journey from Adassa as far as Gazara. As they pursued them, they kept blowing the trumpets, sounding the battle call. 46 Then the Israelites went out from all the villages around Judea and outflanked the adversaries. They drove them back to the pursuing army, and they all fell by the sword. Not one of them survived. 47 Then Israel captured the spoils and their possessions. They even beheaded Nicanor and severed his right hand, which he had stretched out arrogantly. They carried them and put them on display just outside Jerusalem. 48 So the people were very glad, and they celebrated that day as a day of great joy. 49 A decree came forth to celebrate this day at the same time every year, on the thirteenth day of Adar. 50 Thus the land of Judah had peace for several days.

Psalm 16

1 A prayer of David.

Listen, O Lord of my righteousness;

Attend to my supplication;

Give ear to my prayer that is not with deceitful lips.

2 From Your face let my judgment come;

Let my eyes behold uprightness.

3 You tested my heart, when You visited me in the night;

You tried me in the fire, and found nothing unjust in me.

4 That my mouth might not speak of the works of men,

I held to hard ways because of the words of Your lips.

5 Restore my steps in Your paths,

That my footsteps may not slip.

6 I cried out, because You listened to me, O God;

Incline Your ear to me, and hear my words.

7 Magnify Your mercies,

O You who save those who hope in You

From those who rise up against Your right hand.

8 Keep me as the apple of Your eye;

In the shelter of Your wings, You will shelter me

9 From the face of the ungodly who trouble me.

My enemies surrounded my soul;

10 Their fat enclosed them;

Their mouth spoke arrogantly.

11 Casting me out, they now surround me;

They set their eyes to bend down to the earth.

12 They seized me like a lion ready to tear its prey,

Like a young lion lurking in secret places.

13 Arise, O Lord, outrun them and trip up their heels;

Rescue my soul from the ungodly,

And Your sword from the enemies of Your hand.

14 O Lord, destroy them from the earth;

Scatter them in their life.

Their belly is filled with Your hidden things;

They are satisfied with their sons,

And they leave their possessions to their children.

15 As for me, in righteousness I shall behold Your face;

I shall be satisfied when Your glory is revealed.

Proverbs 3:1–5

1 My son, do not forget my laws,

But let your heart keep my words;

2 For length of days, and years of life and peace

They will add to you.

3 Do not let almsgiving and faithfulness forsake you,

But hang them upon your neck;

4 And you will find grace

And provide good things before the Lord and men.

5 Trust in God with all your heart,

And do not exalt your own wisdom.

Acts 17:16–34

16 Now while Paul waited for them at Athens, his spirit was provoked within him when he saw that the city was [e]given over to idols. 17 Therefore he reasoned in the synagogue with the Jews and with the Gentile worshipers, and in the marketplace daily with those who happened to be there. 18 [f]Then certain Epicurean and Stoic philosophers encountered him. And some said, “What does this [g]babbler want to say?”

Others said, “He seems to be a proclaimer of foreign gods,” because he preached to them Jesus and the resurrection.

19 And they took him and brought him to the [h]Areopagus, saying, “May we know what this new doctrine is of which you speak? 20 For you are bringing some strange things to our ears. Therefore we want to know what these things mean.” 21 For all the Athenians and the foreigners who were there spent their time in nothing else but either to tell or to hear some new thing.

22 Then Paul stood in the midst of the [i]Areopagus and said, “Men of Athens, I perceive that in all things you are very religious; 23 for as I was passing through and considering the objects of your worship, I even found an altar with this inscription:


Therefore, the One whom you worship without knowing, Him I proclaim to you: 24 God, who made the world and everything in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands. 25 Nor is He worshiped with men’s hands, as though He needed anything, since He gives to all life, breath, and all things. 26 And He has made from one [j]blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, and has determined their preappointed times and the boundaries of their dwellings, 27 so that they should seek the Lord, in the hope that they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us; 28 for in Him we live and move and have our being, as also some of your own poets have said, ‘For we are also His offspring.’ 29 Therefore, since we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Divine Nature is like gold or silver or stone, something shaped by art and man’s devising. 30 Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent, 31 because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead.”

32 And when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some mocked, while others said, “We will hear you again on this matter.” 33 So Paul departed from among them. 34 However, some men joined him and believed, among them Dionysius the Areopagite, a woman named Damaris, and others with them.

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