Day 203 – 2 Maccabees 4:30-6:31; Psalms 22, 23; Proverbs 4:13–18; Acts 22:30-23:11

2 Maccabees 4:30-6:31

30 While these things were taking place, it came about that the cities of Tarsus and Mallus revolted because they were given as a gift to Antiochis, the king’s concubine. 31 So the king went quickly to put down the rebellion. He left Andronicus, a man highly regarded, to act as his regent. 32 But Menelaus, thinking he had gained a convenient opportunity, pilfered some of the gold vessels from the temple and gave them to Andronicus. As it happened, he had already sold other vessels to Tyre and the neighboring cities. 33 But when Onias found out exactly what had taken place, he condemned these acts, after he departed to a safe place at Daphne, located near Antioch. 34 Therefore Menelaus took Andronicus aside and urged him to kill Onias. Thus Andronicus went to Onias and persuaded him with deceit. He welcomed him with sworn pledges and gave him his right hand. Although Onias was suspicious, Andronicus persuaded him to come out of his place of sanctuary. Then, with no sense of justice, he immediately put him to death.
  35 For this reason, not only the Jews, but also many of the other nations, took offense and were angry at the unjust murder of the man. 36 So when the king returned from the region of Cilicia, the Jews in the city pleaded with him regarding the senseless murder of Onias, and the Greeks also felt the common hatred of the crime. 37 Therefore Antiochus was grieved at heart and filled with pity; and he wept on account of the decency and good behavior of the deceased. 38 Inflamed with anger, he immediately stripped off the purple robe from Andronicus and tore off his garments. Then he led him around the whole city to that very place where he sinned against Onias, and there he put the bloodstained man to death. Thus the Lord repaid him with the punishment he deserved.
Menelaus Tried for Lysimachus’s Murder
39 When much sacrilegious plunder by Lysimachus took place in the city with the consent of Menelaus, and when the report of this spread abroad, the people gathered together against Lysimachus, because many of the gold vessels had already been carried away. 40 Thus, since the crowds were stirring and completely filled with wrath, Lysimachus armed about three thousand men and began an unjust attack, led by a certain Auranus, a man advanced in years but no less advanced in stupidity. 41 So when the Jews became aware of the assault of Lysimachus, some picked up stones and clubs, and others took handfuls of ashes lying about, and threw them in utter confusion at Lysimachus and his men. 42 As a result, they wounded many of them, killed some, and forced them all to flee. Then they killed the temple robber himself near the treasury.
43 But a judgment concerning this was presented against Menelaus. 44 For when the king arrived at Tyre, three men sent by the council of elders presented the case before him. 45 But Menelaus, who was already defeated, promised considerable wealth to Ptolemy son of Dorymenes if he won over the king. 46 Therefore Ptolemy took the king aside into a certain courtyard, as if to offer him refreshment, and persuaded him to change his mind. 47 For he indeed acquitted Menelaus, the cause of all the evil, but he sentenced to death those unfortunate men who would have been freed uncondemned even if they pleaded before Scythians. 48 So those who had spoken for the city, the people, and the holy vessels quickly suffered the unjust penalty. 49 For this reason, even the Tyrians were indignant over the crime and provided magnificently for their funeral expenses. 50 But Menelaus, because of the covetousness of those in power, remained in office, increased in malice, and brought about great treachery against his fellow citizens.
1 Around this time, Antiochus set out for his second assault into Egypt. 2 So it came about throughout the entire city of Jerusalem that for almost forty days there were apparitions of horsemen dressed in apparel interwoven with gold and moving quickly through the air, in companies fully armed with spears and drawn swords— 3 troops of horsemen set in battle array and making attacks and counterattacks on this side and on that, with the movement of shields and a multitude of spears, and the shooting of arrows, and the brightness of gold ornaments, and breastplates of all sorts. 4 Therefore all the men prayed that the appearance might be for the good.
Jason’s Assault on Jerusalem
5 But when a false report was circulated that Antiochus was dead, Jason took no less than a thousand men and suddenly made an assault upon the city. When the men on the wall were driven off and the city was finally taken, Menelaus was banished into the citadel. 6 But Jason kept slaughtering his own fellow citizens without mercy, not comprehending that success against his kinsmen was his very unlucky day, for he imagined that he was winning trophies over his enemies rather than over people of the same race. 7 Yet he did not get the upper hand of the government, but in the end gained disgrace from his plot, and took refuge again among the Ammonites.
8 In the end, his life reached an ugly conclusion. He was accused before Aretas the ruler of the Arabs, but fled from city to city. He was pursued by all, detested as a rebel against the laws, and abhorred as an executioner of his homeland and fellow-citizens. Finally he was cast ashore in Egypt. 9 Thus he who so often banished many from their homelands himself perished in a strange land; for he had set sail to the Lacedaimonians to obtain protection because of their kinship. 10 So he who cast out many without a burial was unmourned, for he had no funeral of his own, nor did he share a place in the tomb of his fathers.
  Antiochus Kills and Desecrates
11 When the news of what happened reached King Antiochus, he took it to mean that Judea was in revolt. So inwardly he became like a wild beast, left Egypt, and took the city in war. 12 He commanded his soldiers to cut down without mercy whomever they met and to slaughter those who went into their houses. 13 So there was a killing of young and old, a killing of boys, women, and children, and a slaughtering of virgins and infants. 14 Eighty thousand were destroyed in a total of three days, forty thousand in hand-to-hand combat; and no fewer were sold into slavery than were slain.
15 Not satisfied with these things, Antiochus dared to enter the most holy temple in all the earth. He had as his guide Menelaus, who had become a traitor both to the laws and to his country. 16 With defiled hands he took the holy vessels, and with profane hands he pulled down the things dedicated by other kings to increase the glory and honor of the place. 17 Antiochus was haughty, but was unaware that, because of the sins of those who lived in the city, the Lord was momentarily angered, and therefore was withholding grace as a temporary punishment of the place. 18 However, if the people of the city had not been involved in so many sins, this man would have been scourged and brought to ruin as soon as he had come, as was Heliodorus, whom Seleucus the king had sent to inspect the treasury. 19 But the Lord did not choose the nation because of the place, but the place because of the nation. 20 Therefore the place also itself shared in the misfortunes that befell the nation, and later had a share in its benefits; and what was forsaken in the wrath of the Almighty was restored again in all its glory by the reconciliation of the great Lord.
21 At any rate, Antiochus carried off eighteen hundred talents from the temple and hurried away to Antioch. In his arrogance he thought he could sail on the land and walk on the sea because of the lifting up of his heart. 22 But he also left governors to afflict the people. In Jerusalem he left Philip, a Phrygian by race, more barbarous in character than the one who appointed him; 23 and in Gerizim, Andronicus. In addition to these he left Menelaus, who lorded it over his fellow citizens worse than did the others, having a hateful disposition toward the Jewish citizens. 24 Antiochus sent Apollonius, commander of the Mysians, with an army of twenty-two thousand men, with orders to slaughter all the grown men and to sell the women and young boys as slaves. 25 After he arrived in Jerusalem and pretended to be peace-loving, this man waited until the holy day of the Sabbath; then, finding the Jews not at work, he commanded his men to take up arms. 26 He put to the sword all those who came out to see them; then he rushed into the city with his armed men and killed great numbers of people.
27 But Judas Maccabeus, with about nine others, withdrew into the desert so as not to share in the defilement. He kept himself and those with him alive in the mountains as do wild animals, by continually eating food that grew wild.
Persecution of the Jews
1 Not long afterward, the king sent an Athenian senator to compel the Jews to leave behind the laws of their fathers and not to live by the laws of God. 2 He also insisted they pollute the temple in Jerusalem by calling it the temple of Olympian Zeus, and to call the one in Gerizim the temple of Zeus the Hospitable, as did the people who lived at one time in that place. 3 The intensity of evil was hard to deal with and extremely hateful, 4 for the temple was filled with debauchery and reveling by the Gentiles, who relaxed with friends and had intercourse with women within the sacred precincts, and still further brought unfitting things inside. 5 The altar was filled with disgusting things forbidden by the laws. 6 A man could neither keep the Sabbath, nor observe the feasts of his fathers, nor simply confess himself to be a Jew.
7 When the month came for the king’s birthday, the Jews were led by bitter constraint to partake of the sacrifices; and when the feast of Dionysus came, they were forced to walk in procession for Dionysus wearing ivy wreaths. 8 Moreover, a decree laid down by Ptolemy was sent to the nearby Greek cities that the same manner of conduct be imposed on the Jews to partake of the sacrifices; 9 but they should slaughter those who chose not to change over to Greek customs. One could see, therefore, their present misery.
  10 For instance, there were two women brought for circumcising their children. They publicly paraded these women around the city, with their babes hanging from their breasts, then they threw them down from the city wall. 11 Others who came together in the nearby caves to keep the seventh day secretly were betrayed to Philip and were all burned together, because they piously kept themselves from crying out for help on account of their regard for the most holy day.
12 Now I urge those who read this book not to be discouraged by these calamities, but to recognize that these punishments were for the discipline of our people, but not for their destruction. 13 For it is an act of great kindness for the Lord not to allow our people to act ungodly for long, but to punish them immediately. 14 But the Lord does not act the same way with other nations. He waits patiently until they attain the completion of their sins, then punishes them. Thus He does not judge us in this way, 15 so as to take vengeance on us afterwards when we have reached the end of our sinning. 16 For this very reason He never withdraws His mercy from us. Although He disciplines us with calamities, He does not abandon His own people. 17 Let what I have said serve as a reminder, but we must continue the narrative.
Eleazar Is Martyred
18 Eleazar, one of the scribes in high position, a man already advanced in years and of a noble presence, was forced to open his mouth to eat swine’s flesh. 19 But welcoming an honorable death rather than a defiled life, he spat out the flesh and approached the rack of his own accord. 20 He did as men should do who refuse what is not lawful to eat, even for the love of life.
21 Those in charge of the unlawful sacrifice, because of their longtime acquaintance with him, took the man aside privately and urged him to bring meat proper for him to use, pretending to prepare it for himself as though he were eating the flesh of the sacrifice commanded by the king. 22 Thus by doing this he might be saved from death, and be treated kindly on account of his long friendship with them. 23 But making an honorable resolve worthy of his years and the dignity of his old age and gray hair, which he had reached through the distinction of his excellent life even from childhood, and moreover according to the holy God-given laws, he turned himself over to them quickly, telling them to send him immediately to Hades.
24 “For to pretend such things,” he said, “is not worthy of our time of life, lest many of the young should suppose that Eleazar in his ninetieth year has gone over to a foreign religion, 25 and because of my pretense for the sake of living a brief moment longer, they should be led astray through me, while I earn only pollution and defilement in my old age. 26 For even if for the present I should avoid the punishment of men, yet whether I live or die, I shall not escape the hands of the Almighty. 27 Therefore by manfully giving up my life now, I will show myself worthy of my old age, 28 and leave to the young a noble example of how to die a good death willingly and bravely for the venerable and holy laws.”
After he said this, he went straight to the rack, 29 and those who had just demonstrated good will toward him now showed hostility, because they took the words he had spoken to be madness. 30 When he was about to die from the blows, he groaned and said, “It is evident to the Lord in His holy knowledge that, though I could have been saved from death, I am enduring terrible sufferings in my body from this beating, but in my soul I gladly suffer these things because I fear Him.”
  31 So in this manner he died, leaving in his death an example of his noble character and a memorial of his virtue, not only to the young but to the many people of his nation.
Psalm 22

1 A psalm by David.

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.

2 He makes me to lie down in green pastures;

He leads me beside the still waters.

3 He restores my soul;

He leads me in the paths of righteousness

For His name’s sake.

4 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,

I will fear no evil, for You are with me;

Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.

5 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;

You anoint my head with oil;

Your cup runs over.

6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me

All the days of my life;

And I will dwell in the house of the Lord to the end of my days.

Psalm 23

1 A psalm by David; on the first day of the week.

The earth is the Lord’s, and its fullness,

The world and all who dwell therein.

2 For He founded it upon the seas

And prepared it upon the rivers.

3 Who shall ascend to the mountain of the Lord?

Who shall stand in His holy place?

4 He who has innocent hands and a pure heart;

He who does not lift up his soul to vanity;

He who does not swear deceitfully to his neighbor.

5 He shall receive blessing from the Lord

And mercy from the God of his salvation.

6 This is the generation of those who seek Him,

Who seek the face of the God of Jacob.


7 Lift up the gates, O you rulers,

And be lifted up, you everlasting doors,

And the King of glory shall enter.

8 Who is this King of glory?

The Lord strong and mighty,

The Lord powerful in battle.

9 Lift up the gates, O you rulers,

And be lifted up, you everlasting doors,

And the King of glory shall enter.

10 Who is this King of Glory?

The Lord of hosts, He is the King of glory.

Proverbs 4:13–18

13 Do not go in the ways of the ungodly,

Neither be zealous for the ways of the lawless;

14 In whatever place they encamp, do not go there,

But turn aside from them and pass by.

15 For they cannot sleep unless they do evil;

Their sleep is taken away, and they do not rest;

16 For they feed on the bread of ungodliness,

And they are drunk with the wine of lawlessness.

17 But the ways of the righteous shine like a light;

They go before and give light until full daylight.

18 But the ways of the ungodly are dark;

They do not know how they stumble.

Acts 22:30-23:11

30 The next day, because he wanted to know for certain why he was accused by the Jews, he released him from his bonds, and commanded the chief priests and all their council to appear, and brought Paul down and set him before them.

23 Then Paul, looking earnestly at the council, said, “Men and brethren, I have lived in all good conscience before God until this day.” And the high priest Ananias commanded those who stood by him to strike him on the mouth. Then Paul said to him, “God will strike you, you whitewashed wall! For you sit to judge me according to the law, and do you command me to be struck contrary to the law?”

And those who stood by said, “Do you revile God’s high priest?”

Then Paul said, “I did not know, brethren, that he was the high priest; for it is written, ‘You shall not speak evil of a ruler of your people.’ ”

But when Paul perceived that one part were Sadducees and the other Pharisees, he cried out in the council, “Men and brethren, I am a Pharisee, the son of a Pharisee; concerning the hope and resurrection of the dead I am being judged!”

And when he had said this, a dissension arose between the Pharisees and the Sadducees; and the assembly was divided. For Sadducees say that there is no resurrection—and no angel or spirit; but the Pharisees confess both. Then there arose a loud outcry. And the scribes of the Pharisees’ party arose and protested, saying, “We find no evil in this man; [a]but if a spirit or an angel has spoken to him, let us not fight against God.”

10 Now when there arose a great dissension, the commander, fearing lest Paul might be pulled to pieces by them, commanded the soldiers to go down and take him by force from among them, and bring him into the barracks.

11 But the following night the Lord stood by him and said, [b]“Be of good cheer, Paul; for as you have testified for Me in Jerusalem, so you must also bear witness at Rome.”

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