Day 206 – 2 Maccabees 10:24-12:16; Psalm 25; Proverbs 5:1–6; Acts 25

2 Maccabees 10:24-12:16

24 Now Timothy, who had been defeated previously by the Jews, gathered a very massive and powerful force of mercenaries and assembled cavalry from Asia in no small number. Then he arrived as though he would take Judea captive. 25 As he drew near, Maccabeus and his men made supplication to God as they sprinkled earth on their heads and girded their loins with sackcloth. 26 They fell prostrate before the foot of the altar and implored Him to be merciful to them and to be an enemy to their enemies and an adversary to their adversaries, as the law plainly shows. 27 Then arising from prayer, they took up their weapons and advanced a considerable distance from the city. When they came near the enemy, they were by themselves. 28 But as dawn was breaking, the armies attacked one another. The one had the guarantee of prosperity and victory, with their virtue and the Lord as their place of refuge, but the other depended on rage as their leader in the fight.
  29 When the battle was strongly contested, there appeared to the enemy from heaven five majestic men on horses with golden bridles, and they were leading the Jews. 30 They took Maccabeus between them and shielded him with their own armor. They kept him from being wounded and cast arrows and thunderbolts on the enemy. Wherefore, confused with blindness and full of disorder, they were cut to pieces. 31 Twenty thousand five hundred were slaughtered along with six hundred cavalry.
32 Timothy himself fled to a stronghold called Gazara, especially well garrisoned, where Chaereas was commander. 33 Maccabeus and his men eagerly besieged the stronghold for four days, 34 but the men within it trusted in the security of the place. So they kept blaspheming beyond measure and uttering disgusting words. 35 Now when the fifth day dawned, twenty young men in the army of Maccabeus burned with anger because of the blasphemies. So they bravely attacked the wall and with savage fury struck down everyone they encountered. 36 Others likewise went up during the distraction against those inside and burned down the towers. They kindled fires and burned the blasphemers alive. Others broke through the gates, let in the rest of the force, and took control of the city. 37 They killed Timothy, who was hiding in a well, and his brother Chaereas and Apollophanes. 38 When they had done this, they blessed the Lord with hymns and praises, thanking Him who shows great kindness to Israel and gives them victory.
The Defeat of Lysias
1 Shortly afterward, Lysias, who was the king’s guardian and kinsman and in charge of the government, was greatly upset at what had happened, 2 and gathered about eighty thousand infantry and all his cavalry to come against the Jews. He purposed to make the city a home for Greeks, 3 to levy taxes on the temple, as he did on the sacred places of the other nations, and to put the high priesthood up for sale every year. 4 He took no account at all of God’s power, but was elated with his countless thousands of infantry and his thousands of cavalry, plus his eighty elephants. 5 Thus he entered Judea and drew near Beth-zur, a fortified place about twenty miles from Jerusalem, and besieged it.
6 When Maccabeus and his men heard of this, that Lysias was besieging the strongholds, they and all the people begged the Lord with lamentations and tears to send a good angel to save Israel. 7 Maccabeus himself was the first to bear arms, and he pleaded with the others to join with him in risking their lives to go help their brothers. Then they eagerly set out together. 8 But in that place, while they were still near Jerusalem, a horseman appeared before them, clothed in white and brandishing a full armor of gold. 9 Then together they all blessed the merciful God and were strengthened in heart, ready to bring damage not only on humans but on the most savage of beasts or walls of iron. 10 Because the Lord had mercy on them, they advanced with their weapons, having with them their ally from heaven. 11 They hurled themselves against the enemy like lions and overthrew eleven thousand of them, as well as sixteen hundred cavalry, and forced all of them to flee. 12 Most of them escaped, wounded and naked, and Lysias himself escaped by a disgraceful flight.
A Peace Accord with the Jews
13 But as Lysias was not lacking in intelligence, he discussed the loss that had happened to him. He realized the Hebrews were unconquerable, because the Almighty God was their ally. 14 So he sent a message and persuaded them to settle everything on just terms. Moreover, perhaps he could also persuade the king and compel him to become their friend. 15 Then Maccabeus agreed to everything Lysias urged, since he was concerned about what was best for all. For whatever Maccabeus gave to Lysias in writing concerning the Jews, the king granted.
16 Four letters were written to the Jews from Lysias, encompassing the following:
“Lysias to the people of the Jews, greetings. 17 John and Absalom, who were sent by you, have given us your signed communication and asked about the matters addressed in it. 18 Accordingly, I reported to the king whatever was necessary to bring him, and he granted whatever was possible. 19 If you will keep your goodwill toward the government, I will try in the future to promote your welfare. 20 So in behalf of these things and their details, I have ordered that these men and my representatives confer with you. 21 Farewell. The one hundred and forty-eighth year, the twenty-fourth of Dioscorinthius.”
  22 Now the king’s letters contained the following:
“King Antiochus to Lysias his brother, greetings. 23 Since our father has departed to the gods, we desire the subjects of the kingdom be undisturbed in caring for their own affairs. 24 We understand the Jews do not approve of our father’s change to Greek customs, but choose their own way of life and ask that their customs be granted them. 25 Since therefore we prefer for this nation to be free from disturbance, our decision is for their temple to be returned to them and for them to live according to the customs of their forefathers. 26 Therefore, you will do well to send word to them and give them assurances of friendship, so they may know our policy. Be in good spirits, and continue gladly to help them in their own affairs.”
27 The king’s letter to the nation was as follows:
“King Antiochus to the Jewish senate and the rest of the Jews, greetings. 28 If you are healthy, this would be as we desire. We are also in good health. 29 Menelaus has told us you wish to return home and attend to your own affairs. 30 Therefore, those who return home by the thirtieth of Xanthicus will have our pledge of friendship, with freedom from fear, 31 for the Jews to enjoy their own food and laws as before; and none of them shall be troubled in any way for things done in ignorance. 32 I have also sent Menelaus to encourage you. 33 Farewell. The one hundred and forty-eighth year, the fifteenth of Xanthicus.”
34 The Romans also sent them a letter, which read as follows:
“Quintus Memmius and Titus Manius, legates of the Romans, to the people of the Jews, greetings. 35 We also approve of those things concerning which Lysias the kinsman of the king has granted you. 36 But the matters he decided to report to the king, as soon as you have considered these things, send someone promptly that we may explain what is suitable for you, for we are on our way to Antioch. 37 For this reason make haste and send someone to let us know your intentions. 38 Farewell. The one hundred and forty-eighth year, the fifteenth of Xanthicus.”
Judas Prevails in Joppa and Jamnia
1 When these agreements had been made, Lysias returned to the king, and the Jews went back to their farming. 2 But some of the governors of various locales—Timothy and Apollonius son of Gennaeus, as well as Hieronymus and Demophon, and in addition Nicanor the commander of the Cyprians—would not allow the Jews to enjoy tranquility and live in peace.
3 Then the people of Joppa did so great an ungodly deed as this: they invited the Jews who lived among them, together with their wives and children, to embark on ships equipped for sea, as though they harbored no ill will toward them. 4 Now this was done by the common vote of the city. But when the Jews welcomed this, wishing to live in peace and suspecting nothing, the men of Joppa took them out to sea and drowned at least two hundred of them.
5 When Judas learned of the cruelty visited on his countrymen, he summoned his men. 6 So when he had called upon God, the righteous judge, he attacked the murderers of his brothers. He set the harbor on fire by night, burned the ships, and put to the sword those who fled there. 7 But since the gates of the city were closed, he departed, intending to come again and root out the whole community of Joppa. 8 However, when he learned that the people in Jamnia intended to wipe out the Jews who were living among them in the same way, 9 he attacked the Jamnian people by night and set the harbor and the fleet on fire; therefore, the glow of the light was visible as far as Jerusalem, thirty miles away.
Defeat of the Nomads
10 When they had gone about a mile from there on their march against Timothy, Arabs attacked him with no less than five thousand infantry and five hundred cavalry. 11 After a strongly contested battle, Judas and his men, with God’s help, were successful. The defeated nomads pleaded with Judas to grant them pledges of friendship. They promised to give him livestock and to benefit them in other ways. 12 So Judas, supposing they could indeed be useful in varied ways, agreed to make peace with them. Then after he accepted their pledges, they returned to their tents.
13 He also attacked a certain town named Caspin, strongly fortified with earthworks and walls, and inhabited by a mixed population of Gentiles. 14 Those within it trusted in the security of the walls and their supply of provisions. They behaved very contemptuously toward Judas and his men, insulting them and even blaspheming and saying unlawful things. 15 But Judas and his men called upon the great Lord of the world, who overthrew Jericho without battering rams or engines of war in the times of Joshua. Then Judas and his men assaulted the walls. 16 They overpowered the city by the will of God and inflicted such indescribable slaughter that the adjoining lake, a quarter of a mile wide, seemed to be filled with blood.
Psalm 25

1 Of David.

Judge me, O Lord, for I walk in my innocence,

And by hoping in the Lord, I shall not weaken.

2 Prove me, O Lord, and test me,

Try my reins and my heart in the fire.

3 For Your mercy is before my eyes,

And I was well-pleasing in Your truth.

4 I have not sat down with vain councils,

Nor will I go in with those who transgress the law.

5 I hate the assembly of evildoers,

And I will not sit with the ungodly.

6 I will wash my hands in innocence;

So I will go about Your altar, O Lord,

7 That I may hear the voice of praise

And tell of all Your wondrous works.

8 O Lord, I love the beauty of Your house,

And the place where Your glory dwells.

9 Do not destroy my soul with the ungodly,

Nor my life with men of blood,

10 In whose hands is lawlessness;

Their right hand is full of bribes.

11 But as for me, I walk in my innocence;

Redeem me and have mercy on me.

12 For my foot stands in uprightness;

In the churches I will bless You, O Lord.

Proverbs 5:1–6

1 My son, hold fast to wisdom

And incline your ear to my words,

2 That you may guard good thinking;

And I command you with the perception of my lips.

3 Do not join yourself to a base woman,

For honey drips from the lips of a prostitute,

Or for a season she is pleasing to your taste;

4 Afterward, however, you will find her more bitter than gall

And sharper than a two-edged sword.

5 For feet lacking discernment lead those using her down into Hades with death;

Her footsteps are not planted,

6 For she does not travel the ways of life;

And her paths are slippery and not easy to discern.

Acts 25

25 Now when Festus had come to the province, after three days he went up from Caesarea to Jerusalem. Then the [a]high priest and the chief men of the Jews informed him against Paul; and they petitioned him, asking a favor against him, that he would summon him to Jerusalem—while they lay in ambush along the road to kill him. But Festus answered that Paul should be kept at Caesarea, and that he himself was going there shortly. “Therefore,” he said, “let those who have authority among you go down with me and accuse this man, to see if there is any fault in him.”

And when he had remained among them more than ten days, he went down to Caesarea. And the next day, sitting on the judgment seat, he commanded Paul to be brought. When he had come, the Jews who had come down from Jerusalem stood about and laid many serious complaints against Paul, which they could not prove, while he answered for himself, “Neither against the law of the Jews, nor against the temple, nor against Caesar have I offended in anything at all.”

But Festus, wanting to do the Jews a favor, answered Paul and said, “Are you willing to go up to Jerusalem and there be judged before me concerning these things?”

10 So Paul said, “I stand at Caesar’s judgment seat, where I ought to be judged. To the Jews I have done no wrong, as you very well know. 11 For if I am an offender, or have committed anything deserving of death, I do not object to dying; but if there is nothing in these things of which these men accuse me, no one can deliver me to them. I appeal to Caesar.”

12 Then Festus, when he had conferred with the council, answered, “You have appealed to Caesar? To Caesar you shall go!”

13 And after some days King Agrippa and Bernice came to Caesarea to greet Festus. 14 When they had been there many days, Festus laid Paul’s case before the king, saying: “There is a certain man left a prisoner by Felix, 15 about whom the chief priests and the elders of the Jews informed me, when I was in Jerusalem, asking for a judgment against him. 16 To them I answered, ‘It is not the custom of the Romans to deliver any man [b]to destruction before the accused meets the accusers face to face, and has opportunity to answer for himself concerning the charge against him.’ 17 Therefore when they had come together, without any delay, the next day I sat on the judgment seat and commanded the man to be brought in. 18 When the accusers stood up, they brought no accusation against him of such things as I [c]supposed, 19 but had some questions against him about their own religion and about a certain Jesus, who had died, whom Paul affirmed to be alive. 20 And because I was uncertain of such questions, I asked whether he was willing to go to Jerusalem and there be judged concerning these matters. 21 But when Paul appealed to be reserved for the decision of Augustus, I commanded him to be kept till I could send him to Caesar.”

22 Then Agrippa said to Festus, “I also would like to hear the man myself.”

“Tomorrow,” he said, “you shall hear him.”

23 So the next day, when Agrippa and Bernice had come with great [d]pomp, and had entered the auditorium with the commanders and the prominent men of the city, at Festus’ command Paul was brought in. 24 And Festus said: “King Agrippa and all the men who are here present with us, you see this man about whom the whole assembly of the Jews petitioned me, both at Jerusalem and here, crying out that he was not fit to live any longer. 25 But when I found that he had committed nothing deserving of death, and that he himself had appealed to Augustus, I decided to send him. 26 I have nothing certain to write to my lord concerning him. Therefore I have brought him out before you, and especially before you, King Agrippa, so that after the examination has taken place I may have something to write. 27 For it seems to me unreasonable to send a prisoner and not to specify the charges against him.”

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