Day 207 – 2 Maccabees 12:17-14:17; Psalm 26; Proverbs 5:7–14; Acts 26

2 Maccabees 12:17-14:17

17 From there, they went ninety-five miles and continued on to Charax, to the Jews who were called Toubiani. 18 They did not overtake Timothy in that region, for by then he had departed from there without accomplishing anything; but in one place Timothy left a very strong garrison. 19 Dositheus and Sosipater, who were commanders under Maccabeus, marched out and crushed those men Timothy left in the stronghold, over ten thousand soldiers. 20 But Maccabeus organized his army in divisions—setting men in command of the divisions—and hastened after Timothy, who had with him one hundred and twenty thousand infantry and two thousand five hundred cavalry.
21 When Timothy learned of the approach of Judas, he sent the women and the children ahead with the baggage to a place called Carnaim; for that place was hard to attack and difficult to access because of the narrowness of all its places. 22 But when Judas’ first division appeared, alarm and fear came over the enemy at the manifestation to them of Him who sees all things. They ran off in flight, rushing headlong in every direction, so as to be often hurt by their own men and stabbed by the points of their own swords. 23 Judas pursued them with great vigor, piercing the sinful men with the sword and killing as many as thirty thousand of them.
24 Timothy himself fell into the hands of Dositheus and Sosipater and their soldiers. With great trickery he pleaded with them to let him go safely, because he held the parents of most of them and some of their brothers, to whom no regard would be shown. 25 So when with many words he had confirmed his solemn promise to restore them unharmed, they released him for the sake of rescuing their brothers.
Other Campaigns
26 Then Judas marched against Carnaim and the temple of Atargatis, and destroyed twenty-five thousand people. 27 After the rout and slaughter of these, he also marched on Ephron, a fortified town where Lysias lived with countless people of all nations. Strong young men were set as guards before the walls and fought mightily. Many provisions of war engines and missiles were stored there. 28 But the Jews called upon the Lord, who with power crushes the strength of His enemies. Thus they took possession of the city and killed as many as twenty-five thousand of those within it.
29 Moving away from Ephron, they hurried on to Scythopolis, seventy-five miles from Jerusalem. 30 But when the Jews who lived there testified to the goodwill the people of Scythopolis had shown them and their civilized treatment of them in times of trouble, 31 they thanked them and encouraged them also to be favorable to the Jewish race in the future. Then Judas and his men arrived at Jerusalem, the Feast of Weeks being close at hand.
32 After this feast, also called Pentecost, they marched against Gorgias, the governor of Idumea. 33 He came out against them with three thousand infantry and four hundred cavalry. 34 After they engaged in battle, it happened that a few of the Jews were killed. 35 But a certain Dositheus, one of Bacenor’s men, a man on horseback and a strong man, grabbed hold of Gorgias. He took hold of his cloak and was dragging him off by sheer strength. He intended to take the accursed man alive, but one of the Thracian cavalry chased him down and severed his arm. So Gorgias fled to Marisa.
36 Now Esdris and his men had been fighting for a long while and were tired. So Judas called on the Lord to show Himself as their ally and leader in battle. 37 They began to sound the battle cry in the language of their forefathers and sang hymns. Then he charged against the troops of Gorgias when they least expected it, and set them to flight.
Prayers for the Fallen
38 Then Judas retrieved his army and entered the city of Adullam. As the seventh day was dawning, they purified themselves according to custom and spent the Sabbath there. 39 The following day, as was now necessary, Judas and his men left to gather up the bodies of those killed in battle, to bring them back to rest with their kindred in the tombs of their forefathers. 40 But under the tunics of each of the dead, they uncovered sacred tokens of the Jamnian idols, which the Jews are forbidden by law to wear. So the reason these men died in battle became clear to everyone. 41 Thus they all blessed the ways of the Lord, the righteous judge, who reveals the hidden things. 42 They turned to supplication and prayed that the sin they had committed might be completely blotted out.
  The noble Judas exhorted his people to guard themselves from sin, for with their own eyes they had seen what happened to those who died in battle because of their sin. 43 He then took up an offering from his soldiers amounting to two thousand silver drachmas, and sent it to Jerusalem to present as a sin offering. In doing so he acted properly and with honor, taking note of the resurrection. 44 For if he were not looking for the resurrection of those fallen, it would have been utterly foolish to pray for the departed. 45 But since he was looking to the reward of splendor laid up for those who repose in godliness, it was a holy and godly purpose. Thus he made atonement for the fallen, so as to set them free from their transgression.
The Death of Menelaus
1 In the one hundred forty-ninth year, Judas and his men got word that Antiochus Eupator was marching against Judea with a huge army, 2 and with him his guardian, Lysias, who was in charge of the government. Each of them had a Greek army of one hundred ten thousand infantry, five thousand three hundred horsemen, twenty-two elephants, and three hundred chariots armed with scythes.
3 Menelaus also joined forces with them. It was a great irony that he encouraged Antiochus, not for the preservation of his homeland, but for his expectation to be established in authority. 4 But the King of kings aroused anger in Antiochus against this sinful man. So when Lysias pointed out that this man was the cause of all the trouble, he commanded them to take him to Beroea, to put him to death as was the custom there. 5 For there is a tower in that place, fifty cubits high and filled with ashes. It also has a contrivance continuing around it on all sides that inclines steeply into the ashes. 6 There they all shove anyone guilty of sacrilege or who has done excessive evils to their destruction. 7 Thus it happened that Menelaus the lawbreaker died by such a destiny. He was even deprived of a burial in the ground. 8 Now this was altogether just, for since he committed many sins against the sacred altar, whose fire and ashes were holy, he should get death for himself in ashes.
The Jews Prevail near Modein
9 The king was coming with barbarous arrogance to face the Jews with things far worse than anything done by his father. 10 But when Judas learned of this, he charged the people to call upon the Lord day and night, asking Him to help them now as He had formerly; for they were about to be deprived of their law, their homeland, and their temple. 11 They prayed He would not allow the people who had just begun a new life to fall into the hands of the blaspheming Gentiles. 12 After they all made the same petition together and constantly implored the merciful Lord with weeping, fasting, and prostrations for three days, Judas encouraged them and commanded them to stand firm.
13 Then he consulted privately with the elders and determined to march out, to let the matter be decided by the help of God before the king’s army could enter Judea and take possession of the city. 14 So, committing the results to the Creator of all and urging those with him to fight nobly to the death for the laws, the temple, the city, the country, and the commonwealth, he positioned his army near Modein. 15 After he gave his men the watchword, “God’s Victory,” and chose his best young men, he besieged the royal palace by night, killing as many as two thousand men in the camp. He also slew the leading elephant and its rider. 16 As a result, they filled the camp with terror and disorder and departed victoriously. 17 This all happened by daybreak, because the protection of the Lord was with him.
Antiochus V Makes Peace with the Jews
18 Thus the king tasted the courage of the Jews and plotted a strategy against their positions. 19 He marched against Beth-zur, a stronghold of the Jews, but was turned back. He attacked again, but was beaten. 20 Judas then sent supplies to the men inside the fortress. 21 But Rhodocus, a man from the Jewish army, tipped off the enemy with secret information. Thus he was sought after, caught, and imprisoned. 22 The king spoke a second time with the people in Beth-zur, gave assurances, received their pledges, and departed. He then attacked Judas and his forces, but was vanquished.
23 He then learned that Philip, whom he had left in charge of the government in Antioch, had lost his sanity. He was disheartened and summoned the Jews, and yielded and gave an oath to honor all their rights. Thus he settled with them and offered sacrifice, respected the temple, and treated the place humanely. 24 He welcomed Maccabeus, and Hegemonides was left as governor from Ptolemais to Gerar. 25 Then he went to Ptolemais, but the people of Ptolemais were indignant over the treaty with the Jews. In fact, they were so enraged they sought to annul its provisions. 26 But Lysias took the public stage and defended the treaty as best he could. He did persuade them, and gaining their goodwill, he returned to Antioch. This is the outcome of the king’s strategy and settlement.
  Alcimus Accuses Judas
1 After three years’ time, word reached Judas and his soldiers that Demetrius, the son of Seleucus, had killed Antiochus and Lysias his guardian, then had sailed into the harbor of Tripolis with a powerful army and fleet 2 and taken possession of the country.
3 Now there was a certain Alcimus, formerly a high priest, who had willfully defiled himself in the times of social and political disturbance. He realized there was no way for him to live in safety or to approach the holy altar ever again. 4 So he went to King Demetrius sometime in the one hundred and fifty-first year and presented him a crown of gold and a palm branch, as well as some of the customary olive branches from the temple. During that day he remained peaceful. 5 But he seized an opportunity in his own stupidity when he was invited by Demetrius to a session of the council and was questioned about the disposition and intentions of the Jews.
Thus he said to the council: 6 “Those of the Jews who are called Hasideans, whose leader is Judas Maccabeus, are maintaining war and stirring up rebellion, and will not allow the kingdom to attain stability. 7 Wherefore I have set aside my paternal glory—meaning my high priesthood—and now have come here. 8 I came here first out of my honest concern for the well-being of the king, and second out of consideration for my own fellow-citizens; for through the rashness of those just mentioned, our entire nation is suffering misfortune. 9 Because you, O king, are acquainted with the details of these things, please take care of our country and our hard-pressed people with the gracious love for mankind that you have for everyone. 10 For as long as Judas is alive, it will be impossible for the government to experience peace.”
Nicanor Sent to Kill Judas
11 After he said this, the rest of the king’s friends who bore malice against Judas aroused even greater anger in Demetrius. 12 Immediately he chose Nicanor, the commander of a squadron of elephants, appointing him governor of Judea. 13 He sent him off with the charge to kill Judas, scatter his soldiers, and establish Alcimus as high priest of the great temple. 14 The Gentiles who had fled before Judas throughout Judea joined Nicanor, for they thought the setbacks and calamities of the Jews would bring prosperity to themselves.
15 The Jews got word of Nicanor’s coming and the assault of the Gentiles. So they sprinkled their heads with earth and prayed to Him who establishes His people forever, and always helps His own inheritance by making Himself present. 16 At the command of Judas their leader, they immediately moved the army from there and met the enemy in battle at a village called Dessau. 17 Simon, the brother of Judas, had encountered Nicanor in battle, but was halted because of the unexpected silence of those adversaries.
Psalm 26

1 Of David; before he was anointed.

The Lord is my light and my savior; whom shall I fear?

The Lord is the defender of my life; whom shall I dread?

2 When the wicked drew near against me to eat up my flesh,

Those who afflict me and are my enemies, they weakened and fell.

3 Though an army should array itself against me, my heart shall not be afraid;

Though war should rise up against me, in this I shall hope.

4 One thing I ask from the Lord; this I will seek,

That I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life,

And behold the delights of the Lord,

And visit His temple.

5 For He hid me in His tabernacle in the day of my troubles;

He sheltered me in the secret place of His tabernacle;

He set me high upon a rock.

6 And now, behold, He has lifted up my head above my enemies;

I went around and offered in His tabernacle a sacrifice of joy;

I will sing to the Lord, and praise Him with the harp.

7 O Lord, hear my voice, wherein I cry;

Have mercy on me and hear me.

8 My heart speaks to You; my face seeks You;

Your face, O Lord, I will seek.

9 Do not turn away Your face from me;

  Do not turn away from Your servant in wrath;

Be my helper; do not utterly cast me away,

Nor forsake me, O God my savior.

10 For my father and my mother forsook me,

But the Lord laid hold of me.

11 Instruct me, O Lord, in the way of Your law;

Set me on a straight path because of my enemies.

12 Do not deliver me to the souls of those who afflict me,

For unjust witnesses rise up against me;

And injustice lies to itself.

13 I believe I shall see the Lord’s goodness in the land of the living.

14 Wait on the Lord;

Be courageous, and strengthen your heart,

And wait on the Lord.

Proverbs 5:7–14

7 Now therefore, my son, hear me,

And do not make my words invalid;

8 Make your way distant from her

And do not come near the doors of her house,

9 That you may not give away your life to others

And your existence to the merciless;

10 That strangers may not be filled with your strength,

And your labors go into the houses of strangers,

11 And you should feel regret at the last,

When the flesh of your body is consumed;

12 And you will say, “How I hated instruction

And turned my heart away from reproofs;

13 I did not hear the voice of my instructor and teacher,

Nor did I incline my ear;

14 Little by little I was in every evil

In the midst of the church and congregation.”

Acts 26

26 Then Agrippa said to Paul, “You are permitted to speak for yourself.”

So Paul stretched out his hand and answered for himself: “I think myself happy, King Agrippa, because today I shall answer for myself before you concerning all the things of which I am accused by the Jews, especially because you are expert in all customs and questions which have to do with the Jews. Therefore I beg you to hear me patiently.

“My manner of life from my youth, which was spent from the beginning among my own nation at Jerusalem, all the Jews know. They knew me from the first, if they were willing to testify, that according to the strictest sect of our religion I lived a Pharisee. And now I stand and am judged for the hope of the promise made by God to our fathers. To this promise our twelve tribes, earnestly serving God night and day, hope to attain. For this hope’s sake, King Agrippa, I am accused by the Jews. Why should it be thought incredible by you that God raises the dead?

“Indeed, I myself thought I must do many things [a]contrary to the name of Jesus of Nazareth. 10 This I also did in Jerusalem, and many of the saints I shut up in prison, having received authority from the chief priests; and when they were put to death, I cast my vote against them. 11 And I punished them often in every synagogue and compelled them to blaspheme; and being exceedingly enraged against them, I persecuted them even to foreign cities.

12 “While thus occupied, as I journeyed to Damascus with authority and commission from the chief priests, 13 at midday, O king, along the road I saw a light from heaven, brighter than the sun, shining around me and those who journeyed with me. 14 And when we all had fallen to the ground, I heard a voice speaking to me and saying in the Hebrew language, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me? It is hard for you to kick against the goads.’ 15 So I said, ‘Who are You, Lord?’ And He said, ‘I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. 16 But rise and stand on your feet; for I have appeared to you for this purpose, to make you a minister and a witness both of the things which you have seen and of the things which I will yet reveal to you. 17 I will [b]deliver you from the Jewish people, as well as from the Gentiles, to whom I [c]now send you, 18 to open their eyes, in order to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who are sanctified[d] by faith in Me.’

19 “Therefore, King Agrippa, I was not disobedient to the heavenly vision, 20 but declared first to those in Damascus and in Jerusalem, and throughout all the region of Judea, and then to the Gentiles, that they should repent, turn to God, and do works befitting repentance. 21 For these reasons the Jews seized me in the temple and tried to kill me. 22 Therefore, having obtained help from God, to this day I stand, witnessing both to small and great, saying no other things than those which the prophets and Moses said would come— 23 that the Christ would suffer, that He would be the first to rise from the dead, and would proclaim light to the Jewish people and to the Gentiles.”

24 Now as he thus made his defense, Festus said with a loud voice, “Paul, you are beside yourself! Much learning is driving you mad!”

25 But he said, “I am not [e]mad, most noble Festus, but speak the words of truth and reason. 26 For the king, before whom I also speak freely, knows these things; for I am convinced that none of these things escapes his attention, since this thing was not done in a corner. 27 King Agrippa, do you believe the prophets? I know that you do believe.”

28 Then Agrippa said to Paul, “You almost persuade me to become a Christian.”

29 And Paul said, “I would to God that not only you, but also all who hear me today, might become both almost and altogether such as I am, except for these chains.”

30 When he had said these things, the king stood up, as well as the governor and Bernice and those who sat with them; 31 and when they had gone aside, they talked among themselves, saying, “This man is doing nothing deserving of death or chains.”

32 Then Agrippa said to Festus, “This man might have been set free if he had not appealed to Caesar.”

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