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Day 305 – The Defender

Thoughts and Reflection

Today we read about Judas Maccabeus and his brothers rising up against the Gentiles. When they go up against a much larger force, Judas Maccabeus inspires the people by reminding them of the times when the Lord’s help came to their ancestors. It can be hard to see how God is working in our lives at times. we need to trust that he has not abandoned us and does care for us. At the end of Chapter 8, Nicanor acknowledges that the people have a defender — the Lord.

About This Project

For the year 2022, I decided that my New Year’s Resolution was to read the whole Bible following the Bible in the Year plan presented by Fr. Mike Schmitz. It is a big and bold undertaking. You can follow along by subscribing. Feel free to look at previous day’s post and comment. It’s something we can all learn from together!

Daily Readings

2 Maccabees 8

1 Judas, otherwise known as Maccabaeus, and his companions made their way secretly among the villages, rallying their fellow-countrymen; they recruited those who remained loyal to Judaism and assembled about six thousand.

2 They called on the Lord to have regard for the people oppressed on all sides, to take pity on the Temple profaned by the godless,

3 to have mercy on the city now being destroyed and levelled to the ground, to hear the blood of the victims that cried aloud to him,

4 to remember too the criminal slaughter of innocent babies and to avenge the blasphemies perpetrated against his name.

5 As soon as Maccabaeus had an organised force, he at once proved invincible to the foreigners, the Lord’s anger having turned into compassion.

6 Making surprise attacks on towns and villages, he fired them; he captured favourable positions and inflicted very heavy losses on the enemy,

7 generally availing himself of the cover of night for such enterprises. The fame of his valour spread far and wide.

8 When Philip saw Judas was making steady progress and winning more and more frequent successes, he wrote to Ptolemy, the general officer commanding Coele-Syria and Phoenicia, asking for reinforcements in the royal interest.

9 Ptolemy chose Nicanor son of Patroclus, one of the king’s First Friends, and sent him without delay at the head of an international force of at least twenty thousand men to exterminate the entire Jewish race. As his associate he appointed Gorgias, a professional experience.

10 Nicanor for his part proposed, by the sale of Jewish prisoners of war, to raise the two thousand talents of tribute money owed by the king to the Romans.

11 He lost no time in sending the seaboard towns an invitation to come and buy Jewish manpower, promising delivery of ninety head for one talent; but he did not reckon on the judgement from the Almighty that was soon to overtake him.

12 When news reached Judas of Nicanor’s advance, he warned his men of the enemy’s approach,

13 whereupon the cowardly ones and those who lacked confidence in the justice of God took to their heels and ran away.

14 The rest sold all their remaining possessions, at the same time praying the Lord to deliver them from the godless Nicanor, who had sold them even in advance of any encounter-

15 if not for their own sakes, then at least out of consideration for the covenants made with their ancestors, and because they themselves bore his sacred and majestic name.

16 Maccabaeus marshalled his men, who numbered about six thousand, and exhorted them not to be dismayed at the enemy or discouraged at the vast horde of gentiles wickedly advancing against them, but to fight bravely,

17 keeping before their eyes the outrage committed by them against the holy place and the infamous and scornful treatment inflicted on the city, not to mention the destruction of their traditional way of life.

18 ‘They may put their trust in their weapons and their exploits,’ he said, ‘but our confidence is in almighty God, who is able with a single nod to overthrow both those marching on us and the whole world with them.’

19 He reminded them of the occasions on which their ancestors had received help: that time when, under Sennacherib, a hundred and eighty-five thousand men had perished;

20 that time in Babylonia when in the battle with the Galatians the Jewish combatants numbered only eight thousand, with four thousand Macedonians, yet when the Macedonians were hard pressed, the eight thousand had destroyed a hundred and twenty thousand, thanks to the help they had received from Heaven, and had taken great booty as a result.

21 Having so roused their courage by these words that they were ready to die for the laws and their country, he then divided his army into four,

22 putting his brothers, Simon, Joseph and Jonathan in command of one division each, and assigning them fifteen hundred men apiece.

23 Next, he ordered Esdrias to read the Holy Book aloud and gave them their watchword ‘Help from God’. Then, putting himself at the head of the first division, he attacked Nicanor.

24 With the Almighty for their ally they slaughtered over nine thousand of the enemy, wounded and crippled the greater part of Nicanor’s army and put them all to flight.

25 The money of their prospective purchasers fell into their hands. After pursuing them for a good while, they turned back, since timewas pressing:

26 it was the eve of the Sabbath, and for that reason they did not prolong their pursuit.

27 They collected the enemy’s weapons and stripped them of their spoils, and because of the Sabbath even more heartily blessed and praised the Lord, who had saved them and who had chosen that day for the first manifestation of his compassion.

28 When the Sabbath was over, they distributed some of the booty among the victims of the persecution and the widows and orphans; the rest they divided among themselves and their children.

29 They then joined in public supplication, imploring the merciful Lord to be fully reconciled with his servants.

30 They also challenged the forces of Timotheus and Bacchides and destroyed over twenty thousand of them, gaining possession of several high fortresses. They divided their enormous booty into two equal shares, one for themselves, the other for the victims of the persecution and the orphans and widows, not forgetting the aged.

31 They carefully collected the enemy’s weapons and stored them in suitable places. The rest of the spoils they took to Jerusalem.

32 They killed the tribal chieftain on Timotheus’ staff, an extremely wicked man who had done great harm to the Jews.

33 In the course of their victory celebrations in Jerusalem, they burned the men who had fired the Holy Gates; with Callisthenes they had taken refuge in one small house; so these received a fitting reward for their sacrilege.

34 The triple-dyed scoundrel Nicanor, who had brought the thousand merchants to buy the Jews,

35 finding himself with the Lord’s help humbled by men he had himself reckoned as of very little account, stripped off his robes of state, and made his way across country unaccompanied, like a runaway slave, reaching Antioch by a singular stroke of fortune, since his army had been destroyed.

36 Thus the man who had promised the Romans to make good their tribute money by selling the prisoners from Jerusalem, bore witnessthat the Jews had a defender and that they were in consequence invulnerable, since they followed the laws which that defender had ordained.

Wisdom 5

1 Then the upright will stand up boldly to face those who had oppressed him and had thought so little of his sufferings.

2 And, seeing him, they will be seized with terrible fear, amazed that he should have been so unexpectedly saved.

3 Stricken with remorse, they will say to one another with groans and labouring breath,

4 ‘This is the one whom we used to mock, making him the butt of our insults, fools that we were! His life we regarded as madness, his ending as without honour.

5 How has he come to be counted as one of the children of God and to have his lot among the holy ones?

6 Clearly we have strayed from the way of truth; the light of justice has not shone for us, the sun has not risen for us.

7 We have left no path of lawlessness or ruin unexplored, we have crossed deserts where there was no track, but the way of the Lord is one we have never known.

8 What good has arrogance been to us? What has been the purpose of our riches and boastfulness?

9 All those things have passed like a shadow, passed like a fleeting rumour.

10 Like a ship that cuts through heaving waves — leaving no trace to show where it has passed, no wake from its keel in the waves.

11 Or like a bird flying through the air — leaving no proof of its passing; it whips the light air with the stroke of its pinions, tears it apart in its whirring rush, drives its way onward with sweeping wing, and afterwards no sign is seen of its passage.

12 Or like an arrow shot at a mark, the pierced air closing so quickly on itself, there is no knowing which way the arrow has passed.

13 So with us: scarcely born, we disappear; of virtue not a trace have we to show, we have spent ourselves in our own wickedness!’

14 For the hope of the godless is like chaff carried on the wind, like fine spray driven by the storm; it disperses like smoke before the wind, goes away like the memory of a one-day guest.

15 But the upright live for ever, their recompense is with the Lord, and the Most High takes care of them.

16 So they will receive the glorious crown and the diadem of beauty from the Lord’s hand; for he will shelter them with his right hand and with his arm he will shield them.

17 For armour he will take his jealous love, he will arm creation to punish his enemies;

18 he will put on justice as a breastplate, and for helmet wear his forthright judgement;

19 he will take up invincible holiness for shield,

20 of his pitiless wrath he will forge a sword, and the universe will march with him to fight the reckless.

21 Bolts truly aimed, the shafts of lightning will leap, and from the clouds, as from a full-drawn bow, fly to their mark;

22 and the catapult will hurl hailstones charged with fury. The waters of the sea will rage against them, the rivers engulf them without pity,

23 a mighty gale will rise against them and winnow them like a hurricane. Thus wickedness will lay the whole earth waste and evil-doing bring down the thrones of the mighty.

Wisdom 6

1 Listen then, kings, and understand; rulers of remotest lands, take warning;

2 hear this, you who govern great populations, taking pride in your hosts of subject nations!

3 For sovereignty is given to you by the Lord and power by the Most High, who will himself probe your acts and scrutinise your intentions.

4 If therefore, as servants of his kingdom, you have not ruled justly nor observed the law, nor followed the will of God,

5 he will fall on you swiftly and terribly. On the highly placed a ruthless judgement falls;

6 the lowly are pardoned, out of pity, but the mighty will be mightily tormented.

7 For the Lord of all does not cower before anyone, he does not stand in awe of greatness, since he himself has made small and great and provides for all alike;

8 but a searching trial awaits those who wield power.

9 So, monarchs, my words are meant for you, so that you may learn wisdom and not fall into error;

10 for those who in holiness observe holy things will be adjudged holy, and, accepting instruction from them, will find their defence in them.

11 Set your heart, therefore, on what I have to say, listen with a will, and you will be instructed.

12 Wisdom is brilliant, she never fades. By those who love her, she is readily seen, by those who seek her, she is readily found.

13 She anticipates those who desire her by making herself known first.

14 Whoever gets up early to seek her will have no trouble but will find her sitting at the door.

15 Meditating on her is understanding in its perfect form, and anyone keeping awake for her will soon be free from care.

16 For she herself searches everywhere for those who are worthy of her, benevolently appearing to them on their ways, anticipating their every thought.

17 For Wisdom begins with the sincere desire for instruction, care for instruction means loving her,

18 loving her means keeping her laws, attention to her laws guarantees incorruptibility,

19 and incorruptibility brings us near to God;

20 the desire for Wisdom thus leads to sovereignty.

21 If then thrones and sceptres delight you, monarchs of the nations, honour Wisdom, so that you may reign for ever.

22 What Wisdom is and how she was born, I shall now explain; I shall hide no mysteries from you, but shall follow her steps from the outset of her origin, setting out what we know of her in full light, without departing from the truth.

23 Blighting envy is no companion for me, for envy has nothing in common with Wisdom.

24 In the greatest number of the wise lies the world’s salvation, in a sagacious king the stability of a people.

25 Learn, therefore, from my words; the gain will be yours.

Proverbs 24:30-34

30 By the idler’s field I was passing, by the vineyard of a man who had no sense,

31 there it all lay, deep in thorns, entirely overgrown with weeds, and its stone wall broken down.

32 And as I gazed I pondered, I drew this lesson from the sight,

33 ‘A little sleep, a little drowsiness, a little folding of the arms to lie back

34 and poverty comes like a vagrant, and, like a beggar, dearth.’


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