Day 312 – Conclusion to the Old Testament

Thoughts and Reflection

Today we read in the final chapter of Maccabees that the motivation for those who fight is to defend the Temple. In Wisdom, we read about the Israelites’ fight from Egypt and how the Lord continues to fight for his people to bring them from slavery to freedom. Wisdom concludes by acknowledging how God has glorified his people and helped them “at all times and in all places.”

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 15

1 Nicanor heard that Judas and his men were in the neighbourhood of Samaria, so he decided to attack them, at no risk to himself, on the day of rest.

2 Those Jews who had been compelled to follow him, said, ‘Do not massacre them in such a savage, barbarous way. Respect the day on which the All-seeing has conferred a special holiness.’

3 At this the triple-dyed scoundrel asked if there were in heaven a sovereign who had ordered the keeping of the Sabbath day.

4 When they answered, ‘The living Lord himself, the Heavenly Sovereign, has ordered the observance of the seventh day,’

5 he retorted, ‘And I, as sovereign on earth, order you to take up arms and do the king’s business.’ For all that, he did not manage to carry out his wicked plan.

6 While Nicanor, in his unlimited boastfulness and pride, was planning to erect a general trophy with the spoils taken from Judas and his men,

7 Maccabaeus remained firm in his confident conviction that the Lord would stand by him.

8 He urged his men not to be dismayed by the foreigners’ attacks but, keeping in mind the help that had come to them from Heaven in the past, to be confident that this time too victory would be theirs with the help of the Almighty.

9 He put fresh heart into them by citing the Law and the Prophets and, by stirring up memories of the battles they had already won, he filled them with new enthusiasm.

10 Having thus aroused their courage, he ended his exhortation by demonstrating the treachery of the foreigners and how they had violated their oaths.

11 Having armed each one of them not so much with the safety given by shield and lance as with that confidence which springs from noble language, he encouraged them all by describing to them a convincing dream — a vision, as it were.

12 What he had seen was this: Onias, the former high priest, that paragon of men, modest of bearing and gentle of manners, suitably eloquent and trained from boyhood in the practice of every virtue — Onias was stretching out his hands and praying for the whole Jewish community.

13 Next, there appeared a man equally remarkable for his great age and dignity and invested with a marvellous and impressive air of majesty.

14 Onias began to speak: ‘This is a man’, he said, ‘who loves his brothers and prays much for the people and the holy city-Jeremiah, the prophet of God.’

15 Jeremiah then stretched out his right hand and presented Judas with a golden sword, saying as he gave it,

16 ‘Take this holy sword as a gift from God; with it you will shatter the enemy.’

17 Encouraged by the noble words of Judas, which had the power to inspire valour and give the young the spirit of mature men, they decided not to entrench themselves in a camp, but bravely to take the offensive and, in hand-to-hand fighting, to commit the result to the fortune of war, since the city, their holy religion and the Temple were in danger.

18 Their concern for their wives and children, their brothers and relatives, had shrunk to minute importance; their chief and greatest fear was for the consecrated Temple.

19 Those left behind in the city felt a similar anxiety, alarmed as they were about the forthcoming encounter in the open country.

20 Everyone now awaited the coming issue. The enemy had already concentrated their forces and stood formed up in order of battle, with the elephants drawn up in a strategic position and the cavalry disposed on the wings.

21 Maccabaeus took note of these masses confronting him, the glittering array of armour and the fierce aspect of the elephants; then, raising his hands to heaven, he called on the Lord who works miracles, in the knowledge that it is not by force of arms but as he sees fit to decide, that victory is granted by him to such as deserve it. 

22 His prayer was worded thus: ‘You, Master, sent your angel in the days of Hezekiah king of Judaea, and he destroyed no less than one hundred and eighty-five thousand of Sennacherib’s army;

23 now, once again, Sovereign of heaven, send a good angel before us to spread terror and dismay.

24 May these men be struck down by the might of your arm, since they have come with blasphemy on their lips to attack your holy people.’ And on these words he finished.

25 Nicanor and his men advanced to the sound of trumpets and war songs,

26 but the men of Judas closed with the enemy uttering invocations and prayers.

27 Fighting with their hands and praying to God in their hearts, they cut down at least thirty-five thousand men and were greatly cheered by this manifestation of God.

28 When the engagement was over and they were withdrawing in triumph, they recognised Nicanor, lying dead in full armour.

29 With shouting and confusion all around, they blessed the sovereign Master in their ancestral tongue.

30 He who, as protagonist, had devoted himself, body and soul, to his fellow-citizens, and had preserved the love he felt even in youth for those of his own race, gave orders for Nicanor’s head to be cut off, with his arm up to the shoulder, and taken to Jerusalem.

31 When he arrived there himself, he called his countrymen together, stationed the priests in front of the altar and then sent for the people from the Citadel.

32 He showed them the head of the abominable Nicanor, and the hand which this infamous man had stretched out so insolently against the holy House of the Almighty.

33 Then, cutting out godless Nicanor’s tongue, he gave orders for it to be fed piecemeal to the birds, and for the salary of his folly to be hung up in front of the Temple.

34 At this, everyone sent blessings heavenwards to the glorious Lord, saying, ‘Blessed be he who has preserved his holy place from pollution!’

35 He hung Nicanor’s head from the Citadel, a clear and evident sign to all of the help of the Lord.

36 They all decreed by public vote never to let that day go by unobserved, but to celebrate the thirteenth day of the twelfth month, called Adar in Aramaic, the eve of what is called the Day of Mordecai.

37 So ends the episode of Nicanor, and as, since then, the city has remained in the possession of the Hebrews, I shall bring my own work to an end here too.

38 If it is well composed and to the point, that is just what I wanted. If it is worthless and mediocre, that is all I could manage.

39 Just as it is injurious to drink wine by itself, or again water alone, whereas wine mixed with water is pleasant and produces a delightful sense of well-being, so skill in presenting the incidents is what delights the understanding of those who read the book. And her i close.

Wisdom 19

1 But the godless were assailed by merciless anger to the very end, for he knew beforehand what they would do,

2 how, after letting his people leave and hastening their departure, they would change their minds and give chase.

3 They were actually still conducting their mourning rites and lamenting at the tombs of their dead, when another mad scheme came into their heads and they set out to pursue, as though runaways, the people whom they had expelled and begged to go.

4 A well-deserved fate urged them to this extreme and made them forget what had already happened, so that they would add to their torments the one punishment outstanding

5 and, while your people were experiencing a journey contrary to all expectations, would themselves meet an extraordinary death.

6 For the whole creation, submissive to your commands, had its very nature re-created, so that your children should be preserved from harm.

7 Overshadowing the camp there was the cloud; where there had been water, dry land was seen to rise; the Red Sea became an unimpeded way, the tempestuous waves, a green plain;

8 sheltered by your hand, the whole nation passed across, gazing at these amazing prodigies.

9 They were like horses at pasture, they skipped like lambs, singing your praises, Lord, their deliverer.

10 For they still remembered the events of their exile, how the land had bred mosquitoes instead of animals and the River had disgorged millions of frogs instead of fish.

11 Later they were to see a new way for birds to come into being, when, goaded by greed, they demanded something tasty,

12 and quails came up out of the sea to satisfy them.

13 On the sinners, however, punishments rained down not without violent thunder as early warning; and they suffered what their own crimes had justly deserved since they had shown such bitter hatred to foreigners.

14 Others, indeed, had failed to welcome strangers who came to them, but the Egyptians had enslaved their own guests and benefactors.

15 The sinners, moreover, will certainly be punished for it, since they gave the foreigners a hostile welcome;

16 but the latter, having given a festive reception to people who already shared the same rights as themselves, later overwhelmed them with terrible labours.

17 Hence they were struck with blindness, like the sinners at the gate of the upright, when, yawning darkness all around them, each had to grope his way through his own door.

18 A new attuning of the elements occurred, as on a harp the notes may change their rhythm, though all the while preserving the same tone; and this is just what happened:

19 land animals became aquatic, swimming ones took to the land,

20 fire reinforced its strength in water, and water forgot the power of extinguishing it;

21 flames, on the other hand, did not char the flesh of delicate animals that ventured into them; nor did they melt the heavenly food resembling ice and as easily melted.

22 Yes, Lord, in every way you have made your people great and glorious; you have never failed to help them at any time or place.

Proverbs 25:21-23

21 If your enemy is hungry, give him something to eat; if thirsty, something to drink.

22 By this you will be heaping red-hot coals on his head, and Yahweh will reward you.

23 The north wind begets the rain, and a backbiting tongue, black looks.


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