It took a year to read the Bible, then almost 9 months to read the Apocrypha. Now, I'm going to try to offer reflections on the Narrative Lectionary. But, I won't be posting daily--at least, for a while.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Fortification, a reflection on 1 Maccabees 9:50-73

After the setback, the Syrian general Bacchides returned. He built fortresses in several cities in Judea and placed garrisons in them. He fortified cities with high wall, gates, and bars. He took sons of the leading men as hostages, putting them in the citadel at Jerusalem.

After giving order to tear down the inner court of the sanctuary (an act that would have destroyed the separation between sacred and profane space), the high priest Alcimus had a stroke and died in great agony (or, as some commentators assert, was poisoned).

Bacchides went back to the king leaving Judah without foreign occupation for two years. Not all the Judeans liked this. Some conspired to overthrow Jonathan, but he prevailed.

In an attempt to prevent further insurrection, Jonathan rebuilt and fortified areas that had been demolished.  In response, Bacchides sent an army into Judea. It was crushed. Bacchides was so angry with the renegade Judeans who had asked him to invade that he had many of them executed.

Jonathan sent ambassadors to Bacchides seeking peace and release of captives. He agreed and swore that he would not fight against him again. He sent back the captives and returned to his own land. Peace from the foreign nation, but not necessarily total peace. Jonathan had those he considered godless to be destroyed.

What was the reason that the high priest wanted to tear down the wall in the sanctuary? In our modern churches, how do we mark a distinction between the holy and the accessible? (Do we see a distinction?)

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