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.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

3 Maccabees, Sanctity of the Sanctuary

When Philopater (also called Ptolomy), the king of Egypt heard that the Syrians (led by Antiochus) had seized some of the land under his control (land Egypt had seized from the Jews), he ordered all his forces--infantry and calvary--to go to war. He took his sister Arsinoe with him.

Theodotus, a Syrian, decided to stop the advance by assassinating Philopater. His attempt was thwarted by Dosithesis, a Jew by birth who had become an apostate. Then, when the Syrians attacked and were winning, Arsinoe, in tears and disheveled clothes, pleaded with the troops to defend themselves and their families. She also offered them gold if they won the battle. And they did.

When he arrived in Jerusalem, Phil was greeted with gifts. But, when he attempted to enter the temple sanctuary, they told him that it wasn't permitted--that not even all Jews, not even all priests were allowed to go into the sanctuary; only the high priest, and for him, only once a year.

Phil just could not see why their rules applied to him. After all, he was not any ordinary citizen. The priests responded by prayed to God. Their prayers were so loud that crowds gather and rushed to the temple--even brides and their mothers.

Phil arrogantly determined to do what he wanted. The crowds kept up the protest, preferring death to profanation of the temple.

Questions that arise from reading this chapter: 1) What are our rules for enforcing the sanctity of our worship centers? 2) Do those rules make a distinction between some members and other members? 3)  How seriously do we take objections to our ways of protecting the sanctity of our worship centers?

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