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.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Deliverance or Delay? a reflection on 3 Maccabees 5:24-51

At dawn, Hermon began leading the elephants to where the Jews were imprisoned. Crowds of people from throughout the city gathered for the most sorry spectacle and were eagerly awaiting the early morning. The Jews again prayed to God begging for help.  Hermon invited the king to come along to witness the carrying out of his orders. The king was surprised to be asked. He was confused what it was that he had asked Hermon to do.

God, the Lord over all things, had inflicted forgetfulness on the king's mind. Hermon tried to remind the king of the plan to have the drunken elephants annihilate the Jews. This assertion infuriated the king because God had removed all memory of this plan. He turned on Hermon, "If your parents or children were here, I would have them prepared as a lavish meal for those elephants. The Jews are blameless as far as I'm concerned. They have always demonstrated loyalty toward us. If it weren't for your long and loyal service to me I'd have you executed."

When the Jews heard about what the king had said, they praised God, the Lord, the king of kings, who had made this power apparent in giving them this assistance.

The king resumed the banquet, inviting the guests to return. He summoned Hermon and threatened "How many times must I tell you to get those elephants to destroy the Jews? Do it tomorrow." But, the king's officials, catching on to his instability, protested, "Your majesty, how many times are you going to order the destruction of the Jews then reverse your decision? The city is upset by this back and forth and is close to rioting."

The king, forgetting that he had given an order then retracted it, firmly swore that he was going to have the captured Jews destroyed by the elephants. Moreover, he was then going to Judea, burn it to the ground, and, furthermore, that temple that they had not let him enter, he was going to level it with fire. This pleased his friends and officials. They prepared to watch the outcome.

Hermon drove the drunk elephants toward the racecourse. Around dawn, countless crowds had gathered to witness; the king also rushed out to see. When the Jews saw the dust cloud created by the elephants, the army following them, and the accompanying crowd and heard the noisy ruckus, they thought that this was the end. They wept and embraced each other. Then, remembering how God had helped them in the past, they prayed again, pleading once more for mercy.

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