And this was his dream: Noises and confusion, thunders and earthquake, tumult on the earth! Then two great dragons came forward, both ready to fight, and they roared terribly. At their roaring every nation prepared for war, to fight against the righteous nation. It was a day of darkness and gloom, of tribulation and distress, affliction and great tumult on the earth! And the whole righteous nation was troubled; they feared the evils that threatened them, and were ready to perish. Then they cried out to God; and at their outcry, as though from a tiny spring, there came a great river, with abundant water; light came, and the sun rose, and the lowly were exalted and devoured those held in honour.
Then there united with them a company of Hasideans, mighty warriors of Israel, all who offered themselves willingly for the law. And all who became fugitives to escape their troubles joined them and reinforced them. They organized an army, and struck down sinners in their anger and renegades in their wrath; the survivors fled to the Gentiles for safety. And Mattathias and his friends went around and tore down the altars; they forcibly circumcised all the uncircumcised boys that they found within the borders of Israel. They hunted down the arrogant, and the work prospered in their hands. They rescued the law out of the hands of the Gentiles and kings, and they never let the sinner gain the upper hand.
The Jews and Their Neighbors
When the impious king comprehended this situation, he became so infuriated that not only was he enraged against those Jews who lived in Alexandria, but was still more bitterly hostile toward those in the countryside; and he ordered that all should promptly be gathered into one place, and put to death by the most cruel means. While these matters were being arranged, a hostile rumor was circulated against the Jewish nation by some who conspired to do them ill, a pretext being given by a report that they hindered others from the observance of their customs. The Jews, however, continued to maintain goodwill and unswerving loyalty toward the dynasty; but because they worshiped God and conducted themselves by his law, they kept their separateness with respect to foods. For this reason they appeared hateful to some; but since they adorned their style of life with the good deeds of upright people, they were established in good repute with everyone. Nevertheless those of other races paid no heed to their good service to their nation, which was common talk among all; instead they gossiped about the differences in worship and foods, alleging that these people were loyal neither to the king nor to his authorities, but were hostile and greatly opposed to his government. So they attached no ordinary reproach to them.
The Greeks in the city, though wronged in no way, when they saw an unexpected tumult around these people and the crowds that suddenly were forming, were not strong enough to help them, for they lived under tyranny. They did try to console them, being grieved at the situation, and expected that matters would change; for such a great community ought not be left to its fate when it had committed no offense. And already some of their neighbors and friends and business associates had taken some of them aside privately and were pledging to protect them and to exert more earnest efforts for their assistance.
The Prayer of Eleazar
"King of great power, Almighty God Most High, governing all creation with mercy, look upon the descendants of Abraham, O Father, upon the children of the sainted Jacob, a people of your consecrated portion who are perishing as foreigners in a foreign land. Pharaoh with his abundance of chariots, the former ruler of his Egypt, exalted with lawless insolence and boastful tongue, you destroyed together with his arrogant army by drowning them in the sea, manifesting the light of your mercy on the nation of Israel. Sennacherib exulting in his countless forces, oppressive king of the Assyrians, who had already gained control of the whole world by the spear and was lifted up against your holy city, speaking grievous words with boasting and insolence, you, O Lord, broke in pieces, showing your power to many nations. The three companions in Babylon who had voluntarily surrendered their lives to the flames so as not to serve vain things, you rescued unharmed, even to a hair, moistening the fiery furnace with dew and turning the flame against all their enemies. Daniel, who through envious slanders was thrown down into the ground to lions as food for wild animals, you brought up to the light unharmed. And Jonah, wasting away in the belly of a huge, sea-born monster, you, Father, watched over and restored unharmed to all his family. And now, you who hate insolence, all-merciful and protector of all, reveal yourself quickly to those of the nation of Israel–who are being outrageously treated by the abominable and lawless Gentiles.
"Even if our lives have become entangled in impieties in our exile, rescue us from the hand of the enemy, or destroy us, Lord, by whatever fate you choose. Let not the vain-minded praise their vanities at the destruction of your beloved people, saying, ‘Not even their god has rescued them.’ But you, O Eternal One, who have all might and all power, watch over us now and have mercy on us who by the senseless insolence of the lawless are being deprived of life in the manner of traitors. And let the Gentiles cower today in fear of your invincible might, O honored One, who have power to save the nation of Jacob. The whole throng of infants and their parents entreat you with tears. Let it be shown to all the Gentiles that you are with us, O Lord, and have not turned your face from us; but just as you have said, ‘Not even when they were in the land of their enemies did I neglect them,’ so accomplish it, O Lord."
The Problem in New Jerusalem
"You are committing treason and surpassing tyrants in cruelty; and even me, your benefactor, you are now attempting to deprive of dominion and life by secretly devising acts of no advantage to the kingdom. Who has driven from their homes those who faithfully kept our country’s fortresses, and foolishly gathered every one of them here? Who is it that has so lawlessly encompassed with outrageous treatment those who from the beginning differed from all nations in their goodwill toward us and often have accepted willingly the worst of human dangers? Loose and untie their unjust bonds! Send them back to their homes in peace, begging pardon for your former actions! Release the children of the almighty and living God of heaven, who from the time of our ancestors until now has granted an unimpeded and notable stability to our government."
The Jews Return Home with Joy
On receiving this letter the Jews did not immediately hurry to make their departure, but they requested of the king that at their own hands those of the Jewish nation who had willfully transgressed against the holy God and the law of God should receive the punishment they deserved. They declared that those who for the belly’s sake had transgressed the divine commandments would never be favorably disposed toward the king’s government. The kingc then, admitting and approving the truth of what they said, granted them a general license so that freely, and without royal authority or supervision, they might destroy those everywhere in his kingdom who had transgressed the law of God. When they had applauded him in fitting manner, their priests and the whole multitude shouted the Hallelujah and joyfully departed. And so on their way they punished and put to a public and shameful death any whom they met of their compatriots who had become defiled. In that day they put to death more than three hundred men; and they kept the day as a joyful festival, since they had destroyed the profaners. But those who had held fast to God even to death and had received the full enjoyment of deliverance began their departure from the city, crowned with all sorts of very fragrant flowers, joyfully and loudly giving thanks to the one God of their ancestors, the eternal Savior of Israel, in words of praise and all kinds of melodious songs.
When they had arrived at Ptolemais, called "rose-bearing" because of a characteristic of the place, the fleet waited for them, in accordance with the common desire, for seven days. There they celebrated their deliverance,e for the king had generously provided all things to them for their journey until all of them arrived at their own houses. And when they had all landed in peace with appropriate thanksgiving, there too in like manner they decided to observe these days as a joyous festival during the time of their stay. Then, after inscribing them as holy on a pillar and dedicating a place of prayer at the site of the festival, they departed unharmed, free, and overjoyed, since at the king’s command they had all of them been brought safely by land and sea and river to their own homes. They also possessed greater prestige among their enemies, being held in honor and awe; and they were not subject at all to confiscation of their belongings by anyone. Besides, they all recovered all of their property, in accordance with the registration, so that those who held any of it restored it to them with extreme fear. So the supreme God perfectly performed great deeds for their deliverance. Blessed be the Deliverer of Israel through all times! Amen.
Israel’s Disobedience and Rejection
"What shall I do to you, O Jacob? You, Judah, would not obey me. I will turn to other nations and will give them my name, so that they may keep my statutes. Because you have forsaken me, I also will forsake you. When you beg mercy of me, I will show you no mercy. When you call to me, I will not listen to you; for you have defiled your hands with blood, and your feet are swift to commit murder. It is not as though you had forsaken me; you have forsaken yourselves, says the Lord.
"Thus says the Lord Almighty: Have I not entreated you as a father entreats his sons or a mother her daughters or a nurse her children, so that you should be my people and I should be your God, and that you should be my children and I should be your father? I gathered you as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings. But now, what shall I do to you? I will cast you out from my presence. When you offer oblations to me, I will turn my face from you; for I have rejected your festal days, and new moons, and circumcisions of the flesh. I sent you my servants the prophets, but you have taken and killed them and torn their bodies in pieces; I will require their blood of you, says the Lord.n
"Thus says the Lord Almighty: Your house is desolate; I will drive you out as the wind drives straw; and your sons will have no children, because with you they have neglected my commandment and have done what is evil in my sight. I will give your houses to a people that will come, who without having heard me will believe. Those to whom I have shown no signs will do what I have commanded. They have seen no prophets, yet will recall their former state. I call to witness the gratitude of the people that is to come, whose children rejoice with gladness; though they do not see me with bodily eyes, yet with the spirit they will believe the things I have said.
"And now, father,r look with pride and see the people coming from the east; to them I will give as leaders Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and Hosea and Amos and Micah and Joel and Obadiah and Jonah and Nahum and Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah and Malachi, who is also called the messenger of the Lord.s
God’s Judgment on Israel
"Thus says the Lord: I brought this people out of bondage, and I gave them commandments through my servants the prophets; but they would not listen to them, and made my counsels void. The mother who bore them says to them, ‘Go, my children, because I am a widow and forsaken. I brought you up with gladness; but with mourning and sorrow I have lost you, because you have sinned before the Lord God and have done what is evil in my sight. But now what can I do for you? For I am a widow and forsaken. Go, my children, and ask for mercy from the Lord.’ Now I call upon you, father, as a witness in addition to the mother of the children, because they would not keep my covenant, so that you may bring confusion on them and bring their mother to ruin, so that they may have no offspring. Let them be scattered among the nations; let their names be blotted out from the earth, because they have despised my covenant.
"Woe to you, Assyria, who conceal the unrighteous within you! O wicked nation, remember what I did to Sodom and Gomorrah, whose land lies in lumps of pitch and heaps of ashes. That is what I will do to those who have not listened to me, says the Lord Almighty."
Thus says the Lord to Ezra: "Tell my people that I will give them the kingdom of the New Jerusalem, which I was going to give to Israel. Moreover, I will take back to myself their glory, and will give to these others the everlasting habitations, which I had prepared for Israel. The tree of life shall give them fragrant perfume, and they shall neither toil nor become weary. Go and you will receive; pray that your days may be few, that they may be shortened. The kingdom is already prepared for you; be on the watch! Call, O call heaven and earth to witness: I set aside evil and created good; for I am the Living One, says the Lord.
The New Age Will Make All Things Clear
Then I answered and said, "I implore you, my lord, why have I been endowed with the power of understanding? For I did not wish to inquire about the ways above, but about those things that we daily experience: why Israel has been given over to the Gentiles in disgrace; why the people whom you loved has been given over to godless tribes, and the law of our ancestors has been brought to destruction and the written covenants no longer exist. We pass from the world like locusts, and our life is like a mist, and we are not worthy to obtain mercy. But what will he do for his name that is invoked over us? It is about these things that I have asked."
He answered me and said, "If you are alive, you will see, and if you live long, you will often marvel, because the age is hurrying swiftly to its end. It will not be able to bring the things that have been promised to the righteous in their appointed times, because this age is full of sadness and infirmities. For the evil about which you ask me has been sown, but the harvest of it has not yet come. If therefore that which has been sown is not reaped, and if the place where the evil has been sown does not pass away, the field where the good has been sown will not come. For a grain of evil seed was sown in Adam’s heart from the beginning, and how much ungodliness it has produced until now–and will produce until the time of threshing comes! Consider now for yourself how much fruit of ungodliness a grain of evil seed has produced. When heads of grain without number are sown, how great a threshing floor they will fill!"
Signs of the End
‘Now concerning the signs: lo, the days are coming when those who inhabit the earth shall be seized with great terror, and the way of truth shall be hidden, and the land shall be barren of faith. Unrighteousness shall be increased beyond what you yourself see, and beyond what you heard of formerly. And the land that you now see ruling shall be a trackless waste, and people shall see it desolate. But if the Most High grants that you live, you shall see it thrown into confusion after the third period;
and the sun shall suddenly begin to shine at night,
and the moon during the day.
Blood shall drip from wood,
and the stone shall utter its voice;
the peoples shall be troubled,
and the stars shall fall.
And one shall reign whom those who inhabit the earth do not expect, and the birds shall fly away together; and the Dead Sea shall cast up fish; and one whom the many do not know shall make his voice heard by night, and all shall hear his voice. There shall be chaos also in many places, fire shall often break out, the wild animals shall roam beyond their haunts, and menstruous women shall bring forth monsters. Salt waters shall be found in the sweet, and all friends shall conquer one another; then shall reason hide itself, and wisdom shall withdraw into its chamber, and it shall be sought by many but shall not be found, and unrighteousness and unrestraint shall increase on earth. One country shall ask its neighbour, "Has righteousness, or anyone who does right, passed through you?" And it will answer, "No." At that time people shall hope but not obtain; they shall labour, but their ways shall not prosper. These are the signs that I am permitted to tell you, and if you pray again, and weep as you do now, and fast for seven days, you shall hear yet greater things than these.’
See you in about a week…G-d Willing…