Saturday, September 4, 2010

Angels of the Maccabees

In the Book of the Maccabees I and II, there are few, if any, references to Angels. For the most part, they are historical documents concentrating on the momentous events that befell Israel and the Jews in the years 167-160 BC. What follows is excerpts from the I and II Maccabees that actually mention Angels or other related supernatural phenomena.As the Bible states:

Angels of the LORD protect the Temple treasury from the Greeks

Heliodorus, because of the king's commands which he had, said that this money must in any case be confiscated for the king's treasury. So he set a day and went in to direct the inspection of these funds. There was great anxiety and distress throughout the whole city...While they were calling upon the Almighty Lord that he would keep what had been entrusted safe and secure for those who had entrusted it, Heliodorus went on with what had been decided. So when he arrived at the treasury with his bodyguard, then and there the Sovereign ruler of spirits and of all Divine authority caused so great a manifestation that all who had been so bold as to accompany him were astounded by the power of God and became filled with terror and fright. For then there materialized unto them a magnificently thoroughbred horse, with a rider of frightening appearance, which rushed furiously at Heliodorus and struck at him with its front hoofs. Its rider was seen to have armor and weapons of gold. Two young men also mysteriously appeared in front of him, remarkably strong, gloriously beautiful and splendidly dressed, who stood on each side of him and scourged him continuously, inflicting many blows on him.

When Helidorus suddenly fell to the ground and deep darkness came over him, his men took him up and put him on a stretcher and carried him away, this man who had just entered the aforesaid treasury with a great retinue and all his bodyguard but was now unable to help himself; and they recognized clearly the sovereign power of God. While he lay helpless, speechless because of the divine apparition, deprived of any hope of recovery, they praised the LORD who had acted marvelously for his own place. And the temple, which a little while before was full of fear and disturbance, was filled with joy and gladness, now that the Almighty LORD had appeared. Quickly some of Heliodorus' friends asked Onias to call upon the Most High to grant life to the one who was lying quite at his last breath.

At the same time the high priest, fearing that the king might get the idea that some foul play had been perpetrated by the Jews in regard to Heliodorus, decided to offer sacrifice for the man's recovery. While the high priest was making the offering of atonement, the same young men appeared again to Heliodorus dressed in the same clothing, and they stood and said, 'Be very grateful to Onias the high priest, since for his sake the Lord has granted you your life. Also make sure that you, who has just been scourged by Heaven, report to all men the majestic power of God.' Having said this they vanished.

Then Heliodorus offered sacrifice to the Lord and made very great vows to the Savior of his life, and having bidden Onias farewell, he marched off with his forces to the king. After this he bore testimony to all men about the deeds of the supreme God, which he had seen with his own eyes. When the king asked Heliodorus what sort of person would be suitable to send on another mission to Jerusalem he replied, 'If you have any enemy or plotter against your government, send him there, for you will get him back thoroughly scourged, if he escapes at all, for there certainly is about the place some power of God. For he who has his dwelling in heaven watches over that place himself and brings it aid, and he strikes and destroys those who come to do it injury.' This was the outcome of the Divine incident involving Heliodorus and the protection of the treasury.

- Ii Maccabees 3:13-40

Numerous Angels of the LORD suddenly appear throughout Jerusalem
About this time Antiochus made his second invasion of Egypt. And it happened that over all the city, for almost forty days, there appeared golden-clad horsemen charging through the air, in companies fully armed with lances and drawn swords, troops of horsemen drawn up, attacks and counterattacks made on this side and on that, brandishing of shields, massing of spears, hurling of missiles, the flash of golden trappings, and armor of all sorts. Therefore all men prayed that the apparition might prove to have been a good omen.

- II Maccabees 5:1-5

Five Angels of the LORD join Judas Maccabaeus in Battle against the Pagan Greeks
Just as dawn was breaking, the two armies joined battle, one having as a promise of success and victory not only their own valor and ability, but their reliance upon the LORD, while the other made rage and hate their leader in the fight. When the battle became fierce, there appeared unto the enemy from Heaven five resplendent men on horses with golden bridles, and they were leading the Jews. Surrounding Maccabeus and protecting him with their own armor and weapons, they kept him from being wounded. And they showered arrows and thunderbolts upon the enemy, so that after becoming confused and blinded, they were thrown into disorder and cut to pieces. Twenty thousand five hundred were slaughtered, besides six hundred horsemen.

- Ii Maccabees 10:28-31

An Angel of the LORD arrives to support the Jews against the Greeks
When Maccabeus and his men got word that Lysias was besieging the strongholds, they and all the people, with lamentations and tears, prayed for the LORD to send a good angel to save Israel. Maccabeus himself was the first to take up arms and he urged the others to risk their lives with him to aid their brothers. Then they eagerly rushed off together. Even there, while they were still near Jerusalem, a horseman appeared at their head, clothed in white and brandishing weapons of gold. Thus encouraged, they all praised the merciful God together as one and were strengthened in heart, ready to assail not only men but the even the wildest of beasts or walls of iron. They advanced in battle order, along with their Heavenly ally, for the LORD had indeed bestowed mercy upon them. They hurled themselves like lions against the enemy, and slew eleven thousand of them and sixteen hundred horsemen, and forced all the rest to flee.

- II Maccabees 11:6-11

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