13 For I have bent Judah as my bow;
I have made Ephraim its arrow.
I will brandish your sons, O Zion,
over your sons, O Greece,
and wield you like a warrior’s sword.
14 Then the LORD will appear over them,
and his arrow go forth like lightning;
the Lord GOD will sound the trumpet,
and march forth in the whirlwinds of the south.
15 The LORD of hosts will protect them,
and they shall devour and tread down the slingers;
and they shall drink their blood like wine,
and be full like a bowl,
drenched like the corners of the altar.
16 On that day the LORD their God will save them
for they are the flock of his people;
for like the jewels of a crown they shall shine on his land.
17 Yea, how good and how fair it shall be!
Grain shall make the young men flourish,
and new wine the maidens.
After years of relative peaceful coexistence with the Greek Seleucid Empire centered in what is now Syria, things became strained and difficult to the point of violence. The LORD uses Judah and Ephraim to overthrow the Greek Antiochus Epiphanes because of his pagan sacrifices in the Temple. The Maccabees took seven years to eradicate the Seleucid king from Palestine, which had originally been ruled over by Egypt.(For a full History see The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah by Alfred Edersheim, Appendix note 4).
The two branches of the Greek Monarchies, Ptolemys to the south in Egypt and the Seleucids to the north in Syria often waged territorial battles against each other in Judah. At the same time Rome who was on the ascendancy had her eye on Egypt, the breadbasket of the Mediterranean.
After setting off south for battle with the Ptolemys, Antiochus was warned not to war against Egypt by Rome. He turned his army and set off back north. On his way he came to Judah from the south. Antiochus planned to turn the Jews away from the LORD. To completely Hellenize them. All Temple services and the observance of Sabbath and the feast days were prohibited. In zealousness this Seleucid King placed a statue of Jupiter Olympius in the Temple and sacrifices were made using pigs.
At this point God raised up Judas Maccabee who with his family lead a revolt against the Syrian Greeks.
For I have bent Judah as my bow;
I have made Ephraim its arrow.
The sons of Zion were indeed roused against the Greeks; their sacrifices enraging the Jews. Judah had been taught the use of the bow [2 Sam 1:18] and Ephraim was famous for her abilities [Ps 78:9]. They overcome the slingers, the Greeks, who appear to need to use sling stones or sling shots after their arrows are exhausted.
The Maccabees were the victors. After seven long years, they devoured their enemies; drinking their blood like wine, full and drenched, they utterly defeated them and were taking the spoils of war.
The LORD is over Judah like lightening. A sort of slam on the Zeus worshiping Greeks, whos god of lightening was not able to give them victoy. The LORD issues a trumpet call as if directing the battle, He called and directed the battles. His arrows did fly swift like lightning. He appears to be “marching” forth in the south against taking aim at Antiochus in his return towards Judah. His protection will ensure the right outcome. They will be liberated from the Seleucid’s desire to Hellinize them. They will remain vassels to a less hostile Seleucid Empire until the Roman Pompey, a Roman Triumvirate (Pompey, Crassus and Julius rule together), arrives. Roman governors and the Idumaeans jostled for control of Palestine; however not through joint rule.
In a feat worthy of a grand drama, the Maccabees have retaken the Temple and tear down the statue of Zeus, exactly three years after its desecration. The High Priest cleanses the Temple for eight days. Years later, the festival known as Chanukah comes from this event.
When the LORD saves them “in that day”, they are like jewels in a crown shining on His land [Isa 62:2,3; Mal. 3:17]. His people are of immense value and beautiful to Him. Bountiful harvest is again seen in a land ravaged by war. Young men are no longer at war, new grain is their trade; and the maidens are making new wine.