The Book of 2Maccabees Chapter 4 (Bible Marathon Day 243)

The Book of 2Maccabees Chapter 4 (Bible Marathon Day 243)

Simon Accuses Onias.
1 The Simon mentioned above as the informer about the funds against his own country slandered Onias as the one who incited Heliodorus and instigated the whole miserable affair.

2 He dared to brand as a schemer against the government the man who was the benefactor of the city, the
protector of his compatriots, and a zealous defender of the laws.

3 When Simon’s hostility reached such a pitch that murders were being committed by one of his henchmen,

4 Onias saw that the opposition was serious and that Apollonius, son of Menestheus, the governor of Coelesyria and Phoenicia, was abetting Simon’s wickedness.

5 So he had recourse to the king, not as an accuser of his compatriots, but as one looking to the general and particular good of all the people.

6 He saw that without royal attention it would be impossible to have a peaceful government, and that Simon would not desist from his folly.

Jason as High Priest.
7 But Seleucus died,[a] and when Antiochus surnamed Epiphanes succeeded him on the throne, Onias’ brother Jason obtained the high priesthood by corrupt means:

8 in an interview, he promised the king three hundred and sixty talents of silver, as well as eighty talents from another source of income.

9 Besides this he would undertake to pay a hundred and fifty more, if he was given authority to
establish a gymnasium and a youth center[b] for it and to enroll Jerusalemites as citizens of Antioch.

10 When Jason received the king’s approval and came into office, he immediately initiated his compatriots
into the Greek way of life.

11 He set aside the royal concessions granted to the Jews through the mediation of John, father of Eupolemus[c] (that Eupolemus who would later go on an embassy to the Romans to establish
friendship and alliance with them); he set aside the lawful practices and introduced customs contrary to the
law.

12 With perverse delight he established a gymnasium[d] at the very foot of the citadel, where he induced
the noblest young men to wear the Greek hat.

13 The craze for Hellenism and the adoption of foreign customs reached such a pitch, through the outrageous wickedness of Jason, the renegade and would-be high priest,

14 that the priests no longer cared about the service of the altar. Disdaining the temple and neglecting the sacrifices, they hastened, at the signal for the games, to take part in the unlawful exercises at the arena.

15 What their ancestors had regarded as honors they despised; what the Greeks esteemed as
glory they prized highly.

16 For this reason they found themselves in serious trouble: the very people whose manner of life they emulated, and whom they desired to imitate in everything, became their enemies and oppressors.

17 It is no light matter to flout the laws of God, as subsequent events will show.

18 When the quinquennial games were held at Tyre in the presence of the king,

19 the vile Jason sent representatives of the Antiochians of Jerusalem, to bring three hundred silver drachmas for the sacrifice to Hercules. But the bearers themselves decided that the money should not be spent on a sacrifice, as that was not right, but should be used for some other purpose.

20 So the contribution meant for the sacrifice to Hercules by the sender, was in fact applied to the construction of triremes[e] by those who brought it.

21 When Apollonius, son of Menestheus, was sent to Egypt for the coronation of King Philometor,[f] Antiochus
learned from him that the king was opposed to his policies. He took measures for his own security; so after
going to Joppa, he proceeded to Jerusalem.

22 There he was received with great pomp by Jason and the people of the city, who escorted him with torchlights and acclamations; following this, he led his army into Phoenicia.

Menelaus as High Priest.
23 Three years later Jason sent Menelaus,[g] brother of the aforementioned Simon, to deliver the money to the king, and to complete negotiations on urgent matters.

24 But after his introduction to the king, he flattered him with such an air of authority that he secured the high priesthood for himself, outbidding Jason by three hundred talents of silver.

25 He returned with the royal commission, but with nothing that made him worthy of the high priesthood; he had the temper of a cruel tyrant and the rage of a wild beast.

26 So Jason, who had cheated his own brother and now saw himself cheated by another man, was
driven out as a fugitive to the country of the Ammonites.

27 But Menelaus, who obtained the office, paid nothing of the money he had promised to the king,

28 in spite of the demand of Sostratus, the commandant of the citadel, whose duty it was to collect the taxes. For this reason, both were summoned before the king.

29 Menelaus left his brother Lysimachus as his deputy in the high priesthood, while Sostratus left Crates,
commander of the Cypriots.

Murder of Onias.
30 While these things were taking place, the people of Tarsus and Mallus[h] rose in revolt, because their cities had been given as a gift to Antiochis, the king’s concubine.

31 So the king hastened off to settle the affair, leaving Andronicus, one of his nobles, as his deputy.

32 Menelaus, for his part, thinking this a good opportunity, stole some gold vessels from the temple and presented them to Andronicus; he had already sold other vessels in Tyre and in the neighboring cities.

33 When Onias had clear evidence, he accused Menelaus publicly, after withdrawing to the inviolable sanctuary at Daphne, near Antioch.

34 Thereupon Menelaus approached Andronicus privately and urged him to seize Onias. So Andronicus went to Onias, treacherously reassuring him by offering his right hand in oath, and persuaded him, in spite of his suspicions, to leave the sanctuary. Then, with no regard for justice, he immediately put him to death.

35 As a result, not only the Jews, but many people of other nations as well, were indignant and angry over the
unjust murder of the man.

36 When the king returned from the region of Cilicia, the Jews of the city,[i] together with the Greeks who detested the crime, went to see him about the murder of Onias.

37 Antiochus was deeply grieved and full of pity; he wept as he recalled the prudence and noble conduct of the deceased.

38 Inflamed with anger, he immediately stripped Andronicus of his purple robe, tore off his garments, and had him led through the whole city to the very place where he had committed the outrage against Onias; and there he put the murderer to death. Thus the Lord rendered him the punishment he deserved.

More Outrages.
39 Many acts of sacrilege had been committed by Lysimachus in the city[j] with the connivance of Menelaus. When word spread, the people assembled in protest against Lysimachus, because a large number of gold vessels had been stolen.

40 As the crowds, now thoroughly enraged, began to riot, Lysimachus launched an unjustified attack against them with about three thousand armed men under the leadership of a certain Auranus, a man as advanced in folly as he was in years.

41 Seeing Lysimachus’ attack, people picked up stones, pieces of wood or handfuls of the ashes lying there and threw them in wild confusion at Lysimachus and his men.

42 As a result, they wounded many of them and even killed a few, while they put all to flight. The temple robber himself they killed near the treasury.

43 Charges about this affair were brought against Menelaus.

44 When the king came to Tyre, three men sent by the senate pleaded the case before him.

45 But Menelaus, seeing himself on the losing side, promised Ptolemy, son of Dorymenes, a substantial sum of money if he would win the king over.

46 So Ptolemy took the king aside into a colonnade, as if to get some fresh air, and persuaded him to change his mind.

47 Menelaus, who was the cause of all the trouble, the king acquitted of the charges, while he condemned to
death those poor men who would have been declared innocent even if they had pleaded their case before
Scythians.

48 Thus, those who had prosecuted the case on behalf of the city, the people, and the sacred vessels, quickly suffered unjust punishment.

49 For this reason, even Tyrians, detesting the crime, provided sumptuously for their burial.

50 But Menelaus, thanks to the greed of those in power, remained in office, where he grew in wickedness, scheming greatly against his fellow citizens.

Footnotes:

4:7 Seleucus died: he was murdered by Heliodorus. Antiochus Epiphanes was his younger brother. Onias’
brother showed his enthusiasm for the Greek way of life (v. 10) by changing his Hebrew name Joshua, or
Jesus, to the Greek name Jason.
4:9 Youth center: an educational institution in which young men were trained both in Greek intellectual culture
and in physical fitness. Citizens of Antioch: honorary citizens of Antioch, a Hellenistic city of the Seleucid
Kingdom that had a corporation of such Antiochians, who enjoyed certain political and commercial privileges.
4:11 Eupolemus: one of the two envoys sent to Rome by Judas Maccabeus (1 Mc 8:17).
4:12 Since the gymnasium, where the youth exercised naked (Greek gymnos), lay in the Tyropoeon Valley to
the east of the citadel, it was directly next to the Temple on its eastern side. The Greek hat: a wide-brimmed
hat, traditional headgear of Hermes, the patron god of athletic contests; it formed part of the distinctive costume
of the members of the “youth center.”
4:20 Triremes: war vessels with three banks of oars.
4:21 Philometor: Ptolemy VI, king of Egypt, ca. 172 to ca. 145 B.C.
4:23 Menelaus: Jewish high priest from ca. 172 to his execution in 162 B.C. (13:3–8).
4:30 Mallus: a city of Cilicia (v. 36) in southeastern Asia Minor, about thirty miles east of Tarsus.
4:36 The city: Antioch. But some understand the Greek to mean “each city.”
4:39 The city: Jerusalem. Menelaus was still in Syria.

The Book of 2Maccabees Chapter 3 (Bible Marathon Day 243)

The Book of 2Maccabees Chapter 3 (Bible Marathon Day 243)

Heliodorus’ Arrival in Jerusalem.
1 While the holy city lived in perfect peace and the laws were strictly observed because of the piety of the high priest Onias[b] and his hatred of evil,

2 the kings themselves honored the place and glorified the temple with the most magnificent gifts.

3 Thus Seleucus,[c] king of Asia, defrayed from his own revenues all the expenses necessary for the liturgy of sacrifice.

4 But a certain Simon, of the priestly clan of Bilgah,[d] who had been appointed superintendent of the temple,
had a quarrel with the high priest about the administration of the city market.

5 Since he could not prevail against Onias, he went to Apollonius of Tarsus, who at that time was governor of Coelesyria and Phoenicia,

6 and reported to him that the treasury in Jerusalem was full of such untold riches that the sum total of the assets was past counting and that since they did not belong to the account of the sacrifices, it would be possible for them to fall under the authority of the king.

7 When Apollonius had an audience with the king, he informed him about the riches that had been reported
to him. The king chose his chief minister Heliodorus and sent him with instructions to seize those riches.

8 So Heliodorus immediately set out on his journey, ostensibly to visit the cities of Coelesyria and Phoenicia, but in reality to carry out the king’s purpose.

9 When he arrived in Jerusalem and had been graciously received by the high priest of the city, he told him
about the information that had been given, and explained the reason for his presence, and he inquired if
these things were really true.

10 The high priest explained that there were deposits for widows and orphans,

11 and some was the property of Hyrcanus, son of Tobias,[e] a man who occupied a very high position.
Contrary to the misrepresentations of the impious Simon, the total amounted only to four hundred talents of
silver and two hundred of gold.

12 It was utterly unthinkable to defraud those who had placed their trust in the sanctity of the place and in the sacred inviolability of a temple venerated all over the world.

Heliodorus’ Plan to Rob the Temple.

13 But Heliodorus, because of the orders he had from the king, said that in any case this money must be confiscated for the royal treasury.

14 So on the day he had set he went in to take an inventory of the funds. There was no little anguish throughout the city.

15 Priests prostrated themselves before the altar in their priestly robes, and called toward heaven for the one who had given the law about deposits to keep the deposits safe for those who had made them.

16 Whoever saw the appearance of the high priest was pierced to the heart, for the changed complexion of his face revealed his mental anguish.

17 The terror and bodily trembling that had come over the man clearly showed those who saw him the pain that lodged in his heart.

18 People rushed out of their houses and crowded together making common supplication, because the place was in danger of being profaned.

19 Women, girded with sackcloth below their breasts, filled the streets. Young women secluded indoors all ran, some to the gates, some to the walls, others peered through the windows—

20 all of them with hands raised toward heaven, making supplication.

21 It was pitiful to see the populace prostrate everywhere and the high priest full of dread and anguish.

22 While they were imploring the almighty Lord to keep the deposits safe and secure for those who
had placed them in trust,

23 Heliodorus went on with his plan.

God Protects the Temple.
24 But just as Heliodorus was arriving at the treasury with his bodyguards, the Lord of spirits and all authority produced an apparition so great that those who had been bold enough to accompany Heliodorus were panic-stricken at God’s power and fainted away in terror.

25 There appeared to them a richly caparisoned horse, mounted by a fearsome rider. Charging furiously, the horse attacked Heliodorus with its front hooves. The rider was seen wearing golden armor.

26 Then two other young men, remarkably strong, strikingly handsome, and splendidly attired, appeared before him. Standing on each side of him, they flogged him unceasingly, inflicting innumerable blows.

27 Suddenly he fell to the ground, enveloped in great darkness. His men picked him up and laid him on a stretcher.

28 They carried away helpless the man who a moment before had entered that treasury under arms with a great retinue and his whole bodyguard. They clearly recognized the sovereign power of God.

The Restoration and Testimony of Heliodorus.

29 As Heliodorus lay speechless because of God’s action and deprived of any hope of recovery,

30 the people praised the Lord who had marvelously glorified his own place; and the temple, charged so shortly before with fear and commotion, was filled with joy and gladness, now that the almighty Lord had appeared.

31 Quickly some of the companions of Heliodorus begged Onias to call upon the Most High to spare the life of one who was about to breathe his last.

32 The high priest, suspecting that the king might think that Heliodorus had suffered some foul play at the hands of the Jews, offered a sacrifice for the man’s recovery.

33 While the high priest was offering the sacrifice of atonement, the same young men dressed in the same clothing again appeared and stood before Heliodorus. “Be very grateful to the high priest Onias,” they told him. “It is for his sake that the Lord has spared your life.

34 Since you have been scourged by Heaven, proclaim to all God’s great power.” When they had said this, they disappeared.

35 After Heliodorus had offered a sacrifice to the Lord and made most solemn vows to the one who had
spared his life, he bade Onias farewell, and returned with his soldiers to the king.

36 Before all he gave witness to the deeds of the most high God that he had seen with his own eyes.

37 When the king asked Heliodorus what sort of person would be suitable to be sent to Jerusalem next, he answered:

38 “If you have an enemy or one who is plotting against the government, send him there, and you will get him back with a flogging, if indeed he survives at all; for there is certainly some divine power about the place.

39 The one whose dwelling is in heaven watches over that place and protects it, and strikes down and destroys those who come to harm it.”

40 This was how the matter concerning Heliodorus and the preservation of the treasury turned out.

Footnotes:

3:1–40 This legendary episode about Heliodorus is recounted here for the purpose of stressing the
inviolability of the Temple of Jerusalem; its later profanation was interpreted as owing to the sins of the people;
cf. 5:17–18.
3:1 Onias: Onias III was high priest from 196 to 175 B.C. and died in 171 B.C. He was the son of Simon,
whose praises are sung in Sir 50:1–21.
3:3 Seleucus: Seleucus IV Philopator, who reigned from 187 to 175 B.C.
3:4 Bilgah: a priestly family mentioned in 1 Chr 24:14; Neh 12:5, 18.
3:11 Hyrcanus, son of Tobias: a member of the Tobiad family of Transjordan (Neh 2:10; 6:17–19; 13:4–8).
Hyrcanus’ father was Joseph, whose mother was the sister of the high priest Onias II.

The Book of 2Maccabees Chapter 2 (Bible Marathon Day 242)

The Book of 2Maccabees Chapter 2 (Bible Marathon Day 242)

1 In the records it will be found that Jeremiah the prophet ordered the deportees to take some of the fire with
them as indicated,
2 and that the prophet, in giving them the law, directed the deportees not to forget the commandments of the
Lord or be led astray in their thoughts, when seeing the gold and silver idols and their adornments.

3 With other similar words he exhorted them that the law should not depart from their hearts.

4 [a]The same document also tells how the prophet, in virtue of an oracle, ordered that the tent and the ark
should accompany him, and how he went to the very mountain that Moses climbed to behold God’s
inheritance.

5 When Jeremiah arrived there, he found a chamber in a cave in which he put the tent, the ark, and the altar
of incense; then he sealed the entrance.

6 Some of those who followed him came up intending to mark the path, but they could not find it.

7 When Jeremiah heard of this, he reproved them: “The place is to remain unknown until God gathers his
people together again and shows them mercy.

8 Then the Lord will disclose these things, and the glory of the Lord and the cloud will be seen, just as they
appeared in the time of Moses and of Solomon when he prayed that the place[b] might be greatly sanctified.”

9 It is also related how Solomon in his wisdom offered a sacrifice for the dedication and the completion of the
temple.

10 Just as Moses prayed to the Lord and fire descended from the sky and consumed the sacrifices, so also
Solomon prayed and fire came down and consumed the burnt offerings.

11 [c]Moses had said, “Because it had not been eaten, the purification offering was consumed.”

12 Solomon also celebrated the feast in the same way for eight days.

13 These same things are also told in the records and in Nehemiah’s memoirs,[d] as well as how he founded
a library and collected the books about the kings and the prophets, the books of David, and the royal letters
about votive offerings.

14 In like manner Judas also collected for us all the books that had been scattered because of the war, and
we now have them in our possession.

15 If you need them, send messengers to get them for you.

16 As we are about to celebrate the purification, we are writing: you should celebrate the feast days.

17 It is God who has saved all his people and has restored to all of them their inheritance, the kingdom, the
priesthood, and the sacred rites,

18 as he promised through the law. For we hope in God, that he will soon have mercy on us and gather us
together from everywhere under the heavens to his holy place, for he has rescued us from great perils and
has purified the place.

II. Compiler’s Preface
19 This is the story of Judas Maccabeus and his brothers, of the purification of the great temple, the
dedication of the altar,

20 the campaigns against Antiochus Epiphanes and his son Eupator,[e]

21 and of the heavenly manifestations accorded to the heroes who fought bravely for the Jewish people. Few
as they were, they plundered the whole land, put to flight the barbarian hordes,

22 regained possession of the temple renowned throughout the world, and liberated the city. They re-
established the laws that were in danger of being abolished, while the Lord favored them with every kindness.

23 All this, detailed by Jason of Cyrene in five volumes, we will try to condense into a single book.

24 For in view of the flood of data, and the difficulties encountered, given such abundant material, by those
who wish to plunge into accounts of the history,

25 we have aimed to please those who prefer simply to read, to make it easy for the studious who wish to
commit things to memory, and to be helpful to all.

26 For us who have undertaken the labor of making this digest, the task, far from being easy, is one of sweat
and of sleepless nights.

27 Just so, the preparation of a festive banquet is no light matter for one who seeks to give enjoyment to
others. Similarly, to win the gratitude of many we will gladly endure this labor,

28 leaving the responsibility for exact details to the historian, and confining our efforts to presenting only a
summary outline.

29 As the architect of a new house must pay attention to the whole structure, while the one who undertakes
the decoration and the frescoes has to be concerned only with what is needed for ornamentation, so I think it
is with us.

30 To enter into questions and examine them from all sides and to be busy about details is the task of the
historian;

31 but one who is making an adaptation should be allowed to aim at brevity of expression and to forgo
complete treatment of the matter.

32 Here, then, let us begin our account without adding to what has already been said; it would be silly to
lengthen the preface to the history and then cut short the history itself.

Footnotes:

2:4–5 This legendary account is given for the purpose of explaining why the postexilic Temple was the
legitimate place of worship even without these sacred objects. The very mountain: Nebo; cf. Dt 32:49; 34:1.
2:8 The place: the Temple of Jerusalem.
2:11 The statement attributed here to Moses seems to be based on Lv 10:16–20.
2:13 Nehemiah’s memoirs: a lost apocryphal work, or perhaps Neh 1–7, 11–13.
2:20 For the account of the campaigns against Antiochus IV Epiphanes, see 4:7–10:9; and for the account of
those against his son Antiochus V Eupator, see 10:10–13:26.

The Book of 2Maccabees Chapter 1 (Bible Marathon Day 242)

The Book of 2Maccabees Chapter 1 (Bible Marathon Day 242)

Letter 1: 124 B.C.
1 The Jews in Jerusalem and in the land of Judea send greetings to their kindred, the Jews in Egypt, and
wish them true peace!

2 May God do good to you and remember his covenant with his faithful servants, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob,
3 give to all of you a heart to worship him and to do his will wholeheartedly and with a willing spirit,

4 open your heart to his law and commandments and grant you peace,

5 hear your prayers, and be reconciled to you, and never forsake you in time of adversity.

6 Even now we are praying for you here.

7 In the reign of Demetrius,[a] the one hundred and sixty-ninth year, we Jews wrote to you during the height of
the distress that overtook us in those years after Jason and his followers revolted against the holy land and
the kingdom,

8 set fire to the gatehouse and shed innocent blood. But we prayed to the Lord, and our prayer was heard;[b]
we offered sacrifices and fine flour; we lighted the lamps and set out the loaves of bread.

9 We are now reminding you to celebrate the feast of Booths in the month of Kislev.[c]

10 Dated in the one hundred and eighty-eighth year.[d]

Letter 2: 164 B.C. The people of Jerusalem and Judea, the senate, and Judas send greetings and good
wishes to Aristobulus, teacher of King Ptolemy and member of the family of the anointed priests, and to the
Jews in Egypt.

11 Since we have been saved by God from grave dangers, we give him great thanks as befits those who
fought against the king;[e]

12 for it was God who drove out those who fought against the holy city.

13 When their leader arrived in Persia with his seemingly irresistible army, they were cut to pieces in the
temple of the goddess Nanea[f] through a deceitful stratagem employed by Nanea’s priests.

14 [g]On the pretext of marrying the goddess, Antiochus with his Friends had come to the place to get its great
treasures as a dowry.

15 When the priests of Nanea’s temple had displayed the treasures and Antiochus with a few attendants had
come inside the wall of the temple precincts, the priests locked the temple as soon as he entered.

16 Then they opened a hidden trapdoor in the ceiling, and hurling stones at the leader and his companions,
struck them down. They dismembered the bodies, cut off their heads and tossed them to the people outside.

17 Forever blessed be our God, who has thus punished the impious!

18 [h]Since we shall be celebrating the purification of the temple on the twenty-fifth day of the month Kislev, we
thought it right to inform you, that you too may celebrate the feast of Booths and of the fire that appeared when
Nehemiah, the rebuilder of the temple[i] and the altar, offered sacrifices.

19 For when our ancestors were being led into captivity in Persia,[j] devout priests at the time took some of the
fire from the altar and hid it secretly in the hollow of a dry cistern, making sure that the place would be
unknown to anyone.

20 Many years later, when it so pleased God, Nehemiah, commissioned by the king of Persia, sent the
descendants of the priests who had hidden the fire to look for it.

21 When they informed us that they could not find any fire, but only a thick liquid, he ordered them to scoop
some out and bring it. After the material for the sacrifices had been prepared, Nehemiah ordered the priests to
sprinkle the wood and what lay on it with the liquid.

22 This was done, and when at length the sun, which had been clouded over, began to shine, a great fire
blazed up, so that everyone marveled.

23 While the sacrifice was being burned, the priests recited a prayer, and all present joined in with them.
Jonathan led and the rest responded with Nehemiah.

24 The prayer was as follows: “Lord, Lord God, creator of all things, awesome and strong, just and merciful,
the only king and benefactor,

25 who alone are gracious, just, almighty, and eternal, Israel’s savior from all evil, who chose our ancestors
and sanctified them:

26 accept this sacrifice on behalf of all your people Israel and guard and sanctify your portion.

27 Gather together our scattered people, free those who are slaves among the Gentiles, look kindly on those
who are despised and detested, and let the Gentiles know that you are our God.

28 Punish those who lord it over us and in their arrogance oppress us.

29 Plant your people in your holy place, as Moses said.”

30 Then the priests sang hymns.
31 After the sacrifice was consumed, Nehemiah ordered the rest of the liquid to be poured upon large stones.
32 As soon as this was done, a flame blazed up, but its light was lost in the brilliance coming from the altar.

33 When the event became known and the king of the Persians was told that, in the very place where the
exiled priests had hidden the fire, a liquid was found with which Nehemiah and his people had burned the
sacrifices,

34 the king, after verifying the fact, fenced the place off and declared it sacred.

35 To those whom the king favored, he distributed many benefits he received.

36 Nehemiah and his companions called the liquid nephthar, meaning purification, but most people named it
naphtha.[k]

Footnotes:

1:7 Demetrius: Demetrius II, king of Syria (145–139, 129–125 B.C.). The one hundred and sixty-ninth year:
i.e., of the Seleucid era, 143 B.C. Regarding the dates in 1 and 2 Maccabees, see note on 1 Mc 1:10. On the
troubles caused by Jason and his revolt against the kingdom, i.e., the rule of the legitimate high priest, see 2
Mc 4:7–22.
1:8 Our prayer was heard: in the victory of the Maccabees.
1:9 Feast of Booths in the month of Kislev: really the feast of the Dedication of the Temple, Hanukkah (2 Mc
10:1–8), celebrated on the twenty-fifth of Kislev (Nov.–Dec.). Its solemnity resembles that of the actual feast of
Booths (Lv 23:33–43), celebrated on the fifteenth of Tishri (Sept.–Oct.); cf. 2 Mc 1:18.
1:10 The one hundred and eighty-eighth year: 124 B.C. The date pertains to the preceding, not the following
letter. Senate: the council of Jewish elders of Jerusalem; cf. 1 Mc 12:6. King Ptolemy: Ptolemy VI Philometor,
ruler of Egypt from 180 to 145 B.C.; he is mentioned also in 1 Mc 1:18; 10:51–59.
1:11–12 The king: Antiochus IV of Syria, the bitter persecutor of the Jews, who, as leader of the Syrian army
that invaded Persia, perished there in 164 B.C.
1:13 Nanea: an oriental goddess comparable to Artemis of the Greeks.
1:14–17 Differing accounts of the death of Antiochus IV are found in 2 Mc 9:1–29 and in 1 Mc 6:1–16 (see
also Dn 11:40–45). The writer of this letter had probably heard a distorted rumor of the king’s death. This and
other indications suggest that the letter was written very soon after Antiochus IV died, perhaps in 164 B.C.
1:18–36 This legendary account of Nehemiah’s miraculous fire is incorporated in the letter because of its
connection with the Temple and its rededication. Booths: see note on v. 9.
1:18 Nehemiah, the rebuilder of the temple: he rebuilt the walls of Jerusalem, but the Temple had been rebuilt
by Zerubbabel almost a century before.
1:19 Persia: actually Babylonia, which later became part of the Persian empire.
1:36 By a play on words, the Greek term naphtha (petroleum) is assimilated to some Semitic word, perhaps
nephthar, meaning “loosened.”

The Book of 2Maccabees: Introduction (Bible Marathon Day 242)

The Book of 2Maccabees: Introduction (Bible Marathon Day 242)

The Second Book of Maccabees

The second book of Maccabees is not a continuation of the first book.
Whereas the first book presents the history of the Jewish people during those critical years in a
comprehensive and balanced way, this other focuses on a series of facts – and at times, commentaries and
legends – allowing the author to emphasize the hopes and suffering of the persecuted believers. This second
book, less interesting than the first for historians, is, nevertheless, extremely important in the Bible because of
its profound vision of suffering and death and also of God’s justice. This book (with the book of Daniel) is the
first in the Bible to affirm the resurrection of the dead, as the Wisdom of Solomon would do also at the next
century.

2 Maccabees is unique among biblical books because it is actually a summary of another book. The author
tells us that he is summarizing a 5-volume work by Jason of Cyrene (2:23). Unfortunately, Jason’s book is not
extant and we have no information about him. The author of 2 Macc chooses to remain anonymous, but he
indicates his purpose at the beginning (2:19-32) and gives a brief conclusion at the end (2:37). Two letters
appear at the beginning which apparently accompanied the book on its way from Jews in Palestine to Jews in
Egypt at different times. The letters report on circumstances in the Holy Land and remind the Jews in Egypt to
celebrate the new feast of Hanukkah. The second letter is older than the first.

2 Macc is not a sequel to 1 Macc nor does it proceed as a continuous narrative. It presents many stories, but
does not link them all in chronological order. One poignant feature of 2 Macc is its martyr stories. The author
gives vivid descriptions of the violence suffered by the Jews in Palestine. The martyrdom of Eleazar (6), the
execution of the seven sons and their mother at the hands of Antiochus IV Epiphanes (7) and the gruesome
death of Razis (14) are especially memorable. The book gives two different accounts of the death of
Antiochus (1:13-17; 9:1-29). Besides the letters in the first chapter, we find a few official letters in ch. 11.

2 Macc explains the conflict over the high priesthood before the Maccabean era in more detail than 1 Macc.
Onias III is the rightful high priest but his brother Jason seeks to steal the office of high priest. Jason bribes
Antiochus to depose Onias and appoint himself instead (4:7-9). Jason thus obtains the high priesthood, but
soon he is outbid by Menelaus (4:24). Eventually, an official bribed by Menelaus assassinates Onias (4:34).

The author highlights the role of the Temple. The Lord protects the Temple treasury from the greedy
Heliodorus. But the Lord allows Antiochus to defile it on account of the people’s sins (6:1-17). Once Judas
Maccabeus recaptures Jerusalem, he purifies the Temple. The Jews immediately enshrine this event in the
holiday of Hanukkah (10:6-8).

The author focuses on the battles and accomplishments of Judas Maccabeus, but pays little attention to his
brothers. 2 Macc gives details about Judas’ campaigns against Nicanor, Timothy, Lysias and many others.
Yet even after Judas establishes a limited peace, the Jews suffer local persecution which provokes a new
wave of warfare (12:1-5). The book ends with Judas’ second victory over Nicanor. This battle is so
memorable that it too is made into a holiday which is celebrated just before Purim.

2 Macc shows the power of God in the midst of the difficult circumstances of the Maccabean era. The author
highlights miracles like the divine confrontation of Heliodorus (3:22-34) and the vision of ominous riders in the
sky (5:2-3). Yet he is writing for Jews outside of Palestine so he emphasizes the desperate straits of the
Palestinian Jews so that the Diaspora Jews will be moved to support and pray for them. The horrible
martyrdoms are a powerful example of the evils of foreign oppression but they show the inner strength of the
Jewish people and the glory of obedience to the Law. The martyrs of the Maccabean era illustrate that
obedience to God is more important than obedience to man. In 2 Macc, we can see God’s hand at work
even in the times of his people’s greatest suffering.

Quoted from http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/resources/bible/introduction-to-the-old-testament/ii-
maccabees/ By Mark Giszczak

The Book of 1Maccabees Chapter 16 (Bible Marathon Day 241)

The Book of 1Maccabees Chapter 16 (Bible Marathon Day 241)

1 John then went up from Gazara and told his father Simon what Cendebeus was doing.

2 Simon called his two oldest sons, Judas and John, and said to them: “I and my brothers and my father’s house have fought the wars of Israel from our youth until today, and many times we succeeded in saving Israel.

3 I have now grown old, but you, by the mercy of Heaven, have come to maturity. Take my place and my brother’s, and go out and fight for our nation; and may the help of Heaven be with you!”

4 John then mustered in the land twenty thousand warriors and cavalry. Setting out against Cendebeus, they
spent the night at Modein,

5 rose early, and marched into the plain. There, facing them, was an immense army of foot soldiers and cavalry, and between the two armies was a wadi.

6 John and his people took their position against the enemy. Seeing that his people were afraid to cross the wadi, John crossed first. When his men saw this, they crossed over after him.

7 Then he divided his infantry and put his cavalry in the center, for the enemy’s cavalry were very numerous.

8 They blew the trumpets, and Cendebeus and his army were routed; many of them fell wounded, and the rest fled toward the stronghold.

9 It was then that John’s brother Judas fell wounded; but John pursued them until Cendebeus reached Kedron, which he had fortified.

10 Some took refuge in the towers on the plain of Azotus, but John set fire to these, and about two thousand of the enemy perished. He then returned to Judea in peace.

Murder of Simon and His Sons.
11 Ptolemy, son of Abubus, had been appointed governor of the plain of Jericho, and he had much silver and gold,

12 being the son-in-law of the high priest.

13 But his heart became proud and he was determined to get control of the country. So he made treacherous plans to do away with Simon and his sons.

14 As Simon was inspecting the cities of the country and providing for their needs, he and his sons Mattathias and Judas went down to Jericho in the one hundred and seventy-seventh year, in the eleventh month[a] (that is, the month Shebat).

15 The son of Abubus gave them a deceitful welcome in the little stronghold called Dok[b] which he had built. He served them a sumptuous banquet, but he had his men hidden there.

16 Then, when Simon and his sons were drunk, Ptolemy and his men sprang up, weapons in hand, rushed upon Simon in the banquet hall, and killed him, his two sons, and some of his servants.

17 By this vicious act of treachery he repaid good with evil.

18 Then Ptolemy wrote a report and sent it to the king, asking him to send troops to help him and to turn over
to him their country and its cities.

19 He sent other men to Gazara to do away with John. To the army officers he sent letters inviting them to come to him so that he might present them with silver, gold, and gifts.

20 He also sent others to seize Jerusalem and the temple mount.

21 But someone ran ahead and brought word to John at Gazara that his father and his brothers had perished, and “Ptolemy has sent men to kill you also.”

22 On hearing this, John was utterly astounded. When the men came to kill him, he seized them and put them to death, for he knew that they sought to kill him.

23 [c]Now the rest of the acts of John, his wars and the brave deeds he performed, his rebuilding of the walls,
and all his achievements—

24 these are recorded in the chronicle of his high priesthood, from the time that he succeeded his father as high priest.

Footnotes:

16:14 In the one hundred and seventy-seventh year, in the eleventh month: January–February, 134 B.C., by
the Temple calendar.
16:15 Dok: a fortress built on a cliff three miles northwest of Jericho, near modern Ain Duq.
16:23–24 John Hyrcanus was ruler and high priest from 134 B.C. till his death in 104 B.C. These verses
suggest that the book was written, or at least completed, only after he died.

The Book of 1Maccabees Chapter 15 (Bible Marathon Day 241)

The Book of 1Maccabees Chapter 15 (Bible Marathon Day 241)

Letter of Antiochus VII.
1 Antiochus,[a] son of King Demetrius, sent a letter from the islands of the sea to Simon, the priest and ethnarch of the Jews, and to all the nation,

2 which read as follows: “King Antiochus sends greetings to Simon, the high priest and ethnarch, and to the Jewish nation.

3 Whereas certain villains have gained control of the kingdom of our ancestors, I intend to reclaim it, that I may restore it to its former state. I have recruited a large number of mercenary troops and equipped warships.

4 I intend to make a landing in the country so that I may take revenge on those who have ruined our country and laid waste many cities in my kingdom.

5 “Now, therefore, I confirm to you all the tax exemptions that the kings before me granted you and whatever other privileges they conceded to you.

6 I authorize you to coin your own money, as legal tender in your country.

7 Jerusalem and its sanctuary shall be free. All the weapons you have prepared and all the strongholds you have built and now occupy shall remain in your possession.

8 All debts, present or future, due to the royal treasury shall be canceled for you, now and for all time.

9 When we establish our kingdom, we will greatly honor you and your nation and the temple, so that your glory will be manifest in all the earth.”

10 In the one hundred and seventy-fourth year[b] Antiochus invaded the land of his ancestors, and all the troops rallied to him, so that few were left with Trypho.

11 Pursued by Antiochus, Trypho fled to Dor, by the sea,[c]

12 realizing what troubles had come upon him now that his soldiers had deserted him.

13 Antiochus encamped before Dor with a hundred and twenty thousand infantry and eight thousand cavalry.

14 While he surrounded the city, his ships closed from the sea, so that he pressed it hard by land and sea and let no one go in or out.

Roman Alliance Renewed.

15 Meanwhile, Numenius and his companions came from Rome with letters containing this message to various kings and countries:

16 “Lucius,[d] Consul of the Romans, sends greetings to King Ptolemy.

17 Ambassadors of the Jews, our friends and allies, have come to us to renew their earlier friendship and alliance. They had been sent by Simon the high priest and the Jewish people,

18 and they brought with them a gold shield of a thousand minas.

19 Therefore we have decided to write to various kings and countries, that they are not to venture to harm them, or wage war against them or their cities or their country, and are not to assist those who fight against them.

20 We have also decided to accept the shield from them.

21 If, then, any troublemakers from their country take refuge with you, hand them over to Simon the high priest, so that he may punish them according to their law.”

22 The consul sent identical letters to Kings Demetrius, Attalus,[e] Ariarthes and Arsaces;

23 to all the countries—Sampsames, the Spartans, Delos, Myndos, Sicyon, Caria, Samos, Pamphylia, Lycia, Halicarnassus, Rhodes, Phaselis, Cos, Side, Aradus, Gortyna, Cnidus, Cyprus, and Cyrene.

24 A copy of the letter was also sent to Simon the high priest.

Hostility from Antiochus VII.
25 When King Antiochus encamped before Dor, he assaulted it continuously both with troops and with the siege engines he had made. He blockaded Trypho by preventing anyone from going
in or out.

26 Simon sent to Antiochus’ support two thousand elite troops, together with silver and gold and much equipment.

27 But he refused to accept the aid; in fact, he broke all the agreements he had previously made with Simon and became hostile toward him.

28 He sent Athenobius, one of his Friends, to confer with Simon and say: “You are occupying Joppa and Gazara and the citadel of Jerusalem; these are cities of my kingdom.

29 You have laid waste their territories, done great harm to the land, and taken possession of many districts in my kingdom.

30 Now, therefore, give up the cities you have seized and the tribute money of the districts you control outside the territory of Judea;

31 or instead, pay me five hundred talents of silver for the devastation you have caused and five hundred talents more for the tribute money of the cities. If you do not do this, we will come and make war on you.”

32 So Athenobius, the king’s Friend, came to Jerusalem and on seeing the splendor of Simon’s court, the gold and silver plate on the sideboard, and his rich display, he was amazed. When he gave him the king’s message,

33 Simon said to him in reply: “It is not foreign land we have taken nor have we seized the property of others, but only our ancestral heritage which for a time had been unjustly held by our enemies.
34 Now that we have the opportunity, we are holding on to the heritage of our ancestors.

35 As for Joppa and Gazara, which you demand, those cities were doing great harm to our people and our country. For these we will give you a hundred talents.” Athenobius made no reply,

36 but returned to the king in anger. When he told him of Simon’s words, of his splendor, and of all he had seen, the king fell into a violent rage.

Victory over Cendebeus.
37 Trypho had boarded a ship and escaped to Orthosia.[f]

38 Then the king appointed Cendebeus commander-in-chief of the seacoast, and gave him infantry and cavalry forces.

39 He ordered him to encamp against Judea and to fortify Kedron[g] and strengthen its gates, so that he could wage war on the people. Meanwhile the king went in pursuit of Trypho.

40 When Cendebeus came to Jamnia, he began to harass the people and to make incursions into Judea, where he took people captive and massacred them.

41 As the king ordered, he fortified Kedron and stationed cavalry and infantry there, so that they could go out and patrol the roads of Judea.

Footnotes:

15:1 Antiochus: Antiochus VII Sidetes, son of Demetrius I, and younger brother of Demetrius II (now a prisoner
of the Parthians). At the age of twenty he set out from the island of Rhodes to take his brother’s place and drive
out the usurper Trypho.
15:10 The one hundred and seventy-fourth year: 138 B.C.
15:11 Dor, by the sea: a fortress on the Palestinian coast, fifteen miles south of Carmel.
15:16 Lucius: perhaps Lucius Caecilius Metellus, consul in 142 B.C., or Lucius Calpurnicus Piso, consul in
140–139 B.C. This document pertains to Simon’s first years as leader.
15:22 Attalus: Attalus II of Pergamum, reigned 159–138 B.C. Ariarthes: Ariarthes V of Cappadocia, reigned
162–130 B.C. Arsaces: see note on 14:2.
15:37 Orthosia: a port between Tripoli and the Eleutherus River.
15:39 Kedron: a few miles southeast of Jamnia and facing the fortress of Gazara held by John Hyrcanus
(13:53; 16:1).
13:20–21 The invaders made a wide flanking movement to invade Judea from the south (see 4:29; 6:31).
Adora was a few miles southwest of Beth-zur. They would avoid Beth-zur itself and other strongholds of the
Maccabees by following the way of the wilderness.
13:23 Baskama: perhaps northeast of the Sea of Galilee.
13:41 The one hundred and seventieth year: March, 142, to April, 141 B.C., by the Temple calendar.
13:43 Gazara: ancient Gezer, a key position in the Shephelah, fortified by Bacchides in 160 B.C.; cf. 9:52.
13:51 The twenty-third day of the second month: June 3, 141 B.C.
13:53 John: John Hyrcanus, who was to succeed his father as ruler and high priest; cf. 16:23–24.