Proverbs 3 (Bible Marathon Day 325)

Chapter 3

Confidence in God Leads to Prosperity[a]

My son, do not forget[b] my teaching,
    take to heart my commands;
For many days, and years of life,
    and peace, will they bring you.
Do not let love and fidelity forsake you;
    bind them around your neck;
    write them on the tablet of your heart.
Then will you win favor and esteem
    before God and human beings.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
    on your own intelligence do not rely;
In all your ways be mindful of him,
    and he will make straight your paths.
Do not be wise in your own eyes,
    fear the Lord and turn away from evil;
This will mean health for your flesh
    and vigor for your bones.
Honor the Lord with your wealth,
    with first fruits of all your produce;
10 Then will your barns be filled with plenty,
    with new wine your vats will overflow.
11 The discipline of the Lord, my son, do not spurn;
    do not disdain his reproof;
12 [c]For whom the Lord loves he reproves,
    as a father, the son he favors.

The Benefits of Finding Wisdom[d]

13 Happy the one who finds wisdom,
    the one who gains understanding!
14 Her profit is better than profit in silver,
    and better than gold is her revenue;
15 She is more precious than corals,
    and no treasure of yours can compare with her.
16 Long life is in her right hand,
    in her left are riches and honor;
17 Her ways are pleasant ways,
    and all her paths are peace;
18 She is a tree of life[e] to those who grasp her,
    and those who hold her fast are happy.
19 The Lord by wisdom founded the earth,
    established the heavens by understanding;
20 By his knowledge the depths[f] are split,
    and the clouds drop down dew.

Justice Toward One’s Neighbor Brings Blessing[g]

21 My son, do not let these slip from your sight:
    hold to deliberation and planning;
22 So will they be life to your soul,[h]
    and an adornment for your neck.
23 Then you may go your way securely;
    your foot will never stumble;
24 When you lie down, you will not be afraid,
    when you rest, your sleep will be sweet.
25 Do not be afraid of sudden terror,
    of the ruin of the wicked when it comes;
26 For the Lord will be your confidence,
    and will keep your foot from the snare.
27 Do not withhold any goods from the owner
    when it is in your power to act.
28 Say not to your neighbor, “Go, come back tomorrow,
    and I will give it to you,” when all the while you have it.
29 Do not plot evil against your neighbors,
    when they live at peace with you.
30 Do not contend with someone without cause,
    with one who has done you no harm.
31 Do not envy the violent
    and choose none of their ways:
32 To the Lord the devious are an abomination,
    but the upright are close to him.
33 The curse of the Lord is on the house of the wicked,
    but the dwelling of the just he blesses;
34 Those who scoff, he scoffs at,
    but the lowly he favors.
35 The wise will possess glory,
    but fools will bear shame.

Footnotes:

  1. 3:1–12 The instruction consists of a series of six four-line exhortations in which the second line of each exhortation mentions a reward or benefit. In the first five exhortations, the teacher promises a reward: long life, a good name, divine protection, health, abundant crops. The last exhortation, vv. 11–12, departs from the command-reward scheme, implying that being a disciple of the Lord does not guarantee unalloyed bliss: one must allow God freedom to “reprove” or educate. The process of education is like that described in chap. 2: the father first invites his son (or disciple) to memorize his teaching (v. 1), then to enter upon a relationship of trust with him (v. 3), and finally to place his trust in God, who takes up the parental task of education (v. 5). Education begun by the parent is brought to full completion by God.
  2. 3:1 Do not forget: this word and several others in the section such as “teaching,” “commands,” “years of life,” and the custom of affixing written teaching to one’s body, occur also in Deuteronomy. This vocabulary suggests that Proverbs and Deuteronomy had a common origin in the scribal class of Jerusalem. This section (and vv. 21–34) subtly elaborates Dt 6:5–9, “You shall love the Lord with all your heart (v. 5)…Take to heart these words (v. 1)…Recite them when you are at home and when you are away (v. 23)…when you lie down (v. 24)…Bind them (v. 3) on your arm as a sign and let them be a pendant on your forehead” (v. 21).
  3. 3:12 One might be tempted to judge the quality of one’s relationship to God by one’s prosperity. It is an inadequate criterion, for God as a teacher might go counter to student expectations. The discipline of God can involve suffering.
  4. 3:13–20 An encomium of Wisdom through the listing of her benefits to the human race and the depiction of her role in creation. Wisdom, or understanding, is more valuable than silver and gold. Its fruit is long life, riches, honor and happiness (vv. 13–18). Even the creation of the universe and its adornment (Gn 1) were not done without wisdom (vv. 19–20). The praise of Wisdom foreshadows the praise of a noble wife in the final poem (31:10–31), even to the singling out of the hands extended in a helpful way toward human beings.
  5. 3:18 A tree of life: in the Old Testament this phrase occurs only in Proverbs (11:30; 13:12; 15:4) and Genesis (2:9; 3:22, 24). The origins of the concept are obscure; there is no explicit mention of it in ancient Near Eastern literature, though on ancient seals trees are sometimes identified as trees of life. When the man and the woman were expelled from the garden, the tree of life was put off limits to them, lest they “eat of it and live forever” (Gn 3:22). The quest for wisdom gives access to the previously sequestered tree of life. The tree of life is mentioned also in the apocryphal work 1 Enoch 25:4–5. Rev 2 and 22 mention the tree of life as a source of eternal life.
  6. 3:20 Depths: for the Hebrews, the depths enclosed the great subterranean waters; the rain and dew descended from the waters above the firmament; cf. Gn 1:6–10; Jb 26:8, 12; Ps 18:15; 24:2. The cosmogony provides the reason why Wisdom offers such benefits to human beings: the world was created in wisdom so that all who live in accord with wisdom live in tune with the universe.
  7. 3:21–35As in other instructions, the father in vv. 21–26 urges the son to seek wisdom, which in this case means practicing the virtues of “deliberation and planning,” a specification of wisdom. Practicing these virtues brings protection from violence (vv. 22–26) and friendship with God (vv. 32–35). The language is like Ps 91.

    Verses 27–35 are arranged according to a clear order. Serving God requires serving one’s neighbor through kindness (vv. 27–28), maintaining peace with the good (vv. 29–31), having no envy of the wicked (v. 31), because the Lord’s friendship and kindness are with the just, not with the wicked. Matching the six exhortations of vv. 1–12, vv. 27–34 contain six prohibitions. The righteous/wicked contrast is progressively developed: in contrast to the wicked, the righteous are in God’s inner circle, their houses are blessed, they deal with a merciful God, and obtain honor.

  8. 3:22 Your soul: Heb. nephesh means “throat, esophagus; life; soul.” The meanings are connected. The throat area is the moist, breathing center of the body, which stands for life and for self. The figure of speech is called metonymy, in which one word is substituted for another on the basis of a causal relation, e.g., eye for sight, arm for power, or, as here, “throat area” for life. Proverbs sometimes plays on this concrete meaning of life (e.g., 21:23).
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The Book of 2Maccabees Chapter 15 (Bible Marathon Day 249)

The Book of 2Maccabees Chapter 15 (Bible Marathon Day 249)

Nicanor’s Arrogance.
1 When Nicanor learned that Judas and his companions were in the territory of Samaria, he decided he could attack them in complete safety on the day of rest.

2 The Jews who were forced to accompany him pleaded, “Do not massacre them so savagely and barbarously, but show respect for the day which the All-seeing has exalted with holiness above all other days.”

3 At this the thrice-accursed wretch asked if there was a ruler in heaven who prescribed the keeping of the sabbath day.

4 They replied, “It is the living Lord, the ruler in heaven, who commands the observance of the sabbath day.”

5 Then he said, “I, the ruler on earth, command you to take up arms and carry out the king’s business.” Nevertheless he did not succeed in carrying out his cruel plan.

6 In his utter boastfulness and arrogance Nicanor had determined to erect a public victory monument[a] over Judas and his companions.

7 But Maccabeus remained confident, fully convinced that he would receive help from the Lord.

8 He urged his men not to fear the attack of the Gentiles, but mindful of the help they had received in the past from Heaven, to expect now the victory that would be given them by the Almighty.

9 By encouraging them with words from the law and the prophets,[b] and by reminding them of the battles they had already won, he filled them with fresh enthusiasm.

10 Having stirred up their courage, he gave his orders and pointed out at the same time the perfidy of the Gentiles and their violation of oaths.

11 When he had armed each of them, not so much with the security of shield and spear as with the encouragement of noble words, he cheered them all by relating a dream, a kind of waking vision, worthy of belief.

12 What he saw was this: Onias, the former high priest,[c] a noble and good man, modest in bearing, gentle in manner, distinguished in speech, and trained from childhood in all that belongs to excellence, was praying with outstretched arms for the whole Jewish community.

13 Then in the same way another man appeared, distinguished by his white hair and dignity, and with an air of wondrous and majestic authority.

14 Onias then said of him, “This is a man[d] who loves his fellow Jews and fervently prays for the people and the holy city—the prophet of God, Jeremiah.”

15 Stretching out his right hand, Jeremiah presented a gold sword to Judas. As he gave it to him he said,

16 “Accept this holy sword as a gift from God; with it you shall shatter your adversaries.”

17 Encouraged by Judas’ words, so noble and capable of instilling valor and stirring young hearts to courage, they determined not merely to march, but to charge gallantly and decide the issue by hand-to-hand combat with the utmost courage, since city, sanctuary and temple were in danger.

18 They were not so much concerned about wives and children, or family and relations; their first and foremost fear was for the consecrated sanctuary.

19 Those who were left in the city suffered no less an agony, anxious as they were about the battle in the open country.

20 Everyone now awaited the decisive moment. The enemy were already drawing near with their troops drawn up in battle line, their beasts placed in strategic positions, and their cavalry stationed on the flanks.

Defeat of Nicanor.
21 Maccabeus, surveying the hosts before him, the variety of weaponry, and the fierceness of their beasts, stretched out his hands toward heaven and called upon the Lord who works wonders; for he knew that it is not weapons but the Lord’s decision that brings victory to those who deserve it.

22 Calling upon God, he spoke in this manner: “You, master, sent your angel in the days of King Hezekiah of Judea, and he slew a hundred and eighty-five thousand men of Sennacherib’s camp.

23 And now, Sovereign of the heavens, send a good angel to spread fear and trembling ahead of us.

24 By the might of your arm may those be struck down who have blasphemously come against your holy people!” With these words he ended his prayer.

25 Nicanor and his troops advanced to the sound of trumpets and battle songs.

26 But Judas and his troops met the enemy with supplication and prayers.

27 Fighting with their hands and praying to God with their hearts, they laid low at least thirty-five thousand, and rejoiced greatly over this manifestation of God’s power.

28 When the battle was over and they were joyfully departing, they discovered Nicanor fallen there in all his armor; 29 so they raised tumultuous shouts in their ancestral language in praise of the divine Sovereign.

30 Then Judas, that man who was ever in body and soul the chief defender of his fellow citizens, and had maintained from youth his affection for his compatriots, ordered Nicanor’s head and right arm up to the shoulder to be cut off and taken to Jerusalem.

31 When he arrived there, he assembled his compatriots, stationed the priests before the altar, and sent for those in the citadel.[e]

32 He showed them the vile Nicanor’s head and the wretched blasphemer’s arm that had been boastfully stretched out against the holy dwelling of the Almighty.

33 He cut out the tongue of the godless Nicanor, saying he would feed it piecemeal to the birds and would hang up the other wages of his folly opposite the temple.

34 At this, everyone looked toward heaven and praised the Lord who manifests himself: “Blessed be the one who has preserved undefiled his own place!”

35 Judas hung Nicanor’s head and arm on the wall of the citadel, a clear and evident sign to all of the Lord’s help.

36 By public vote it was unanimously decreed never to let this day pass unobserved, but to celebrate the thirteenth day of the twelfth month, called Adar in Aramaic, the eve of Mordecai’s Day.[f]

VII. Epilogue
Compiler’s Apology.
37 Since Nicanor’s doings ended in this way, with the city remaining in the possession of the Hebrews from that time on, I will bring my story to an end here too.

38 If it is well written and to the point, that is what I wanted; if it is poorly done and mediocre, that is the best I could do.

39 Just as it is unpleasant to drink wine by itself or just water, whereas wine mixed with water makes a delightful and pleasing drink, so a skillfully composed story delights the ears of those who read the work. Let this, then, be the end.

Footnotes:

15:6 Public victory monument: a heap of stones covered with the arms and armor of the fallen enemy.
15:9 The law and the prophets: the first of the three parts of the Hebrew Scriptures, called the sacred books (1 Mc 12:9; 2 Mc 2:14).
15:12 Onias, the former high priest: Onias III (3:1–40). Evidently the author believed that departed just persons were in some way alive even before their resurrection.
15:14 A man: regarded by the postexilic Jews as one of the greatest figures in their history; cf. 2:1; Mt 16:14. Who…prays for the people: Jeremiah’s prayer in heaven has been taken in the Roman Catholic tradition as a biblical witness to the intercession of the saints.
15:31 Those in the citadel: presumably Jewish soldiers; actually, the citadel was still in the possession of the Syrians (1 Mc 13:50).
15:36 Mordecai’s Day: the feast of Purim, celebrated on the fourteenth and fifteenth days of Adar (Est 3:7; 9:20–23; F:10).

13:1 In the one hundred and forty-ninth year: 163/162 B.C.
13:2 They led: the Greek means literally “each (of them) led,” but it is unlikely that the author meant the already immense numbers to be doubled; the numbers are similar to those in 1 Mc 6:30.
13:4 Beroea: the Greek name of Aleppo in Syria.
13:5 Ashes: probably smoldering ashes; the tower resembles the ancient Persian fire towers.
13:16 They withdrew in triumph: according to 1 Mc 6:47 they fled.
13:21 Military secrets: probably about the lack of provisions in the besieged city; cf. 1 Mc 6:49.
13:24 Gerrhenes: probably the inhabitants of Gerar, southeast of Gaza.

The Book of 2Maccabees Chapter 14 (Bible Marathon Day 249)

The Book of 2Maccabees Chapter 14 (Bible Marathon Day 249)

Chapter 14
1 Three years later,[a] Judas and his companions learned that Demetrius, son of Seleucus, had sailed into the port of Tripolis with a powerful army and a fleet,

2 and that he had occupied the country, after doing away with Antiochus and his guardian Lysias.

3 A certain Alcimus, a former high priest,[b] who had willfully incurred defilement before the time of the revolt, realized that there was no way for him to be safe and regain access to the holy altar.

4 So he went to King Demetrius around the one hundred and fifty-first year and presented him with a gold crown and a palm branch, as well as some of the customary olive branches from the temple. On that day he kept quiet.

5 But he found an opportunity to further his mad scheme when he was invited to the council by Demetrius and questioned about the dispositions and intentions of the Jews. He replied:

6 “Those Jews called Hasideans, led by Judas Maccabeus,[c] are warmongers, who stir up sedition and keep the kingdom from enjoying peace.

7 For this reason, now that I am deprived of my ancestral dignity, that is to say, the high priesthood, I have come here,

8 first, out of my genuine concern for the king’s interests, and second, out of consideration for my own compatriots, since our entire nation is suffering no little affliction from the rash conduct of the people just mentioned.

9 When you have informed yourself in detail on these matters, O king, provide for our country and its hard-pressed people with the same gracious consideration that you show toward all.

10 As long as Judas is around, it is impossible for the government to enjoy peace.”

11 When he had said this, the other Friends who were hostile to Judas quickly added fuel to Demetrius’ indignation.

Dealings with Nicanor.
12 The king immediately chose Nicanor, who had been in command of the elephants, and appointed him governor of Judea. He sent him off

13 with orders to put Judas to death, to disperse his followers, and to set up Alcimus as high priest of the great temple.

14 The Gentiles from Judea, who had fled before Judas, flocked to Nicanor, thinking that the misfortunes and calamities of the Jews would mean prosperity for themselves.

15 When the Jews heard of Nicanor’s coming, and that the Gentiles were rallying to him, they sprinkled themselves with earth and prayed to him who established his people forever, and who always comes to the aid of his heritage by manifesting himself.

16 At their leader’s command, they set out at once from there and came upon the enemy at the village of Adasa.

17 Judas’ brother Simon had engaged Nicanor, but he suffered a slight setback because of the sudden appearance of the enemy.

18 However, when Nicanor heard of the valor of Judas and his companions, and the great courage with which they fought for their country, he shrank from deciding the issue by bloodshed.

19 So he sent Posidonius, Theodotus and Mattathias to exchange pledges of friendship.

20 After a long discussion of the terms, each leader communicated them to his troops; and when general agreement was expressed, they assented to the treaty.

21 A day was set on which the leaders would meet by themselves. From each side a chariot came forward, and thrones were set in place.

22 Judas had posted armed men in readiness at strategic points for fear that the enemy might suddenly commit some treachery. But the conference was held in the proper way.

23 Nicanor stayed on in Jerusalem, where he did nothing out of place. He disbanded the throngs of people who gathered around him;

24 and he always kept Judas in his company, for he felt affection[d] for the man.
25 He urged him to marry and have children; so Judas married and settled into an ordinary life.

Nicanor’s Threat Against Judas.
26 When Alcimus saw their mutual goodwill, he took the treaty that had been made, went to Demetrius, and said that Nicanor was plotting against the government, for he had appointed Judas, that conspirator against the kingdom, as his successor.

27 Stirred up by the villain’s slander, the king became enraged. He wrote to Nicanor, stating that he was displeased with the treaty, and ordering him to send Maccabeus at once as a prisoner to Antioch.

28 When this message reached Nicanor he was dismayed and troubled at the thought of annulling his agreement with a man who had done no wrong.

29 However, there was no way of opposing the king, so he watched for an opportunity to carry out this order by a stratagem.

30 But Maccabeus, noticing that Nicanor was more harsh in his dealings with him, and acting with unaccustomed rudeness when they met, concluded that this harshness was not a good sign. So he gathered together not a few of his men, and went into hiding from Nicanor.

31 When Nicanor realized that he had been cleverly outwitted by the man, he went to the great and holy temple, at a time when the priests were offering the customary sacrifices, and ordered them to surrender Judas.

32 As they declared under oath that they did not know where the man they sought was,

33 he stretched out his right arm toward the temple and swore this oath: “If you do not hand Judas over to me as prisoner, I will level this shrine of God to the ground; I will tear down the altar, and erect here a splendid temple to Dionysus.”

34 With these words he went away. The priests stretched out their hands toward heaven, calling upon the unfailing defender of our nation in these words:

35 “Lord of all, though you are in need of nothing, you were pleased to have a temple for your dwelling place among us.

36 Therefore, Holy One, Lord of all holiness, preserve forever undefiled this house, which has been so recently purified.”

Martyrdom of Razis.[e]
37 A certain Razis, one of the elders of Jerusalem, was denounced to Nicanor as a patriot. A man highly regarded, he was called a father of the Jews because of his goodwill toward them.

38 In the days before the revolt, he had been convicted of being a Jew, and had risked body and soul in his ardent zeal for Judaism.

39 Nicanor, to show his disdain for the Jews, sent more than five hundred soldiers to arrest him.

40 He thought that by arresting that man he would deal the Jews a hard blow.

41 But when the troops, on the point of capturing the tower, were forcing the outer gate and calling for fire to set the door ablaze, Razis, now caught on all sides, turned his sword against himself,

42 preferring to die nobly[f] rather than fall into the hands of vile men and suffer outrages unworthy of his noble birth.

43 In the excitement of the struggle he failed to strike exactly. So while the troops rushed in through the doors, he gallantly ran up to the top of the wall and courageously threw himself down into the crowd.

44 But as they quickly drew back and left an opening, he fell into the middle of the empty space.

45 Still breathing, and inflamed with anger, he got up and ran through the crowd, with blood gushing from his frightful wounds. Then, standing on a steep rock,

46 as he lost the last of his blood, he tore out his entrails and flung them with both hands into the crowd, calling upon the Lord of life and of spirit to give these back to him again. Such was the manner of his death.

Footnotes:

14:1 Three years later: actually, Demetrius (I Soter), son of Seleucus (IV), landed at Tripolis in the year 151 of the Seleucid era (1 Mc 14:4), i.e., 162/161 B.C.; cf. 1 Mc 7:1–7.
14:3 Alcimus, a former high priest: he was apparently appointed high priest by Antiochus V after Menelaus was executed, and then deposed for collaborating with the Seleucids.
14:6 Hasideans, led by Judas Maccabeus: according to 1 Mc 2:42 and 7:12–17, the Hasideans were a party separate from the Maccabees.
14:24 Affection: compare 1 Mc 7:26–32, where there is no hint of this cordial relationship between Nicanor and Judas.
14:37–46 The story of Razis belongs to the “martyrology” class of literature; it is similar to the stories in 6:18–7:42.
14:42 Die nobly: Razis’s willingness to die nobly rather than to fall into enemy hands had a precedent in Saul (1 Sm 31:4). Razis took his life because he was convinced that God would restore his body in the resurrection of the dead (see 7:11, 22–23; 14:46).

The Book of 2Maccabees Chapter 13 (Bible Marathon Day 248)

The Book of 2Maccabees Chapter 13 (Bible Marathon Day 248)

Death of Menelaus.
1 In the one hundred and forty-ninth year,[a] Judas and his men learned that Antiochus Eupator was invading
Judea with a large force,

2 and that with him was Lysias, his guardian, who was in charge of the government. They led[b] a Greek
army of one hundred and ten thousand foot soldiers, fifty-three hundred cavalry, twenty-two elephants, and
three hundred chariots armed with scythes.

3 Menelaus also joined them, and with great duplicity kept urging Antiochus on, not for the welfare of his
country, but in the hope of being established in office.

4 But the King of kings aroused the anger of Antiochus against the scoundrel. When the king was shown by
Lysias that Menelaus was to blame for all the trouble, he ordered him to be taken to Beroea[c] and executed
there in the customary local method.

5 There is at that place a tower seventy-five feet high, full of ashes,[d] with a circular rim sloping down steeply
on all sides toward the ashes.

6 Anyone guilty of sacrilege or notorious for certain other crimes is brought up there and then hurled down to
destruction.

7 In such a manner was Menelaus, that transgressor of the law, fated to die, deprived even of burial.

8 It was altogether just that he who had committed so many sins against the altar with its pure fire and ashes,
in ashes should meet his death.

Battle near Modein.
9 The king was advancing, his mind full of savage plans for inflicting on the Jews things worse than those they
suffered in his father’s time.

10 When Judas learned of this, he urged the people to call upon the Lord day and night, now more than
ever, to help them when they were about to be deprived of their law, their country, and their holy temple;

11 and not to allow this people, which had just begun to revive, to be subjected again to blasphemous
Gentiles.

12 When they had all joined in doing this, and had implored the merciful Lord continuously with weeping and
fasting and prostrations for three days, Judas encouraged them and told them to stand ready.

13 After a private meeting with the elders, he decided that, before the king’s army could invade Judea and
take possession of the city, the Jews should march out and settle the matter with God’s help.

14 Leaving the outcome to the Creator of the world, and exhorting his followers to fight nobly to death for the
laws, the temple, the city, the country, and the government, he encamped near Modein.

15 Giving his troops the battle cry “God’s Victory,” he made a night attack on the king’s pavilion with a picked
force of the bravest young men and killed about two thousand in the camp. He also stabbed the lead
elephant and its rider.

16 Finally they withdrew in triumph,[e] having filled the camp with terror and confusion.

17 Day was just breaking when this was accomplished with the help and protection of the Lord.

Treaty with Antiochus V.
18 The king, having had a taste of the Jews’ boldness, tried to take their positions by a stratagem.

19 So he marched against Beth-zur, a strong fortress of the Jews; but he was driven back, checked, and
defeated.

20 Judas sent supplies to the men inside,

21 but Rhodocus, of the Jewish army, betrayed military secrets[f] to the enemy. He was found out, arrested,
and imprisoned.

22 The king made a second attempt by negotiating with the people of Beth-zur. After giving them his pledge
and receiving theirs, he withdrew

23 and attacked Judas’ men. But he was defeated. Next he heard that Philip, who was left in charge of the
government in Antioch, had rebelled. Dismayed, he negotiated with the Jews, submitted to their terms, and
swore to observe all their rights. Having come to this agreement, he offered a sacrifice, and honored the
sanctuary and the place with a generous donation.

24 He received Maccabeus, and left Hegemonides as governor of the territory from Ptolemais to the region of
the Gerrhenes.[g]

25 When he came to Ptolemais, the people of Ptolemais were angered by the peace treaty; in fact they were
so indignant that they wanted to annul its provisions.

26 But Lysias took the platform, defended the treaty as well as he could and won them over by persuasion.
After calming them and gaining their goodwill, he returned to Antioch. That is the story of the king’s attack and
withdrawal.

Footnotes:

13:1 In the one hundred and forty-ninth year: 163/162 B.C.
13:2 They led: the Greek means literally “each (of them) led,” but it is unlikely that the author meant the already
immense numbers to be doubled; the numbers are similar to those in 1 Mc 6:30.
13:4 Beroea: the Greek name of Aleppo in Syria.
13:5 Ashes: probably smoldering ashes; the tower resembles the ancient Persian fire towers.
13:16 They withdrew in triumph: according to 1 Mc 6:47 they fled.
13:21 Military secrets: probably about the lack of provisions in the besieged city; cf. 1 Mc 6:49.
13:24 Gerrhenes: probably the inhabitants of Gerar, southeast of Gaza.

The Book of 2Maccabees Chapter 12 (Bible Marathon Day 247)

The Book of 2Maccabees Chapter 12 (Bible Marathon Day 247)

Incidents at Joppa and Jamnia.
1 After these agreements were made, Lysias returned to the king, and the Jews went about their farming.

2 But some of the local governors, Timothy and Apollonius, son of Gennaeus, [a] as also Hieronymus and
Demophon, to say nothing of Nicanor, the commander of the Cyprians, would not allow them to live in peace
and quiet.

3 Some people of Joppa also committed this outrage: they invited the Jews who lived among them, together
with their wives and children, to embark on boats which they had provided. There was no hint of enmity
toward them.

4 This was done by public vote of the city. When the Jews, wishing to live on friendly terms and not suspecting
anything, accepted the invitation, the people of Joppa took them out to sea and drowned at least two hundred
of them.

5 As soon as Judas heard of the barbarous deed perpetrated against his compatriots, he summoned his
men;

6 and after calling upon God, the just judge, he marched against the murderers of his kindred. In a night
attack he set the harbor on fire, burned the boats, and put to the sword those who had taken refuge there.

7 Because the gates of the town were shut, he withdrew, intending to come back later and wipe out the entire
population of Joppa.

8 On hearing that the people of Jamnia planned in the same way to wipe out the Jews who lived among
them,

9 he attacked the Jamnians by night, setting fire to the harbor and the fleet, so that the glow of the flames was
visible as far as Jerusalem, thirty miles away.

More Victories by Judas.

10 When the Jews had gone about a mile from there[b] in the march against Timothy, they were attacked by
Arabians numbering at least five thousand foot soldiers and five hundred cavalry.

11 After a hard fight, Judas and his companions, with God’s help, were victorious. The defeated nomads
begged Judas to give pledges of friendship, and they promised to supply the Jews with livestock and to be of
service to them in any other way.

12 Realizing that they could indeed be useful in many respects, Judas agreed to make peace with them. After
the pledges of friendship had been exchanged, the Arabians withdrew to their tents.

13 He also attacked a certain city called Caspin, fortified with earthworks and walls and inhabited by a mixed
population of Gentiles.

14 Relying on the strength of their walls and their supply of provisions, the besieged treated Judas and his
men with contempt, insulting them and even uttering blasphemies and profanity.

15 But Judas and his men invoked the aid of the great Sovereign of the world, who, in the days of Joshua,
overthrew Jericho without battering rams or siege engines; then they furiously stormed the walls.

16 Capturing the city by the will of God, they inflicted such indescribable slaughter on it that the adjacent pool,
which was about a quarter of a mile wide, seemed to be filled with the blood that flowed into it.

17 When they had gone on some ninety miles, they reached Charax, where there were certain Jews known
as Toubians.[c]

18 But they did not find Timothy in that region, for he had already departed from there without having done
anything except to leave behind in one place a very strong garrison.

19 But Dositheus and Sosipater, two of Maccabeus’ captains, marched out and destroyed the force of more
than ten thousand men that Timothy had left in the stronghold.

20 Meanwhile, Maccabeus divided his army into cohorts, with a commander over each cohort, and went in
pursuit of Timothy, who had a force of a hundred and twenty thousand foot soldiers and twenty-five hundred
cavalry.

21 When Timothy learned of the approach of Judas, he sent on ahead of him the women and children, as
well as the baggage, to a place called Karnion, which was hard to besiege and even hard to reach because
of the difficult terrain of that region.

22 But when Judas’ first cohort appeared, the enemy was overwhelmed with fear and terror at the
manifestation of the all-seeing One. Scattering in every direction, they rushed away in such headlong flight that
in many cases they wounded one another, pierced by the points of their own swords.

23 Judas pressed the pursuit vigorously, putting the sinners to the sword and destroying as many as thirty
thousand men.

24 Timothy himself fell into the hands of those under Dositheus and Sosipater; but with great cunning, he
begged them to spare his life and let him go, because he had in his power the parents and relatives of many
of them, and would show them no consideration.

25 When he had fully confirmed his solemn pledge to restore them unharmed, they let him go for the sake of
saving their relatives.

26 Judas then marched to Karnion and the shrine of Atargatis,[d] where he killed twenty-five thousand
people.

27 After the defeat and destruction of these, he moved his army to Ephron, a fortified city inhabited by Lysias
and people of many nationalities. Robust young men took up their posts in defense of the walls, from which
they fought valiantly; inside were large supplies of war machines and missiles.

28 But the Jews, invoking the Sovereign who powerfully shatters the might of enemies, got possession of the
city and slaughtered twenty-five thousand of the people in it.

29 Then they set out from there and hastened on to Scythopolis,[e] seventy-five miles from Jerusalem.

30 But when the Jews who lived there testified to the goodwill shown by the Scythopolitans and to their kind
treatment even in times of adversity,

31 Judas and his men thanked them and exhorted them to be well disposed to their nation in the future also.
Finally they arrived in Jerusalem, shortly before the feast of Weeks.

32 After this feast, also called Pentecost, they lost no time in marching against Gorgias, governor of Idumea,
33 who opposed them with three thousand foot soldiers and four hundred cavalry.

34 In the ensuing battle, a few of the Jews were slain.

35 A man called Dositheus, a powerful horseman and one of Bacenor’s men,[f] caught hold of Gorgias,
grasped his military cloak and dragged him along by brute strength, intending to capture the vile wretch alive,
when a Thracian horseman attacked Dositheus and cut off his arm at the shoulder. Then Gorgias fled to
Marisa.

36 After Esdris and his men had been fighting for a long time and were weary, Judas called upon the Lord to
show himself their ally and leader in the battle. 37 Then, raising a battle cry in his ancestral language, and with
hymns, he charged Gorgias’ men when they were not expecting it and put them to flight.

Expiation for the Dead.
38 Judas rallied his army and went to the city of Adullam. As the seventh day was approaching, they purified
themselves according to custom and kept the sabbath there.

39 On the following day, since the task had now become urgent, Judas and his companions went to gather
up the bodies of the fallen and bury them with their kindred in their ancestral tombs.

40 But under the tunic of each of the dead they found amulets sacred to the idols of Jamnia, which the law
forbids the Jews to wear. So it was clear to all that this was why these men had fallen.

41 They all therefore praised the ways of the Lord, the just judge who brings to light the things that are hidden.

42 [g]Turning to supplication, they prayed that the sinful deed might be fully blotted out. The noble Judas
exhorted the people to keep themselves free from sin, for they had seen with their own eyes what had
happened because of the sin of those who had fallen.

43 He then took up a collection among all his soldiers, amounting to two thousand silver drachmas, which he
sent to Jerusalem to provide for an expiatory sacrifice. In doing this he acted in a very excellent and noble
way, inasmuch as he had the resurrection in mind;

44 for if he were not expecting the fallen to rise again, it would have been superfluous and foolish to pray for
the dead.

45 But if he did this with a view to the splendid reward that awaits those who had gone to rest in godliness, it was a holy and pious thought.

46 Thus he made atonement for the dead that they might be absolved from their sin.

Footnotes:

12:2 Apollonius, son of Gennaeus: not the Apollonius who was the son of Menestheus (4:21). Nicanor:
probably distinct from the Nicanor of 14:2.
12:10 From there: not from Jamnia (vv. 8–9) or Joppa (vv. 3–7), but from a place in Transjordan; vv. 10–26
parallel the account given in 1 Mc 5:9–13, 24–54 of Judas’ campaign in northern Transjordan.
12:17 Certain Jews known as Toubians: because they lived “in the land of Tob” (1 Mc 5:13).
12:26 Atargatis: a Syrian goddess, represented by the body of a fish, who in Hellenistic times was identified
with Astarte and Artemis.
12:29 Scythopolis: the Greek name of the city of Beth-shan; cf. 1 Mc 5:52.
12:35 One of Bacenor’s men: certain ancient witnesses to the text have “one of the Toubians”; cf. v. 17.
12:42–45 This is the earliest statement of the doctrine that prayers (v. 42) and sacrifices (v. 43) for the dead
are efficacious. Judas probably intended his purification offering to ward off punishment from the living. The
author, however, uses the story to demonstrate belief in the resurrection of the just (7:9, 14, 23, 36), and in the
possibility of expiation for the sins of otherwise good people who have died. This belief is similar to, but not
quite the same as, the Catholic doctrine of purgatory.

The Book of 2Maccabees Chapter 11 (Bible Marathon Day 247)

The Book of 2Maccabees Chapter 11 (Bible Marathon Day 247)

Defeat of Lysias.[a]
1 Very soon afterward, Lysias, guardian and kinsman of the king and head of the government, being greatly
displeased at what had happened,

2 mustered about eighty thousand infantry and all his cavalry and marched against the Jews. His plan was to
make their city a Greek settlement;

3 to levy tribute on the temple, as he did on the shrines of the other nations; and to put the high priesthood up
for sale every year.

4 He did not take God’s power into account at all, but felt exultant confidence in his myriads of foot soldiers, his
thousands of cavalry, and his eighty elephants.

5 So he invaded Judea, and when he reached Beth-zur, a fortified place about five stadia[b] from Jerusalem,
launched a strong attack against it.

6 When Maccabeus and his companions learned that Lysias was besieging the strongholds, they and all the
people begged the Lord with lamentations and tears to send a good angel to save Israel.

7 Maccabeus himself was the first to take up arms, and he exhorted the others to join him in risking their lives
to help their kindred. Then they resolutely set out together.

8 Suddenly, while they were still near Jerusalem, a horseman appeared at their head, clothed in white
garments and brandishing gold weapons.

9 Then all of them together thanked the merciful God, and their hearts were filled with such courage that they
were ready to assault not only human beings but even the most savage beasts, or even walls of iron.

10 Now that the Lord had shown mercy toward them, they advanced in battle order with the aid of their
heavenly ally.

11 Hurling themselves upon the enemy like lions, they laid low eleven thousand foot soldiers and sixteen
hundred cavalry, and put all the rest to flight.

12 Most of those who survived were wounded and disarmed, while Lysias himself escaped only by shameful
flight.

Peace Negotiations.
13 But Lysias was not a stupid man. He reflected on the defeat he had suffered, and came to realize that the
Hebrews were invincible because the mighty God was their ally. He therefore sent a message

14 persuading them to settle everything on just terms, and promising to persuade the king also, and to induce
him to become their friend.

15 Maccabeus, solicitous for the common good, agreed to all that Lysias proposed; and the king granted on
behalf of the Jews all the written requests of Maccabeus to Lysias.

16 These are the terms of the letter which Lysias wrote to the Jews: “Lysias sends greetings to the Jewish
people.

17 John and Absalom, your envoys, have presented your signed communication and asked about the
matters contained in it.

18 Whatever had to be referred to the king I called to his attention, and the things that were acceptable he has
granted.

19 If you maintain your loyalty to the government, I will endeavor to further your interests in the future.

20 On the details of these matters I have authorized my representatives, as well as your envoys, to confer with
you.

21 Farewell.” The one hundred and forty-eighth year,[c] the twenty-fourth of Dioscorinthius.

22 The king’s letter read thus: “King Antiochus sends greetings to his brother Lysias.

23 Now that our father has taken his place among the gods, we wish the subjects of our kingdom to be
undisturbed in conducting their own affairs.

24 We have heard that the Jews do not agree with our father’s change to Greek customs but prefer their own
way of life. They are petitioning us to let them retain their own customs.

25 Since we desire that this people too should be undisturbed, our decision is that their temple be restored to
them and that they live in keeping with the customs of their ancestors.

26 Accordingly, please send them messengers to give them our assurances of friendship, so that, when they
learn of our decision, they may have nothing to worry about but may contentedly go about their own
business.”

27 The king’s letter to the people was as follows: “King Antiochus sends greetings to the Jewish senate and to
the rest of the Jews.

28 If you are well, it is what we desire. We too are in good health.

29 Menelaus has told us of your wish to return home and attend to your own affairs.

30 Therefore, those who return by the thirtieth of Xanthicus will have our assurance of full permission

31 to observe their dietary and other laws, just as before, and none of the Jews shall be molested in any way
for faults committed through ignorance.

32 I have also sent Menelaus to reassure you.

33 Farewell.” In the one hundred and forty-eighth year, the fifteenth of Xanthicus.[d]

34 The Romans also sent them a letter as follows: “Quintus Memmius and Titus Manius, legates of the
Romans, send greetings to the Jewish people.

35 What Lysias, kinsman of the king, has granted you, we also approve.

36 But for the matters that he decided should be submitted to the king, send someone to us immediately with
your decisions so that we may present them to your advantage, for we are on our way to Antioch.

37 Make haste, then, to send us those who can inform us of your preference.

38 Farewell.” In the one hundred and forty-eighth year, the fifteenth of Xanthicus.[e]

Footnotes:

11:1–12 The defeat of Lysias at Beth-zur probably occurred before the purification of the Temple; cf. 1 Mc
4:26–35.
11:5 Five stadia: one stadium is equal to about six hundred six feet. The actual distance to Beth-zur is about
twenty miles.
11:21 The one hundred and forty-eighth year: 164 B.C. The reading of the name of the month and its position
in the calendar are uncertain. The most likely chronological sequence of the four letters is vv. 16–21; vv. 34–
38; vv. 27–33; vv. 22–26.
11:33 The date, which is the same as the date of the Romans’ letter (v. 38), cannot be correct. The king’s
letter must be connected with the peace treaty of the one hundred forty-ninth year of the Seleucid era, i.e., 163
B.C. Perhaps the mention of the month of Xanthicus in the body of the letter (v. 30) caused the date of the
Romans’ letter to be transferred to this one.
11:38 The date is March 12, 164 B.C.

The Book of 2Maccabees Chapter 10 (Bible Marathon Day 246)

The Book of 2Maccabees Chapter 10 (Bible Marathon Day 246)

Purification of the Temple.
1 When Maccabeus and his companions, under the Lord’s leadership, had recovered the temple and the
city,

2 they destroyed the altars erected by the foreigners in the marketplace and the sacred shrines.

3 After purifying the temple, they made another altar. Then, with fire struck from flint, they offered sacrifice for
the first time in two years,[a] burned incense, and lighted lamps. They also set out the showbread.

4 When they had done this, they prostrated themselves and begged the Lord that they might never again fall
into such misfortunes, and that if they should sin at any time, he might chastise them with moderation and not
hand them over to blasphemous and barbarous Gentiles.

5 On the anniversary of the day on which the temple had been profaned by the foreigners, that is, the twenty-
fifth of the same month Kislev, the purification of the temple took place.

6 The Jews celebrated joyfully for eight days as on the feast of Booths, remembering how, a little while before,
they had spent the feast of Booths living like wild animals in the mountains and in caves.

7 Carrying rods entwined with leaves,[b] beautiful branches and palms, they sang hymns of grateful praise to
him who had successfully brought about the purification of his own place.

8 By public decree and vote they prescribed that the whole Jewish nation should celebrate these days every
year.

9 Such was the end of Antiochus surnamed Epiphanes.

VI. Renewed Persecution
Accession of Antiochus V. 10 Now we shall relate what happened under Antiochus Eupator, the son of that
godless man, and shall give a summary of the chief evils caused by the wars.

11 When Eupator succeeded to the kingdom, he put a certain Lysias in charge of the government as
commander-in-chief of Coelesyria and Phoenicia.

12 Ptolemy, called Macron,[c] had taken the lead in treating the Jews fairly because of the previous injustice
that had been done them, and he endeavored to have peaceful relations with them.

13 As a result, he was accused before Eupator by the King’s Friends. In fact, on all sides he heard himself
called a traitor for having abandoned Cyprus, which Philometor had entrusted to him, and for having gone
over to Antiochus Epiphanes. Since he could not command the respect due to his high office, he ended his
life by taking poison.

Victory over the Idumeans.[d]
14 When Gorgias became governor of the region, he employed foreign troops and used every opportunity to
attack the Jews.

15 At the same time the Idumeans, who held some strategic strongholds, were harassing the Jews; they
welcomed fugitives from Jerusalem and endeavored ontinue the war.

16 Maccabeus and his companions, after public prayers asking God to be their ally, moved quickly against
the strongholds of the Idumeans.

17 Attacking vigorously, they gained control of the places, drove back all who were fighting on the walls, and cut down those who opposed them, killing no fewer than twenty thousand.

18 When at least nine thousand took refuge in two very strong towers, well equipped to sustain a siege,

19 Maccabeus left Simon and Joseph, along with Zacchaeus and his forces, in sufficient numbers to besiege
them, while he himself went off to places where he was more urgently needed.

20 But some of those in Simon’s force who were lovers of money let themselves be bribed by some of those in the towers; on receiving seventy thousand drachmas, they allowed a number of them to escape.

21 When Maccabeus was told what had happened, he assembled the rulers of the people and accused those men of having sold their kindred for money by setting their enemies free to fight against them.

22 So he put them to death as traitors, and without delay captured the two towers.

23 As he was successful at arms in all his undertakings, he destroyed more than twenty thousand in the two strongholds.

Victory over Timothy.
24 Timothy, who had previously been defeated by the Jews,[e] gathered a tremendous force of foreign troops and collected a large number of cavalry from Asia; then he appeared in Judea, ready to conquer it by force.
25 At his approach, Maccabeus and his companions made supplication to God, sprinkling earth upon their heads and girding their loins in sackcloth.

26 Lying prostrate at the foot of the altar, they begged him to be gracious to them, and to be an enemy to their enemies, and a foe to their foes, as the law declares.

27 After the prayer, they took up their weapons and advanced a considerable distance from the city, halting when they were close to the enemy.

28 As soon as dawn broke,[f] the armies joined battle, the one having as pledge of success and victory not only their valor but also their reliance on the Lord, and the other taking fury as their leader in the fight.

29 In the midst of the fierce battle, there appeared to the enemy five majestic men from the heavens riding on
golden-bridled horses, leading the Jews.

30 They surrounded Maccabeus, and shielding him with their own armor, kept him from being wounded. They shot arrows and hurled thunderbolts at the enemy, who were bewildered and blinded, routed in utter confusion.

31 Twenty thousand five hundred of their foot soldiers and six hundred cavalry were slain.

32 Timothy, however, fled to a well-fortified stronghold called Gazara, where Chaereas was in command.

33 For four days Maccabeus and his forces eagerly besieged the fortress.

34 Those inside, relying on the strength of the place, kept repeating outrageous blasphemies and uttering abominable words.

35 When the fifth day dawned, twenty young men in the army of Maccabeus, angered over such blasphemies, bravely stormed the wall and with savage fury cut down everyone they encountered.

36 Similarly, others climbed up and swung around on the defenders; they put the towers to the torch, spread the fire and burned the blasphemers alive. Still others broke down the gates and let in the rest of the troops, who took possession of the city.

37 Timothy had hidden in a cistern, but they killed[g] him, along with his brother Chaereas, and
Apollophanes.

38 On completing these exploits, they blessed, with hymns of grateful praise, the Lord who shows great kindness to Israel and grants them victory.

Footnotes:

10:3 Two years: three years according to 1 Mc 1:54 and 4:52.
10:7 Rods entwined with leaves: the wreathed wands (thyrsoi) carried in processions honoring Dionysus
(6:7) were apparently not regarded as distinctively pagan.
10:12 Ptolemy, called Macron: son of Dorymenes (4:45); he supported Antiochus IV in 168 B.C. during his
invasion of Cyprus.
10:14–23 Probably the same campaign of Judas against the Idumeans that is mentioned in 1 Mc 5:1–3.
10:24 Timothy, who had previously been defeated by the Jews: as recounted in 8:30–33.
10:28 As soon as dawn broke: the same battle at dawn as in 1 Mc 5:30–34.
10:37 Timothy…they killed: apparently Timothy is still alive in 12:2, 18–25. Perhaps there was more than one
Timothy. Or the present passage is not in chronological order. Gazara, v. 32 (Gezer), was not captured by the
Jews until much later (cf. 1 Mc 9:50–52; 13:53). See 1 Mc 5:8 for the capture of Jazer.

The Book of 2Maccabees Chapter 9 (Bible Marathon Day 246)

The Book of 2Maccabees Chapter 9 (Bible Marathon Day 246)

Punishment and Death of Antiochus IV.[a]
1 About that time Antiochus retreated in disgrace from the region of Persia.

2 He had entered the city called Persepolis and attempted to rob the temples and gain control of the city. Thereupon the people had swift recourse to arms, and Antiochus’ forces were routed, so that in the end Antiochus was put to flight by the people of that region and forced to beat a shameful retreat.

3 On his arrival in Ecbatana, he learned what had happened to Nicanor and to Timothy’s forces.

4 Overcome with anger, he planned to make the Jews suffer for the injury done by those who had put him to flight. Therefore he ordered his charioteer to drive without stopping until he finished the journey. Yet the condemnation of Heaven rode with him, because he said in his arrogance, “I will make Jerusalem the common graveyard of Jews as soon as I arrive there.”

5 So the all-seeing Lord, the God of Israel, struck him down with an incurable and invisible blow; for scarcely had he uttered those words when he was seized with excruciating pains in his bowels and sharp internal torment,

6 a fit punishment for him who had tortured the bowels of others with many barbarous torments.

7 Far from giving up his insolence, he was all the more filled with arrogance. Breathing fire in his rage against the Jews, he gave orders to drive even faster. As a result he hurtled from the speeding chariot, and every part of his body was racked by the violent fall.

8 Thus he who previously, in his superhuman presumption, thought he could command the waves of the sea, and imagined he could weigh the mountaintops in his scales, was now thrown to the ground and had to be carried on a litter, clearly manifesting to all the power of God.

9 The body of this impious man swarmed with worms, and while he was still alive in hideous torments, his flesh rotted off, so that the entire army was sickened by the stench of his corruption.

10 Shortly before, he had thought that he could reach the stars of heaven, and now, no one could endure to transport the man because of this intolerable stench.

11 At last, broken in spirit, he began to give up his excessive arrogance, and to gain some understanding, under the scourge of God, for he was racked with pain unceasingly.

12 When he could no longer bear his own stench, he said, “It is right to be subject to God, and not to think one’s mortal self equal to God.”

13 Then this vile man vowed to him who would never again show him mercy, the Sovereign Lord,

14 that the holy city, toward which he had been hurrying with the intention of leveling it to the ground and making it a common graveyard, he would now set free;

15 that the Jews, whom he had judged not even worthy of burial, but fit only to be thrown out with their children to be eaten by vultures and wild animals—all of them he would make equal to the Athenians;

16 that he would adorn with the finest offerings the holy temple which he had previously despoiled, restore all the sacred vessels many times over, and provide from his own revenues the expenses required for the sacrifices.

17 Besides all this, he would become a Jew himself and visit every inhabited place to proclaim there the power of God.

18 But since his sufferings were not lessened, for God’s just judgment had come upon him, he lost hope for himself and wrote the following letter to the Jews in the form of a supplication. It read thus:

19 [b]“To the worthy Jewish citizens, Antiochus, king and general, sends hearty greetings and best wishes for their health and prosperity.

20 If you and your children are well and your affairs are going as you wish, I thank God very much, for my hopes are in heaven.

21 Now that I am ill, I recall with affection your esteem and goodwill. On returning from the regions of Persia, I fell victim to a troublesome illness; so I thought it necessary to form plans for the general security of all.

22 I do not despair about my health, since I have much hope of recovering from my illness.

23 Nevertheless, I know that my father, whenever he went on campaigns in the hinterland, would name his successor,

24 so that, if anything unexpected happened or any unwelcome news came, the people throughout the realm would know to whom the government had been entrusted, and so not be disturbed.

25 I am also bearing in mind that the neighboring rulers, especially those on the borders of our kingdom, are on the watch for opportunities and waiting to see what will happen. I have therefore appointed as king my son Antiochus, whom I have often before entrusted and commended to most of you, when I made hurried visits to the outlying provinces. I have written to him what is written here.

26 Therefore I beg and entreat each of you to remember the general and individual benefits you have received, and to continue to show goodwill toward me and my son.

27 I am confident that, following my policy, he will treat you with equity and kindness in his relations with you.”

28 So this murderer and blasphemer, after extreme sufferings, such as he had inflicted on others, died a miserable death in the mountains of a foreign land.

29 His foster brother[c] Philip brought the body home; but fearing Antiochus’ son, he later withdrew into Egypt, to Ptolemy Philometor.

Footnotes:

9:1–29 In order to keep together the various accounts of God’s punishment of the persecutors of his people, the author places here the stories of Antiochus’ illness and death (in actuality the king died about the same time as the purification of the Temple, i.e., 164 B.C.; cf. 1 Mc 4:36–59; 6:1–16; 2 Mc 10:1–8); of Judas’ campaigns in Idumea and Transjordan; cf. 1 Mc 5:1–51; 2 Mc 10:14–38; and of the first expedition of Lysias (1 Mc 4:26–35; 2 Mc 11:1–15).
9:19–27 Despite the statement in v. 18 this letter is not really a supplication. It is rather a notification to all the king’s subjects of the appointment of his son as his successor and a request that they be loyal to the new king. Apparently the same letter, which has every appearance of being authentic, was sent to the various peoples throughout the kingdom, with only a few words of address changed for each group.
9:29 Foster brother: an honorary title conferred by the king on prominent courtiers, whether or not they had been raised with him. Philip tried to seize control of Antioch from the young Antiochus V (1 Mc 6:55–56, 63) and fled to Egypt when he failed.

The Book of 2Maccabees Chapter 8 (Bible Marathon Day 245)

The Book of 2Maccabees Chapter 8 (Bible Marathon Day 245)

Resistance from Judas Maccabeus.
1 Judas Maccabeus and his companions entered the villages secretly, summoned their kindred, and enlisted others who had remained faithful to Judaism. Thus they assembled about six thousand men.

2 They implored the Lord to look kindly upon this people, who were being oppressed by all; to have pity on the sanctuary, which was profaned by renegades;

3 to have mercy on the city, which was being destroyed and was about to be leveled to the ground; to listen to the blood that cried out to him;

4 to remember the criminal slaughter of innocent children and the blasphemies uttered against his name; and to manifest his hatred of evil.

5 Once Maccabeus got his men organized, the Gentiles could not withstand him, for the Lord’s wrath had now changed to mercy.

6 Coming by surprise upon towns and villages, he set them on fire. He captured strategic positions, and put to flight not a few of the enemy.

7 He preferred the nights as being especially favorable for such attacks. Soon talk of his valor spread everywhere.

First Victory over Nicanor.[a]
8 When Philip saw that Judas was gaining ground little by little and that his successful advances were becoming more frequent, he wrote to Ptolemy, governor of Coelesyria and Phoenicia, to come to the aid of the king’s interests.

9 Ptolemy promptly selected Nicanor, son of Patroclus, one of the Chief Friends, and sent him at the head of at least twenty thousand armed men of various nations to wipe out the entire Jewish nation. With him he associated Gorgias, a general, experienced in the art of war.

10 Nicanor planned to raise the two thousand talents of tribute owed by the king to the Romans[b] by selling captured Jews into slavery.

11 So he immediately sent word to the coastal cities, inviting them to buy Jewish slaves and promising to deliver ninety slaves for a talent[c]—little anticipating the punishment that was to fall upon him from the Almighty.

12 When Judas learned of Nicanor’s advance and informed his companions about the approach of the army,

13 those who were fearful and those who lacked faith in God’s justice deserted and got away.

14 But the others sold everything they had left, and at the same time entreated the Lord to deliver those whom the ungodly Nicanor had sold before even capturing them.

15 They entreated the Lord to do this, if not for their sake, at least for the sake of the covenants made with their ancestors, and because they themselves invoked his holy and glorious name.

16 Maccabeus assembled his forces, six thousand strong, and exhorted them not to be panic-stricken before the enemy, nor to fear the very large number of Gentiles unjustly attacking them, but to fight nobly.

17 They were to keep before their eyes the lawless outrage perpetrated by the Gentiles against the holy place and the affliction of the humiliated city, as well as the subversion of their ancestral way of life.

18 He said, “They trust in weapons and acts of daring, but we trust in almighty God, who can by a mere nod destroy not only those who attack us but even the whole world.”

19 He went on to tell them of the times when help had been given their ancestors: both the time of Sennacherib, when a hundred and eighty-five thousand of his men perished,

20 and the time of the battle in Babylonia against the Galatians,[d] when only eight thousand Jews fought along with four thousand Macedonians; yet when the Macedonians were hard pressed, the eight thousand, by the help they received from Heaven, destroyed one hundred and twenty thousand and took a great quantity of spoils.

21 With these words he encouraged them and made them ready to die for their laws and their country.

Then Judas divided his army into four,
22 placing his brothers, Simon, Joseph,[e] and Jonathan, each over a division, assigning them fifteen hundred men apiece.

23 There was also Eleazar.[f] After reading to them from the holy book and giving them the watchword, “The help of God,” Judas himself took charge of the first division and joined in battle with Nicanor.

24 With the Almighty as their ally, they killed more than nine thousand of the enemy, wounded and disabled the greater part of Nicanor’s army, and put all of them to flight.

25 They also seized the money of those who had come to buy them as slaves. When they had pursued the enemy for some time, they were obliged to return by reason of the late hour.

26 It was the day before the sabbath, and for that reason they could not continue the pursuit.

27 They collected the enemy’s weapons and stripped them of their spoils, and then observed the sabbath with fervent praise and thanks to the Lord who kept them safe for that day on which he allotted them the beginning of his mercy.

28 After the sabbath, they gave a share of the spoils to those who were tortured and to widows and orphans; the rest they divided among themselves and their children.

29 When this was done, they made supplication in common, imploring the merciful Lord to be completely reconciled with his servants.

Other Victories.
30 They also challenged the forces of Timothy and Bacchides, killed more than twenty thousand of them, and captured some very high fortresses. They divided the considerable plunder, allotting half to themselves and the rest to victims of torture, orphans, widows, and the aged.

31 They collected the enemies’ weapons and carefully stored them in strategic places; the rest of the spoils they carried to Jerusalem.

32 They also killed the commander of Timothy’s forces, a most wicked man, who had done great harm to the Jews.

33 While celebrating the victory in their ancestral city, they burned both those who had set fire to the sacred gates and Callisthenes, who had taken refuge in a little house; so he received the reward his wicked deeds deserved.

34 The thrice-accursed Nicanor, who had brought the thousand slave dealers to buy the Jews,

35 after being humbled through the Lord’s help by those whom he had thought of no account, laid aside his fine clothes and fled alone across country like a runaway slave, until he reached Antioch. He was eminently successful in destroying his own army.

36 So he who had promised to provide tribute for the Romans by the capture of the people of Jerusalem proclaimed that the Jews had a champion, and that because they followed the laws laid down by him, they were unharmed.

Footnotes:

8:8–29, 34–35 This account of the campaign of Nicanor and Gorgias against Judas is paralleled, with certain differences, in 1 Mc 3:38–4:24.
8:10 Tribute owed by the king to the Romans: the payment imposed on Antiochus III in 188 B.C. by the treaty of Apamea.
8:11 Ninety slaves for a talent: a low price for so many slaves, thus expressing the opponents’ contempt for the Jews.
8:20 Galatians: a mercenary force, defeated by Jews and Macedonians in Babylon. Nothing else is known about this battle.
8:22 Joseph: called John in 1 Mc 2:2; 9:36, 38. This paragraph interrupts the story of Nicanor’s defeat, which is resumed in v. 34. The purpose of the author apparently is to group together the defeats suffered by the Syrians on various occasions. Battles against Timothy are recounted in 1 Mc 5:37–44 and 2 Mc 12:10–25; against Bacchides, in 1 Mc 7:8–20.
8:23 Eleazar: this parenthetical reference notes the existence of a fifth brother; cf. 1 Mc 2:5.

The Book of 2Maccabees Chapter 7 (Bible Marathon Day 245)

The Book of 2Maccabees Chapter 7 (Bible Marathon Day 245)

Martyrdom of a Mother and Her Seven Sons.
1 It also happened that seven brothers with their mother were arrested and tortured with whips and scourges by the king to force them to eat pork in violation of God’s law.

2 One of the brothers, speaking for the others, said: “What do you expect to learn by questioning us? We are ready to die rather than transgress the laws of our ancestors.”

3 At that the king, in a fury, gave orders to have pans and caldrons heated.

4 These were quickly heated, and he gave the order to cut out the tongue of the one who had spoken for the others, to scalp him and cut off his hands and feet, while the rest of his brothers and his mother looked on.

5 When he was completely maimed but still breathing, the king ordered them to carry him to the fire and fry him. As a cloud of smoke spread from the pan, the brothers and their mother encouraged one another to die nobly, with these words:

6 “The Lord God is looking on and truly has compassion on us, as Moses declared in his song, when he openly bore witness, saying, ‘And God will have compassion on his servants.’”

7 After the first brother had died in this manner, they brought the second to be made sport of. After tearing off the skin and hair of his head, they asked him, “Will you eat the pork rather than have your body tortured limb by limb?”

8 Answering in the language of his ancestors, he said, “Never!” So he in turn suffered the same tortures as the first.

9 With his last breath he said: “You accursed fiend, you are depriving us of this present life, but the King of the universe will raise us up[a] to live again forever, because we are dying for his laws.”

10 After him the third suffered their cruel sport. He put forth his tongue at once when told to do so, and bravely stretched out his hands,

11 as he spoke these noble words: “It was from Heaven that I received these; for the sake of his laws I disregard them; from him I hope to receive them again.”

12 Even the king and his attendants marveled at the young man’s spirit, because he regarded his sufferings as nothing.

13 After he had died, they tortured and maltreated the fourth brother in the same way.

14 When he was near death, he said, “It is my choice to die at the hands of mortals with the hope that God will restore me to life; but for you, there will be no resurrection to life.”

15 They next brought forward the fifth brother and maltreated him.

16 Looking at the king, he said: “Mortal though you are, you have power over human beings, so you do what you please. But do not think that our nation is forsaken by God.

17 Only wait, and you will see how his great power will torment you and your descendants.”

18 After him they brought the sixth brother. When he was about to die, he said: “Have no vain illusions. We suffer these things on our own account, because we have sinned against our God; that is why such shocking things have happened.

19 Do not think, then, that you will go unpunished for having dared to fight against God.”

20 Most admirable and worthy of everlasting remembrance was the mother who, seeing her seven sons perish in a single day, bore it courageously because of her hope in the Lord.

21 Filled with a noble spirit that stirred her womanly reason with manly emotion, she exhorted each of them in the language of their ancestors with these words:

22 “I do not know how you came to be in my womb; it was not I who gave you breath and life, nor was it I who arranged the elements you are made of.

23 Therefore, since it is the Creator of the universe who shaped the beginning of humankind and brought about the origin of everything, he, in his mercy, will give you back both breath and life, because you now disregard yourselves for the sake of his law.”

24 Antiochus, suspecting insult in her words, thought he was being ridiculed. As the youngest brother was still alive, the king appealed to him, not with mere words, but with promises on oath, to make him rich and happy if he would abandon his ancestral customs: he would make him his Friend and entrust him with high office.

25 When the youth paid no attention to him at all, the king appealed to the mother, urging her to advise her boy to save his life.

26 After he had urged her for a long time, she agreed to persuade her son.

27 She leaned over close to him and, in derision of the cruel tyrant, said in their native language: “Son, have pity on me, who carried you in my womb for nine months, nursed you for three years, brought you up, educated and supported you to your present age.

28 I beg you, child, to look at the heavens and the earth and see all that is in them; then you will know that God did not make them out of existing things.[b] In the same way humankind came into existence.

29 Do not be afraid of this executioner, but be worthy of your brothers and accept death, so that in the time of mercy I may receive you again with your brothers.”

30 She had scarcely finished speaking when the youth said: “What is the delay? I will not obey the king’s command. I obey the command of the law given to our ancestors through Moses.

31 But you, who have contrived every kind of evil for the Hebrews, will not escape the hands of God.

32 We, indeed, are suffering because of our sins.

33 Though for a little while our living Lord has been angry, correcting and chastising us, he will again be reconciled with his servants.

34 But you, wretch, most vile of mortals, do not, in your insolence, buoy yourself up with unfounded hopes, as you raise your hand against the children of heaven.

35 You have not yet escaped the judgment of the almighty and all-seeing God.

36 Our brothers, after enduring brief pain, have drunk of never-failing life, under God’s covenant. But you, by the judgment of God, shall receive just punishments for your arrogance.

37 Like my brothers, I offer up my body and my life for our ancestral laws, imploring God to show mercy soon to our nation, and by afflictions and blows to make you confess that he alone is God.

38 Through me and my brothers, may there be an end to the wrath of the Almighty that has justly fallen on our whole nation.”

39 At that, the king became enraged and treated him even worse than the others, since he bitterly resented the boy’s contempt.

40 Thus he too died undefiled, putting all his trust in the Lord.

41 Last of all, after her sons, the mother was put to death.

42 Enough has been said about the sacrificial meals and the excessive cruelties.

Footnotes:

7:9 The King of the universe will raise us up: here, and in vv. 11, 14, 23, 29, 36, belief in the future resurrection of the body, at least for the just, is clearly stated; cf. also 12:44; 14:46; Dn 12:2.
7:28 God did not make them out of existing things: that is, all things were made solely by God’s omnipotent will and creative word; cf. Hb 11:3. This statement has often been taken as a basis for “creation out of nothing” (Latin creatio ex nihilo).