Bible Study: Old Testament Books
The Two Books of Maccabees
The Jews just before the advent of Our LordThese two books deal with the war of independence waged by the "Maccabees" against the Seleucid kings who succeeded to the empire of Alexander the Great in Palestine and Syria. The origin of the name "Maccabee," is disputed; some regard it as derived from the Hebrew "Who is like to Thee among the gods" ("strong" in Douay version)? Exodus 15:11. Others maintain that it is derived from the Hebrew word for a "hammer," cf. Judges 4:21. The two books do not follow one another as two consecutive volumes. They are independent, I Maccabees (1 Machabees), covering the history of the wars waged by the three sons of Mathathias, viz. Judas, Jonathan, and Simon; while II Maccabees (2 Machabees), only treats of Judas' wars. The first book covers the years 176-133 B.C., the second, which begins at an earlier date, covers the period from 177-162 B.C.; the former starts from the first year of Antiochus IV, Epiphanes, the latter from the last year of his father Seleucus IV. The first is simple history, the second has in view the glorification of the Jerusalem Temple as opposed to that erected at Oneion in Egypt by the refugee priest Onias. The first book was originally written in Hebrew as St. Jerome expressly states, Prol. Galeatas, "The first book of Maccabees I found in Hebrew; the second in Greek, as can be proved from its very style."
The value of these two books for the history of the period is indisputable. Indeed there is no other source of information, and Josephus, in his history of this period, has practically taken over bodily the first book. But precisely because the period is otherwise unknown to us, these books are difficult reading, and the student, unless he has a clear idea of the Seleucid kings and their generals, of the Ptolemies and their ambitions, and of the rival factions among the Jews at the time, soon finds himself lost in a maze of names and details. Hence for the sake of clearness, we will prefix a series of tables which will, we hope, render the student's task somewhat easier.
TABLE OF THE SELEUCID KINGS, OF THE PTOLEMIES, AND OF THE HIGH PRIESTS.
(under High Priests)
(under the Ptolemies)
(under the Seleucid Kings)
Onias I, 321-310
Simon I (the Just), 310-291
(The Pentateuch translated into Greek in Egypt)
Onias II, 251-219
Simon II, 219-199
(The Book of Wisdom probably written about this time, in Egypt)
Onias III, 199-175
(Ecclesiasticus written, in Palestine)
(Mathathias, father of the Maccabees)
Judas Maccabaeus, 166-161
(Jewish Temple at On in Egypt is founded by the refugee Onias IV)
John Hyrcanus, 135-106
(Ecclesiasticus is translated into Greek in Egypt)
Aristobulus the King
Ptolemy I (Lagi), 323-284
Ptolemy II (Philadelphus), 286-247
Ptolemy III (Eitergetes I), 247-222
Ptolemy IV (Philopator), 222-205
Ptolemy V (Epiphanes), 204-180
Ptolemy VI (Philometor), 180-145
Ptolemy VII (IX)
(Euergetes II, or Physcon) 170 (146 he began to reign alone) to 117.
Ptolemy VIII (X) (Lalhynis), 117-81
Seleucus I (Nicator), 312-281
Antiochus I (Soter), 281-262
Antiochus II (Theos), 262-247
Seleucus II (Callisthenes), 247-227
Seleucus III (Ceraunos), 227-223
Antiochus III (the Great), 223-187
Seleucus IV (Philopator), 187-175
(II Maccabees opens in last year of his reign)
Antiochus IV (Epiphanes), 175-164
(I Macc opens in first year of his reign)
Antiochus V (Eupator), 164-162
Demetrius I (Soter, son of Seleucus IV) 162-152
Alexander Balas (son of Antiochus IV) 152-145
Demetrius II (Nicator), 147-142
Antiochus VI (son of Alex. Balas), 144-143
Trypho, his general, usurps the throne, 144-143
Antiochus VII (Sidetes, son of Demetrius I), 143-131
Demetrius II (for the second time), 130-126
THE SELEUCID KINGS WHO FIGURE IN I-II MACCABEES.
Demetrius II (Nicator)
(Trypho, his general, usurped the throne)
[For the "Genealogical Tree of the Maccabees, or Hasmoneans," see below.]
The Seleucidan GeneralsAnother frequent source of difficulty in reading the story of these wars lies in the number of Generals engaged; it will make for clearness if we give a list of these:
1. Apollonius, I Macc 3:10-11, attacks Judas from Samaria, and is slain.
2. Apollonius, I Macc 10:67-83, general of Demetrius II; he attacks Jonathan and Simon and is defeated.
3. Bacchides, I Macc 7:8, a general of Demetrius I; he retires after devastating the territory round Jerusalem, I Macc 7:20; after the death of Nicanor, q.v. he reappears and slays Judas Maccabeus, I Macc 9:15; he plots against Jonathan, I Macc 9:25-48, who defeats him; Bacchides, however, holds Jerusalem and the surrounding district; finally he is routed by Jonathan and concludes a peace with him, 9:70-73.
4. Gorgias, termed "the Governor of Idumaea," II Macc 12:32; he is sent against Judas by Lysias the regent, I Macc 3:38, he is defeated and the host flees to Idunjaea, I Macc 4:15; later he routs some of Judas' soldiers near Jamnia, I Macc 5:56-60.
5. Lysias, I Macc 3:32, is left by Antiochus Epiphanes as Governor during the latter's absence in Persia, he is also appointed regent for Antiochus V. He sends Ptolemy, Nicanor, and Gorgias to attack the Jews, I Macc 3:38; on their defeat, he gathers an army and marches from Bethoron but is routed, I Macc 4:29-35; he plans another invasion, I Macc 4:35, and this is apparently described in II Macc 13, where operations are put a stop to by the rebellion of Philip, q.v. in Antioch; Lysias therefore makes peace with the Jews, II Macc 13:26. Lysias, with his ward Antiochus V, is eventually slain by Demetrius I, I Macc 7:1-3.
6. Nicanor, is first sent against the Jews by Lysias, I Macc 3:38, II Macc 8:9; after the murder of Lysias he seems to have adhered to Demetrius I, who sent him, I Macc 7:26, II Macc 14:12, to attack Judas, Nicanor feigns friendship with Judas, I Macc 7:27-31 (cf., however, II Macc 14:18-28), but is defeated by him at Capharsalama, I Macc 7:33; he still holds the citadel in Jerusalem but is ultimately slain in an engagement near Bethoron, 7:39, 43. cf. II Macc 15:28.
7. Seron, called "Captain of the army of Syria," I Macc 3:13; he is routed by Judas near Bethoron, I Macc 3:24.
8. Timotheas, "Captain of the Ammonites," I Macc 5:6; he is put to flight by Judas near Bosor across Jordan; he gathers another army at Raphon, 5:37, but is again defeated and slain, II Macc 10:37.
9. Timotheus, II Macc 12, another general of Antiochus V; he is defeated, but his life is spared, II Macc 12:24.
10. Trypho, had belonged to the court of Alexander Balas, I Macc 11:39, he took advantage of the disaffection arising from Demetrius II having disbanded his army, and brought from Arabia Antiochus VI, son of Alexander, I Macc 11:54. He made friends with Jonathan whom, however, he afterwards captured through treachery, I Macc 12:5, 47, and ultimately put to death, I Macc 13:23; after this murder he also put to death his ward Antiochus VI, I Macc 13:31. He usurped the throne, I Macc 13:32, but on the arrival of Antiochus VII, son of Demetrius I, Trypho was deserted, I Macc 15:10, and fled into exile, I Macc 15:37.
GENEALOGICAL TREE OF THE MACCABEES, OR HASMONEANS.
(m. Herod the Great)
† B.C. 7
† B.C. 7
|Herod Agrippa I|
(Mt 14:3, Mk 6:17)
|Herod Agrippa II|
THE SERIES OF CAMPAIGNS IN I MACCABEES1. B.C. 166. Judas defeats Apollonius in the neighborhood of Samaria, I Macc 3:10-12. This is followed by the overthrow of Seron near Bethoron, I Macc 3:13-24, and by that of Nicanor and Gorgias near Emmaus, I Macc 3:38-4:24.
2. B.C. 165. Lysias is defeated at Bethsura, according to the LXX, at Bethoron according to the Vulgate and Douay, I Macc 4:28-35.
3. circa B.C. 164. Judas conducts a series of campaigns to deliver the Jews from their enemies, I Macc 5:1-68.
4. B.C. 163. Judas assaults the citadel but is compelled to desist owing to the arrival of Lysias who defeats him at Bethzacharias, I Macc 6:18-54.
5. B.C. 162. A campaign under Bacchides, I Macc 7:1-25; Demetrius then sends Nicanor who is slain at Capharsalama, I Macc 7:26-43.
6. B.C. 161. Demetrius sends Bacchides again, and Judas is slain at Laisa, I Macc 9:1-18.
7. B.C. 158. Jonathan defeats Bacchides at the fords of Jordan, I Macc 9:25-49; Bacchides however returns, and is defeated again at Bethbessen, I Macc 9:58-73.
8. B.C. 141. Apollonius is defeated near Joppe which town Jonathan takes; he defeats Apollonius near Azotus, I Macc 10:69-76.
9. Jonathan again defeats Demetrius' generals, who are encamped at Cades in Galilee, I Macc 11:63-74; he is also successful in a campaign in Emath, I Macc 12:24-33.
10. Simon captures Gaza and also the fortress in Jerusalem, I Macc 13:43-54.
11. Antiochus VII sends Cendebeus who makes Jamnia his headquarters against the Jews, he is defeated by Simon near Modin, I Macc 15:38 - 16:10.
The key to many of the campaigns undertaken by the Syrians against the Jews lies in the existence of a Syrian garrison in Jerusalem. This was first established by Antiochus IV, I Macc 1:35; Philip seems to have been its first Governor, cf. II Macc 5:22 and 8:8; it was a source of annoyance to the Jews all through this period, 4:41. Judas assaulted it in vain, I Macc 6:18-32. It was strongly fortified by Bacchides, I Macc 9:52-53, who put Jewish hostages in it; these were afterwards released, 10:6, 9, after the death of Judas. Demetrius I, attempted, I Macc 10:32, to bribe the Jews by offering to evacuate the citadel, an offer which, needless to say, he did not carry into execution. The Maccabees storm it, I Macc 11:20-23, but do not succeed in taking it. Jonathan afterwards asks Demetrius, I Macc 11:41, to remove the garrison, the king consents, but, as usual, does not observe his promise, 11:53. Jonathan thereupon isolates the fortress from the rest of the city, 12:36; afterwards we find the garrison sending urgent messages to Trypho, I Macc 13:21-22, to come to their relief, and after Simon's alliance with Demetrius we find the garrison in great straits, I Macc 13:49, so that they sue for peace and Simon casts them out and purifies the castle with great rejoicings.
CHRONOLOGICAL TABLE OF MACCABEES.
Verses Seleucid Era = B.C. Major Events I Maccabees 1:11 137 175 Antiochus IV reigns. I Maccabees 1:21 143 169 He ravages Egypt. I Maccabees 1:57 145 167 The "Abomination of Desolation" is set up. I Maccabees 2:70 146 166 Death of Mathathias. I Maccabees 3:37 147 165 Antiochus IV goes to Persia. I Maccabees 4:52 148 164 The Dedication. I Maccabees 6:16 149 163 Death of Antiochus IV. I Maccabees 6:20 150 162 Judas assaults the castle. I Maccabees 7:1 151 161 Demetrius I reigns. I Maccabees 9:3 152 160 Campaign of Bacchides. I Maccabees 9:54 153 159 Alcimus dies. I Maccabees 10:1 160 152 Alex. Balas seizes throne. I Maccabees 10:21 160 152 Jonathan made High Priest. I Maccabees 10:57 162 150 Ptolemy comes to Ptolemais. I Maccabees 10:67 165 147 Demetrius II arrives. I Maccabees 11:19 167 145 He gains the throne. I Maccabees 13:51 171 141 The castle seized. I Maccabees 14:1 172 140 Demetrius II attacks Trypho. I Maccabees 14:27 172 140 Roman decree in favor of Simon. I Maccabees 15:10 174 138 Antiochus VII appears.
These dates are given by the author, and they indicate the historical spirit in which he worked. The Seleucid era began on Oct. 1st, 312 B.C., with the accession of Seleucus I. According to the ordinary mode of reckoning, his first year and the first year of the era thus established, would be B.C. 312-311. But the author of I Maccabees, was a Hebrew, and he therefore reckoned the year, not from the October when Seleucus came to the throne, but from the Nisan or April preceding. Hence there is a certain discrepancy in the dates. Thus, for example, in I Maccabees 1:10, where the accession of Antiochus IV is given, "the hundred and thirty seventh year of the kingdom of the Greeks" will fall between the Oct. of 176 and the Oct. of 175 B.C.; but the author, who reckons months by the Jewish method, cf. I Maccabees 1:57, 4:52, etc., regards the Seleucid era as beginning in the preceding Nisan or April, i.e. six months too soon. A comparison between II Macc 11:21, 13:1, and I Macc 6:16; also between II Macc 14:4, and I Macc 7:1-5, will show that the compiler of the second book is a year later in his dates and thus presumably followed the Greek rather than the Hebrew method of computation.
Divisions of Maccabees.A practical comparison of the two books may be made thus:
This division, or comparison, shows us how the two books overlap one another; each has its independent introduction, and II Maccabees, as already pointed out, only treats of Judas Maccabaeus.
I Maccabees Seleucid Kings II Maccabees 3 - 6:16 Antiochus Epiphanes 4:7 - 9 6:17 - 7:3 Antiochus Eupator 10:9 - 13:54 7:4 - 10:50 Demetrius I 14 - 15
FIRST BOOK OF MACCABEES.
A. Chapters 1 - 2. The Introduction.
Verses 1:1-11. The state of things after the death of Alexander the Great. The rise of Antiochus IV, Epiphanes, or "the Illustrious."
Verses 1:12-16. The attempt at Hellenising the Jews.
Verses 1:17-67. Antiochus ravages Egypt; he enters Palestine, defiles the Temple, establishes the 'castle' in Jerusalem; inaugurates a persecution of the Jews.
Chapter 2. The heroic resistance of Mathathias, the father of the Maccabees; the slaughter of unresisting Jews on the Sabbath; the gathering of the "Saints" or "Assideans" to proclaim their loyalty to the faith of their fathers; Mathathias' address; his death.
B. Chapters 3 - 9:23. The wars of Judas Maccabaeus.
Chapters 3 - 6:17. Against Antiochus Epiphanes.Verse 3:10. He overthrows Apollonius.Verses 6:17-63. Judas' wars against Antiochus V. (Eupator).
Verses 3:13-24. He defeats Seron "the captain of the army of Syria."
Verses 3:27 - 4:61. Judas defeats the army sent by Lysias, the regent, under Gorgias ; also one under Lysias himself.
Verses 4:36-61. Judas cleanses the defiled sanctuary, dedicates the Temple anew, fortifies Sion and Bethsura.
Chapter 5. Judas conducts campaigns against the heathen throughout the land, he defeats the Idumeans, the Ammonites, and the Galaadites. He twice routs Timotheus.
Verses 6:1-17. Antiochus in Persia hears of these disasters and dies of a sickness brought on by grief.
Chapters 7 - 9:23. His wars against Demetrius I.Verse 7:4. Demetrius slays Antiochus and Lysias.
Verse 7:5. He supports Alcimus who opposes Judas out of desire for the High-Priesthood.
Verses 7:7-20 Judea is ravaged by Bacchides the general of Demetrius.
Verses 7:26-50. Nicanor is sent against Judas but is slain; peace is restored for a time.
Chapter 8. Judas enters into an alliance with the Romans.
Verses 9:1-23. Bacchides is again sent against Judas to help Alcimus; Judas is slain in battle.
C. Chapters 9:24 - 12. The wars of Jonathan.
Verses 9:24-63. The war against Bacchides.
Verses 10:1-66. The war between Demetrius I and Alexander Balas, son of Antiochus IV. Both kings strive to gain over Jonathan to their side by offering bribes; Demetrius is slain; Alexander enters into an alliance with Ptolemy and patronises Jonathan.
Verses 10:67 - 11:18. The war between Demetrius II, son of Demetrius I, and Alexander. Jonathan routs the army of Apollonius, general of Demetrius. Ptolemy sides with Demetrius; Alexander flies to Arabia where he is put to death; Ptolemy himself dies three days later.
Verses 11:19 - 12:54. The wars between Demetrius II and Trypho the general of Antiochus VII, the son of Alexander Balas. Demetrius allies himself with Jonathan, but, 11:53, acts treacherously towards him, whereupon Antiochus makes overtures to Jonathan who defeats the generals of Demetrius in the plain of Hasor near the Sea of Galilee, 11:63-74. At the same time Jonathan renews the treaty formerly made by Judas with the Romans, and also makes one with the Spartans, 12:1-24; he then routs for the last time the forces of Demetrius, but is betrayed into the hands of Trypho at Ptolemais.
D. Chapters 13 - 16. The wars of Simon the Maccabee.
Verses 13:1-54. Trypho slays Jonathan, 23; he also puts to death Antiochus VI, 31, and usurps "the crown of Asia." Demetrius allies himself with Simon, a period of peace for Judea.Four stages in these wars of independence are to be noted:
Chapter 14. The war continues between Demetrius II and Trypho, but the former is imprisoned by the Parthians, 14:3. The land flourishes under Simon, who is declared King and Priest, 14:35, after the Romans have written him a letter of amity.
Chapters 15 - 16. Antiochus VII, son of Demetrius I, appears. He makes an alliance with Simon; Trypho is put to flight; the Romans declare the Jews their friends; Antiochus breaks his covenant with Simon, 15:27, and sends Cendebeus, 15:38, against him, but he is defeated, 16:8. Treachery once more does its work, and Ptolemy, of the priestly stock, 16:12, betrays Simon and his sons at the fortress of Docus into the hands of the enemy who then put Simon to death. John (Hyrcanus) son of Simon, succeeds, but his "Acts" are not given.
I. The Purification of the Temple, I Macc 4:59
II. Religious liberty is gained, I Macc 6:59.
III. Peace is established, I Macc 9:73.
IV. Political independence is at length attained, I Macc 13:42.
SECOND BOOK OF MACCABEES.
A. Chapters 1-2. Introduction
Verses 1:1-10a. "In the year 188," i.e. 124 B.C., a letter from the Jews in Palestine to those in Egypt urging the latter to celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles.
Verses 1:10b - 2:19, a second letter, with no date attached, to the same Jews; it tells of:(a) Verses 1:10b-17, the death of Antiochus IV. (the Douay note, referring this to Antiochus VII, Sidetes, is mistaken).Verses 2:20-33. The author's, or rather compiler's, preface.
(b) Verse 1:18. The purification of the Temple; the Feast of Tabernacles; and that of the Sacred Fire. (Note the expressions used in verses 20 and 23 of the Temple — its exaltation is one of the objects of the Second Book).
(c) Verses 1:19-2:3. The history of the Sacred Fire.
(d) Verses 2:4-12, The hiding of the tabernacle and the ark by Jeremias after the fall of Jerusalem in 588 B.C.
(e) Verse 2:13. Nehemias' library.
(f) Verse 2:14. Judas' restoration of what had been destroyed in the wars.
(g) Verses 2:15-19. An adjuration to keep the Feast of the Purification.
B. Chapters 3-4:6. What took place under Seleucus IV.
Verses 3:1-3. Seleucus is favorable to Onias the High Priest.
Verses 3:4-40. Simon, out of opposition to Onias, induces Apollonius the governor of Coele-Syria to send Heliodorus to seize the Temple-treasure; the latter's divinely-inflicted punishment.
C. Chapters 4:7 - 10:9. What took place under Antiochus IV.
Sections 4:7 - 5:10. Jason, Menelaus, and Lysimachus, strive for the High-Priesthood; Onias is murdered; Greek customs are introduced. 5:11-27. Antiochus enters Jerusalem; he defiles the Temple; he leaves governors in Jerusalem and Garizim; Apollonius slays many on the Sabbath-day.
Chapters 6 - 7. The persecution; the story of Eleazar; the martyrdom of the seven brethren and their mother.
Chapter 8. Judas Maccabaeus comes to the fore; his successes. At the invitation of Philip, Ptolemy, the governor of Coele-Syria, sends Nicanor and Gorgias against Judas; Nicanor is routed, also Timotheus and Bacchides.
Chapter 9. Death of Antiochus Epiphanes, his fruitless repentance.
Verses 10:1-9. The Temple is purified and the Feast kept after the manner of Tabernacles.
D. Chapters 10:10-thru-13. What took place under Antiochus V, Eupator.
Chapter 10. His first campaign against the Jews; Gorgias and Timothcus advance, the latter is slain.
Chapter 11. The second campaign; Lysias is put to flight; peace is concluded; letters from Antiochus and from the Romans.
Chapters 12 - 13. In spite of the truce, Timotheus (not the same as the previous general of the same name), Apollonius, and Nicanor, still carry on the war; various victories of Judas at Joppe, Jamnia, Casphin, and Scythopolis. Finally Antiochus and Lysias are defeated at Bethsur, a treaty is established and Judas is made Governor, II Macc 13:24.
E. Chapters 14 - 15. What took place under Demetrius I, Soter.
Chapter 14. At the instigation of Alcimus, Demetrius sends Nicanor against Judas; Nicanor strikes up a friendship with Judas; the former's treachery; the death of Rasias.
Chapter 15. Before the battle with Nicanor, Judas is vouchsafed a vision of Onias and Jeremias; he is presented with a sword from heaven; Nicanor is slain.
THEOLOGY OF MACCABEES.The theological standpoint of the author of I Maccabees is of the greatest interest as indicating the state of mind of the Jews after the Restoration and before the advent of Our Lord. In the Greek text, except in 3:18 where it has been apparently inserted in two MSS., the name of God never occurs. Indeed it would seem as though the author went out of his way to avoid It, for he constantly uses the expression "heaven" instead, and that even where we should naturally expect him to speak of Divine Providence, e.g. I Macc 3:60, 4:10, 9:46, 12:15, 16:3, etc. At the same time the author is a devout Jew; and he glories in the temple, and in the victories of the Maccabees as constituting a triumph of righteousness over iniquity. He reverences the Sacred Books, I Macc 1:59-60, 3:48, 12:9; the feasts and solemnities are a reality for him, I Macc 1:47, 10:34, 12:9, etc. He shows his sense of the Theocracy by using such an expression as "Blessed art Thou, O Saviour of Israel!" I Macc 4:30, but this is perhaps the only occasion on which he speaks as a Jew of the days of the Prophets would have spoken. This peculiar reticence stands out all the more clearly when we turn to the second book the compiler of which, though writing in Greek, and apparently a Greek himself, yet uses the theological language of the Prophets. It has been too hastily concluded that the influence of the Scribes had already made itself felt and that the Jewish religion had degenerated into pure formalism. This is too sweeping a conclusion, and is negated by the deep piety of the author of the first book as well as by that of the compiler of the second. We have a similar feature in the Book of Esther, q.v.
THE TEXT OF MACCABEES.The books of Maccabees were neither translated nor corrected by St. Jerome, as they did not belong to the Hebrew Canon. Hence the Vulgate version represents the Old Latin text which was current before his time. The Greek text exists in several MSS., but, not as far as we know, in any MS. which exactly corresponds to the Vulgate version. Thus, for example, the feature above referred to, namely the absence of the Divine Name in the Greek, is not borne out in the Latin which constantly inserts it. The existing Latin text is thus valuable as bearing witness to a text differing from the Greek MSS. at our disposal.
THE DATE OF MACCABEES.I Maccabees probably dates from about the beginning of the first century B.C.; thus I Macc 13:30, the sepulchre of Jonathan is spoken of as being at Modin "until this day," i.e. presumably some time after it was erected in B.C. 143. Again, in chapter 8, the picture of the Romans is not such as a Jew would have drawn about 70, when the Romans were becoming aggressive in the east; Pompey captured the Holy City in 64 B.C. Lastly, in I Macc 16:23-24, we are told that the deeds of John Hyrcanus, 135-106 B.C. "are written in the book of the days of his High-Priesthood, from the time he became High Priest after his father." It is natural to conclude from this that the author referred to a complete collection of his "Acts" published after his death. Hence we have the period between 100 and 70 B.C. as probably marking the composition of I Maccabees. II Maccabees may be referred to about the close of the first century B.C. The work is an epitome of five books by Jason; these must have been written after the Hasmonean house had become firmly established, i.e. after the opening of the first century. The epitome will, of course, date later, but we find it referred to in Hebrews 11:35, cf. II Macc 6:19, 28. Philo too, c. B.C. 20 - A.D. 50, apparently bases portions of his treatise Quod omnis probus liber on chapters 6 - 7.
CANONICITY OF I-II MACCABEES.Since the Reformation these books have always been considered by Protestants as forming no part of Scripture; this view is based on the fact that they were not in the Hebrew Canon. But the Church has always regarded the two Books as Canonical, cf. the Decrees regarding the Canon of the Old Testament, also the table of early quotations of the Deuterocanonical Books.
HISTORICAL VALUE OF I-II MACCABEES.As already stated, these two books are practically our only source of knowledge of the period. But they are conceived in a quite different spirit. While I Maccabees, is a history pure and simple, II Maccabees, is an epitome of five books by one Jason, and it is clear that this epitome was undertaken for some set purpose. It is not history in the same sense as I Maccabees, and this must always be borne in mind when comparing the treatment of the same events in the two books. The author of the first had abundant and different sources for his work; thus we note the number of documents he cites, also his scrupulous care in giving dates whenever possible; we feel that we are dealing with an historian who has access to thoroughly reliable documents, and who gives them faithfully. The perspective of the compiler of II Maccabees, is quite different: his work is the religious history of the period, we might compare his treatment of the events with that adopted by the Chronicler as compared with that adopted by the compiler of III-IV Kings. Thus the student should compare the three accounts of the death of Antiochus IV which are given us in I Macc 6:1-16, II Macc 1:11-16, in the second letter prefixed to the book, and 9:1-27. The note in the Douay version of II Macc 1:11-16, refers this second account to Antiochus Sidetes or VII, but this identification can hardly be supported. The campaign of Lysias, I Macc 4:26-35, is referred to the year previous to the death of Antiochus IV, cf. 4:52, and 6:1; apparently the same campaign is referred in II Macc 11:1-14, to Antiochus V, cf. 9:25. Again, the campaigns for the deliverance of the Jews throughout the land are in I Macc 5, assigned to the period between the Feast of the Dedication and the Declaration of Religious Liberty, 4:59-6:59; in II Maccabees 10-12 these events are placed before and after the declaration of religious liberty, 11:13-14. Lastly, note the apparent discrepancy between I Macc 7:1 and II Macc 14:1.
Very Rev. Hugh Pope, O.P., S.T.M.
Doctor in Sacred Scripture,
Member of the Society of Biblical Archaeology, and
late Professor of New Testament Exegesis at the Collegio Angelico, Rome.
Fr. R. L. Jansen, O.P.,
S. Theol. Lect.; Script. S. Licent. et Prof.
FR. V. Rowan,
S. Theol. Lect.; Script. S. Licent. et Vet. Test. Prof.
Aggreg. in Univ. Friburgensi (Helvet).
Franciscus Cardinalis Bourne,
Fr. R. L. Jansen, O.P.,
S. Theol. Lect.; Script. S. Licent. et Prof.
FR. V. Rowan,
S. Theol. Lect.; Script. S. Licent. et Vet. Test. Prof.
Aggreg. in Univ. Friburgensi (Helvet).
Franciscus Cardinalis Bourne,