The books of the Maccabees consist of four Jewish books named after Judas Maccabeus, the hero of the first two. The books do not appear in the Jewish Bible, but 1 and 2 Maccabees are included in the Greek and Latin canon and in the Protestant Apocrypha. Books 1 and 2 provide a vivid account of Jewish resistance to the religious suppression and Hellenistic cultural penetration of the Seleucid period (175 - 135 BC).
They also contain partial records of the Hasmonean (or Maccabean) dynasty, which achieved Jewish political independence during the resistance to the Seleucids and maintained it until 63 BC. Written about 110 BC, 1 Maccabees has more historical scope and detail than the others and displays Hasmonean sympathies. Dated prior to 63 BC, 2 Maccabees epitomizes an earlier work by Jason of Cyrene and has modest historical value. A historically dubious but edifying account of the persecution of Egyptian Jews by Ptolemy IV (r. 221 - 204 BC) constitutes 3 Maccabees, which was written about 50 BC. The last book, 4 Maccabees, originally written in Greek probably about AD 25, is primarily a philosophical discussion of the primacy of reason, governed by religious laws, over passion.
|BELIEVE Religious Information Source - By Alphabet Our List of 2,300 Religious Subjects|
J A Goldstein, 1 Maccabees (1976); M Hadas, The Third and Fourth Books of Maccabees (1953); R H Pfeiffer, History of New Testament Times with an Introduction to the Apocrypha (1949); D S Russell, Between the Testaments (1960); S Tedesche and S Zeitlin, The First Book of Maccabees (1950) and The Second Book of Maccabees (1954).
This word does not occur in Scripture. It was the name given to the leaders of the national party among the Jews who suffered in the persecution under Antiochus Epiphanes, who succeeded to the Syrian throne B.C. 175. It is supposed to have been derived from the Hebrew word (makkabah) meaning "hammer," as suggestive of the heroism and power of this Jewish family, who are, however, more properly called Asmoneans or Hasmonaeans, the origin of which is much disputed. After the expulsion of Antiochus Epiphanes from Egypt by the Romans, he gave vent to his indignation on the Jews, great numbers of whom he mercilessly put to death in Jerusalem. He oppressed them in every way, and tried to abolish altogether the Jewish worship.
Mattathias, and aged priest, then residing at Modin, a city to the west of Jerusalem, became now the courageous leader of the national party; and having fled to the mountains, rallied round him a large band of men prepared to fight and die for their country and for their religion, which was now violently suppressed. In 1 Macc. 2: 60 is recorded his dying counsels to his sons with reference to the war they were now to carry on. His son Judas, "the Maccabee," succeeded him (B.C. 166) as the leader in directing the war of independence, which was carried on with great heroism on the part of the Jews, and was terminated in the defeat of the Syrians.
(Easton Illustrated Dictionary)
There were originally five books of the Maccabees. The first contains a history of the war of independence, commencing (B.C. 175) in a series of patriotic struggles against the tyranny of Antiochus Epiphanes, and terminating B.C. 135. It became part of the Vulgate Version of the Bible, and was thus retained among the Apocrypha. The second gives a history of the Maccabees' struggle from B.C. 176 to B.C. 161. Its object is to encourage and admonish the Jews to be faithful to the religion of their fathers. The third does not hold a place in the Apocrypha, but is read in the Greek Church. Its design is to comfort the Alexandrian Jews in their persecution. Its writer was evidently an Alexandrian Jew. The fourth was found in the Library of Lyons, but was afterwards burned. The fifth contains a history of the Jews from B.C. 184 to B.C. 86. It is a compilation made by a Jew after the destruction of Jerusalem, from ancient memoirs, to which he had access. It need scarcely be added that none of these books has any divine authority.
(Easton Illustrated Dictionary)
The title of four books, of which the first and second only are regarded by the Church as canonical; the third and fourth, as Protestants consider all four, are apocryphal. The first two have been so named because they treat of the history of the rebellion of the Machabees, the fourth because it speaks of the Machabee martyrs. The third, which has no connection whatever with the Machabee period, no doubt owes its name to the fact that like the others it treats of a persecution of the Jews. For the canonicity of I and II Mach. see CANON OF THE OLD TESTAMENT
THE FIRST BOOK OF MACHABEES
(Makkabaion A; Liber Primus Machabaeorum).
The First Book of the Machabees is a history of the struggle of the Jewish people for religious and political liberty under the leadership of the Machabee family, with Judas Machabeus as the central figure. After a brief introduction (i, 1-9) explaining how the Jews came to pass from the Persian domination to that of the Seleucids, it relates the causes of the rising under Mathathias and the details of the revolt up to his death (i, 10-ii); the glorious deeds and heroic death of Judas Machabeus (iii-ix, 22); the story of the successful leadership of Jonathan (ix, 23-xii), and of the wise administration of Simon (xiii-xvi, 17). It concludes (xvi, 18-24) with a brief mention of the difficulties attending the accession of John Hyrcanus and with a short summary of his reign (see MACHABEES, THE). The book thus covers the period between the years 175 and 135 B.C.
The narrative both in style and manner is modelled on the earlier historical books of the Old Testament. The style is usually simple, yet it at times becomes eloquent and even poetic, as, for instance, in Mathathias's lament over the woes of the people and the profanation of the Temple (ii, 7-13), or in the eulogy of Judas Machabeus (iii, 1-9), or again in the description of the peace and prosperity of the people after the long years of war and suffering (xiv, 4-15). The tone is calm and objective, the author as a rule abstaining from any direct comment on the facts he is narrating. The more important events are carefully dated according to the Seleucid era, which began with the autumn of 312 B. C. It should be noted, however, that the author begins the year with spring (the month Nisan), whereas the author of II Mach. begins it with autumn (the month Tishri). By reason of this difference some of the events are dated a year later in the second than in the first book. (Cf. Patrizzi, "De Consensu Utriusque Libri Mach.", 27 sq.; Schürer, "Hist. of the Jewish People", I, I, 36 sq.).
The text from which all translations have been derived is the Greek of the Septuagint. But there is little doubt that the Septuagint is itself a translation of a Hebrew or Aramaic original, with the probabilities in favour of Hebrew. Not only is the structure of the sentences decidedly Hebrew (or Aramaic); but many words and expressions occur which are literal renderings of Hebrew idioms (e.g., i, 4, 15, 16, 44; ii, 19, 42, 48; v, 37, 40; etc.). These peculiarities can scarcely be explained by assuming that the writer was little versed in Greek, for a number of instances show that he was acquainted with the niceties of the language. Besides, there are inexact expressions and obscurities which can be explained only in the supposition of an imperfect translation or a misreading of a Hebrew original (e.g., i, 16, 28; iv, 19, 24; xi, 28; xiv, 5). The internal evidence is confirmed by the testimony of St. Jerome and of Origen. The former writes that he saw the book in Hebrew: "Machabaeorum primum librum Hebraicum reperi" (Prol. Galeat.). As there is no ground for assuming that St. Jerome refers to a translation, and as he is not likely to have applied the term Hebrew to an Aramaic text, his testimony tells strongly in favour of a Hebrew as against an Aramaic original. Origen states (Eusebius, "Hist. Eccl.", vi, 25) that the title of the book was Sarbeth Sarbane el, or more correctly Sarbeth Sarbanaiel. Though the meaning of this title is uncertain (a number of different explanations have been proposed, especially of the first reading), it is plainly either Hebrew or Aramaic. The fragment of a Hebrew text published by Chwolson in 1896, and later again by Schweitzer, has little claim to be considered as part of the original.
Author and Date of Composition
No data can be found either in the book itself or in later writers which would give us a clue as to the person of the author. Names have indeed been mentioned, but on groundless conjecture. That he was a native of Palestine is evident from the language in which he wrote, and from the thorough knowledge of the geography of Palestine which he possessed. Although he rarely expresses his own sentiments, the spirit pervading his work is proof that he was deeply religious, zealous for the Law, and thoroughly in sympathy with the Machabean movement and its leaders. However, strange to say, he studiously avoids the use of the words "God" and "Lord" (that is in the better Greek text; in the ordinary text "God" is found once, and "Lord" three times; in the Vulgate both occur repeatedly. But this is probably due to reverence for the Divine James, Jahweh and Adonai, since he often uses the equivalents "heaven", "Thou", or "He". There is absolutely no ground for the opinion, maintained by some modern scholars, that he was a Sadducee. He does not, it is true, mention the unworthy high-priests, Jason and Menelaus; but as he mentions the no less unworthy Alcimus, and that in the severest terms, it cannot be said that he wishes to spare the priestly class. The last verses show that the book cannot have been written till some time after the beginning of the reign of John Hyrcanus (135-105 B.C.), for they mention his accession and some of the acts of his administration. The latest possible date is generally admitted to be prior to 63 B. C., the year of the occupation of Jerusalem by Pompey; but there is some difference in fixing the approximately exact date. Whether it can be placed as early as the reign of Hyrcanus depends on the meaning of the concluding verse, "Behold these [the Acts of Hyrcanus] are written in the book of the days of his priesthood, from the time (xx xx, "ex quo") that he was made high priest after his father". Many understand it to indicate that Hyrcanus was then still alive, and this seems to be the more natural meaning. Others, however, take it to imply that Hyrcanus was already dead. In this latter supposition the composition of the work must have followed close upon the death of that ruler. For not only does the vivid character of the narrative suggest an early period after the events, but the absence of even the slightest allusion to events later than the death of Hyrcanus, and, in particular, to the conduct of his two successors which aroused popular hatred against the Machabees, makes a much later date improbable. The date would, therefore, in any case, be within the last years of the second century B.C.
In the eighteenth century the two brothers E.F. and G. Wernsdorf made an attempt to discredit I Mach., but with little success. Modern scholars of all schools, even the most extreme, admit that the book is a historical document of the highest value. "With regard to the historical value of I Mach.", says Cornill (Einl., 3rd ed., 265), "there is but one voice; in it we possess a source of the very first order, an absolutely reliable account of one of the most important epochs in the history of the Jewish people." The accuracy of a few minor details concerning foreign nations has, however, been denied. The author is mistaken, it is said, when he states that Alexander the Great divided his empire among his generals (i, 7), or when he speaks of the Spartans as akin to the Jews (xii, 6, 7, 21); he is inexact in several particulars regarding the Romans (viii, 1 sq.); he exaggerates the numbers of elephants at the battle of Magnesia (viii, 6), and some other numbers (e.g., v, 34; vi, 30, 37; xi, 45, 48). But the author cannot be charged with whatever inaccuracies or exaggerations may be contained in viii, 1-16. He there merely sets down the reports, inexact and exaggerated, no doubt, in some particulars, which had reached Judas Machabeus. The same is true with regard to the statement concerning the kinship of the Spartans with the Jews. The author merely reproduces the letter of Jonathan to the Spartans, and that written to the high-priest Onias I by Arius.
When a writer simply reports the words of others, an error can be laid to his charge only when he reproduces their statements inaccurately. The assertion that Alexander divided his empire among his generals (to be understood in the light of vv. 9 and 10, where it is said that they "made themselves kings . . . and put crowns on themselves after his death"), cannot be shown to be erroneous. Quintus Curtius, who is the authority for the contrary view, acknowledges that there were writers who believed that Alexander made a division of the provinces by his will. As the author of I Mach is a careful historian and wrote about a century and a half before Q. Curtius, he would deserve more credit than the latter, even if he were not supported by other writers. As to the exaggeration of numbers in some instances, in so far as they are not errors of copyists, it should be remembered that ancient authors, both sacred and profane, frequently do not give absolute figures, but estimated or popularly current numbers. Exact numbers cannot be reasonably expected in an account of a popular insurrection, like that of Antioch (xi,45,48), because they could not be ascertained. Now the same was often the case with regard to the strength of the enemy's forces and of the number of the enemy slain in battle. A modifying clause, such as "it is reported", must be supplied in these cases.
That the author used written sources to a certain extent is witnessed by the documents which he cites (viii, 23-32; x, 3-6, 18-20, 25-45; xi, 30-37; xii, 6-23; etc.). But there is little doubt that he also derived most of the other matter from written records of the events, oral tradition being insufficient to account for the many and minute details; There is every reason to believe that such records existed for the Acts of Jonathan and Simon as well as for those of Judas (ix, 22), and of John Hyrcanus (xvi, 23-24). For the last part he may also have relied on the reminiscences of older contemporaries, or even drawn upon his own.
Greek Text and Ancient Versions
The Greek translation was probably made soon after the book was written. The text is found in three uncial codices, namely the Sinaiticus, the Alexandrinus, and the Venetus, and in sixteen cursive manuscripts The textus receptus is that of the Sixtine edition, derived from the Codex Venetus and some cursives. The best editions are those of Fritzsche ("Libri Apocryphi V. T.", Leipzig, 1871, 203 sq.) and of Swete "O. T. in Greek", Cambridge, 1905, III, 594 sq.), both based on the Cod. Alexandrinus. The old Latin version in the Vulgate is that of the Itala, probably unretouched by St. Jerome. Part of a still older version, or rather recension (chap. i-xiii), was published by Sabatier (Biblior. Sacror. Latinae Versiones Antiquae, II, 1017 sq.), the complete text of which was recently discovered in a manuscripts at Madrid. Two Syriac versions are extant: that of the Peshitto, which follows the Greek text of the Lucian recension, and another published by Ceriani ("Translatio Syra photolithographice edita," Milan, 1876, 592-615) which reproduces the ordinary Greek text.
THE SECOND BOOK OF MACHABEES
(Makkabaion B; Liber Secundus Machabaeorum).
The Second Book of Machabees is not, as the name might suggest, a continuation of the First, but covers part of the same ground. The book proper (ii, 20-xv, 40) is preceded by two letters of the Jews of Jerusalem to their Egyptian coreligionists (i, 1-ii, 19). The first (i, 1-10a), dated in the year 188 of the Seleucid era (i.e. 124 B.C.), beyond expressions of goodwill and an allusion to a former letter, contains nothing but an invitation to the Jews of Egypt to celebrate the feast of the Dedication of the Temple (instituted to commemorate its rededication, 1 Maccabees 4:59; 2 Maccabees 10:8). The second (i, 10b-ii, 19), which is undated, is from the "senate" (gerousia) and Judas (Machabeus) to Aristobulus, the preceptor or counsellor of Ptolemy (D.V. Ptolemee)
(Philometor), and to the Jews in Egypt. It informs the Egyptian Jews of the death of Antiochus (Epiphanes) while attempting to rob the temple of Nanea, and invites them to join their Palestinian brethren in celebrating the feasts of the Dedication and of the Recovery of the Sacred Fire. The story of the recovery of the sacred fire is then told, and in connection with it the story of the hiding by the Prophet Jeremias of the tabernacle, the ark and the altar of incense. After an offer to send copies of the books which Judas had collected after the example of Nehemias, it repeats the invitation to celebrate the two feasts, and concludes with the hope that the dispersed of Israel might soon be gathered together in the Holy Land.
The book itself begins with an elaborate preface (ii, 20-33) in which the author after mentioning that his work is an epitome of the larger history in five books of Jason of Cyrene states his motive in writing the book, and comments on the respective duties of the historian and of the epitomizer. The first part of the book (iii-iv, 6) relates the attempt of Heliodoris, prime minister of Seleucus IV (187-175 B.C.), to rob the treasures of the Temple at the instigation of a certain Simon, and the troubles caused by this latter individual to Onias III. The rest of the book is the history of the Machabean rebellion down to the death of Nicanor (161 B.C.), and therefore corresponds to I Mach., I, 11-vii, 50. Section iv, 7-x, 9, deals with the reign of Antiochus Epiphanes (1 Maccabees 1:11-6:16), while section x, l0-xv, 37, records the events of the reigns of Antiochus Eupator and Demetrius I (1 Maccabees 6:17-7:50). II Mach. thus covers a period of only fifteen years, from 176 to 161 B.C. But while the field is narrower, the narrative is much more copious in details than I Mach., and furnishes many particulars, for instance, names of persons, which are not found in the first book.
Object and Character
On comparing the two Books of Machabees it is plainly seen that the author of the Second does not, like the author of the First, write history merely to acquaint his readers with the stirring events of the period with which he is dealing. He writes history with a view to instruction and edification. His first object is to exalt the Temple of Jerusalem as the centre of Jewish worship. This appears from the pains he takes to extol on every occasion its dignity and sanctity. It is "the great temple", (ii, 20), "the most renowned" and "the most holy in all the world" (ii, 23; v, 15), "the great and holy temple" (xiv, 31); even heathen princes esteemed it worthy of honour and glorified it with great gifts (iii, 2-3; v, 16; xiii, 23); the concern of the Jews in time of danger was more for the holiness of the Temple than for their wives and children (xv, 18); God protects it by miraculous interpositions (iii, xiv, 31 sq.) and punishes those guilty of sacrilege against it (iii, 24 sq.; ix, 16; xiii, 6-8; xiv, 31 sq.; xv, 32); if He has allowed it to be profaned, it was because of the sins of the Jews (v, 17-20). It is, no doubt, with this design that the two letters, which otherwise have no connexion with the book, were prefixed to it. The author apparently intended his work specially for the Jews of the Dispersion, and more particularly for those of Egypt, where a schismatical temple had been erected at Leontopolis about l60 B.C. The second object of the author is to exhort the Jews to faithfulness to the Law, by impressing upon them that God is still mindful of His covenant, and that He does not abandon them unless they first abandon Him; the tribulations they endure are a punishment for their unfaithfulness, and will cease when they repent (iv, 17; v, 17, 19; vi, 13, 15, 16; vii, 32, 33, 37, 38; viii, 5, 36; xiv, 15; xv, 23, 24). To the difference of object corresponds a difference in tone and method. The author is not satisfied with merely relating facts, but freely comments on persons and acts, distributing praise or blame as they may deserve when judged from the standpoint of a true Israelite. Supernatural intervention in favour of the Jews is emphasized. The style is rhetorical, the dates are comparatively few. As has been remarked, the chronology of II Mach. slightly differs from that of I Mach.
Author and Date
II Mach. is, as has been said, an epitome of a larger work by a certain Jason of Cyrene. Nothing further is known of this Jason except that, judging from his exact geographical knowledge, he must have lived for some time in Palestine. The author of the epitome is unknown. From the prominence which he gives to the doctrine of the resurrection of the dead, it has been inferred that he was a Pharisee. Some have even maintained that his book was a Pharisaical partisan writing. This last, at tiny rate, is a baseless assertion. II Mach. does not speak more severely of Alcimus than I Mach., and the fact that it mentions the high-priests, Jason and Menelaus, by name no more proves it to be a Pharisaic partisan writing than the omission of their names in I Mach. proves that to be a Sadducee production. Jason must have finished his work shortly after the death of Nicanor, and before disaster overtook Judas Machabeus, as he not only omits to allude to that hero's death, but makes the statement, which would be palpably false if he had written later, that after the death of Nicanor Jerusalem always remained in the possession of the Jews (xv, 38). The epitome cannot have been written earlier than the date of the first letter, that is 124 B.C.
As to the exact date there is great divergence. In the very probable supposition that the first letter was sent with a copy of the book, the latter would be of about the same date. It cannot in any case be very much later, since the demand for an abridged form of Jason's history, to which the author alludes in the preface (ii, 25-26), must have arisen within a reasonably short time after the publication of that work. The second letter must have been written soon after the death of Antiochus, before the exact circumstances concerning it had become known in Jerusalem, therefore about 163 B.C. That the Antiochus there mentioned is Antiochus IV and not Antiochus III, as many Catholic commentators maintain, is clear from the fact that his death is related in connection with the celebration of the Feast of the Dedication, and that he is represented as an enemy of the Jews, which is not true of Antiochus III.
The two letters which were addressed to the Jews of Egypt, who knew little or no Hebrew or Aramaic, were in all probability written in Greek. That the book itself was composed in the same language, is evident from the style, as St. Jerome already remarked (Prol. Gal.). Hebraisms are fewer than would be expected considering the subject, whereas Greek idioms and Greek constructions are very numerous. Jason's Hellenistic origin, and the absence in the epitome of all signs that would mark it as a translation, are sufficient to show that he also wrote in Greek. Historicity.-- The Second Book of Machabees is much less thought of as a historical document by non-Catholic scholars than the First, though Niese has recently come out strongly in its defence. The objections brought against the two letters need not, however, concern us, except in so far as they affect their authenticity, of which hereafter. These letters are on the same footing as the other documents cited in I and II Mach.; the author is therefore not responsible for the truth of their contents. We may, then, admit that the story of the sacred fire, as well as that of the hiding of the tabernacle, etc., is a pure legend, and that the account of the death of Antiochus as given in the second letter is historically false; the author's credit as a historian will not in the least be diminished thereby. Some recent Catholic scholars have thought that errors could also be admitted in the book itself without casting any discredit on the epitomizer, inasmuch as the latter declines to assume responsibility for the exact truth of all its contents. But though this view may find some support in the Vulgate (ii, 29), it is hardly countenanced by the Greek text. Besides, there is no need to have recourse to a theory which, while absolving the author from formal error, would admit real inaccuracies in the book, and so lessen its historical value. The difficulties urged against it are not such as to defy satisfactory explanation. Some are based on a false interpretation of the text, as when, for instance, it is credited with the statement that Demetrius landed in Syria with a mighty host and a fleet (xiv, 1), and is thus placed in opposition to I Mach., vii, 1, where he is said to have landed with a few men. Others are due to subjective impressions, as when the supernatural apparitions are called into question. The exaggeration of numbers has been dealt with in connexion with I Mach.
The following are the main objections with some real foundation: (1) The campaign of Lysias, which I Mach., iv, 26-34, places in the last year of Antiochus Epiphanes, is transferred in II Mach., xi, to the reign of Antiochus Eupator; (2) The Jewish raids on neighbouring tribes and the expeditions into Galilee and Galaad, represented in I Mach., v, as carried on in rapid succession after the rededication of the temple, are separated in II Mach. and placed in a different historical setting (viii, 30; x, 15-38; xii, 10-45); (3) The account given in II Mach., ix, differs from that of I Mach., vi, regarding the death of Antiochus Epiphanes, who is falsely declared to have written a letter to the Jews; (4) The picture of the martyrdoms in vi, 18-vii, is highly coloured, and it is improbable that Antiochus was present at them.
To these objections it may be briefly answered: (1) The campaign spoken of in II Mach., xi, is not the same as that related in I Mach., iv; (2) The events mentioned in viii, 30 and x, 15 sq. are not narrated in I Mach., v. Before the expedition into Galaad (xii, 10 sq.) can be said to be out of its proper historical setting, it would have to be proved that I Mach. invariably adheres to chronological order, and that the events grouped together in chap. v took place in rapid succession; (3) The two accounts of the death of Antiochus Epiphanes differ, it is true, but they fit very well into one another.
Considering the character of Antiochus and the condition he was in at the time, it is not at all improbable that he wrote a letter to the Jews; (4) There is no reason to doubt that in spite of the rhetorical form the story of the martyrdoms is substantially correct. As the place where they occurred is unknown, it is hard to see on what ground the presence of Antiochus is denied. It should be noted, moreover, that the book betrays accurate knowledge in a multitude of small details, and that it is often supported by Josephus, who was unacquainted with it. Even its detractors admit that the earlier portion is of the greatest value, and that in all that relates to Syria its knowledge is extensive and minute. Hence it is not likely that it would be guilty of the gross errors imputed to it.
Authenticity of the Two Letters
Although these letters have a clear bearing on the purpose of the book, they have been declared to be palpable forgeries. Nothing, however, justifies such an opinion. The glaring contradiction in the first letter, which represents the climax of affliction as having been experienced under Demetrius II, has no existence. The letter does not compare the sufferings under Demetrius with those of the past, but speaks of the whole period of affliction including the time the time of Demetrius. The legend of the sacred fire etc., proves nothing against the genuineness of the second letter, unless it be shown that no such legend existed at the time. The false account of the death of Antiochus Epiphanes is rather a proof in favour of the authenticity of the letter. Such an account would be quite natural if the letter was written soon after the first news, exaggerated and distorted as first news often is, had reached Jerusalem. There remains only the so-called blunder of attributing the building of the Temple to Nehemias. The very improbability of such a gross blunder on the part of an educated Jew (the supposed forger) should have made the critics pause. Nehemias put the last touches to the Temple (Nehemiah 2:8; Josephus, "Antiq.", XI, 5:6) which justifies the use of oikodomesas. Codex 125 (Mosquensis) reads oikonomesas "having ordered the service of the temple and altar"; this would remove all difficulty (cf. Nehemiah 10:32 sq.; 13 sqq.).
Greek Text and Versions
The Greek text is usually found in the same manuscripts as I Mach.; it is wanting, however, in the Cod. Sinaiticus, The Latin version in the Vulgate is that of the Itala. An older version was published by Peyron and again by Ceriani from the Codex Ambrosianus. A third Latin text is found in the Madrid manuscripts which contains an old version of I Mach. The Syriac version is often a paraphrase rather than a translation.
THE THIRD AND FOURTH BOOKS OF MACHABEES
III Mach. is the story of a persecution of the Jews in Egypt under Ptolemy IV Philopator (222-205 B. C.), and therefore has no right to its title. Though the work contains much that is historical, the story is a fiction. IV Mach. is a Jewish-Stoic philosophical treatise on the supremacy of pious reason, that is religious principles, over the passions. The martyrdorm of Eleazar and of the seven brothers (2 Maccabees 6:18-7) is introduced to illustrate the author's thesis. Neither book has any claim to canonicity, though the first for a while received favourable consideration in some Churches.
Publication information Written by F. Bechtel. Transcribed by Robert H. Sarkissian. The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume IX. Published 1910. New York: Robert Appleton Company. Nihil Obstat, October 1, 1910. Remy Lafort, Censor. Imprimatur. +John M. Farley, Archbishop of New York
GIGOT, Spec. Introd., I (New York, 1901), 365 sq.; CORNELY, Introd., II (Paris, 1897), I, 440 sq.; KNABENBAUER, Comm. in Lib. Mach. (Paris, 1907); PATRIZZI, De Consensu Utriusq. Lib. Mach. (Rome, 1856); FRÖLICH, De Fontibus Historiae Syriae in Lib. Mach. (Vienna, 1746); KHELL, Auctoritas Utriusq. Lib. Mach. (Vienna, 1749); HERKENNE, Die Briefe zu Beginn des Zweiten Makkabäerbuches (Freiburg, 1904); GILLET, Les Machabées (Paris, 1880); BEURLIER in Vig. Dict. de la Bible, IV, 488 sq.; LESÊTRE, Introd., II (Paris, 1890); VIGOUROUX, Man. Bibl., II (Paris, 1899), 217 sq.; IDEM, La Bible et la Critique Ration., 5th ed., IV, 638 sq.; SCHÜRER, Hist. of the Jewish People (New York, 1891), II, iii, 6 sq.; 211 sq.; 244 sq.; FAIRWEATHER in HASTINGS, Dict. of the Bible, III, 187 sq.; NIESE, Kritik der beiden Makkabäerbücher (Berlin, 1900); GRIMM, Kurzgefasstes Exeg. Handbuch zu den Apokryphen, Fasc. 3 and 4 (Leipzig, 1853, 1857); KEIL, Comm. über die Bücher der Makkabäer (Leipzig, 1875); KAUTZSCH (AND KAMPHAUSEN), Die Apokryphen und Pseudepigraphen des A. T. (Tübingen, 1900).
I. Original Language.
Sources and Integrity.
Historical and Religious Character.
Authorship and Character.
Integrity and Character.
Author and Date.
II.A second article on the Book of Maccabees is inserted as treating the subject from a Jewish standpoint.-J.
I. There are four books which pass under this name-I, II, III, and IV Maccabees. The first of these is the only one of the four which can be regarded as a reliable historical source.
I Maccabees: The First Book of the Maccabees covers the period of forty years from the accession of Antiochus (175 B.C.) to the death of Simon the Maccabee (135 B.C.). Its contents are as follows: Ch. i. 1-9 is a brief historical introduction; i. 10-ii. 70 treats of the rise of the Maccabean revolt; iii. 1-ix. 22 is devoted to the Maccabean struggle under Judas; ix. 23-xii. 53, to the fortunes of Israel under Jonathan; xiii. 1-xvi. 24, to the administration of Simon. The events are followed with intense interest and sympathy. At times the enthusiasm of the writer rises to a high pitch and breaks out into poetry of a genuine Semitic character (comp. iii. 3-9). The style is simple, terse, restrained, and objective, modeled throughout on that of the historical books of the Old Testament. The fact that just proportions are observed in treating the different parts of the narrative proves the author to have been a writer of considerable skill. He dates all events in terms of the Seleucid era.
It is clear from the Semitic idioms which occur throughout the work that it was composed in a Semitic language (see, for example, ii. 40, iv. 2), and certain passages indicate with great clearness that the original language was Hebrew (see ii. 39, iii. 19). To this fact Origen and Jerome also bear testimony, though it is possible that the version or paraphrase known to them was Aramaic.
The Hebrew original seems not to have borne the name "Maccabees," though it is not known what was its real designation. Eusebius ("Hist. Eccl." vi. 25) quotes Origen as authority for the name Σαρβηθ Σαβαναι, a name which has been explained in many different ways. For some of these see Grimm ("Das Erste Buch der Makkabäer," p. xvii.). Dalman ("Grammar," p. 6), whom Torrey (Cheyne and Black, "Encyc. Bibl.") follows, takes the name as a corruption of (= "Book of the Hasmoneans"). If this be the correct interpretation, an Aramaic translation of the book must have been made at an early time, and it was this translation which was known to Origen and Jerome-a view which does not seem improbable. Be this as it may, the Hebrew was translated very early into Greek, and the Greek only has survived. The Greek version seems to be a literal one, often preserving the Semitic, and sometimes even the Hebrew, idiom; but it is clear, and probably it is, on the whole, a satisfactory translation. It is transmitted in three uncial manuscripts of the Septuagint-the Codex Sinaiticus, the Codex Alexandrinus, and the Codex Venetus-as well as in several cursives.
Concerning the author no information is obtainable beyond that which may be inferred from the book itself. He was a devout and patriotic Jew who lived and wrote in Palestine. This latter fact is proved by his intimate and exact geographical knowledge of the Holy Land (comp. iii. 24; vii. 19; ix. 2-4, 33, 34, 43; xii. 36-40; xiii. 22, 23; xvi. 5, 6) and by his lack of accurate knowledge of any of the foreign countries which he mentions. The author was also a loyal admirer of the Hasmonean family; he believed that to it Israel owed her deliverance and existence. He admired not only the military deeds of Judas (comp. v. 63), but also those of Jonathan (comp. x. 15-21) and Simon (comp. xiv. 4-15). The narrative is told not as though deliverance came by miracle, but as though it was due to the military genius of these men, exercised under the favoring guidance of God (i. 64, iii. 8). Curiously enough the word "God" does not appear in the work, nor does the word "Lord." The idea is not lacking, however, as in the Book of Esther, but is represented by "Heaven," or by the pronoun "He." The author was a deeply religious man in spite of this mannerism. He was very zealous for the Law and for the national religious institutions (see i. 11, 15, 43; ii. 20-22; iii. 21), for the Scriptures (i. 56, iii. 48), and for the Temple (i. 21, 39; iii. 43).
It should be noted, also, that throughout the work the priesthood is represented in a favorable light. The renegade priests Jason and Menelaus are not mentioned-a fact in striking contrast with the treatment which the Second Book of the Maccabeesaccords them. From these facts Geiger conjectured that the author was a Sadducee, and most recent writers follow him in this opinion, although they consider him wrong in calling the First Book of the Maccabees a partizan document; its temperate and just tone certainly redeems it from such a stricture. The terminus a quo of the work is found in the fact that John Hyreanus I., who began to reign in 135 B.C., is mentioned at the close of the book (xvi. 21-24). As the Romans are throughout spoken of in terms of respect and friendliness, it is clear that the terminus ad quem must be sought at some time before the conquest of Jerusalem by Pompey in 63 B.C. As to whether the date can be more nearly determined scholars are not agreed. The determining fact is held by most to be the statement in xvi. 23, 24, that the "rest of the acts of John . . . are written in the chronicles of his high-priesthood." It is thought by many that this implies that John had died and that a sufficient time had elapsed since his death to permit the circulation of the chronicles. Bissell (Lange's "Commentary," p. 479) thinks that not more than a score or two of years had passed, while Schürer ("Hist. of the Jewish People," div. ii., vol. iii., p. 8) and Fairweather (in "Cambridge Bible" and Hastings, "Dict. Bible") think that not more than a decade or two had elapsed, and date the work in the first or second decade of the first century B.C. Torrey, on the other hand, thinks ("Encyc. Bibl.") that this reference to the chronicle of the priesthood is an imitation of well-known passages in the Books of Kings, that it was intended solely as a compliment to John, and that the work was composed early in his reign (i.e., soon after 135 B.C.) by one who had been an interested spectator of the whole Maccabean movement. The vivid character of the narrative and the fact that it closes so abruptly after the death of Simon make this a very plausible view.
Sources and Integrity.
Those who maintain the later date of the work are obliged to account for the vivid details which it contains by supposing that the writer employed older sources, such as letters and memoranda. In Torrey's view no such sources are needed, as the author, where he did not have personal knowledge, could have talked with participants or eye-witnesses of the events. In either case the First Book of the Maccabees is one of the best sources known for the history of the Jews.
J. D. Michaelis held that Josephus used the Hebrew original of the book, which differed in some important particulars from the present text. Destinon ("Die Quellen des Josephus," 1882) revived this theory and endeavored to prove (pp. 80 et seq.) that ch. xiv.-xvi. were not contained in the edition used by Josephus. Destinon bases his argument on the fact that Josephus treats this portion very scantily in comparison with his treatment of the other material of the book, although these chapters contain quite as much and as interesting material. He has been followed by Wellhausen ("I. J. G." pp. 222 et seq.). But Torrey (in "Encyc. Bibl."), by utilizing the investigations of Mommsen, has shown that Josephus actually knew some of this material and introduced it at a later point in his work ("Ant." xiv. 8, § 5), in describing the history of Hyrcanus II. In all probability, therefore, the First Book of the Maccabees has retained its original form.
Grimm, Das Erste Buch der Makkabäer, in Kurzgefasstes Exegetisches Handbuch zu den Apokryphen, 1853; Wace, Apocrypha; Bissell, Apocrypha, in Lange's Commentary; Fairweather and Black, First Book of Maccabees, in Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges; Kautzsch, Apokryphen; Torrey, Schweizer's Hebrew Text of I Maccabees, in Jour. Bib. Lit. xxii. 51-59. II Maccabees: The Second Book of the Maccabees opens with two letters written by Jews resident in Palestine to brethren dwelling in Egypt. The first letter occupies ch. i. 1-10a; the second, ch. i. 10b-ii. 18. These letters, it is thought by some, formed no part of the original work. The preface is found in ch. ii. 19-32, and states that Jason of Cyrene had composed five books on the Maccabean revolt, which the writer undertakes to epitomize for his readers. Ch. iii. relates how the attempt of Heliodorus to plunder the Temple was miraculously thwarted; ch. iv. narrates the wickedness of the high priests Jason and Menelaus, and of Simon, the Temple overseer; ch. v., how Antiochus began the persecution of the Jews; ch. vi. and vii., the story of the martyrdom of Eleazar and the seven young men and their mother; while ch. viii.-xv. are occupied with the history of the wars of Judas Maccabeus.
Historical and Religious Character.
The time covered by this material is barely fifteen years, from the very end of the reign of Seleucus IV., whose servant was Heliodorus, to the victory of Judas over Nicanor (175-160 B.C.). The reason why the book terminates here is to be found in its aim, which was to set before the Jews of the Diaspora the importance of observing the two Maccabean feasts-the Feast of the Dedication and the Feast of Nicanor. In no other way, the writer believed, could they share in the glory and the fruits of the great struggle for liberty. The author is so intent on this that though he has lauded Judas as a splendid example of religious patriotism he passes in silence over his death. The writer further takes occasion often to impress upon his readers the sacred character of the Temple at Jerusalem, which the Diaspora might easily undervalue. In contrast with I Maccabees, the language of II Maccabees is highly religious. God appears as the great "Sovereign" who miraculously delivers His people (see iii. 24 and, perhaps, ii. 21). The author is a religious teacher (see iii. 1 et seq., iv. 15-17, v. 17-20, et al.); he did not write for the sake of the history as such. This places his work in a very different class from that of I Maccabees. In the earlier part he supplies some welcome information not contained in I Maccabees, and in nearly every chapter are interesting facts-some of them confirmed by Josephus-which may, with caution, be used. But his purpose, style, and temperament are such that, since the time of Ewald, it has been recognized that the work is not a sober and restrained history like I Maccabees, but is rhetorical and bombastic.
One important fact to be noted is the writer's belief in the bodily resurrection of the dead (see vii. 9, 11, 14, 36; xiv. 16; and especially xii. 43-45). This, together with his attitude toward the priesthood asshown in his lifting the veil which I Maccabees had drawn over Jason and Menelaus, led Bertholdt and Geiger to regard the author as a Pharisee and the work as a Pharisaic party document. This much, at least, is true-the writer's sympathies were with the Pharisees. The author claims that he epitomized the work of Jason of Cyrene (ii. 23), which seems to have been his only source, unless he himself prefixed the two letters to his work. Jason is thought by Schürer (l.c. p. 212) to have compiled his work from hearsay shortly after 160 B.C. at Cyrene. If this is true, the work of Jason, like II Maccabees, concluded with the victory over Nicanor. There can be no doubt that both the work of Jason and that of his epitomizer (i.e., the author of II Maccabees) were written in Greek, and that the latter was a Hellenistic Jew.
There is a reference in ch. xv. 37 to the Book of Esther, which would preclude any earlier date of authorship than about 130 B.C. (see Cornill, "Einleitung," p. 252). On the other hand, II Maccabees was known to the author of the Epistle to the Hebrews (see Peak, in "The Century Bible," p. 223) and to Philo (see Schürer, l.c. p. 214). The work, therefore, must have been composed about the beginning of the common era.
The two letters prefixed to II Maccabees have excited much discussion. Some scholars regard them as the basis of the author's work, which he himself prefixed to it because they treat of the topics of which he wished to speak-the Temple at Jerusalem and the importance of observing its feasts. Others hold that the letters were placed in their present position by a later hand, while some believe them to be fabricated. There is in the letters nothing which is inconsistent with their belonging to the time from which they profess to come, and there seems to be no good reason for doubting that it was the epitomist himself who prefixed them to the book. For details see the works mentioned below.
Grimm, Zweites, Drittes, und Viertes Bücher der Makkabäer, in Kurzgefasstes Exegetisches Handbuch zu den, Apokryphen; Wace, Apocrypha; Kautzsch, Apokryphen; Bruston, Trois Lettres des Juifs de Palestine, in Stade's Zeitschrift, 1890, x. 110 et seq.; Torrey, Die Briefe 2 Makkabäer, i. 1-ii. 18, ib. 1900, xx. 225 et seq.; Herkenne, Die Briefe zu Beginn des Zweiten Makkabäerbuches, 1904.
III Maccabees: The Third Book of the Maccabees has in reality nothing to do either with the Maccabees or with their times. It received its name probably because it is a fiction concerning the persecution of the Jews by a foreign king; that king was Ptolemy Philopator (222-205 B.C.). The story runs as follows: After Ptolemy's defeat of Antiochus III. in 217 B.C., at the battle of Raphia, the former visited Jerusalem and tried to enter the Temple, but was miraculously prevented (i. 1-ii. 24). Returning to Alexandria, he assembled the Jews in the hippodrome to be massacred, but the necessity of writing down their names exhausted the paper in Egypt, so that they escaped (ii. 25-iv. 21). Next the king devised a plan for having the Jews trampled to death by elephants; this also was frustrated in various improbable ways (v. 1-vi. 21). The king then underwent a change of heart and bestowed great favor on the Jews, and the day on which this occurred was ever after celebrated as a festival in memory of the deliverance (vi. 22-vii. 23).
Authorship and Character.
The author of this fiction was certainly an Alexandrian Jew who wrote in Greek, for its style is even more rhetorical and bombastic than that of II Maccabees. The work begins abruptly and is thought to be but a fragment of a once larger whole. Whether there is any foundation for the story concerning Philopator with which the writer begins there is no means of knowing. If true, it is one of a very few grains of fact in the whole account. Josephus ("Contra Ap." ii. 5) tells how Ptolemy Physco (146-117 B.C.) cast the Jews of Alexandria, who, as adherents of Cleopatra, were his political opponents, to intoxicated elephants. When the elephants turned on his own people the king saw a sudden apparition and gave up his purpose. The Jews, it is added, celebrate the day of their deliverance. It would seem that the author of III Maccabees, anxious to connect this celebration with Jerusalem, has transferred it to an earlier Ptolemy and given it an entirely unhistorical setting. His narrative can not be regarded as a successful fiction, as it abounds in psychological as well as historical improbabilities.
This work was written later than II Maccabees, for its author made use of that book (see ii. 9; comp. II Macc. vi. 18 et seq. and xiv. 35 with III Macc. iii. 25-33; see also Grimm, l.c. p. 220). He can not have written earlier, therefore, than the end of the first century B.C. On the other hand, he can not have written later than the first century C.E. or his work would not have been used by Christians. Ewald regarded this work as a polemic against Caligula and dated it accordingly about 40 C.E.; this view has been abandoned by more recent writers, since Philopator is not represented as claiming divine honors.
In addition to the works cited in the bibliography to the second part of this article: Deissmann, Bible Studies, 1901, pp. 341-345; I. Abrahams, in J. Q. R. 1896-97, ix. 39 et seq.; Ewald, Gesch. des Volkes Israel, iv. 611-614. IV Maccabees: The Fourth Book of the Maccabees, so called, is a semiphilosophic discourse, or sermon, on the "supremacy of the pious reason" (ch. i. 1). It consists of a prologue (i. 1-12) and of two principal parts. The first of these (i. 13-iii. 18) is devoted to the elucidation of the author's philosophical thesis, and the second (iii. 19-xviii. 24) to the illustration of the thesis by examples drawn from II Maccabees. In the latter portion of the work there is, first (iii. 19-iv. 26), a brief review of the sufferings of the Jews under Seleucus and his son(?) Antiochus Epiphanes; the conquering power of reason is illustrated (v. 1-vii. 23) by the example of Eleazar, drawn from II Macc. v. 18-31; by that of the seven brethren (vii. 24-xiv. 10), drawn from II Macc. vii. 1-23; and by that of their mother (xiv. 11-xvi. 25), taken from II Macc. vii. 25 et seq. In ch. xvii. and xviii. the author expresses his impressions with reference to these martyrdoms.
It appears, therefore, that the only connection this work has with the Maccabees is in the fact that the author's illustrations are drawn from the Second Book of the Maccabees.
Integrity and Character.
Ch. xviii. 3-24 has been thought by several scholars to be the work of a later hand, but the opinion does not appear to be well founded. Ch. xvii. 2 would form a weak ending to the book, while xviii. 20-24 suits well the style of the author of the earlier parts, and the apparent incongruity of xviii. 6-19 would seem to be designed in this hortatory composition to make a strong impression on its hearers. This latter view is strengthened if it be remembered that the work is throughout a discourse addressed directly to listeners (comp. i. 1, 7; ii. 13; xiii. 19; xviii. 1). Ewald and Freudenthal called it a sermon and held that it is an example of Alexandrian synagogue preaching, but this view is now abandoned, for even in the Diaspora the sermon of the synagogue was usually founded on a passage from the Bible. This discourse, also, is too abstruse for an ordinary congregation; it is an address to a more select circle. Its style is oratorical and ornate, though not so extravagant as that of III Maccabees. It contains a large philosophic element of the Stoic type, though its author possessed a taste for philosophy rather than real philosophical insight. It contains also a core of Judaism. The writer was a Jew who could clothe his religion in a philosophic garb in accordance with the tendency of the times. The Hellenic and the Jewish elements in his work both appear at their best and in a combination almost without a parallel; the nearest example is the New Testament Epistle to the Hebrews.
Author and Date.
It is probable, therefore, that the author of IV Maccabees was an Alexandrian Jew. Eusebius ("Hist. Eccl." iii. 10) and Jerome ("De Viris Illustribus," xiii.) ascribe the work to Josephus-an opinion which was for a long time followed, and which has caused the text of IV Maccabees to be included in many editions of the works of Josephus. But the language and style of the work differ so radically from those of the writings of Josephus that it is clear that this is a mistaken opinion. Of some of its historical combinations, as in iv. 5 and v. 1, Josephus could hardly have been guilty. The writer of IV Maccabees had certainly come under the influence of the culture of Alexandria, even if he lived and wrote in some other city. As to the time when the book was written, the data for an opinion are the same as in the case of III Maccabees: it was written probably at the close of the last century B.C. or during the first century C.E., and before the time of Caligula, for the Jews seem to have been at peace at the time.
The writer is a strong believer in immortality, but he has abandoned the Pharisaic standpoint of II Maccabees, which recognizes a bodily resurrection, and holds to the view that all souls exist forever, the good being together in a state of happiness (xvii. 18), with the Patriarchs (v. 37) and with God (ix. 8 and xvii. 18). These views are the more striking as they are entwined with the same narratives which in II Maccabees express the more materialistic view. The writer holds, also, that the suffering of the martyrs was vicarious; by it they wrought deliverance for their nation (comp. i. 11, xvii. 19-23, xviii. 24).
For the Greek text of IV Maccabees, as well as of the other books, see Swete, The Old Testament in Greek, vol. iii., 1894;
for the translation, see Kautzsch, Apokryphen, ii. 152 et seq.; for introductions, see Bissell in Lange's Commentary, and Schürer, History of the Jewish People; see also Bensly, The Fourth Book of Maccabees in Syriac, 1895.T. G. A. B. II.A second article on the Book of Maccabees is inserted as treating the subject from a Jewish standpoint.-J.
I Maccabees, now extant only in Greek, was originally composed in Hebrew or Aramaic, most probably the former; but the original can not have been long in circulation. The fragment of a Hebrew text of I Maccabees published by Chwolson (1896) and again by Schweizer (1901) is not part of the original; and it may well be that even Origen knew only an Aramaic translation and not the original. He calls (Eusebius, "Hist. Eccl." vi. 25) I Maccabees Σαρβηθ Σα(ρ)βαναιελ, a title which has given rise to much conjecture. Only two suggestions need be named: Derenbourg's ("Book of the Family of the Chief of the People of God"), given in his "Essai sur l'Histoire et la Géographie de la Palestine" (p. 450, Paris, 1867), and Dalman's , in his "Grammatik des Jüdisch-Palästinischen Aramäisch" (p. 6, Leipsic, 1894). Of the name "Maccabees" it may be mentioned that in a text of the Megillat Anteyukas ("J. Q. R." xi. 291 et seq.) the reading is (= "the zealot"), which would be very acceptable were it better attested.
As to the date of the book, much turns on the meaning of the last two verses. Some critics, indeed, doubt the authenticity of the whole of the last section (xiv. 16-xvi. 24), but the trend of opinion is in favor of the integrity of the book. Schürer and Niese (in "Kritik der Beiden Makkabäerbücher," Berlin, 1900) maintain that the last verses imply that I Maccabees was written after the death of John Hyrcanus (105 B.C.), but there is good reason for holding that the reference is to the beginning (135 B.C.) and not to the end of Hyrcanus' reign (see "J. Q. R." xiii. 512 et seq.). Critics are practically unanimous in attaching great value to I Maccabees as a historical record. "On the whole, the book must be pronounced a work of the highest value, comparing favorably, in point of trustworthiness, with the best Greek and Roman histories" (Torrey). This is high praise; but it is fully deserved (comp. Schürer, "Gesch." iii. 141). Niese (l.c.) has done good service in vindicating the authenticity of Judas' embassy to Rome; and it is no peculiar demerit in I Maccabees that in the reports of the numbers engaged in battle, of speeches, and even of documents, its account is inexact and sometimes quite incredible. Such defects are shared by Thucydides and Livy. The substance, not the exact form, of documents was given by ancient historians. On the other hand, it differs somewhat from the Biblical histories in its standpoint. The divine element is not wanting, and success is ultimately traced (as in Mattathias' deathbed utterances) to God. Judas invariably sings psalms of thanksgiving for victory, and the key-note of the revolt is "Not unto us, O Lord, not unto us,but unto thy name give glory" (Ps. cxv. 1). The period also, as many hold, gave rise to numerous new psalms. But in I Maccabees, nevertheless, history is written from the human standpoint. Victory is earned by endeavor as well as bestowed by grace. Partly because of this phenomenon, it was urged by Geiger ("Urschrift," 1857, pp. 200-230) that one may detect a dynastic purpose in the book and that its author was a Sadducean apologist for the Hasmoneans.
It is certainly true that the author is silent concerning the worst excesses of the (Sadducean) high priests, and attaches primary importance to the founder of the dynasty, Mattathias. Mattathias is unknown to II Maccabees, though the latter is supposed by Geiger to be a Pharisaic counterblast to the Sadducean I Maccabees. Yet, strangely enough, in the Pharisaic tradition of the Talmud and Synagogue Mattathias plays a large part, so large that Judas is thrown into the background.
On one important point some modern writers are unfair to the book. God is not "named" in it; the term "heaven" replaces the divine name. From this the inference has been drawn that "God was absolutely conceived as reigning in the remote heaven, and no longer as dwelling among the people by the Shekinah" (Fairweather and Black, "I Maccabees," Introduction, p. 47). This is as false an inference as would be a similar conclusion from the opening words of the Lord's Prayer, "Our Father who art in Heaven." God is not "named" throughout the Lord's Prayer. In I Maccabees the personal pronoun is most significantly used (iii. 22, 51; iv. 10, 55) with relation to the term "heaven"; and, more remarkable still, the pronoun is sometimes used (ii. 61) without any noun at all: "And thus consider ye from generation to generation, that none that put their trust in him shall want for strength." That there grew up a disinclination to "name" God is undoubted; but whatever the origin of this scrupulosity, it was not any sense of the remoteness of God (see discussion by Benjacob, "Im Namen Gottes," p. 164, Berlin, 1903). From the Maccabean period onward God becomes ever nearer to Israel. If there was a fault at all, it was not that God became too transcendent; the tendency was rather in the direction of overfamiliarity than of undue aloofness.
Unlike I Maccabees, the book known as II Maccabees was written in Greek. For the history of the war it is of less value than I Maccabees, though some recent writers (in particular Niese) have maintained the opposite opinion. It adds, however, important particulars regarding the events that led up to the Maccabean revolt. Besides this, II Maccabees, written quite independently of I Maccabees, is a strong support of the general truth of the familiar story of the revolt, though II Maccabees is embellished with angelical and miraculous ornament foreign to the first book. Its style is rhetorical, its purpose didactic. It emanated from Alexandria and was addressed to the Greek-speaking Jews of the Diaspora. It was designed to impress on them the unity of Judaism, the importance of Jerusalem as the center of religious life, and the duty of observing the two feasts of Ḥanukkah and Nicanor's Day (nullsee Nicanor). That the book has a Pharisaic color is undoubted, but not in the sense of being a partizan pamphlet in reply to I Maccabees, which, indeed, the author of II Maccabees most probably did not know. Moreover, II Maccabees takes no account of Mattathias, nor, indeed, of any of the band of heroes except Judas; and this is not easily forced into evidence of Pharisaic partizanship. On the other hand, in II Macc. xiv. 6 Judas is represented as the leader of the Hasidtæans, who have many points in common with the Pharisees, and from whom the Hasmoneans were soon alienated.
Of specifically non-Sadducean doctrines, II Maccabees has a very clear expression of belief in the resurrection. Death is a "short pain that bringeth everlasting life" (II Macc. vii. 36; comp. other passages in the same chapter and xiv. 46). Judas is represented (II Macc. xii. 43 et seq.) as making offerings for the dead because "he took thought of the resurrection." The reference to such offerings is, however, without parallel in Jewish literature, and nothing is otherwise known of such offerings being made at the Temple in Jerusalem (see Israel Lévi, "La Commemoration des Ames dans le Judaïsime," in "R. E. J." xxix. 48).
The book is usually held to belong to the latter part of the first century B.C.; Jason (of whose work it purports to be an epitome) wrote at least a century earlier. Niese places II Maccabees at the date 125-124 B.C., thus regarding it as older than, as well as superior to, I Maccabees. In this preference of the second to the first book, Niese stands practically alone, but he has done great service in vindicating the importance and value of the former (comp. also Sluys, "De Maccabæorum Libris I et II Quæstiones," Amsterdam, 1904). It remains to add that the authenticity of the letters prefixed to II Maccabees has been fiercely assailed. Yet it is coming to be recognized that the letters have a clear bearing on the design of the book, as explained above, and it is quite conceivable, though very improbable, that they were part of the original work of Jason. On these letters see, besides earlier literature, Herkenne, "Die Briefe zu Beginn des Zweiten Makkabäerbuchs," Freiburg, 1904. One point remains. The martyrdoms described in II Maccabees, especially of the mother and her seven sons, have given the book undying value as an inspiration and encouragement to the faithful of all ages and creeds. As will be seen below (in connection with IV Maccabees), this feature of the Maccabean heroism made a special appeal to the Christianity of the first four centuries. "The figure of the martyr, as the Church knows it, dates from the persecution of Antiochus; all subsequent martyrologies derive from the Jewish books which recorded the sufferings of those who in that day were strong and did exploits" (E. Bevan, "House of Seleucus," 1902, ii. 175).
III Maccabees purports to record a persecution of the Jews in Alexandria during the reign of Ptolemy (IV.) Philopator (222-204 B.C.). The Jews are assembled in the hippodrome, and 500 infuriated elephants are to be let loose upon them. In the event the elephants turned against the persecutors, and the Jews not only escaped, but were treated with muchhonor by the king. That there is much of the fabulous in this story is obvious, and it may well be that the similar story told in Josephus ("Contra Ap." ii. 5) concerning Ptolemy (VII.) Physcon is, as most assume, the original of III Maccabees. The book would thus belong at the latest to the first century C.E.; at the earliest to the last century B.C. Recently important new light has been thrown on the book by the discovery of early Jewish settlements in the Fayum. On independent gounds, the present writer ("J. Q. R." ix. 39) and Prof. A. Büchler ("Tobiaden und Oniaden," pp. 172 et seq., Vienna, 1899) have put forward the theory that the book refers to a persecution in the Fayum. Certainly, the rapid transference of Jewish allegiance from Egyptian to Syrian hegemony about 200 B.C. finds its explanation if the Jews of Egypt were then undergoing persecution. That the author was an Alexandrian is unquestionable. On the other hand, Willrich ("Hermes," 1904, xxxix. 244) disputes the Fayum theory and supports the view that the book is best explained as referring to Caligula.
The beautiful work known as IV Maccabees is a homily, not a history. As Freudenthal was the first to show, it is a sermon addressed to a Greekspeaking audience, and delivered probably on Ḥanukkah ("Die Flavius Josephus Beigelegte Schrift über die Herrschaft der Vernunft [IV Makkabäerbuch]," Breslau, 1869), the thesis being that, reason (religion) can control the passions; the author illustrates this from many examples, especially from the story of the Maccabean martyrdoms as related in II Macc. vi., vii. A very noble level of eloquence is reached by the writer, and the book is in many ways one of the best products of the syncretism of Hebraic and Greek thought. The authorship of IV Maccabees was at one time ascribed (as by Eusebius, Jerome, and other authorities) to Josephus, but this is clearly wrong. Nothing can with definiteness be asserted as to the date of the book; it belongs probably to the period shortly before the fall of Jerusalem. In its present form it contains possibly some Christian interpolations (e.g., vii. 19, xiii. 17, xvi. 25), but they are certainly very few and insignificant. Later on, Christian homilists used the same topic, the martyrdoms, as the theme for sermons; the Church maintained a Maccabean feast (though not on the same date as the Jews) for at least four centuries. Homilies by Gregory Nazienzen and Chrysostom for the festival of Aug. 1 (the "Birthday of the Maccabees") are extant on this subject. On the "Maccabees as Christian Saints" see Maas in "Monatsschrift," xliv. 145 et seq.
V Maccabees, so called by Cotton ("Five Books of Maccabees," 1832), is known also as the Arabic II Maccabees. It is included in the Paris and London Polyglots. It has clear relations to II Maccabees, the Arabic "Yosippus," and the Hebrew "Yosippon." Late in origin and without historical value, the book is, however, of considerable importance from other points of view.J. I. A.
Crawford Howell Toy, George A. Barton, Joseph Jacobs, Israel Abrahams
Jewish Encyclopedia, published between 1901-1906.
Name given to the Hasmonean family. Originally the designation "Maccabeus" (Jerome, "Machabæus") was applied solely to Judas, the third son of Mattathias the Hasmonean (I Macc. ii. 4, iii. 1, et passim), Mattathias' other sons having different surnames; but as Judas became the leader of the party after his father's death, and as he was also the most heroic warrior, his surname was applied not only to all the descendants of Mattathias, but even to others who took part in the revolutionary movement under the leadership of the Hasmoneans. Hence the title "Books of the Maccabees."
The etymology of the name, in spite of the efforts of the scholars, who have advanced various theories on the subject, remains undetermined. According to Jerome ("Prologus Galeatus"), the First Book of the Maccabees was originally written in Hebrew. Origen (in Eusebius, "Hist. Eccl." book vi., last chapter) even gives the Hebrew title, ; thus the Greek and Latin forms of the name must have been transliterations from the Hebrew.
But the original Hebrew text is lost; and there is no mention of the name either in the Talmud or in the Midrash, where the family is always referred to as "the Hasmoneans." In later Hebrew writings the name occurs in two forms, , transliterated from the Latin, and , according to the Greek spelling. The latter form is generally explained as meaning "the hammer," a surname given to Judas on account of his heroism. Iken ("Symbolæ Litterariæ," i. 184, Bremen, 1744) derives it from the Arabic "manḳab" (= "general"), while, according to others, the name originated in the fact that Modin, where Mattathias dwelt, was in the territory of Gad (Reland, "Palästina," p. 901), the banner of which tribe bore the inscription , the final letters of the names Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. is, however, the preferred form; it occurs in "Yosippon" (ch. xx.), and is explained by Gorionides as meaning "the hero," though it is not known in what way. Others explain it as composed of the initials of (Ex. xv. 11), written on the banner of the Hasmoneans, or as the initials of . But the statement that it was the surname of Judas only is against these interpretations. Curtiss ("The Name Machabee," Leipsic, 1876) derives it from = "to extinguish"; thus would mean "the extinguisher," which agrees with the interpretation of Gorionides. Finally, the following two opinions may be added: (1) that the Hebrew read = "he who hides himself," referring to the fact that the Hasmoneans hid themselves in the mountains (I Macc. ii. 28); (2) that of Filosseno Luzzatto that it is a Greek word, an anagram of Βιαομάχος = "violent warrior." For the history of the Maccabees see Hasmoneans; Judas Maccabeus; Mattathias Maccabeus.
Joseph Jacobs, M. Seligsohn
Jewish Encyclopedia, published between 1901-1906.
A. Levi, in Mossé, ii. 6; E. Levi, in Univers Israélite, xlvi. 330; D. Oppenheim, in Ha-Maggid, xvii., Nos. 5, 6; P. Perreau, in Vessillo Israelitico, xxviii. 76, 113; Wetstein, in Ha-Maggid, xxiii., No. 19; Zipser, in Ben Chananja, iii. 497 et seq.; Winer, B. R. i. 631, s.v. Judas.J. M. Sel.
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