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  • Print publication year: 2011
  • Online publication date: August 2014

M

Summary

Maccabees, Books of. are four works of Jewish historiography included in the *Septuagint. Although all four are in the Greek Orthodox canon and the first two are in the Catholic canon, Protestants relegate all four to the *Apocrypha. Because Jewish tradition ascribes them no significance at all, it has not preserved them. 1 Maccabees, originally written in *Hebrew, recounts the history of the *Hasmoneans from the beginnings of their rebellion against the *Seleucids in 168/7 BCE to the successful establishment of the dynasty. The books focuses first (ch. 2) on the founder of the dynasty,Mattathias, and then, successively, on each of his sons – Judah Maccabee (chs. 3–9), Jonathan (chs. 9–12), and Simon (chs. 13–16) – until Simon was succeeded by his own son, John Hyrcanus (ch. 16). The book, probably written in the late second century BCE, should be understood as a dynastic history justifying the new line of rulers. In contrast, 2 Maccabees, originally written in Greek, focuses on the history of *Jerusalem in the 170s and 160s. Despite the fact that it often overlaps 1 Maccabees, it is a work of the *Diaspora (originally based on a longer history by one Jason of Cyrene [2:23]) and, accordingly, much more religiously oriented. After first establishing that Gentile kings are generally benevolent to the Jews (ch. 3), it emphasizes the sinful nature of Jewish Hellenizing (ch. 4) and presents Antiochus Epiphanes' attack on Jerusalem and persecution of Judaism as a result of God's chastisements (chs. 5–6, following the theology of Deut 32).

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