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Please read the Introductory Notes to this commentary.

For a glossary of unfamiliar terms, CLICK HERE. For assistance in
pronouncing Hebrew terms, a pronunciation guide is located HERE.

Introduction to the Maccabees
First Maccabees   Second Maccabees   Third Maccabees   Fourth Maccabees


The First Book of Maccabees: Introductory Notes and Comments
1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8   9   10   11   12   13   14   15   16


The First Book of Maccabees

The First Book of the Maccabees is recognized as Deuterocanonical Scripture by the Roman Catholic, Greek Orthodox, and Russian Orthodox Churches.

~ 1 ~

1After Alexander the Macedonian, the son of Philip, who came out of the land of Chittim, and struck Darius king of the Persians and Medes, it came to pass, after he had struck him, that he reigned in his place, in former time, over Greece.[1] 2He fought many battles, won many strongholds, killed the kings of the earth, 3went through to the ends of the earth, and took spoils of a multitude of nations. The earth was quiet before him. He was exalted. His heart was lifted up. 4He gathered together an exceedingly strong army and ruled over countries, nations, and principalities, and they paid him tribute.

5After these things he fell sick, and perceived that he was going to die. 6He called his honorable servants, which had been brought up with him from his youth, and he divided to them his kingdom while he was still alive. 7Alexander reigned twelve years, the he died. 8Then his servants ruled, each one in his place. 9They all put crowns upon themselves after he was dead, and so did their sons after them many years; and they multiplied evils in the earth.

10There came out of them a sinful root, Antiochus Epiphanes, son of Antiochus the king, who had been a hostage at Rome, and he reigned in the one hundred thirty seventh year of the kingdom of the Greeks.[10]

11In those days transgressors of the law came out of Israel and persuaded many, saying, let’s go make a covenant with the Goyim[11] around us; for since we were separated from them many evils have befallen us. 12That proposal was good in their eyes. 13Some of the people eagerly went to the king, and he authorized them to observe the ordinances of the Goyim. 14So they built a gymnasium in Jerusalem[14] according to the laws of the Goyim. V15They made themselves uncircumcised,[15] forsook the holy covenant, joined themselves to the Goyim, and sold themselves to do evil.

16The kingdom was established in the sight of Antiochus, and he planned to reign over Egypt, that he might reign over both kingdoms. 17He entered into Egypt with a great multitude, with chariots, with elephants, with cavalry, and with a great navy. 18He made war against Ptolemy, king of Egypt. Ptolemy was put to shame before him, and fled; and many fell wounded to death. 19They took possession of the strong cities in the land of Egypt, and he took the spoils of Egypt.

20Antiochus, after he had defeated Egypt, returned in the one hundred forty third year,[20] and went up against Israel and Jerusalem with a great multitude, 21and entered presumptuously into the sanctuary, and took the golden altar, the lampstand for the light, and all its utensils.

22He took the table of the show bread, the cups for the drink offerings, the bowls, the golden censers, the veil, the crowns, and the gold decoration on the front of the temple. He peeled it all off. 23He took the silver, the gold, and the precious vessels. He took the hidden treasures which he found. 24When he had taken all of these, he went away into his own land. He made a great slaughter, and spoke very arrogantly. 25Great mourning came upon Israel, in every place where they were. 26The rulers and elders groaned. The virgins and young men were made feeble. The beauty of the women was changed. 27Every bridegroom took up lamentation. She who sat in the marriage chamber was mourning. 28The land was moved for its inhabitants, and all the house of Jacob was clothed with shame.

29After two full years,[29] the king sent a chief collector of tribute to the cities of Judah, and he came to Jerusalem with a great multitude. 30He spoke words of peace to them in subtlety, and they believed him. Then he fell upon the city suddenly, struck it very severely, and destroyed many people of Israel. 31He took the spoils of the city, set it on fire, and pulled down its houses and its walls on every side. 32They led captive the women and the children, and seized the livestock. 33Then they fortified the city of David with a large, strong wall and with strong towers, and it became their citadel. 34They put a sinful nation, transgressors of the law, there, and they strengthened themselves in it. 35They stored up weapons and food, and gathering together the spoils of Jerusalem, they stored them there, and they became a great menace. 36It became a place to lie in wait in against the sanctuary, and an evil adversary to Israel continually. 37They shed innocent blood on every side of the sanctuary, and defiled the sanctuary. 38The inhabitants of Jerusalem fled because of them. She became a habitation of foreigners. She became foreign to those who were born in her, and her children forsook her. 39Her sanctuary was laid waste like a wilderness,[39] her feasts were turned into mourning, her Sabbaths into reproach, and her honor into contempt. 40According to her glory, so was her dishonor multiplied, and her exaltation was turned into mourning.

41King Antiochus wrote to his whole kingdom that all should be one people, 42and that each should forsake his own laws. All the nations agreed according to the word of the king. 43Many of Israel consented to his worship, sacrificed to the idols, and profaned the Sabbath. 44The king sent letters by the hand of messengers to Jerusalem and the cities of Judah, that they should follow laws strange to the land, 45and should forbid whole burnt offerings and sacrifice and drink offerings in the sanctuary; and should profane the Sabbaths and feasts, 46and pollute the sanctuary and those who were holy; 47that they should build altars, and temples, and shrines for idols, and should sacrifice swine’s flesh and unclean animals; 48and that they should leave their sons uncircumcised, that they should make their souls abominable with all manner of uncleanness and profanation; 49so that they might forget the law, and change all the ordinances. 50Whoever doesn’t do according to the word of the king, he shall die. 51According to all these words wrote he to his whole kingdom. He appointed overseers over all the people, and he commanded the cities of Judah to sacrifice, city by city. 52From the people were gathered together to them many, everyone who had forsaken the law; and they did evil things in the land. 53They made israel to hide themselves in every place of refuge which they had.

54On the fifteenth day of Chislev, in the one hundred forty fifth year,[54] they built an abomination of desolation upon the altar, and in the cities of Judah on every side they built idol altars. 55At the doors of the houses and in the streets they burned incense. 56They tore the books of the law which they found in pieces and set them on fire. 57Anyone who was found with any a book of the covenant, and if any consented to the law,[57] the king’s sentence delivered him to death. 58Thus did they in their might to Israel, to those who were found month by month in the cities. 59On the twenty-fifth day of the month they sacrificed upon the idol altar that was on top of the altar of burnt offering. 60They put to death women who had circumcised their children, according to the commandment.[60] 61They hung their babies around their necks, and their houses, and those who had circumcised them. 62Many in Israel were fully resolved and confirmed in themselves not to eat unclean things. 63They chose to die,[63] that they might not be defiled with the food, and that they might not profane the holy covenant; and they died. 64Exceedingly great wrath came upon Israel.

Chapter 2

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  1. That is, the Greek Empire. Compare verse 10 and 1 Maccabees 6:2. [RETURN]

10. Circa 176 BCE. [RETURN]

11. The literal translation of the Hebrew word Goyim (Gentiles) is “nations.” But since all the nations outside of Israel are Gentiles (non-Jews), the distinction is moot. [RETURN]

14. See 2 Maccabees 4:9,12. [RETURN]

15. This was accommplished through a very painful surgical procedure of foreskin restoration. [RETURN]

20. circa 170 BCE. See 2 Maccabees 5:11-16. [RETURN]

29. See 2 Maccabees 5:24. [RETURN]

39. See 2 Maccabees 6:6. 1:39

54. circa 168 BCE. See 2 Maccabees 5:11. [RETURN]

57. I.e., submitted to Torah. [RETURN]

60. See 2 Maccabees 6:10. [RETURN]

63. See 2 Maccabees 6:19 and 7:1, etc. [RETURN]

Originally posted (without comments) on Shabbat, 04 July 2020
Page revised (minor) on Shabbat, 19 December 2020

Page last updated on Monday, 18 January 2021 12:14 PM
(Updates are generally minor formatting or editorial changes.
Major content changes are identified as "Revisions”)

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SPEEDILY AND IN OUR DAY. MARANA, TA!