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(Isaiah 2:3)

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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

~ 2 ~

1In those days Mattathias the son of John, the son of Simeon, a priest of the sons of Joarib, from Jerusalem rose up; and he lived at Modin. 2And he had five sons, John, who was surnamed Gaddis; Simon, who was called Thassi; 4Judas, who was called Maccabaeus; 5Eleazar, who was called Avaran; and Jonathan, who was called Apphus.

6He saw the blasphemies that were committed in Judah and in Jerusalem, 7and he said, “Woe is me! Why was I born to see the destruction of my people and the destruction of the holy city, and to dwell there when it was given into the hand of the enemy, the sanctuary into the hand of foreigners? 8Her temple has become like a man who was glorious. 9Her vessels of glory are carried away into captivity. Her infants are slain in her streets. Her young men are slain with the enemy’s sword. 10What nation has not inherited her palaces and taken possession of her spoils? 11Her adornment has all been taken away. Instead of a free woman, she has become a slave. 12Behold, our holy things, our beauty, and our glory are laid waste. The Gentiles have profaned them. 13Why should we live any longer?”

14Mattathias and his sons tore their clothes, put on sackcloth, and mourned exceedingly. 15And the king’s officers who were enforcing the apostasy came into the city Modin to sacrifice. 16Many of Israel came to them, and Mattathias and his sons were gathered together.

17The king’s officers answered and spoke to Mattathias, saying, “You are a ruler and an honorable and great man in this city, and strengthened with sons and kindred. 18Now therefore come first and do the commandment of the king, as all the nations have done, including the men of Judah and those who remain in Jerusalem. You and your house will be numbered among the king’s Friends,[18] and you and your sons will be honored with silver and gold and many gifts.”

19And Mattathias answered and said with a loud voice, “If all the nations that are in the house of the king’s dominion listen to him, to fall away each one from the worship of his fathers, and have made choice to follow his commandments, 20yet I and my sons and my kindred will walk in the covenant of our fathers. 21Far be it from us that we should forsake the law and the ordinances. 22We will not listen to the king’s words, to turn aside from our worship, to the right hand, or to the left.”

23When he had finished speaking these words, a Jew came in the sight of all to sacrifice on the altar which was at Modin, according to the king’s commandment.

24Mattathias saw it, so his zeal was kindled, and his guts trembled, and he vented his wrath according to judgment, and ran and killed him upon the altar. 25He killed the king’s officer, who compelled men to sacrifice, at the same time, and pulled down the altar. 26He was zealous for the law, even as Phinehas did to Zimri the son of Salu.

27Mattathias cried out in the city with a loud voice, saying, “Whoever is zealous for the law and maintains the covenant, let him follow me!”

28He and his sons fled into the mountains, and left all that they had in the city.

29Then many who sought justice and judgment went down into the wilderness to live there—30they, their children, their wives, and their livestock—because evils were multiplied upon them.

31It was told the king’s officers and the forces that were in Jerusalem, the city of David, that certain men who had broken the king’s commandment had gone down into the secret places in the wilderness; 32and many pursued after them, and having overtaken them, they encamped against them and set the battle in array against them on the Sabbath day.

33They said to them, “Enough of this! Come out and do according to the word of the king, and you will all live!”

34They said, “We won’t come out. We won’t do the word of the king, to profane the Sabbath day.”

35Then the enemy hurried to attack them.

36They didn’t answer them. They didn’t cast a stone at them, or block their secret places, 37saying, “Let’s all die in our innoce. Heaven and earth testify for us, that you put us to death unjustly.”

38So they attacked them on the Sabbath, and they died—they, their wives, their children, and their livestock—in number a thousand souls of men.

39When Mattathias and his friends found out about it, and they mourned over them exceedingly.

40One said to another, “If we all do as our kindred have done, and don’t fight against the Gentiles for our lives and our ordinances, they will quickly destroy us from off the earth.”

41So they decided that day, saying, “Whoever comes against us to battle on the Sabbath day, let’s fight against him, and we will in no way all die, as our kindred died in the secret places.”

42Then a company of the Hasidaeans,[42] mighty men of Israel, everyone who offered himself willingly for the law, were gathered together to them.

43All those who fled from the evils were added to them, and supported them.

44They mustered an army, and struck sinners in their anger, and lawless men in their wrath. The rest fled to the Gentiles for safety.

45And Mattathias and his friends went around and pulled down the altars. 46They forcibly circumcised the boys who were uncircumcised, as many as they found in the coasts of Israel. 47They pursued the arrogant, and the work prospered in their hand. 48They rescued the law out of the hand of the Gentiles and out of the hand of the kings. They never allowed the sinner to triumph.

49The days of Mattathias drew near that he should die, and he said to his sons, “Now pride and scorn have gained strength. It is a season of overthrow and indignant wrath. 50Now, my children, be zealous for the law, and give your lives for the covenant of your fathers. 51Call to remembrance the deeds of our fathers which they did in their generations; and receive great glory and an everlasting name. 52Wasn’t Abraham found faithful in temptation, and it was reckoned to him for righteousness? 53Joseph in the time of his distress kept the commandment, and became lord of Egypt. 54Phinehas our father, because he was exceedingly zealous, obtained the covenant of an everlasting priesthood. 55Joshua became a judge in Israel for fulfilling the word. 56Caleb obtained a heritage in the land for testifying in the congregation. 57David inherited the throne of a kingdom forever and ever for being merciful. 58Elijah was taken up into heaven because he was exceedingly zealous for the law. 59Hananiah, Azariah, and Mishael believed, and were saved out of the flame. 60Daniel was delivered from the mouth of lions for his innocence. 61“Thus consider from generation to generation that no one who put their trust in him will lack for strength. 62Don’t be afraid of the words of a sinful man; for his glory will be dung and worms. 63Today he will be lifted up, and tomorrow he will in no way be found, because he has returned to dust, and his thought has perished. 64You, my children, be strong, and show yourselves men on behalf of the law; for in it you will obtain glory. 65Behold, Simon your brother, whom I know to be a man of counsel. Always listen to him. He shall be a father to you. 66Judas Maccabaeus has been strong and mighty from his youth. He shall be your captain and shall fight[66] the battle of the people. 67Rally around all the doers of the law, and avenge the wrong done to your people. 68Repay the Gentiles, and obey the commandments of the law.”

69He blessed them, and was gathered to his ancestors. 70He died in the one hundred forty sixth year,[70] and his sons buried him in the tombs of his ancestors at Modin. All Israel made great lamentation for him.

Chapter 3

_______________

18.  See 1 Maccabees 3:38; 10:10, etc.; Compare 1 Maccabees 10:65; 11:27; 2 Maccabees 8:9. [RETURN]

42. That is, Chasidim; not to be confused with modern Chasidic Jews. [RETURN]

66.  Some ancient authorities read “… and you shall fight …” [RETURN]

70. Circa 167 BCE. [RETURN]

Page originally posted (without comments) on Shabbat, 19 December 2020

Page last updated on Monday, 18 January 2021 12:14 PM
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