1 Maccabees chapter 1

In 176 BC, some Jews did not observe the Law. They introduced forbidden Gentile customs. Greek king Antiochus IV Epiphanes declares Judaism to be illegal.

 


 

ALEXANDER THE GREAT

 

Verse 1. It came to pass, after that 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 stead, in former time, over Greece.

Greece. That is, the Greek Empire.

 

Verse 2. And he fought many battles, and won many strongholds, and killed the kings of the earth,

 

Verse 3. and went through to the ends of the earth, and took spoils of a multitude of nations. And the earth was quiet before him, and he was exalted, and his heart was lifted up,

his heart was lifted up. That is, “his heart became proud and arrogant” (NAB translation).

Proverbs 16:18. Pride goes before destruction, and an arrogant spirit before a fall.

 

Verse 4. and he gathered together an exceedingly strong army, and ruled over countries and nations and principalities, and they became tributary to him.

 

Verse 5. And after these things he fell sick, and perceived that he should die.

 

Verse 6. And he called his servants, which were honorable, which had been brought up with him from his youth, and he divided to them his kingdom, while he was yet alive.

 

Verse 7. And Alexander reigned twelve years, and he died.

 

Verse 8. And his servants bare rule, each one in his place.

 

Verse 9. And they did all put diadems upon themselves after that he was dead, and so did their sons after them many years: and they multiplied evils in the earth.

 

THE RISE OF ANTIOCHUS IV EPIPHANES

 

Verse 10. And there came forth 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 hundred and thirty and seventh year of the kingdom of the Greeks.

the hundred and thirty and seventh year. That is, about 176 BC.

 

Verse 11. In those days came there forth out of Israel transgressors of the law, and persuaded many, saying, let’s go and make a covenant with the Gentiles that are round about us; for since we were parted from them many evils have befallen us.

came there forth out of Israel. That is, men of Israel came forth. They are Jews who do not observe the Law.

the Gentiles. That is, the nations.

 

Verse 12. And the saying was good in their eyes.

 

Verse 13. And certain of the people were forward herein and went to the king, and he gave them licence to do after the ordinances of the Gentiles.

the Gentiles. That is, the nations.

 

Verse 14. And they built a place of exercise in Jerusalem according to the laws of the Gentiles;

a place of exercise. That is, a gymnasium. It was portrayed as a center of athletic and intellectual life. And it was the chief propaganda instrument of those non-practicing Jews who were trying to introduce Gentile customs into Israel.

 

Verse 15. and they made themselves uncircumcised, and forsook the holy covenant, and joined themselves to the Gentiles, and sold themselves to do evil.

they made themselves uncircumcised. That is, they covered over their circumcision.

the Gentiles. That is, the nations.

 

ANTIOCHUS CAPTURES EGYPT

 

Verse 16. And the kingdom was well ordered in the sight of Antiochus, and he thought to reign over Egypt, that he might reign over the two kingdoms.

 

Verse 17. And he entered into Egypt with a great multitude, with chariots, and with elephants, and with horsemen, and with a great navy;

elephants. They had elephants. Elephants were an important part of the army of Antiochus.

 

Verse 18. and he made war against Ptolemy king of Egypt; and Ptolemy was put to shame before him, and fled; and many fell wounded to death.

put to shame … and fled. This was a mighty defeat for Egypt.

 

Verse 19. And they got possession of the strong cities in the land of Egypt; and he took the spoils of Egypt.

 

ANTIOCHUS PERSECUTES JEWS

 

Verse 20. And Antiochus, after he had struck Egypt, returned in the hundred and forty and third year, and went up against Israel and Jerusalem with a great multitude,

the hundred and forty and third year. That is, about 170 BC.

 

Verse 21. and entered presumptuously into the sanctuary, and took the golden altar, and the candlestick of the light, and all that pertained thereto,

 

Verse 22. and the table of the show bread, and the cups to pour withal, and the bowls, and the golden censers, and the veil, and the crowns, and the adorning of gold which was on the face of the temple, and he scaled it all off.

 

Verse 23. And he took the silver and the gold and the precious vessels; and he took the hidden treasures which he found.

 

Verse 24. And when he had taken all, he went away into his own land, and he made a great slaughter, and spoke very presumptuously.

 

Verse 25. And there came great mourning upon Israel, in every place where they were;

 

Verse 26. and the rulers and elders groaned, the virgins and young men were made feeble, and the beauty of the women was changed.

the beauty of the women was changed. Some scholars wonder if this means the women were forcibly tattooed.

 

Verse 27. Every bridegroom took up lamentation, she that sat in the marriage chamber was in heaviness.

 

Verse 28. And the land was moved for the inhabitants thereof, and all the house of Jacob was clothed with shame.

 

Verse 29. And after two full years the king sent a chief collector of tribute to the cities of Judah, and he came to Jerusalem with a great multitude.

 

Verse 30. And he spoke words of peace to them in subtlety, and they gave him credence: and he fell upon the city suddenly, and struck it very sore, and destroyed much people out of Israel.

he spoke words .. in subtlety. That is, he spoke deceitfully.

 

Verse 31. And he took the spoils of the city, and set it on fire, and pulled down the houses thereof and the walls thereof on every side.

 

Verse 32. And they led captive the women and the children, and the cattle they took in possession.

 

Verse 33. And they built the city of David with a great and strong wall, with strong towers, and it became to them a citadel.

 

Verse 34. And they put there a sinful nation, transgressors of the law, and they strengthened themselves therein.

 

Verse 35. And they stored up arms and food, and gathering together the spoils of Jerusalem, they laid them up there, and they became a sore snare:

 

Verse 36. and it became a place to lie in wait in against the sanctuary, and an evil adversary to Israel continually.

 

Verse 37. And they shed innocent blood on every side of the sanctuary, and defiled the sanctuary.

 

Verse 38. And the inhabitants of Jerusalem fled because of them; and she became a habitation of strangers, and she became strange to those who were born in her, and her children forsook her.

 

Verse 39. Her sanctuary was laid waste like a wilderness, her feasts were turned into mourning, her Sabbaths into reproach, her honor into contempt.

 

Verse 40. According to her glory, so was her dishonor multiplied, and her high estate was turned into mourning.

 

ANTIOCHUS MAKES JUDAISM ILLEGAL

 

Verse 41. And king Antiochus wrote to his whole kingdom, that all should be one people,

 

Verse 42. and that each should forsake his own laws. And all the nations agreed according to the word of the king;

each should forsake his own laws. That is, each nation should abandon its religious customs.

 

Verse 43. and many of Israel consented to his worship, and sacrificed to the idols, and profaned the Sabbath.

 

Verse 44. And the king sent letters by the hand of messengers to Jerusalem and the cities of Judah, that they should follow laws strange to the land,

the king sent letters. The king will require Jews to reject their Covenant with the One God.

 

Verse 45. and should forbid whole burnt offerings and sacrifice and drink offerings in the sanctuary; and should profane the Sabbaths and feasts,

 

Verse 46. and pollute the sanctuary and those who were holy;

 

Verse 47. that they should build altars, and temples, and shrines for idols, and should sacrifice swine’s flesh and unclean beasts:

 

Verse 48. and that they should leave their sons uncircumcised, that they should make their souls abominable with all manner of uncleanness and profanation;

 

Verse 49. so that they might forget the law, and change all the ordinances.

 

Verse 50. And whoever shall not do according to the word of the king, he shall die.

he shall die. To keep the Law of Moses would mean being put to death.

 

Verse 51. According to all these words wrote he to his whole kingdom; and he appointed overseers over all the people, and he commanded the cities of Judah to sacrifice, city by city.

 

Verse 52. And from the people were gathered together to them many, every one that had forsaken the law; and they did evil things in the land;

 

Verse 53. and they made israel to hide themselves in every place of refuge which they had.

 

Verse 54. And on the fifteenth day of Chislev, in the hundred and forty and fifth year, they built an abomination of desolation upon the altar, and in the cities of Judah on every side they built idol altars.

the hundred and forty and fifth year. That is, about 168 BC.

an abomination of desolation. This is alluded to in two other passages:

Daniel 9:27. He will make a firm covenant with many for one week. In the middle of the week he will cause the sacrifice and the offering to cease. On the wing of abominations will come one who makes desolate; and even to the full end, and that determined, wrath will be poured out on the desolate.

Matthew 24:15. When, therefore, you see the abomination of desolation, which was spoken of through Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place (let the reader understand),

 

Verse 55. And at the doors of the houses and in the streets they burned incense.

 

Verse 56. And they tore in pieces the books of the law which they found, and set them on fire.

 

Verse 57. And wherever was found with any a book of the covenant, and if any consented to the law, the king’s sentence delivered him to death.

 

Verse 58. Thus did they in their might to Israel, to those that were found month by month in the cities.

 

Verse 59. And on the five and twentieth day of the month they sacrificed upon the idol altar of God.

 

Verse 60. And the women that had circumcised their children they put to death according to the commandment.

 

Verse 61. And they hanged their babes about their necks, and destroyed their houses, and those who had circumcised them.

hanged their babes about their necks. This is a terrible punishment.

 

Verse 62. And many in Israel were fully resolved and confirmed in themselves not to eat unclean things.

many in Israel were fully resolved. There is a faithful remnant. These heroes of the faith will walk with the One God and keep the Covenant.

 

Verse 63. And they chose to die, that they might not be defiled with the meats, and that they might not profane the holy covenant: and they died.

they chose to die. These heroes of the faith will not forsake the One God. They will not live a lie. They will not sin in order to save their lives. It is not permitted to do evil that good may result.

Romans 3:8. Why not (as we are slanderously reported, and as some affirm that we say), “Let’s do evil, that good may come?” Those who say so are justly condemned.

 

Verse 64. And there came exceedingly great wrath upon Israel.

 


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