Alcimus falsely accuses Judas Maccabaeus. Nicanor is appointed governor of Judea. Alcimus makes trouble for Judas Maccabaeus. Razis the Elder.
VERSE 1. Three years later, news was brought to Judas and his company that Demetrius the son of Seleucus, having sailed into the harbor of Tripolis with a mighty army and a fleet,
VERSE 2. had taken possession of the country, having made away with Antiochus and his guardian Lysias.
VERSE 3. But one Alcimus, who had formerly been high priest, and had willfully polluted himself in the times when there was no mingling with the Gentiles, considering that there was no deliverance for him in any way, nor any more access to the holy altar,
Alcimus. He used to be the high priest.
willfully polluted himself. He deliberately defiled himself, rendering himself ritually impure.
VERSE 4. came to king Demetrius in about the one hundred fifty-first year, presenting to him a crown of gold and a palm, and beside these some of the festal olive boughs of the temple. For that day, he held his peace;
VERSE 5. but having gotten opportunity to further his own madness, being called by Demetrius into a meeting of his council, and asked how the Jews stood affected and what they intended, he answered:
his own madness. That is, “his mad scheme” (NAB translation).
VERSE 6. “Those of the Jews called Hasidaeans, whose leader is Judas Maccabaeus, keep up war and are seditious, not allowing the kingdom to find tranquillity.
Hasidaeans. That is “Chasidim.”
keep up war. Alcimus says Judas Maccabaeus is a warmonger. But that was not true.
VERSE 7. Therefore, having laid aside my ancestral glory—I mean the high priesthood—I have now come here,
I have now come here. Some authorities add “a second time.”
VERSE 8. first for the genuine care I have for the things that concern the king, and secondly because I have regard also to my own fellow citizens. For through the unadvised dealing of those of whom I spoke before, our whole race is in no small misfortune.
first for the genuine care I have for the things that concern the king. This was a lie. Alcimus did not care about the king. Alcimus only cared about himself.
secondly because I have regard also to my own fellow citizens. This was also a lie. Alcimus did not care about his fellow citizens. Alcimus only cared about himself.
VERSE 9. O king, having informed yourself of these things, take thought both for our country and for our race, which is surrounded by enemies, according to the gracious kindness with which you receive all.
This was not true.
VERSE 11. When he had spoken such words as these, at once the rest of the king’s friends, having ill will against Judas, inflamed Demetrius yet more.
the rest of the king’s friends. Or “the king’s friends likewise.”
VERSE 12. He immediately appointed Nicanor, who had been master of the elephants, and made him governor of Judea. He sent him out,
who had been master of the elephants. This is hardly a good qualification to become the governor.
made him governor of Judea. Nicanor is now the governor of Judea.
VERSE 13. giving him written instructions to kill Judas himself and to scatter those who were with him, and to set up Alcimus as high priest of the great temple.
written instructions to kill Judas. This new governor Nicanor is to assassinate Judas Maccabaeus.
the great temple. In Greek, “the greatest temple.”
VERSE 14. Those in Judea who †had driven Judas into exile thronged to Nicanor in flocks, supposing that the misfortunes and calamities of the Jews would be successes to themselves.
VERSE 15. But when the Jews heard of Nicanor’s advance and the assault of the heathen, they sprinkled dirt on their heads and made solemn prayers to him who had established his own people for evermore, and who always, making manifest his presence, upholds those who are his own heritage.
made solemn prayers. The Jewish people respond to this immanent threat by praying.
VERSE 16. When the leader had given orders, he immediately set out from there and joined battle with them at a village called Lessau.
The Greek text of this verse is corrupt.
VERSE 17. But Simon, the brother of Judas, had encountered Nicanor, yet not till late, having been delayed by reason of the sudden consternation caused by his adversaries.
The Greek text of this verse is corrupt.
VERSE 18. Nevertheless Nicanor, hearing of the valor of those who were with Judas, and their courage in fighting for their country, shrank from bringing the matter to the decision of the sword.
the valor of those who were with Judas. They were men of valor.
shrank from bringing the matter to the decision of the sword. The enemy gives up.
VERSE 19. Therefore he sent Posidonius, Theodotus, and Mattathias to give and receive pledges of friendship.
VERSE 20. So when these proposals had been long considered, and the leader had made the troops acquainted with them, and it appeared that they were all of like mind, they consented to the covenants.
the troops. Or “people.” In Greek, “multitudes.”
VERSE 21. They appointed a day on which to meet together by themselves. A chariot came forward from each army. They set up seats of honor.
VERSE 22. Judas stationed armed men ready in convenient places, lest perhaps there should suddenly be treachery on the part of the enemy. They held a conference as was appropriate.
lest perhaps there should suddenly be treachery on the part of the enemy. Judas is wise. He realizes his enemies are not people of their word. They are insincere. They cannot be trusted.
VERSE 23. Nicanor waited in Jerusalem, and did nothing to cause disturbance, but dismissed the flocks of people that had gathered together.
VERSE 24. He kept Judas always in his presence. He had gained a hearty affection for the man.
VERSE 25. He urged him to marry and have children. He married, settled quietly, and took part in common life.
VERSE 26. But Alcimus, perceiving the good will that was between them, and having taken possession of the covenants that had been made, came to Demetrius and told him that Nicanor was disloyal to the government, for he had appointed that conspirator against his kingdom, Judas, to be his successor.
and having taken possession of the covenants that had been made, came. Or “and the covenants that had been made, took occasion and came.”
VERSE 27. The king, falling into a rage, and being exasperated by the false accusations of that most wicked man, wrote to Nicanor, signifying that he was displeased at the covenants, and commanding him to send Maccabaeus prisoner to Antioch in all haste.
VERSE 28. When this message came to Nicanor, he was confounded, and was very troubled at the thought of annulling the articles that had been agreed upon, the man having done no wrong;
VERSE 29. but because there was no opposing the king, he watched his time to execute this purpose by strategy.
VERSE 30. But Maccabaeus, when he perceived that Nicanor was behaving more harshly in his dealings with him, and that he had become ruler in his customary bearing, understanding that this harshness came not of good, gathered together not a few of his men, and concealed himself from Nicanor.
VERSE 31. But the other, when he became aware that he had been bravely defeated by the strategy of Judas, came to the great and holy temple, while the priests were offering the usual sacrifices, and commanded them to hand over the man.
when he became aware that he had been bravely defeated by. Or “though he was conscious that he had been nobly defeated by.”
Judas. In Greek, “the man.”
the great and holy temple. In Greek, “the greatest and holy temple.”
VERSE 32. When they declared with oaths that they had no knowledge where the man was whom he sought,
VERSE 33. he stretched out his right hand toward the sanctuary, and sware this oath: “If you won’t deliver up to me Judas as a prisoner, I will level this temple of God even with the ground, break down the altar, and I will erect here a temple to Dionysus for all to see.
this temple. Or “chapel.” In Greek, “enclosure.”
I will level this temple. Nicanor threatens to destroy the temple building.
break down the altar. Nicanor threatens to destroy the altar.
I will erect here a temple to Dionysus for all to see. Nicanor threatens to build a temple to a foreign god.
VERSE 34. And having said this, he departed. But the priests, stretching forth their hands toward heaven, called upon him who always fights for our nation, in these words:
NAB translation. With these words he went away. The priests stretched out their hands toward heaven, calling upon the unfailing defender of our nation in these words.
VERSE 35. “You, O Lord of the universe, who in yourself have need of nothing, were well pleased that a sanctuary of your habitation should be set among us.
habitation. In Greek, “tabernacling.”
VERSE 36. So now, O holy Lord of all holiness, keep undefiled forever this house that has been recently cleansed.”
VERSE 37. Now information was given to Nicanor against one Razis, an elder of Jerusalem, who was a lover of his countrymen and a man of very good report, and one called Father of the Jews for his good will.
a man of very good report, and one called Father of the Jews for his good will. The NAB translation puts it:
A man highly regarded, [Razis] was called a father of the Jews because of his love for them.”
The Vatican ambassador to Israel met Pope John Paul II. The very first thing the pope said was a question:
Do you love the Jews?
We pray that all humans will love the Jewish people.
VERSE 38. For in the former times when there was no mingling with the Gentiles, he had been accused of following the Jews’ religion, and had risked body and life with all earnestness for the religion of the Jews.
NAB translation. In the early days of the revolt, he had been convicted of Judaism, and had risked body and life in his ardent zeal for it.
Josh McDowell used to ask this question:
If you were convicted of being a Christian, would there be enough evidence for you to be found guilty?
VERSE 39. Nicanor, wishing to make evident the ill will that he bore against the Jews, sent above five hundred soldiers to seize him;
sent above five hundred soldiers to seize him. Elderly Razis is treated like an enemy of the state.
VERSE 40. for he thought by seizing him to inflict an injury on them.
VERSE 41. But when the troops were at the point of taking the tower, and were forcing the door of the court, and asked for fire to burn the doors, he, being surrounded on every side, fell upon his sword,
the troops. Or “people.” In Greek, “multitudes.”
fell upon his sword. Razis tries to commit suicide.
VERSE 42. choosing rather to die nobly than to fall into the hands of the wicked wretches, and suffer outrage unworthy of his own nobleness.
choosing rather to die nobly. Suicide is preferable to being taken captive by the Greek government.
VERSE 43. But since he missed his stroke through the excitement of the struggle, and the crowds were now rushing within the door, he ran bravely up to the wall and cast himself down bravely among the crowds.
he missed his stroke. Razis’ suicide attempt fails.
cast himself down bravely among the crowds. Razis attempts suicide a second time. He jumps off the wall into the crowd.
they quickly gave back, a space was made. The crowd jumps out of the way.
he fell on the middle. Razis body lands on the ground.
his side. Or “the void place.”
VERSE 45. Still having breath within him, and being inflamed with anger, he rose up, and though his blood gushed out in streams and his wounds were grievous, he ran through the crowds, and standing upon a steep rock,
Still having breath within him. Razis’ second suicide attempt fails.
being inflamed with anger. Razis is very angry.
he ran through the crowds. Elderly Razis runs through the crowd while his blood gushes out.
VERSE 46. when as his blood was now well near spent, he drew forth his bowels through the wound, and taking them in both his hands he shook them at the crowds. Calling upon him who is Lord of life and spirit to restore him these again, he died like this.
he drew forth his bowels … shook them at the crowds. Razis pulls his own guts out from his body and flings them at the crowd.
these again. Some authorities read “the same.”
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