Nicanor sends friendly emissaries (2 Macc 14:18-14:19)

“Nevertheless Nicanor heard about the valor of Judas Maccabeus and his troops as well as their courage in battle for their country. He shrank from deciding the issue by bloodshed. Therefore he sent Posidonius, Theodotus, and Mattathias to give and receive pledges of friendship.”

Nicanor realized that Judas Maccabeus and his troops were courageous. He decided not to solve the issue by war. In 1 Maccabees, chapter 7, it clearly said that Nicanor was trying to deceive Judas Maccabeus. Here that is not said as 3 Seleucid military leaders, who were not mentioned in 1 Maccabees, were sent as friendly emissaries to Judas Maccabeus. One of them even has the name of Judas’ father, Mattathias.

The battle with Nicanor (2 Macc 14:15-14:17)

“When the Jews heard of Nicanor’s coming and the gathering of the gentiles, they sprinkled dust upon their heads. They prayed to him who established his own people forever. He always upholds his own heritage by manifesting himself. At the command of the leader, they set out from there immediately and engaged them in battle at a village called Dessau. Simon, the brother of Judas Maccabees, had encountered Nicanor, but had been temporarily checked because of the sudden consternation created by the enemy.”

Once again this is similar to 1 Maccabees, chapter 7. Here the Jews sprinkled their heads with dust and prayed, while there was no mention of that in 1 Maccabees. Here they are battling at Dessau and not Caphar-salama as in 1 Maccabees. Simon, the brother of Judas Maccabeus seems to have suffered a minor setback because of some consternation.

Nicanor as the governor of Judea (2 Macc 14:11-14:14)

“When Alcimus had said this, the rest of the king’s friends, who were hostile to Judas Maccabeus, quickly inflamed King Demetrius still more. He immediately chose Nicanor, who had been in command of the elephants. He appointed him governor of Judea. He sent him off with orders to kill Judas Maccabeus and scatter his troops. He was to install Alcimus as high priest of the great temple. The gentiles throughout Judea, who had fled before Judas Maccabeus, flocked to join Nicanor. They thought that the misfortunes and calamities of the Jews would mean prosperity for themselves.”

Once again, this is similar but not quite the same as 1 Maccabees, chapter 7. There is no mention of Bacchides here. Instead the leader of the troops and the governor of Judea was Nicanor. Apparently, Nicanor had been in charge of the elephants that seem to have been a big deal in the Syrian army. He may also have been with King Demetrius I when he was in jail in Rome. Now this meant that there was a separate governor for Judea whose sole purpose was to kill Judas Maccabees and disperse his troops. Alcimus was officially made the high priest. The gentiles in the area were happy so that they eagerly joined with Nicanor. The assumption of the gentiles was a zero sum game that if the Jews were in trouble, it would be better for them.

The speech of Alcimus before King Demetrius I (2 Macc 14:6-14:10)

Alcimus answered.

‘Those of the Jews

Who are called Hasideans,

Whose leader is Judas Maccabeus,

They are keeping up the war.

They are stirring up sedition.

They will not let the kingdom attain tranquility.

Therefore I have laid aside my ancestral glory.

I refer to the high priesthood.

I have now come here.

First, I am genuinely concerned for the interests of the king.

Second, I have regard also for my compatriots.

Through the folly of those whom I have mentioned,

Our whole nation is now in no small misfortune.

Since you are acquainted,

O king,

With the details of this matter,

May it please you!

Take thought for our country!

Think of our hard-pressed nation with the gracious kindness

That you show to all.

As long as Judas lives,

It is impossible for the government to find peace.’”

Once again this is similar to 1 Maccabees, chapter 7. The Jerusalem high priest Alcimus blames the Hasideans for all the trouble. This is the first mention of these Hasideans in this book but they were important in 1 Maccabees, since they seem to be a group of ascetic scribes who were the early followers of Mattathias, the father of Judas Maccabeus. They may later have become the Essenes. Clearly Judas Maccabeus was their leader. Alcimus claimed that Judas Maccabeus and his group was preventing peace and leading a seditious revolt. As long as he lived there could be no peace. On the other hand, Alcimus explained that he was concerned about the king and his people. He wanted King Demetrius I to show compassion on his kingdom by getting rid of Judas Maccabeus.

The intervention of the high priest Alcimus (2 Macc 14:3-14:5)

“A certain Alcimus, who had formerly been high priest but had willfully defiled himself in the times of separation, realized that there was no way for him to be safe or to have access again to the holy altar. He then went to King Demetrius in about the one hundred and fifty-first year, presenting to him a crown of gold and a palm. Besides these things he presented some of the customary olive branches from the temple. During that day he kept quiet. However, he found an opportunity that furthered his mad purpose when he was invited by Demetrius to a meeting of the council. He was asked about the attitude and intentions of the Jews.”

Once again, this is similar to 1 Maccabees, chapter 7. There it was King Demetrius I who made Alcimus the high priest from 162-159 BCE. This Alcimus was also the leader of the renegades in 1 Maccabees. Here he already is the high priest since Menelaus had preceded him as the high priest in Jerusalem before his death in 162 BCE. He had presented the new king with gold and palm branches as well as olive branches from the Temple. He had been quiet during the day, but then he was invited to a meeting with King Demetrius I and his council who wanted to know about the attitude and intentions of the Jews.

King Demetrius I (2 Macc 14:1-14:2)

“Three years later, word came to Judas Maccabeus and his men that Demetrius, the son of Seleucus, had sailed into the harbor of Tripolis with a strong army and a fleet. He had taken possession of the country, having made away with Antiochus and his guardian Lysias.”

This is similar to 1 Maccabees, chapter 7. About 161 BCE, King Demetrius I, who ruled the Seleucid Empire from 162-150 BCE, came with a strong army and navy fleet into the sea town of Tripolis. He was the son of King Seleucus IV and brother to King Antiochus IV. He had killed King Antiochus V, his nephew, and his guardian Lysias, who had run the government.

Lysias defends the peace treaty in Ptolemais (2 Macc 13:24-13:26)

“The king received Judas Maccabeus. He left Hegemonides as the governor from Ptolemais to Gerar. Then the king went to Ptolemais. The people of Ptolemais were indignant over the treaty. In fact, they were so angry that they wanted to annul its terms. Lysias took the public platform, made the best possible defense. He convinced them, appeased them, gained their good will, and then set out for Antioch. This is how the king’s attack and withdrawal turned out.”

Once again, this is similar to 1 Maccabees, chapter 6. There Lysias convinced the king and the commanders that the peace treaty with the Jews was a good idea. Here he must convince the people of Ptolemais, who did not like the Jews. The Syrian Hegemonides remained the governor of the seacoast area. However, the people of Ptolemais were upset about the treaty with the Jews. Only the eloquent speaking of Lysias convinced and appeased them. Thus with good will, they set out for Antioch. This then is the peace treaty that took place when King Antiochus V and Lysias attacked and then withdrew.

The strange peace treaty (2 Macc 13:20-13:23)

“Judas Maccabeus sent in to the garrison whatever was necessary. However, Rhodocus, a man from the ranks of the Jews, gave secret information to the enemy. He was sought for, caught, and put in prison. The king negotiated a second time with the people in Beth-zur. He gave pledges and received theirs. Then he withdrew. He then attacked Judas Maccabeus and his men. However, he was defeated. He got word that Philip, who had been left in charge of the government, had revolted in Antioch. He was dismayed. Thus he called in the Jews. He yielded. He swore to observe all their rights as he settled with them. He offered a sacrifice, honored the sanctuary, and showed generosity to the holy place.”

This is similar to 1 Maccabees, chapter 6. Here, however, there is a Jewish traitor named Rhodocus who was imprisoned for revealing secrets to the army of Lysias and King Antiochus V. Meanwhile the king was defeated at Beth-zur. Nevertheless, the real turning point was the news that Philip in Antioch was revolting against his rule and that of Lysias. Thus he and Lysias decided to set up a peace treaty with the Jews. He let them observe all their rights, with their sanctuary and Temple.

King Antiochus V attacks the Jews (2 Macc 13:18-13:19)

“The king, having had a taste of the daring of the Jews, tried a strategy in attacking their positions. He advanced against Beth-zur, a strong fortress of the Jews. However, he was turned back. He attacked again and was defeated.”

This is once again similar to 1 Maccabees, chapter 6. The young King Antiochus V with his leader Lysias decided to use some strategy against the Jews.   He would attack, then fall back, and then attack again. However, he was defeated.

King Antiochus V and Lysias and their army (2 Macc 13:1-13:2)

“In the one hundred and forty-ninth year, word came to Judas Maccabeus and his men that King Antiochus Eupator was coming with a great army against Judea. With him was Lysias, his guardian, who had charge of the government. Each of them had a Greek force of one hundred ten thousand infantry, five thousand three hundred cavalry, twenty-two elephants, and three hundred chariots armed with scythes.”

This is much the same as I Maccabees, chapter 6. In 162 BCE, King Antiochus V with his guardian Lysias was going to attack Judea. Clearly, the indication that the king is young is here since Lysias is called his guardian in charge of the government, not just a general. Here it says that each of them, the king and Lysias, had 110,000 infantry, 5,300 cavalry, and 22 elephants. While in 1 Maccabees, there were only 100,000 foot soldiers, but 20,000 cavalry, and 32 elephants. Obviously, these 2 different authors were using slightly different sources. Here there is the addition of the 300 chariots that had big blades like scythes that had been used since Persian times to cut down the foot soldiers. This was a bigger more dangerous force here.