The disgrace of Ptolemy (2 Macc 10:12-10:13)

“Ptolemy, who was called Macron, took the lead in showing justice to the Jews because of the wrong that had been done to them. He attempted to maintain peaceful relations with them. As a result he was accused before Eupator by the king’s friends. He heard himself called a traitor at every turn, because he had abandoned Cyprus, which Philometor had entrusted to him. He had gone over to Antiochus Epiphanes. Unable to command the respect due his office, he took poison and ended his life.”

Ptolemy Macron had been in charge of Cyprus under the Egyptian King Ptolemy VI Philometor, who ruled from 180-145 BCE. King Ptolemy VI was the young king defeated by the Seleucid King Antiochus IV, who then outlived him. Ptolemy switched his allegiance from the Egyptian king to the King Antiochus IV so that he became the governor of Coele-syria and Phoenicia. He treated the Jews fairly so that there were complaints that he was a traitor to the young King Antiochus V. Everyone said that he could not be trusted. He poisoned himself and died. This is a strange story that seems to indicate that anyone who was kind to the Jews was not favored by the new king. However, he did commit suicide.

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The story of Judas Maccabeus (2 Macc 2:19-2:22)

“This is the story of Judas Maccabeus and his brothers. This is about the purification of the great temple and the dedication of the altar. Further there is an explanation of the wars against Antiochus Epiphanes and his son Eupator. There were appearances that came from heaven to those who fought bravely for Judaism. Although few in number, they seized the whole land and pursued the barbarian hordes. They regained possession of the temple famous throughout the world. They freed the city. They re-established the laws that were about to be abolished. The Lord with great kindness became gracious to them.”

For the first time, we have a biblical author tell us what he is going to do. This style is based on the custom of Greek historians. He summarized what he was going to do. This is the story of Judas Maccabeus and his brothers. They purified the Temple and dedicated the altar. They fought wars with King Antiochus IV and his son, King Antiochus V. There was heavenly help for the Jews. Although small in number, they chased the barbarian hordes. They took possession of the Temple and freed the holy city of Jerusalem. They reestablished the laws because God was kind to them. This so-called historical work has a clear Theo-centric basis. God was on their side.

Antiochus Epiphanes (1 Macc 1:10-1:10)

“From them came forth a sinful root, Antiochus Epiphanes, son of King Antiochus. He had been a hostage in Rome. He began to reign in the one hundred and thirty-seventh year of the kingdom of the Greeks.”

Now we have a particular king, King Antiochus Epiphanes IV (215-164 BCE), the son of King Antiochus III the Great (223-187 BCE). He was a Syrian king of the Seleucid dynasty. There never were good relations between Syria and Judah. He came to rule in the 137th year of the Greeks. All the dating in this book is based on year 1 of the Greeks as 312 BCE. This then puts the rule of King Antiochus IV about 175 BCE. His father had taken Palestine from the Egyptians, but lost Asia Minor to the Romans, so that the son, Antiochus IV had been a prisoner in Rome.