The apparition in Jerusalem (2 Macc 5:1-5:4)

“About this time, King Antiochus made his second invasion of Egypt. It happened that, for almost forty days, there appeared over all the city golden-clad cavalry charging through the air, in companies fully armed with lances and drawn swords. These troops of cavalry had drawn up. There were attacks and counterattacks made on this side and on that side. There were brandishing of shields, massing of spears, hurling of missiles, the flash of golden trappings, and armor of all kinds. Therefore everyone prayed that the apparition might prove to have been a good omen.”

There is some confusion about the 1st and 2nd invasion of King Antiochus IV into Egypt. The first attack would have been in 170 BCE when he conquered Egypt, but left it with a puppet government in order to please Rome. In 168 BCE, 2 years later, he invaded again. Once again, the Roman legate told him to stop. He drew a line in the sand. If he went beyond that, Rome would declare war on the Seleucid dynasty. Was this simply 2 phases of the same war or 2 wars? At this time there was some kind of apparition that lasted 40 days in Jerusalem. People saw golden clad cavalry fighting with shields, spears, and armor. Everyone was hoping that this was a good omen.

The punishment of Heliodorus (2 Macc 3:24-3:28)

“When Heliodorus arrived at the treasury with his bodyguard, then and there the Sovereign of spirits and of all authority caused so great a manifestation that all who had been so bold as to accompany him were astounded by the power of God. They became faint with terror. There appeared to them a magnificently caparisoned horse, with a rider of frightening mien. It rushed furiously at Heliodorus and struck at him with its front hoofs. Its rider was seen to have armor and weapons of gold. Two young men also appeared to him, remarkably strong, gloriously beautiful and splendidly dressed. They stood on each side of him and scourged him continuously, inflicting many blows on him. When he suddenly fell to the ground and deep darkness came over him, his men took him up. They put him on a stretcher and carried him away. This man who had just entered the aforesaid treasury, with a great retinue and his bodyguard, was now unable to help himself. They recognized clearly the sovereign power of God.”

When Heliodorus arrived at the Temple treasury with his bodyguards, he was met by a heavenly manifestation or apparition that showed the power of God. He became faint. Appearing to him was a horse and rider who kicked him. This golden armored rider had 2 other strong, beautifully dressed men to whip him on each side until he fell to the ground. Finally they took him away on a stretcher as he was unable to help himself. This was a show of strength of the sovereign God. To what extent they were real men or not, we do not know, but the effect was real on Heliodorus.

Jonathan is buried in a tomb in Modein (1 Macc 13:25-13:30)

“Simon sent and took the bones of his brother Jonathan. They buried him in Modein, the city of his ancestors. All Israel bewailed him with great lamentation. They mourned for him many days. Simon built a monument over the tomb of his father and his brothers. He made it high so that it might be seen, with polished stone at the front and back. He also erected seven pyramids, opposite one another, for his father and mother and four brothers. For the pyramids he devised an elaborate setting, erecting about them great columns. On the columns he put suits of armor for a permanent memorial. Beside the suits of armor, he carved ships, so that they could be seen by all who sail the sea. This is the tomb which he built in Modein. It remains to this day.”

Simon had the bones of his brother brought back to Modein, where the rest of his family was buried. There was great bewailing, mourning, and lamentations over the death of Jonathan. However, Simon built a special monument to his family. He built 7 pyramids for his parents and his siblings. He also built great columns with suits of armor and carved ships. This giant tomb could not be seen from the sea, but it was meant as a memorial for those who do sail the seas. However, they did have a sea port in Joppa. This great monument certainly existed at the time of the biblical author of this book.

Judas and his men see the camp of Gorgias (1 Macc 4:6-4:11)

“At daybreak, Judas appeared in the plain with three thousand men. However, they did not have armor and swords as much as they desired. They saw the camp of the gentiles, strong and fortified, with cavalry all around it. These men were trained in war. But Judas said to those who were with him.

‘Do not fear their numbers!

Do not be afraid when they charge!

Remember how our ancestors were saved at the Red Sea.

When Pharaoh with his forces pursued them?

Now let us cry to heaven,

To see whether he will favor us

Whether he will remember his covenant with our ancestors?

Will he crush this army before us today?

Then all the gentiles will know

That there is one who redeems and saves Israel.’”

Judas appeared on the plain with 3,000 of his men that did not have armor or swords. They saw the camp of Gorgias with the cavalry surrounding it. Judas then encouraged his troops. He told them not to fear the numbers of the enemy. He told them to remember what happened at the Red Sea when Pharaoh was pursuing their ancestors. He wanted them to cry to heaven to seek the favor of God. Notice he always speaks about heaven and not the God of their ancestors. God would remember his covenant with them and thus redeem and save Israel from the gentiles.