The meeting with the Hasideans (1 Macc 7:12-7:18)

“Then a group of scribes appeared in a body before Alcimus and Bacchides to ask for just terms. The Hasideans were first among the sons of Israel to seek peace from them. They said.

‘A priest of the line of Aaron has come with an army.

He will not harm us.’

Alcimus spoke peaceable words to them. He swore this oath to them.

‘We will not seek to injure you or your friends.’

So they trusted him. However, Bacchides seized sixty of them. He killed them in one day, in accordance with the word which was written.

‘The flesh of your faithful ones and their blood,

They poured out all around Jerusalem.

There was none to bury them.’

Then the fear and dread of them fell upon all the people. They said.

‘There is no truth or justice in them,

They have violated the agreement and the oath that they swore.’”

The Hasideans may be the same group of warriors mentioned in chapter 2 of this book that joined with Judas’ father Mattathias. However, here they are portrayed as a group of ascetic scribes who were willing to live under Syrian rule as long as they were permitted to keep the Mosaic Law. These Hasideans may have developed into the group of Essenes in the 1st century CE. They saw Alcimus and recognized him as a descendent of Aaron, so that they did not fear him. Alcimus even swore under oath that he would not injure them. However, Bacchides took 60 of them and killed them. Somehow this was the fulfillment of a written word. The word is not the Mosaic Law, but from Psalm 79, which maybe from this same time period. This is part of a lament that the blood of the bodies was on the streets as unburied victims. Now, everybody became fearful, because this group with Bacchides and Alcimus could not be trusted. They had broken their word or oath, by killing 60 of these peaceable men.

The attack on Ephron (1 Macc 5:49-5:51)

“Then Judas ordered a proclamation to be made to the army that all should encamp where they were. The men of the forces encamped. Judas fought against the town all that day and all the night. Finally, the town was delivered into his hands. He destroyed every male by the edge of the sword. He razed and plundered the town. Then he passed through the town over the bodies of the dead.”

After they refused his friendly request, Judas Maccabeus told his troops to camp out.   He took a few of his forces and attacked the town all day and night. Finally, he won. As usual, he killed every male, razed, and plundered the town. His whole group marched through the town over the dead bodies there. In every instance Judas killed every male in these towns that led to the total destruction of these people and their town.

Holofernes chastises Achior (Jdt 6:1-6:4)

“When the disturbance made by the people outside the council died down, Holofernes, the commander of the Assyrian army, said to Achior in the presence of all the foreign contingents.

‘Who are you, Achior?

You are a mercenary of Ephraim.

How can you prophesy among us as you have done today?

How can you tell us not to make war against the people of Israel?

As their God will defend them.

What god is there except Nebuchadnezzar?

He will send his forces and destroy them from the face of the earth.

Their God will not deliver them.

We the king’s servants will destroy them as one man.

They cannot resist the might of our cavalry.

We will overwhelm them.

Their mountains will be drunk with their blood.

Their fields will be full of their dead.

Not even their footprints will survive our attack.

They will utterly perish.

So says King Nebuchadnezzar, lord of the whole earth.

He has spoken.

None of his words shall be in vain.’”

Holofernes was not pleased with the presentation of Achior. He turned on him. Who did he think he was? Achior was just an Ephraim mercenary. Who made him a prophet? There was only one great god, King Nebuchadnezzar. He was sending his forces to destroy the whole earth. The Israelite God could not help the Israelites against this great king. The Assyrians were going to overwhelm the Israelites. In very colorful language, he said that the mountains would get drunk from the Israelite blood. The fields would be fertilized with their bodies. Their footprints would even disappear. The Israelites would be wiped out. King Nebuchadnezzar was the lord of all the earth. Holofernes’ own words would not be in vain. This is a long diatribe against Achior and the Israelites.