The actions of Jason, the high priest (2 Macc 4:11-4:17)

“Jason set aside the existing royal concessions to the Jews, secured through John the father of Eupolemus, who went on the mission to establish friendship and alliance with the Romans. Jason destroyed the lawful ways of living. He introduced new customs contrary to the law. He took delight in establishing a gymnasium right under the citadel. He induced the noblest of the young men to wear the Greek hat. There was such an extreme Hellenization. There was an increase in the adoption of foreign ways because of the surpassing wickedness of Jason. He was ungodly and no true high priest. The priests were no longer intent upon their service at the altar. Despising the sanctuary and neglecting the sacrifices, they hurried to take part in the unlawful proceedings in the wrestling arena after the signal for the discus-throwing. They disdained the honors prized by their ancestors. They put the highest value upon Greek forms of prestige. For this reason heavy disaster overtook them. Those whose ways of living they admired and wished to imitate completely became their enemies and punished them. It is no light thing to show irreverence to the divine laws, a fact that later events will make clear.”

Jason set aside the royal concessions of the former King Seleucus IV. This had been part of the mission of John the father of Eupolemu who went to Rome.  Jason introduced new customs, always a dangerous thing to do. He was delighted with the new Greek gymnasium. He had the young men wear the Greek hat, which would be a symbol of the Greek god Hermes, somewhat like a loyalty gang symbol. This Hellenization was bringing in Greek religion and customs. Besides, Jason was not a worthy true high priest. He had a bad influence on the other priests, as they were more interested in sports than their priestly sacrificial duties. They too preferred the Greek ways. However, this biblical author reminds them that things can change quickly. Your friends could become your enemies. Disaster was on the way for those who showed irreverence to the divine laws.

The decree is against one group of disruptive people (Greek text only)

“I asked my counselors how this peace might be accomplished. Haman excels among us in sound judgment. He is distinguished for his unchanging good will and steadfast fidelity. Thus he has attained the second place in the kingdom. He pointed out to us that among all the nations in the world there is scattered a certain hostile people, who have laws contrary to those of every nation. They continually disregard the ordinances of kings. Thus the unifying of the kingdom that we honorably intend cannot be brought about. We understand that this people and it alone, stands constantly in opposition to every nation, perversely following a strange manner of life and laws. They are ill-disposed to our government. They do all the harm they can so that our kingdom may not attain stability.”

This great peaceful king asked his counselors how peace could be achieved and maintained. His number two man, Haman had sound judgment, good will, and fidelity. He pointed out that there was one ethnic group of people scattered among the 127 provinces who were hostile to all the over nations and people. They disregarded the royal ordinances. They have a strange perverse life style with their own laws. They do not like our government and they are ruining any stability that we might attain. Interesting enough, these Persian kings were tolerant and not looking for uniformity. In fact, these are like many of the complaints against the Jews in the later Hellenistic period thus indicating its origin. There is no indication that Persians ever disliked the Jews, since Nehemiah was a cup bearer as a Jew to this same king. Clearly this is the work of Haman who disliked a certain group of so-called outsiders. However, there is no specific mention of Jews in this Greek text.