“The crowd came.
To ask Pilate,
To do for them
According to his custom.”
καὶ ἀναβὰς ὁ ὄχλος ἤρξατο αἰτεῖσθαι καθὼς ἐποίει αὐτοῖς.
This is something like this in Matthew, chapter 27:17. There is nothing like this in John or Luke. Mark said that after the crowd had gathered together (καὶ ἀναβὰς ὁ ὄχλος), they began to ask Pilate to follow his usual custom of releasing a prisoner for them (ἤρξατο αἰτεῖσθαι καθὼς ἐποίει αὐτοῖς) at the festival time. This crowd seemed to be very demanding, since this was a Roman ruler in a Jewish country. How demanding are as regards your government?
“Then Israel came to Egypt.
Jacob lived as an alien in the land of Ham.
Yahweh made his people very fruitful.
He made them stronger than their foes.
He turned their hearts to hate his people.
Thus they dealt cunningly with his servants.”
Once again, this is a condensed version of the story in Genesis, chapters 46-47. Israel or Jacob came to Ham, because Ham supposedly settled in Egypt, at the request of Joseph, who had an important position in the Egyptian government. Then the sons of Jacob or the Israelites, as they came to be called, were very fruitful in Egypt. They grew stronger but the hearts of the Egyptians turned to hate them. They began to treat them cunningly. They became a treath to the immigrant Israelites since the Egyptians considered them as outsiders.
“When Alcimus noticed their good will for one another, he took the covenant that had been made and went to King Demetrius. He told him that Nicanor was disloyal to the government. He had appointed that conspirator against the kingdom, Judas Maccabeus, to be his successor. The king became excited. Provoked by the false accusations of that depraved man, he wrote to Nicanor. He stated that he was displeased with the covenant. He commanded him to send Judas Maccabeus to Antioch as a prisoner without delay.”
Alcimus, the high priest in Jerusalem, was not pleased at the turn of events. He took the treaty that Nicanor and Judas Maccabeus had agreed on to King Demetrius I. He pointed out that Nicanor had been disloyal to king since his instructions were to kill Judas Maccabeus. Instead, Judas Maccabeus was to become the new high priest as the successor to Alcimus. King Demetrius I was very upset by these accusations. He wrote to Nicanor that he did not like the treaty. He commanded him to send Judas Maccabeus in chains as a prisoner to Antioch without any delay. None of this was in 1 Maccabees.
“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.
“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.
“Now we will tell what took place under Antiochus Eupator, who was the son of that ungodly man. We will give a brief summary of the principal calamities of the wars. This man, when he succeeded to the kingdom, appointed one Lysias to have charge of the government and to be the chief governor of Coele-syria and Phoenicia.”
This biblical author clearly states that he is going to talk about King Antiochus V, Eupator. He used the first person plural “we” here. He really disliked King Antiochus IV, his father Epiphanes, whom he called ungodly, even after his deathbed conversion. He did not mention that the new king was only 9 years old. King Antiochus V ruled for only 2 years until he was 11, when he was killed. He had been brought up by Lysias who gave him the name of Eupator, so the fact that Lysias was in charge did not seem that unusual. In fact, Philip was aware of this situation and had fled to Egypt.
“When a false rumor arose that King Antiochus was dead, Jason took no fewer than a thousand men. He suddenly made an assault on the city. When the troops upon the wall had been forced back, at last the city was taken. Menelaus took refuge in the citadel. Jason kept relentlessly slaughtering his compatriots, not realizing that success at the cost of one’s kindred is the greatest misfortune. He imagined that he was setting up trophies of victory over enemies and not over compatriots. He did not, however, gain control of the government. In the end he got only disgrace from his conspiracy. He fled again into the country of the Ammonites. Finally he met a miserable end. He was accused before Aretas the ruler of the Arabs. He had to flee from city to city, pursued by everyone, hated as a rebel against the laws, and abhorred as the executioner of his country and his compatriots. He was cast ashore in Egypt. There he who had driven many from their own country into exile died in exile. He embarked to go to the Lacedaemonians in hope of finding protection because of their kinship. He who had cast out many to lie unburied had no one to mourn for him. He had no funeral of any sort and no place in the tomb of his ancestors.”
Jason, the former high priest, thought that the Syrian King Antiochus IV had died. Since Jason was pro-Egypt, he wanted to take back Jerusalem for them. He attacked Jerusalem with 1,000 troops. He was initially successful as he forced the high priest Menelaus to flee to the Seleucid citadel in Jerusalem. However, like the late 18th century French revolutionaries, he started killing his fellow Israelites in Jerusalem. He thought that he was killing the enemy but it was his own Jewish compatriots. He was not successful. He was once again driven into the land of Ammonites, east of the Jordan River. However, the Arabs pursued him from country to country. He finally made his way to Egypt but he was not accepted there either. Finally, he died in Sparta where no one mourned for him since he had no funeral or ancestral tomb.
“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.