The first campaign of Lysias (2 Macc 11:1-11:4)

“Very soon after this, Lysias, the king’s guardian and kinsman, who was in charge of the government, being vexed at what had happened, gathered about eighty thousand infantry and all his cavalry. He came against the Jews. He intended to make the city a home for Greeks. He intended to levy tribute on the temple as he did on the sacred places of the other nations. He intended to put up the high priesthood for sale every year. He took no account whatever of the power of God, but was elated with his ten thousands of infantry, his thousands of cavalry, and his eighty elephants.”

Once again, this is similar to 1 Maccabees, chapter 4. However, there are some minor discrepancies. The chronology seems to be different here since this probably occurred before the rededication of the Temple in Jerusalem. This was a good description of Lysias, since he had been the guardian of the young King Antiochus V. He was, in fact, in charge of the government. He did not like that the Jews had been successful in the battle of Emmaus against Gorgias, as in 1 Maccabees, chapter 4. Here he has 80,000 infantry instead of 70,000. There is no number given to the cavalry here, but there in the other description it was 5,000. Here there is a mention of 80 elephants that was not mentioned there. Here there is the explicit mention that he wanted Jerusalem to be a Greek city that was not said in 1 Maccabees. Here there is a greater emphasis on the Hellenization of Jerusalem. He hoped that more money would come from the annual selling of the position of high priest as in the other pagan temples throughout the kingdom. Lysias was relying on his troops, cavalry, and elephants, and not the power of God that the Jews were relying on.

John (1 Macc 16:23-16:24)

“The rest of the acts of John, his wars, and the brave deeds that he did, as well as the building of the walls and his other achievements, are written in the annals of his high priesthood, from the time that he became high priest after his father.”

This is the stylistic form similar to that of 1and 2 Kings. However, there is no mention of his death. This story ends around 134 BCE. There is no indication of what happened to John and his family. The annals, of course, have been lost. Apparently, he was the high priest from 134-104 BCE. The whole story of the Maccabees ends abruptly without any real resolution. There is no great ending to this story.

King Demetrius II praises Simon (1 Macc 14:38-14:40)

“In view of these things King Demetrius

Confirmed him in the high priesthood.

He made him one of the king’s friends.

He paid him high honors.

He had heard that the Jews

Were addressed by the Romans as friends,

Allies and brothers.

The Romans had received the envoys of Simon with honor.”

This decree also mentioned that King Demetrius II confirmed Simon in the high priesthood. It is still not clear where this authority came from. He, of course, made him one of the king’s friends. Thus he paid him high honors. He knew that Simon had sent envoys to Rome, who had addressed him as a friend, ally, and brother. The Seleucid King Demetrius II wanted to be on the right side of this relationship.

King Antiochus VI favors Jonathan (1 Macc 11:57-11:59)

“Then the young King Antiochus wrote to Jonathan, saying.

‘I confirm you in the high priesthood.

I set you over the four districts.

I make you one of the friends of the king.’

He sent him a gold plate and a table service. He granted him the right to drink from gold cups, dress in purple, and wear a gold buckle. He appointed Jonathan’s brother Simon governor from the Ladder of Tyre to the borders of Egypt.”

The young King Antiochus VI wrote to Jonathan to confirm him in his high priesthood. He even added a district to the 3 districts he already had, probably that of Ekron. He continued to be a friend of the king. Also he sent him a gold plate and the right to drink from the gold cup. He also could dress in purple and wear the gold buckle that he already had. On top of that he appointed his brother to be governor of the territory from Tyre to the Egyptian border along the Mediterranean Sea. The text does not indicate the age of the young king but he is called young. Trypho seemed to be in charge.