The situation of this letter (2 Macc 1:7-1:9)

“In the reign of King Demetrius,

In the one hundred and sixty-ninth year,

We Jews wrote to you.

In the critical distress that came upon us,

In those years

After Jason and his company

Revolted from the holy land and the kingdom.

He burned the gate and shed innocent blood.

We prayed to the Lord.

We were heard.

We offered sacrifice and cereal offering.

We lighted the lamps.

We set out the loaves.

Now see that you keep the festival of booths

In the month of Chislev,

In the one hundred and eighty-eighth year.”

Here is the reason for the letter. They want the Jews in Egypt to celebrate the festival of Booths in 124 BCE in the month of Chislev, the 188th year. Apparently this is not the first letter since there is a reference to an earlier letter around 143 BCE, the 169th year mentioned here, when King Demetrius II was the Seleucid leader. All these calendar dates are from the beginning of this Seleucid Empire in 312 BCE. The distress was the capture and murder of Jonathan Apphus, the son of Mattathias in 143 BCE. Jason was the brother of the high priest Onias, who turned on the Maccabees. The destruction and shedding of innocent blood can be found in 1 Maccabees, chapter 1. However, under Simon, they were able to recover and rebuild the Temple. Thus they were asking the Jews in Egypt to celebrate with them the feast of Booths in Chislev. However, the normal time of festival of Tents or Booths, according to Leviticus, chapter 23, was in the 7th month, 1 week after the Day of Atonement. Clearly this work must have been written after 124 BCE.

Lamenting the citadel in Jerusalem (1 Macc 1:36-1:40)

“The citadel became an ambush against the sanctuary.

The citadel was an evil adversary of Israel at all times.

On every side of the sanctuary they shed innocent blood.

They even defiled the sanctuary.

Because of them the residents of Jerusalem fled.

She became a dwelling of strangers.

She became strange to her offspring.

Her children forsook her.

Her sanctuary became desolate like a desert.

Her feasts were turned into mourning.

Her Sabbath turned into a reproach.

Her honor turned into contempt.

Her dishonor now grew as great as her glory.

Her exaltation was turned into mourning.”

Once again, we have the poem about the terrible situation in Jerusalem. This new Syrian citadel was an ambush to the sanctuary and an adversary to Israel. There was innocent blood everywhere. The residents of Jerusalem had fled. Only the strangers remained. The sanctuary was like a desert. The feasts were now times of mourning. The Sabbath and honor had now turned to reproach and contempt. The joy had turned to mourning.