The letter of the Romans to the Jews (2 Macc 11:34-11:38)

“The Romans also sent them a letter, which read thus.

‘Quintus Memmius and Titus Manius,

Envoys of the Romans,

To the people of the Jews,

Greetings!

With regard to what Lysias the kinsman of the king has granted you,

We also give consent.

But as to the matters which he decided

Those are to be referred to the king,

As soon as you have considered them,

Send someone promptly,

So that we may make proposals appropriate for you.

For we are on our way to Antioch.

Therefore make haste and send some men,

So that we may have your judgment.

Farewell.

The one hundred and forty-eighth year,

Xanthicus fifteenth.’”

All these letters are in the same time frame in 164 BCE after King Antiochus V has taken over as the king. This letter is 2 days after the previous letter. Little is known about these 2 Roman envoys. They were on their way to Antioch. The Romans had some kind of relationship with the Jews as later indicated in 1 Maccabees, chapter 12-15. However, this is the time of Judas and not Jonathan or Simon. These envoys seem concerned about the status of the Jews in the Seleucid Empire. They wanted more information about what was happening.

King Antiochus V, Eupator (2 Macc 10:10-10:11)

“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.

King Antiochus IV appoints a successor (2 Macc 9:23-9:27)

“But I observed that my father,

On the occasions

When he made expeditions into the upper country,

He appointed his successor.

So that, if anything unexpected happened

Or any unwelcome news came,

The people throughout the realm would not be troubled.

They would know to whom the government was left.

Moreover, I understand how the princes along the borders

And the neighbors to my kingdom

Keep watching for opportunities

And waiting to see what will happen.

So I have appointed my son Antiochus to be king,

I have often entrusted and commended him to most of you,

When I hastened off to the upper provinces.

I have written to him what is written here.

I therefore urge and beg you to remember

The public and private services rendered to you.

Maintain your present good will,

Each of you,

Toward me and my son.

I am sure that he will follow my policy

He will treat you with moderation and kindness.’”

This letter of King Antiochus IV is really not a letter with all the conditions and wishes for the Jew that was mentioned above. Instead, it is a succession letter or last will and testament. Basically, since everyone was so kind to him, he wanted everyone to listen to his son who would succeed him if he did not get over this illness that occurred to him when he was in Persia. The idea of writing a letter of succession was not new, since his father King Antiochus III had done this. He had appointed King Seleucid IV, his brother, as the successor. King Antiochus IV wanted everyone to know that his son King Antiochus V would be his rightful moderate and kind successor. He did not trust the neighboring princes on the borders since they might try to raise havoc about who was in charge. He told them to remember the good times.

The mutilation of the fifth son (2 Macc 7:15-7:17)

“Next they brought forward the fifth son. They maltreated him. But he looked at the king, and said.

‘Because you have authority among mortals.

Even though you are mortal,

You do what you please.

But do not think that God has forsaken our people.

Keep on.

See how his mighty power will torture you and your descendants!’”

This 5th son turned the tables on the king. He warned the king and his descendents on what was to come of them. They would suffer. King Antiochus IV and his young son King Antiochus V would die suffering and young. He reminded them that God had not forsaken this people. Do what you want now, but the time is coming when they will suffer, which they did.