Cendebeus, commander of the coastal country (1 Macc 15:37-15:41)

“Meanwhile King Trypho embarked on a ship as he escaped to Orthosia. Then King Antiochus made Cendebeus the commander-in-chief of the coastal country. He gave him troops of infantry and cavalry. He commanded him to encamp against Judea. He commanded him to build up Kedron and fortify its gates. He was to make war on the people. However, the king was going to pursue Trypho. So Cendebeus came to Jamnia. He began to provoke the people and invade Judea. He took the people captive and killed them. He built up Kedron. Then he stationed horsemen and troops there, so that they might go out and make raids along the highways of Judea, as the king had ordered him.”

The siege at Dor did not work that well. King Trypho escaped from King Antiochus VII as he got on a boat and went to Orthosia, which was north of Tripolis. At the same time, King Antiochus VII was concerned about Simon and Judea. He made Cendebeus the commander of the coastal country with cavalry troops and infantry. His orders were to harass Judea, while the king went after King Trypho, so that he could claim the throne. Cendebeus built up the town of Kedron, probably southwest of Ekron, where he stationed horses and troops so that they could go out and make raids on the Judea highways, as he had been ordered to do.

Trypho wants to become king (1 Macc 12:39-12:40)

“Then Trypho attempted to become king in Asia. He put on the crown. He raised his hand against King Antiochus. He feared that Jonathan might not permit him to do so, but might make war on him. Thus he kept seeking to seize and kill him. He marched out and came to Beth-shan.”

Trypho wanted to become king of Asia. In fact he put on the crown after getting rid of the young King Antiochus VI. However, Trypho was afraid that Jonathan would not permit him to do this. Thus Trypho was continually trying to seize and kill Jonathan. He went out to Beth-shan, the northern territory near the Sea of Galilee.

The importance of the Romans (1 Macc 8:1-8:11)

“Judas heard of the fame of the Romans since they were very strong. They were well-disposed toward all who made an alliance with them. They pledged friendship to those who came to them since they were very strong. He had been told of their wars and of the brave deeds which they were doing among the Gauls. They had defeated them and forced them to pay tribute. He learned what they had done in the land of Spain to get control of the silver and gold mines there. They had gained control of the whole region by their planning and patience, even though the place was far distant from them. They also subdued the kings who came against them from the ends of the earth, until they crushed them. They inflicted great disaster upon them. The rest paid them tribute every year. They had crushed in battle and conquered Philip, King Perseus of the Macedonians, and the others who rose up against them. They also had defeated King Antiochus the Great, king of Asia, who went to fight against them with one hundred twenty elephants, cavalry, chariots, and a very large army. He was crushed by them. They took him alive. They decreed that he and those who should rule after him should pay a heavy tribute, give hostages, and surrender some of their best provinces, the countries of India, Media, and Lydia. These they took from him and gave to King Eumenes. The Greeks planned to come and destroy them. However, this became known to them. Then they sent a general against the Greeks who attacked them. Many of them were wounded and fell. The Romans took captive their wives and children. They plundered them, conquered the land, tore down their strongholds, and enslaved them to this day. The remaining kingdoms and islands, as many as ever opposed them, they destroyed and enslaved.”

For some reason, the Romans made a big impression on Judas Maccabeus as they were beginning their ascendancy in the Mediterranean world. He knew that the Romans were strong and faithful in their alliances. Then this biblical author presented the great feats of the Romans. First they had conquered the Gauls and the Spaniards, these western territories around 190 BCE and the Punic wars with Carthage in North Africa from the 3rd century BCE. Prior to this time the only thing west was Egypt and Greece. Now Rome and the west made an impression. These Romans had gone and subdued kings from the ends of the earth. The Romans had defeated the last of the Macedonian kings, King Perseus in 168 BCE, the son of King Philip who had had been defeated in 179 BCE. Obviously this author had some sense of history. As noted, King Antiochus V was not killed, but had to give hostages to Rome, one of which was this King Demetrius I. However, he kept Medes, but did give up Lydia and other parts of Asia Minor. King Eumenes was a Cappadocian ruler. The Romans also defeated the Greeks. Although the Roman Empire did not come to its full height for a few centuries, it was well on its way in the 2nd century BCE.

Demetrius I become king (1 Macc 7:1-7:4)

“In the one hundred fifty-first year, Demetrius son of Seleucus set out from Rome. He sailed with a few men to a city by the sea. There he began to reign. As he was entering the royal palace of his ancestors, the army seized King Antiochus and Lysias to bring them to him. But when this act became known to him, he said.

‘Do not let me see their faces!’

So the army killed them. Then Demetrius took his seat on the throne of his kingdom.”

Now we have a new player on the scene King Demetrius I (185-150 BCE), who was the son of King Seleucus IV, the brother of King Antiochus IV. He would rule from 161-150 BCE. He had escaped from Rome, who liked the 11 year old King Antiochus V. King Demetrius I was 24 years old in 161 BCE, when he began to rule. He came by boat to a small town. When he arrived at the royal palace, the army seized King Antiochus V and Lysias. When King Demetrius I heard about this, he told them to kill them since he did not want to see their faces. Thus he killed his nephew to begin to rule as King Demetrius I.

The dispute between Lysias and Philip (1 Macc 6:55-6:59

Lysias heard that Philip, whom King Antiochus while still living had appointed to bring up his son Antiochus to be king, had returned from Persia and Media. Philip had the forces that had gone with the king so that he was trying to seize control of the government. So Lysias quickly gave orders to withdraw. He said to the king, the commanders of the forces, and to the men.

‘Daily we grow weaker.

Our food supply is scant.

The place against which we are fighting is strong.

The affairs of the kingdom press urgently upon us.

Now then let us come to terms with these people.

Make peace with them.

Make peace with their entire nation.

Let us agree to let them live by their laws as they did before.

For it was on account of their laws that we abolished

That they became angry

That they did all these things.’”

Lysias heard that Philip was coming back from Persia. Philip had been appointed by the late King Antiochus IV to take care of his son King Antiochus V, who happened to be with Lysias here. Lysias knew that Philip had all the eastern forces with him. Thus he wanted to go back to meet Philip to prevent him from seizing control of the Syrian part of the government. He wanted his forces to withdraw. He gave a little speech to the king, the troop commanders, and the men. He told them that they were getting weaker by the day. Besides, the Jews had strong fortifications. On top of that, there were other pressing problems in the kingdom. He wanted to have a peace treaty. He wanted to let the Jews live by their own laws like before. That would make the Jews happy and end the rebellion.

Lysias was put in charge of half the Syrian army (1 Macc 3:32-3:37)

“King Antiochus left Lysias, a distinguished man of royal lineage, in charge of the king’s affairs from the Euphrates River to the borders of Egypt.  Lysias was also to take care of his son Antiochus until he returned.  He turned over to Lysias half of his forces and the elephants.  He gave him orders about all that he wanted done.  As for the residents of Judea and Jerusalem, Lysias was to send a force against them to wipe out and destroy the strength of Israel and the remnant of Jerusalem.  He was to banish the memory of them from that place, settle aliens in all their territory, and distribute their land.  Then the king took the remaining half of his troops.  He left from his capital Antioch in the one hundred forty-seventh year.  He crossed the Euphrates River as he went through the upper provinces.”

Lysias was a Syrian nobleman who took over half the Seleucid army, the so-called western district from the Euphrates River to Egypt, what used to be called, the Province Beyond the River.  King Antiochus IV also put Lysias in charge of his son who was to become King Antiochus V.  Lysias’ half of the army was to destroy Judea and Jerusalem.  He was to reestablish that area with other people so that the memory of Judea would be forgotten, much like the Assyrians and Babylonians had done in the 7th and 6th century BCE.  King Antiochus IV would leave the capital of Antioch and take the other half of the army to Persia, the eastern side of the Euphrates River.  This all took place in the 147th year since the beginning of the Greek Seleucid reign, about 165 BCE.

Inspectors (1 Macc 1:51-1:53)

“In such words King Antiochus wrote to his whole kingdom. He appointed inspectors over all the people. He commanded the towns of Judah to offer sacrifice, town by town. Many of the people, everyone who forsook the law, joined them. They did evil in the land. They drove Israel into hiding in every place of refuge they had.”

King Antiochus IV wrote to his whole kingdom, where he set up inspectors over the people. Somehow, he commanded each town in Judah to follow his law. They would be disobeying the Mosaic Law by doing evil. However, many of the Israelites began to hide.

The unification of the kingdom (1 Macc 1:41-1:50)

“Then King Antiochus wrote to his whole kingdom that all should be one people. Everyone should give up their particular customs. All the gentiles accepted the command of the king. Many even from Israel gladly adopted his religion. They sacrificed to idols and profaned the Sabbath. The king sent letters by messengers to Jerusalem and the towns of Judah. He directed them to follow customs strange to the land. He forbade burnt offerings, sacrifices, and drink offerings in the sanctuary. He wanted them to profane the Sabbath and the feasts. He wanted them to defile the sanctuary and the priests. He wanted them to build altars and sacred precincts with shrines for idols. He wanted them to sacrifice swine and unclean animals. He wanted them to leave their sons uncircumcised. They were to make themselves abominable by everything unclean and profane. Thus they should forget the law and change all the ordinances. He added.

‘Whoever does not obey the command of the king shall die.’’’

King Antiochus IV wanted his whole kingdom unified, which included Syria, Palestine, Mesopotamia, Persia, and Asia Minor, quite a large kingdom. This might be difficult to enforce. It was later rescinded by King Antiochus V (172-161 BCE) since he was only 9 when he became king and died at the age of 11. Sometimes it is not good to be the king. King Antiochus IV was not as tolerant as his father King Antiochus III (223-187 BCE), who allowed the Israelites to follow the Mosaic Law. The Persian kings had also been tolerant towards following the Mosaic Law. King Antiochus IV wanted everyone to give up their particular customs, not a good idea in a large kingdom. The gentiles and some Israelites said okay, no big deal. He said that anyone who did not comply would be killed. He wanted them to sacrifice to idols, by building altars and shrines for his idols. He wanted them to profane the Sabbath and their own festivals. He wanted them to do away with their sanctuaries and priests. He wanted them to sacrifice swine and other unclean animals. He wanted them not to have their sons circumcised. Basically, he wanted them to forget about their own laws and just follow his ordinances.