The address of the second letter (2 Macc 1:10-1:10)

“The people of Jerusalem

And of Judea

And the senate

And Judas,

To Aristobulus,

Who is of the family of the anointed priests,

Teacher of King Ptolemy,

And to the Jews in Egypt,

Greetings!

Good health!”

Once again, it is the people of Jerusalem and Judea who are sending this letter. However, here there is a mention of a Jewish senate, perhaps modeled after the Roman Senate that was also mentioned by Jonathan in chapter 12 of 1 Maccabees. Judas, mentioned here in this letter, is Judas Maccabeus. Thus this letter actually preceded the first letter since it about 40 years earlier, around 164 BCE. Once again we are not sure of the author. The recipient, however, is Aristobulus, who was an Alexandrian Jew, who somehow was a teacher to King Ptolemy VII in Egypt who died in 144 BCE. This may be Aristobulus of Paneas, a Hellenistic Jewish philosopher who attempted to combine Hebrew Scripture with Greek philosophical thought who lived in the 2nd century BCE. He argued that the essentials of Greek philosophy and metaphysics were derived from Jewish sources. He may have been the author of the Book or Sirach. Somehow he was related to a family of anointed priests that came with King Ptolemy I (367-283 BCE) to Egypt. This greeting is for all the Jews in Egypt. So this is a Greek letter to the Greek speaking Jews in Egypt from the Jews in Judea and Jerusalem who were against the Greek influence in their life.

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The letter from Rome to the Egyptian king (1 Macc 15:15-15:21)

“The following was written.

‘Lucius, consul of the Romans,

To King Ptolemy,

Greetings!

The envoys of the Jews

Have come to us as our friends and allies.

They have come to renew our ancient friendship and alliance.

They had been sent by the high priest Simon and the Jewish people.

They have brought a gold shield weighing one thousand minas.

We therefore have decided to write

To the kings and the countries

So that they should not seek their harm.

They should not make war against them.

They should not make war against their cities and their country.

That they should not make alliances with those who war against them.

It has seemed good to us to accept the shield from them.

Therefore if any scoundrels have fled to you from their country,

Hand them over to Simon the high priest,

So that he may punish them according to their law.’”

This Roman letter is from Lucius Calpurnius Piso the Roman Consul of the Roman Senate from 140-139 BCE. He seems to be sending this letter to King Ptolemy VII who ruled in Egypt from 145-116 BCE, so this is the right time frame. Envoys had been sent by Simon and the Jews to Rome to renew their alliance and friendship. They brought with them a gold shield that was mentioned in the previous chapter. The Romans accepted this shield. Lucius then decided to write to the kings and countries that no one should invade their cities, fight a war with them, or form an alliance against them. If there were any problems with scoundrels fleeing, see Simon the high priest, although he was not called a king or even an ethnarch.