Nicanor as the governor of Judea (2 Macc 14:11-14:14)

“When Alcimus had said this, the rest of the king’s friends, who were hostile to Judas Maccabeus, quickly inflamed King Demetrius still more. He immediately chose Nicanor, who had been in command of the elephants. He appointed him governor of Judea. He sent him off with orders to kill Judas Maccabeus and scatter his troops. He was to install Alcimus as high priest of the great temple. The gentiles throughout Judea, who had fled before Judas Maccabeus, flocked to join Nicanor. They thought that the misfortunes and calamities of the Jews would mean prosperity for themselves.”

Once again, this is similar but not quite the same as 1 Maccabees, chapter 7. There is no mention of Bacchides here. Instead the leader of the troops and the governor of Judea was Nicanor. Apparently, Nicanor had been in charge of the elephants that seem to have been a big deal in the Syrian army. He may also have been with King Demetrius I when he was in jail in Rome. Now this meant that there was a separate governor for Judea whose sole purpose was to kill Judas Maccabees and disperse his troops. Alcimus was officially made the high priest. The gentiles in the area were happy so that they eagerly joined with Nicanor. The assumption of the gentiles was a zero sum game that if the Jews were in trouble, it would be better for them.

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The disgrace of Ptolemy (2 Macc 10:12-10:13)

“Ptolemy, who was called Macron, took the lead in showing justice to the Jews because of the wrong that had been done to them. He attempted to maintain peaceful relations with them. As a result he was accused before Eupator by the king’s friends. He heard himself called a traitor at every turn, because he had abandoned Cyprus, which Philometor had entrusted to him. He had gone over to Antiochus Epiphanes. Unable to command the respect due his office, he took poison and ended his life.”

Ptolemy Macron had been in charge of Cyprus under the Egyptian King Ptolemy VI Philometor, who ruled from 180-145 BCE. King Ptolemy VI was the young king defeated by the Seleucid King Antiochus IV, who then outlived him. Ptolemy switched his allegiance from the Egyptian king to the King Antiochus IV so that he became the governor of Coele-syria and Phoenicia. He treated the Jews fairly so that there were complaints that he was a traitor to the young King Antiochus V. Everyone said that he could not be trusted. He poisoned himself and died. This is a strange story that seems to indicate that anyone who was kind to the Jews was not favored by the new king. However, he did commit suicide.

The mission of Bacchides (1 Macc 7:8-7:11)

“King Demetrius chose Bacchides, one of the king’s friends, who was the governor of the province Beyond the River. He was a great man in the kingdom who was faithful to the king. King Demetrius sent him, and with him the ungodly Alcimus, whom he made high priest. He commanded him to take vengeance on the Israelites. Thus they marched away and came with a large force into the land of Judah. He sent messengers to Judas and his brothers with peaceable but treacherous words. However, they paid no attention to their words, for they saw that they had come with a large force.”

King Demetrius I chose the governor of the Province Beyond the River, which had its headquarters in Samaria from the old Persian days. This province extended west of the Euphrates River to Egypt. Bacchides was also a faithful friend of the king who brought with him the renegade Alcimus. Somehow, this non-Jewish person made Alcimus a high priest of the Jews, which did not make much sense. His orders were to take vengeance on the Israelites with a large force. However, Bacchides sent peaceable words to Judas Maccabeus and his brothers. Judas and his brothers were not fooled. They saw them as treacherous since Bacchides came with a large armed force.