The letter of King Antiochus V to the Jewish senate (2 Macc 11:27-11:33)

“To the nation the king’s letter was as follows.

‘King Antiochus,

To the senate of the Jews and to the other Jews,

Greetings!

If you are well,

It is as we desire.

We also are in good health.

Menelaus has informed us

That you wish to return home.

You wish to look after your own affairs.

Therefore those who go home

By the thirtieth day of Xanthicus

Will have our pledge of friendship and full permission.

The Jews will enjoy their own food and laws,

Just as formerly,

None of them shall be molested in any way

For what he may have done in ignorance.

I have also sent Menelaus to encourage you.

Farewell.

The one hundred forty-eighth year,

Xanthicus fifteenth.’”

The king once again, like Lysias, ignored Judas Maccabeus. The letter was addressed to the Jewish Senate and all the Jews. In fact, Menelaus, the high priest, is the real intermediary. The king sent his good will through Menelaus, during the 13th day of the month of Xanthicus, March or April, of 164 BCE. He understood that they wanted to take care of their own affairs. He hoped that they were in good health as he was. They could now enjoy their own food and laws without any bother. They could also return to their own lands in the next 2 weeks. He still held out the possibility of further harassment because they might disobey out of ignorance.

The letter of King Antiochus V to Lysias (2 Macc 11:22-11:26)

“King Antiochus’ letter ran thus.

‘King Antiochus to his brother Lysias,

Greetings!

Now that our father has gone on to the gods,

We desire that the subjects of the kingdom

Be undisturbed in caring for their own affairs.

We have heard that the Jews

Do not consent to our father’s change to Greek customs

But they prefer their own way of living.

They ask that their own customs be allowed them.

Accordingly, since we choose

That this nation also should be free from disturbance,

Our decision is that their temple be restored to them,

That they shall live

According to the customs of their ancestors.

You will do well, therefore,

To send word to them.

Give them pledges of friendship,

So that they may know our policy.

They may be of good cheer,

Let them go on happily in the conduct of their own affairs.’”

The young King Antiochus V noted the death of his father, King Antiochus IV, since he had gone on to the gods. He did not want people in the kingdom disturbed. He had learned that the Jews did not like the Greek customs imposed on them by his father, but they preferred their own customs. The 10 year old king decided that the Temple should be restored. They should be allowed to follow the customs of their ancestors. He was pledging his friendship so that they should be of good cheer and happily conduct their own affairs. Everything seems to be in good order with this agreement.