Travel to Egypt (Sir 0:27-0:36)

“When I came to Egypt

In the thirty-eighth year of the reign of Euergetes,

I stayed for some time.

I found an opportunity for no little instruction.

It seemed highly necessary

That I should myself

Devote some diligence,

Devote some labor to the translation of this book.

During that time,

I applied my skill

Day and night.

Thus I was able to complete this translation.

I was able to publish the book

For those living abroad

Who wished to gain learning.

That is those

Disposed to live according to the Law.”

Now we learn about this translator.   He states that he came to Egypt in the thirty-eighth year of the reign of Euergetes. This must mean the Egyptian King Ptolemy VIII, Euergetes. He ascended the throne in the year 170 BCE, together with his brother Philometor, but he soon became sole ruler from 146 to 117 BCE. Thus this translator must have gone to Egypt in 132 BCE, 38 years after 170 BCE. So now we have an exact date. He stayed there for some time. There he labored to translate this book, day and night. He finally completed his translations and published this book as an aid for anyone seeking to live according to the Law.

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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.

King Antiochus IV is welcomed at Jerusalem (2 Macc 4:21-4:22)

“When Apollonius son of Menestheus was sent to Egypt for the coronation of Philometor as king, King Antiochus learned that Philometor had become hostile to his government. The king took measures for his own security. Therefore upon arriving at Joppa, he proceeded to Jerusalem. He was welcomed magnificently by Jason and the city. He was ushered in with a blaze of torches and with shouts. Then he marched his army into Phoenicia.”

Apollonius, the governor, was sent to Egypt for the coronation of the new King Ptolemy VI the Philometor about 175 BCE. The mother of King Ptolemy VI, Cleopatra I, had died when he was only 10 years old. His father King Ptolemy V had died in 180 BCE so that he technically was king when he was 5 years old. However, he ruled with his mother until she died. In 174 BCE, at the age of 11, he married his sister Cleopatra II. He ruled in Egypt until 146 BCE. However, Apollonius learned that King Ptolemy VI and his advisors had turned anti-Syrian rather than pro-Syrian like his mother and father. Then King Antiochus IV (175-164 BCE) decided to make a trip to Joppa and Jerusalem. Jason and the people of Jerusalem warmly welcomed him, before he went to Phoenicia.