The renegades accept the gentile customs (1 Macc 1:11-1:15)

“In those days, certain renegades came out from Israel. They misled many, saying.

‘Let us go and make a covenant with the gentiles around us.

Since we separated from them,

Many disasters have come upon us.’

This proposal pleased them. Some of the people eagerly went to the king. He authorized them to observe the ordinances of the gentiles. Thus they built a gymnasium in Jerusalem, according to gentile custom. They removed the marks of circumcision. They abandoned the holy covenant. They joined with the gentiles and sold themselves to do evil.”

During this time, around 175 BCE, there was a movement in Jerusalem to assimilate into the Hellenistic Greek culture that was all around them. This movement was led by the so-called Jewish renegades, the lawless ones, or non-followers or compromisers of the Law of Moses. This will be the Jewish group that opposes the Maccabees. These renegades began to follow the Greek, gentile or pagan practices. They built a Greek gymnasium in Jerusalem which was a center for politics, culture, and sports. They tried to cover up their circumcision. They abandoned the Mosaic covenant, as they made a new covenant with the Greek gentiles to increase business with the Syrians.

Queen Vashti refuses to come to the party (Esth 1:12-1:20)

“However, Queen Vashti refused to obey King Artaxerxes. She would not come with the eunuchs. This offended the king. He became furious. He said to his friends.

‘This is how Queen Vashti had answered me.

Give therefore your ruling and judgment on this matter.’

This was the king’s procedure to consult the sages who knew the law and custom. Arkesaeus, Sarathaeus, and Malesar were the governors of the Persians and the Medes. They were closest to the king as they sat beside him in the chief seats. They told him what must be done to Queen Vashti for not obeying the order that the king had sent her by the eunuchs. Then Muchaeus said to the king and the princes, as he had reported to them what the queen had said and how she had deified the king.

‘Queen Vashti has insulted not only the king,

But also the king’s governors and officials.

Just as she defiled King Artaxerxes,

So now she defiles the other ladies,

The wives of the Persian and Median governors,

On hearing what she said to the king,

They will likewise dare to insult their husbands.

King Artaxerxes commanded Queen Vashti

To be brought before him,

And she did not come.

If, therefore, it pleases the king,

Let him issue a royal decree,

Inscribed with the laws of the Medes and the Persians,

So that it may not be altered.

Queen Vashti may no longer come

Into the presence of King Artaxerxes.

Let the king give her royal rank to a woman better than she.

Let whatever law the king enacts be proclaimed to his kingdom.

Thus all women will give honor to their husbands,

Rich and poor alike.’”

There is a difference between the Hebrew and the Greek text. In the Hebrew text there are 7 princes of Persia and Media instead of 3 governors as here in the Greek text. The names are completely different. In both texts, Memucan, or as here Muchaeus, has a proposal for the king. However, in the Hebrew text, Memucan was one of the 7 princes. Here this Muchaeus just comes on the scene without any identification. The queen has defiled the king by not obeying. She has set a bad example for the wives of the other princes. He wants her dismissed. It is not clear why the king would want to get rid of his wife for just this one incident. There must have been other things going on.

They discuss the idea of seizing the spring water (Jdt 7:8-7:15)

“Then all the chieftains of the Edomites and all the leaders of the Moabites along with the commanders of the coastland came to General Holofernes and said.

‘Listen to what we have to say, my lord.

Your army will suffer no losses.

This people, the Israelites,

Do not rely on their spears

But on the height of the mountains where they live.

It is not easy to reach the tops of their mountains.

Therefore, my lord,

Do not fight against them in regular formation.

Not a man of your army will fall.

Remain in your camp!

Keep all the men in your forces with you.

Let your servants take possession of the spring of water

That flows from the foot of the mountain,

Which is where all the people of Bethulia get their water.

So thirst will destroy them.

They will surrender their town.

Meanwhile, we and our people

Will go up to the tops of the nearby mountains.

We will camp there to keep watch to see

That no one gets out of the town.

They and their wives and children will waste away with famine.

Before the sword reaches them

They will be strewn about in the streets where they live.

Thus you will pay them back with evil,

Because they rebelled and did not receive you peaceably.’”

The local groups of Edomites, Moabites, and coastal people had a proposal for General Holofernes. They came up with the idea where the Assyrians would lose no men in battle because the mountains were hard to climb. This is the only occasion where mountains seem to favor the Israelites. In all other cases the battles seemed to be around towns and in valleys. They proposed that the water supply be shut down. Somehow the water springs were at the bottom of the mountain. It seems like there might be water at the top of the mountain. The Israelites would suffer from a great thirst. Eventually, they would surrender their towns as they would waste away with famine. This is somewhat similar to the idea of trying to cause a famine in Samaria under the Israelite King Jehoram (852-841 BCE) in 2 Kings, chapter 6, when he was attacked by the king of the Arameans. This would be an easy way to conquer these rebellious men of Judah and Benjamin, since theoretically Israel had already been conquered the previous century.