By April 8, 2008 0 Comments Read More →

1 Maccabees 4-6: The Rededication of the Temple

second-temple1 Maccabees describes the rededication of the Temple, which took place after Judah (Judas) the Maccabee and his men conquered Jerusalem, and the institution of the holiday of Hanukkah. Thereafter, Judah undertook a policy of fighting against Israel’s neighbors who had supported the Hellenists and the Seleucids. But after the death of Antiochus IV in 164 B.C.E., the Seleucids again turned their attention to Judea.

4-36 Then said Judas and his brothers, “Behold, our enemies are crushed; let us go up to cleanse the sanctuary and dedicate it.” 37 So all the army assembled and they went up to Mount Zion. 38 And they saw the sanctuary desolate, the altar profaned, and the gates burned. In the courts they saw bushes sprung up as in a thicket, or as on one of the mountains. They saw also the chambers of the priests in ruins. 39 Then they rent their clothes, and mourned with great lamentation, and sprinkled themselves with ashes. 40 They fell face down onthe ground, and sounded the signal on the trumpets, and cried out to Heaven. 41 Then Judas detailed men to fight against those in the citadel 115 until he had cleansed the sanctuary.

42 He chose blameless priests devoted to the law 43 and they cleansed the sanctuary and removed the defiled stones to an unclean place. 44 They deliberated what to do about the altar of burnt offering, which had been profaned. 45 And they thought it best to tear it down, lest it bring reproach upon them, for the Gentiles had defiled it. So they tore down the altar, 46 and stored the stones in a convenient place on the temple hill until there should come a prophet to tell what to do with them. 47 Then they took unhewn stones, as the law directs, 116 and built a new altar like the former one. 48 They also rebuilt the sanctuary and the interior of the temple, and consecrated the courts. 49 They made new holy vessels, and brought the lampstand, the altar of incense, and the table into the temple. 50 Then they burned incense on the altar and lighted the lamps on the lampstand, and these gave light in the temple. 51 They placed the bread on the table and hung up the curtains. Thus they finished all the work they had undertaken.

52 Early in the morning on the twenty-fifth day of the ninth month which is the month of Chislev, in the one hundred and forty-eighth year, 117 53 they rose and offered sacrifice, as the law directs, on the new altar of burnt offering which they had built. 54 At the very season and on the very day that the Gentiles had profaned it, 118 it was dedicated with songs and harps and lutes and cymbals. 55 All the people fell on their faces and worshipped and blessed Heaven, who had prospered them. 56 So they celebrated the dedication of the altar for eight days, and offered burnt offerings with gladness; they offered a sacrifice of deliverance and praise. 57 They decorated the front of the temple with golden crowns and small shields, they restored the gates and the chambers for the priests, and furnished them with doors. 58 There was very great gladness among the people, and the reproach of the Gentiles was removed.

59 Then Judas and his brothers and all the assembly of Israel determined that every year at that season the days of the dedication of the altar should be observed with gladness and joy for eight days, beginning with the twenty-fifth day of the month of Chislev. 60 At that time they fortified Mount Zion with high walls and strong towers round about, to keep the Gentiles from coming and trampling them down as they had done before. 61 And he stationed a garrison there to hold it. He also fortified Beth-zur, 119 so that the people might have a stronghold that faced Idumea.

5-1 When the Gentiles round about heard that the altar had been built and the sanctuary dedicated as it was before, they became very angry, 2 and they determined to destroy the descendants of Jacob who lived among them. So they began to kill and destroy among the people. 3 But Judas made war on the sons of Esau in Idumea, at Akrabattene, 120 because they kept lying in wait for Israel. He dealt them a heavy blow and humbled them and despoiled them. 4 He also remembered the wickedness of the sons of Baean, 121 who were a trap and a snare to the people and ambushed them on the highways. 5 They were shut up by him in their towers; and he encamped against them, vowed their complete destruction, and burned with fire their towers and all who were in them. 6 Then he crossed over to attack the Ammonites 122 where he found a strong band and many people with Timothy as their leader. 7 He engaged in many battles with them and they were crushed before him; he struck them down. 8 He also took Jazer 123 and its villages; then he returned to Judea….

20 Then three thousand men were assigned to Simon to go to Galilee, and eight thousand to Judas for Gilead.

21 So Simon went to Galilee and fought many battles against the Gentiles, and the Gentiles were crushed before him. 22 He pursued them to the gate of Ptolemais, 124 and as many as three thousand of the Gentiles fell, and he despoiled them. 23 Then he took the Jews of Galilee and Arbatta 125 with their wives and children, and all they possessed, and led them to Judea with great rejoicing.

6-14 Then he (Antiochus IV) called for Philip, one of his friends, and made him ruler over all his kingdom. 15 He gave him the crown and his robe and the signet, that he might guide Antiochus (V) his son and bring him up to be king. 16 Thus Antiochus the king died there in the one hundred and forty-ninth year. 126 17 And when Lysias learned that the king was dead. he set up Antiochus the king’s son to reign. Lysias had brought him up as a boy, and he named him Eupator. 127

18 Now the men in the citadel kept hemming Israel in around the sanctuary. They were trying in every way to harm them and strengthen the Gentiles. 19 So Judas decided to destroy them, and assembled all the people to besiege them. 20 They gathered together and besieged the citadel in the one hundred and fiftieth year; 128 and he built siege towers and other engines of war. 21 But some of the garrison escaped from the siege and some of the ungodly Israelites joined them. 22 They went to the king and said, “How long will you fail to do justice and to avenge our brethren?…”

28 The king was enraged when he heard this. He assembled all his friends, the commanders of his forces and those in authority. 29 And mercenary forces came to him from other kingdoms and from islands of the seas. 30 The number of his forces was a hundred thousand foot soldiers, twenty thousand horsemen, and thirty-two elephants accustomed to war. 31 They came through Idumea and encamped against Beth-zur, and for many days they fought and built engines of war; but the Jews sallied out and burned these with fire, and fought manfully.

115. The akra, “citadel,” remained throughout a garrison of Seleucids and Hellenized Jews within Jerusalem.

116. According to Ex. 20-23 and Deut. 27-5-6, the stones of the Temple altar had to be unhewn.

117. December, 164 B.C.E.

118. 25 Kislev- see 1 Macc. 1-59.

119. Four and a half miles north of Hebron.

120. Perhaps on the border of Judea and Idumaea, in the Negev.

121. Probably in Transjordan.

122. In Transjordan.

123. West of Amman.

124. Modern Akko, north of Haifa.

125. Either near the Sea of Galilee or south of theDead Sea.

127. Literally, “of a good father.”

128. 162 B.C.E.

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