Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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pp. i-v

The Author

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p. vi

Contents

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pp. vii-viii

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Foreword

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pp. ix-x

The name Hermeneia, Greek ἑρμηνεία, has been chosen as the title of the commentary series to which this volume belongs. The word Hermeneia has a rich background in the history of biblical interpretation as a term used in the ancient Greek-speaking world for the detailed, systematic exposition of a scriptural work. It is hoped that the series, like its name, will carry forward this old and venerable tradition...

Editor’s Note

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pp. xi-xii

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Preface and Acknowledgments

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pp. xiii-xiv

When I had wandered into the seductive fields of late antiquity and Syriac hagiography, the invitation from Professor Cross to return to the war-torn Maccabean times was a challenge I could not resist. Since I had worked on 2 Maccabees in the 1970s, much of the terrain had changed. New inscriptional material from Asia Minor had transformed what we knew of how Seleucid monarchs interacted with their subjects...

Reference Codes

1. Sources and Abbreviations

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pp. xv-xix

2. Short Titles of Commentaries, Studies and Articles Often Cited

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pp. xix-xxv

Endpapers

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p. xxvi

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Introduction

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p. 1

The work entitled 2 Maccabees presents a host of challenges to conventional assumptions. First of all, the title itself is misleading. Second Maccabees is not a continuation of 1 Maccabees...

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The Letters and the Narrative

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pp. 1-3

Clement of Alexandria wrote that Aristobulos, one of the recipients of the second prefixed letter, is mentioned by “the composer of the epitome of the Maccabees [ὁ συνταξάvμενος τὴν τῶν μακκαβαιῶν]” (Strom. 5.14.97.7).1 Clement, writing at the end of the second century C.E., chose the participle of the verb whose root the author of the narrative had used in his prologue and epilogue to describe his work...

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The Narrative

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pp. 3-13

The narrative of the events in Judea from 175 B.C.E. to 164 B.C.E. has been explored primarily for what it can tell about the Hasmonean revolt. As Schwartz has noted, there is very little evidence that the work was known by Philo, Josephus, or the rabbinic tradition.14 What was interesting were the martyrdom stories, mentioned probably in Heb 11:35-38 and in the Apostolic Fathers15...

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The Goals of the Author

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pp. 13-14

The rhetorical permeation of 2 Maccabees raises the question of the aims of the author. To what end did he use this rhetoric? What behavior did he want to persuade his audience to adopt? First, the choice of the subgenre of a deity defending his/her temple from attackers and the inauguration of new festivals shows that the author wanted to impress on his audience the high honor in which the God of the Jews was to be held...

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The Date and Place of Composition

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pp. 14-17

Both date and place of composition have been hugely debated, complicated further by the fact that the narrative is a condensed version of an account by Jason of Cyrene. As noted above, the scope of Jason’s work cannot be reclaimed, and therefore that work cannot be placed or dated with certainty, except to say that it came before the condensed narrative...

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A Suggested Time Line from 2 Maccabees

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pp. 17-19

Few dates are given in the narrative of 2 Maccabees. Often the author is content with “around this time” (5:1; 9:1), “after not much time” (6:1), “after an extremely short interval” (11:1), or “after three years” (4:23; 14:1). At the end of the letters in 11:21, 33, 38 is found the date 148 S.E. [Seleucid Era]; in 13:1, year 149 S.E. is given for the invasion of Lysias and Antiochus V...

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The Text

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pp. 19-20

The text of 2 Maccabees is found in the two uncial manuscripts, Alexandrinus from the fifth century C.E. and Venetus from the eighth century C.E., but not in Sinaiticus. It is also in more than thirty minuscules that are divided according to whether they are seen as having undergone “improvements” (attributed to Lucian of Samosata)...

Commentary

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The First Prefixed Letter (1:1–10a)

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pp. 21-38

The initial address follows the pattern “To B χαίρειν A,” where A (nominative case) sends greetings to B. This pattern is found in letters from the Ptolemaic period,1 and differs from the customary opening, “A to B, greeting.” The pattern “To B, A” is frequently found in Aramaic letters2...

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The Second Prefixed Letter: Greetings and Well Wishes (1:10b–17)

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pp. 39-45

The “letter” of 1:10b—2:18 has the normal form of the opening address: “A (sender) to B (recipient) greeting.” John White has stated how “by the mid-second century B.C.E., and into the late first or early second centuries C.E., letter writers began to combine the health wish with the address/salutation in the form: ...χαίρειν καὶ ἐρρῶσθαι (or ὑγιαίνειν) i.e.,...greeting and health”...

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The Second Prefixed Letter: The Body of the Letter 1 (1:18–36)

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pp. 46-53

Three Nehemiahs are mentioned in the Bible: (1) Nehemiah, one of the leaders of the Jewish community who returned with Jeshua and Zerubbabel to Judea around 538 B.C.E., after the exile in Babylonia (Ezra 2:2; Neh 7:7; 1 Esdr 5:8); (2) Nehemiah, son of Azbuk, a ruler around Beth-Zur who participated in the rebuilding of the walls of Jerusalem (Neh 3:16)...

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The Second Prefixed Letter: The Body of the Letter 2 (2:1–18)

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pp. 54-64

Ἀπογραφή has the meaning of “a list, register,” although it is used to translate כְתָב in Dan 10:21. Here, and in the use of ἀναγραφή in 2:13, the emphasis seems to be on the public character of the document. The second and third parts of the body of this second letter are clearly introduced with a reference to other writings (2:1: ἐν ταῖς ἀπογραφαῖς; 2:13: ἐν ταῖς ἀναγραφαῖς καὶ ἐν τοῖς ὑπομνηματισμοῖς)...

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Prologue (2:19–32)

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pp. 65-74

The presence of the particle δέ as the second word of the sentence is particularly intriguing. Δέ marks off something as different from what precedes.1 Its presence here thus suggests that the epitome is connected to the preceding letters, and scholars such as Torrey2 and Abel argue that the letters were placed there by the author of the epitome. Goldstein rightly suggests that the particle dev was added when the prefixed letters were placed before the condensed version3...

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Heliodorus Comes to the Temple (3:1–39)

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pp. 75-90

As in so many traditional stories, the narrative begins with an initial situation where everything is as it should be, everything is ideally ordered. Particularly noteworthy is the author’s statement that the keeping of the laws depends on the righteousness of the high priest. Onias III, son of Simon, is the third high priest of the name Onias.1 The author has nicely balanced the positively phrased “piety” (εὐσέβειαν) and the negatively phrased “hatred of evil” (μισοπονηρίαν)...

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Transition to Chaos (3:40–4:6)

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pp. 91-93

This verse begins a μὲν...δέ construction that binds the repulse of Heliodorus to the further developments of the narrative. The author is fond of using this means of connecting events, as in 7:42—8:1 and 10:9-10. He also likes to end narratives with the construction “so . . . to turn out” (οὕτως...χωρέω) as in 13:26 and 15:37. In 7:42 and 10:9, he uses a different verb with the adverb...

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Jason as High Priest (4:7–22)

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pp. 94-111

“Died” is literally “exchanging life.” The phrase was originally used of heroes who as immortals did not die but changed their states. By the second century B.C.E., it was simply a euphemism for “die.”1 The author does not concern himself with the details of Seleucus IV’s death and the rise to power of his brother Antiochus IV Epiphanes. Seleucus IV died on 2/3 September 175 B.C.E.2...

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The Death of Onias (4:23–50)

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pp. 112-121

“after three years,” that is, in the third year. The author does not make clear whether the embassy took place in the third year after Antiochus IV’s accession in October 175 B.C.E. or after Antiochus’s visit to Jerusalem. For all Jason’s attempts to show his loyalty to Antiochus IV, the king does not reciprocate but awards the high priesthood to another bidder, Menelaus, brother of Simon...

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Antiochus Assaults the Temple (5:1–6:9a)

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pp. 122-142

The author usually is not precise in connecting episodes in his narrative; see 6:1, 9:1, and 11:1. However, he is quite precise in stating that the attack of Antiochus IV took place after his second invasion of Egypt. This second invasion took place in the spring of 168 B.C.E. The author gives no details about a first campaign. Attempts to harmonize this verse with the account in 1 Macc 1:20-23...

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Righteous Martyrs (6:9b–7:42)

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pp. 143-166

9b The consequences of the abrogation of the Torah as the polity of Jerusalem are described.
10 The same story is told in 1 Macc 1:60-61. There the author refers in general to women who circumcised their sons, whereas the author of 2 Maccabees specifies two women...

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Judas Maccabeus Leads a Revolt (8:1–36)

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pp. 167-182

This verse is connected to the preceding by a μὲν οὖν...δέ construction, which is often used by the author as he passes to another subject (3:22-23; 9:28— 10:1; 10:22-23; 10:28; 11:18, 19). Here the author takes up again the story of Judas Maccabeus, whom he had mentioned in 5:27 before the description of the measures taken by Antiochus against Jerusalem...

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The End of Antiochus IV Epiphanes (9:1–29)

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pp. 183-198

“About that time.” The general time frame (περὶ δὲ τὸν καιρὸν ἐκεῖνον), similar to that found in 5:1 (περὶ δὲ τὸν καιρὸν τοῦτον, “about this time”), suggests a connection with the preceding events, and this connection will be specified in v. 3. For the use of τυγχάνω + participle, see 4:32. These two verses neatly reflect each other by the use of similar phrases — ἀναλελυκὼς ἀκόσμως...ἀσχήμονα τὴν ἀναζυγήν...

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The Purification of the Temple (10:1–8)

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pp. 199-202

These three verses form one lengthy sentence in the Greek, where a μὲν...δὲ...δέ construction is followed by three coordinate clauses. One finds a similar lengthy sentence at 5:8-10, where an opening clause with four participial phrases is followed by three coordinate clauses. The author seems to want to convey the near simultaneity of the various actions...

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Events under Antiochus V Eupator (10:9–38)

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pp. 203-212

The same μὲν...δέ is used to signal a change in topic in 3:40—4:1. In the prologue, the author had noted how Jason of Cyrene had set forth (2:23: δηλόω) the wars against Antiochus Epiphanes and his son Eupator (2:20). I have translated τελευτή by “end” rather than “death.” Elsewhere in 2 Maccabees, the verb τελευτάω has the meaning of “to die” (6:30; 7:5, 14, 41)...

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Relations with Lysias (11:1–38)

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pp. 213-226

This long sentence consists of five participial clauses, two before the main verb and three after. The two before the main verb are asyndetically connected, as the annoyance of Lysias is closely associated with the assembling of the army. The first two participial clauses after the main verb play off one another: 11:2: λογιζόμενος; 11:4: ἐπιλογιζόμενος, which I have translated as “he thought”...

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Excursus: The Letters in 2 Maccabees (11:16–38)

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pp. 227-230

These letters have been the subject of much scholarly debate. While early scholars doubted their authenticity,1 the increase in knowledge of the chancery style of royal letters led to acceptance of their authenticity.2 Within this general agreement, there have been exceptions for some of the documents...

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Battles with Local Commanders (12:1–45)

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pp. 231-249

The author uses the term συνθήκη (“agreements”) to describe what has occurred in the letters of the previous chapter. The term is not used there, and while Judas is said to agree with what Lysias proposed (11:15), the letters reflect a decision by the king rather than a covenant. However, the term carries the connotation of “treaty” and so suits the author’s rhetorical purpose of elevating the position of the Jews under Judas...

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Struggles with Antiochus and Lysias (13:1–26)

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pp. 250-262

“the year 149.” This is the first date given in the narrative. In 1 Macc 6:20, Judas’s siege of the Akra, begun in 150 S.E., was the cause for Lysias’s campaign. If one dates according to the Seleucid Macedonian calendar, 149 would be from September 164 to October 163 B.C.E. If one dates events connected with Jewish history according to the Seleucid Babylonian calendar...

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Final Assault on the Temple: The Approach of Nikanor and His Treaty (14:1–25)

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pp. 263-275

At the end of 2 Maccabees 13, peace had been restored between the king and the Jews, and the surrounding cities had been forced to comply. Now a new factor emerges, the arrival of a new king. Would peace continue or would it be disrupted? The formula for the announcement of events used at the approach of Antiochus V and Lysias in 13:2, is used again here, which might intimate trouble...

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Final Assault on the Temple: The Persecution (14:26–46)

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pp. 276-285

After a series of asyndetic verbs, the author changes subject and style. He uses a chiasm to start his account of Alcimus’s response to the arrangements between Nikanor and Judas: συνιδὼν...εὔνοιαν, συνθήκας...λαβών. Here the relationship between Judas and Nikanor is described using terms well known from the reciprocal interaction between cities and their sovereigns1...

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The Defeat of Nikanor (15:1–36)

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pp. 286-299

In his first challenge, he had threatened to destroy God’s temple (14:32). Here he attacks the notion that God has any power on earth. Throughout this section and the rest of the narrative, the contrast between Nikanor and God is heightened by the use of the same words to describe what they accomplish...

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Epilogue (15:37–39)

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pp. 300-302

The verb “to turn out” (χωρεῖν) was used in 3:40 and 13:26 to signify the change from one section of the narrative to another. “critical times.” The term καιρός has this sense.1 Scholars have been much perturbed by the aorist participle in the genitive absolute construction κρατηθείσης τῆς πόλεως, which I have translated “the city was controlled”...

Bibliography

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pp. 303-328

Index

1. Passages

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pp. 329-349

2. Names

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pp. 350-352

3. Greek Words

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pp. 352-358

4. Subjects

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pp. 358-360

Designer's Notes

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pp. 361-362