IHO Index ] [ Primary Texts ] [ Search ] Maccabean Revolt ] 

Click on title of any pericope numbered in red to access the original language text.

1. Antiochus IV Becomes King of Syria
1 Having set out an ivory seat in the Roman style (Antiochus IV)* would pronounce judgment & decide disputes regarding minute matters...
4 Thus, to some he seemed not to know what he wanted. Some simply laughed at him. Others were saying he was doubtlessly insane.
5 In two great and serious matters, however, his was a really royal spirit: in donations to cities & in cultivation of the gods... 
8 One of his truly great deeds for the gods was the temple of Olympian Jove [= Zeus] in Athens (which even) incomplete is able to be the one witness on earth  to the greatness of (this) god.
9 But he also adorned Delos with inscribed altars & an abundance of statues. And at Antioch (he erected) a magnificent temple to Capitoline Jove [=Jupiter], not only with a ceiling lined with gold but with walls completely covered with gilded panels. And he did not complete many other (projects) promised to other places, since his reign was very brief.
10 He also beat superior kings in the magnificence of spectacles of every kind....  
  --- Livy, From the Founding of the City (of Rome) 41.20.1-10
 * The classic Latin summary of Livy's text includes the following overview: "Antiochus (IV), son of Antiochus (III), whom his father had given to the Romans as a hostage, was sent from the City (of Rome) back to the kingdom of Syria upon the death of his brother Seleucus (in 175 BCE), who had succeeded their father when he died. Apart from being religious, which led him to erect many magnificent temples in many places --- (e.g.) the one to Olympian Zeus at Athens and to Capitoline Zeus [ = Jupiter] at Antioch --- he was very poor at playing the king." -- Periocha 41.

2. Jewish Priests & Greek Politics
237 Now about this time (175 BCE], when the high-priest cHoni (III) died, Antiochus (IV) gave the high-priesthood to his brother [Jeshu], because the son of  cHoni was still a child...
238 But Jeshu...was removed from the high-priesthood when the king was angered by him. And he gave it to his youngest brother, (also) named cHoni (IV)...
239 Now then, Jeshu changed his name to Jason and cHoni (IV) was called Menelaus. Then the former high-priest, Jeshu [called Jason], opposed Menelaus, who had been appointed after him. And the (Jewish) masses were divided between each. The sons of Tobias became partisans of Menelaus;
240 but the majority of the people rallied to Jason. Under attack by the latter, Menelaus and the sons of Tobias retreated to Antiochus (IV) and informed him that they wished to abandon their native (Jewish) laws and corresponding (priestly) civic order for those of the king and a Greek civic order.
241 So they called on him to support them in building a gymnasium in Jerusalem. And when (Antiochus) concurred, they disguised the circumcision of their private parts so they might be Greeks even when undressed. And abandoning all their other native (Jewish) customs, they copied the practices of other nations.
  --- Josephus, Antiquities 12.237-241

3. Antiochus Loots Jewish Temple
20 Now in the year 143 [= 169 BCE] after Antiochus (IV) had defeated Egypt he returned by way of Israel and went up to Jerusalem with a strong army.
21 And in his arrogance he entered the sanctuary. And he took the golden altar and the menorah, with all its lamps for light;
22 and the table for the bread of the presence; the cups, the bowls, the golden censers and the veil (to the holy of holies). He even stripped the cornices and golden ornament from the temple facade.
23 And he took away the gold and silver and precious vessels. He also took all the hidden treasures he could find.
24 Now taking all of this he returned to his own country [Antioch, Syria], having committed murder and spoken with great arrogance.
  --- Septuagint, 1 Maccabees 1:20-24

4. Jerusalem Occupied & Hellenized
29 Two years later [167 BCE] the (Syrian) king sent a captain to levy tribute in the cities of Judah. And he came to Jerusalem with a strong army...
31 He plundered and set fire to the city, destroying its houses and surrounding walls;
32 he took the women and children captive and confiscated the animals.
33 Then (the Greeks) built up the city of David with a high massive wall and strong towers. And it became their citadel...
41 Then the king wrote to his kingdom; that all were to be one people
42 and each (subject) was to abandon his (native) customs. All the gentiles accepted the king's edict.
43 And many in Israel were content with his culture. They sacrificed to idols and profaned the Sabbath.
44 The king sent messengers to hand-deliver scrolls to Jerusalem and the cities of Judah, ordering them to adopt customs foreign to the land:
45 To prohibit holocausts and sacrifices; and libations in the sanctuary and to profane the Sabbaths and feast days;
46 to desecrate the sanctuary and its holy ones;
47 to build high altars and shrines and idols; to sacrifice swine and unclean animals;
48 and to leave their sons uncircumcised; and to let their lives be defiled by every kind of impurity and abomination.
49 They were to forget the Torah and change all their observances.
50 And whoever refused to act in accordance with the king's word was to be executed...
54 On the 15th day of cHislev in the year 145 [= 6 Dec 167 BCE], the king erected the abomination that desecrates on the altar of burnt-offerings. And in cities around Judah they built high altars.
55 And they sacrificed incense at the doors of houses and in the streets.
56 Also, when they found Torah scrolls they tore them up and burnt them.
57 And whenever someone was found with a scroll of the covenant or observing the Torah, he was put to death under the king's decree.
  --- Septuagint, 1 Maccabees 1:29-33, 41-57

5. Greeks Crucify Dissident Jews
255 And many of the Jews followed the things the (Syrian) king ordered, some voluntarily but also through fear of paying the proclaimed penalty. But the noblest and best-born persons did not heed him but held their native customs to count more than the penalty he threatened for those who did not obey. And because of this they were abused each day. And they died, subject to bitter tortures.
256 For with bodies whipped and abused they were crucified while still alive and breathing. But their wives and the children whom they had circumcised in spite of the king's policy were strangled, by hanging from the necks of their crucified fathers.
  --- Josephus, Antiquities 12.255-256

6. The Time of Desecration
21 And in his place a despised man [Antiochus IV] will rise and the dignity of kingship will not be given to him. But he will come by stealth and gain the kingship by bribes.
22 And (Jewish) armed forces shall be totally overwhelmed and crushed before him, even the prince of the covenant [cHoni III]...
28 And he shall return to his land with great wealth and his heart shall be set against the holy covenant. And he will do as he wants and return to his land.
29 At the appointed time he will return and come to the south, and this time it will not be like before.
30 When he is confronted by ships from Kittim [Cyprus], he will lose nerve and retreat. And in rage he will attack the holy covenant. He will return and heed those (priests) who desert the holy covenant.
31 At his command armies will attack and profane the temple and citadel. And they shall remove the daily sacrifice and erect the abomination that desecrates.
32 And those who desert the covenant he will seduce with lies but those who know their God will stand firm and they will take action.
33 And sages will instruct the people but for some days they will fall by sword and flame, by captivity and plunder.
34 And when they fall few will help, but many shall join them with flattery.
35 And some of the sages shall fall, to test and refine and purify the rest, until the time of the end which is set for the appointed time.
36 And the king shall do as he wills. He will exalt himself and make himself out as greater than every god and he will utter amazing and dreadful statements against the God of gods. And he shall prosper until the indignity is ended. For what was determined shall happen.
  --- Hebrew Bible, Daniel 11:21-22, 28-36

IHO Index ] [ Primary Texts ] [ Search ] Maccabean Revolt  ]


Perspective on the World of Jesus

with new translations from primary texts

Copyright 1999-2022 by Mahlon H. Smith
All rights reserved.

an American Theological Library Association Selected Religion Website 
OCLC World catalog no. 62046512

[Hypertext links to this web page are invited. Brief quotations may be used in scholarly reviews and research providing the author is credited & the URL for this web page properly noted. But the text as a whole may not be posted or reproduced elsewhere without express written permission of the author.]