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the intervention of God in the Jewish struggles, and indeed does not once mention God by name. He believes strongly, however, in Providence, and also in the need of human energy. “This very sensible religious attitude, which is as far removed from scepticism as it is from fatalism, fully corresponds to the writer's sober impartiality as a historian.
His gift of characterization has placed the great figures of the Maccabees in the gallery of the world's heroes. He has filled the spaces of an age, of which without his help our knowledge would be scanty, with magnificent figures, vivid and full of individuality. He has given a trustworthy picture of much that went to make Jewish society what it was at the time of our Lord's birth, and preserved the memory of what must have been considered by His contemporaries a great heritage, but also a terrible reproach in their final state of servitude-the record of an epoch fondly gazed back upon, when“He made peace in the land,
And Israel rejoiced with great joy.
And there was none to make them afraid;
Note.-There is an edition of í Maccabees with notes in the Cambridge Bible for Schools, by Fairweather and Black, and of 1 and 2 Maccabees in the Temple Apocrypha (Dent), by Fairweather.
THE Second Book of Maccabees is not a continuation of the first. It is a parallel account covering nearly the same ground. It is " alius non secundus, as Luther says. Its record being from 175 B.C. to 161 B.C., the beginning is most valuable, as treating a short period before the accession of Antiochus of which we have no other account but that of Josephus. It claims to be an epitome of a long history in five books by a certain Jason of Cyrene. The writer professes to aim at broadness of treatment, brevity, and attractiveness in his choice of excerpts, and in his summarizing. The result is an obvious want of unity in the book, and a style that is somewhat haphazard and sensational. Jason's book, of which we know nothing beyond what this writer tells us, seems to have been written shortly after the close of the Maccabæan struggle between 120 B.C. and 110 B.C.
Its author,” Professor Torrey says,1 " temporary of men who had taken part in the Maccabæan struggle.” And he concludes that he depended on oral accounts at second hand, while he was not blessed with a very strong critical or literary faculty. The writer prefixes to his history two letters said to have been sent by the Jews of Palestine to the dispersed among the Gentiles, the one dated 143 B.C., the other 124 B.C., urging them to keep the newly established Feast of Dedication. There seems no valid reason to reject these documents altogether, though they are probably summarized and altered.
He also writes a preface (ii. 19-32), explaining his method and objects, and concludes with a short
1 Encycl. Bib., III. 2870.
was a con
epilogue (XV. 37–39). He opens by relating how Heliodorus, the Chancellor of Antiochus, sent to seize the Temple treasures, was deterred by a miraculous vision (iii. 1-39), and describes the sordid intrigues of Simon and Jason for the High Priesthood, the Hellenic innovations among the Jews, the plundering of Jerusalem, the martydom of Eleazar and a mother and her seven sons, the early successes of Judas, Antiochus' death, and the purification of Jerusalem, with the Hanukka Feast. Then follow the further successes of Judas, with angelic help, a three-years' peace followed by Nicanor's renewed attack, defeat and death, and the Institution of the Feast of Dedication.
When we compare this with 1 Maccabees we see that the writer differs fundamentally in object and tone of mind. He is bent on glorifying the Jews at all costs, and is specially interested in the Temple, the Priesthood, and the promotion of the new Feast of Dedication, which is the climax of his story. He draws out the constancy of the Jews not by a vivid unfolding of events, but by sensational accounts of torture and martyrdoms. He depends much on the supernatural, and attributes the success of Judas to angelic help, rather than to his own heroic spirit. I Maccabees is far more to be trusted, when the statements of the two writers conflict, as they very often do in their parallel narratives. And yet 2 Maccabees must not be considered to be without historical value. There are passages which, by their graphic details, seem to bring us nearer to the actual events than the more sober and literary manner of the other writer.
The writer's advanced teaching on the resurrection is noticeable: "There is no other pre-Christian Jewish book which puts forth the doctrine of the resurrection of the body more definitely." 1 And we have, too, the interesting account and comment on Judas's sacrifices and prayers for the dead (xii. 43-45): “For if he were not expecting that the fallen would rise again it would have been superfluous and useless to pray for the dead. And if he in doing this was looking for the splendour of the gracious reward which is laid up for them that have fallen asleep in godliness, holy and pious was the thought. Wherefore he made a propitiation for them that had died that they might be released from their sin.”
i Oesterley, p. 489.
The writer's attitude to the supernatural, and such teaching as the above on the resurrection and prayers for the dead are the only guide to the date of the epitome. He seems to regard what he says as the normal teaching, well known and acceptable to those to whom it was addressed. This would make it considerably later than 1 Maccabees. Scholars are agreed in placing it some time before the beginning of the Christian era.
It seems to have influenced Hebrews xi. 35–38, where we have a reproduction of the Greek of 2 Maccabees vi. and vii. and x. 6.
THIS book has no connection with the Maccabæan struggle. We can only conjecture why it was classed with the Maccabæan books. It was probably written about 100 B.C. at the same period as the Letter of Aristeas and 2 Maccabees, with both of which it is linked by literary similarity.
Its writer was, in all probability, an orthodox Jew of Alexandria, loyal to the Temple and the Law, and untouched by Hellenistic influences. He adopts a pseudo-classical style, artificial and bombastic, using a number of strange and original words. He does not refer to apocalyptic ideas, or the Messiah, or the hope of a future life, but belongs to the strict and more conservative school.
The incidents recorded are an attempt of King Ptolemy IV. (Philopator) after the Battle of Raphia in 217 B.C. to enter the Temple at Jerusalem, his repulse by angels, and the revenge he takes on the Jews by degrading the Egyptian Jews, interfering with their religion, and letting loose elephants inflamed by strong drink upon a Jewish concourse in the Hipprodrome at Alexandria. An angelic vision turns the elephants against the Egyptian persecutors, and the King repents, and becomes friendly to the Jews.
Now although this chain of incidents is obviously unhistorical, as it stands, there is no doubt a foundation of truth in the different parts of the story. Let us see what it is.
The writer differs in detail in his account of the Battle of Raphia from that of the historian Polybius, and he is thought to follow the more popular work