The books of Machabees are so called because they contain the history of the people of God under the command of Judas Machabeus and his brethren. The title Machabeus, from the Hebrew word meaning "Hammer," was given to Judas because of his daring and bravery in battle against the oppressors of the Jews. The books of Machabeus tell of the persecution of the Jews beginning with the reign of Antiochus of Syria 175 B.C. to the death of the High Priest Simon in 134 B.C.


332 BC

1. Beginning of the Greek influence in Palestine. Alexander, the son of Philip the Macedonian who first reigns in Greece, came and fought many battles, slew many kings and took the spoils of many nations. 1 Machabees 1:1-5.
2. Alexander ruled for twelve years. He died unexpectedly and, no successor having being appointed, his generals fought each other and divided his kingdom amongst themselves and for their sons after them. They all put on crowns, and evils were mulitiplied on the earth. 1 Machabees 1:6-10.


175 BC

1. Out of the wicked root came Antiochus the Illustrious, the son of King Antiochus who had been a hostage at Rome. Some wicked Israelites made a covenant with Antiochus and he gave them licences to do after the ordinances of the heathens. They made prepuces (an operation which hides circumcision) and departed from the holy covenant by taking part in sexual activities which the heathens were prostituted to do. 1 Machabees 1:11-16.
2. Antiochus attacked Egypt and took the spoils of that land.1 Machabees 1:17-20.
3. After he had attacked Egypt Antiochus went to Jerusalem entered the sanctuary and profaned the temple taking away many vessels and destroying gold ornaments. This destruction produced great mourning among the Israelites. 1 Machabees 1:21-29.
4. Two years later the king sends a collector of tributes to Jerusalem. He spoke to them peaceably and they believed him but he suddenly struck the city with great slaughter breaking the city walls and taking captive the women and children. 1 Machabees 1:30-34.
5. The oppressors built a wall around the city of David, Sion, where they stored up armour and gathered the spoils of Jerusalem. 1 Machabees 1:35-42.
6. Antiochus wrote an edict that everyone should be united, leaving their own law in favour of that of the king. Children should not be circumcised and altars should be built to idols. The king set up rulers over the people to force them to do these things. Many of Israel consented and sacrificed to idols and profaned the Sabbath. 1 Machabees 1:43-52. .
7. The statue of Jupiter Olympius is set up on many altars of Judah. Anyone who will not sacrifice to the idols is put to death as are those who have circumcised their children along with the children who are hanged. 1 Machabees 1:53-67.


1. Mattathias is the son of a priest he lives in the mountains of Modin with his five sons, John surnamed Gaddis; Simon surnamed Thasi; Judas surnamed Machabeus; Eleazar surnamed Abaron; and Jonathan surnamed Apphus. They saw the evils which were done in Jerusalem. 1 Machabees 2:1-6.
2. King Antiochus’ officials came to Modin and tried to persuade Mathathias to obey the king’s commands. But Mattathias declares that he and his sons will obey the law of their fathers. At that moment a Jew came in the sight of them all to sacrifice to an idol. In his wrath Mattathias kills the Jew, destroys the altar and also kills the king’s official. 1 Machabees 2:7-26.
3. Mattathias and his sons flee to the mountains, others who had a zeal for the law of their fathers fled to the desert but were found there and slain by Antiochs’ army. Mattathias is joined by the Assideans, men who led a religious life and were zealous for the law and worship of God. Between them they gathered an army and slay the sinners and wicked men. And they went around throwing down the altars to idols and circumcising the children. 1 Machabees 2:27-48.
4. Last days of Mattathias. As he approaches death he encourages his sons to obey the law telling them of the faithfulness of Abraham, Joseph, David and the prophets. He recommends that Judas should be the leader of their army. 1 Machabees 2:49-70.



167 BC

1. Judas Machabeus leads his brothers and brethren in many battles. He is renowed for his strength and fearlessness. An army of Gentiles under the leadership of Appollonius is overthrown by Judas and his men. Judas takes Appollonius’ sword and uses it for the rest of his life. 1 Machabees 3:1-12.
2. Seron, a captain of the Syrian army, hears of Judas Machabeus and means to make himself famous by defeating Judas. When they met for battle Judas’ men were greatly outnumbered. He knew that he was fighting for the laws of his fathers and that God would assist them. When engaged in battle Seron and his men fled and many were killed. And the fear of Judas and his brethren and the dread of them fell upon all the nations round about them. 1 Macbabees 3:13-26.
3. King Antiochus was angry when he heard of Judas and his army. He pays his army one year’s pay but then worries at not having enough in the treasury so sets off to Persia to take tributes and gather more money. Before setting off he puts his kingdom under the control of a nobleman, Lysias, leaving him with half the army and telling him to destroy Judah and Jerusalem. 1 Machabees 3:27-37.
4. Lysias chooses mighty men to lead the army which sets off and pitches its camp on the Judean plain. 1 Machabees 3:38-41.
5. Judas knew that the orders of the king were to destroy the people and utterly abolish them. At that time Jerusalem was inhabited by Gentiles. The sanctuary was trodden down. Judas and his brethren were gathered at Maspha, near Jerusalem, which was a place of prayer. There the faithful fast, pray and read the books of the law. 1 Machabees 3:42-60.

166 BC

6. A group of Lysias’ army came by night to attack the camp of Judas. But Judas heard of this and realised that, as the enemy’s forces were now split, it would be an opportunity to attack. When Lysias’ men reached Judas’ camp it was to find the place empty. Judas and his army meet the main force of Lysia’s army and rout them. Judas takes the spoils of battle, gold, silver, blue silk and great riches. 1 Machabees 4:1-25.
7. Lysias is troubled as he has not carried out the king’s orders. So the following year he comes again with an even larger army. Once again, after praying to God for help, Judas and his men defeat Lysias’ army. 1 Machabees 4:26-35.
8. Then Judas and his brethren came to Jerusalem and rid the city of those who lived there who had defied the law. Then the holy place was cleansed, the altars of idols pulled down and a new altar built. Sacrifice was offered and the 166 altar dedicated anew. Mount Sion was built with high walls and strong towers. 1 Machabees 4:36-61.
9. Chapter 5 tells of many battles. Against Esau, Bean, and Ammon. In all these Judas was victorious. Then Judas received a letter from Israelites in Galaad telling him that they were being besieged by Gentiles and asking for his help. At the same time messengers came from Galilee telling of other Gentile armies and asking for help. 1 Machabees 5:1-15.
10.Judas sends his brother Simon with an army of men to go to Galilee while he goes with brother Jonathan to Galaad leaving a remnant of the army in charge of Joseph, son of Zacharias, to look after Judah, with instructions not to make war till all return. 1 Machabees 5:16-20.
11. Simon goes into Galilee and fights and wins many battles returning to Judah with many women and children who had been besieged. 1 Machabees 5:21-23.
12. Judas and his brother went towards the Jordan to Bosor where they attacked and defeated all before them. From there they went to Ephron where they assaulted the city and razed it to the ground. 1 Machabees 5:24-54.
13. While Judas was absent Joseph hears of their successes and decides to wage war against the Gentiles. They went out against Jamnia where Gorgias’ army fought and beat them. About two thousand Israelites died because Joseph had not obeyed Judas’s order not to make war. 1 Machabees 5:55-64.
14. Judas fought against Easu, Chebron and Azotus throwing down their altars and burning their idols. 1 Machabees 5:65-68.

164 BC

15. Antiochus, in his efforts to top-up his treasury, was not having much success. He attempted to attack Elymais as he had heard that there was much gold to be had. But he had to flee from the battle. Then he heard of the failure of Lysias to overcome Judah. This news caused him distress. He took to his bed and eventually repented of his actions against Jerusalem. He makes his friend, Philip, regent asking him to look after his son the young King Antiochus V. 164 There, in a foreign land, Antiochus IV died. 1 Machabees 6:1-16.


1. Lysias heard that the king was dead and set up Antiochus V as king naming him Eupator. 1 Machabees 6:17.

163 BC

2. The Gentiles are encamped in Jerusalem with Judas besieging them. Some wicked Israelites went to the king, gave him their allegiance and suggested that he should attack Judas. The king was angry and called together all his friends, captains of his army and horsemen who also had thirty-two elephants under their control. 1 Macahbees 6:18-41.
3. During the battle, Judas’ brother, Eleazar, attacked an elephant which he thought carried the king. He killed the elephant but it fell on him and he died. The Israelites were outnumbered and withdrew to Bethsura. As it was the seventh year (see Exodus 23:11), and they obeyed the laws of their fathers, there was little food for either the attacked or the attacker. 1 Machabees 6:42-54.
4. Philip, who had been made regent by King Antiochus V, returned from Persia. Lysias suggests that they make peace with Judas as there is little food for any of them. The king agreed and went to Judas and spoke words of peace. But when he was allowed into the city and saw its strong walls he broke his word and gave commands for his men to destroy the walls. He left in haste and on returning to to Antioch found that Philip had become master of the city.The king fought against Philip and took the city. 1 Machabees 6:55-63.


1. Demetrius comes from Rome and reigns near the coast. King Antiochus and Lysais are captured and killed with Demetrius taking over the throne. 1 Machabees 7:1-4.
2. A wicked Israelite, Alcimus, who wanted to be made a priest, came to Demetrius and encouraged him to send an army against the Israelites. 1 Machabees 7:5-7.
3. Demetrius sends an army under the command of Bacchides along with Alcimus whom he made high priest. They came to the Israelites with words of peace. But their words of peace were lies and many Israelies were killed. Judas saw all that was happening and he took vengeance against those Israelites who had betrayed their people and their laws. 1 Machabees 7:8-25.
4. The king sent Nicanor to defeat Judas. Nicanor spoke words of peace but Judas knew of his deceit. There followed a battle with Nicanor losing many men and fleeing to Mount Sion where he tells the priests and people that unless Judas is handed over to him he will return and destroy their city. 1 Machabees 7:26-38.
5. Nicanor came with a large army. Judas prays for success and when the battle commences his prayer is answered. Nicanor is killed and his army routed. For a while there is peace. 1 Machabees 7:39-50.
6. The Pax Romana. Judas had heard of the Romans and their strength, their conquests, and their ways of justice. He sends Eupolemus, the son of his brother John, and Jason the son of his brother Eleazar, to Rome, as emissaries. 1 Machabees 8:1-16.
7. The Romans make a pact with the Israelites. In case of war they will help to defend each other. And the Romans wrote to King Demetrius asking why he had made the yoke heavy on their allies, the Jews. 1 Machabees 8:17-32.

161 BC

8. Demetrius hears that Nicanor and his army has been defeated. Once again he sends Bacchides and Alcimus with a large army. When Judas’ men see the size of the army against them many lose heart and flee. This leaves Judas with a 161 small band of men who bravely enter into battle. Judas is slain and his brothers bury him in the sepulchre of their fathers in Mondin. 1 Machabees 9:1-22.


1. After the death of Judas the wicked came forth and iniquity prospered. There was a great famine and everyone yielded to Bacchides. Friends of Judas were sought, and brought to Bacchides who took vengeance on them. 1 Machabees 9:23-27. 161
2. Jonathan was chosen to succeed his brother. When Bacchides heard this he sought to kill Jonathan. Jonathan sent his brother John to the Nabutheans to ask for their help. But John is taken and killed by the children of Jambri of the city of Madaba. Later the children of Jambri hold a great wedding when the daughter of one of the princes of Chanaan is to marry and comes out of the city to meet her groom. Jonathan and his brethren remember the blood of their brother and lay in ambush and attack the people. The marriage is turned into mourning. 1 Machabees 9:28-42.
3. When Bacchides heard of the marriage ambush he sent a great army to attack Jonathan. But Jonathan succeeds in battle and a thousand of Bacchides army are slain. Jonathan builds strong cities in Judea. 1 Machabees 9:43-53.
4. Alcimus commands that the inner walls of the sanctuary be destroyed. But at this time he is stricken with palsy and unable to speak. He dies in great torment. 1 Machabees 9:54-56.
5. After Alcimus’ death Bacchides returned to the king and, for two years there is quiet. But there are wicked Israelites who plot against Jonathan and his brethren and persuade Bacchides to make war against them. Bacchides comes secretly with a large army. Jonathan moves to the desert. 1 Machabees 9:57-62.

153 BC

6. Bacchides, with his army, came to the desert but Johnathan and his brethren afflicted him and took many prisoners. Bacchides was angry with the wicked Israelites who had encouraged him to attack Jonathan. He sought out these traitors and slew them. Jonathan sent ambassadors to Bacchides to make peace and offer to restore the prisoners. This was accepted and Bacchides withdrew from the land of Judah and came no more into their country. 1 Machabees 9:63-73.


150 BC

1. Alexander, son of Antiochus took Ptolemais and reigned there. He heard of Jonathan and his victories and sent greetings along with a purple robe and a gold crown. Demetrius also sent a letter to Jonathan but this was given no credit by the Jews who remembered the great evil Demetrius had done in Israel. 1 Machabees 10:1-47.
2. King Alexander and King Demetrius do battle. Demetrius is defeated and killed. Alexander sent ambassadors to Ptolemy, king of Egypt suggesting a peace pact and that Ptolemy should give him his daughter, Cleopatra, in marriage. Ptolmey agrees to this and there is a great gathering to which Jonathan is invited. Some wicked men of Israel come to speak against Jonathan but the king gave no heed to them. Jonathan is clothed in purple, sits by the king, and enrolled amongst his chief friends. 1 Machabees 10:48-66.
3. Demetrius sends his general Apollonius against Jonathan. Once again Jonathan is victorious. When Alexander hears of this he honours Jonathan yet more sending him a buckle of gold as was the custom to be given to those who are of royal blood. 1 Machabees 10:67-89.
4. The king of Egypt became jealous of Alexander’s kingdom. While Alexander was in Cilicia, King Ptolemy took away his daughter, Cleopatra, and gave her to Demetrius thus alienating himself from Alexander. In the ensuing battle Potlemy is victorious with Alexander fleeing to Arabia. 1 Machabees 11:1-18.


146 BC

1. During the reign of King Demetrius II Jonathan laid seige to Jerusalem. Some Jews went to Demetrius to tell him what was happening. Jonathan and Demetrius meet and an agreement is reached that Judah should be free from tribute. 1 Machabees 11:19-31.
2. Demetrius declares the peace. But the troops of his nation hated him for what he had done. Jonathan asks Demetrius that those in Jerusalem, who fought against Israel, should be cast out. Demetrius agrees and gives Jonathan further honours. 1 Machabees 11:32-43.
3. Jonathan sends three thousand men to Demetrius. They defend the king when his own army revolts against him. Though greatly outnumbered the Israelites win the day and save the king’s life. But instead of making the king more loyal to Jonathan it had the opposite effect as Demetrius was now afraid of his own people. So he did not reward Jonathan but gave him great trouble. 1 Machabees 11:44-53.


144 BC

1. The young boy, Antiochus VI, is made king. Demetrius flees. Antiochus writes to Jonathan confirming his high priesthood and the friendship which exists between them. 1 Machabees 11:54-59.
2. Jonathan attacked Gaza and after besieging it burnt all the suburbs and took the spoils. Then he went through the country as far as Damascus. 1 Machabees 11:60-62.
3. Jonathan heard that Demetrius had gathered an army. He and his brother, Simon, went against them and were victorious. They desired to make peace with Demetrius and he accepted it. 1 Machabees 11:63-66.
4. Jonathan and his army are ambushed. Many of Jonathan’s army flee but Jonathan prays and starts to fight. Those near him are encouraged by his valour and fight with him. Jonathan is once again victorious. 1 Machabees 11:67-74.
5. Jonathan renews his agreement with the Romans and sends emissaries to the Spartans and other places. The agreements were ratified. 1 Machabees 12:1-23.
6. Yet again Demetrius brings an army against the Israelites. They plan to attack at night but Jonathan knows this as he has had spies enter the enemy camp. So Jonathan has his men stay at the ready all night. When Demetrius’ army hear this they are struck with fear and dread and eventually flee with Jonathan’s army pursuing them. 1 Machabees 12:24-30.
7. Next Jonathan turned against the Arabians and defeated them. Then he went forward as far as Damascus and passed through that country. 1 Machabees 12:31-32.
8. Simon also went forth to Joppe and put a garrison there as he had heard that they were planning to make a treaty with Demetrius. 1 Machabees 12:33-34.
9. Jonathan returns to Jerusalem and builds up the walls of Jerusalem raising a mound between the castle and the city. Simon built Adiada in Sephela and fortified it. 1 Machabees 12:35-38.
10. Tryphon had designs on making himself king of Asia and killing king Antiochus. He sets forth with an army to meet Jonathan who comes out with an even bigger army. Tryphon plays the part of a friend and invites Jonathan to accompany him to Ptolemais. Jonathan is deceived by his talk. When they enter the city Jonathan is taken prisoner. 1 Machabees 12:39-48. 
11. Tryphon sends out his army to fight the Israelites who are enraged to hear of Jonathan’s capture, fight valiantly, and defeat Tryphons army. 1 Machabees 12:49-54.


143 BC

1. Simon takes over as leader of the Jews. The walls of Jerusalem are strenghtened. Tryphon comes with his army to do battle. He sends a message to Simon saying that he will release Jonathan for a hundred talents of silver and Jonathan’s two sons. Simon knew that Tryphon’s words were deceitful but was in fear in case not agreeing would bring down the hatred of the people. Therefore he sent his two sons and the silver but Jonathan was not released. 1 Machabees 13:1-19.

142 BC

2. Tryphon continued to fight against the Israelites. He slew Jonathan and his sons. Their bones were taken by Simon and buried in Modin with great mourning. 1 Machabees 13:20-30.


1. Tryphon slew king Antiochus VI and reigned in his place. 1 Machabees 13:31-32.

141 BC

2. Simon built up the strongholds of Judea. He chose men to go to Demetrius asking for a grant of immunity to the land which Israel had won. Demetrius agrees and replies in a letter of great friendliness. The effect of this letter is that the Jews started to write in the instruments and public records; ‘The first year under Simon the high priest, the great captain and prince of the Jews’. 1 Machabees 13:33-42.
3. Simon besieged Gaza but the people cried out asking for peace. So Simon did not destroy them but cast them out of the city and cleared the city of idols. In a similar way Jerusalem was cleared of people and cleansed of the idols. 1 Machabees 13:43-53.
4. Simon saw that his son, John, was a valiant man and made him captain of all the force. 1 Machabees 13:54.
5. Demetrius II took his army to try and find help to fight Tryphon. He passed through the land of Arsaces of Persia who sent his men to apprehend Demetrius II which they did and he is put into custody. 1 Machabees 14:1-3.
6. Simon brought great peace to Judah. When Rome heard that Jonathan was dead they write to Simon renewing their friendship. Similar letters were received from the Spartans. Simon sent a great shield of gold to Rome to confirm the league with them. 1 Machabees 14:4-24.
7. The people of Rome responded with a decree of liberty to Simon which was registered in tablets of brass and set upon pillars in Mount Sion. 1 Machabees 14:25-49.


1. King Antiochus VII sends letters of honour to Simon. Then he gathers a force of men and attacks Tryphon who retreats to Dora where Antiochus besieges him. 1 Machabees 15:1-25.
2. Simon sent two thousand men to assist Antiochus but he would not receive them and broke the covenant he had made. 1 Machabees 15:26-27.
3. Antiochus accuses Simon of usurping land which was not theirs. Simon answers that all the land that they had attacked had previously belonged to the Israelites and had been stolen from them. 1 Machabees 15:28-36.
4. Tryphon escapes by sea. Antiochus commands his men, under the captaincy of Cendebeus, to move towards Judea. 1 Machabees 15:37-41.
5. Simon is now an old man. He encourages his eldest sons, Judas and John, to fight against the army of Cendebeus which was put to flight though many fell or were wounded. 1 Machabees 16:1-8.

137 BC

6. Judas, John’s brother, had been wounded but John pursued Cendebeus’ army which fled into wooden towers at Azotus. John set fire to them. There died two thousand men. 1 Machabees 16:9-10.

134 BC

7. Ptolemy deceives Simon and his sons by inviting them to attend a great banquet. But after they had drunk plentifully they slew them. A messenger tells Simon’s son John what has happened and that men were on their way to kill John. 1 Machabees 16:11-21.
8. John apprehended the men and put them to death. 1 Machabees 16:22-24.