This second book is not a continuation of the history contained in the first book. It relates many of the same facts, and adds other details, omitted in the first book concerning the state of the Jews, both before and during the persecution of Antiochus. The book was originally written in Greek and commences with two letters sent by the Jews in Jerusalem to their brethren in Egypt.
1. The letters send greetings to their brethren and acquaint them with all that has
happened, the wars they have fought and won, the prayers offered and answered.
2 Machabees 1:1-36 & 2:1-19. 2. Authors preface. The author gives his terms of reference for the book stating the difficulties involved. 2 Machabees 2:20-33.
1. The holy city peacefully inhabited and the laws well kept because of the holiness of
the high priest Onias. But one, Simon of the tribe of Benjamin, was in opposition to the
high priest. When he could not get his own way Simon went to Apollonius the son of
Tharseas, who at that time was governor of Celesyria and Phoenicia, and told him that the
treasury in Jerusalem was full of immense sums of money, which did not belong to the
account of sacrifices and that it was possible to bring it all into the kings hands.
2 Machabees 3:1-6.
2. Apollonius instructs Heliodorus, who has charge of his affairs, and sent him with commission to bring the foresaid money. Heliodorus began his journey on the pretext of visiting cities, but intending to fulfill his kings purpose. When he came to Jerusalem he told the high priest the purpose of his visit. Onias explained that the money in the treasury was for the provision of widows and the fatherless. 2 Machabees 3:7-12.
3. Heliodorus is set on carrying out the task set by his king. The priests and all the people pray and lament asking God for help. When Heliodorus comes to the treasury he is struck by God falls to the ground and lays speechless without hope of recovery. Some friends of Heliodorus ask Onias to pray for his recovery who did so and Heliodorus went back to Apollonius who asked him who else he might send for the money. To which Heliodorus replied that Apollonius should send any enemy or traitor. 2 Machabees 3:13-40.
4. Simon spoke ill of Onias making it seem that it was he who had encouraged Heliodorus to raid the treasury. Emnities proceeded so far that murders were committed by some of Simons friends. 2 Machabees 4:1-6.
5. When Antiochus had taken possession of the throne, Jason the brother of Onias
ambitiously sought after the high priesthood. He promised the king money for him to become
high priest and even more money if he would allow him to build a place of exercise. Such a
place was built and the country lived as heathens even to using the choicest youths in
brothel houses. 2 Machabees 4:7-12.
6. Jason increased in his wickedness. Priests were not now occupied in the offices of the altar but neglected the temple and hastened to take part in the games. The games being kept every fifth year at Tyre, the king being present the wicked Jason sent silver to be used for a sacrifice to Hercules. 2 Machabees 4:13-22.
7. Three years later Jason sent Menelaus, the brother of Simon, to take money to
the king. Menelaus used the opportunity to obtain the high priesthood for himself. Jason was driven out and became a fugitive. 2 Machabees 4:23-26.
8. Menelaus did not keep his promise of money and was therefore removed from the office of high priesthood which was given to his brother Lysimachus.
2 Machabees 4:27-29.
9. The king goes to appease a sedition and leaves one of his nobles, Andronicus, 172 in
charge. Menelaus, seeing his chance, steals gold items from the temple and gives them to
Andronicus in return for the life of Onias. Andronicus accepts the gift and kills Onias.
The Jews and other nations grieved at the death of such a great man. 2 Machabees 4:30-35.
10. When the king returned and learned of the death of Onias he had Andronicus stripped of office, led around the city in shame and put to death. 2 Machabees 4:36-38.
11. The high priest Lysimachus committed many sacrileges. The people made an insurrection against him and put him to death. The accusation for the sacrileges was laid against Menelaus who had encouraged his brother in these matters. But Menelaus promised, Ptolemy, a favourite of the king, money to plead for him. This being done the evil Menelaus was acquitted and others who were innocent were put to death. 2 Machabees 4:39-50.
12. Antiochus makes a second journey to Egypt. At that time, through the whole city of Jerusalem, for forty days, horseman were seen running in the air, in gilded raiment, and armed with spears, like bands of soldiers. All men prayed that these visions might turn to good. 2 Machabees 5:1-4.
13. Following a rumour that Antiochus was dead, Jason attacked the city killing his countrymen without mercy. Eventually he was overpowered and thrust out into Egypt and perished in that foreign land. 2 Machabees 5:5-10.
14. Antiochus attacks Jerusalem and instructs his men to kill all before them, men, women and children. Many thousands were killed, others taken prisoner, and others sold. 2 Machabees 5:11-14.
15. With Menelaus as his guide Antiochus commits sacrilege by entering the temple and
taking holy vessels. Antiochus returns to Antioch with his spoils but then sends a hateful
prince, Apollonius, with an army with a command to kill. Apollonius came pretending peace
but on the Sabbath, going through the city, destroyed a great multitude. At this time
Judas Machabeus was in a desert place living amongst the wild beasts. 2 Machabees 5:15-27.
16. King Antiochus abolishes the Jewish Law. He compels the Jews to defile the temple and to sacrifice to idols. Two women who were accused of circumcising their children were thrown down from the city walls. Other Jews, who were discovered meeting privately for prayer, were killed by being burnt to death. These happenings should not shock us. They are for the correction of Gods people who never withdraws his mercy. 2 Machabees 6:1-17.
17. An old man, Eleazar, is condemned to death for not eating swines flesh. Out of compassion, and due to his old age, friends try to persuade him to pretend to eat which will be sufficient to save his life. But he refuses because by pretending to eat he would be dishonouring his faith. He goes bravely to his death. 2 Machabees 6:18-31.
18. A mother and her seven sons are apprehended and accused of not eating swines flesh. They undergo appalling tortures, having their tongues, hands and feet cut off. The mother was made to watch while each son was tortured. But none of them were prepared to obey the kings wishes and they, and their mother, all perish. 2 Machabees 7:1-42.
THE VICTORIES OF THE JEWS.
1. Judas Machabeus and those with him went privately into the towns and cities and
assembled an army of great strength. They continued to obey the laws and the Jewish
religion. Eventually Judas army became invincible and their fame and valour were
known throughout the land. 2 Machabees 8:1-7.
2. Philip, the governor of Jerusalem, sends for help and Nicanor with twenty thousand men are sent to root out the whole race of the Jews. When Judas men hear of Nicanor and his army some of them flee, distrusting the justice of God. But Judas exhorts his men to stand firm. God will be with them in the coming battle. 2 Machabees 8:8-21.
3. Judas appoints his captains and after the Holy Book had been read to them by Esdras
they joined battle against Nicanor. God being with them they were victorious. And they
slew others who had afflicted the Jews. 2 Machabees 8:22-29.
4. But the wicked Nicanor saw his army destroyed and fled back to Antioch professing that the Jews had God for their protector, and therefore could not be hurt because they followed the laws appointed by him. 2 Machabees 8:30-36.
5. King Antiochus returned in disgrace after trying to rob the temple in Persepolis but having been prevented by the multitude who put him and his men to flight. 2 Machabees 9:1-2.
6. When Antiochus heard what had happened to Nicanor and his army he was very angry and sought revenge. He set off towards Jerusalem on his chariot. But the Lord the God of Israel, who sees all things, struck him with an incurable and invisible plague. He suffered a terrible pain in his bowel. He fell with violence from the chariot. Thus he who thought he was powerful enough to command the waves had to be borne on a litter. His body swarmed with worms and the stench was such that no man could endure it and eventually he could not bear it himself. He prays to God to be released from his agony and even promises to adorn the temple of the Jews. 2 Machabees 9:3-17.
7. In despair Antiochus wrote to the Jews. His letter is one of supplication. He wishes the Jews; "Much health and welfare," and tells the Jews that he has appointed his son Antiochus V as king asking the Jews to receive his son graciously. Antiochus then died a miserable death. 2 Machabees 9:18-29.
8. Judas and his brethren recovered the city and the temple. They threw down the altars to idols. They purified the temple and offered sacrifices.They then kept eight days of joy after the manner of the feast of tabernacles. 2 Machabees 1O:1-9.
1. When Antiochus V came to the throne he appointed Lysias as general of the army. One
named Ptolemy was determined to be just to the Jews especially by reason of the wrong that
had been done to them. Being accused of this to Antiochus and being called a traitor he
put an end to his life by poison. 2 Machabees 10:10-13.
2. Governor Gorgias took with him strangers and joined up with Jews who had fallen from their religion and often fought against the Israelites. 2 Machabees 10:14-15.
3. Machabeus and his brethren, after beseeching the Lord, attack the stronghold of the Idumeans and, assaulting them with great force killed many and the rest retired into the strong towers. Machabeus left Simon with a sufficient force to besiege them while he went off to other battles. 2 Machabees 10:16-19.
4. Some of those who were with Simon allowed themselves to be bribed into allowing some of the besieged to escape. When Machabeus heard of this he had those who had done this put to death as traitors. He then took the two towers and slew more than twenty thousand. 2 Machabees 10:20-23.
5. Timotheus assembled a large army and horsemen from Asia and came to Judea intending to take the land by force. Machabeus and his army pray for deliverence from their adversaries. When they were in the heat of battle there appeared to the enemy, in the heavens, five men upon horses two of whom took Machabeus between them and kept him safe but cast darts and fireballs at the enemy. And the enemy lost twenty thousand and five hundred men and fled from the battle and took refuge in Gazara. 2 Machabees 10:24-32.
6. Then Machabeus, and those with him, laid seige to Gazara. The besieged shouted blasphemies at their besiegers so much so that it angered some twenty of Machabeus young men who forced their way into Gazara and opened up a way for others to enter. The place was pillaged and Timotheus, found hiding, was put to death. 2 Machabees 10:33-38.
7. When Lysias heard what had happened he got together a large army of men, horsemen and elephants, and came against the Jews thinking to take the city and hand it to the Gentiles and to make a sale of the high priesthood which would go to the highest bidder. Lysia and his army reached Bethsura and laid siege to it. 2 Machabees 11:1-5.
8. When Machabeus and his men heard of this they, and all the people, prayed to the Lord that he would send a good angel to save Israel. Machabeus and his army set forth and there appeared, going before them, a horseman in white clothing, with golden armour, shaking a spear. This gave them great courage and they rushed violently upon the enemy, slew many and put the rest to flight. Lysias himself fled away shamefully. 2 Machabees 11:6-12. .
9. Lysias realised that the Israelites could not be overcome because they relied on the help of almighty God. So he promised that he would agree to all things that are just and would persuade the king to be their friend. Machabeus consented to Lysias request. Letters were exchanged agreeing to these matters. 2 Machabees 11:13-38.
10. But, despite these covenants, there were those who would not let the Jews live in peace and quiet. These were namely, Timotheus, Apolloniusm, Hieronymus, Demophon and Nicanor. The men of Joppe were also guilty of wickedness.They encouraged Jews to go in the boats with them but then drowned them. Judas Machabeus heard of these cruelties and came with his men set their haven on fire and burnt their boats. When he heard that the Jamnites also designed to do the same he came upon them in the same way. The fires burnt so bright that they could be seen at Jerusalem two hundred and forty furlongs away. 2 Machabees 12:1-9.
11. As they were leaving Jamnia they were set on by Arabians. After a hard fight Judas was victorious and the Arabians, being overcome, besought Judas for peace. 2 Machabees 12:10-12.
12. Next Judas laid seige to a strong city the walls of which were so thick that the inhabitants felt no danger and shouted blasphemies. Judas, calling upon the great Lord, fiercely assaulted the walls and having taken the city slaughtered all before them. 2 Machabees 12:13-16.
13. In a similar manner they dealt with a garrison which had been left beind by Timotheus. 2 Machabees 12:17-19.
14. Judas went after Timotheus and came upon him near a fortress called Carnion. When the enemy saw Judas men coming towards them they were put to flight. Such was their panic that many fell by being knocked or wounded by their own companions. Timotheus is captured but pleads for his life and is released. 2 Machabees 12:20-25.
15. Judas went on to the fortress of Carnion, then to Ephron, where he overcame all resistance and slew the enemy. 2 Machabees 12:26-28.
16. From there they went to Scythopolis. But the Jews that lived there reported that they were treated kindly by the Scythopolitans. 2 Machabees 12:29-31.
17. After Pentecost they marched against Gorgias. He came out to face them with a large army. During the battle one of Judas horsemen took hold of Gorgias and would have taken him alive but a Thracian enemy cut off his shoulder and Gorgias escaped. 2 Machabees 12:32-37.
18. Judas gathered his army together and came to Odollam where they purified themselves and kept the Sabbath. The following day they went out to collect their dead. Under some of their coats they found votive offerings to idols which the law forbids. So all saw plainly the reason why they had been slain. They prayed for their fallen brethren that their sin might be forgotten. Judas made a collection and sent twelve thousand drachmas of silver to Jerusalem for sacrifice to be offered for the sins of the dead. It is therefore a holy and wholesome thought to pray for the dead that they may be loosed from their sins. (This is the first Biblical reference concerning prayers for the dead.) 2 Machabees 12:38-46.
19. Judas hears that Antiochus is coming to invade Judea along with Lysias and a large army of footmen, horsemen and chariots. Menelaus also joined them, not due to the welfare of his country, but hoping that he might be appointed chief ruler. But Antiochus perceived the reason for his presence and had him thrown to his death from a high tower. Thus was Menelaus put to death. 2 Machabees 13:1-8.
20. Antiochus came to do battle meaning to show himself worse than his father. Judas realised this and commanded the people to pray day and night. Judas men attack by night and, the Lord being with them, are victorious. Antiochus continued on to Bethsura, which was a stronghold of the Jews, but he was repulsed, he failed, he lost his men. The King made a treaty with Bethsura and went away. 2 Machabees 13:9-22.
21. Antiochus continues to fight Judas but was overcome. He hears that Philip, who had been left to look after the affairs at Antioch, had rebelled. He yields to the Jews and being reconciled offers sacrifice, honoured the temple and left gifts. He embraces Machabeus and makes him governor and prince from Ptolemais to Gerrenians. But when he comes to Ptolemais the people were displeased. Lysias sat at the judgement seat and explained the reason and circumstances of the peace. 2 Machabees 13:23-26.
1. After three years Judas heard that Demetrius had become very
powerful. Alcimus, a Jew who for his own evil intent desired to be high priest, told king
Demetrius that Judas was a warmonger who did not want peace. Demetrius sends Nicanor to
fight Judas and his people. 2 Machabees 14:1-10.
2. When the Jews heard that Nicanor was coming to wage war they prayed to God. Nicanor had heard of the valour of Jews under the leadership of Judas. He was afraid to try the matter by the sword. He therefore sends emissaries to make a covenant. This being done Nicanor married and lived in Jerusalem. 2 Machabees 14:11-25.
3. When Alicum heard of this he went to Demetrius telling him that Nicanor was a traitor. Demetrius writes to Nicanor telling him to send Judas Machabeus as a prisoner. Nicanor dare not disobey the king so he looked for a way to capture Judas. But Judas noticed that Nicanor was stern towards him and hid himself. 2 Machabees 14:26-30.
4. Nicanor commanded the temple priests to deliver Judas to him. He blasphemes and threatens to turn the temple over to the idol Bacchus. 2 Machabees 14:31-36.
5. Unable to find Judas, Nicanor determines to take an elderly Jewish holy man, Razias, as a hostage. Razias hears of this and, as Nicanors soldiers approach him, kills himself rather than be taken prisoner. 2 Machabees 14:37-46.
6. Nicanor continues his purpose of capturing Judas. He was so sure of his eventual success that he planned to set up a monument to his victory. Judas trusted the Lord and exhorted the people not to fear but to remember the help they had always received from the Lord. He told them of a dream in which he saw Onias, who had been a virtuous high priest. Next he saw Jeremiah the Prophet who handed Judas a sword of gold saying "Take this holy sword, a gift from God, wherewith thou shalt overthrow the adversaries of my people Israel." The people were greatly encouraged by these words. 2 Machabees 15:1-19.
7. The battle ensued with Judas and his people fighting with their hands whilst, at the same time, praying with their hearts. The Israelites were victorious and Nicanor, who had broken his covenant, was slain and his head carried to the temple to be shown to the people that it might be an evident and manifest sign of the help of God. 2 Machabees 15:20-40.