1 Machabees iv.

Notes & Commentary:

Ver. 2. Guides. Several were apostates. Judas was at or near Maspha. (Calmet)

Ver. 3. Rose up. The vigilance of rulers and pastors preserves from the devil’s stratagems. (Worthington)

Ver. 4. Camp, foraging, as they despised the forces of Judas, and supposed he was in the camp, or engaged with Gorgias.

Ver. 6. Three. We find seven thousand elsewhere. He was at the head of three thousand, and set his three brothers over fifteen hundred each. — Who. Some copies read, “because.” He could arm no more completely. — Swords. This is added in Greek and in some Latin copies. Having already gained two victories, they must have had some swords, with which they slew the fugitives, ver. 15. (Calmet) — They were ill armed, through poverty (Josephus) chiefly, (Haydock) using slings, Zacharias ix. 15. (Calmet) — Confidence in God procureth his assistance, ver. 8. (Worthington)

Ver. 13. Trumpet. There were many priests in the army.

Ver. 15. Gezeron, or Gazera, near Emmaus. — Idumea. Alexandrian manuscript reads “Judea,” which seems more probable. The enemy fled on all sides, some among the Philistines; (Calmet) others to the southern parts of Juda, occupied by Edom. (Haydock)

Ver. 23. Sea. This sort of purple was most esteemed. The art of dying it is now lost. The merchants’ goods fell into the hands of the Jews. The pursuit was interrupted by the sabbath. At various times Bacchides and Timothy lost above 20,000; Phylarchus and Callisthenes perished; and Nicanor saved himself by flight. The booty was laid up in places of security, 2 Machabees viii. 25, 30.

Ver. 24. For ever. This was the chorus of Psalm cxxxv., which was sung; (Calmet) or the [Psalm] cxvii. might be used on this occasion. (Haydock)

Ver. 27. Commanded. See what followed, 2 Machabees viii. 8., to the end. (Worthington)

Ver. 32. Destruction. Let them perish, or fall upon each other.

Ver. 38. Burnt by Callisthenes, whom the Jews burnt in a house, 2 Machabees viii. (Calmet) — Chambers; (pastophoria. Septuagint) places for beds, veils, &c. (Haydock) — St. Jerome commonly prefers “the treasury,” with Aquila, or “beds,” as Symmachus translates. Chambers for the officers of the temple were common both among pagans and Christians. (Rufin, Hist. ii. 23.; Com. Apost.[Apostolic Constitutions?] ii. 57; Clement [of Alexandria,] pæd. iii. 2.) (Calmet) — As it was the chief design of Judas to defend religion, so he presently purifies the temple. (Worthington)

Ver. 41. Fight, or to be ready, if the garrison should offer to molest them (Calmet) from the higher part of Sion, while they were performing what religion required of them. (Haydock)

Ver. 42. Blemish. Legal uncleanness or immorality. (Calmet)

Ver. 43. Defiled. Altars, temples, and statues of false gods made of stone, and set up in the temple, (chap. i. 50.; Worthington) and before the houses, (2 Machabees x. 1.) were now demolished and thrown into the vale of Cedron, 2 Paralipomenon xxix. 16.

Ver. 44. Profaned with impure victims, and with the altar of Jupiter erected above it, chap. i. 23.

Ver. 46. Stones; rough, and covered with brass: (Exodus xx. 25.) though this latter circumstances is not certain with respect to the altar built by the captives. — Prophet. None was recognized after Malachias, as God prepared his people to pay more attention to the Messias.

Ver. 47. Law. Nothing was specified. The altar in the desert was of wood. At Sinai and Hebal, turf or rough stones were used; whence unhewed stones were judged most proper.

Ver. 48. Up, or repaired the temple chambers, &c.

Ver. 51. Veils, at the entrance of the holy of holies. (Calmet)

Ver. 52. Year. The temple was purified a little more than two years after it had been profaned. (The year [of the kingdom of the Greeks?] 145.) (Worthington) — The sacrifices had been interrupted just three years. The Second Book [of Machabees] (x. 3.) specifies two years; whence some infer, that the temple was twice dedicated. But these two years most probably refer to the administration of Judas. (St. Thomas Aquinas or some other com.[commentator]; Usher, the year of the world 3840.; Tirinus; Calmet; Salien; Menochius)

Ver. 57. Escutcheons, or bucklers of gold, taken from the soldiers of Antiochus, chap. vi. 39. Such ornaments were placed in temples, to testify the gratitude of the people. They wished to restore as much as possible what had been taken away, chap. i. 23. On this occasion the Jews carried branches in memory of what they had suffered in desert places for three years. Hence they style it the feast of tabernacles of Casleu, 2 Machabees i. 9., and x. 6. (Calmet)

Ver. 59. Decreed. Our Saviour observed this [Hanukkah] festival, which was appointed so long after Moses, John x. 22. (Worthington) — It was styled Encœnia, and kept in winter, while Solomon’s temple was dedicated in Tisri, and Zorobabel’s in Adar. The Jews light lamps, (Calmet) to testify their joy. (Josephus, Antiquities xii. 11.) — The Rabbins add, that a small bottle of oil had been preserved by the high priest, which multiplied so as to supply the lamps during the whole octave. Hence they still have lights at their windows on this festival. (Selden, Syn. iii. 13.)

Ver. 61. Bethsura, which might receive reinforcements from Sion; or rather, (Calmet) Greek, they “fortified Bethsura to keep it, (Sion) that,” &c. (Grotius) (Vatable) — Idumea. The people of that country had seized many cities of Juda. (Calmet) — Read 2 Machabees x. 1. (Worthington)

Bible Text & Cross-references:

Judas routs the king’s army. Gorgias flies before him. Lysias comes against him with a great army, but is defeated. Judas cleanses the temple, sets up a new altar, and fortifies the sanctuary.

1 Then *Gorgias took five thousand men, and a thousand of the best horsemen; and they removed out of the camp by night.

2 That they might come upon the camp of the Jews, and strike them suddenly: and the men that were of the castle were their guides.

3 And Judas heard of it, and rose up, he and the valiant men, to attack the king’s forces that were in Emmaus.

4 For as yet the army was dispersed from the camp.

5 And Gorgias came by night into the camp of Judas, and found no man; and he sought them in the mountains: for he said: These men flee from us.

6 And when it was day, Judas shewed himself in the plain with three thousand men only, who neither had armour nor swords:

7 And they saw the camp of the Gentiles that it was strong, and the men in breastplates, and the horsemen round about them, and these were trained up to war.

8 And Judas said to the men that were with him: Fear ye not their multitude, neither be ye afraid of their assault.

9 *Remember in what manner our fathers were saved in the Red Sea, when Pharao pursued them with a great army.

10 And now let us cry to heaven, and the Lord will have mercy on us, and will remember the covenant of our fathers, and will destroy this army before our face this day:

11 And all nations shall know that there is one that redeemeth and delivereth Israel.

12 And the strangers lifted up their eyes, and saw them coming against them.

13 And they went out of the camp to battle, and they that were with Judas sounded the trumpet.

14 And they joined battle: and the Gentiles were routed, and fled into the plain.

15 But all the hindmost of them fell by the sword, and they pursued them as far as Gezeron, and even to the plains of Idumea, and of Azotus, and of Jamnia: and there fell of them to the number of three thousand men.

16 And Judas returned again with his army that followed him.

17 And he said to the people: Be not greedy of the spoils; for there is war before us:

18 And Gorgias and his army are near us in the mountain: but stand ye now against our enemies, and overthrow them, and you shall take the spoils afterwards with safety.

19 And as Judas was speaking these words, behold part of them appeared, looking forth from the mountain.

20 And Gorgias saw that his men were put to flight, and that they had set fire to the camp: for the smoke that was seen declared what was done.

21 And when they had seen this, they were seized with great fear, seeing at the same time Judas and his army in the plain ready to fight.

22 So they all fled away into the land of the strangers.

23 And Judas returned to take the spoils of the camp, and they got much gold, and silver, and blue silk, and purple of the sea, and great riches.

24 And returning home, they sung a hymn, and blessed God in heaven, because he is good, because his mercy endureth for ever.

25 So Israel had a great deliverance that day.

26 And such of the strangers as escaped, went and told Lysias all that had happened.

27 And when he heard these things, he was amazed and discouraged: because things had not succeeded in Israel according to his mind, and as the king had commanded.

28 So the year *following, Lysias gathered together threescore thousand chosen men, and five thousand horsemen, that he might subdue them.

29 And they came into Judea, and pitched their tents in Bethoron, and Judas met them with ten thousand men.

30 And they saw that the army was strong, and he prayed, and said: Blessed art thou, O Saviour of Israel, *who didst break the violence of the mighty by the hand of thy servant David, **and didst deliver up the camp of the strangers into the hands of Jonathan, the son of Saul, and of his armour-bearer.

31 Shut up this army in the hands of thy people, Israel, and let them be confounded in their host and their horsemen.

32 Strike them with fear, and cause the boldness of their strength to languish, and let them quake at their own destruction.

33 Cast them down with the sword of them that love thee: and let all that know thy name praise thee with hymns.

34 And they joined battle: and there fell of the army of Lysias five thousand men.

35 And when Lysias saw that his men were put to flight, and how bold the Jews were, and that they were ready either to live, or to die manfully, he went to Antioch, and chose soldiers, that they might come again into Judea with greater numbers.

36 Then Judas, and his brethren said: Behold our enemies are discomfited: let us go up now to cleanse the holy places, and to repair them.

37 And all the army assembled together, and they went up into Mount Sion.

38 And they saw the sanctuary desolate, and the altar profaned, and the gates burnt, and shrubs growing up in the courts as in a forest, or on the mountains, and the chambers joining to the temple thrown down.*

39 And they rent their garments, and made great lamentation, and put ashes on their heads:

40 And they fell face down to the ground on their faces, and they sounded with the trumpets of alarm, and they cried towards heaven.

41 Then Judas appointed men to fight against them that were in the castle, till they had cleansed the holy places.

42 And he chose priests without blemish, whose will was set upon the law of God:

43 And they cleansed the holy places, and took away the stones that had been defiled into an unclean place.

44 And he considered about the altar of holocausts that had been profaned, what he should do with it.

45 And a good counsel came into their minds, to pull it down: lest it should be a reproach to them, because the Gentiles had defiled it; so they threw it down.

46 And they laid up the stones in the mountain of the temple, in a convenient place, till there should come a prophet, and give answer concerning them.

47 Then they took whole stones according to the law, and built a new altar, according to the former:

48 And they built up the holy places, and the things that were within the temple: and they sanctified the temple, and the courts.

49 And they made new holy vessels, and brought in the candlestick, and the altar of incense, and the table, into the temple.

50 And they put incense upon the altar, and lighted up the lamps that were upon the candlestick, and they gave light in the temple.

51 And they set the loaves upon the table, and hung up the veils, and finished all the works that they had begun to make.

52 And they arose before the morning, on the five and twentieth day of the ninth month, (which is the month of Casleu) in the hundred and forty-eighth year.*

53 And they offered sacrifice, according to the law, upon the new altar of holocausts which they had made.

54 According to the time, and according to the day wherein the heathens had defiled it, in the same was it dedicated anew with canticles, and harps, and lutes, and cymbals.

55 And all the people fell upon their faces, and adored, and blessed up to heaven, him that had prospered them.

56 And they kept the dedication of the altar eight days, and they offered holocausts with joy, and sacrifices of salvation, and of praise.

57 And they adorned the front of the temple with crowns of gold, and escutcheons, and they renewed the gates, and the chambers, and hanged doors upon them.

58 And there was exceeding great joy among the people, and the reproach of the Gentiles was turned away.

59 *And Judas, and his brethren, and all the church of Israel decreed, that the day of the dedication of the altar should be kept in its season from year to year for eight days, from the five and twentieth day of the month of Casleu, with joy and gladness.

60 They built up also at that time Mount Sion, with high walls, and strong towers round about, lest the Gentiles should at any time come, and tread it down, as they did before.

61 And he placed a garrison there to keep it, and he fortified it, to secure Bethsura, that the people might have a defence against Idumea.



1: Year of the World 3839, Year before Christ 165.

9: Exodus xiv. 9.

28: Year of the World 3839.

30: 1 Kings xvii. 10. — ** 1 Kings xiv. 13.

38: Year of the World 3840.

52: Year of the World 3840.

59: John x. 22.