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IN those days arose Mathathias the son of John, the son of Simeon, a priest of the sons of Joarib, from Jerusalem, and he abode in the mountain of Modin.

Ver. 1.  Joarib.  This family was the most distinguished, as Josephus, who sprung from it, asserts, (H.) being the first of the twenty-four families of priests.  1 Par. xxiv. 7. 19.  M.

 

--- Mathathias was probably a descendant of Phinees, (v. 54.) and was officiating when the impious orders arrived.  Whereupon he retired to Modin, (C.) near Diospolis.  S. Jer.

 

--- Many say he was chosen high priest; and therefore decided the question about fighting on the sabbath.  But any other, in similar emergencies, might have given that decision.  C.

 

--- Judas was chosen, (Josephus) and Jonathas exercised the functions.  Ant. xx. 8.

 

--- To verify the prediction of Jacob, some have concluded that the Machabees were allied to the tribe of Juda by the mother's side.  S. Jer.  S. Aug. c. Faust. i. 72.

 

--- Yet this is not proved, nor requisite.  They were called Asmoneans, either from the town of Asamon, (Jos. xv. 27.) or from Assamoneus, great grandfather of Mathathias.  Jos. Ant. xii. 8.

 

--- This family ruled till Herod, 128 years.  C.

 

--- Here an account is given of their wars, and more fully in the eight last chapters of the second Book.  W.

 

--- Perhaps John, Mathathias, &c. were chosen high priests by the people, while the king sent others.  Selden.




2 And he had five sons: John who was surnamed Gaddis:

Ver. 2.  Gaddis, "a troop, fortunate, or a heap of wheat."  C.


3 And Simon, who was surnamed Thasi:

Ver. 3.  Thasi, in Syr. "ardent," or feeble, (C.) or a destroyer.  Pagn.


4 And Judas, who was called Machabeus:

Ver. 4.  Machabeus.  The common etymology has been given.  H.

 

--- But Judas had then no banners, and there is no proof that the Jews used such abbreviations, (C.) though moderns write Rambam, for "R. Moses, son  of Maimon," Moce-bie, (H.) "conquering in God," (equivalent to Nicator, the title of Sedeucus) seems better, particularly as the word is written Machabee.  C.

 

--- Yet this is liable to the objection of c being placed instead of k, which occurs invariably in the Chal. and Syr.  H.


5 And Eleazar, who was surnamed Abaron: and Jonathan, who was surnamed Apphus.

Ver. 5.  Abaron, "passing," undaunted, (C.) or "potent."

 

--- Apphus, "the wrath or flying of counsel," (Pagn.) "fainting, abundant, or dissipating."  C.

 

--- This small help, of great importance, was foretold by Daniel, xi. 34.  W.


6 These saw the evils that were done in the people of Juda, and in Jerusalem.


7 And Mathathias said: Woe is me, wherefore was I born to see the ruin of my people, and the ruin of the holy city, and to dwell there, when it is given into the hands of the enemies?

Ver. 7.  Ruin.  S. Polycarp used a similar expression.  Eus. v. 19.


8 The holy places are come into the hands of strangers: her temple is become as a man without honour. 9 The vessels of her glory are carried away captive: her old men are murdered in the streets, and her young men are fallen by the sword of the enemies. 10 What nation hath not inherited her kingdom, and gotten of her spoils? 11 All her ornaments are taken away. She that was free is made a slave. 12 And behold our sanctuary, and our beauty, and our glory is laid waste, and the Gentiles have defiled them.


13 To what end then should we live any longer? 14 And Mathathias and his sons rent their garments, and they covered themselves with haircloth, and made great lamentation.

Ver. 14.  Lamentation.  By voluntary mortification, he sought to appease God's indignation.  M.


15 And they that were sent from king Antiochus came thither, to compel them that were fled into the city of Modin, to sacrifice, and to burn incense, and to depart from the law of God. 16 And many of the people of Israel consented, and came to them: but Mathathias and his sons stood firm. 17 And they that were sent from Antiochus, answering, said to Mathathias: Thou art a ruler, and an honourable, and great man in this city, and adorned with sons, and brethren. 18 Therefore come thou first, and obey the king's commandment, as all nations have done, and the men of Juda, and they that remain in Jerusalem: and thou, and thy sons, shall be in the number of the king's friends, and enriched with gold, and silver, and many presents.

Ver. 18.  They.  Josephus mentions Apelles.  Persecutors have thus frequently attempted to delude the faithful; first by flattery, and then by torments.




19 Then Mathathias answered, and said with a loud voice: Although all nations obey king Antiochus, so as to depart every man from the service of the law of his fathers, and consent to his commandments: 20 I and my sons, and my brethren will obey the law of our fathers. 21 God be merciful unto us: it is not profitable for us to forsake the law, and the justices of God:

Ver. 21.  Profitable.  But quite the reverse both for this world and for the next.  It is a dreadful crime.


22 We will not hearken to the words of king Antiochus, neither will we sacrifice, and transgress the commandments of our law, to go another way.

Ver. 22.  Way.  Gr. "to the right or to the left."  H.


23 Now as he left off speaking these words, there came a certain Jew in the sight of all to sacrifice to the idols upon the altar in the city of Modin, according to the king's commandment. 24 And Mathathias saw and was grieved, and his reins trembled, and his wrath was kindled according to the judgment of the law, and running upon him he slew him upon the altar:

Ver. 24.  Law.  Deut. xi. 6. M. and xiii. 9.  Those who attempted to introduce the worship of idols, were to be slain without farther trial.  C.

 

--- Mathathias was then judge and high priest.  W.

 

--- He acted not though private revenge.  S. Cyp. exhort. 5.  S. Bern. ep. 158.  W.


25 Moreover the man whom king Antiochus had sent, who compelled them to sacrifice, he slew at the same time, and pulled down the altar. 26 And shewed zeal for the law, as Phinees did by Zamri the son of Salomi.

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27 And Mathathias cried out in the city with a loud voice, saying: Every one that hath zeal for the law, and maintaineth the testament, let him follow me. 28 So he, and his sons fled into the mountains, and left all that they had in the city. 29 Then many that sought after judgment, and justice, went down into the desert:

Ver. 29.  And justice.  The ceremonial and moral law, (C.) or to live piously.  M.


30 And they abode there, they and their children, and their wives, and their cattle: because afflictions increased upon them. 31 And it was told to the king's men, and to the army that was in Jerusalem in the city of David, that certain men who had broken the king's commandment, were gone away into the secret places in the wilderness, and that many were gone after them.


32 And forthwith they went out towards them, and made war against them on the sabbath day, 33 And they said to them: Do you still resist? come forth, and do according to the edict of king Antiochus, and you shall live. 34 And they said: We will not come forth, neither will we obey the king's edict, to profane the sabbath day.

Ver. 34.  Sabbath.  By sacrificing to idols, or by coming forth to fight.  H.

 

--- They were of opinion that the latter was unlawful, and their ignorance might be excused.  M.


35 And they made haste to give them battle. 36 But they answered them not, neither did they cast a stone at them, nor stopped up the secret places,
37 Saying: Let us all die in our innocency: and heaven and earth shall be witnesses for us, that you put us to death wrongfully.

Ver. 37.  Innocency.  Lit. "simplicity," has often this sense.  Their piety was not, however, enlightened, as the ceremonial law gives way on such occasions.  C.

 

--- Their simplicity is commended by S. Ambrose, Of. i. 40.  Yet they had not the prudence of serpents, which is also requisite.  The Church remains.  W.


38 So they gave them battle on the sabbath: and they were slain with their wives, and their children, and their cattle, to the number of a thousand persons. 39 And Mathathias and his friends heard of it, and they mourned for them exceedingly. 40 And every man said to his neighbour: If we shall all do as our brethren have done, and not fight against the heathens for our lives, and our justifications: they will now quickly root us out of the earth. 41 And they determined in that day, saying: Whosoever shall come up against us to fight on the sabbath day, we will fight against him: and we will not all die, as our brethren that were slain in the secret places.

Ver. 41.  Come up.  They say not that they will attack.  C.

 

--- Pompey perceived this, and made his advances and works on the sabbath, without opposition.  Jos. Bel. i. 5.

 

--- Pompey I had thus taken Jerusalem.  Jos. Ant. xii. 1.

 

--- The Samaritans will not more on that day.  Ex. xvi. 29. ep. 2. ad Scaliger

 

--- The Jews now take care of the sick, but will not help a beast out of the ditch on the sabbath, though in our Saviour's time they did just the reverse.  Lu. xiv. 5.  The law has thus been variously explained.  The Machabees judged with prudence.  Yet superstition had again gained ground, when Josephus (vita) would not fight of assemble his forces on the sabbath, as being contrary to the law.  In a storm, a Jewish pilot abandoned the helm till the danger was evident.  Synes. ep. iv.


42 Then was assembled to them the congregation of the Assideans, the stoutest of Israel, every one that had a good will for the law.

Ver. 42.  The Assideans.  A set of men that led a religious life; and were zealous for the law and worship of God.  Ch.

 

--- They fought like the knights of Malta.  A. Lapide

 

--- Esidim (H.) means "the pious."  Eccli. xliv. 10.  Many think they were the same with the Cinites, Rechabites, and Essenes.  From them spring the Pharisees.  C.

 

--- The society was intent on adorning the temple, (Scal.) by which they swore.  Mat. xxiii. 6.  C.

 

--- They were like monks in the old law.  Simon.  M.

 

--- These Essenes followed piety, avoiding the hypocrisy and error of the Pharisees and Sadducees.  W.  Jos. Bel. ii. 12.


43 And all they that fled from the evils, joined themselves to them, and were a support to them. 44 And they gathered an army, and slew the sinners in their wrath, and the wicked men in their indignation: and the rest fled to the nations for safety.

Ver. 44.  Sinners.  Apostate Jews.  C.


45 And Mathathias and his friends went round about, and they threw down the altars: 46 And they circumcised all the children whom they found in the confines of Israel that were uncircumcised: and they did valiantly. 47 And they pursued after the children of pride, and the work prospered in their hands: 48 And they recovered the law out of the hands of the nations, and out of the hands of the kings: and they yielded not the horn to the sinner.

Ver. 48.  Horn.  That is, they suffered not the power of Antiochus, that man of sin, to abolish the law and religion of God.  Ch.


49 Now the days drew near that Mathathias should die, and he said to his sons: Now hath pride and chastisement gotten strength, and the time of destruction, and the wrath of indignation: 50 Now therefore, O my sons, be ye zealous for the law, and give your lives for the covenant of your fathers. 51 And call to remembrance the works of the fathers, which they have done in their generations: and you shall receive great glory, and an everlasting name. 52 Was not Abraham found faithful in temptation, and it was reputed to him unto justice?

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53 Joseph in the time of his distress kept the commandment, and he was made lord of Egypt.

Ver. 53.  Lord, next to the king.  Gen. xli. 40.



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54 Phinees our father, by being fervent in the zeal of God, received the covenant of an everlasting priesthood.

Ver. 54.  Everlasting, as long as the old law should subsist.  C.



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55 Jesus, whilst he fulfilled the word, was made ruler in Israel.

Ver. 55.  Jesus; i.e. Josue.  Ch.

 

--- He and Caleb alone gave a true relation.  H.



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56 Caleb, for bearing witness before the congregation, received an inheritance.

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57 David by his mercy obtained the throne of an everlasting kingdom.

Ver. 57.  Mercy.  This virtue was characteristic.  C.



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58 Elias, while he was full of zeal for the law, was taken up into heaven.

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59 Ananias and Azarias and Misael by believing, were delivered out of the flame.

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60 Daniel in his innocency was delivered out of the mouth of the lions.

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61 And thus consider through all generations: that none that trust in him fail in strength. 62 And fear not the words of a sinful man, for his glory is dung, and worms: 63 To day he is lifted up, and to morrow he shall not be found, because he is returned into his earth; and his thought is come to nothing. 64 You therefore, my sons, take courage, and behave manfully in the law: for by it you shall be glorious. 65 And behold, I know that your brother Simon is a man of counsel: give ear to him always, and he shall be a father to you. 66 And Judas Machabeus who is valiant and strong from his youth up, let him be the leader of your army, and he shall manage the war of the people.

Ver. 66.  People.  Order is peculiarly requisite in all things, so here the proper persons are chosen, to whom each must submit in their sphere.  W.

 

--- Mathathias speaks as chief of the nation.  C.

 

--- Judas was his eldest son, and Simon the fourth.  Jos. seder. &c.


67 And you shall take to you all that observe the law: and revenge ye the wrong of your people. 68 Render to the Gentiles their reward, and take heed to the precepts of the law. 69 And he blessed them, and was joined to his fathers. 70 And he died in the hundred and forty-sixth year: and he was buried by his sons in the sepulchres of his fathers in Modin, and all Israel mourned for him with great mourning.

Ver. 70.  Year.  Not of his age, but of the Greeks, (M.) after being at the head about twelve months.  A. 3838.  C.


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