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A SHORT time after this Lysias the king's lieutenant, and cousin, and who had chief charge over all the affairs, being greatly displeased with what had happened,

Ver. 1.  Cousin.  He was of the blood royal and governor, (v. 22. and 1 B. xi. 18.) having supplanted Philip.  C.

 

--- Lysias had been vanquished already.  1 B. iv. 28.  W.  C.


2 Gathered together fourscore thousand men, and all the horsemen, and came against the Jews, thinking to take the city, and make it a habitation of the Gentiles: 3 And to make a gain of the temple, as of the other temples of the Gentiles, and to set the high priesthood to sale every year:

Ver. 3.  Temple, as of a farm, by selling offices and requiring money of those who offered victims.  1 B. x. 42.  C.


4 Never considering the power of God, but puffed up in mind, and trusting in the multitude of his foot soldiers, and the thousands of his horsemen, and his fourscore elephants. 5 So he came into Judea, and approaching to Bethsura, which was in a narrow place, the space of five furlongs from Jerusalem, he laid siege to that fortress.

Ver. 5.  Narrow.  Gr. "secure."  Prot. "strong town."

 

--- Furlongs.  Gr. "schœnus," (H.) 625 paces.  Yet Eusebius and S. Jerom say it was twenty miles distant, towards Hebron, (Jos. xv. 58.) which seems more accurate.  C.

 

--- Some figure may easily have been changed.  H.




6 But when Machabeus and they that were with him, understood that the strong holds were besieged, they and all the people besought the Lord with lamentations and tears, that he would send a good angel to save Israel.

Ver. 6.  Angel.  Knowing that the patriarchs and Moses had often received such aid, the Machabees prayed that their good cause might be espoused by the angels; and their request was granted, though they were forced to co-operate.  Sometimes God gave victory without the interference of men.  Ex. xiv. and 4 K. xix.  W.


7 Then Machabeus himself, first taking his arms, exhorted the rest to expose themselves together with him, to the danger, and to succour their brethren. 8 And when they were going forth together with a willing mind, there appeared at Jerusatem a horseman going before them in white clothing, with golden armour, shaking a spear.

Ver. 8.  Horseman, in appearance, but really (H.) an angel, as five came before.  C. x. 29.


9 Then they all together blessed merciful Lord, and took great courage, being ready to break through not only men, but also the fiercest beasts, walls of iron. 10 So they went on courageously, having a helper from heaven, and the who shewed mercy to them. 11 And rushing violently upon the enemy, like lions, they slew of them eleven thousand footmen, and one thousand six hundred horsemen: 12 And put all the rest to flight: many of them being wounded, escaped naked: yea and Lysias himself fled away shamefully, and escaped.
13 And as he was a man of understanding, considering with himself, the loss he had suffered, and perceiving that the Hebrews could not be overcome, because they relied upon the help of the Almighty God, he sent to them: 14 And promised that he would agree to all things that are just, and that he would persuade the king to be their friend. 15 Then Machabeus consented to the request of Lysias, providing for the common good in all things, and whatsoever Machabeus wrote to Lysias concerning the Jews, the king allowed of. 16 For there were letters written to the Jews from Lysias, to this effect: Lysias to the people of the Jews, greeting. 17 John and Abesalom who were sent from you, delivering your writings, requested that I would accomplish those things which were signified by them.

Ver. 17.  Delivering; (Syr.) but Gr. has, "seeing the oracle subscribed, (or underwritten) made a petition concerning the things declared in it."  H.

 

--- Kings' decrees were often styled oracles; and this might contain leave for Lysias to treat with the Jews, (Grot.) or the last injunction of Epiphanes, (C. ix. 19.) or the resolution of Judas.  C.


18 Therefore whatsoever things could be reported to the king I have represented to him: and he hath granted as much as the matter permitted. 19 If therefore you will keep yourselves loyal in affairs, hereafter also I will endeavour to be a means of your good. 20 But as concerning other particulars, I have given orders by word both to these, and to them that are sent by me, to commune with you. 21 Fare ye well. In the year one hundred and forty-eight, the four and twentieth day of the month of Dioscorus.

Ver. 21.  In the year one hundred and forty-eight; viz. according to the computation of the Greeks, which was different from that of the Hebrews, followed by the writer of the first book of Machabees.  However by this date, as well as by other circumstances, it appears that the expedition of Lysias, mentioned in this chapter, is different from that recorded 1 Mac. vi. 16.  Ch.

 

--- Dioscorus.  Syr. "the last of Tisri."  Gr. "Jupiter of Corinth," which is more unintelligible.  There was no month called Dioscorus among the Greeks.  C.

 

--- It might be put for Dius, (Grot.) or Distrus, (Serar.  T.) or it was an intercalary month, between March and April, (Salien) or the Macedonians had two names for some months.  H.


22 But the king's letter contained these words: King Antiochus to Lysias his brother, greeting.

Ver. 22.  Brother.  So he is styled for honour.  v. 35.  M.


23 Our father being translated amongst the gods, we are desirous that they that are in our realm should live quietly, and apply themselves diligently to their own concerns,

Ver. 23.  Gods.  This  impious custom began in the East, and was abolished by Christianity.  C.

 

--- Epiphanes had affected to be a god, but at last saw his folly.  C. ix.  H.


24 And we have heard that the Jews would not consent to my father to turn to the rites of the Greeks, but that they would keep to their own manner of living, and therefore that they request us to allow them to live after their own laws.
25 Wherefore being desirous that this nation also should be at rest, we have ordained and decreed, that the temple should be restored to them, and that they may live according to the custom of their ancestors.

Ver. 25.  Restored.  It was already occupied by the Jews, but they were much disturbed by the garrison.  Now their rights are admitted.


26 Thou shalt do well therefore to send to them, and grant them peace, that our pleasure being known, they may be of good comfort, and look to their own affairs. 27 But the king's letter to the Jews was in this manner: King Antiochus to the senate of the Jews, and to the rest of the Jews, greeting.

Ver. 27.  Senate.  The constitution was aristocratical.


28 If you are well, you are as we desire, we ourselves also are well. 29 Menelaus came to us, saying that you desired to come down to your countrymen, that are with us.

Ver. 29.  Menelaus.  He was at Antioch, and was reputed high priest, being established by the king.  But the Jews would not receive him, having chosen Judas.  C.


30 We grant therefore a safe conduct to all that come and go, until the thirtieth day of the month of Xanthicus,

Ver. 30.  Day, or for fifteen days.  v. 33.  M.


31 That the Jews may use their own kind of meats, and their own laws as before, and that none of them any manner of ways be molested for things which have been done by ignorance.

Ver. 31.  Ignorance.  He excuses them, and grants an amnesty.  1 B. xiii. 39.  C.


32 And we have sent also Menelaus to speak to you. 33 Fare ye well. In the year one hundred and forty-eight, the fifteenth day of the month of Xanthicus. 34 The Romans also sent them a letter, to this effect. Quintus Memmius, and Titus Manilius, ambassadors of the Romans, to the people of the Jews, greeting.

Ver. 34.  Romans.  Others were sent soon after to burn the ships and maim the elephants, which Eupator had more than had been agreed upon.  Usher, A. 3841.

 

--- They undertake to promote the welfare of their allies.  Yet the peace was of short duration, and perhaps never ratified.

 


35 Whatsoever Lysias the king's cousin hath granted you, we also have granted. 36 But touching such things as he thought should be referred to the king, after you have diligently conferred among yourselves, send some one forthwith, that we may decree as it is convenient for you: for we are going to Antioch.

Antioch

Antioch 1- Of Pisidia. 2- Of Syria.

37 And therefore make haste to write back, that we may know of what mind you are. 38 Fare ye well. In the year one hundred and forty-eight, the fifteenth day of the month of Xanthicus.
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