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1 Maccabees 1 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

Alexander the Great

After Alexander son of Philip, the Macedonian, who came from the land of Kittim, had defeated[a] King Darius of the Persians and the Medes, he succeeded him as king. (He had previously become king of Greece.) He fought many battles, conquered strongholds, and put to death the kings of the earth. He advanced to the ends of the earth, and plundered many nations. When the earth became quiet before him, he was exalted, and his heart was lifted up. He gathered a very strong army and ruled over countries, nations, and princes, and they became tributary to him.

After this he fell sick and perceived that he was dying. So he summoned his most honored officers, who had been brought up with him from youth, and divided his kingdom among them while he was still alive. And after Alexander had reigned twelve years, he died.

Then his officers began to rule, each in his own place. They all put on crowns after his death, and so did their descendants after them for many years; and they caused many evils on the earth.

Antiochus Epiphanes and Renegade Jews

10 From them came forth a sinful root, Antiochus Epiphanes, son of King Antiochus; he had been a hostage in Rome. He began to reign in the one hundred thirty-seventh year of the kingdom of the Greeks.[b]

11 In those days certain renegades came out from Israel and misled many, saying, “Let us go and make a covenant with the Gentiles around us, for since we separated from them many disasters have come upon us.” 12 This proposal pleased them, 13 and some of the people eagerly went to the king, who authorized them to observe the ordinances of the Gentiles. 14 So they built a gymnasium in Jerusalem, according to Gentile custom, 15 and removed the marks of circumcision, and abandoned the holy covenant. They joined with the Gentiles and sold themselves to do evil.

Antiochus in Egypt

16 When Antiochus saw that his kingdom was established, he determined to become king of the land of Egypt, in order that he might reign over both kingdoms. 17 So he invaded Egypt with a strong force, with chariots and elephants and cavalry and with a large fleet. 18 He engaged King Ptolemy of Egypt in battle, and Ptolemy turned and fled before him, and many were wounded and fell. 19 They captured the fortified cities in the land of Egypt, and he plundered the land of Egypt.

Persecution of the Jews

20 After subduing Egypt, Antiochus returned in the one hundred forty-third year.[c] He went up against Israel and came to Jerusalem with a strong force. 21 He arrogantly entered the sanctuary and took the golden altar, the lampstand for the light, and all its utensils. 22 He took also the table for the bread of the Presence, the cups for drink offerings, the bowls, the golden censers, the curtain, the crowns, and the gold decoration on the front of the temple; he stripped it all off. 23 He took the silver and the gold, and the costly vessels; he took also the hidden treasures that he found. 24 Taking them all, he went into his own land.

He shed much blood,
    and spoke with great arrogance.
25 Israel mourned deeply in every community,
26     rulers and elders groaned,
young women and young men became faint,
    the beauty of the women faded.
27 Every bridegroom took up the lament;
    she who sat in the bridal chamber was mourning.
28 Even the land trembled for its inhabitants,
    and all the house of Jacob was clothed with shame.

The Occupation of Jerusalem

29 Two years later the king sent to the cities of Judah a chief collector of tribute, and he came to Jerusalem with a large force. 30 Deceitfully he spoke peaceable words to them, and they believed him; but he suddenly fell upon the city, dealt it a severe blow, and destroyed many people of Israel. 31 He plundered the city, burned it with fire, and tore down its houses and its surrounding walls. 32 They took captive the women and children, and seized the livestock. 33 Then they fortified the city of David with a great strong wall and strong towers, and it became their citadel. 34 They stationed there a sinful people, men who were renegades. These strengthened their position; 35 they stored up arms and food, and collecting the spoils of Jerusalem they stored them there, and became a great menace,

36 for the citadel[d] became an ambush against the sanctuary,
    an evil adversary of Israel at all times.
37 On every side of the sanctuary they shed innocent blood;
    they even defiled the sanctuary.
38 Because of them the residents of Jerusalem fled;
    she became a dwelling of strangers;
she became strange to her offspring,
    and her children forsook her.
39 Her sanctuary became desolate like a desert;
    her feasts were turned into mourning,
her sabbaths into a reproach,
    her honor into contempt.
40 Her dishonor now grew as great as her glory;
    her exaltation was turned into mourning.

Installation of Gentile Cults

41 Then the king wrote to his whole kingdom that all should be one people, 42 and that all should give up their particular customs. 43 All the Gentiles accepted the command of the king. Many even from Israel gladly adopted his religion; they sacrificed to idols and profaned the sabbath. 44 And the king sent letters by messengers to Jerusalem and the towns of Judah; he directed them to follow customs strange to the land, 45 to forbid burnt offerings and sacrifices and drink offerings in the sanctuary, to profane sabbaths and festivals, 46 to defile the sanctuary and the priests, 47 to build altars and sacred precincts and shrines for idols, to sacrifice swine and other unclean animals, 48 and to leave their sons uncircumcised. They were to make themselves abominable by everything unclean and profane, 49 so that they would forget the law and change all the ordinances. 50 He added,[e] “And whoever does not obey the command of the king shall die.”

51 In such words he wrote to his whole kingdom. He appointed inspectors over all the people and commanded the towns of Judah to offer sacrifice, town by town. 52 Many of the people, everyone who forsook the law, joined them, and they did evil in the land; 53 they drove Israel into hiding in every place of refuge they had.

54 Now on the fifteenth day of Chislev, in the one hundred forty-fifth year,[f] they erected a desolating sacrilege on the altar of burnt offering. They also built altars in the surrounding towns of Judah, 55 and offered incense at the doors of the houses and in the streets. 56 The books of the law that they found they tore to pieces and burned with fire. 57 Anyone found possessing the book of the covenant, or anyone who adhered to the law, was condemned to death by decree of the king. 58 They kept using violence against Israel, against those who were found month after month in the towns. 59 On the twenty-fifth day of the month they offered sacrifice on the altar that was on top of the altar of burnt offering. 60 According to the decree, they put to death the women who had their children circumcised, 61 and their families and those who circumcised them; and they hung the infants from their mothers’ necks.

62 But many in Israel stood firm and were resolved in their hearts not to eat unclean food. 63 They chose to die rather than to be defiled by food or to profane the holy covenant; and they did die. 64 Very great wrath came upon Israel.

Footnotes:

  1. 1 Maccabees 1:1 Gk adds and he defeated
  2. 1 Maccabees 1:10 175 b.c.
  3. 1 Maccabees 1:20 169 b.c.
  4. 1 Maccabees 1:36 Gk it
  5. 1 Maccabees 1:50 Gk lacks He added
  6. 1 Maccabees 1:54 167 b.c.
New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

1 Maccabees 1 Common English Bible (CEB)

Alexander the Great

Alexander was Philip’s son, a Macedonian, one of the western peoples known as the Kittim. After Alexander became king of Greece, he defeated King Darius, who ruled the Persians and the Medes. By doing so, Alexander greatly enlarged his realm. He successfully fought many battles, conquered fortresses, and put to death many kings. He advanced to the very ends of the known earth, plundering nation after nation. Finally, his battles reached an end, and he was widely recognized as supreme king, which made him proud. He built a very strong army and ruled countries, nations, and princes; and they all owed allegiance to him.

But eventually Alexander fell sick and was confined to bed. He knew that he was dying. He therefore called for his most esteemed officers, those who had been raised with him; and he divided his kingdom among them while he was still alive. Then Alexander died, having ruled for twelve years.[a]

Subsequently, his officers began to rule, each in his own territory. They ruled as kings, and after them their descendants ruled for many years. Together they caused much suffering across the earth.

Antiochus Epiphanes and renegade Jews

10 From these descendants sprouted a sinful root—Antiochus Epiphanes. He was a son of King Antiochus, and he had been brought up in Rome as a hostage. Antiochus Epiphanes began to rule in the year 137[b] according to the calendar of the Greek kingdom.

11 At that time, some renegade Israelites emerged. These people went against their ancestral laws and encouraged many other Jews to join them. They spoke up, saying, “Let’s make an agreement with the Gentiles around us, because many horrible things have happened to us since we separated ourselves from them.” 12 The proposal pleased their fellow Jews. 13 Some of them eagerly went to King Antiochus, who gave them permission to start living by the laws of the Gentiles. 14 Consequently, they built a gymnasium in Jerusalem, following Gentile custom. 15 They even took steps to remove the marks of circumcision, utterly abandoning the holy covenant. They joined with Gentiles and gave themselves over to an evil course.

Antiochus in Egypt

16 When Antiochus felt that his own kingdom was fully established, he determined also to take control of the land of Egypt so that he could rule over both kingdoms. 17 He invaded Egypt with a very strong force, including soldiers in chariots and on elephants, as well as cavalry and a large fleet. 18 When Antiochus met the Egyptian king Ptolemy in battle, Ptolemy and his forces hastily retreated. Many were wounded and killed. 19 Antiochus and his forces were able to capture the fortified cities in Egypt and plunder the land.

Oppression of the Jews

20 After he conquered Egypt, Antiochus returned in the year 143.[c] He went up to Israel and entered Jerusalem with a strong force. 21 With arrogance he went into the sanctuary. He took the gold altar, the lampstand for the light, and all its equipment. 22 He also took the table that was used for the sacred bread, drink-offering cups, bowls, gold censers, a curtain, crowns, and the gold decoration on the front of the temple. He stripped it all. 23 He took silver, gold, and costly equipment. He took every hidden treasure he could find. 24 Taking it all, he went back to his own land. He committed murder and spoke very arrogantly.

25 Every community in Israel
grieved deeply.
26     Rulers and elders groaned;
    young women and men became faint.
        The women’s beauty faded.
27     Every bridegroom was saddened,
        and intended brides sat
        mourning in their chambers.
28 Even the land shook for its people,
    and all of Jacob’s house
    was clothed with shame.

Occupation of Jerusalem

29 Two years later,[d] to collect tribute from the Judean cities, King Antiochus sent his chief officer, who came to Jerusalem with a large army. 30 The agent spoke peaceably and the Jews believed him, but he was deceitful. Without warning, he attacked the city, dealt it a brutal blow, and killed many Israelites. 31 He plundered the city. He set fires within it, destroyed its houses, and tore down its protective walls. 32 His forces took women and children as prisoners and seized livestock. 33 After all of this, the agent’s forces fortified David’s City with a very strong wall and powerful towers, and it became their fortress. 34 They stationed sinful, immoral people there, and these soldiers held down their position. 35 They stocked up with weapons and food, collected the spoils of Jerusalem, and stored them there. They were a great menace.

36 They[e] ambushed the sanctuary.
    They were an evil opponent of Israel
    at all times.
37 Its inhabitants shed innocent blood
all around the sanctuary,
    and they even polluted
    the sanctuary itself.
38 Because of them,
those who lived in Jerusalem fled.
    The city became
    a dwelling place for strangers.
        She was like a stranger to her offspring,
            and her children abandoned her.
39 Her sanctuary was as barren as a desert.
    Her feasts turned into mourning,
        her sabbaths into shame,
        her honor into contempt.
40 Her dishonor became as great
as her glory had been.
    Her joy turned into sadness.

Installation of Gentile worship

41 Then King Antiochus sent word throughout his entire kingdom that everyone should act like one people, 42 giving up their local customs. The Gentile nations all readily accepted the king’s command. 43 Many Jews also willingly adopted the king’s religion. They sacrificed to idols and violated the Sabbath. 44 The king sent messengers carrying letters to Jerusalem and the surrounding towns of Judah. He directed Jews to follow customs that had been unknown in the land. 45 He banned the regular practices of entirely burned offerings, sacrifices, and drink offerings in the sanctuary. He banned the observance of sabbaths and feast days. 46 The sanctuary and its priests were to be defiled. 47 They should build new altars, together with sacred precincts and shrines for idols. They should sacrifice pigs and other ritually impure animals. 48 Jews were no longer to circumcise their sons. They were supposed to make themselves repulsive to God by doing unclean and improper acts. 49 All of this was intended to make them forget the Law and change its regulations. 50 Whoever didn’t obey the king would die.

51 In this way, Antiochus wrote to his whole kingdom. He appointed inspectors over all the people, and commanded the Jewish communities to offer pagan sacrifices, town by town. 52 Many Jewish people, those who abandoned the Law, followed suit and did evil in the land. 53 The king’s inspectors[f] drove Israel into hiding in every place of refuge they had available.

54 Now on the fifteenth day of Kislev,[g] in the year 145, they set up a disgusting and destructive thing on the altar for entirely burned offerings in the sanctuary. The inspectors[h] built other altars in the surrounding Judean towns. 55 They burned incense at the doors of houses and in the streets. 56 When they found the Law scrolls, they tore them to pieces and burned them. 57 If anyone was caught in possession of a copy of the covenant scroll or if anyone kept to the Law, that person was condemned to death by royal decree. 58 They were unrelenting in attacking Israelites, all those who were identified as law-observant month after month throughout the towns. 59 On the twenty-fifth day of the month they offered sacrifice on the altar built over the altar for entirely burned offerings. 60 In keeping with the decree, they killed women who had circumcised their sons. 61 They hanged the infant boys from their mothers’ necks. The king’s agents also killed the families of the women as well as those who had performed the circumcisions.

62 But many in Israel stood strong, and they resolved in their hearts not to eat impure food. 63 They chose to die rather than to be defiled by the food or to dishonor the holy covenant. And they did die. 64 A great anger came against Israel.

Footnotes:

  1. 1 Maccabees 1:7 323 BCE
  2. 1 Maccabees 1:10 175 BCE
  3. 1 Maccabees 1:20 169 BCE
  4. 1 Maccabees 1:29 167 BCE
  5. 1 Maccabees 1:36 Or It
  6. 1 Maccabees 1:53 Or They
  7. 1 Maccabees 1:54 November–December
  8. 1 Maccabees 1:54 Or They
Common English Bible (CEB)

Copyright © 2011 by Common English Bible

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