Thursday, January 23, 2014

Judas and The Maccabean Revolt (The Origin of Burning Incense away from the Temple)

The Maccabean Revolt

I wrote on Larry Hurtado's blog

"Larry, I don’t believe that the Maccabean revolt was about what is otherwise generally believed. It was about a war between those Jews (priests) who wanted to preserve the sacrificial cult, and those Jews (prophets) who thought that sacrifice was unnecessary which included Judas the Maccabean."  Antiochus IV supported the priests.

He ignorantly replied:

Geoff: "As with other things, your “belief” isn’t (1) based on any evidence, and so (2) isn’t shared by scholars who’ve worked on the matter."   What he means by (2): MY BELIEF IS NOT SHARED BY LARRY HURTADO, especially as he has written on the "matter" in his article Ancient Jewish Monotheism in the Hellenistic and Roman Periods, shortly to be published.  

I then wrote to his blog:

"Larry, in Antiquities 12.3.1,2 we have a long piece of Roman propaganda interpolated into the text. It shows that the long arm of the Roman propaganda machine reached a long way back into the writings attributed to Josephus, where the writer calls it a “digression”. The text says they (Vespasian and Titus) “overcame the prayers of the Alexandrians and the Antiochians”. This was a subliminal allusion to the Alexandrian prophetic Jews who were supported by Egypt, and Antiochus the ally of the priests.  Antiochus did not abolish the normal animal sacrifice. He insisted on it - he insisted that all Jews sacrificed. The prophets rejected animal sacrifice. 

Vespasian and his son Titus were afraid to reveal that they had finished off the prophets, carting the remaining 800 or so to Rome for Vespasian's triumph. Their aim all along had been to get the temple gold, and to eliminate all trace of the history of the prophets. Academics say that prophets died out in earlier times."  Larry wouldn't publish this.  And I haven't finished with his impertinence by a long way.  He should be serious about the warning Steven Weitzman wrote: Steven Weitzman says (in JBL 123/2 (2004) 219-234), "Antiochus IV's persecution of Jewish religious tradition is a notorious puzzle, which the great scholar of the period Elias Bickerman once described as 'the basic and sole enigma in the history of Selucid Jerusalem' ".  

The trouble is that this wasn't the beginning of religious persecution of ALL Jews, as Weitzman implies, but it was the start of a serious difference (which had been there a long time) between two sections of Jewish society, the priests and the prophets and their respective followers.  It was Antiochus IV who sided with the priests and was let into Jerusalem by them.  Antiochus persecuted the prophets.  Bickerman and Weitzman (and Hurtado's "scholars who’ve worked on the matter"), have no explanation for the history of Selucid Jerusalem, because they can't understand why the Greek King Antiochus IV, once friendly to Jews, should suddenly turn on them, apparently as a complete nation.  These scholars have been led astray by anti-Greek Roman propaganda in the writings attributed to Josephus.     

Hyrcanus was the 'wicked priest' of the DSS (see
He was the son of Tobias, and had been made high priest in opposition to his brothers. Hyrcanus was regarded as wicked because he wanted the prophets to have the freedom not to sacrifice.  But his brothers went to Antiochus and said that they wanted to force all Jews to sacrifice according to their law.   Antiochus thus made a "league" with the priests.  By common agreement, they would get rid of the prophets and their "party".  Antiochus first attacked Egypt where Tobias's son Hyrcanus had made a name for himself, and where he had a large number of Jewish supporters.   With the help of the Alexandrian Jewish prophets and their followers, the Egyptian army repulsed Antiochus who then proceeded to set about Jerusalem where the prophets were weaker. 

There are so many invented names in Ant.12.5.  These were inserted by the Roman editor to confuse the reader.  Tobias was a high priest, not just a leader of the prophets.  The multiple Onias's never existed.  Jews wanting to build a gymnasium, leave the laws of their country, accept the Grecian ways of living and hiding or reversing circumcision, was all Roman propaganda. The Greek names Jason and Menelaus (and may be even Tobias) were also a part of this fraud.

Ant 12.5
12.5.1.ABOUT this time, upon the death of [Onias] {Tobias} the high priest, they gave the high priesthood to [Jesus] {Hyrcanus} his [brother] {son};

[for that son which Onias left (or Onias IV) was yet but an infant; and, in its proper place, we will inform the reader of all the circumstances that befell this child.] (You bet they will!)

But [this] Jesus, who was the brother of [Onias] {Hyrcanus}, [was deprived of the high priesthood by the king, who] was angry with him.

[and gave it to his younger brother, whose name also was Onias;]

for [Simon] {Tobias} had these sons, to each of which the priesthood came 

[, as we have already informed the reader. This Jesus changed his name to Jason, but Onias was called Menelaus.] (Yet more deception!)

Now as [the former high priest,] Jesus, raised a sedition against [Menelaus] {Hyrcanus},
[who was ordained after him,] the multitude were divided between them both. And the sons of Tobias took the part of [Menelaus] {Jesus}, but the greater part of the people assisted [Jason] {Hyrcanus}; and by that means [Menelaus] {Jesus} and the sons of Tobias were distressed, and retired to Antiochus, and informed him that they were desirous to [leave] {enforce} the laws of their country.

[, and the Jewish way of living according to them, and to follow the king's laws, and the Grecian way of living. Wherefore they desired his permission to build them a Gymnasium at Jerusalem. And when he had given them leave, they also hid the circumcision of their genitals, that even when they were naked they might appear to be Greeks. Accordingly, they left off all the customs that belonged to their own country, and imitated the practices of the other nations]. (Roman anti-Greek propaganda)

12.5.2.Now Antiochus [, upon the agreeable situation of the affairs of his kingdom,] resolved to make an expedition against Egypt, [both because he had a desire to gain it, and] because he contemned the son of Ptolemy, as now weak, and not yet of abilities to [manage affairs of such consequence] {defend the prophets}; so he came with great forces to Pelusium, and circumvented Ptolemy Philometor by treachery, and seized upon [Egypt] {Pelusium}. He then came to the places about Memphis; and when he had taken them, he made haste to Alexandria, in hopes of taking it by siege, and of subduing [Ptolemy] {the prophets}, who [reigned] {lived} there. But he was driven not only from Alexandria, but out of all Egypt by the [declaration of the Romans] {prophets}, who charged him to let that country alone. ("by the declaration of the Romans" is clearly an interpolation that is false).  

Hyrcanus Built a Sanctuary in Egypt
Antiochus was taking cities in the Nile delta.  These included the cities Pelusium and Memphis.  He probably tried to attack the "castle" - actually a sanctuary complex built by Hyrcanus at Heliopolis, made of white stone - see Ant.12.4.11. This became the temple, "smaller and poorer" than the one in Jerusalem, see Ant.13.3.3, supposedly built later by a fictitous Onias.  The Roman editor had both places associated with animals which he knew would be the last thing prophets would have entertained.  There were images of large animals engraved on the "castle", see Ant.12.4.11.  Onias's so called temple was supposedly constructed from a "fallen down" Egyptian temple that had been "unclean" and "so full of sacred animals" - see Ant.  

[; according as I have elsewhere formerly declared. I will now give a particular account of what concerns this king, how he subdued Judea and the temple; for in my former work I mentioned those things very briefly, and have therefore now thought it necessary to go over that history again, and that with great accuracy.] (Would you believe the editor?) 

12.5.3.King Antiochus returning out of Egypt for fear of the [Romans] {prophets}, made an expedition against the city Jerusalem; and when he was there, in the hundred and forty-third year of the kingdom of the Seleucids, he took the city without fighting, [those of his own party] {the priests} opening the gates to him. And when he had gotten possession of Jerusalem, he slew many of the [opposite party] {prophets};

[and when he had plundered it of a great deal of money, he returned to Antioch.
12.5.4.Now it came to pass, after two years, in the hundred forty and fifth year, on the twenty-fifth day of that month which is by us called Chasleu, and by the Macedonians Apelleus, in the hundred and fifty-third olympiad, that the king came up to Jerusalem ,and, pretending peace, he got possession of the city by treachery; at which time he spared not so much as those that admitted him into it, on account of the riches that lay in the temple; but, led by his covetous inclination, for he saw there was in it a great deal of gold, and many ornaments that had been dedicated to it of very great value, and in order to plunder its wealth,] 

(Antiochus was not about to plunder the temple for its wealth.  This was Roman propaganda to cover-up their own theft of the temple gold)

He ventured to [break] {secure} the league he had made (with the priests). So he [left the temple bare, and] took away the golden candlesticks, and the golden altar (of incense), and table of (shew-bread),

[and the altar (of burnt-offering); and did not abstain from even the veils, which were made of fine linen and scarlet. He also emptied it of its secret treasures, and left nothing at all remaining;] (And apparently, left his friends, the priests with nothing).

and by this means cast the [Jews] {prophets} into great lamentation, for he forbade them to offer those daily sacrifices which they used to offer to God. (The altar of incense was kept burning 24 hours a day). 

[, according to the law. And when he had pillaged the whole city, some of the inhabitants he slew, and some he carried captive, together with their wives and children, so that the multitude of those captives that were taken alive amounted to about ten thousand. He also burnt down the finest buildings; and when he had overthrown the city walls, he built a citadel in the lower part of the city, for the place was high, and overlooked the temple; on which account he fortified it with high walls and towers, and put into it a garrison of Macedonians. However, in that citadel dwelt the impious and wicked part of the Jewish multitude, from whom it proved that the citizens suffered many and sore calamities.] 

And when the king had [built an idol altar upon God's altar, he slew swine upon it, and so]
offered a sacrifice [neither] according to the law, [nor the Jewish religious worship in that country.] he also compelled [them] {the prophets} to forsake the worship which they paid [their own] {to} God.  
(You see Larry, mate)

[, and to adore those whom he took to be gods; and made them build temples, and raise idol altars in every city and village, and offer swine upon them every day. He also commanded them not to circumcise their sons, and threatened to punish any that should be found to have transgressed his injunction.]

He also appointed overseers, who should compel them to do what he commanded. And indeed many [Jews] {prophets} there were who complied with the king's commands, either voluntarily, or out of fear of the penalty that was denounced. But the [best men, and] those of the noblest souls, did not regard him, but did pay a greater respect to the [customs of their country] {worship of God} than concern as to the punishment which he threatened to the disobedient; on which account they every day underwent great miseries and bitter torments; for they were whipped with rods, and their bodies were torn to pieces, and were crucified, while they were still alive, and breathed. They also strangled [those] {their} women and their sons [whom they had circumcised, as the king had appointed], hanging their sons about their necks [as they were upon the crosses]. And if there were any sacred book of the [law] {prophets} found, it was destroyed, and those with whom they were found miserably perished also.

5. When the [Samaritans] {priests} saw the [Jews] {prophets} under these sufferings, they no longer confessed that they were of their kindred.  (The sufferings were similar to those endured later by the 'Essenes').

(More Roman rubbish follows.  Temple on Mount Gerizzim indeed!!) 
[, nor that the temple on Mount Gerizzim belonged to Almighty God. This was according to their nature, as we have already shown. And they now said that they were a colony of Medes and Persians; and indeed they were a colony of theirs. So they sent ambassadors to Antiochus, and an epistle, whose contents are these: "To king Antiochus the god, Epiphanes, a memorial from the Sidonians, who live at Shechem. Our forefathers, upon certain frequent plagues, and as following a certain ancient superstition, had a custom of observing that day which by the Jews is called the Sabbath. And when they had erected a temple at the mountain called Gerrizzim, though without a name, they offered upon it the proper sacrifices. Now, upon the just treatment of these wicked Jews, those that manage their affairs, supposing that we were of kin to them, and practiced as they do, make us liable to the same accusations, although we be originally Sidonians, as is evident from the public records. We therefore beseech thee, our benefactor and Saviour, to give order to Apollonius, the governor of this part of the country, and to Nicanor, the procurator of thy affairs, to give us no disturbance, nor to lay to our charge what the [Jews] {prophets} are accused for, since we are aliens from their nation, and from their customs; but let our temple,which at present hath no name at all be named the Temple of Jupiter Hellenius. If this were once done, we should be no longer disturbed, but should be more intent on our own occupation with quietness, and so bring in a greater revenue to thee."  When the Samaritans had petitioned for this, the king sent them back the following answer, in an epistle: "King Antiochus to Nicanor. The Sidonians, who live at Shechem, have sent me the memorial enclosed. When therefore we were advising with our friends about it, the messengers sent by them represented to us that they are no way concerned with accusations which belong to the Jews, but choose to live after the customs of the Greeks.  Accordingly, we declare them free from such accusations, and order that, agreeable to their petition, their temple be named the Temple of Jupiter Hellenius." He also sent the like epistle to Apollonius, the governor of that part of the country, in the forty-sixth year, and the eighteenth day of the month Hecatorabeom] 

1. NOW at this time there was one whose name was Mattathias, who dwelt at Modin, the son of John, the son of Simeon, the son of Asamoneus, a priest of the order of Joarib, and a citizen of Jerusalem. He had five sons; John, who was called Gaddis, and Simon, who was called Matthes, and Judas, who was called Maccabeus, and Eleazar, who was called Auran, and Jonathan, who was called Apphus.  Now this Mattathias lamented to his children the sad state of their affairs, and the ravage made in the city, and the plundering of the temple, and the calamities the [multitude] {prophets} were under; and he told them that it was better for them to die for the [laws of their country] {worship of God}, than to live so ingloriously as they then did.

The Septuagint was produced in Egypt under Ptolemy.  In Israel, the books of the Law (the Pentatuech) was revered by the priests.   But the books of the prophets were mocked and abused by the peshers of the priests. 

The tradition of burning incense away from the temple began in the reign of Antiochus.  Antiochus was trying to unify worship across his lands so that everyone should only offer sacrifice of animals.  Antiochus's command to Mattathias was not to offer burning incense.  "Worship of God" was what the prophets did in the sanctuary at the altar of incense.  This altar was removed by Antiochus with the co-operation of the priests. The prophets having lost their altar, resorted to burning incense in every town of Judea on temporary altars.  The propaganda of 1 Maccabees 1.54 calls them idol altars.  They were altars of incense, not idol altars.    

The prophets were pacifists in obedience of God.  This was nothing to do with the Sabbath and not fighting on the Sabbath. The prophets made no resistance, such that Antiochus's forces had no need to block the entrances to the caves. 

2. But when those that were appointed by the king were come to Modin, that they might compel the Jews to do what they were commanded, and to enjoin those that were there {not} to offer sacrifice, as the king had commanded, they desired that Mattathias, a person of the greatest character among them, both on other accounts, and particularly on account of such a numerous and so deserving a family of children, would [begin the] {not} sacrifice, because his fellow citizens would follow his example, and because such a procedure would make him honored by the king. But Mattathias said he would [not] do it; and that if all the other nations would obey the commands of Antiochus, either out of fear, or to please him, yet would not he nor his sons leave the [religious] worship of [their country] {God}. 

But as soon as he had ended his speech, there came one of the Jews into the midst of them, and sacrificed, as Antiochus had commanded.  At which Mattathias had great indignation, and ran upon him violently, with his sons, who had swords with them, and slew both the man himself that sacrificed, and Apelles the king's general, who compelled them to sacrifice, with a few of his soldiers.] 


He also [overthrew the idol altar, and] cried out, "If," said he," any one be zealous [for the laws of his country, and] for the worship of God, let him follow me." And when he had said this, he made haste into the desert with his sons, and left all his substance in the village. Many others did the same also, and fled with their children and wives into the desert, and dwelt in caves.

But when the king's generals heard this, they took all the forces they then had in the citadel at Jerusalem, and pursued the [Jews] {prophets} into the desert; and when they had overtaken them, they in the first place endeavored to persuade them to repent, and to choose what was most for their advantage, and not put them to the necessity of using them according to the law of war. But when they would not comply with their persuasions, but continued to be of a different mind, they fought against them [on the sabbath day], and they burnt them as they were in the caves, without resistance, and without so much as stopping up the entrances of the caves. And they avoided to defend themselves [on that day], because they were not willing to break in upon the [honor] {obedience} they owed [the Sabbath] {God} [, even in such distresses; for our law requires that we rest upon that day]. 

There were about a thousand, with their wives and children, who were smothered and died in these caves; but many of those that escaped joined themselves to Mattathias, and appointed him to be their ruler, who taught them to fight [, even on the sabbath day]; and told them that unless they would do so, they would become their own enemies [, by observing the law so rigorously], while their adversaries would still assault them [on this day,] and they would not then defend themselves, and that nothing could then hinder but they must all perish without fighting. This speech persuaded them.

(Mattahias persuaded the prophets that unless they began to fight their enemies, they would all die.  This was a seed change in the prophets attitude to fighting.) 

[And this rule continues among us to this day, that if there be a necessity, we may fight on sabbath days.]

So Mattathias got a great army about him, and overthrew [their idol altars, and slew those that broke the laws,] {the generals} even all that he could get under his power; for many of them were dispersed among the nations round about them for fear of him.

[He also commanded that those boys which were not yet circumcised should be circumcised now; and he drove those away that were appointed to hinder such their circumcision.]

3.But when he had ruled one year, and was fallen into a distemper, he called for his sons, and set them round about him,

[and said, "O my sons, I am going the way of all the earth; and I recommend to you my resolution, and beseech you not to be negligent in keeping it, but to be mindful of the desires of him who begat you, and brought you up, and to preserve the customs of your country, and to recover your ancient form of government, which is in danger of being overturned, and not to be carried away with those that, either by their own inclination, or out of necessity, betray it, but to become such sons as are worthy of me; to be above all force and necessity, and so to dispose your souls, as to be ready, when it shall be necessary, to die for your laws; as sensible of this, by just reasoning, that if God see that you are so disposed he will not overlook you, but will have a great value for your virtue, and will restore to you again what you have lost, and will return to you that freedom in which you shall live quietly, and enjoy your own customs.  Your bodies are mortal, and subject to fate; but they receive a sort of immortality, by the remembrance of what actions they have done. And I would have you so in love with this immortality, that you may pursue after glory, and that, when you have undergone the greatest difficulties, you may not scruple, for such things, to lose your lives. I exhort you, especially, to agree one with another; and in what excellency any one of you exceeds another, to yield to him so far, and by that means to reap the advantage of every one's own virtues. Do you then esteem Simon as your father, because he is a man of extraordinary prudence, and be governed by him in what counsels be gives you. Take Maccabeus for the general of your army, because of his courage and strength, for he will avenge your nation, and will bring vengeance on your enemies. Admit among you the righteous and religious, and augment their power."]

4. When Mattathias [had thus discoursed to his sons, and] had prayed to God to be their assistant, and to recover to the [people] {prophets} their former [constitution] {worship}, he died a little afterward, and was buried at Modin; all the [people] {prophets} making great lamentation for him. Whereupon his son Judas took upon him the [administration of public affairs] {leadership}, in the hundred forty and sixth year; and thus, by the ready assistance of his brethren, and of others, Judas cast their enemies out of the country, 

[and put those of their own country to death who had transgressed its laws, and purified the land of all the pollutions that were in it.]