Date Written: c. 100 BC
Date of Narrative: 180-161 BC
2 Maccabees is unique among biblical books because it is actually a summary of another book. The author tells us that he is summarizing a 5-volume work by Jason of Cyrene (2:23). Unfortunately, Jason's book is not extant and we have no information about him. The author of 2 Macc chooses to remain anonymous, but he indicates his purpose at the beginning (2:19-32) and gives a brief conclusion at the end (2:37). Two letters appear at the beginning which apparently accompanied the book on its way from Jews in
2 Macc is not a sequel to 1 Macc nor does it proceed as a continuous narrative. It presents many stories, but does not link them all in chronological order. One poignant feature of 2 Macc is its martyr stories. The author gives vivid descriptions of the violence suffered by the Jews in
2 Macc explains the conflict over the high priesthood before the Maccabean era in more detail that 1 Macc. Onias III is the rightful high priest but his brother Jason seeks to steal the office of high priest. Jason bribes Antiochus to depose Onias and appoint himself instead (4:7-9). Jason thus obtains the high priesthood, but soon he is outbid by Menelaus (4:24). Eventually, an official bribed by Menelaus assassinates Onias (4:34).
The author highlights the role of the
The author focuses on the battles and accomplishments of Judas Maccabeus, but pays little attention to his brothers. 2 Macc gives details about Judas' campaigns against Nicanor, Timothy, Lysias and many others. Yet even after Judas establishes a limited peace, the Jews suffer local persecution which provokes a new wave of warfare (12:1-5). The book ends with Judas' second victory over Nicanor. This battle is so memorable that it too is made into a holiday which is celebrated just before Purim.
2 Macc shows the power of God in the midst of the difficult circumstances of the Maccabean era. The author highlights miracles like the divine confrontation of Heliodorus (3:22-34) and the vision of ominous riders in the sky (5:2-3). Yet he is writing for Jews outside of
By Mark Giszczak