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The Oxford Study Bible Study Bible supplemented with commentary from scholars of various religions.

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The First Book of the Maccabees - Introduction

The word Maccabee, possibly meaning “designated by God,” was a popular epithet for Judas (1 Macc. 2.4 ), the third son of the priest Mattathias. The plural Maccabees came to allude to the Jewish guerrillas who, under Mattathias, revolted against the Seleucid kings of Syria then ruling the land of Israel. The revolt began in 167 B.C.E. This and three other books bear the name Maccabees; 1 and 2 Maccabees and the nonbiblical 4 Maccabees are about the revolt, but 3 Maccabees is not.

Written originally in Hebrew (only a Greek translation survived antiquity), 1 Maccabees summarizes the events ( 1.1–64 ) which spurred the revolt of Mattathias ( 2.1–70 ) and follows the course of the resistance as it was carried on by his sons, especially Judas ( 3.1–9.22 ), Jonathan ( 9.23–12.53 ), and Simon ( 13.1–16.24 ).

First Maccabees is a simple history written in the manner of the day by an unknown adherent of the Hasmonean kings descended from Simon. It is also meant to teach the author's contemporaries that by fidelity to the Law of God the Jewish people may expect continued divine support, for God is still active in Israel's history. The book was probably written about 100 B.C.E.

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