We use cookies to enhance your experience on our website. By continuing to use our website, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. You can change your cookie settings at any time. Find out more
Select Bible Use this Lookup to open a specific Bible and passage. Start here to select a Bible.
Make selected Bible the default for Lookup tool.
Book: Ch.V. Select book from A-Z list, enter chapter and verse number, and click "Go."
:
OR
  • Previous Result
  • Results
  • Look It Up Highlight any word or phrase, then click the button to begin a new search.
  • Highlight On / Off
  • Next Result

The Oxford Bible Commentary Line-by-line commentary for the New Revised Standard Version Bible.

Purpose.

1.

3 Maccabees is often seen as a crisis document, hence the attempts to locate the story's origins in persecutions or perceived persecutions of the Jews under Ptolemaic or Roman rule. If so, there is little in the story itself to suggest that it represents the concerns of an alienated community unhappily struggling for survival in the Diaspora. The story does not oppose Alexandrian citizenship for Jews—only when such status is dependent on abandoning Judaism. Alexandrians themselves are depicted as close and loyal allies of the Jews in the time of persecution. Indeed, except when his mind is temporarily clouded by madness or the machinations of his evil counsellors, Ptolemy himself is seen as very positive towards the Jews. While the Jews of Alexandria are presented as the ‘countrymen’ of the people in Jerusalem who protested against the king's entry into the Holy of Holies, they do not yearn for refuge in Jerusalem. On the contrary, the story celebrates their return to their legitimate homes in Egypt, as does the festival that commemorates their freedom to do so. True, the festival is, we are told, to be held only for as long as the Jews' sojourn (paroikia) in Egypt continues, language that recalls the ancestors' toils in pre-Exodus Egypt (cf. Wis 19:10; Lev 26:44 ), and a hint that this is not their final home. There is, thus, a sense of looking forward to a ‘return’ to Judea, but this is not at all prominent in the story, and belongs to very common expectations for the future in Second Temple period Judaism.

2.

The emphases of the story reveal several main concerns on the part of the author of 3 Maccabees. First, it is emphasized that Jews are loyal to the Ptolemaic monarchy, and that they are vital for the security of its empire. Above all, however, the author seeks to show, in the great tradition of the Exodus and the later history of the Jews, that the supreme king is the God whom the Jews serve and that only this king has power over the fate of the Jews and, indeed, of all things. The message is essentially a declaration of confidence in God's providence, manifested in response to the power of prayer. What is demanded of the story's Jewish readers is to be confident in that providence and to trust that, in all circumstances, loyalty to Judaism will be rewarded with life and security. In this, the author of 3 Maccabees adheres strongly to the Deuteronomic teaching that fidelity to the God of Israel will be rewarded with life, apostasy with death. Finally, the story serves, as does Esther for the feast of Purim, to explain and support an existing Jewish festival whose origins had perhaps been forgotten by the Jews of Egypt.

  • Previous Result
  • Results
  • Look It Up Highlight any word or phrase, then click the button to begin a new search.
  • Highlight On / Off
  • Next Result
Oxford University Press

© 2020. All Rights Reserved. Cookie Policy | Privacy Policy | Legal Notice