Demetrius: Demetrius II, king of Syria (145–139, 129–125 B.C.). The year one hundred and sixty‐nine of the Seleucid era, 143
B.C. Regarding the dates in 1 and 2 Mc, see note on 1 Mc 1, 10
. On the troubles caused by Jason and his revolt against the kingdom, i.e., the rule of the legitimate high priest, see 2 Mc 4, 7–22
Our prayer was heard: in the ultimate victory of the Maccabees.
Feast of Booths in the month of Chislev: really the feast of the Dedication of the temple (2 Mc 10, 1–8
), celebrated on the twenty‐fifth of Chislev (Nov. Dec.). Its solemnity resembles that of the true feast of Booths (Lv 23, 33–43
), celebrated on the fifteenth of Tishri (Sept. Oct.); cf 2 Mc 1, 18
124 B.C. The date pertains to the preceding, not the following letter. King Ptolemy: Ptolemy VI Philometor, ruler of Egypt
from 180 to 145 B.C.; he is mentioned also in 1 Mc 1, 18; 10, 51–59
The king: Antiochus IV of Syria, the bitter persecutor of the Jews, who, as leader of the Syrian army that invaded Persia,
perished there in 164 B.C.
Nanea: an oriental goddess comparable to Artemis of the Greeks.
A different account of the death of Antiochus IV is given in 2 Mc 9, 1–29
, and another variant account in 1 Mc 6, 1–16
. The writer of this letter had probably heard a distorted rumor of the king's death. This fact and other indications show
that the letter was written very soon after Antiochus IV died, hence in 164 B.C.
This purely legendary account of Nehemiah's miraculous fire is incorporated in the letter because of its connection with the
temple and its rededication.
Nehemiah, the rebuilder of the temple: he rebuilt the walls of Jerusalem, but the temple had been rebuilt by Zerubbabel almost
a century before.
Persia: actually Babylonia, which later became part of the Persian Empire.
By a play on words, the Greek term naphtha (petroleum) is assimilated to some Semitic word, perhaps nephthar, meaning “loosened.”
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