The first letter. The purpose of the letter is to urge the Jews of Egypt to celebrate the festival of Hanukkah, to commemorate the rededication
of the Temple
with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob is the basis for unity between the different branches of Judaism. This should not be set over against the covenant with Moses,
since the latter entails observance of the law and commandments (v. 4
An earlier letter had been sent to the Jews of Egypt in 143 BCE. The reference to Jason and his company agrees with 2 Maccabees in assigning primary responsibility for the upheavals to Jewish renegades.
The letter takes the success of the Maccabean revolt as evidence that God heard the prayers and upheld the covenant.
The second letter. This letter presents itself as having been sent in the time of Judas, but is generally regarded as inauthentic. It was probably
inserted in the first century BCE. It is filled with legendary
details and has no historical value, but it attempts to reinforce the importance of Hanukkah by associating the festival
not only with Judas but also with traditions about Nehemiah and even Solomon.
Aristobulus is known as the author of an allegorical
commentary on the Torah.
The Ptolemy in question is Ptolemy VI Philometor, who was well disposed to the Jews.
The leader is Antiochus Epiphanes.
This account of his death contradicts 2 Macc 9
Epiphanes was not actually killed in the raid on the Temple,
but Antiochus III (the Great) had been.
Nehemiah did not build the Temple, and the captives had been taken to Babylon, not Persia.
The sprinkling of the liquid on the wood recalls the story of Elijah in 1 Kings 18.33–35
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