By Daniel R. Schwartz
2 Maccabees is a Jewish paintings composed in the course of the 2d century BCE and preserved via the Church. Written in Hellenistic Greek and advised from a Jewish-Hellenistic viewpoint, 2 Maccabees narrates and translates the ups and downs of occasions that happened in Jerusalem ahead of and through the Maccabean insurrection: institutionalized Hellenization and the basis of Jerusalem as a polis; the persecution of Jews through Antiochus Epiphanes, observed by way of well-known martyrdoms; and the uprising opposed to Seleucid rule by means of Judas Maccabaeus. 2 Maccabees is a vital resource either for the occasions it describes and for the values and pursuits of the Judaism of the Hellenistic diaspora that it displays - that are frequently relatively varied from these represented by way of its competitor, 1 Maccabees.
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For convenience I have used Bickerman throughout the present volume. Wilhelm made reference to our book in several other studies as well; see our bibliography. III. 90 Finally, a decade later, a tantalizing inscription of 178 BCE has turned up, documenting the fact that Seleucus IV ordered Heliodorus to do something about the temples of Palestine. 92 Indeed, since the 1950s it seems that although 1 Maccabees takes precedence as far as details of the military campaigns and their geography are concerned (matters about which 2 Maccabees offers next to nothing), it is widely recognized that with regard to much of the rest, and especially – with regard to the world at large, within which this Judaean story transpired, 2 Maccabees is a very important and reliable source.
E) Finally, in 143 or 142 BCE the Hasmonean authorities in Jerusalem decided to send the book out to the Jews of Egypt (and possibly other diaspora communities as well) in order to encourage them to celebrate the Hanukkah festival. For this purpose they added a section on that festival’s origins into the book at 10:1–8 and attached two accompanying letters at the book’s outset. This completed the formation of the book in its present form,80 and it was thus sent out. We do not know how successful it was in encouraging the celebration of Hanukkah,81 but it is a fact that the book managed to become included in the collection of works which was to become the Septuagint – and so to survive.
515–519, also his article on the Books of Maccabees in Jewish Encyclopedia 8 (1905) 243. For a review of opinion a generation after Niese, see Ettelson, Integrity, 376–380. The title page of this volume gives the author’s name as Bikerman, just as his publications in German give it as Bickermann. For convenience I have used Bickerman throughout the present volume. Wilhelm made reference to our book in several other studies as well; see our bibliography. III. 90 Finally, a decade later, a tantalizing inscription of 178 BCE has turned up, documenting the fact that Seleucus IV ordered Heliodorus to do something about the temples of Palestine.