Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Does the Book of Maccabees claim a different origin for Purim?

The books of Mccabees tends to be most interesting to us for telling the story of the origin of Hanukkah and of Antiochus Epiphanes fulfilling prophecies about him from Daniel.  Once he's dead and the Dedication is celebrated we tend to stop reading besides occasionally taking interest in those letters from Sparta for Lost Tribes/Dan/Edom speculation.

Chapter 7 of First Maccabees begins with Demetrius taking the Seleucid throne.  This is the person who arguably should have been King the whole time, who's birthright was usurped by Epiphanes.  You'd think it'd be in his interest then to relate to others wronged by Epiphanes, like the Jews.  But no, he decided pretty quickly he wants Judea back in his empire.  And treasonous Jews who'd usurped the High Preisthood encourage him in doing so.  Nicanor is still one of the chief Seleucid generals.

I encourage you to read the entire Chapter.  I shall copy here starting from verse 33.  This is BTW the King James translation.
After this went Nicanor up to mount Sion, and there came out of the sanctuary certain of the priests and certain of the elders of the people, to salute him peaceably, and to shew him the burnt sacrifice that was offered for the king.  But he mocked them, and laughed at them, and abused them shamefully, and spake proudly, and sware in his wrath, saying, "Unless Judas and his host be now delivered into my hands, if ever I come again in safety, I will burn up this house: and with that he went out in a great rage."
 Then the priests entered in, and stood before the altar and the temple, weeping, and saying, "Thou, O Lord, didst choose this house to be called by thy name, and to be a house of prayer and petition for thy people: Be avenged of this man and his host, and let them fall by the sword: remember their blasphemies, and suffer them not to continue any longer."
 So Nicanor went out of Jerusalem, and pitched his tents in Bethhoron, where an host out of Syria met him.  But Judas pitched in Adasa with three thousand men, and there he prayed, saying, "O Lord, when they that were sent from the king of the Assyrians blasphemed, thine angel went out, and smote an hundred fourscore and five thousand of them.  Even so destroy thou this host before us this day, that the rest may know that he hath spoken blasphemously against thy sanctuary, and judge thou him according to his wickedness."
 So the thirteenth day of the month Adar the hosts joined battle: but Nicanor's host was discomfited, and he himself was first slain in the battle.  
Now when Nicanor's host saw that he was slain, they cast away their weapons, and fled.  Then they pursued after them a day's journey, from Adasa unto Gazera, sounding an alarm after them with their trumpets.  Whereupon they came forth out of all the towns of Judea round about, and closed them in; so that they, turning back upon them that pursued them, were all slain with the sword, and not one of them was left.  Afterwards they took the spoils, and the prey, and smote off Nicanors head, and his right hand, which he stretched out so proudly, and brought them away, and hanged them up toward Jerusalem.
 For this cause the people rejoiced greatly, and they kept that day a day of great gladness.  Moreover they ordained to keep yearly this day, being the thirteenth of Adar.  Thus the land of Juda was in rest a little while.
I'm accusing it of presenting a different origin not simply another deliverance on the same day because it records them referencing back to a past deliverance of Israel, Isaiah 36, in the days of Sennacherib and Hezekiah.  Which is a cool story to remember but you'd think he'd also remember the deliverance from Haman's scheme that happened at this same time of year?  And because it later says they ordained this day.

Nicanor and his men's bodies being hanged up, just like Haman and his sons.

Now I believe Esther over Maccabees because I consider the Masoretic Text, not the Septuagint, God's Word.  In a lot of ways 1 Maccabees is clearly propaganda of the Hasmonean Dynasty, it may be they wanted to claim the origin of the holiday.

Which then makes me wonder, going back to all the debates about if Hanukkah is Biblical or not.  And how I believe Haggai 2 ties into Hanukkah.  What if these books are lying about it's origin too?  But the older account just keeps getting overlooked.  What if Haggai 2 is the real origin of Hanukkah?

2 Maccabees does tell a very different story about the fate of Nicanor in chapters 14 and 15.  But also claims it the origin of the 13th of Adar holiday.

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