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HAYDOCK CATHOLIC BIBLE COMMENTARY ON THE OLD TESTAMENT



1 MACHABEES 6

 

CHAPTER VI.

 

Ver. 1.  Higher, beyond the Euphrates.  C. iii. 30. 37.  C. --- The city.  Gr. Alex. &c. "a city in Elymais," &c.  The Rom. copy, Syr. Jos. style the place Elymais, where the temple was.  C. --- Profane authors agree that this temple was very rich, and that Epiphanes attempted to plunder it.  S. Jer. in Dan. xi. --- Nanea.  Venus or Diana was the deity there adored, whom the king pretended he would marry.  2 Mac. i. 13. and ix. 2.  C. --- The account of the death of Epiphanes is given to v. 16. and 2 B. ix.  W.

 

Ver. 4.  Battle.  it is not known whether Elymais belonged to the king.  Strabo (16) observes it was very jealous of its liberty, which it maintained against the Persians and the successors of Alexander.  C. --- Babylonia.  At last  he returned toward the country of Babylon.  But before he arrived, the news of his generals' bad success in Judea filled him with vexation, and brought on desperate diseases.  v. 8, and 2 B. ix. 5.  W. --- He intended to pass by the country or city of Babylon, but was prevented by illness on the mountains which dived it from Persia.

 

Ver. 5.  Persia, at Ecbatana.  He expired at Tabis, having fallen from his chariot, &c.  2 B. ix.  C.

 

Ver. 12.  Evils.  All this repentance was fictitious.  2 B. ix.  W.

 

Ver. 14.  Friends, educated with him.  He appointed him regent instead of Lysias.  C. --- His son Eupator was only nine years old.  Appian. --- He made him appear and be recognized by the army.  Eupator means one "born of a good father."  C.

 

Ver. 16.  Nine.  He began his persecution A. 143, so that it lasted six years and almost four months, or 2300 days, (Dan. viii. 14.) during which time Judas purified the temple, some months before the death of Epiphanes.  W.

 

Ver. 20.  Fifty.  How then was peace  made in 148, as we read 2 B. xi. 21.?  Usher (3841) supposes the ear was reckoned according to the Chaldee custom, which defers is six months.  Basnage (ii. 1.) rather thins that the letter is placed out of its proper order, and should occur at the beginning of Eupator's reign.  See 2 B. x. --- Slings, or to thrown stones, &c. ballistas.  H. --- The Gr. and Josephus rather indicate terraces, or towers where the machines were placed.

 

Ver. 30.  Hundred.  The 2 B. xi. 2. specifies 80,000.  But it speaks of a subsequent action.

 

Ver. 31.  Idumea.  The passes on the north were probably occupied. --- Bethsura lay to the south of Jerusalem.  C.

 

Ver. 32.  Bethzacharam, a defile (Jos.) between the city and Bethsura.  Judas abandoned the siege of the castle on Sion.  C.

 

Ver. 34.  Blood of grapes, wine, (Deut. xxxii. 14.) and the juice of mulberries incite elephants to fight, as the smell of some sorts of blood causes dogs to hunt.  Vales. Phil. lxxxii.  W. --- This might be done to accustom the elephants to the sight of blood.  C. --- White colours irritate them most, as red do bulls.  Plut. de Fort. Alex. --- Sometimes wine and spirits were given them to drink, when they were to trample on criminals: but it was only shewn them when going to battle, as by drinking they lose their strength.  Elian, Hist. ii. 40. and xiii. 8. and 3 Mac. v. 30.

 

Ver. 37.  Thirty-two.  Bochart looks upon this and other such accounts as fabulous.  He does not determine how many might fight in these towers; but allows that there must have been above two or three, as some would correct the Gr. text, "two or three strong men fighting with darts upon them."  An elephant has been known to carry above 5000 pounds, and thirty-two men would weigh no more than 4800.  Pliny (viii. 7.) observes that sixty people have been seen upon an elephant.  Eupator probably had his from India, where they are larger than in Africa.  A person of that country was deemed fittest to manage them.

 

Ver. 38.  Trumpets.  It would seem as if the infantry had none.  Yet this does not appear probable.  The Greek reads in a different manner.  Some copies have "to stir up and enclose them in the defiles," which seems useless; or "to keep them together in the phalanxes," (MS. Alex.  C.) as the Vulg. has read.  M.

 

Ver. 39.  Gold.  The Argyraspides of Alexander had "shields of silver."  His successors might surpass this magnificence; or the officers might have golden and the soldiers brazen bucklers.

 

Ver. 42.  Six, &c. before the exploit of Eleazer.  Others fell afterwards.  2 B. xi. 11. specifies 11,000 foot, and 600 horse.  Josephus says 1000 of the van guard.

 

Ver. 43.  Saura.  Gr. "Avaron," (C.) Alex. "the Sauaran."  H. --- He is styled Abaron, (C. ii. 5.) the brother of Judas.  C.  Jos.  Sa.  M. --- Arab. says "his servant."  This feat is attributed to Judas, (2 B. xiii. 15.) as he was general, and approved of, or "commanded" Eleazer to act thus, according to Ben. Gorion, (iii. 20.) and the Arab. --- Harness, for greater security.  The skin is very hard, except under the belly.  C. --- Elephants in the army of Antiochus the great, or rather "the coward," were richly adorned.  Flor. ii. 8. --- Porus, king of India, rode on one covered with gold.  Curt. viii.

 

Ver. 44.  Name.  This motive has made some condemn the exploit.  But surely a person may seek to acquire fame, even by exposing himself to danger.  Eleazar might well hope that the beast would not fall so suddenly.  The other motive specified is truly noble and virtuous, and we cannot condemn this hero without stronger proofs.  S. Gregory (Mor. xix. 13.) represents him as a figure of the proud: but he might not therefore be one of the number, (C.) no more than Esau, who was a type of the reprobate.  Mal. i. 3.  H. --- S. Ambrose (Off. i. 40.) highly commends the fortitude of this soldier exposing himself to the danger of death for a religion.  W. --- This is the general sentiment.  See Serar.  M.  T.  Grot. jure. iii. 4. a. 18.

 

Ver. 46.  Under it.  The rhinoceros attacks the elephant in that most  vulnerable part.  Pliny 20.

 

Ver. 47.  Them.  Judas thought proper to retire to the temple, which alone was fortified, and in his power.  The citadel of Sion held for the king, and the city was defenceless.  Only what lay to the north of Bethsura was then called Judea.  The Idumeans occupied the rest.  Eupator blockaded the temple, and besieged Bethsura, which he took.  v. 51.  This siege is related more at length.  2 B. xii. 19.  It cost the king a great deal.  C.

 

Ver. 51.  Battering slings.  Lit. balistas.  H.  See v. 20. --- Fire, or the long javelin, falarica, mentioned by Livy xxi.

                            Incita sulcatum tremulâ secat aera flamma.  Silius.

--- Pieces.  Lit. "scorpions," (H.) a sort of pointed dart, (C.) filled with poison, virus qua figit effundit.  Tert. scorp.

 

Ver. 55.  King.  Lysias had thus been displaced.  v. 14.  C. --- Providence permitted that he should seek his own interest, and thus deliver Judas from the most imminent danger.

 

Ver. 58.  Come.  Lit. "give our right hands," (H.) the sign of the most inviolable engagements among the Persians.  Jos. Ant. xvii. ult.

 

Ver. 59.  Before, by leave of Cyrus, Alex. &c. --- Despising.  Gr. "abolished."  They had made the attempt.

 

Ver. 62.  Oath.  Eupator was not above ten years old, (v. 14. 20.) so that Lysias must bear the greatest blame.  He seems to have prepossessed the king against Philip, the regent.  H.

 

Ver. 63.  City, and slew Philip.  Jos. Ant. xii. 15.)  C. --- Read 2 B. xiii. 1.  W.

 

 








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