The Third Book of the Chronicle
From Biblical Times to the Present
ARCHA NOACH, z.s.
Staré Hamry, CZ
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Reproduction and duplication, in whole or in part, permitted
PART ONE: Chapter 1-7 ..................................................................1
PART TWO: Chapter 1-7 ................................................................21
PART THREE: Chapter 1-7 ................................................................43
PART FOUR: Chapter 1-7 ................................................................62
PART FIVE: Chapter 1-7 ...............................................................79
PART SIX: Chapter 1-7 ...............................................................96
PART SEVEN: Chapter 1-6 ..............................................................115
THE CALL OF GOD .......................................................................133
PART SEVEN: Chapter 7 .................................................................148
1 The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. 2 Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they reveal knowledge. They have no speech, they use no words; no sound is heard from them. 3 Yet their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world.
4 It was a long time ago that King Cyrus let the Jewish people return to Jerusalem. 5 When King Darius ruled the Persian Empire and King Philip reigned over Macedonia, the High Priest Jaddus held office in Jerusalem. 6 At that stage Jerusalem and all of Judea enjoyed a brief reprieve and a certain degree of autonomy as a Persian province and temple district. 7 Meanwhile the Macedonian and Greek City States were subtly competing for supremacy. 8 As a newly rising power, the Macedonians were considered Barbarians by the other Greek cities, a fact which kept causing incessant discord and friction. 9 But before we chronicle those ancient events, we have to take a closer look at the past. 10 Mysterious and imperceptible are God’s ways! 11 But only to those who ignore the signs of the times and therefore don’t recognize them and to those who haven’t experienced God’s love or accepted it. 12 God’s ways are evident, however, if frequently hard to embrace, to those He has chosen and who have accepted His election. 13 The sequence of events since the creation of man and the handing over of the earth to Adam and Eve until the present we call: the events of the day. 14 Man’s depravity and the evil thoughts in his heart had led to the estrangement between him and his creator. 15 Subsequently the flood engulfed mankind and everything that lived on earth. 16 Even after the deluge Noah’s descendants succumbed to the same sinfulness as before. 17 For that reason perhaps the LORD chose a man to be the founding father of a people – His people. 18 Thus it was created, thus it was convened, thus it was chosen: God’s tribe of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. 19 It had not been an election in the true sense of the word because there was no choice; it would be more appropriate to refer to the creation of the people of Israel because God had created His chosen people over many, many years as the “firstborn son” and his “personal property”. 20 Despite His bitter disappointment, God loved mankind so much that He made them joint custodians of the earth and repeatedly offered them covenants. 21 He made His first covenant with Noah so the rainbow would remind Him to never again destroy the whole of mankind.
22 His covenant with Abraham, however, already constituted a binding contract with the name change from Abram to Abraham, the handing over of land and the introduction of circumcision. 23 Abraham and his descendants would be forever obliged to have their male progeny circumcised as a visible symbol of the eternal covenant. 24 Furthermore Canaan was entrusted to Abraham and later his grandson Jacob in perpetuity. 25 Circumcision ushered in a new era on earth. 26 Ever since, Abraham’s descendants are recognized by this distinct mark. 27 From that day on, from generation to generation, mankind has renewed and confirmed God’s covenant with Abraham through the blood it sheds during the circumcision. 28 And ever since Abraham’s male descendants confer this covenant to their wives; the women shedding their blood during the first union with their husbands to also sign the contract. 29 Many times and in many ways God has built on this covenant of circumcision, extended it, entered into additional covenants and never retracted it. 30 But even those circumcised, the elected, became obstinate and hard-hearted and God kept building new bridges and searched for new ways to help them.
31 For centuries he let His people multiply, grow and mature in Egypt. 32 When their time had been served, He brought them to the Promised Land in a unique and wonderful way. 33 These events are extensively documented in the Holy Scriptures and therefore not elaborated upon in this chronicle. 34 Israel needed many years to find its place between God and the world. 35 It never really succeeded. 36 Numerous leaders, heroes and judges had come and gone until God found someone who greatly pleased Him: King David. 37 Under his reign the Israelites became consolidated and organised as God’s People with the Arc of the Covenant in Jerusalem. 38 Finally everything appeared to right itself. 39 But soon after Salomon’s death the people started fighting amongst themselves and divided what God had joined together. 40 The tribes of Israel would feel the consequences of the split for generations to come. 41 The subsequent days, months and years virtually teemed with events. 42 Many of these have forever vanished from the Israelites’ memory. 43 Some were recorded by the historians of the time; many found their way into the Holy Scriptures.
44 The following record of events begins at a time of upheaval. 45 The empires of the earth perish, kings are overthrown, new empires and new rulers emerge, new customs spread around the world. 46 The prophets of God’s People have been silent for quite a while; these are unstable times. 47 Time-honoured traditions and mind-sets are discarded and replaced or modified because these are deemed superior in some people’s view. 48 But this certainly does not result in peace as the many struggles and wars between the Greek City States and the Macedonians testify. 49 When the Macedonians defeated the alliance of Athens and Thebes in the Battle of Chareonea, both parties had to negotiate a peace treaty. 50 This resulted in the so-called League of Corinth which united all the Greek City States except Sparta under the supreme leadership of the Macedonian King Philip. 51 He was, however, murdered not long after and succeeded by his young son Alexander.
52 Vigorously Alexander waged numerous wars of conquest; generally extremely successfully. 53 His achievements increasingly encouraged him to pursue his goal of conquering Persia and even extending his realm as far as India. 54 He basically planned to advance to the ends of the earth. 55 At the time a long foreseeable schism occurred in Judea. 56 The Samaritans segregated from the Jews of Jerusalem and from then on offered their sacrifices on Mount Gerizim in Samaria. 57 Alexander defeated the army of the Persian king Darius and took his mother, wife and children prisoner. 58 Then he fought his way through Tyre and Gaza to Egypt. 59 Alexander’s army was warmly welcomed by Jerusalem’s priests and citizens. 60 This assured Jerusalem’s and Judea’s continued autonomy in practicing their rites and some tax exemptions.
61 King Alexander’s conquests had created a vast and powerful empire. 62 But he died unexpectedly and without a confirmed successor. 63 His realm was divided amongst his generals. 64 But his successors’ greed for more and more land and power rendered them unsatisfied with their inheritance. 65 Thus they embroiled themselves in countless intrigues and wars. 66 The former Persian Empire’s population could not find peace. 67 Power struggles and battles caused much misery in the provinces. 68 A huge number of people lost their lives, even more were maimed. 69 Many Jewish mercenaries also fought for various generals. 70 Some of the survivors, returning from different parts of the world, brought tidings of foreign cultures. 71 Of the way of life in India and Carthage; most of their accounts, however, concerned Hellenic cities and provinces. 72 Their reports included tales of numerous sages who spent much time in deep contemplation, profound conversation and writing about the most diverse aspects of the world.
73 They also told about new ideas, of schools, lectures, debating competitions, of attempts to restructure the world; even to reinvent it. 74 Thus the philosophers separated thought from everyday life, from concerns about the family, the means of subsistence and work. 75 These men wholly or partly disassociated themselves from the ordinary lives of all mortal human beings, observed the daily activities of other people, watched mountains, oceans, rivers, the sky, studied ancient writings and pondered endlessly. 76 Each of these wise men was immersed in his own thoughts and drew his own conclusions. 77 And suddenly concepts, perceptions and words were redefined; “new worlds” opened up in their minds and a new way of life was born. 78 And although most of these men did not like each other and occasionally engaged in heated verbal debates, they had one thing in common: a new way of viewing the world and life itself. 79 They firmly believed that they had successfully reached for the sky and unveiled the secrets of creation. 80 This provided sufficient grounds to view man as, at least, demigods, although nobody voiced this out loud. 81 Later different thinkers’ newly gathered insights were collected and became a general philosophy. 82 Despite the immense development of the human mind, people did not acknowledge the one true God; instead the Greek cities abounded with gods, demigods, heroes and idols. 83 Man himself – venerating his own greatness, power and wisdom – became the biggest idol. 84 The Macedonians ensured the demise of the Greek cities’ hegemony, which had been built on wisdom. 85 One still should not underestimate, let alone condemn, the sages’ efforts even though they did not lead to the correct results. 86 They had longed to discover truth and the meaning of life and the world. 87 And they had tried to fill the void in their hearts; the emptiness inside every human being caused by the non-recognition of the true God. 88 Although they had not discovered the one true God, they had developed many ways to facilitate the search. 89 Had revealed many spiritual paths to God through a humble heart and an open mind. 90 In consideration of their efforts to find God one can only exclaim: How lucky the Israelites should have considered themselves that God had already disclosed the whole truth to them such a long time ago!
91 The Greek cities, led by Athens, used the power struggles among Alexander’s successors to start a war of liberation. 92 They had long been waiting for a suitable opportunity to free themselves from Macedonian dominion. 93 Following initial triumphs, the Greeks increasingly got into difficulties. 94 Athens’ fleet was destroyed by the Macedonians in the Battle of Amorgos. 95 Thus Athens lost its naval supremacy. 96 Although the Greeks still managed to defend their position in the subsequent battle, they suffered such great losses that they had to propose a peace treaty to the Macedonians who were led by Antipater. 97 Antipater was willing to enter into the treaty, but separately with each Greek city. 98 However, the federation of Greek cities rejected the proposal. 99 Subsequently Antipater attacked the cities of Thessaly, quickly conquered them and dictated his terms for a peace agreement. 100 The alliance of Greek City States collapsed. 101 Some of them withdrew their troops in order to prepare them for a continuation of the war; others separately made peace with Antipater. 102 When the Macedonian started his march to Attica, Athens sent a delegation to meet him and negotiate a peace treaty. 103 Antipater, however, was not willing to bargain, and Athens had no choice but accept his conditions. 104 After he then also subdued the Peloponnesian cities, he returned to Macedonia to prepare for battle against Aetolia, the only region which had refused his terms. 105 On marching into Aetolia with more than thirty thousand soldiers, he received the message that Perdiccas had attempted to seize power over the whole of Asia. 106 Antipater interrupted his campaign and took his troops to Asia to wage war against Perdiccas, the regent of the empire, and thus secure his position as Alexander’s successor. 107 The Aetolians used his absence to march as far as Locris where they defeated the Macedonians and occupied some cities. 108 In an alliance with the last remaining free regions of Thessaly they formed a substantial army. 109 One half of the troops marched to Aetolia, the other was to remain in Thessaly under the command of General Menon. 110 Menon’s soldiers were defeated by the Macedonians’ leader Polyperchon and Menon was killed. 111 This was the last act of warfare in Greece until Antipater’s death.
112 Greece once again became the scene for numerous wars of succession. 113 Antigonus, after emerging as the outstanding victor of the second war for the succession, extended and cemented his power. 114 The remaining potential successors became extremely wary and aligned themselves against him. 115 Ptolemy, the ruler of Egypt, was the allies’ leader. 116 Seleucus, who had fled to him, joined him in the third war of succession against Antigonus. 117 Seleucus was a tenacious and successful general. 118 After the victory near Gaza against Antigonus’ son Demetrius Poliorcetes, he marched his army through the Syrian Desert and took control of the Mesopotamian cities. 119 He eventually conquered Babylon, too, and made it the base for founding his own empire. 120 He successfully defended his conquests over several battles until Antiogonus surrendered and made his peace with him. 121 Seleucus also brought many Greek cities into his dominion.
122 In the fourth war of succession Ptolemy’s brother Menelaus was defeated near Cyprus by the troops of Demetrius, who fought for Antigonus. 123 After this victory, Antigonus had himself proclaimed as king of the entirety of Alexander’s realm. 124 Then Antigonus sent his army to Egypt to bring Ptolemy to his knees. 125 But Ptolemy successfully thwarted the enemy army’s invasion. 126 Now Ptolemy and his allies – Cassander, Lysimachus and Seleucus – also had themselves proclaimed as kings, but without defining the borders of their respective kingdoms. 127 This caused further military conflicts. 128 Demetrius and his father refused to acknowledge them as kings. 129 Demetrius waged several wars of conquest against Cassander. 130 He succeeded in taking Athens and let himself be celebrated as a “son of the gods”. 131 Cassander, Lysimachus and Seleucus became even more firmly allied. 132 They took their armies to the East. 133 Antigonus and Demetrius met them with a large force. 134 The ensuing battle took place at Ipsus. 135 Antigonus and Demetrius lost. 136 The former died in the battle while part of his troops had already deserted him to join the other side during the altercations.
137 The Battle of Ipsus heralded the end of the Alexandrian Empire. 138 What Alexander had once founded and eventually established as a global power, crumbled because his successors could not agree. 139 Jerusalem was taken by Ptolemy. 140 Many Jews were resettled; others emigrated voluntarily, mainly to Egypt. 141 A strong Jewish colony developed in Alexandria. 142 The Jews had to pledge loyalty to Ptolemy and his successors. 143 A new era has begun; the future will show what it holds in store. 144 In view of the past events, the only remaining consolation is the certainty that in the end God, the LORD of Israel, will have the last word after all.
1 The Mighty One, God the LORD, speaks and summons the earth from the rising of the sun to where it sets. 2 From Zion, perfect in beauty, God shines forth.
3 Zion enjoyed some, if not continual, peace after Ptolemy had consolidated his reign. 4 Tidings of new wars, upheavals and revolts spread from all four corners of the globe. 5 Alexander’s successors’ thirst for power had not yet been satisfied. 6 The victors of the last war and some of their allies now ruled over various parts of the realm. 7 Seleucus reigned in the East; first in Babylon and later also in Syria. 8 Ptolemy ruled over Egypt, including Coele-Syria; Lysimachus of Thrace over the coastal regions. 9 The former allies now became enemies; each of them striving to conquer more land for himself. 10 Most of the military action took place in Greece. 11 Initially Demetrius successfully fought against Pyrrhus and Lysimachus, but was soon defeated, taken prisoner and died in captivity. 12 After Lysimachus went on to defeat Pyrrhus as well, he became the absolute ruler of Macedonia. 13 Anxious to consolidate his power by any means, he turned into a brutal tyrant. 14 His reign of terror became even more ruthless through the intrigues of his wife Arsinoe, one of Ptolemy’s daughters. 15 Meanwhile Seleucus watched Lysimachus’ tyranny with great distrust. 16 He seized the opportunity to march against Macedonia when Lysimachus’ ally Ptolemy died. 17 Lysimachus was killed in the decisive battle and his army defeated. 18 But Seleucus did not survive for long either. 19 He was murdered on his way to Macedonia where he had intended to strengthen his dominant position. 20 Thus died Alexander’s last remaining successor.
21 While Ptolemy was still alive he elected the son named after him as his co-regent and heir. 22 The male offspring from his union with his outcast wife Eurydice, were excluded from the inheritance. 23 Ptolemy the elder was buried in an elaborate ceremony by his successor. 24 Later Ptolemy the younger proclaimed his deceased father as the “saviour” – Soter in Greek. 25 Much changed for the Jews under the new ruler. 26 Many displaced or enslaved Jews were redeemed or granted their freedom. 27 Some returned to Judea, the majority, however, remained in foreign lands. 28 During the time of Eleazar, the High Priest, the Temple was also endowed with royal gifts and the temple service to some extent valorised. 29 Despite all the improvements, the position of the Jewish people remained uncertain. 30 Some of the Jews adopted the Hellenic ways of life in the diaspora; many even forgot their own language. 31 The rules of the Torah were only perfunctorily observed or not at all; the last remaining link to Jerusalem was the occasional visit to the Temple. 32 Reports of wars and uprisings in the western countries kept circulating. 33 Carthage and Rome fought for supremacy in the west; sometimes as allies, sometimes as opponents and with variable success. 34 Ptolemy sent several delegations to Rome to make contact with that ever more powerful nation. 35 But he also dispatched his delegates to the eastern countries to establish diplomatic relations and explore trade routes.
36 Conditions for the rural population gradually but steadily improved through new implements and tools that eased working the land and harvesting. 37 The contact with foreign regions led to new knowledge and insights regarding a more efficient use of the soil. 38 Building and creating new settlements were also aided by the newly acquired knowledge and tools to ease and speed up the work. 39 But there is yet another form of progression. 40 A change in attitude to life, which manifests in the people turning to idleness, amusements, play and entertainment.
41 Hellenic thought patterns flood the world’s population to a greater degree and therefore also affect the Jews. 42 They are more and more fascinated with sports and the theatre, attend performances and forget their own language, become ever more removed from the spiritual life, pay less and less attention to God and even question the rules of the Torah. 43 During sports events they eagerly support favoured individual combatants or teams, laugh at the opponents, mock the losers and are devastated or delighted depending on who won. 44 Everyone now wages his own little “war”, be it with abuse or threats, which often escalate in brawls or local battles. 45 At the theatre one is thrilled by what other people have created and performed, praises or criticises foreign ideas and forgets one’s own origins, tradition and piety; thus alien ideologies displaced one’s own. 46 Subsequently many Jews first became indifferent and eventually completely neglected studying the Torah. 47 Their sages were extremely concerned about God’s chosen people who began to wither and wilt in the face of their own laxness and dissension. 48 And when the reshaping of provinces and realms, a new “arrangement” of the peoples, was underway, when the new way of life seemed to be conquering the world, when the Jewish faith in the one true God started to falter and confusion was at its height, something extraordinary happened.
49 It looked as if Israel’s time would be over forever, as if the Jewish people were a thing of the past, as if they had doubted themselves and failed, deserted by God. 50 That was when the Almighty reawakened their tired spirits and provided the impetus for a new beginning in the world. 51 Just at this lowest point, when they started to disintegrate like a seed fallen to the earth, the Rock of Israel made them the new beacon of humanity. 52 It pleased God to reveal Himself to all of mankind through His people. 53 His word, His guidance – directed at the Jews, given to the Jews – was now disclosed to all human beings in accordance with His will. 54 The wise and devout men of Israel, seventy two in number, translated the Torah into Greek, the most important language of its day. 55 Thus God’s revelation to his people became accessible to all men. 56 The earth was filled with the knowledge of God as had been foretold by the prophets in the scriptures of ancient times. 57 The Jews found it very hard to believe what was occurring while the pagans initially could not comprehend it at all. 58 The repercussions of the Greek translation of the Torah will still be felt after countless generations, yes, they will even intensify. 59 Since the reception of the Torah, the Israelites underwent endless baptisms by fire. 60 Without pause for breath; without time to rest. 61 And whenever there was a respite after all, the Israelites generally used that period to succumb to new sins. 62 To be purified by “fire” once more.
63 At times they really were a beacon of light as God’s chosen people; at times they were a disgrace, but they never ceased to belong to God. 64 This was now confirmed by all peoples. 65 From now on every man and woman can search for the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, pray to him and live in accordance with his directions, as long as they sincerely wish to do so. 66 If and to what extent they will avail of this opportunity shall remain to be seen. 67 Will the Jews, will Israel, benefit by this or will it be even more critically viewed by God and the rest of mankind? 68 But one thing is certain: the Jewish people have never tried to forcefully convert anyone to their faith. 69 They are busy enough with their own concerns and with their LORD. 70 But now an involuntary breakthrough has taken place and there is no turning back. 71 The LORD has spread His word across the whole world like the morning dew. 72 May it achieve what He has intended through His divine will.
Part ONE CHAPTER 3
1 Hear me, my people, and I will warn you – if you would only listen to me, Israel! 2 You shall have no foreign god among you; you shall not worship any god other than me.
3 As soon as the Torah had been translated into Greek and thus made accessible to mankind, everyone tried to dissuade the Jews away from their revelation and direct their thoughts towards the pagan gods. 4 The pressure and influence from peoples with Hellenistic cultures was particularly pronounced. 5 It is therefore not surprising that a substantial part of the Jewish priests and scholars judged the translation of the Torah into Greek and the Greek way of life as overall negative.
6 Meanwhile the majority of the Jews encountered very different problems. 7 These were caused by military conflicts between the Ptolemies and the Seleucids. 8 God frequently warned his people by subjecting them to foreign rule. 9 The Ptolemaic–Seleucid conflict near Coele-Syria ended in a peace treaty. 10 The marriage between Seleucus’ grandson Antiochus and Ptolemy’s granddaughter Berenice sealed the peace agreement. 11 However, when Antiochus deserted her seven years later to return to his former wife, this resulted in the third war between the Ptolemies and the Seleucids. 12 Ptolemy, in an effort to restore Berenice’s honour, sailed with his military fleet in the direction of the Seleucid capital of Antioch. 13 When he arrived, Berenice and her son had already been murdered. 14 Ptolemy seized the opportunity to have his armies defeat Syria, Mesopotamia and Cilicia. 15 Thus the Ptolemaic Empire became one of the most influential powers in the world.
16 The Seleucid Empire, however, after having entered into a peace treaty with the Ptolemies, found itself in an extremely negative position. 17 Its provinces Bactria and Parthia gained their autonomy. 18 Bactria became the Greco-Bactrian Kingdom, which spread as far as the border to India. 19 From there came tidings of its population’s different way of life and religious customs. 20 The Greeks were now exposed to Buddhism. 21 To a degree, Buddhism influenced the entire Hellenic world. 22 By now Rome had extended its power in the west. 23 New military strategies and weapons were developed. 24 The Romans were not concerned with the dissemination of their world view; they solely lusted for more land and power. 25 Rome’s adversary was Carthage, a former Phoenician colony. 26 The Romans called the residents of Carthage Punians based on their Phoenician origins. 27 The Punic region around Carthage they named Africa after the indigenous Afri tribe.
28 Carthage was a strong sea trading nation. 29 At first Rome and Carthage were on friendly terms and entered into various contracts. 30 But once the Romans had conquered considerable tracts of land, they also aspired to become a naval power. 31 This provided the basis for a dispute with Carthage. 32 The first war started with a conflict over Sicily. 33 The Romans had built their own fleet and destroyed Carthage’s navy with it. 34 Subsequently Carthage also lost settlements on other islands. 35 It tried to compensate for these losses by conquering regions on the Iberian Peninsula. 36 To this end, it dispatched the distinguished general Hamilcar, referred to as Barca by the Romans, to Iberia. 37 He succeeded in conquering regions rich in ore for Carthage. 38 The Barcids founded the city of New Carthage in the south of the country and exercised their power from there. 39 With the Romans they agreed on the Iberus River as the border between their realms. 40 This agreement did not last long, however.
41 The dispute over a town led to the second war between Carthage and Rome. 42 Under Hannibal’s command the Carthaginians marched over the Alps to Rome. 43 The arduous journey cost Hannibal close to half of his soldiers. 44 His plan was to cut off Rome from its allies and then attack. 45 He ran into difficulties providing for his troops, so his soldiers resorted to plunder on the way. 46 Despite this, the Carthaginians’ strength still waned. 47 Most of Rome’s allies remained loyal and thereby reinforced its power. 48 Rome now prepared a military campaign against Carthage under General Scipio. 49 Hannibal had no choice but to retreat and was defeated at the Battle of Zama. 50 Rome’s triumph signified the end of Carthage’s power, which then became a Roman vassal state.
51 The by now insignificant Greek City States used the Punic Wars to re-establish their former glory. 52 They were opposed by the Macedonians who wanted to maintain their supremacy over the City States. 53 Since the Wars of Succession, the Macedonians had amassed one of the most powerful armies in the world. 54 Philip, their ruler, entered into a pact with Hannibal and declared war on Rome. 55 He also forged allegiances with the Syrian king Antiochus. 56 When Macedonia once again interfered in domestic Greek matters, the Romans came to the rescue of Athens and the other Greek City States. 57 In this way, Rome gradually gained influence in the Greek microstates while the Macedonian Kingdom lost its hold.
58 Owing to the ever-changing alliances and wars, information becomes more widespread. 59 News travelled more rapidly. 60 One of the current innovations is the introduction of the Macedonian Calendar with the starting year being Seleucus’ occupation of Babylon. 61 This calendar is also used in Syria and Judea. 62 After the Greeks have become familiar with the Torah, they also have parts of the other Jewish Holy Scriptures translated into Greek. 63 The Gentiles have realised that the Jews regard themselves as the Chosen People based on the Torah and only pray to the one God. 64 Trying to counteract this, they gradually persecute the Jews under the reign of the Seleucid Empire. 65 Initially the Seleucids try to peacefully introduce their pagan customs to the Jews. 66 Those Jews who are prepared to accept the heathen way of life are appointed to public offices and even employed as judges. 67 A group of Hellenised Jews forms. 68 They approve of sporting events, theatre performances and dance festivities and actively participate. 69 They even go as far as having altars erected to Greek idols and gods. 70 The rest of the Jews vigorously condemn this. 71 A period of tribulation starts for the Jewish population. 72 If they shall survive depends on how steadfast they shall remain and to what extent the Rock of Israel will aid them.
Part ONE CHAPTER 4
1 The LORD is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth.
2 Loyalty to the Torah on the one hand and turning to heathen practices on the other start to divide the Jewish people. 3 As the Jews have no say in world affairs, they become introvert; as such numerous, divergent groupings emerge among them. 4 These include lobbyists of all kinds, from rash fanatics and traditional observers of the Torah to admirers of pagan gods. 5 Amongst the priests and the political leaders there is no consensus either. 6 Once again God seems to have forgotten Israel; the Almighty, however, does not adhere to human criteria. 7 In these hard times only devout and law-abiding Jews are not panic-stricken and desperate. 8 They are well aware that the difficulties are due to the people’s sins, but that these challenges are also God’s test to determine the constancy of His elect. 9 The wheel of history drifts past the Jews because they don’t keep it moving; the world does. 10 Empires come and go; rulers are enthroned and dethroned. 11 The mighty become weak and complete unknowns enter the world’s arena to wield their authority.
12 Similar to the Greeks, the Romans also highly value the theatre and sporting events; only their styles differ. 13 The Romans make humans compete against wild beasts, delight in animals tearing each other apart and people being fed to the beasts. 14 Here the blood already flows in the arena and not after the games as is the case during the Greeks’ contests when the spectators attack each other afterwards. 15 This even represents a certain degree of progress in the eyes of the pagans. 16 And now let us return to the events.
17 The Macedonians were repeatedly defeated by the Romans, lost their dominion over the Greek City States and had to pay compensatory tributes to Rome. 18 Rome wants to extent its realm towards the east. 19 There, in Coele-Syria, the Seleucids and Ptolemies are still fighting for supremacy. 20 Antiochus, the ruler of the Seleucid Empire, defeated the Ptolemaic general Scopas near the source of the Jordan. 21 Thus the Seleucids once more won the political dominance in Coele-Syria. 22 In order to subsequently secure the agreed peace between the two dynasties, Antiochus’ daughter Cleopatra married Ptolemy. 23 As the new ruler, Antiochus endorsed the Jews’ religious freedom. 24 While the Seleucids felt sure of their rule in Coele-Syria, the Romans suddenly invaded the area. 25 In the Battle of Thermopylae, Antiochus was crushingly beaten by the Romans. 26 After he was vanquished again at Magnesia, the Romans took his son, also called Antiochus, back to Rome as a hostage. 27 Through the Peace Treaty of Apamea the regions east of the Great Ocean were now also under Roman rule.
28 The Carthaginian general Hannibal, who had escaped from the Romans to Syria, had to flee once more after Antiochus’ defeat. 29 When the king of Bithynia threatened to extradite him to Rome, he committed suicide. 30 Meanwhile the Macedonian king Perseus, the son of Philip, tried to re-establish the former glory of his realm. 31 He failed, however, and the Antigonid dynasty was subsequently dissolved.
32 After Antiochus’ death, his son Seleucus became the ruler of the empire. 33 Faced with a financial crisis caused by the tributary payments to Rome, he authorised his chancellor Heliodorus to plunder the Temple of Jerusalem. 34 Heliodorus didn’t succeed in carrying out this heinous crime and murdered the king soon after. 35 He did this because Antiochus the younger, who had once been a hostage in Rome, had managed to form a political opposition against his brother Seleucus in Athens and Pergamum. 36 When Antiochus, the fourth of his name from the Seleucid dynasty, became king, he engaged in a successful military campaign against Egypt. 37 The Romans, however, thwarted his takeover of the entire country as they claimed certain regions for themselves. 38 Antiochus had to turn back. 39 He plundered the Temple in Jerusalem on his retreat and consecrated it to Zeus. 40 Under his rule the Jews’ position deteriorated when he abolished the privileges his father had granted them. 41 He endeavoured to politically, socially and religiously unite his realm by introducing Hellenic culture. 42 The Jews were now prohibited from practicing their religious rites, circumcision and reading the Torah. 43 He appointed Jason, the brother of Onias, as the High Priest and he campaigned for the Hellenisation of the Jews. 44 Right beside the temple he had a gymnasium erected and approved holding games in Jerusalem. 45 The desecration of the Temple of Jerusalem was the worst outrage that could have been inflicted on the Jews. 46 After a surfeit of atrocities in Judea and Jerusalem, the time had come for Israel and its God. 47 But the LORD didn’t strike the pagan altar in Jerusalem like lightning, no, He sparked a small glimmer of hope in nearby Modina through his elected one, Mattathias. 48 What Mattathias and his sons accomplished was neither done out of desperation nor revenge and certainly not driven by resignation. 49 It was pure inspiration sparked in those devoted to God at certain moments. 50 According to all human rules Mattathias’ act at the sacrificial altar in Modina should have incurred the extermination of his kin and all law-abiding Jews. 51 Instead it provided the prelude for the restoration of Israel and a loyalty to God which had not been seen since the days of Ezra and Nehemiah. 52 A people aware of its past and which honours God can not be exterminated, no matter how sinfully it behaves. 53 In the end God himself leads His people against blasphemers and oppressors, be they from its own ranks or that of the heathens. 54 God is the King of Israel and through Mattathias and his sons he glorified his name. 55 When the world believes Israel to be destroyed and extinct, the LORD reawakens it to life and it raises itself up like the dry bones told about by the prophet Ezekiel. 56 Let us remember the mighty Alexander and his global empire! 57 What is an obscure man like Mattathias and a small place in Judea called Modina compared to him? 58 And yet it was just here where the flame was lit which shall enlighten Israel and many peoples. 59 After Mattathias slayed the king’s official and the Jews who sacrificed their idols, he escaped into the mountains with his sons and other law-abiding Jews. 60 From there they organised the struggle for liberation. 61 When they heard that the Jews who had fled from Jerusalem had been murdered on a Sabbath, they decided to also defend themselves against their enemies on that day.
62 Following Mattathias’ death, his son Judah led the revolution. 63 He and his army came to fame through their heroic victories. 64 Even the cruel tyrant Antiochus, who, during his campaign, was informed of Judah’s triumphs while fighting for his life in Persia due to severe illness, had an agreement drawn up for the Jews. 65 Judah succeeded in purifying the temple in Jerusalem from the pagan idols and in reinstating the Jewish religious service. 66 This event is celebrated annually by the Jews. 67 Judah also offered an expiatory sacrifice to commemorate the fallen warriors. 68 He dispatched a messenger to Rome to enter into a friendship treaty.
69 Meanwhile Seleucus´ son Demetrius, became king. 70 Demetrius sent General Bacchides to war against the Jewish troops; in the Battle of Elasa he defeated the Jewish leader Judah, called Maccabeus. 71 After Judah’s death, his brother Jonathan assumed control, but he and his men had to flee from Bacchides beyond the Jordan. 72 Jonathan, too, was extremely pious and steadfastly believed in God’s justice and mercy towards the Jewish people.
Part ONE CHAPTER 5
1 For the LORD is the great God, the great King above all gods.
2 Better times dawn for the Jews with the reintroduction of the Jewish rites in the Temple of Jerusalem. 3 The blasphemers, however, begrudge them the hard-won freedom and once more begin intriguing against them. 4 The High Priest Alcimus, appointed by the Seleucid ruler Demetrius, orders to tear down the walls of the Temple’s inner courtyard. 5 As Bacchides, Demetrius’ general, is unable to defeat the Maccabees Jonathan and his brother Simon, he enters into a peace treaty with them. 6 The war in Israel appears to have ended and Jonathan starts judging the Jewish people. 7 This takes place in Michmash where Saul and his own son Jonathan had once started the battle against the Philistines. 8 During that time a man from Cilicia, Balas of Smyrna, claims to be the presumed murdered son of the Seleucid tyrant Antiochus. 9 The Pergamon king Atallus supports his claim. 10 Balas, who has adopted the name Alexander, appears before the Roman Senate accompanied by Antiochus’ daughter Laodice and convinces the Senate of his right to the Seleucid throne. 11 He establishes a counter-government in Ptolemy’s port in Coele-Syria. 12 In order to assert his position, his opponent Demetrius tries to join forces with Jonathan the Maccabee. 13 He grants him the right to maintain his own army and releases all Jewish prisoners from the fortress in Jerusalem. 14 Subsequently Jonathan fortifies Mount Zion and begins to restore Jerusalem. 15 When Alexander Balas hears of the Maccabee’s courage he also extends his hand in friendship. 16 He instates Jonathan as High Priest, who takes up office during the Sukkot celebrations. 17 Demetrius’ former brutal deeds make Jonathan distrust him. 18 Alexander Balas, supported by the Ptolemaic Egyptians, defeats Demetrius and becomes the ruler of the Seleucid Empire. 19 To consolidate his position, he marries the Ptolemaic princess Cleopatra.
20 In the meantime Rome attempted to conquer large regions of Hispania. 21 The Celtiberian tribes fought back. 22 The head of the resistance was Viriatus, an important leader from Lusitania. 23 Rome signed a peace agreement with him, but had him murdered later on. 24 Meanwhile there was also conflict between Carthage and the Numidian kingdom bordering it to the west. 25 Numidia had been internally divided ever since the Punic War: the eastern part sympathized with Rome, the western part with Carthage. 26 Rome appointed King Massinissa as the ruler of all Numidia; his kingdom extended as far as Mauretania to the west. 27 Secure in the knowledge of Rome’s backing, Massinissa led a number of attacks on Carthaginian regions. 28 Carthage sent its army to fight the Numidian king. 29 Thus started a war which saw Carthage utterly destroyed by the Romans after three years of hard battle. 30 At the same time Rome also subdued the Greek City States. 31 The Archaic League, based in Corinth, opposed Rome. 32 When the states of the Archaic League declared war on Sparta, they got into conflict with the Romans. 33 The Romans reduced Corinth to rubble; the men were executed, the rest of the population sold into slavery.