December 09, 2002 Copyright © by United States Conference of Catholic Bishops
- 1 2 Judas had heard of the reputation of the Romans. They were valiant fighters and acted amiably to all who took their side. They established a friendly alliance with all who applied to them.
- 3 He was also told of their battles and the brave deeds that they had performed against the Gauls, conquering them and forcing them to pay tribute.
- They had gotten possession of the silver and gold mines in Spain,
- and by planning and persistence had conquered the whole country, although it was very remote from their own. They had crushed the kings who had come against them from the far corners of the earth and had inflicted on them severe defeat, and the rest paid tribute to them every year.
- 4 Philip and Perseus, king of the Macedonians, and the others who opposed them in battle had been overwhelmed and subjugated.
- 5 Antiochus the Great, king of Asia, who had fought against them with a hundred and twenty elephants and with cavalry and chariots and a very great army, had been defeated by them.
- They had taken him alive and obliged him and the kings who succeeded him to pay a heavy tribute, to give hostages and a section of
- 6 Lycia, Mysia, and Lydia from among their best provinces. The Romans took these from him and gave them to King Eumenes.
- 7 When the men of Greece had planned to come and destroy them,
- the Romans discovered it, and sent against the Greeks a single general who made war on them. Many were wounded and fell, and the Romans took their wives and children captive. They plundered them, took possession of their land, tore down their strongholds and reduced them to slavery even to this day.
- All the other kingdoms and islands that had ever opposed them they destroyed and enslaved;
- with their friends, however, and those who relied on them, they maintained friendship. They had conquered kings both far and near, and all who heard of their fame were afraid of them.
- In truth, those whom they desired to help to a kingdom became kings, and those whom they wished to depose they deposed; and they were greatly exalted.
- Yet with all this, none of them put on a crown or wore purple as a display of grandeur.
- They had made for themselves a senate house, and every day three hundred and twenty men took counsel, deliberating on all that concerned the people and their well-being.
- 8 They entrusted their government to one man every year, to rule over their entire country, and they all obeyed that one, and there was no envy or jealousy among them.
- So Judas chose Eupolemus, son of John, son of Accos, and Jason, son of Eleazar, and sent them to Rome to establish an alliance of friendship with them.
- He did this to get rid of the yoke, for it was obvious that the kingdom of the Greeks was subjecting Israel to slavery.
- After making a very long journey to Rome, the envoys entered the senate and spoke as follows:
- "Judas, called Maccabeus, and his brothers, with the Jewish people, have sent us to you to make a peaceful alliance with you, and to enroll ourselves among your allies and friends."
- The proposal pleased the Romans,
- 9 and this is a copy of the reply they inscribed on bronze tablets and sent to Jerusalem, to remain there with the Jews as a record of peace and alliance:
- "May it be well with the Romans and the Jewish nation at sea and on land forever; may sword and enemy be far from them.
- But if war is first made on Rome, or any of its allies in any of their dominions,
- the Jewish nation will help them wholeheartedly, as the occasion shall demand;
- and to those who wage war they shall not give nor provide grain, arms, money, or ships; this is Rome's decision. They shall fulfill their obligations without receiving any recompense.
- In the same way, if war is made first on the Jewish nation, the Romans will help them willingly, as the occasion shall demand,
- and to those who are attacking them there shall not be given grain, arms, money, or ships; this is Rome's decision. They shall fulfill their obligations without deception.
- On these terms the Romans have made an agreement with the Jewish people.
- But if both parties hereafter decide to add or take away anything, they shall do as they choose, and whatever they shall add or take away shall be valid.
- "Moreover, concerning the wrongs that King Demetrius has done to them, we have written to him thus: 'Why have you made your yoke heavy upon our friends and allies the Jews?
- If they complain about you again, we will do them justice and make war on you by land and sea.'"
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1  This chapter contains the account of the embassy which Judas sent to Rome, probably before the death of Nicanor, to conclude a treaty of alliance between Rome and the Jewish nation. Without precise chronology, the pertinent data are gathered into a unified theme.
2  The image of the Roman Republic greatly impressed the smaller Eastern peoples seeking support against their overlords (1 Macc 8:1-16), because of Roman success in war (1 Macc 8:2-11) and effective aid to their allies (1 Macc 8:12-13). Numerous interventions by Rome in the politics of the Near East bear witness to its power and prestige in the second century B.C. Cf 1 Macc 1:10; 7:2; 12:3; 15:15-24; 2 Macc 11:34. With the Roman control of Palestine in 63 B.C., the Republic and later the Empire became heartily detested. The eulogy of Rome in this chapter is one of the reasons why 1 Maccabees was not preserved by the Palestinian Jews of the century that followed.
3  Gauls: probably the Celts of northern Italy and southern France, subdued by the Romans in 222 B.C., and again in 200-191 B.C.; but perhaps also those in Asia Minor (the Galatians), whom the Romans defeated in 189 B.C.
4  Phillip: Phillip V of Macedonia, defeated by a Graeco-Roman alliance at Cynoscephalae in 197 B.C. Perseus, his son, was defeated at Pydna in 168 B.C., and died a prisoner. With this, the kingdom of Macedonia came to an end.
5  Antiochus: Antiochus III, greatest of the Seleucid kings. He was defeated at Magnesia in 190 B.C. By the Treaty of Apamea in 189, he was obliged to pay Rome a crushing indemnity of 15, 000 talents. It was the weakening of Antiochene power and the growing military and economic influence of Rome that led Antiochus IV to adopt the policy of political, religious and cultural unification of Syria and Palestine.
6  Lycia, Mysia: regions in western Asia Minor. These names are restored here by conjectural emendation; the Greek text has "India, Media," most likely through scribal error. Eumenes: Eumenes II (197-158), king of Pergamum, an ally of Rome who benefited greatly from Antiochus' losses.
7 [9-10] The revolt of the Achaean League, inserted here, occurred in 146 B.C., after Judas' time. It was crushed by the Roman consul Lucius Mummius and marked the end of Greek independence. The author regards all Greeks as the enemies of God.
8  They entrusted their government to one man: actually the Roman Republic always had two consuls as joint heads of the government. Presumably, a single one dealt with embassies and answered letters, hence the impression the Jews received; cf 1 Macc 8:15, 16.
9  The reply . . . on bronze tablets and sent to Jerusalem: The decree of the Senate would be inscribed on bronze and kept in the Roman Capitol, with only a copy in letter form sent to Jerusalem. The translation of the decree into Hebrew and then into Greek, as found here in 1 Macc, may have occasioned this error.
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