The Books of Maccabees

For a complete list of blog posts in the Journey Through The Word series, please click here.

Where Am I?

The books of the Maccabees are preceeded by the book of Esther, and are followed by the book of Job.

Initial Impressions

It’s the story of God’s salvation of the Israelite people through the rebellion of one family, the family of Mattathias and their skill in war. It should be noted here that the word ‘maccabees’ is believed to mean ‘hammer’ and is applied to Judas, the firstmost of the family to fight, think of the moniker, ‘Judas the Hammer’ and you’ve got a fair idea.

After Mattathias dies, Judas takes leadership of the family (chapters 3-9:22).  After Judas dies, his brother, Jonathan takes over (chapters 9:23-12:53). Jonathan, who is captured by enemy forces and eventually killed, is replaced by his brother, Simon (chapters 13-16), and the first book of Maccabees ends with Simon, and all of his sons being killed.

If the first book focused on the war campaign of the Maccabees dynasty, then the second book focuses on putting the events of the first book in a theological context. The second book of Maccabees covers the desecration of the Temple, the anguish and martyrdom of its people, the blasphemy and ultimate punishment of those who profane the name and holy place of God.

Favorite Verses

Unfortunately, there weren’t any verses that I especially liked or took anything of value out of in either of these books. I’m sure there are people out there who love these books (sorry!) but other than perhaps utilizing some of the strategies and war tactics for a future novel or tabletop campaign, I failed to take away anything that I could really sink my teeth into.

If you’ve been following this series — please don’t give up now!  I’ve got two more deuterocanonical books to cover yet, and I’m hopeful this post is the one-off in the series. Up next, you can look forward to my thoughts on the book of Baruch, and on the additional chapters in the book of Daniel.


*The Bible version I am studying is the New American Bible, Fireside Personal Study Edition, (2006-2007 edition) by Fireside Catholic Publishing. Some of my paraphrases are based on the NIV and NASB versions which I grew up with.

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