- This is the history of the region of Judea after the conquests of Alexander the Great.
- It outlines the events of the uprising of the Jews against the Greeks led by five men of the Maccabee family from 170 to 130 BC.
- Antiochus despoils the Temple, religious persecution of the Jews. Mattathias and Judas Maccabeus engage in battles with the Greeks.
- Joseph and Azariah, the sons of Zechariah lead the Jewish army. General Nicanor from Syria was defeated and beheaded.
- The Jews make an alliance with the Romans to get protection from the empires invading them as they cannot hold out any longer.
- Judas dies and Jonathan Maccabeus takes over and leads the Jews amidst multiple attacks and deceits. Jonathan is killed and Simon Maccabeus his brother becomes high priest and leader of Judah. Warfare with King Demetrius and his son Antiochus from Syria. Simon is murdered by Ptolemy son of Abubos, general of the Plain of Jericho in 134 BC. Ptolemy is Simon’s son-in-law and his treachery is renowned.
- John the son of Simon takes over as high priest and leader of Judah.
- The author of the book is given in 1 Macc 13:3 “I, my brothers and the family of my father ….”. ‘I’ refers to Simon, so he wrote the book of 1 Maccabees. However, Simon is murdered by his son-in-law, so the post-script must have been written by John, his son. It is signed off by John saying that the rest of his deeds are written in the annals of his pontificate as high priest. Simon Maccabeus must have written this book sometime prior to 134 BC when he died.
- Genre: History of the Maccabees period and major book of the Apocrypha.
Value of 1 and 2 Maccabees
These two books are historically valuable. Maccabees helps fill in the Second Temple time between the last of the Old Testament prophets and the New Testament.
They show how Judaism formed during the centuries after the return from exile and how the Jewish nation survived in the years leading up to the coming of Christ.
The two books of Maccabees help fill the 400 year gap between the Old and New Testaments.
They give testimony to a strong belief in resurrection among those faithful to Judaism.