Commentary on Machabees


 

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By Brother Francis, M.I.C.M.

In the early days at Saint Benedict Center, Brother Francis Maluf gave fifteen talks to a class on the book of Machabees.

Genesis is the first historical book of the Old Testament and the two books of the Machabees are the last. They are also the two books that begin and close the Old Testament. The Books of the Machabees deal with the history of the Jews approximately two hundred years after their return from the Babylonian captivity and two hundred years before the Advent of Christ. Therefore their historical content provides a very important background into understanding the times, customs, and political state just before the Birth of Our Lord. The Books take their name from the heroic leader of the Jews at the time, Judas, who was surnamed Machabeus on account of the Hebrew initials of the words on the standard that he carried into battle: “Who is like to thee among the strong, O Lord?” (Exodus 15:11) M.C.B.E.I. The exploits of Judas and his brethren in defense of the true God and religion against the blaspheming conqueror, Antiochus Epiphanes, are related in the sixteen chapters of the first Book, while the second and shorter Book fills in other information not found in the first. Although the Jews do not include these Books in their Old Testament canon, they do honor them as an authentic history. One interesting thing about second Machabees is the relation it gives of the Jewish custom of praying for the dead “that they may be loosed from their sins” (12:43). What we also see here, as Brother Francis explains in great depth, is how, at the time of the Machabees, the scepter had not yet passed from Juda, as it would completely with the usurpation of the throne by the half-Jew Herod I in 37 B.C. Thus the prophecy of Jacob did not pertain to the rule of the Machabees, but rather to Herod. The set is worth a purchase just to hear Brother’s explanation of this “problem.”

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