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The Access Bible New Revised Standard Bible, written and edited with first-time Bible readers in mind.

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Commentary on 3 Maccabees

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2.1–20 :

The high priest's prayer. Simon, known as Simon the Just, is extolled in Sir 50 . The prayer conforms to a type found in Ps 105 and 106 , and in Ezra 9, Neh 9, Dan 9 , and Bar 1.15–3.8 .

4 :

The destruction of the giants by the flood is inferred from the placement of Gen 6 before the story of Noah.

5 :

Gen 19.24 .

6 :

Ex 5–12 . The fate of the Pharaoh is especially appropriate here.

9 :

Deut 12.13; 1 Kings 8.27–29 .

17 :

The boasting of the enemy is often invoked as a reason for divine action. See Ps 74.10, 18 .

2.21–24 :

Divine intervention.

21 :

For God as Father of all, see Mal 2.10 .

22 :

Compare the punishment of Heliodorus in 2 Macc 3 , which was administered by angels.

24 :

Philopator differs from Heliodorus and from other gentile * kings punished by God (for example, Nebuchadnezzar in Dan 4 ) insofar as he does not repent.

2.25–33 :

The measures against the Jews.

25 :

The drinking companions have not been previously mentioned. Something may be lost from the beginning of the story.

28 :

Those who do not sacrifice are only the Jews. In effect, this edict is a ban on synagogues. * The Greek word for registration here is especially associated with the poll tax introduced by Augustus in 24/23 BCE. The poll tax did not reduce Jews literally to the status of slaves, but it did involve a reduction in status that was deeply resented.

29 :

The God of the Jews was often confused with Dionysus by the Greeks and Romans. See 2 Macc 6.7 . The identification was argued by Plutarch, Table-Talk 4. 6.1–2 , who pointed to Jewish ritual use of wine and the Festival of Tabernacles at the grape harvest and wine vintage in the fall. Philopator promoted the cult of Dionysus and attempted to regulate it. It is possible that he thought Judaism was a form of the cult of Dionysus and attempted to bring it into line with other observances of the cult, but 3 Maccabees is not a reliable historical witness. Branding was associated with the cult of Dionysus from ancient times. Slaves were also branded so that they could be easily identified.

30 :

Philopator presents his initiative as an attempt to regulate Judaism by bringing it into line with a Greek cult, not to abolish it. Those who are properly initiated are not only left in peace, but given equal citizenship with the Alexandrians. The struggle for equal rights with the Alexandrians, however, only became an important issue in the Roman era. Jews as a class were never citizens of Alexandria. Citizenship would normally have required worship of pagan gods. Nonetheless, some observant Jews, such as Philo, * probably were citizens. Most Jews, however, probably wanted a status equal to citizenship, rather than actual citizenship.

31–33 :

This verse must be read as a comment on the politics of Egyptian Judaism in the Roman period. Some upwardly mobile Jews, including Philo's nephew, Tiberius Julius Alexander, abandoned Judaism and became citizens. Others, like the author of 3 Maccabees, abhorred such apostasy.

32 :

Those who acted firmly resemble the heroes in the time of persecution in Dan 11.32 .

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