Maccabees, the Fifth Book of
Maccabees, The Fifth Book Of, an important chronicle of Jewish affairs, which was for the first time printed in Arabic in the Paris Polyglot (1645), and was thence copied into the London Polyglot (1657).
I. Title. — The name, the fifth book of Maccabees, has been given to this production by Cotton, who placed it as fifth in his order of the books of Maccabees. According to the remark at the end of chap. 16, the first, part of this book, i.e. chap. 1:50-16:26, is entitled The second Book of Maccabees according to the Translation of the Hebrews, while the second part, i.e. chap. 17:1-59:96, is simply called The second Book of Maccabees. The fact that this second part gives the history of John Hyrcanus (ch. 20) has led Calmet (Dict. of the Bible, s.v. Maccabees) and others to suppose that it is the same as the so-called fourth book of Maccabees, a unique MS. of which, written in Greek, Sixtus Senensis saw in the library of Sanctes Pagninus, at Lyons, and which was afterwards destroyed by fire, so that the fifth of Maccabees is sometimes also called the fourth. The description of the MS. given by Sixtus Senensis (Bibl. Sancta, lib. i, sec. 3) has been printed in English by Whiston (Authentic Records, 1:206, etc.) and Cotton, The five Books of Maccabees, Introd. p. 38, etc. See MACCABEES, FOURTH BOOK OF (b).
II. Contents. — This book contains the history of the Jews from Heliodorus's attempt to plunder the treasury at Jerusalem till the time when Herod revelled in the noblest blood of the Jews, and completed the tragedy of the Maccabaean princes by slaughtering his own wife Mariamne, her mother Alexandra, and his own two sons Alexander and Aristobulus, i.e. B.C. 184 to B.C. 6, thus embracing a period of 178 years. The subjoined table shows the parallelism between the narrative recorded in this book and the accounts contained in 1 and 2 Maccabees and the works of Josephus.
III. Historical and Religious Character. — It will be seen from the annexed table that the first part of this production (1-19), which embraces the Maccabaean period, is to a great extent parallel with 1 and 2 Maccabees, whilst the second part, which records the post-Maccabaean history down to the birth of Christ (20-59), is parallel with Josephus, Ant. 13:15-16:17; War, 1:317. The historical worth of 5 Maccabees is therefore easily ascertained by comparing its narrative with that of 1 and 2 Maccabees, and with the corresponding portions of Josephus. By this means it will be seen that. notwithstanding its several historical and chronological blunders (compare 5 Maccabees 10:16, 17, with 2 Maccabees 10:29; 5 Maccabees 9, with 1 Maccabees 7:7; 5 Maccabees 8:1-8, with 1 Maccabees 9:73; 12:48; Joseph. Ant. 13:11; 5 Maccabees 20:17, with Ant. 13:15; 5 Maccabees 21:17, with Ant. 7:12), especially when recording foreign history (comp. 5 Maccabees 12), it is a trustworthy and valuable narrative. There can be no question that some of its blunders are owing to mistakes committed by transcribers (e.g. the name Felix, which stands five times for three different persons, 5 Maccabees 3:14; 7:8, 34, comp. with 1 Maccabees 3:10; 2 Maccabees 5:22; 8:33; the name Gorgias, 5 Maccabees 10, is a mistake for Timotheus, as is evident from 2 Maccabees 10; Joseph. Ant. 12:11; so also two for nine, 5 Maccabees 19:8); and that, as a whole, it is far more simple and natural, and far less blundering and miraculous, and therefore more credible than 2 Maccabees As to its religious character, the book shows most distinctly that the Jews of those days firmly believed in the survival of the soul after the death of the body, in a general resurrection of the dead, and in a future judgment (5:12, 13, 17, 22, 43, 48-51; 59:14, etc.).
IV. Author, Date, and Original Language — This book is a compilation, made in Hebrew, by a Jew who lived after the destruction of Jerusalem, from ancient Hebrew memoirs or chronicles, which were written shortly after the events transpired. This is evident from the whole complexion of the document, even in the translation for the original has not as yet come to light-as may be seen from the few features here offered for consideration:
1. When speaking of the (lead (15:11, 15; 12:1; 21:17) the compiler uses the well-known euphemisms, God be mercful to him — אלהים ירחם עליו; to whom be peace =עליו השלום, which came into vogue among the Jews in the Talmudic period (comp. Tosiphta Chullin, 100, a; Zunz, Zur Geschichte, p. 338), and are used among the Jews to the present day, thus showing that the compiler was a Jew, and lived after the destruction of the Temple.
2. He calls the Hebrew Scriptures (3:3, 9) the twenty-four books = עשרים וארבע, a name which is thoroughly Jewish, and came into use long after the close of the Hebrew canon; leaves Torah (תורה), the Hebrew name for the Pentateuch, untranslated (21:9), in accordance with the Jewish custom; speaks of the deity as the great and good God — אל גדול וטוב (1:8, 13, 15; 5:27; 7:21, 22; 8:5, 11; 9:4; 10:15; 11:8; 12:1; 15:4; 16:24; 28:4; 35:9; 48:14; 57:35; 59:58); and names Jerusalem the city of the holy house (20:17; 21:1; 23:5; 28:23, 34, 37; 30:8; 35:4, 33; 36:6, 38, 39; 37:3, 5; 38:5; 52:7, 24; 59:68); city of the holy house of God (31:10); or simply holy city (16:11, 17; 20:18; 21:26; 34:7; 35:32; 36:9, 19, 25; 38:3; 41:15; 43:12; 49:5; 1, 16; 54:13, 26; 55:27; 57:22; 59:2); holy house (20:7, 17; 23:3; 36:35; 1, 8; 52:19; 53:6; 56:17, 44; 59:35, 68); house of God (7:21; 9:7; 11:7; 15:14; 16:16, 17; 21:11; 27:4; 34:10; 51:5; 52:31; 54:13; 55:20); the Temple he calls the house of the sanctuary בית המקדש (8:11), in accordance with the later Hebrew idiom.
3. This later date of the compilation of the book is corroborated by the fact that the compiler refers to the destruction of Jerusalem (21:30), and to the period of the second Temple, as something past (22:9).
4. He speaks of the original author of the book as a distinct person (25:5; 55:25), and explains the original writer's allusions (56:45).
5. The original writer of the work must have lived before to destruction of Jerusalem, for he terminates his narrative six sears before this catastrophe, and does not know of any of the calamities which befell his brethren after the conquest of Palestine by Titus. His name is unknown; all that we can gather from this book is that he is also the author of other historical works which are now lost, as he himself refers to them (59:96), and, judging from his terse and experienced style, it is not at all improbable that he was the public chronographer. The book is entirely devoid of the Hagadcic legends which form a very striking characteristic of the Jewish productions of a later age. Graitz (Geschichte der Juden, 5:281) identifies it with an Arabic chronicle written about A.D. 900, entitled "Torich al Makkabain, Jussuff Ibn-Gorgion," History of the Maccabees, or Joseph b. Gorion, a part of which he says is printed in the London Polyglot under the title of Arabic Book of Maccabees, and the whole of which, extending to the time of Titus, is in two Bodleian MSS. (Uri, Nos. 782, 829). He moreover tells us that it is this work which the well-known Hebrew chronicler called Josippon, SEE JOSIPPON BEN-GORION, translated into Hebrew, and supplemented, and this he has promised to prove at some future time. We must confess that we are unable to trace the identity; and we are astonished at Dr. Davidson's confident assertion that "it is another form or recension of our book [i.e. 5 Maccabees] which exists in the work of Joseph ben- Gorion or Josippon, a legendary Jewish history" (Introduction to the Old Testament, 3:466).
V. Versions and Literature. — Though this book is in our estitimation as important as 2 Maccabees, yet there has hardly anything been done to elucidate its narrative. In the absence of the original Hebrew, the Arabic version of it, printed in the Paris and London Polyglots, is the text upon which we must rely. The editors of this version have not even given any account of the MS. from which it has been taken. A Latin translation of it by Gabriel Sionita is given in both Polyglots; a French translation is given in the appendix to De Sacy's Bible: another French translation, by M. Baubrun, is given in vol. iii of Le Maitre's Bible; and Calmet translated chapters 20-26, containing the history of John Hyrcanus, which he thought Sixtus Senensis had taken for the legitimate 4 Maccabees The only English version of it is that by Cotton, The Five Books of Maccabees (Oxford, 1832).