Complete Harmonic Chronology of 1, 2 & 4 Maccabees

Complete Harmonic Chronology of 1, 2 & 4 Maccabees

By James Scott Trimm

Channukah begins soon. What a great time to study the Channukah story in the books of the Maccabees.

For those that have requested it, a more detailed chronology of the Maccabees/Hannukah Story

Event 1Macc. 2Macc. 4Macc. Other
The Rise of the Seleucid Empire 1:1-10
An attempt to take the Temple treasury 3:1-40 3:19-4:14
The plot against Onias 4:1-6
Jason becomes Cohen HaGadol 1:11-15 4:7-22
Menelaus becomes Cohen HaGadol 4:23-50
Antiochus Epiphanes comes to Jerusalem 1:16-40 5:1-27 4:15-26
The Abomination of Desolation 1:41-64 6:1-6
Martyrs 6:7-17
Eleazer is martyred 6:18-31 5-7
Martyrdom of Hannah and her seven sons 7 8-18 b.Gittin 57b
The revolt begins 2:1-48 8:1-7
Mattithias dies 2:49-70
Various battles 3:1-4:35 8:8-36
Cleansing of the Temple 4:36-61 10:1-9 The brief account in the Babylonian Talmud generally fits here: b.Shabbat 21b
More battles 5:1-68 Book of Judith Takes Place Here
Antiochus’ illness 9:1-12
Antiochus dies 6:1-17 (9:13-29)
Various battles 6:18-63 10:10-13:26
Demetrius becomes king 7:1-4 14:1-10
Appointments of Nicanor and Alcimus 7:5-25 14:11-14
Nicanor and Judas 7:26-38 14:15-46
Death of Nicanor 7:39-50 15:1-36 b.Ta’anit 18b

2Maccabees recounts the death of Antiochus Epiphanies (9:1-29) just before it recounts the purification of the Temple (10:1-9).

This appears to contradict 1Maccabees which places his death (6:1-17) after the cleaning of the Temple (4:36-61) in agreement with the account of Josephus.

Having examined it, I believe that the historical chronology is to be found in 1Maccabees and Josephus.

The account in 2Maccabees is not intended to relay the chronology (which was already well known) but to cover one subject at a time. 2Maccabees 9:1 begins with “About that time came Antiochus out of the country of Persia”, which is the event that took place shortly before the cleaning of the Temple in chapter 10.

But in the next verse the book backtracks to an event which had occurred while he was in Persia, and in recounting that event, he follows through to the death of Antiochus before returning to the “present” in 2Maccabees 10:1 with “Now Maccabee and his company, YHWH guiding them, recovered the Temple and the city…”.

2Maccabees 9:2-29 is a parenthetical which is not intended to be placed in chronological order.

This helps us to place Judith in context. Judith takes place shortly after the purification of the Temple (Judith 4:3) and before the death of Antiochus Epiphanies (i.e. “Nebuchadeznar”) during the gap between 1Macc. 4:36-61 and 1Macc. 6:1-17.

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