Alexander the Great

1 After Alexander son of Philip, the Macedonian, who came from the land of Kittim, had defeated 1 King Darius of the Persians and the Medes, he succeeded him as king. (He had previously become king of Greece.) 2 He fought many battles, conquered strongholds, and put to death the kings of the earth. 3 He advanced to the ends of the earth, and plundered many nations. When the earth became quiet before him, he was exalted, and his heart was lifted up. 4 He gathered a very strong army and ruled over countries, nations, and princes, and they became tributary to him. 5 After this he fell sick and perceived that he was dying. 6 So he summoned his most honored officers, who had been brought up with him from youth, and divided his kingdom among them while he was still alive. 7 And after Alexander had reigned twelve years, he died. 8 Then his officers began to rule, each in his own place. 9 They all put on crowns after his death, and so did their descendants after them for many years; and they caused many evils on the earth.

Antiochus Epiphanes and Renegade Jews

10 From them came forth a sinful root, Antiochus Epiphanes, son of King Antiochus; he had been a hostage in Rome. He began to reign in the one hundred thirty-seventh year of the kingdom of the Greeks. 2 11 In those days certain renegades came out from Isra'el and misled many, saying, "Let us go and make a covenant with the goyim around us, for since we separated from them many disasters have come upon us." 12 This proposal pleased them, 13 and some of the people eagerly went to the king, who authorized them to observe the ordinances of the goyim. 14 So they built a gymnasium in Yerushalayim, according to gentile custom, 15 and removed the marks of circumcision, and abandoned the holy covenant. They joined with the gentiles and sold themselves to do evil.

Antiochus in Egypt

16 When Antiochus saw that his kingdom was established, he determined to become king of the land of Egypt, in order that he might reign over both kingdoms. 17 So he invaded Egypt with a strong force, with chariots and elephants and cavalry and with a large fleet. 18 He engaged King Ptolemy of Egypt in battle, and Ptolemy turned and fled before him, and many were wounded and fell. 19 They captured the fortified cities in the land of Egypt, and he plundered the land of Egypt.

Persecution of the Jews

20 After subduing Egypt, Antiochus returned in the one hundred forty-third year. 3 He went up against Isra'el and came to Yerushalayim with a strong force. 21 He arrogantly entered the sanctuary and took the golden altar, the Menorah for the light, and all its utensils. 22 He took also the table for the bread of the Presence, the cups for drink offerings, the bowls, the golden censers, the curtain, the crowns, and the gold decoration on the front of the temple; he stripped it all off. 23 He took the silver and the gold, and the costly vessels; he took also the hidden treasures that he found. 24 Taking them all, he went into his own land.

He shed much blood,
and spoke with great arrogance.
25 Isra'el mourned deeply in every community,
26 rulers and elders groaned,
young women and young men became faint,
the beauty of the women faded.
27 Every bridegroom took up the lament;
she who sat in the bridal chamber was mourning.
28 Even the land trembled for its inhabitants,
and all the house of Jacob was clothed with shame.

The Occupation of Yerushalayim

29 Two years later the king sent to the cities of Judea a chief collector of tribute, and he came to Yerushalayim with a large force. 30 Deceitfully he spoke peaceable words to them, and they believed him; but he suddenly fell upon the city, dealt it a severe blow, and destroyed many people of Isra'el. 31 He plundered the city, burned it with fire, and tore down its houses and its surrounding walls. 32 They took captive the women and children, and seized the livestock. 33 Then they fortified the city of David with a great strong wall and strong towers, and it became their citadel. 34 They stationed there a sinful people, men who were renegades. These strengthened their position; 35 they stored up arms and food, and collecting the spoils of Yerushalayim they stored them there, and became a great menace,

36 for the citadel4 became an ambush against the sanctuary,
an evil adversary of Isra'el at all times.
37 On every side of the sanctuary they shed innocent blood;
they even defiled the sanctuary.
38 Because of them the residents of Yerushalayim fled;
she became a dwelling of strangers;
she became strange to her offspring,
and her children forsook her.
39 Her sanctuary became desolate like a desert;
her feasts were turned into mourning,
her Sabbaths into a reproach,
her honor into contempt.
40 Her dishonor now grew as great as her glory;
her exaltation was turned into mourning.

Installation of Gentile Cults

41 Then the king wrote to his whole kingdom that all should be one people, 42 and that all should give up their particular customs. 43 All the goyim accepted the command of the king. Many even from Isra'el gladly adopted his religion; they sacrificed to idols and profaned the Shabbat. 44 And the king sent letters by messengers to Yerushalayim and the towns of Judea; he directed them to follow customs strange to the land, 45 to forbid burnt offerings and sacrifices and drink offerings in the sanctuary, to profane Sabbaths and festivals, 46 to defile the sanctuary and the priests, 47 to build altars and sacred precincts and shrines for idols, to sacrifice swine and other unclean animals, 48 and to leave their sons uncircumcised. They were to make themselves abominable by everything unclean and profane, 49 so that they would forget the Torah and change all the ordinances. 50 He added,5 "And whoever does not obey the command of the king shall die." 51 In such words he wrote to his whole kingdom. He appointed inspectors over all the people and commanded the towns of Judea to offer sacrifice, town by town. 52 Many of the people, everyone who forsook the Torah, joined them, and they did evil in the land; 53 they drove Isra'el into hiding in every place of refuge they had. 54 Now on the fifteenth day of Kislev, in the one hundred forty-fifth year,6 they erected a desolating sacrilege on the altar of burnt offering. They also built altars in the surrounding towns of Judea, 55 and offered incense at the doors of the houses and in the streets. 56 The Torah Scrolls that they found they tore to pieces and burned with fire. 57 Anyone found possessing the book of the covenant, or anyone who adhered to the Torah, was condemned to death by decree of the king. 58 They kept using violence against Isra'el, against those who were found month after month in the towns. 59 On the twenty-fifth day of the month they offered sacrifice on the altar that was on top of the altar of burnt offering. 60 According to the decree, they put to death the women who had their children circumcised, 61 and their families and those who circumcised them; and they hung the infants from their mothers' necks. 62 But many in Isra'el stood firm and were resolved in their hearts not to eat unclean food. 63 They chose to die rather than to be defiled by food or to profane the holy covenant; and they did die. 64 Very great wrath came upon Isra'el.

 

Footnotes

1. Greek adds and he defeated [back]
2. 175 B.C.E. [back]
3. 169 B.C.E. [back]
4. Greek it [back]
5. Greek lacks He added [back]
6. 167 B.C.E. [back]

Torah Portion

תצוּה (Tetzaveh)

 

 

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Today is

Yom Sheni, 4 Adar, 5778

Monday, February 19, 2018

 

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