In 1896 D. A. Chwolson discovered a Hebrew manuscript containing large portions (Chapters 1-4; 7:27-9:22, 28a, 31, 73; 6:1-14a) of 1Maccabees in Hebrew in the Biblioteque National in Paris France. In 1901 the Text was published again by Albert Schweitzer who was convinced that these were large extracts from the original Hebrew. In his 1903 review in the Journal of Biblical Literature (JBL xxii, 51-59) Charles Cutler Torrey concluded that this version of 1Maccabees was “translated… from the Latin.” (p. 58). Since Torrey’s dismissal of Schweitzer’s theory, this Hebrew text of 1Maccabees has been largely ignored. It took some difficulty to track down a copy of the text, and even then it is difficult to read. The Hebrew version has never been translated into English and has largely been ignored since 1903.
Here at WNAE we want to give a fresh look to this virtually forgotten Hebrew text of 1Maccabees including translating the Hebrew into English for the first time ever. This has been difficult work (because the Hebrew is difficult to read) but it is a project we are working on right now as part of the Hebraic Roots Version of the Apocrypha.
I would like to share some of the more interesting things we have found so far:
1. It is interesting to note that this version of 1Maccabees places the death of Antiochus (6:1-14a) in a chronology that agrees with that of 2Maccabees. Although we have not translated the text of this section yet, it is our understanding that it has much agreement with the version of his death as found in 2Maccabees. This is important because some have pointed to the chronology and description of the death of Antiochus as a “contradiction” between 1st and 2nd Maccabees, as evidence that they are not to be regarded as canon.
2. Where the Greek says that Alexander the Great “fell ill” the literal Hebrew says “he fell into bed” a common Hebrew idiom. (For example in Judith 8:3).
3. In the traditional text of 1:9 Alexander’s successors “take crowns” while in the Hebrew they “take precious things”. They did not have to “take crowns” as they had been given kingships by Alexander. They did however “take precious things” as they pillaged the Kingdom.
4. Where the Greek says (1:14) that a “gymnasium” was built the Hebrew says that “a house of the ‘holy ones’ and temples to idols” was built.
5. The use of the Sacred Name of YHWH, often where the Greek does not use a counterpart. For example in 1:63 where the Torah (Law) is mentioned in the Greek, the Hebrew refers to “The Torah of YHWH”, in 2:15 reference is made to those who “turn from the Torah of YHWH” 1:19 speaks of “the atonement of YHWH” and in 2:21 to “the Torah and judgments of YHWH”. (We have not translated any further as of yet). Use of the Sacred Name is very significant, no Rabbinic Jew translating from Greek or Latin would have added the Sacred Name to the text, especially in phrases which do not even occur in the Greek and Latin. This is an important evidence for the originality of the Hebrew text.
This is just some of the work we are doing here at the Worldwide Nazarene Assembly of Elohim. Is this work worthy of your support? What other ministry is doing this kind of cutting edge work?
Now we need your help. Tithes and offerings coming into this ministry have been low. Our financial situation is dismal. I am asking you to donate whatever you can. I know people are disgusted with “TV evangelists” and mega ministries begging for money while their leaders live in mansions. Believe me we are struggling to keep the modest home we live in now. If there you are someone who could make a major, one time donation, now would be a good time.
Folks we need your help, we have bills due and at this point we do not have the funds to pay them. Is the work of this ministry worthy of your support? If so now is the time to make your support felt. We need your help today.