Translation commentary on 1 Maccabees 5:43

Then he crossed over against them first, and the whole army followed him may be rendered “So Judas and his men were the first to cross the stream.” However, this does not imply that the enemy crossed the stream later.

All the Gentiles were defeated before him may be rendered “They [Judas and his men] completely defeated the Gentiles.”

And they threw away their arms and fled into the sacred precincts at Carnaim: Arms are of course weapons. The sacred precincts refers to a portion of the town of Carnaim set aside for a god, and so considered sacred. Presumably this would be a temple. Good News Bible translates “the pagan temple.” It adds the word “pagan” to make certain the reader understands it is not a temple to the Lord of Israel. Translators could say “their temple.” The Gentiles were hoping that the god(s) of the temple there would safeguard them against Judas and his men. They were mistaken. For Carnaim see verse 26.

An alternative model for this verse is:

• So Judas and his men were the first to cross the stream. They fought against the Gentiles and defeated them completely. Their enemies threw down their weapons and ran into the temple in the town of Carnaim to look for safety.

Quoted with permission from Bullard, Roger A. and Hatton, Howard A. A Handbook on 1-2 Maccabees. (UBS Helps for Translators). New York: UBS, 2011. For this and other handbooks for translators see here.

Translation commentary on 1 Maccabees 6:7

That they had torn down the abomination which he had erected upon the altar in Jerusalem: For abomination (Good News Bible “Awful Horror,” Contemporary English Version “Horrible Thing”), see the comments on “desolating sacrilege” at 1Macc 1.54. Good News Bible has a helpful model for this sentence, but translators may also use direct speech as Contemporary English Version does with “The Jews have always despised the ‘Horrible Thing’ you placed on their altar in Jerusalem. Now they have torn it down.”

And that they had surrounded the sanctuary with high walls as before: This reports on the action of 1Macc 4.60. An alternative model is “They had once again built high walls around their Temple.”

And also Beth-zur, his city: See 1Macc 4.61. Good News Bible‘s long translation of this short phrase introduces an idea that is not in either this verse or 4.61. It is never said that Judas captured the city. Goldstein, who reads “their town” rather than his city, understands the Jewish offense here not to be taking the city, which they already held, but fortifying it against attack. We find this argument compelling (compare verse 26), and recommend following it. The reading “their town” is found in a significant group of Greek manuscripts. If translators follow this reading, an alternative model for the whole phrase is “and they did the same to [or, they also fortified] the Judean town of Bethzur.”

Quoted with permission from Bullard, Roger A. and Hatton, Howard A. A Handbook on 1-2 Maccabees. (UBS Helps for Translators). New York: UBS, 2011. For this and other handbooks for translators see here.

Translation commentary on 1 Maccabees 6:41

All who heard the noise made by their multitude, by the marching of the multitude and the clanking of their arms, trembled, for the army was very large and strong: All who heard the noise probably refers to the Jewish soldiers; no one else is said to be around. The clanking of their arms refers to the sound made by the weapons and armor of the Syrian soldiers as they marched (see verse 35 for some of the armor that could clang). Good News Bible renders trembled as “terrified,” which is not quite the right word; it suggests that those who were terrified were about to turn and run. Not so here; the Jews were very scared; they knew they had a stiff fight ahead of them, but they were not struck with terror. They felt a shiver go down their backs; the hair on their arms stood on end; they felt butterflies in their stomachs—all these are English idioms expressing this feeling in terms of a physical reaction. Most languages will have some such equivalent. In many languages it will be helpful to begin this verse with the verb trembled; for example, “All the Jews were scared when they heard the noise…” or “All the Jewish soldiers shook with fear when….” But it is also possible to combine multitude with the army was very large and strong before trembled and render the whole verse as follows:

• The clanging of the weapons and armor of this huge and powerful army as it approached them made all the Jewish soldiers shake with fear.

• As this huge and powerful army marched toward the Jewish army, the weapons and armor of the Syrian soldiers clanked loudly. This loud noise caused all the Jews to shake with fear.

Quoted with permission from Bullard, Roger A. and Hatton, Howard A. A Handbook on 1-2 Maccabees. (UBS Helps for Translators). New York: UBS, 2011. For this and other handbooks for translators see here.

Translation commentary on 1 Maccabees 7:11

But they paid no attention to their words may be expressed as “But they [Judas and his brothers] did not believe the messengers.” “Did not believe” (Good News Bible) seems to give the proper force of paid no attention. Judas and his brothers did not ignore (pay no attention to) Bacchides’ messengers; they just didn’t believe a word they said when they saw the huge army.

For they saw that they had come with a large force may be rendered “because they saw that Bacchides and Alcimus had come with so many soldiers [or, with such a large group of soldiers].”

Good News Bible reverses the order of the clauses in this verse to show that first Judas saw the large army, then he didn’t trust Bacchides.

Quoted with permission from Bullard, Roger A. and Hatton, Howard A. A Handbook on 1-2 Maccabees. (UBS Helps for Translators). New York: UBS, 2011. For this and other handbooks for translators see here.

Translation commentary on 1 Maccabees 7:43

The scene now changes to the actual battle. So we may begin a new paragraph here (so Good News Bible, Contemporary English Version).

So the armies met in battle on the thirteenth day of the month of Adar: The armies met in battle may be rendered “The soldiers of the two armies fought each other” or “Judas’ and Nicanor’s armies fought each other.” The thirteenth day of the month of Adar would have been in early March. Adar was the last month in the Babylonian-based Jewish calendar, from mid-February to mid-March.

The army of Nicanor was crushed: The Greek verb rendered crushed is the same one used in Judas’ prayer in the previous verse. Good News Bible loses this connection. It is a small point, but it should be preserved if possible. For this clause New English Bible has “and the army of Nicanor suffered a crushing defeat,” and Contemporary English Version says “and Nicanor’s army was wiped out.”

And he himself was the first to fall in the battle means Nicanor was the first one killed. The phrase in the battle is not necessary. It is clearly understood that Nicanor died while the two armies were fighting.

Quoted with permission from Bullard, Roger A. and Hatton, Howard A. A Handbook on 1-2 Maccabees. (UBS Helps for Translators). New York: UBS, 2011. For this and other handbooks for translators see here.

Translation commentary on 1 Maccabees 8:25

The nation of the Jews shall act as their allies wholeheartedly may be expressed as “you Jewish people must be ready and willing to defend us in any way you can” or “the Jewish nation must support Rome wholeheartedly.”

As the occasion may indicate to them: Good News Bible says “as the situation may require,” which is a helpful model. We may also translate “in any way you can.”

A model that combines verses 24 and 25 is:

• … you Jewish people must be willing and ready to defend us in any way you can, if enemies attack us or any of our allies anywhere.

Quoted with permission from Bullard, Roger A. and Hatton, Howard A. A Handbook on 1-2 Maccabees. (UBS Helps for Translators). New York: UBS, 2011. For this and other handbooks for translators see here.

Translation commentary on 1 Maccabees 9:25

And Bacchides chose the ungodly and put them in charge of the country: Bacchides selected some Jews who were willing to compromise their religion and made them his administrators in managing affairs in Judea. We would call these men “collaborators.” For the ungodly, see the comments on 1Macc 3.8. Good News Bible calls them “renegade Jews.” Other possible models are “godless Jewish people” or “Jews who did not follow the Law of Moses.” Obviously there were only “some” (Good News Bible) put in charge and not all of them, and it is helpful to say so. Good News Bible adds the word “deliberately,” which may be inferred from the text. Bacchides did not choose these men by accident. However, this word is not in the Greek text, so we do not believe it is necessary to add it.

Quoted with permission from Bullard, Roger A. and Hatton, Howard A. A Handbook on 1-2 Maccabees. (UBS Helps for Translators). New York: UBS, 2011. For this and other handbooks for translators see here.

Translation commentary on 1 Maccabees 9:57

When Bacchides saw that Alcimus was dead, he returned to the king: Bacchides saw means simply “Bacchides learned” (Good News Bible, Contemporary English Version). Good News Bible and Contemporary English Version helpfully render the king as “King Demetrius.”

And the land of Judah had rest for two years means the country of Judea has peace for two years (so Good News Bible). There was a lull in the constant fighting between the Jewish rebels and the Syrian authorities. We may translate “and no enemies attacked Judea for two years.”

It is not clear why Bacchides went back to Antioch; perhaps he wanted further orders from the king. He had succeeded in strengthening the Syrian position in Judea, but apparently had no reason to take further action. Perhaps he thought that Alcimus’ death would quiet things, since Alcimus’ policies had caused much of the troubles. He may also have had reason to fear that Rome might take action if he pursued his war against the Jews (see 1Macc 8.31-32). The Maccabees could not pursue the conflict without endangering the lives of the hostages that had been taken (verse 53), and since the destruction of part of the Temple complex had not progressed very far, the Temple must have been considered still usable for Jewish ritual.

Quoted with permission from Bullard, Roger A. and Hatton, Howard A. A Handbook on 1-2 Maccabees. (UBS Helps for Translators). New York: UBS, 2011. For this and other handbooks for translators see here.