I finished Jonathan Goldstein’s Anchor Bible commentary on II Maccabees. In this post, I’d like to elaborate upon the topic that I discussed yesterday: the rivalry between the Oniads and the Hasmoneans for the priesthood.
On page 542, Goldstein states:
“The history of the period brought striking vindication to the claims of the Oniads, that God favored them and had not made Jerusalem again his Chosen Place. God had wrought a miracle in response to the merit of Onias III to prevent Heliodorus from violating the treasury of the temple of Jerusalem; but, in the absence of the Oniads, the Hasmonaean high priests had not been able to prevent pagans from violating the temple. In 63 B.C.E. Pompey marched into the Holy of Holies…and in 54 Crassus plundered the wealth of the temple…”
As I have read Goldstein, the impression I have gotten is that II Maccabees (with the exception of the epistles that preface the book) is pro-Oniad, not pro-Hasmonean. II Maccabees treats Onias III as a righteous man, and the story of God protecting the Temple treasury from Heliodorus due to the merit of Onias III appears in II Maccabees 3. II Maccabees does not seem to care for the Hasmoneans, with the exception of Judas Maccabeus. II Maccabees appears to be open to the legitimacy of sanctuaries other than the one in Jerusalem, which (in effect) legitimizes Onias IV’s sanctuary in Egypt as well as casts doubt upon God’s full recognition of the Jerusalem Temple (which came to be dominated by Hasmoneans). And, according to Goldstein, II Maccabees draws on the memoirs of Onias IV.
In my post here, I wrote about Paul Hanson’s argument that II Maccabees is close to the Pharisaic milieu, one reason being that II Maccabees, like the Pharisees, manifests a belief in the resurrection of the dead. My question, therefore, is this: Is there evidence that the Pharisees were pro-Oniad? Well, perhaps we cannot generalize, for Josephus claimed to be a Pharisee and was a Hasmonean, and he does not depict the Oniads favorably. But, as I talk about here, Mishnah Avoth 1 presents Simon the Just (who was in the Oniad line) as part of the Great Synagogue, one who passed on Pharisaic halakah.