What Is the ‘160th Year’ in Maccabees?




Full Question

In Maccabees, what does “in the one hundred and sixtieth year” reference? My understanding is that it is actually 152 B.C.

Answer

In the one hundred and sixtieth year, Alexander Epiphanes, son of Antiochus, came up and took Ptolemais (1 Maccabees 10:1).

The year cannot possibly refer to B.C./A.D., since Jesus had not been born yet and the author of the books of Maccabees couldn’t possibly know what year the messiah would be born.

The “160th year” is referring to the Seleucid calendar. The calendar dates from Seleucus I Nicator’s re-conquest of Babylon. The author is saying the events he is describing occurred 160 years after the reconquest of Babylon. This reconquest took place, by our calendar, around 312 BC. Thus 312 minus 160 tells us that the events took place around 152 B.C. according to our calendar.


By Fr. Charles Grondin





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