The reference here must be to the numerous non-Jewish kings of the Greek period, and perhaps also to the Maccabean princes; the manners of the time are set forth in Josephus's account of Ptolemy's dinner, at which the Jew Hyrcanus was a guest (Ant.
Its origin is to be sought in the first place in the prophecy of Daniel, written at the beginning of the Maccabean period.
We may, however, observe that our book points to the period already past - of stress and persecution that preceded the recovery of national independence under the Maccabees, and presupposes as its historical background the most flourishing period of the Maccabean hegemony.
This conclusion is drawn from the following facts: - (1) The book was written during the pontificate of the Maccabean family, and not earlier than 135 B.C. For in xxxii.
This kingdom was to be ruled over by a Messiah sprung not from Judah but from Levi, that is, from the reigning Maccabean family.
He glorifies Levi's successors as high-priests and civil rulers, and applies to them the title assumed by the Maccabean princes, though he does not, like the author of the Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs, expect the Messiah to come forth from among them.
Of the remaining passages and books Daniel belongs unquestionably to the Maccabean period, and the rest possibly to the same period.
The Maccabean dynasty had now reached the zenith of its prosperity, and in its reigning representative, who alone in the history of Judaism possessed the triple offices of prophet, priest and king, the Pharisaic party had come to recognize the actual Messiah.
They were written before 64 B.C., for Rome was not yet known to the writer, and after 95 B.C., for the slaying of the righteous, of which the writer complains, was not perpetrated by the Maccabean princes before that date.
He was clearly a Pharisaic Quietist, a Pharisee of a fast disappearing type, recalling in all respects the Chasid of the early Maccabean times, and upholding the old traditions of quietude and resignation.