The opening verses of 3 Maccabees set the story in the aftermath of the Battle of Raphia (217 bce); the significance of this historical setting has been overlooked. The Battle of Raphia is intimately related to the narrative at large in at least three ways. First, 3 Maccabees advocates for a counter-tradition to a stele tradition that arises out of Ptolemy’s victory at Raphia. Second, the story reworks the famous incident of Ptolemy’s elephant retreat at Raphia into a tale of praise for the God of the Jews. And finally, the book is invested with the irony already present in the historical realities of Ptolemy’s short-lived victory.
ZielinskiSarah. “After 2,000 Years, Ptolemy’s War Elephants are Revealed.”ScienceNews: The Magazine for Science & the Public. https://www.sciencenews.org/blog/wild-things/after-2000-years-ptolemy’s-war-elephants-are-revealed. January212014.