Garments of Shame, Garments of War: Clothing Imagery in 1 Maccabees 1:25-28, 14:9

In: Vetus Testamentum


Two poetic passages in 1 Maccabees depict historical circumstances via the use of apparel. 14:9 portrays the young men as wearing “glories and garments of war” as a marker of the peace and prosperity characterizing Simon’s reign. These contrast with the “shame” that shrouds the people following Antiochus Epiphanes’ desecration of the temple in 1:28. This paper explores the biblical background of the dress imagery, suggesting that the Maccabean author transformed the “robe of righteousness” in Isa 61:10 into “garments of war” on the basis of a gezerah shava with Isa 59:17. The biblical metaphor of “being clothed with shame” in 1 Macc 1:28, on the other hand, refers to the “putting on of mourning dress”—a practice also alluded to in v. 26.

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