Once again I opened my trusty LXX to 1 Maccabees and discovered something interesting. I previously mentioned that the author used πιπτω as a euphemism for death. Well, when translating, I found this expression “contrasted” with the verb θανατοω “to deprive one of life.”
Since πιπτω, in this isolated instance, was used in the context of Jews killing the oppressive Gentile forces in battle, and since θανατοω, in this isolated instance, was used in the context of Gentile forces “putting to death” the Jewish resistance, I was spurned to do a quick study within 1 Maccabees. One lunch break later revealed disappointing results. See, I was attempting to locate the author’s bias towards the Maccabean revolt through verb usage. Yet πιπτω “to fall/die” seemed to be used almost as frequently regarding the death of Jewish forces as Gentile forces. An analysis of αποκτεινω “to violently kill [regardless of intent]” turned up the same results.
So much for easy theories.
Nevertheless, I did turn up a few interesting bits. These nuggets haven’t been refined so they are presented here only as potential for further study. First, πιπτω, when being used euphemistically, was almost exclusively used in the context of battle/war. Second, θανατοω, with only one exception (6:45) is used when the Gentiles put the Jews to death. This may be mitigated by the fact that θανατοω is almost always used in the context of legal execution. The fact that Antiochus Epiphanes ordered the execution of any in violation of his decrees causes one to pause before making rash judgments about the verbs usage.