oremus Bible Browser




2 Maccabees 12:40–46:40

40Then under the tunic of each one of the dead they found sacred tokens of the idols of Jamnia, which the law forbids the Jews to wear. And it became clear to all that this was the reason these men had fallen. 41So they all blessed the ways of the Lord, the righteous judge, who reveals the things that are hidden; 42and they turned to supplication, praying that the sin that had been committed might be wholly blotted out. The noble Judas exhorted the people to keep themselves free from sin, for they had seen with their own eyes what had happened as the result of the sin of those who had fallen. 43He also took up a collection, man by man, to the amount of two thousand drachmas of silver, and sent it to Jerusalem to provide for a sin-offering. In doing this he acted very well and honourably, taking account of the resurrection. 44For if he were not expecting that those who had fallen would rise again, it would have been superfluous and foolish to pray for the dead. 45But if he was looking to the splendid reward that is laid up for those who fall asleep in godliness, it was a holy and pious thought. Therefore he made atonement for the dead, so that they might be delivered from their sin.

Menelaus Is Put to Death

13In the one hundred and forty-ninth year* word came to Judas and his men that Antiochus Eupator was coming with a great army against Judea, 2and with him Lysias, his guardian, who had charge of the government. Each of them had a Greek force of one hundred and ten thousand infantry, five thousand three hundred cavalry, twenty-two elephants, and three hundred chariots armed with scythes.

3 Menelaus also joined them and with utter hypocrisy urged Antiochus on, not for the sake of his country’s welfare, but because he thought that he would be established in office. 4But the King of kings aroused the anger of Antiochus against the scoundrel; and when Lysias informed him that this man was to blame for all the trouble, he ordered them to take him to Beroea and to put him to death by the method that is customary in that place. 5For there is a tower there, fifty cubits high, full of ashes, and it has a rim running round it that on all sides inclines precipitously into the ashes. 6There they all push to destruction anyone guilty of sacrilege or notorious for other crimes. 7By such a fate it came about that Menelaus the lawbreaker died, without even burial in the earth. 8And this was eminently just; because he had committed many sins against the altar whose fire and ashes were holy, he met his death in ashes.

A Battle Near the City of Modein

9 The king with barbarous arrogance was coming to show the Jews things far worse than those that had been done* in his father’s time. 10But when Judas heard of this, he ordered the people to call upon the Lord day and night, now more than ever to help those who were on the point of being deprived of the law and their country and the holy temple, 11and not to let the people who had just begun to revive fall into the hands of the blasphemous Gentiles. 12When they had all joined in the same petition and had implored the merciful Lord with weeping and fasting and lying prostrate for three days without ceasing, Judas exhorted them and ordered them to stand ready.

13 After consulting privately with the elders, he determined to march out and decide the matter by the help of God before the king’s army could enter Judea and get possession of the city. 14So, committing the decision to the Creator of the world and exhorting his troops to fight bravely to the death for the laws, temple, city, country, and commonwealth, he pitched his camp near Modein. 15He gave his troops the watchword, ‘God’s victory’, and with a picked force of the bravest young men, he attacked the king’s pavilion at night and killed as many as two thousand men in the camp. He stabbed* the leading elephant and its rider. 16In the end they filled the camp with terror and confusion and withdrew in triumph. 17This happened, just as day was dawning, because the Lord’s help protected him.

Antiochus Makes a Treaty with the Jews

18 The king, having had a taste of the daring of the Jews, tried strategy in attacking their positions. 19He advanced against Beth-zur, a strong fortress of the Jews, was turned back, attacked again,* and was defeated. 20Judas sent in to the garrison whatever was necessary. 21But Rhodocus, a man from the ranks of the Jews, gave secret information to the enemy; he was sought for, caught, and put in prison. 22The king negotiated a second time with the people in Beth-zur, gave pledges, received theirs, withdrew, attacked Judas and his men, and was defeated; 23he got word that Philip, who had been left in charge of the government, had revolted in Antioch; he was dismayed, called in the Jews, yielded and swore to observe all their rights, settled with them and offered sacrifice, honoured the sanctuary, and showed generosity to the holy place. 24He received Maccabeus, left Hegemonides as governor from Ptolemais to Gerar, 25and went to Ptolemais. The people of Ptolemais were indignant over the treaty; in fact they were so angry that they wanted to annul its terms.* 26Lysias took the public platform, made the best possible defence, convinced them, appeased them, gained their goodwill, and set out for Antioch. This is how the king’s attack and withdrawal turned out.

Alcimus Speaks against Judas

14Three years later, word came to Judas and his men that Demetrius son of Seleucus had sailed into the harbour of Tripolis with a strong army and a fleet, 2and had taken possession of the country, having made away with Antiochus and his guardian Lysias.

3 Now a certain Alcimus, who had formerly been high priest but had wilfully defiled himself in the times of separation,* realized that there was no way for him to be safe or to have access again to the holy altar, 4and went to King Demetrius in about the one hundred and fifty-first year,* presenting to him a crown of gold and a palm, and besides these some of the customary olive branches from the temple. During that day he kept quiet. 5But he found an opportunity that furthered his mad purpose when he was invited by Demetrius to a meeting of the council and was asked about the attitude and intentions of the Jews. He answered:

6 ‘Those of the Jews who are called Hasideans, whose leader is Judas Maccabeus, are keeping up war and stirring up sedition, and will not let the kingdom attain tranquillity. 7Therefore I have laid aside my ancestral glory—I mean the high-priesthood—and have now come here, 8first because I am genuinely concerned for the interests of the king, and second because I have regard also for my compatriots. For through the folly of those whom I have mentioned our whole nation is now in no small misfortune. 9Since you are acquainted, O king, with the details of this matter, may it please you to take thought for our country and our hard-pressed nation with the gracious kindness that you show to all. 10For as long as Judas lives, it is impossible for the government to find peace.’ 11When he had said this, the rest of the king’s Friends,* who were hostile to Judas, quickly inflamed Demetrius still more. 12He immediately chose Nicanor, who had been in command of the elephants, appointed him governor of Judea, and sent him off 13with orders to kill Judas and scatter his troops, and to instal Alcimus as high priest of the great* temple. 14And the Gentiles throughout Judea, who had fled before* Judas, flocked to join Nicanor, thinking that the misfortunes and calamities of the Jews would mean prosperity for themselves.

Nicanor Makes Friends with Judas

15 When the Jews* heard of Nicanor’s coming and the gathering of the Gentiles, they sprinkled dust on their heads and prayed to him who established his own people for ever and always upholds his own heritage by manifesting himself. 16At the command of the leader, they* set out from there immediately and engaged them in battle at a village called Dessau.* 17Simon, the brother of Judas, had encountered Nicanor, but had been temporarily* checked because of the sudden consternation created by the enemy.

18 Nevertheless Nicanor, hearing of the valour of Judas and his troops and their courage in battle for their country, shrank from deciding the issue by bloodshed. 19Therefore he sent Posidonius, Theodotus, and Mattathias to give and receive pledges of friendship. 20When the terms had been fully considered, and the leader had informed the people, and it had appeared that they were of one mind, they agreed to the covenant. 21The leaders* set a day on which to meet by themselves. A chariot came forward from each army; seats of honour were set in place; 22Judas posted armed men in readiness at key places to prevent sudden treachery on the part of the enemy; so they duly held the consultation.

23 Nicanor stayed on in Jerusalem and did nothing out of the way, but dismissed the flocks of people that had gathered. 24And he kept Judas always in his presence; he was warmly attached to the man. 25He urged him to marry and have children; so Judas* married, settled down, and shared the common life.

Nicanor Turns against Judas

26 But when Alcimus noticed their goodwill for one another, he took the covenant that had been made and went to Demetrius. He told him that Nicanor was disloyal to the government, since he had appointed that conspirator against the kingdom, Judas, to be his successor. 27The king became excited and, provoked by the false accusations of that depraved man, wrote to Nicanor, stating that he was displeased with the covenant and commanding him to send Maccabeus to Antioch as a prisoner without delay.

28 When this message came to Nicanor, he was troubled and grieved that he had to annul their agreement when the man had done no wrong. 29Since it was not possible to oppose the king, he watched for an opportunity to accomplish this by a stratagem. 30But Maccabeus, noticing that Nicanor was more austere in his dealings with him and was meeting him more rudely than had been his custom, concluded that this austerity did not spring from the best motives. So he gathered not a few of his men, and went into hiding from Nicanor. 31When the latter became aware that he had been cleverly outwitted by the man, he went to the great* and holy temple while the priests were offering the customary sacrifices, and commanded them to hand the man over. 32When they declared on oath that they did not know where the man was whom he wanted, 33he stretched out his right hand towards the sanctuary, and swore this oath: ‘If you do not hand Judas over to me as a prisoner, I will level this shrine of God to the ground and tear down the altar, and build here a splendid temple to Dionysus.’

34 Having said this, he went away. Then the priests stretched out their hands towards heaven and called upon the constant Defender of our nation, in these words: 35‘O Lord of all, though you have need of nothing, you were pleased that there should be a temple for your habitation among us; 36so now, O holy One, Lord of all holiness, keep undefiled for ever this house that has been so recently purified.’

Razis Dies for His Country

37 A certain Razis, one of the elders of Jerusalem, was denounced to Nicanor as a man who loved his compatriots and was very well thought of and for his goodwill was called father of the Jews. 38In former times, when there was no mingling with the Gentiles, he had been accused of Judaism, and he had most zealously risked body and life for Judaism. 39Nicanor, wishing to exhibit the enmity that he had for the Jews, sent more than five hundred soldiers to arrest him; 40for he thought that by arresting* him he would do them an injury. 41When the troops were about to capture the tower and were forcing the door of the courtyard, they ordered that fire be brought and the doors burned. Being surrounded, Razis* fell upon his own sword, 42preferring to die nobly rather than to fall into the hands of sinners and suffer outrages unworthy of his noble birth. 43But in the heat of the struggle he did not hit exactly, and the crowd was now rushing in through the doors. He courageously ran up on the wall, and bravely threw himself down into the crowd. 44But as they quickly drew back, a space opened and he fell in the middle of the empty space. 45Still alive and aflame with anger, he rose, and though his blood gushed forth and his wounds were severe he ran through the crowd; and standing upon a steep rock, 46with his blood now completely drained from him, he tore out his entrails, took them in both hands, and hurled them at the crowd, calling upon the Lord of life and spirit to give them back to him again. This was the manner of his death.

Nicanor’s Arrogance

15When Nicanor heard that Judas and his troops were in the region of Samaria, he made plans to attack them with complete safety on the day of rest. 2When the Jews who were compelled to follow him said, ‘Do not destroy so savagely and barbarously, but show respect for the day that he who sees all things has honoured and hallowed above other days’, 3the thrice-accursed wretch asked if there were a sovereign in heaven who had commanded the keeping of the sabbath day. 4When they declared, ‘It is the living Lord himself, the Sovereign in heaven, who ordered us to observe the seventh day,’ 5he replied, ‘But I am a sovereign also, on earth, and I command you to take up arms and finish the king’s business.’ Nevertheless, he did not succeed in carrying out his abominable design.

Judas Prepares the Jews for Battle

6 This Nicanor in his utter boastfulness and arrogance had determined to erect a public monument of victory over Judas and his forces. 7But Maccabeus did not cease to trust with all confidence that he would get help from the Lord. 8He exhorted his troops not to fear the attack of the Gentiles, but to keep in mind the former times when help had come to them from heaven, and so to look for the victory that the Almighty would give them. 9Encouraging them from the law and the prophets, and reminding them also of the struggles they had won, he made them the more eager. 10When he had aroused their courage, he issued his orders, at the same time pointing out the perfidy of the Gentiles and their violation of oaths. 11He armed each of them not so much with confidence in shields and spears as with the inspiration of brave words, and he cheered them all by relating a dream, a sort of vision,* which was worthy of belief.

12 What he saw was this: Onias, who had been high priest, a noble and good man, of modest bearing and gentle manner, one who spoke fittingly and had been trained from childhood in all that belongs to excellence, was praying with outstretched hands for the whole body of the Jews. 13Then in the same fashion another appeared, distinguished by his grey hair and dignity, and of marvellous majesty and authority. 14And Onias spoke, saying, ‘This is a man who loves the family of Israel and prays much for the people and the holy city—Jeremiah, the prophet of God.’ 15Jeremiah stretched out his right hand and gave to Judas a golden sword, and as he gave it he addressed him thus: 16‘Take this holy sword, a gift from God, with which you will strike down your adversaries.’

17 Encouraged by the words of Judas, so noble and so effective in arousing valour and awaking courage in the souls of the young, they determined not to carry on a campaign* but to attack bravely, and to decide the matter by fighting hand to hand with all courage, because the city and the sanctuary and the temple were in danger. 18Their concern for wives and children, and also for brothers and sisters* and relatives, lay upon them less heavily; their greatest and first fear was for the consecrated sanctuary. 19And those who had to remain in the city were in no little distress, being anxious over the encounter in the open country.

The Defeat and Death of Nicanor

20 When all were now looking forward to the coming issue, and the enemy was already close at hand with their army drawn up for battle, the elephants* strategically stationed and the cavalry deployed on the flanks, 21Maccabeus, observing the masses that were in front of him and the varied supply of arms and the savagery of the elephants, stretched out his hands towards heaven and called upon the Lord who works wonders; for he knew that it is not by arms, but as the Lord* decides, that he gains the victory for those who deserve it. 22He called upon him in these words: ‘O Lord, you sent your angel in the time of King Hezekiah of Judea, and he killed fully one hundred and eighty-five thousand in the camp of Sennacherib. 23So now, O Sovereign of the heavens, send a good angel to spread terror and trembling before us. 24By the might of your arm may these blasphemers who come against your holy people be struck down.’ With these words he ended his prayer.

25 Nicanor and his troops advanced with trumpets and battle-songs, 26but Judas and his troops met the enemy in battle with invocations to God and prayers. 27So, fighting with their hands and praying to God in their hearts, they laid low at least thirty-five thousand, and were greatly gladdened by God’s manifestation.

28 When the action was over and they were returning with joy, they recognized Nicanor, lying dead, in full armour. 29Then there was shouting and tumult, and they blessed the Sovereign Lord in the language of their ancestors. 30Then the man who was ever in body and soul the defender of his people, the man who maintained his youthful goodwill towards his compatriots, ordered them to cut off Nicanor’s head and arm and carry them to Jerusalem. 31When he arrived there and had called his compatriots together and stationed the priests before the altar, he sent for those who were in the citadel. 32He showed them the vile Nicanor’s head and that profane man’s arm, which had been boastfully stretched out against the holy house of the Almighty. 33He cut out the tongue of the ungodly Nicanor and said that he would feed it piecemeal to the birds and would hang up these rewards of his folly opposite the sanctuary. 34And they all, looking to heaven, blessed the Lord who had manifested himself, saying, ‘Blessed is he who has kept his own place undefiled!’ 35Judas* hung Nicanor’s head from the citadel, a clear and conspicuous sign to everyone of the help of the Lord. 36And they all decreed by public vote never to let this day go unobserved, but to celebrate the thirteenth day of the twelfth month—which is called Adar in the Aramaic language—the day before Mordecai’s day.

37 This, then, is how matters turned out with Nicanor, and from that time the city has been in the possession of the Hebrews. So I will here end my story.

The Compiler’s Epilogue

38 If it is well told and to the point, that is what I myself desired; if it is poorly done and mediocre, that was the best I could do. 39For just as it is harmful to drink wine alone, or, again, to drink water alone, while wine mixed with water is sweet and delicious and enhances one’s enjoyment, so also the style of the story delights the ears of those who read the work. And here will be the end.

<<
>>

Enter another bible reference:


obb
bible browser

biblemail@oremus.org
v 2.2.8
14 July 2018

From the oremus Bible Browser http://bible.oremus.org v2.2.8 14 July 2018.