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2 Maccabees 5:25–26:25

25When this man arrived in Jerusalem, he pretended to be peaceably disposed and waited until the holy sabbath day; then, finding the Jews not at work, he ordered his troops to parade under arms. 26He put to the sword all those who came out to see them, then rushed into the city with his armed warriors and killed great numbers of people.

27 But Judas Maccabeus, with about nine others, got away to the wilderness, and kept himself and his companions alive in the mountains as wild animals do; they continued to live on what grew wild, so that they might not share in the defilement.

The Suppression of Judaism

6Not long after this, the king sent an Athenian* senator* to compel the Jews to forsake the laws of their ancestors and no longer to live by the laws of God; 2also to pollute the temple in Jerusalem and to call it the temple of Olympian Zeus, and to call the one in Gerizim the temple of Zeus-the-Friend-of-Strangers, as did the people who lived in that place.

3 Harsh and utterly grievous was the onslaught of evil. 4For the temple was filled with debauchery and revelling by the Gentiles, who dallied with prostitutes and had intercourse with women within the sacred precincts, and besides brought in things for sacrifice that were unfit. 5The altar was covered with abominable offerings that were forbidden by the laws. 6People could neither keep the sabbath, nor observe the festivals of their ancestors, nor so much as confess themselves to be Jews.

7 On the monthly celebration of the king’s birthday, the Jews* were taken, under bitter constraint, to partake of the sacrifices; and when a festival of Dionysus was celebrated, they were compelled to wear wreaths of ivy and to walk in the procession in honour of Dionysus. 8At the suggestion of the people of Ptolemais* a decree was issued to the neighbouring Greek cities that they should adopt the same policy towards the Jews and make them partake of the sacrifices, 9and should kill those who did not choose to change over to Greek customs. One could see, therefore, the misery that had come upon them. 10For example, two women were brought in for having circumcised their children. They publicly paraded them around the city, with their babies hanging at their breasts, and then hurled them down headlong from the wall. 11Others who had assembled in the caves nearby, in order to observe the seventh day secretly, were betrayed to Philip and were all burned together, because their piety kept them from defending themselves, in view of their regard for that most holy day.

Providential Significance of the Persecution

12 Now I urge those who read this book not to be depressed by such calamities, but to recognize that these punishments were designed not to destroy but to discipline our people. 13In fact, it is a sign of great kindness not to let the impious alone for long, but to punish them immediately. 14For in the case of the other nations the Lord waits patiently to punish them until they have reached the full measure of their sins; but he does not deal in this way with us, 15in order that he should not take vengeance on us afterwards when our sins have reached their height. 16Therefore he never withdraws his mercy from us. Although he disciplines us with calamities, he does not forsake his own people. 17Let what we have said serve as a reminder; we must go on briefly with the story.

The Martyrdom of Eleazar

18 Eleazar, one of the scribes in high position, a man now advanced in age and of noble presence, was being forced to open his mouth to eat swine’s flesh. 19But he, welcoming death with honour rather than life with pollution, went up to the rack of his own accord, spitting out the flesh, 20as all ought to go who have the courage to refuse things that it is not right to taste, even for the natural love of life.

21 Those who were in charge of that unlawful sacrifice took the man aside because of their long acquaintance with him, and privately urged him to bring meat of his own providing, proper for him to use, and to pretend that he was eating the flesh of the sacrificial meal that had been commanded by the king, 22so that by doing this he might be saved from death, and be treated kindly on account of his old friendship with them. 23But making a high resolve, worthy of his years and the dignity of his old age and the grey hairs that he had reached with distinction and his excellent life even from childhood, and moreover according to the holy God-given law, he declared himself quickly, telling them to send him to Hades.

24 ‘Such pretence is not worthy of our time of life,’ he said, ‘for many of the young might suppose that Eleazar in his ninetieth year had gone over to an alien religion, 25and through my pretence, for the sake of living a brief moment longer, they would be led astray because of me, while I defile and disgrace my old age. 26Even if for the present I would avoid the punishment of mortals, yet whether I live or die I will not escape the hands of the Almighty. 27Therefore, by bravely giving up my life now, I will show myself worthy of my old age 28and leave to the young a noble example of how to die a good death willingly and nobly for the revered and holy laws.’

When he had said this, he went* at once to the rack. 29Those who a little before had acted towards him with goodwill now changed to ill will, because the words he had uttered were in their opinion sheer madness.* 30When he was about to die under the blows, he groaned aloud and said: ‘It is clear to the Lord in his holy knowledge that, though I might have been saved from death, I am enduring terrible sufferings in my body under this beating, but in my soul I am glad to suffer these things because I fear him.’

31 So in this way he died, leaving in his death an example of nobility and a memorial of courage, not only to the young but to the great body of his nation.

The Martyrdom of Seven Brothers

7It happened also that seven brothers and their mother were arrested and were being compelled by the king, under torture with whips and thongs, to partake of unlawful swine’s flesh. 2One of them, acting as their spokesman, said, ‘What do you intend to ask and learn from us? For we are ready to die rather than transgress the laws of our ancestors.’

3 The king fell into a rage, and gave orders to have pans and cauldrons heated. 4These were heated immediately, and he commanded that the tongue of their spokesman be cut out and that they scalp him and cut off his hands and feet, while the rest of the brothers and the mother looked on. 5When he was utterly helpless, the king* ordered them to take him to the fire, still breathing, and to fry him in a pan. The smoke from the pan spread widely, but the brothers* and their mother encouraged one another to die nobly, saying, 6‘The Lord God is watching over us and in truth has compassion on us, as Moses declared in his song that bore witness against the people to their faces, when he said, “And he will have compassion on his servants.” *

7 After the first brother had died in this way, they brought forward the second for their sport. They tore off the skin of his head with the hair, and asked him, ‘Will you eat rather than have your body punished limb by limb?’ 8He replied in the language of his ancestors and said to them, ‘No.’ Therefore he in turn underwent tortures as the first brother had done. 9And when he was at his last breath, he said, ‘You accursed wretch, you dismiss us from this present life, but the King of the universe will raise us up to an everlasting renewal of life, because we have died for his laws.’

10 After him, the third was the victim of their sport. When it was demanded, he quickly put out his tongue and courageously stretched forth his hands, 11and said nobly, ‘I got these from Heaven, and because of his laws I disdain them, and from him I hope to get them back again.’ 12As a result the king himself and those with him were astonished at the young man’s spirit, for he regarded his sufferings as nothing.

13 After he too had died, they maltreated and tortured the fourth in the same way. 14When he was near death, he said, ‘One cannot but choose to die at the hands of mortals and to cherish the hope God gives of being raised again by him. But for you there will be no resurrection to life!’

15 Next they brought forward the fifth and maltreated him. 16But he looked at the king,* and said, ‘Because you have authority among mortals, though you also are mortal, you do what you please. But do not think that God has forsaken our people. 17Keep on, and see how his mighty power will torture you and your descendants!’

18 After him they brought forward the sixth. And when he was about to die, he said, ‘Do not deceive yourself in vain. For we are suffering these things on our own account, because of our sins against our own God. Therefore* astounding things have happened. 19But do not think that you will go unpunished for having tried to fight against God!’

20 The mother was especially admirable and worthy of honourable memory. Although she saw her seven sons perish within a single day, she bore it with good courage because of her hope in the Lord. 21She encouraged each of them in the language of their ancestors. Filled with a noble spirit, she reinforced her woman’s reasoning with a man’s courage, and said to them, 22‘I do not know how you came into being in my womb. It was not I who gave you life and breath, nor I who set in order the elements within each of you. 23Therefore the Creator of the world, who shaped the beginning of humankind and devised the origin of all things, will in his mercy give life and breath back to you again, since you now forget yourselves for the sake of his laws.’

24 Antiochus felt that he was being treated with contempt, and he was suspicious of her reproachful tone. The youngest brother being still alive, Antiochus* not only appealed to him in words, but promised with oaths that he would make him rich and enviable if he would turn from the ways of his ancestors, and that he would take him for his Friend and entrust him with public affairs. 25Since the young man would not listen to him at all, the king called the mother to him and urged her to advise the youth to save himself. 26After much urging on his part, she undertook to persuade her son. 27But, leaning close to him, she spoke in their native language as follows, deriding the cruel tyrant: ‘My son, have pity on me. I carried you for nine months in my womb, and nursed you for three years, and have reared you and brought you up to this point in your life, and have taken care of you.* 28I beg you, my child, to look at the heaven and the earth and see everything that is in them, and recognize that God did not make them out of things that existed.* And in the same way the human race came into being. 29Do not fear this butcher, but prove worthy of your brothers. Accept death, so that in God’s mercy I may get you back again along with your brothers.’

30 While she was still speaking, the young man said, ‘What are you* waiting for? I will not obey the king’s command, but I obey the command of the law that was given to our ancestors through Moses. 31But you,* who have contrived all sorts of evil against the Hebrews, will certainly not escape the hands of God. 32For we are suffering because of our own sins. 33And if our living Lord is angry for a little while, to rebuke and discipline us, he will again be reconciled with his own servants.* 34But you, unholy wretch, you most defiled of all mortals, do not be elated in vain and puffed up by uncertain hopes, when you raise your hand against the children of heaven. 35You have not yet escaped the judgement of the almighty, all-seeing God. 36For our brothers after enduring a brief suffering have drunk* of ever-flowing life, under God’s covenant; but you, by the judgement of God, will receive just punishment for your arrogance. 37I, like my brothers, give up body and life for the laws of our ancestors, appealing to God to show mercy soon to our nation and by trials and plagues to make you confess that he alone is God, 38and through me and my brothers to bring to an end the wrath of the Almighty that has justly fallen on our whole nation.’

39 The king fell into a rage, and handled him worse than the others, being exasperated at his scorn. 40So he died in his integrity, putting his whole trust in the Lord.

41 Last of all, the mother died, after her sons.

42 Let this be enough, then, about the eating of sacrifices and the extreme tortures.

The Revolt of Judas Maccabeus

8Meanwhile Judas, who was also called Maccabeus, and his companions secretly entered the villages and summoned their kindred and enlisted those who had continued in the Jewish faith, and so they gathered about six thousand. 2They implored the Lord to look upon the people who were oppressed by all; and to have pity on the temple that had been profaned by the godless; 3to have mercy on the city that was being destroyed and about to be levelled to the ground; to hearken to the blood that cried out to him; 4to remember also the lawless destruction of the innocent babies and the blasphemies committed against his name; and to show his hatred of evil.

5 As soon as Maccabeus got his army organized, the Gentiles could not withstand him, for the wrath of the Lord had turned to mercy. 6Coming without warning, he would set fire to towns and villages. He captured strategic positions and put to flight not a few of the enemy. 7He found the nights most advantageous for such attacks. And talk of his valour spread everywhere.

8 When Philip saw that the man was gaining ground little by little, and that he was pushing ahead with more frequent successes, he wrote to Ptolemy, the governor of Coelesyria and Phoenicia, to come to the aid of the king’s government. 9Then Ptolemy* promptly appointed Nicanor son of Patroclus, one of the king’s chief* Friends, and sent him, in command of no fewer than twenty thousand Gentiles of all nations, to wipe out the whole race of Judea. He associated with him Gorgias, a general and a man of experience in military service. 10Nicanor determined to make up for the king the tribute due to the Romans, two thousand talents, by selling the captured Jews into slavery. 11So he immediately sent to the towns on the sea coast, inviting them to buy Jewish slaves and promising to hand over ninety slaves for a talent, not expecting the judgement from the Almighty that was about to overtake him.

Preparation for Battle

12 Word came to Judas concerning Nicanor’s invasion; and when he told his companions of the arrival of the army, 13those who were cowardly and distrustful of God’s justice ran off and got away. 14Others sold all their remaining property, and at the same time implored the Lord to rescue those who had been sold by the ungodly Nicanor before he ever met them, 15if not for their own sake, then for the sake of the covenants made with their ancestors, and because he had called them by his holy and glorious name. 16But Maccabeus gathered his forces together, to the number of six thousand, and exhorted them not to be frightened by the enemy and not to fear the great multitude of Gentiles who were wickedly coming against them, but to fight nobly, 17keeping before their eyes the lawless outrage that the Gentiles* had committed against the holy place, and the torture of the derided city, and besides, the overthrow of their ancestral way of life. 18‘For they trust to arms and acts of daring’, he said, ‘but we trust in the Almighty God, who is able with a single nod to strike down those who are coming against us, and even, if necessary, the whole world.’

19 Moreover, he told them of the occasions when help came to their ancestors; how, in the time of Sennacherib, when one hundred and eighty-five thousand perished, 20and the time of the battle against the Galatians that took place in Babylonia, when eight thousand Jews* fought along with four thousand Macedonians; yet when the Macedonians were hard pressed, the eight thousand, by the help that came to them from heaven, destroyed one hundred and twenty thousand Galatians* and took a great amount of booty.

Judas Defeats Nicanor

21 With these words he filled them with courage and made them ready to die for their laws and their country; then he divided his army into four parts. 22He appointed his brothers also, Simon and Joseph and Jonathan, each to command a division, putting fifteen hundred men under each. 23Besides, he appointed Eleazar to read aloud* from the holy book, and gave the watchword, ‘The help of God’; then, leading the first division himself, he joined battle with Nicanor.

24 With the Almighty as their ally, they killed more than nine thousand of the enemy, and wounded and disabled most of Nicanor’s army, and forced them all to flee. 25They captured the money of those who had come to buy them as slaves. After pursuing them for some distance, they were obliged to return because the hour was late. 26It was the day before the sabbath, and for that reason they did not continue their pursuit. 27When they had collected the arms of the enemy and stripped them of their spoils, they kept the sabbath, giving great praise and thanks to the Lord, who had preserved them for that day and allotted it to them as the beginning of mercy. 28After the sabbath they gave some of the spoils to those who had been tortured and to the widows and orphans, and distributed the rest among themselves and their children. 29When they had done this, they made common supplication and implored the merciful Lord to be wholly reconciled with his servants.*

Judas Defeats Timothy and Bacchides

30 In encounters with the forces of Timothy and Bacchides they killed more than twenty thousand of them and got possession of some exceedingly high strongholds, and they divided a very large amount of plunder, giving to those who had been tortured and to the orphans and widows, and also to the aged, shares equal to their own. 31They collected the arms of the enemy,* and carefully stored all of them in strategic places; the rest of the spoils they carried to Jerusalem. 32They killed the commander of Timothy’s forces, a most wicked man, and one who had greatly troubled the Jews. 33While they were celebrating the victory in the city of their ancestors, they burned those who had set fire to the sacred gates, Callisthenes and some others, who had fled into one little house; so these received the proper reward for their impiety.*

34 The thrice-accursed Nicanor, who had brought the thousand merchants to buy the Jews, 35having been humbled with the help of the Lord by opponents whom he regarded as of the least account, took off his splendid uniform and made his way alone like a runaway slave across the country until he reached Antioch, having succeeded chiefly in the destruction of his own army! 36So he who had undertaken to secure tribute for the Romans by the capture of the people of Jerusalem proclaimed that the Jews had a Defender, and that therefore the Jews were invulnerable, because they followed the laws ordained by him.

The Last Campaign of Antiochus Epiphanes

9About that time, as it happened, Antiochus had retreated in disorder from the region of Persia. 2He had entered the city called Persepolis and attempted to rob the temples and control the city. Therefore the people rushed to the rescue with arms, and Antiochus and his army were defeated,* with the result that Antiochus was put to flight by the inhabitants and beat a shameful retreat. 3While he was in Ecbatana, news came to him of what had happened to Nicanor and the forces of Timothy. 4Transported with rage, he conceived the idea of turning upon the Jews the injury done by those who had put him to flight; so he ordered his charioteer to drive without stopping until he completed the journey. But the judgement of heaven rode with him! For in his arrogance he said, ‘When I get there I will make Jerusalem a cemetery of Jews.’

5 But the all-seeing Lord, the God of Israel, struck him with an incurable and invisible blow. As soon as he stopped speaking he was seized with a pain in his bowels, for which there was no relief, and with sharp internal tortures— 6and that very justly, for he had tortured the bowels of others with many and strange inflictions. 7Yet he did not in any way stop his insolence, but was even more filled with arrogance, breathing fire in his rage against the Jews, and giving orders to drive even faster. And so it came about that he fell out of his chariot as it was rushing along, and the fall was so hard as to torture every limb of his body. 8Thus he who only a little while before had thought in his superhuman arrogance that he could command the waves of the sea, and had imagined that he could weigh the high mountains in a balance, was brought down to earth and carried in a litter, making the power of God manifest to all. 9And so the ungodly man’s body swarmed with worms, and while he was still living in anguish and pain, his flesh rotted away, and because of the stench the whole army felt revulsion at his decay. 10Because of his intolerable stench no one was able to carry the man who a little while before had thought that he could touch the stars of heaven. 11Then it was that, broken in spirit, he began to lose much of his arrogance and to come to his senses under the scourge of God, for he was tortured with pain at every moment. 12And when he could not endure his own stench, he uttered these words, ‘It is right to be subject to God; mortals should not think that they are equal to God.’*

Antiochus Makes a Promise to God

13 Then the abominable fellow made a vow to the Lord, who would no longer have mercy on him, stating 14that the holy city, which he was hurrying to level to the ground and to make a cemetery, he was now declaring to be free; 15and the Jews, whom he had not considered worth burying but had planned to throw out with their children for the wild animals and for the birds to eat, he would make, all of them, equal to citizens of Athens; 16and the holy sanctuary, which he had formerly plundered, he would adorn with the finest offerings; and all the holy vessels he would give back, many times over; and the expenses incurred for the sacrifices he would provide from his own revenues; 17and in addition to all this he also would become a Jew and would visit every inhabited place to proclaim the power of God. 18But when his sufferings did not in any way abate, for the judgement of God had justly come upon him, he gave up all hope for himself and wrote to the Jews the following letter, in the form of a supplication. This was its content:

Antiochus’s Letter and Death

19 ‘To his worthy Jewish citizens, Antiochus their king and general sends hearty greetings and good wishes for their health and prosperity. 20If you and your children are well and your affairs are as you wish, I am glad. As my hope is in heaven, 21I remember with affection your esteem and goodwill. On my way back from the region of Persia I suffered an annoying illness, and I have deemed it necessary to take thought for the general security of all. 22I do not despair of my condition, for I have good hope of recovering from my illness, 23but I observed that my father, on the occasions when he made expeditions into the upper country, appointed his successor, 24so that, if anything unexpected happened or any unwelcome news came, the people throughout the realm would not be troubled, for they would know to whom the government was left. 25Moreover, I understand how the princes along the borders and the neighbours of my kingdom keep watching for opportunities and waiting to see what will happen. So I have appointed my son Antiochus to be king, whom I have often entrusted and commended to most of you when I hurried off to the upper provinces; and I have written to him what is written here. 26I therefore urge and beg you to remember the public and private services rendered to you and to maintain your present goodwill, each of you, towards me and my son. 27For I am sure that he will follow my policy and will treat you with moderation and kindness.’

28 So the murderer and blasphemer, having endured the more intense suffering, such as he had inflicted on others, came to the end of his life by a most pitiable fate, among the mountains in a strange land. 29And Philip, one of his courtiers, took his body home; then, fearing the son of Antiochus, he withdrew to Ptolemy Philometor in Egypt.

Purification of the Temple

10Now Maccabeus and his followers, the Lord leading them on, recovered the temple and the city; 2they tore down the altars that had been built in the public square by the foreigners, and also destroyed the sacred precincts. 3They purified the sanctuary, and made another altar of sacrifice; then, striking fire out of flint, they offered sacrifices, after a lapse of two years, and they offered incense and lighted lamps and set out the bread of the Presence. 4When they had done this, they fell prostrate and implored the Lord that they might never again fall into such misfortunes, but that, if they should ever sin, they might be disciplined by him with forbearance and not be handed over to blasphemous and barbarous nations. 5It happened that on the same day on which the sanctuary had been profaned by the foreigners, the purification of the sanctuary took place, that is, on the twenty-fifth day of the same month, which was Chislev. 6They celebrated it for eight days with rejoicing, in the manner of the festival of booths, remembering how not long before, during the festival of booths, they had been wandering in the mountains and caves like wild animals. 7Therefore, carrying ivy-wreathed wands and beautiful branches and also fronds of palm, they offered hymns of thanksgiving to him who had given success to the purifying of his own holy place. 8They decreed by public edict, ratified by vote, that the whole nation of the Jews should observe these days every year.

9 Such then was the end of Antiochus, who was called Epiphanes.

Accession of Antiochus Eupator

10 Now we will tell what took place under Antiochus Eupator, who was the son of that ungodly man, and will give a brief summary of the principal calamities of the wars. 11This man, when he succeeded to the kingdom, appointed one Lysias to have charge of the government and to be chief governor of Coelesyria and Phoenicia. 12Ptolemy, who was called Macron, took the lead in showing justice to the Jews because of the wrong that had been done to them, and attempted to maintain peaceful relations with them. 13As a result he was accused before Eupator by the king’s Friends. He heard himself called a traitor at every turn, because he had abandoned Cyprus, which Philometor had entrusted to him, and had gone over to Antiochus Epiphanes. Unable to command the respect due to his office,* he took poison and ended his life.

Campaign in Idumea

14 When Gorgias became governor of the region, he maintained a force of mercenaries, and at every turn kept attacking the Jews. 15Besides this, the Idumeans, who had control of important strongholds, were harassing the Jews; they received those who were banished from Jerusalem, and endeavoured to keep up the war. 16But Maccabeus and his forces, after making solemn supplication and imploring God to fight on their side, rushed to the strongholds of the Idumeans. 17Attacking them vigorously, they gained possession of the places, and beat off all who fought upon the wall, and slaughtered those whom they encountered, killing no fewer than twenty thousand.

18 When at least nine thousand took refuge in two very strong towers well equipped to withstand a siege, 19Maccabeus left Simon and Joseph, and also Zacchaeus and his troops, a force sufficient to besiege them; and he himself set off for places where he was more urgently needed. 20But those with Simon, who were money-hungry, were bribed by some of those who were in the towers, and on receiving seventy thousand drachmas let some of them slip away. 21When word of what had happened came to Maccabeus, he gathered the leaders of the people, and accused these men of having sold their kindred for money by setting their enemies free to fight against them. 22Then he killed these men who had turned traitor, and immediately captured the two towers. 23Having success at arms in everything he undertook, he destroyed more than twenty thousand in the two strongholds.

Judas Defeats Timothy

24 Now Timothy, who had been defeated by the Jews before, gathered a tremendous force of mercenaries and collected the cavalry from Asia in no small number. He came on, intending to take Judea by storm. 25As he drew near, Maccabeus and his men sprinkled dust on their heads and girded their loins with sackcloth, in supplication to God. 26Falling upon the steps before the altar, they implored him to be gracious to them and to be an enemy to their enemies and an adversary to their adversaries, as the law declares. 27And rising from their prayer they took up their arms and advanced a considerable distance from the city; and when they came near the enemy they halted. 28Just as dawn was breaking, the two armies joined battle, one having as pledge of success and victory not only their valour but also their reliance on the Lord, while the other made rage their leader in the fight.

29 When the battle became fierce, there appeared to the enemy from heaven five resplendent men on horses with golden bridles, and they were leading the Jews. 30Two of them took Maccabeus between them, and shielding him with their own armour and weapons, they kept him from being wounded. They showered arrows and thunderbolts on the enemy, so that, confused and blinded, they were thrown into disorder and cut to pieces. 31Twenty thousand five hundred were slaughtered, besides six hundred cavalry.

32 Timothy himself fled to a stronghold called Gazara, especially well garrisoned, where Chaereas was commander. 33Then Maccabeus and his men were glad, and they besieged the fort for four days. 34The men within, relying on the strength of the place, kept blaspheming terribly and uttering wicked words. 35But at dawn on the fifth day, twenty young men in the army of Maccabeus, fired with anger because of the blasphemies, bravely stormed the wall and with savage fury cut down everyone they met. 36Others who came up in the same way wheeled around against the defenders and set fire to the towers; they kindled fires and burned the blasphemers alive. Others broke open the gates and let in the rest of the force, and they occupied the city. 37They killed Timothy, who was hiding in a cistern, and his brother Chaereas, and Apollophanes. 38When they had accomplished these things, with hymns and thanksgivings they blessed the Lord who shows great kindness to Israel and gives them the victory.

Lysias Besieges Beth-zur

11Very soon after this, Lysias, the king’s guardian and kinsman, who was in charge of the government, being vexed at what had happened, 2gathered about eighty thousand infantry and all his cavalry and came against the Jews. He intended to make the city a home for Greeks, 3and to levy tribute on the temple as he did on the sacred places of the other nations, and to put the high-priesthood up for sale every year. 4He took no account whatever of the power of God, but was elated with his tens of thousands of infantry, and his thousands of cavalry, and his eighty elephants. 5Invading Judea, he approached Beth-zur, which was a fortified place about five stadia* from Jerusalem, and pressed it hard.

6 When Maccabeus and his men got word that Lysias* was besieging the strongholds, they and all the people, with lamentations and tears, prayed the Lord to send a good angel to save Israel. 7Maccabeus himself was the first to take up arms, and he urged the others to risk their lives with him to aid their kindred. Then they eagerly rushed off together. 8And there, while they were still near Jerusalem, a horseman appeared at their head, clothed in white and brandishing weapons of gold. 9And together they all praised the merciful God, and were strengthened in heart, ready to assail not only humans but the wildest animals or walls of iron. 10They advanced in battle order, having their heavenly ally, for the Lord had mercy on them. 11They hurled themselves like lions against the enemy, and laid low eleven thousand of them and sixteen hundred cavalry, and forced all the rest to flee. 12Most of them got away stripped and wounded, and Lysias himself escaped by disgraceful flight.

Lysias Makes Peace with the Jews

13 As he was not without intelligence, he pondered over the defeat that had befallen him, and realized that the Hebrews were invincible because the mighty God fought on their side. So he sent to them 14and persuaded them to settle everything on just terms, promising that he would persuade the king, constraining him to be their friend.* 15Maccabeus, having regard for the common good, agreed to all that Lysias urged. For the king granted every request in behalf of the Jews which Maccabeus delivered to Lysias in writing.

16 The letter written to the Jews by Lysias was to this effect:

‘Lysias to the people of the Jews, greetings. 17John and Absalom, who were sent by you, have delivered your signed communication and have asked about the matters indicated in it. 18I have informed the king of everything that needed to be brought before him, and he has agreed to what was possible. 19If you will maintain your goodwill towards the government, I will endeavour in the future to help promote your welfare. 20And concerning such matters and their details, I have ordered these men and my representatives to confer with you. 21Farewell. The one hundred and forty-eighth year,* the twenty-fourth of Dioscorinthius.’

22 The king’s letter ran thus:

‘King Antiochus to his brother Lysias, greetings. 23Now that our father has gone on to the gods, we desire that the subjects of the kingdom be undisturbed in caring for their own affairs. 24We have heard that the Jews do not consent to our father’s change to Greek customs, but prefer their own way of living and ask that their own customs be allowed them. 25Accordingly, since we choose that this nation also should be free from disturbance, our decision is that their temple be restored to them and that they shall live according to the customs of their ancestors. 26You will do well, therefore, to send word to them and give them pledges of friendship, so that they may know our policy and be of good cheer and go on happily in the conduct of their own affairs.’

27 To the nation the king’s letter was as follows:

‘King Antiochus to the senate of the Jews and to the other Jews, greetings. 28If you are well, it is as we desire. We also are in good health. 29Menelaus has informed us that you wish to return home and look after your own affairs. 30Therefore those who go home by the thirtieth of Xanthicus will have our pledge of friendship and full permission 31for the Jews to enjoy their own food and laws, just as formerly, and none of them shall be molested in any way for what may have been done in ignorance. 32And I have also sent Menelaus to encourage you. 33Farewell. The one hundred and forty-eighth year,* the fifteenth of Xanthicus.’

34 The Romans also sent them a letter, which read thus:

‘Quintus Memmius and Titus Manius, envoys of the Romans, to the people of the Jews, greetings. 35With regard to what Lysias the kinsman of the king has granted you, we also give consent. 36But as to the matters that he decided are to be referred to the king, as soon as you have considered them, send someone promptly so that we may make proposals appropriate for you. For we are on our way to Antioch. 37Therefore make haste and send messengers so that we may have your judgement. 38Farewell. The one hundred and forty-eighth year,* the fifteenth of Xanthicus.’

Incidents at Joppa and Jamnia

12When this agreement had been reached, Lysias returned to the king, and the Jews went about their farming.

2 But some of the governors in various places, Timothy and Apollonius son of Gennaeus, as well as Hieronymus and Demophon, and in addition to these Nicanor the governor of Cyprus, would not let them live quietly and in peace. 3And the people of Joppa did so ungodly a deed as this: they invited the Jews who lived among them to embark, with their wives and children, on boats that they had provided, as though there were no ill will to the Jews;* 4and this was done by public vote of the city. When they accepted, because they wished to live peaceably and suspected nothing, the people of Joppa* took them out to sea and drowned them, at least two hundred. 5When Judas heard of the cruelty visited on his compatriots, he gave orders to his men 6and, calling upon God, the righteous judge, attacked the murderers of his kindred. He set fire to the harbour by night, burned the boats, and massacred those who had taken refuge there. 7Then, because the city’s gates were closed, he withdrew, intending to come again and root out the whole community of Joppa. 8But learning that the people in Jamnia meant in the same way to wipe out the Jews who were living among them, 9he attacked the Jamnites by night and set fire to the harbour and the fleet, so that the glow of the light was seen in Jerusalem, thirty miles* distant.

The Campaign in Gilead

10 When they had gone more than a mile* from there, on their march against Timothy, at least five thousand Arabs with five hundred cavalry attacked them. 11After a hard fight, Judas and his companions, with God’s help, were victorious. The defeated nomads begged Judas to grant them pledges of friendship, promising to give him livestock and to help his people* in all other ways. 12Judas, realizing that they might indeed be useful in many ways, agreed to make peace with them; and after receiving his pledges they went back to their tents.

13 He also attacked a certain town that was strongly fortified with earthworks* and walls, and inhabited by all sorts of Gentiles. Its name was Caspin. 14Those who were within, relying on the strength of the walls and on their supply of provisions, behaved most insolently towards Judas and his men, railing at them and even blaspheming and saying unholy things. 15But Judas and his men, calling upon the great Sovereign of the world, who without battering-rams or engines of war overthrew Jericho in the days of Joshua, rushed furiously upon the walls. 16They took the town by the will of God, and slaughtered untold numbers, so that the adjoining lake, a quarter of a mile* wide, appeared to be running over with blood.

Judas Defeats Timothy’s Army

17 When they had gone ninety-five miles* from there, they came to Charax, to the Jews who are called Toubiani. 18They did not find Timothy in that region, for he had by then left there without accomplishing anything, though in one place he had left a very strong garrison. 19Dositheus and Sosipater, who were captains under Maccabeus, marched out and destroyed those whom Timothy had left in the stronghold, more than ten thousand men. 20But Maccabeus arranged his army in divisions, set men* in command of the divisions, and hurried after Timothy, who had with him one hundred and twenty thousand infantry and two thousand five hundred cavalry. 21When Timothy learned of the approach of Judas, he sent off the women and the children and also the baggage to a place called Carnaim; for that place was hard to besiege and difficult of access because of the narrowness of all the approaches. 22But when Judas’s first division appeared, terror and fear came over the enemy at the manifestation to them of him who sees all things. In their flight they rushed headlong in every direction, so that often they were injured by their own men and pierced by the points of their own swords. 23Judas pressed the pursuit with the utmost vigour, putting the sinners to the sword, and destroyed as many as thirty thousand.

24 Timothy himself fell into the hands of Dositheus and Sosipater and their men. With great guile he begged them to let him go in safety, because he held the parents of most of them, and the brothers of some, to whom no consideration would be shown. 25And when with many words he had confirmed his solemn promise to restore them unharmed, they let him go, for the sake of saving their kindred.

Judas Wins Other Victories

26 Then Judas* marched against Carnaim and the temple of Atargatis, and slaughtered twenty-five thousand people. 27After the rout and destruction of these, he marched also against Ephron, a fortified town where Lysias lived with multitudes of people of all nationalities.* Stalwart young men took their stand before the walls and made a vigorous defence; and great stores of war engines and missiles were there. 28But the Jews* called upon the Sovereign who with power shatters the might of his enemies, and they got the town into their hands, and killed as many as twenty-five thousand of those who were in it.

29 Setting out from there, they hastened to Scythopolis, which is seventy-five miles* from Jerusalem. 30But when the Jews who lived there bore witness to the goodwill that the people of Scythopolis had shown them and their kind treatment of them in times of misfortune, 31they thanked them and exhorted them to be well disposed to their race in the future also. Then they went up to Jerusalem, as the festival of weeks was close at hand.

Judas Defeats Gorgias

32 After the festival called Pentecost, they hurried against Gorgias, the governor of Idumea, 33who came out with three thousand infantry and four hundred cavalry. 34When they joined battle, it happened that a few of the Jews fell. 35But a certain Dositheus, one of Bacenor’s men, who was on horseback and was a strong man, caught hold of Gorgias, and grasping his cloak was dragging him off by main strength, wishing to take the accursed man alive, when one of the Thracian cavalry bore down on him and cut off his arm; so Gorgias escaped and reached Marisa.

36 As Esdris and his men had been fighting for a long time and were weary, Judas called upon the Lord to show himself their ally and leader in the battle. 37In the language of their ancestors he raised the battle-cry, with hymns; then he charged against Gorgias’s troops when they were not expecting it, and put them to flight.

Prayers for Those Killed in Battle

38 Then Judas assembled his army and went to the city of Adullam. As the seventh day was coming on, they purified themselves according to the custom, and kept the sabbath there.

39 On the next day, as had now become necessary, Judas and his men went to take up the bodies of the fallen and to bring them back to lie with their kindred in the sepulchres of their ancestors. 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.


For copyright reasons, a maximum of 278 verses may be displayed. A further 154 verses have been omitted.

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