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1 macc 2-3

Mattathias and His Sons

2In those days Mattathias son of John son of Simeon, a priest of the family of Joarib, moved from Jerusalem and settled in Modein. 2He had five sons, John surnamed Gaddi, 3Simon called Thassi, 4Judas called Maccabeus, 5Eleazar called Avaran, and Jonathan called Apphus. 6He saw the blasphemies being committed in Judah and Jerusalem, 7and said,
‘Alas! Why was I born to see this,
   the ruin of my people, the ruin of the holy city,
and to live there when it was given over to the enemy,
   the sanctuary given over to aliens?
8 Her temple has become like a person without honour;*
9   her glorious vessels have been carried into exile.
Her infants have been killed in her streets,
   her youths by the sword of the foe.
10 What nation has not inherited her palaces*
   and has not seized her spoils?
11 All her adornment has been taken away;
   no longer free, she has become a slave.
12 And see, our holy place, our beauty,
   and our glory have been laid waste;
the Gentiles have profaned them.
13   Why should we live any longer?’

14 Then Mattathias and his sons tore their clothes, put on sackcloth, and mourned greatly.

Pagan Worship Refused

15 The king’s officers who were enforcing the apostasy came to the town of Modein to make them offer sacrifice. 16Many from Israel came to them; and Mattathias and his sons were assembled. 17Then the king’s officers spoke to Mattathias as follows: ‘You are a leader, honoured and great in this town, and supported by sons and brothers. 18Now be the first to come and do what the king commands, as all the Gentiles and the people of Judah and those that are left in Jerusalem have done. Then you and your sons will be numbered among the Friends of the king, and you and your sons will be honoured with silver and gold and many gifts.’

19 But Mattathias answered and said in a loud voice: ‘Even if all the nations that live under the rule of the king obey him, and have chosen to obey his commandments, everyone of them abandoning the religion of their ancestors, 20I and my sons and my brothers will continue to live by the covenant of our ancestors. 21Far be it from us to desert the law and the ordinances. 22We will not obey the king’s words by turning aside from our religion to the right hand or to the left.’

23 When he had finished speaking these words, a Jew came forward in the sight of all to offer sacrifice on the altar in Modein, according to the king’s command. 24When Mattathias saw it, he burned with zeal and his heart was stirred. He gave vent to righteous anger; he ran and killed him on the altar. 25At the same time he killed the king’s officer who was forcing them to sacrifice, and he tore down the altar. 26Thus he burned with zeal for the law, just as Phinehas did against Zimri son of Salu.

27 Then Mattathias cried out in the town with a loud voice, saying: ‘Let everyone who is zealous for the law and supports the covenant come out with me!’ 28Then he and his sons fled to the hills and left all that they had in the town.

29 At that time many who were seeking righteousness and justice went down to the wilderness to live there, 30they, their sons, their wives, and their livestock, because troubles pressed heavily upon them. 31And it was reported to the king’s officers, and to the troops in Jerusalem the city of David, that those who had rejected the king’s command had gone down to the hiding-places in the wilderness. 32Many pursued them, and overtook them; they encamped opposite them and prepared for battle against them on the sabbath day. 33They said to them, ‘Enough of this! Come out and do what the king commands, and you will live.’ 34But they said, ‘We will not come out, nor will we do what the king commands and so profane the sabbath day.’ 35Then the enemy* quickly attacked them. 36But they did not answer them or hurl a stone at them or block up their hiding-places, 37for they said, ‘Let us all die in our innocence; heaven and earth testify for us that you are killing us unjustly.’ 38So they attacked them on the sabbath, and they died, with their wives and children and livestock, to the number of a thousand people.

39 When Mattathias and his friends learned of it, they mourned for them deeply. 40And all said to their neighbours: ‘If we all do as our kindred have done and refuse to fight with the Gentiles for our lives and for our ordinances, they will quickly destroy us from the earth.’ 41So they made this decision that day: ‘Let us fight against anyone who comes to attack us on the sabbath day; let us not all die as our kindred died in their hiding-places.’

Counter-Attack

42 Then there united with them a company of Hasideans, mighty warriors of Israel, all who offered themselves willingly for the law. 43And all who became fugitives to escape their troubles joined them and reinforced them. 44They organized an army, and struck down sinners in their anger and renegades in their wrath; the survivors fled to the Gentiles for safety. 45And Mattathias and his friends went around and tore down the altars; 46they forcibly circumcised all the uncircumcised boys that they found within the borders of Israel. 47They hunted down the arrogant, and the work prospered in their hands. 48They rescued the law out of the hands of the Gentiles and kings, and they never let the sinner gain the upper hand.

The Last Words of Mattathias

49 Now the days drew near for Mattathias to die, and he said to his sons: ‘Arrogance and scorn have now become strong; it is a time of ruin and furious anger. 50Now, my children, show zeal for the law, and give your lives for the covenant of our ancestors.

51 ‘Remember the deeds of the ancestors, which they did in their generations; and you will receive great honour and an everlasting name. 52Was not Abraham found faithful when tested, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness? 53Joseph in the time of his distress kept the commandment, and became lord of Egypt. 54Phinehas our ancestor, because he was deeply zealous, received the covenant of everlasting priesthood. 55Joshua, because he fulfilled the command, became a judge in Israel. 56Caleb, because he testified in the assembly, received an inheritance in the land. 57David, because he was merciful, inherited the throne of the kingdom for ever. 58Elijah, because of great zeal for the law, was taken up into heaven. 59Hananiah, Azariah, and Mishael believed and were saved from the flame. 60Daniel, because of his innocence, was delivered from the mouth of the lions.

61 ‘And so observe, from generation to generation, that none of those who put their trust in him will lack strength. 62Do not fear the words of sinners, for their splendour will turn into dung and worms. 63Today they will be exalted, but tomorrow they will not be found, because they will have returned to the dust, and their plans will have perished. 64My children, be courageous and grow strong in the law, for by it you will gain honour.

65 ‘Here is your brother Simeon who, I know, is wise in counsel; always listen to him; he shall be your father. 66Judas Maccabeus has been a mighty warrior from his youth; he shall command the army for you and fight the battle against the peoples.* 67You shall rally around you all who observe the law, and avenge the wrong done to your people. 68Pay back the Gentiles in full, and obey the commands of the law.’

69 Then he blessed them, and was gathered to his ancestors. 70He died in the one hundred and forty-sixth year* and was buried in the tomb of his ancestors at Modein. And all Israel mourned for him with great lamentation.

The Early Victories of Judas

3Then his son Judas, who was called Maccabeus, took command in his place. 2All his brothers and all who had joined his father helped him; they gladly fought for Israel.
3 He extended the glory of his people.
   Like a giant he put on his breastplate;
he bound on his armour of war and waged battles,
   protecting the camp by his sword.
4 He was like a lion in his deeds,
   like a lion’s cub roaring for prey.
5 He searched out and pursued those who broke the law;
   he burned those who troubled his people.
6 Lawbreakers shrank back for fear of him;
   all the evildoers were confounded;
   and deliverance prospered by his hand.
7 He embittered many kings,
   but he made Jacob glad by his deeds,
   and his memory is blessed for ever.
8 He went through the cities of Judah;
   he destroyed the ungodly out of the land;*
   thus he turned away wrath from Israel.
9 He was renowned to the ends of the earth;
   he gathered in those who were perishing.

10 Apollonius now gathered together Gentiles and a large force from Samaria to fight against Israel. 11When Judas learned of it, he went out to meet him, and he defeated and killed him. Many were wounded and fell, and the rest fled. 12Then they seized their spoils; and Judas took the sword of Apollonius, and used it in battle for the rest of his life.

13 When Seron, the commander of the Syrian army, heard that Judas had gathered a large company, including a body of faithful soldiers who stayed with him and went out to battle, 14he said, ‘I will make a name for myself and win honour in the kingdom. I will make war on Judas and his companions, who scorn the king’s command.’ 15Once again a strong army of godless men went up with him to help him, to take vengeance on the Israelites.

16 When he approached the ascent of Beth-horon, Judas went out to meet him with a small company. 17But when they saw the army coming to meet them, they said to Judas, ‘How can we, few as we are, fight against so great and so strong a multitude? And we are faint, for we have eaten nothing today.’ 18Judas replied, ‘It is easy for many to be hemmed in by few, for in the sight of Heaven there is no difference between saving by many or by few. 19It is not on the size of the army that victory in battle depends, but strength comes from Heaven. 20They come against us in great insolence and lawlessness to destroy us and our wives and our children, and to despoil us; 21but we fight for our lives and our laws. 22He himself will crush them before us; as for you, do not be afraid of them.’

23 When he finished speaking, he rushed suddenly against Seron and his army, and they were crushed before him. 24They pursued them* down the descent of Beth-horon to the plain; eight hundred of them fell, and the rest fled into the land of the Philistines. 25Then Judas and his brothers began to be feared, and terror fell on the Gentiles all around them. 26His fame reached the king, and the Gentiles talked of the battles of Judas.

The Policy of Antiochus

27 When King Antiochus heard these reports, he was greatly angered; and he sent and gathered all the forces of his kingdom, a very strong army. 28He opened his coffers and gave a year’s pay to his forces, and ordered them to be ready for any need. 29Then he saw that the money in the treasury was exhausted, and that the revenues from the country were small because of the dissension and disaster that he had caused in the land by abolishing the laws that had existed from the earliest days. 30He feared that he might not have such funds as he had before for his expenses and for the gifts that he used to give more lavishly than preceding kings. 31He was greatly perplexed in mind; then he determined to go to Persia and collect the revenues from those regions and raise a large fund.

32 He left Lysias, a distinguished man of royal lineage, in charge of the king’s affairs from the river Euphrates to the borders of Egypt. 33Lysias was also to take care of his son Antiochus until he returned. 34And he turned over to Lysias* half of his forces and the elephants, and gave him orders about all that he wanted done. As for the residents of Judea and Jerusalem, 35Lysias was to send a force against them to wipe out and destroy the strength of Israel and the remnant of Jerusalem; he was to banish the memory of them from the place, 36settle aliens in all their territory, and distribute their land by lot. 37Then the king took the remaining half of his forces and left Antioch his capital in the one hundred and forty-seventh year.* He crossed the Euphrates river and went through the upper provinces.

Preparations for Battle

38 Lysias chose Ptolemy son of Dorymenes, and Nicanor and Gorgias, able men among the Friends of the king, 39and sent with them forty thousand infantry and seven thousand cavalry to go into the land of Judah and destroy it, as the king had commanded. 40So they set out with their entire force, and when they arrived they encamped near Emmaus in the plain. 41When the traders of the region heard what was said to them, they took silver and gold in immense amounts, and fetters,* and went to the camp to get the Israelites for slaves. And forces from Syria and the land of the Philistines joined with them.

42 Now Judas and his brothers saw that misfortunes had increased and that the forces were encamped in their territory. They also learned what the king had commanded to be done to the people to cause their final destruction. 43But they said to one another, ‘Let us restore the ruins of our people, and fight for our people and the sanctuary.’ 44So the congregation assembled to be ready for battle, and to pray and ask for mercy and compassion.
45 Jerusalem was uninhabited like a wilderness;
   not one of her children went in or out.
The sanctuary was trampled down,
   and aliens held the citadel;
   it was a lodging-place for the Gentiles.
Joy was taken from Jacob;
   the flute and the harp ceased to play.

46 Then they gathered together and went to Mizpah, opposite Jerusalem, because Israel formerly had a place of prayer in Mizpah. 47They fasted that day, put on sackcloth and sprinkled ashes on their heads, and tore their clothes. 48And they opened the book of the law to inquire into those matters about which the Gentiles consulted the images of their gods. 49They also brought the vestments of the priesthood and the first fruits and the tithes, and they stirred up the nazirites* who had completed their days; 50and they cried aloud to Heaven, saying,
‘What shall we do with these?
   Where shall we take them?
51 Your sanctuary is trampled down and profaned,
   and your priests mourn in humiliation.
52 Here the Gentiles are assembled against us to destroy us;
   you know what they plot against us.
53 How will we be able to withstand them,
   if you do not help us?’

54 Then they sounded the trumpets and gave a loud shout. 55After this Judas appointed leaders of the people, in charge of thousands and hundreds and fifties and tens. 56Those who were building houses, or were about to be married, or were planting a vineyard, or were faint-hearted, he told to go home again, in accordance with the law. 57Then the army marched out and encamped to the south of Emmaus.

58 And Judas said, ‘Arm yourselves and be courageous. Be ready early in the morning to fight with these Gentiles who have assembled against us to destroy us and our sanctuary. 59It is better for us to die in battle than to see the misfortunes of our nation and of the sanctuary. 60But as his will in heaven may be, so shall he do.’

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oremus Bible Browser
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v 2.2.7
10 February 2011

From the oremus Bible Browser http://bible.oremus.org v2.2.7 10 February 2011.