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1 Maccabees

1 MACCABEES

Alexander the Great

1After Alexander son of Philip, the Macedonian, who came from the land of Kittim, had defeated* King Darius of the Persians and the Medes, he succeeded him as king. (He had previously become king of Greece.) 2He fought many battles, conquered strongholds, and put to death the kings of the earth. 3He advanced to the ends of the earth, and plundered many nations. When the earth became quiet before him, he was exalted, and his heart was lifted up. 4He gathered a very strong army and ruled over countries, nations, and princes, and they became tributary to him.

5 After this he fell sick and perceived that he was dying. 6So he summoned his most honoured officers, who had been brought up with him from youth, and divided his kingdom among them while he was still alive. 7And after Alexander had reigned for twelve years, he died.

8 Then his officers began to rule, each in his own place. 9They all put on crowns after his death, and so did their descendants after them for many years; and they caused many evils on the earth.

Antiochus Epiphanes and Renegade Jews

10 From them came forth a sinful root, Antiochus Epiphanes, son of King Antiochus; he had been a hostage in Rome. He began to reign in the one hundred and thirty-seventh year of the kingdom of the Greeks.*

11 In those days certain renegades came out from Israel and misled many, saying, ‘Let us go and make a covenant with the Gentiles around us, for since we separated from them many disasters have come upon us.’ 12This proposal pleased them, 13and some of the people eagerly went to the king, who authorized them to observe the ordinances of the Gentiles. 14So they built a gymnasium in Jerusalem, according to Gentile custom, 15and removed the marks of circumcision, and abandoned the holy covenant. They joined with the Gentiles and sold themselves to do evil.

Antiochus in Egypt

16 When Antiochus saw that his kingdom was established, he determined to become king of the land of Egypt, in order that he might reign over both kingdoms. 17So he invaded Egypt with a strong force, with chariots and elephants and cavalry and with a large fleet. 18He engaged King Ptolemy of Egypt in battle, and Ptolemy turned and fled before him, and many were wounded and fell. 19They captured the fortified cities in the land of Egypt, and he plundered the land of Egypt.

Persecution of the Jews

20 After subduing Egypt, Antiochus returned in the one hundred and forty-third year.* He went up against Israel and came to Jerusalem with a strong force. 21He arrogantly entered the sanctuary and took the golden altar, the lampstand for the light, and all its utensils. 22He took also the table for the bread of the Presence, the cups for drink-offerings, the bowls, the golden censers, the curtain, the crowns, and the gold decoration on the front of the temple; he stripped it all off. 23He took the silver and the gold, and the costly vessels; he took also the hidden treasures that he found. 24Taking them all, he went into his own land.
He shed much blood,
   and spoke with great arrogance.
25 Israel mourned deeply in every community,
26   rulers and elders groaned,
young women and young men became faint,
   the beauty of the women faded.
27 Every bridegroom took up the lament;
   she who sat in the bridal chamber was mourning.
28 Even the land trembled for its inhabitants,
   and all the house of Jacob was clothed with shame.

The Occupation of Jerusalem

29 Two years later the king sent to the cities of Judah a chief collector of tribute, and he came to Jerusalem with a large force. 30Deceitfully he spoke peaceable words to them, and they believed him; but he suddenly fell upon the city, dealt it a severe blow, and destroyed many people of Israel. 31He plundered the city, burned it with fire, and tore down its houses and its surrounding walls. 32They took captive the women and children, and seized the livestock. 33Then they fortified the city of David with a great strong wall and strong towers, and it became their citadel. 34They stationed there a sinful people, men who were renegades. These strengthened their position; 35they stored up arms and food, and collecting the spoils of Jerusalem they stored them there, and became a great menace,
36 for the citadel* became an ambush against the sanctuary,
   an evil adversary of Israel at all times.
37 On every side of the sanctuary they shed innocent blood;
   they even defiled the sanctuary.
38 Because of them the residents of Jerusalem fled;
   she became a dwelling of strangers;
she became strange to her offspring,
   and her children forsook her.
39 Her sanctuary became desolate like a desert;
   her feasts were turned into mourning,
her sabbaths into a reproach,
   her honour into contempt.
40 Her dishonour now grew as great as her glory;
   her exaltation was turned into mourning.

Installation of Gentile Cults

41 Then the king wrote to his whole kingdom that all should be one people, 42and that all should give up their particular customs. 43All the Gentiles accepted the command of the king. Many even from Israel gladly adopted his religion; they sacrificed to idols and profaned the sabbath. 44And the king sent letters by messengers to Jerusalem and the towns of Judah; he directed them to follow customs strange to the land, 45to forbid burnt-offerings and sacrifices and drink-offerings in the sanctuary, to profane sabbaths and festivals, 46to defile the sanctuary and the priests, 47to build altars and sacred precincts and shrines for idols, to sacrifice swine and other unclean animals, 48and to leave their sons uncircumcised. They were to make themselves abominable by everything unclean and profane, 49so that they would forget the law and change all the ordinances. 50He added,* ‘And whoever does not obey the command of the king shall die.’

51 In such words he wrote to his whole kingdom. He appointed inspectors over all the people and commanded the towns of Judah to offer sacrifice, town by town. 52Many of the people, everyone who forsook the law, joined them, and they did evil in the land; 53they drove Israel into hiding in every place of refuge they had.

54 Now on the fifteenth day of Chislev, in the one hundred and forty-fifth year,* they erected a desolating sacrilege on the altar of burnt-offering. They also built altars in the surrounding towns of Judah, 55and offered incense at the doors of the houses and in the streets. 56The books of the law that they found they tore to pieces and burned with fire. 57Anyone found possessing the book of the covenant, or anyone who adhered to the law, was condemned to death by decree of the king. 58They kept using violence against Israel, against those who were found month after month in the towns. 59On the twenty-fifth day of the month they offered sacrifice on the altar that was on top of the altar of burnt-offering. 60In accordance with the decree, they put to death the women who had their children circumcised, 61and their families and those who circumcised them; and they hung the infants from their mothers’ necks.

62 But many in Israel stood firm and were resolved in their hearts not to eat unclean food. 63They chose to die rather than to be defiled by food or to profane the holy covenant; and they did die. 64Very great wrath came upon Israel.

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.’

The Battle at Emmaus

4Now Gorgias took five thousand infantry and one thousand picked cavalry, and this division moved out by night 2to fall upon the camp of the Jews and attack them suddenly. Men from the citadel were his guides. 3But Judas heard of it, and he and his warriors moved out to attack the king’s force in Emmaus 4while the division was still absent from the camp. 5When Gorgias entered the camp of Judas by night, he found no one there, so he looked for them in the hills, because he said, ‘These men are running away from us.’

6 At daybreak Judas appeared in the plain with three thousand men, but they did not have armour and swords such as they desired. 7And they saw the camp of the Gentiles, strong and fortified, with cavalry all around it; and these men were trained in war. 8But Judas said to those who were with him, ‘Do not fear their numbers or be afraid when they charge. 9Remember how our ancestors were saved at the Red Sea, when Pharaoh with his forces pursued them. 10And now, let us cry to Heaven, to see whether he will favour us and remember his covenant with our ancestors and crush this army before us today. 11Then all the Gentiles will know that there is one who redeems and saves Israel.’

12 When the foreigners looked up and saw them coming against them, 13they went out from their camp to battle. Then the men with Judas blew their trumpets 14and engaged in battle. The Gentiles were crushed, and fled into the plain, 15and all those in the rear fell by the sword. They pursued them to Gazara, and to the plains of Idumea, and to Azotus and Jamnia; and three thousand of them fell. 16Then Judas and his force turned back from pursuing them, 17and he said to the people, ‘Do not be greedy for plunder, for there is a battle before us; 18Gorgias and his force are near us in the hills. But stand now against our enemies and fight them, and afterwards seize the plunder boldly.’

19 Just as Judas was finishing this speech, a detachment appeared, coming out of the hills. 20They saw that their army* had been put to flight, and that the Jews* were burning the camp, for the smoke that was seen showed what had happened. 21When they perceived this, they were greatly frightened, and when they also saw the army of Judas drawn up in the plain for battle, 22they all fled into the land of the Philistines. 23Then Judas returned to plunder the camp, and they seized a great amount of gold and silver, and cloth dyed blue and sea purple, and great riches. 24On their return they sang hymns and praises to Heaven—‘For he is good, for his mercy endures for ever.’ 25Thus Israel had a great deliverance that day.

First Campaign of Lysias

26 Those of the foreigners who escaped went and reported to Lysias all that had happened. 27When he heard it, he was perplexed and discouraged, for things had not happened to Israel as he had intended, nor had they turned out as the king had ordered. 28But the next year he mustered sixty thousand picked infantry and five thousand cavalry to subdue them. 29They came into Idumea and encamped at Beth-zur, and Judas met them with ten thousand men.

30 When he saw that their army was strong, he prayed, saying, ‘Blessed are you, O Saviour of Israel, who crushed the attack of the mighty warrior by the hand of your servant David, and gave the camp of the Philistines into the hands of Jonathan son of Saul, and of the man who carried his armour. 31Hem in this army by the hand of your people Israel, and let them be ashamed of their troops and their cavalry. 32Fill them with cowardice; melt the boldness of their strength; let them tremble in their destruction. 33Strike them down with the sword of those who love you, and let all who know your name praise you with hymns.’

34 Then both sides attacked, and there fell of the army of Lysias five thousand men; they fell in action.* 35When Lysias saw the rout of his troops and observed the boldness that inspired those of Judas, and how ready they were either to live or to die nobly, he withdrew to Antioch and enlisted mercenaries in order to invade Judea again with an even larger army.

Cleansing and Dedication of the Temple

36 Then Judas and his brothers said, ‘See, our enemies are crushed; let us go up to cleanse the sanctuary and dedicate it.’ 37So all the army assembled and went up to Mount Zion. 38There they saw the sanctuary desolate, the altar profaned, and the gates burned. In the courts they saw bushes sprung up as in a thicket, or as on one of the mountains. They saw also the chambers of the priests in ruins. 39Then they tore their clothes and mourned with great lamentation; they sprinkled themselves with ashes 40and fell face down on the ground. And when the signal was given with the trumpets, they cried out to Heaven.

41 Then Judas detailed men to fight against those in the citadel until he had cleansed the sanctuary. 42He chose blameless priests devoted to the law, 43and they cleansed the sanctuary and removed the defiled stones to an unclean place. 44They deliberated what to do about the altar of burnt-offering, which had been profaned. 45And they thought it best to tear it down, so that it would not be a lasting shame to them that the Gentiles had defiled it. So they tore down the altar, 46and stored the stones in a convenient place on the temple hill until a prophet should come to tell what to do with them. 47Then they took unhewn* stones, as the law directs, and built a new altar like the former one. 48They also rebuilt the sanctuary and the interior of the temple, and consecrated the courts. 49They made new holy vessels, and brought the lampstand, the altar of incense, and the table into the temple. 50Then they offered incense on the altar and lit the lamps on the lampstand, and these gave light in the temple. 51They placed the bread on the table and hung up the curtains. Thus they finished all the work they had undertaken.

52 Early in the morning on the twenty-fifth day of the ninth month, which is the month of Chislev, in the one hundred and forty-eighth year,* 53they rose and offered sacrifice, as the law directs, on the new altar of burnt-offering that they had built. 54At the very season and on the very day that the Gentiles had profaned it, it was dedicated with songs and harps and lutes and cymbals. 55All the people fell on their faces and worshipped and blessed Heaven, who had prospered them. 56So they celebrated the dedication of the altar for eight days, and joyfully offered burnt-offerings; they offered a sacrifice of well-being and a thanksgiving-offering. 57They decorated the front of the temple with golden crowns and small shields; they restored the gates and the chambers for the priests, and fitted them with doors. 58There was very great joy among the people, and the disgrace brought by the Gentiles was removed.

59 Then Judas and his brothers and all the assembly of Israel determined that every year at that season the days of dedication of the altar should be observed with joy and gladness for eight days, beginning with the twenty-fifth day of the month of Chislev.

60 At that time they fortified Mount Zion with high walls and strong towers all round, to keep the Gentiles from coming and trampling them down as they had done before. 61Judas* stationed a garrison there to guard it; he also fortified Beth-zur to guard it, so that the people might have a stronghold that faced Idumea.

Wars with Neighbouring Peoples

5When the Gentiles all around heard that the altar had been rebuilt and the sanctuary dedicated as it was before, they became very angry, 2and they determined to destroy the descendants of Jacob who lived among them. So they began to kill and destroy among the people. 3But Judas made war on the descendants of Esau in Idumea, at Akrabattene, because they kept lying in wait for Israel. He dealt them a heavy blow and humbled them and despoiled them. 4He also remembered the wickedness of the sons of Baean, who were a trap and a snare to the people and ambushed them on the highways. 5They were shut up by him in their* towers; and he encamped against them, vowed their complete destruction, and burned with fire their towers and all who were in them. 6Then he crossed over to attack the Ammonites, where he found a strong band and many people, with Timothy as their leader. 7He engaged in many battles with them, and they were crushed before him; he struck them down. 8He also took Jazer and its villages; then he returned to Judea.

Liberation of Galilean Jews

9 Now the Gentiles in Gilead gathered together against the Israelites who lived in their territory, and planned to destroy them. But they fled to the stronghold of Dathema, 10and sent to Judas and his brothers a letter that said, ‘The Gentiles around us have gathered together to destroy us. 11They are preparing to come and capture the stronghold to which we have fled, and Timothy is leading their forces. 12Now then, come and rescue us from their hands, for many of us have fallen, 13and all our kindred who were in the land of Tob have been killed; the enemy* have captured their wives and children and goods, and have destroyed about a thousand people there.’

14 While the letter was still being read, other messengers, with their garments torn, came from Galilee and made a similar report; 15they said that the people of Ptolemais and Tyre and Sidon, and all Galilee of the Gentiles,* had gathered together against them ‘to annihilate us.’ 16When Judas and the people heard these messages, a great assembly was called to determine what they should do for their kindred who were in distress and were being attacked by enemies.* 17Then Judas said to his brother Simon, ‘Choose your men and go and rescue your kindred in Galilee; Jonathan my brother and I will go to Gilead.’ 18But he left Joseph, son of Zechariah, and Azariah, a leader of the people, with the rest of the forces, in Judea to guard it; 19and he gave them this command, ‘Take charge of this people, but do not engage in battle with the Gentiles until we return.’ 20Then three thousand men were assigned to Simon to go to Galilee, and eight thousand to Judas for Gilead.

21 So Simon went to Galilee and fought many battles against the Gentiles, and the Gentiles were crushed before him. 22He pursued them to the gate of Ptolemais; as many as three thousand of the Gentiles fell, and he despoiled them. 23Then he took the Jews* of Galilee and Arbatta, with their wives and children, and all they possessed, and led them to Judea with great rejoicing.

Judas and Jonathan in Gilead

24 Judas Maccabeus and his brother Jonathan crossed the Jordan and made three days’ journey into the wilderness. 25They encountered the Nabateans, who met them peaceably and told them all that had happened to their kindred in Gilead: 26‘Many of them have been shut up in Bozrah and Bosor, in Alema and Chaspho, Maked and Carnaim’—all these towns were strong and large— 27‘and some have been shut up in the other towns of Gilead; the enemy* are getting ready to attack the strongholds tomorrow and capture and destroy all these people in a single day.’

28 Then Judas and his army quickly turned back by the wilderness road to Bozrah; and he took the town, and killed every male by the edge of the sword; then he seized all its spoils and burned it with fire. 29He left the place at night, and they went all the way to the stronghold of Dathema.* 30At dawn they looked out and saw a large company, which could not be counted, carrying ladders and engines of war to capture the stronghold, and attacking the Jews within.* 31So Judas saw that the battle had begun and that the cry of the town went up to Heaven, with trumpets and loud shouts, 32and he said to the men of his forces, ‘Fight today for your kindred!’ 33Then he came up behind them in three companies, who sounded their trumpets and cried aloud in prayer. 34And when the army of Timothy realized that it was Maccabeus, they fled before him, and he dealt them a heavy blow. As many as eight thousand of them fell that day.

35 Next he turned aside to Maapha,* and fought against it and took it; and he killed every male in it, plundered it, and burned it with fire. 36From there he marched on and took Chaspho, Maked, and Bosor, and the other towns of Gilead.

37 After these things Timothy gathered another army and encamped opposite Raphon, on the other side of the stream. 38Judas sent men to spy out the camp, and they reported to him, ‘All the Gentiles around us have gathered to him; it is a very large force. 39They also have hired Arabs to help them, and they are encamped across the stream, ready to come and fight against you.’ And Judas went to meet them.

40 Now as Judas and his army drew near to the stream of water, Timothy said to the officers of his forces, ‘If he crosses over to us first, we will not be able to resist him, for he will surely defeat us. 41But if he shows fear and camps on the other side of the river, we will cross over to him and defeat him.’ 42When Judas approached the stream of water, he stationed the officers* of the army at the stream and gave them this command, ‘Permit no one to encamp, but make them all enter the battle.’ 43Then he crossed over against them first, and the whole army followed him. All the Gentiles were defeated before him, and they threw away their arms and fled into the sacred precincts at Carnaim. 44But he took the town and burned the sacred precincts with fire, together with all who were in them. Thus Carnaim was conquered; they could stand before Judas no longer.

The Return to Jerusalem

45 Then Judas gathered together all the Israelites in Gilead, the small and the great, with their wives and children and goods, a very large company, to go to the land of Judah. 46So they came to Ephron. This was a large and very strong town on the road, and they could not go around it to the right or to the left; they had to go through it. 47But the people of the town shut them out and blocked up the gates with stones.

48 Judas sent them this friendly message, ‘Let us pass through your land to get to our land. No one will do you harm; we will simply pass by on foot.’ But they refused to open to him. 49Then Judas ordered proclamation to be made to the army that all should encamp where they were. 50So the men of the forces encamped, and he fought against the town all that day and all the night, and the town was delivered into his hands. 51He destroyed every male by the edge of the sword, and razed and plundered the town. Then he passed through the town over the bodies of the dead.

52 Then they crossed the Jordan into the large plain before Beth-shan. 53Judas kept rallying the laggards and encouraging the people all the way until he came to the land of Judah. 54So they went up to Mount Zion with joy and gladness, and offered burnt-offerings, because they had returned in safety; not one of them had fallen.

Joseph and Azariah Defeated

55 Now while Judas and Jonathan were in Gilead and their* brother Simon was in Galilee before Ptolemais, 56Joseph son of Zechariah, and Azariah, the commanders of the forces, heard of their brave deeds and of the heroic war they had fought. 57So they said, ‘Let us also make a name for ourselves; let us go and make war on the Gentiles around us.’ 58So they issued orders to the men of the forces that were with them and marched against Jamnia. 59Gorgias and his men came out of the town to meet them in battle. 60Then Joseph and Azariah were routed, and were pursued to the borders of Judea; as many as two thousand of the people of Israel fell that day. 61Thus the people suffered a great rout because, thinking to do a brave deed, they did not listen to Judas and his brothers. 62But they did not belong to the family of those men through whom deliverance was given to Israel.

63 The man Judas and his brothers were greatly honoured in all Israel and among all the Gentiles, wherever their name was heard. 64People gathered to them and praised them.

Success at Hebron and Philistia

65 Then Judas and his brothers went out and fought the descendants of Esau in the land to the south. He struck Hebron and its villages and tore down its strongholds and burned its towers on all sides. 66Then he marched off to go into the land of the Philistines, and passed through Marisa.* 67On that day some priests, who wished to do a brave deed, fell in battle, for they went out to battle unwisely. 68But Judas turned aside to Azotus in the land of the Philistines; he tore down their altars, and the carved images of their gods he burned with fire; he plundered the towns and returned to the land of Judah.

The Last Days of Antiochus Epiphanes

6King Antiochus was going through the upper provinces when he heard that Elymais in Persia was a city famed for its wealth in silver and gold. 2Its temple was very rich, containing golden shields, breastplates, and weapons left there by Alexander son of Philip, the Macedonian king who first reigned over the Greeks. 3So he came and tried to take the city and plunder it, but he could not because his plan had become known to the citizens 4and they withstood him in battle. So he fled and in great disappointment left there to return to Babylon.

5 Then someone came to him in Persia and reported that the armies that had gone into the land of Judah had been routed; 6that Lysias had gone first with a strong force, but had turned and fled before the Jews;* that the Jews* had grown strong from the arms, supplies, and abundant spoils that they had taken from the armies they had cut down; 7that they had torn down the abomination that he had erected on the altar in Jerusalem; and that they had surrounded the sanctuary with high walls as before, and also Beth-zur, his town.

8 When the king heard this news, he was astounded and badly shaken. He took to his bed and became sick from disappointment, because things had not turned out for him as he had planned. 9He lay there for many days, because deep disappointment continually gripped him, and he realized that he was dying. 10So he called all his Friends and said to them, ‘Sleep has departed from my eyes and I am downhearted with worry. 11I said to myself, “To what distress I have come! And into what a great flood I now am plunged! For I was kind and beloved in my power.” 12But now I remember the wrong I did in Jerusalem. I seized all its vessels of silver and gold, and I sent to destroy the inhabitants of Judah without good reason. 13I know that it is because of this that these misfortunes have come upon me; here I am, perishing of bitter disappointment in a strange land.’

14 Then he called for Philip, one of his Friends, and made him ruler over all his kingdom. 15He gave him the crown and his robe and the signet, so that he might guide his son Antiochus and bring him up to be king. 16Thus King Antiochus died there in the one hundred and forty-ninth year.* 17When Lysias learned that the king was dead, he set up Antiochus the king’s* son to reign. Lysias* had brought him up from boyhood; he named him Eupator.

Renewed Attacks from Syria

18 Meanwhile the garrison in the citadel kept hemming Israel in around the sanctuary. They were trying in every way to harm them and strengthen the Gentiles. 19Judas therefore resolved to destroy them, and assembled all the people to besiege them. 20They gathered together and besieged the citadel* in the one hundred and fiftieth year;* and he built siege-towers and other engines of war. 21But some of the garrison escaped from the siege and some of the ungodly Israelites joined them. 22They went to the king and said, ‘How long will you fail to do justice and to avenge our kindred? 23We were happy to serve your father, to live by what he said, and to follow his commands. 24For this reason the sons of our people besieged the citadel* and became hostile to us; moreover, they have put to death as many of us as they have caught, and they have seized our inheritances. 25It is not against us alone that they have stretched out their hands; they have also attacked all the lands on their borders. 26And see, today they have encamped against the citadel in Jerusalem to take it; they have fortified both the sanctuary and Beth-zur; 27unless you quickly prevent them, they will do still greater things, and you will not be able to stop them.’

28 The king was enraged when he heard this. He assembled all his Friends, the commanders of his forces and those in authority.* 29Mercenary forces also came to him from other kingdoms and from islands of the seas. 30The number of his forces was one hundred thousand foot-soldiers, twenty thousand horsemen, and thirty-two elephants accustomed to war. 31They came through Idumea and encamped against Beth-zur, and for many days they fought and built engines of war; but the Jews* sallied out and burned these with fire, and fought courageously.

The Battle at Beth-zechariah

32 Then Judas marched away from the citadel and encamped at Beth-zechariah, opposite the camp of the king. 33Early in the morning the king set out and took his army by a forced march along the road to Beth-zechariah, and his troops made ready for battle and sounded their trumpets. 34They offered the elephants the juice of grapes and mulberries, to arouse them for battle. 35They distributed the animals among the phalanxes; with each elephant they stationed a thousand men armed with coats of mail, and with brass helmets on their heads; and five hundred picked horsemen were assigned to each beast. 36These took their position beforehand wherever the animal was; wherever it went, they went with it, and they never left it. 37On the elephants* were wooden towers, strong and covered; they were fastened on each animal by special harness, and on each were four* armed men who fought from there, and also its Indian driver. 38The rest of the cavalry were stationed on either side, on the two flanks of the army, to harass the enemy while being themselves protected by the phalanxes. 39When the sun shone on the shields of gold and brass, the hills were ablaze with them and gleamed like flaming torches.

40 Now a part of the king’s army was spread out on the high hills, and some troops were on the plain, and they advanced steadily and in good order. 41All who heard the noise made by their multitude, by the marching of the multitude and the clanking of their arms, trembled, for the army was very large and strong. 42But Judas and his army advanced to the battle, and six hundred of the king’s army fell. 43Now Eleazar, called Avaran, saw that one of the animals was equipped with royal armour. It was taller than all the others, and he supposed that the king was on it. 44So he gave his life to save his people and to win for himself an everlasting name. 45He courageously ran into the midst of the phalanx to reach it; he killed men right and left, and they parted before him on both sides. 46He got under the elephant, stabbed it from beneath, and killed it; but it fell to the ground upon him and he died. 47When the Jews* saw the royal might and the fierce attack of the forces, they turned away in flight.

The Siege of the Temple

48 The soldiers of the king’s army went up to Jerusalem against them, and the king encamped in Judea and at Mount Zion. 49He made peace with the people of Beth-zur, and they evacuated the town because they had no provisions there to withstand a siege, since it was a sabbatical year for the land. 50So the king took Beth-zur and stationed a guard there to hold it. 51Then he encamped before the sanctuary for many days. He set up siege-towers, engines of war to throw fire and stones, machines to shoot arrows, and catapults. 52The Jews* also made engines of war to match theirs, and fought for many days. 53But they had no food in storage,* because it was the seventh year; those who had found safety in Judea from the Gentiles had consumed the last of the stores. 54Only a few men were left in the sanctuary; the rest scattered to their own homes, for the famine proved too much for them.

Syria Offers Terms

55 Then Lysias heard that Philip, whom King Antiochus while still living had appointed to bring up his son Antiochus to be king, 56had returned from Persia and Media with the forces that had gone with the king, and that he was trying to seize control of the government. 57So he quickly gave orders to withdraw, and said to the king, to the commanders of the forces, and to the troops, ‘Daily we grow weaker, our food supply is scant, the place against which we are fighting is strong, and the affairs of the kingdom press urgently on us. 58Now then, let us come to terms with these people, and make peace with them and with all their nation. 59Let us agree to let them live by their laws as they did before; for it was on account of their laws that we abolished that they became angry and did all these things.’

60 The speech pleased the king and the commanders, and he sent to the Jews* an offer of peace, and they accepted it. 61So the king and the commanders gave them their oath. On these conditions the Jews* evacuated the stronghold. 62But when the king entered Mount Zion and saw what a strong fortress the place was, he broke the oath he had sworn and gave orders to tear down the wall all round. 63Then he set off in haste and returned to Antioch. He found Philip in control of the city, but he fought against him, and took the city by force.

Expedition of Bacchides and Alcimus

7In the one hundred and fifty-first year* Demetrius son of Seleucus set out from Rome, sailed with a few men to a town by the sea, and there began to reign. 2As he was entering the royal palace of his ancestors, the army seized Antiochus and Lysias to bring them to him. 3But when this act became known to him, he said, ‘Do not let me see their faces!’ 4So the army killed them, and Demetrius took his seat on the throne of his kingdom.

5 Then there came to him all the renegade and godless men of Israel; they were led by Alcimus, who wanted to be high priest. 6They brought to the king this accusation against the people: ‘Judas and his brothers have destroyed all your Friends, and have driven us out of our land. 7Now then, send a man whom you trust; let him go and see all the ruin that Judas* has brought on us and on the land of the king, and let him punish them and all who help them.’

8 So the king chose Bacchides, one of the king’s Friends, governor of the province Beyond the River; he was a great man in the kingdom and was faithful to the king. 9He sent him, and with him he sent the ungodly Alcimus, whom he made high priest; and he commanded him to take vengeance on the Israelites. 10So they marched away and came with a large force into the land of Judah; and he sent messengers to Judas and his brothers with peaceable but treacherous words. 11But they paid no attention to their words, for they saw that they had come with a large force.

12 Then a group of scribes appeared in a body before Alcimus and Bacchides to ask for just terms. 13The Hasideans were first among the Israelites to seek peace from them, 14for they said, ‘A priest of the line of Aaron has come with the army, and he will not harm us.’ 15Alcimus* spoke peaceable words to them and swore this oath to them, ‘We will not seek to injure you or your friends.’ 16So they trusted him; but he seized sixty of them and killed them in one day, in accordance with the word that was written,
17 ‘The flesh of your faithful ones and their blood
   they poured out all around Jerusalem,
   and there was no one to bury them.’
18Then the fear and dread of them fell on all the people, for they said, ‘There is no truth or justice in them, for they have violated the agreement and the oath that they swore.’

19 Then Bacchides withdrew from Jerusalem and encamped in Beth-zaith. And he sent and seized many of the men who had deserted to him,* and some of the people, and killed them and threw them into a great pit. 20He placed Alcimus in charge of the country and left with him a force to help him; then Bacchides went back to the king.

21 Alcimus struggled to maintain his high-priesthood, 22and all who were troubling their people joined him. They gained control of the land of Judah and did great damage in Israel. 23And Judas saw all the wrongs that Alcimus and those with him had done among the Israelites; it was more than the Gentiles had done. 24So Judas* went out into all the surrounding parts of Judea, taking vengeance on those who had deserted and preventing those in the city* from going out into the country. 25When Alcimus saw that Judas and those with him had grown strong, and realized that he could not withstand them, he returned to the king and brought malicious charges against them.

Nicanor in Judea

26 Then the king sent Nicanor, one of his honoured princes, who hated and detested Israel, and he commanded him to destroy the people. 27So Nicanor came to Jerusalem with a large force, and treacherously sent to Judas and his brothers this peaceable message, 28‘Let there be no fighting between you and me; I shall come with a few men to see you face to face in peace.’

29 So he came to Judas, and they greeted one another peaceably; but the enemy were preparing to kidnap Judas. 30It became known to Judas that Nicanor* had come to him with treacherous intent, and he was afraid of him and would not meet him again. 31When Nicanor learned that his plan had been disclosed, he went out to meet Judas in battle near Caphar-salama. 32About five hundred of the army of Nicanor fell, and the rest* fled into the city of David.

Nicanor Threatens the Temple

33 After these events Nicanor went up to Mount Zion. Some of the priests from the sanctuary and some of the elders of the people came out to greet him peaceably and to show him the burnt-offering that was being offered for the king. 34But he mocked them and derided them and defiled them and spoke arrogantly, 35and in anger he swore this oath, ‘Unless Judas and his army are delivered into my hands this time, then if I return safely I will burn up this house.’ And he went out in great anger. 36At this the priests went in and stood before the altar and the temple; they wept and said,
37 ‘You chose this house to be called by your name,
   and to be for your people a house of prayer and supplication.
38 Take vengeance on this man and on his army,
   and let them fall by the sword;
remember their blasphemies,
   and let them live no longer.’

The Death of Nicanor

39 Now Nicanor went out from Jerusalem and encamped in Beth-horon, and the Syrian army joined him. 40Judas encamped in Adasa with three thousand men. Then Judas prayed and said, 41‘When the messengers from the king spoke blasphemy, your angel went out and struck down one hundred and eighty-five thousand of the Assyrians.* 42So also crush this army before us today; let the rest learn that Nicanor* has spoken wickedly against the sanctuary, and judge him according to this wickedness.’

43 So the armies met in battle on the thirteenth day of the month of Adar. The army of Nicanor was crushed, and he himself was the first to fall in the battle. 44When his army saw that Nicanor had fallen, they threw down their arms and fled. 45The Jews* pursued them a day’s journey, from Adasa as far as Gazara, and as they followed they kept sounding the battle-call on the trumpets. 46People came out of all the surrounding villages of Judea, and they outflanked the enemy* and drove them back to their pursuers,* so that they all fell by the sword; not even one of them was left. 47Then the Jews* seized the spoils and the plunder; they cut off Nicanor’s head and the right hand that he had so arrogantly stretched out, and brought them and displayed them just outside Jerusalem. 48The people rejoiced greatly and celebrated that day as a day of great gladness. 49They decreed that this day should be celebrated each year on the thirteenth day of Adar. 50So the land of Judah had rest for a few days.

A Eulogy of the Romans

8Now Judas heard of the fame of the Romans, that they were very strong and were well disposed towards all who made an alliance with them, that they pledged friendship to those who came to them, 2and that they were very strong. He had been told of their wars and of the brave deeds that they were doing among the Gauls, how they had defeated them and forced them to pay tribute, 3and what they had done in the land of Spain to get control of the silver and gold mines there, 4and how they had gained control of the whole region by their planning and patience, even though the place was far distant from them. They also subdued the kings who came against them from the ends of the earth, until they crushed them and inflicted great disaster on them; the rest paid them tribute every year. 5They had crushed in battle and conquered Philip, and King Perseus of the Macedonians,* and the others who rose up against them. 6They also had defeated Antiochus the Great, king of Asia, who went to fight against them with one hundred and twenty elephants and with cavalry and chariots and a very large army. He was crushed by them; 7they took him alive and decreed that he and those who would reign after him should pay a heavy tribute and give hostages and surrender some of their best provinces, 8the countries of India, Media, and Lydia. These they took from him and gave to King Eumenes. 9The Greeks planned to come and destroy them, 10but this became known to them, and they sent a general against the Greeks* and attacked them. Many of them were wounded and fell, and the Romans* took captive their wives and children; they plundered them, conquered the land, tore down their strongholds, and enslaved them to this day. 11The remaining kingdoms and islands, as many as ever opposed them, they destroyed and enslaved; 12but with their friends and those who rely on them they have kept friendship. They have subdued kings far and near, and as many as have heard of their fame have feared them. 13Those whom they wish to help and to make kings, they make kings, and those whom they wish they depose; and they have been greatly exalted. 14Yet for all this not one of them has put on a crown or worn purple as a mark of pride, 15but they have built for themselves a senate chamber, and every day three hundred and twenty senators constantly deliberate concerning the people, to govern them well. 16They trust one man each year to rule over them and to control all their land; they all heed the one man, and there is no envy or jealousy among them.

An Alliance with Rome

17 So Judas chose Eupolemus son of John son of Accos, and Jason son of Eleazar, and sent them to Rome to establish friendship and alliance, 18and to free themselves from the yoke; for they saw that the kingdom of the Greeks was enslaving Israel completely. 19They went to Rome, a very long journey; and they entered the senate chamber and spoke as follows: 20‘Judas, who is also called Maccabeus, and his brothers and the people of the Jews have sent us to you to establish alliance and peace with you, so that we may be enrolled as your allies and friends.’ 21The proposal pleased them, 22and this is a copy of the letter that they wrote in reply, on bronze tablets, and sent to Jerusalem to remain with them there as a memorial of peace and alliance:

23 ‘May all go well with the Romans and with the nation of the Jews at sea and on land for ever, and may sword and enemy be far from them. 24If war comes first to Rome or to any of their allies in all their dominion, 25the nation of the Jews shall act as their allies wholeheartedly, as the occasion may indicate to them. 26To the enemy that makes war they shall not give or supply grain, arms, money, or ships, just as Rome has decided; and they shall keep their obligations without receiving any return. 27In the same way, if war comes first to the nation of the Jews, the Romans shall willingly act as their allies, as the occasion may indicate to them. 28And to their enemies there shall not be given grain, arms, money, or ships, just as Rome has decided; and they shall keep these obligations and do so without deceit. 29Thus on these terms the Romans make a treaty with the Jewish people. 30If after these terms are in effect both parties shall determine to add or delete anything, they shall do so at their discretion, and any addition or deletion that they may make shall be valid.

31 ‘Concerning the wrongs that King Demetrius is doing to them, we have written to him as follows, “Why have you made your yoke heavy on our friends and allies the Jews?


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10 February 2011

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