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2 Maccabees

 
  Chapters 9-15


The "Second Book of Maccabees" is an important source for the history of the Jews at the time of the Maccabean Revolt, covering the period between about 180 and 160 B.C.   The RSV version of the book is shown here, with a few changes in spelling.   Click on the G symbols to go to the Greek text of each chapter.  


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    Chapters:    9 -   10 -   11 -    12 -   13 -   14 -   15 

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1 About that time, as it happened, Antiochus had retreated in disorder from the region of Persia.  2 For he 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 men were defeated, with the result that Antiochus was put to flight by the inhabitants and beat a shameful retreat. 3 While he was in Ecbatana, news came to him of what had happened to Nicanor and the forces of Timotheus. 4 Transported 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 judgment 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 an incurable and unseen blow. As soon as he ceased speaking he was seized with a pain in his bowels for which there was no relief and with sharp internal tortures -  6 and that very justly, for he had tortured the bowels of others with many and strange inflictions. 7 Yet 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 hasten the journey. 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. 8 Thus he who had just been thinking that he could command the waves of the sea, in his superhuman arrogance, and imagining 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. 9 And 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 his stench the whole army felt revulsion at his decay. 10 Because 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. 11 Then 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 every moment. 12 And when he could not endure his own stench, he uttered these words: "It is right to be subject to God, and no mortal should think that he is equal to God." 

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

19 "To his worthy Jewish citizens, Antiochus their king and general sends hearty greetings and good wishes for their health and prosperity.  20 If you and your children are well and your affairs are as you wish, I am glad. As my hope is in heaven, 21 I remember with affection your esteem and good will. 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. 22 I do not despair of my condition, for I have good hope of recovering from my illness, 23 but I observed that my father, on the occasions when he made expeditions into the upper country, appointed his successor, 24 so 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. 25 Moreover, I understand how the princes along the borders and the neighbours to 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 hastened off to the upper provinces; and I have written to him what is written here. 26 I therefore urge and beseech you to remember the public and private services rendered to you and to maintain your present good will, each of you, toward me and my son. 27 For 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.  29 And Philippus, one of his courtiers, took his body home; then, fearing the son of Antiochus, he betook himself to Ptolemy Philometor in Egypt. 

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  1 Now Maccabaeus and his followers, the Lord leading them on, recovered the temple and the city;  2 and they tore down the altars which had been built in the public square by the foreigners, and also destroyed the sacred precincts. 3 They 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 burned incense and lighted lamps and set out the bread of the Presence. 4 And when they had done this, they fell prostrate and besought 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. 5 It 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 Kislev. 6 And they celebrated it for eight days with rejoicing, in the manner of the feast of booths, remembering how not long before, during the feast of booths, they had been wandering in the mountains and caves like wild animals. 7 Therefore bearing 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. 8 They decreed by public ordinance and 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.  

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.  11 This man, when he succeeded to the kingdom, appointed one Lysias to have charge of the government and to be chief governor of Coele Syria and Phoenicia. 12 Ptolemaeus, 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. 13 As 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 his office, he took poison and ended his life. 

14 When Gorgias became governor of the region, he maintained a force of mercenaries, and at every turn kept on warring against the Jews.  15 Besides this, the Idumaeans, 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. 16 But Maccabaeus and his men, after making solemn supplication and beseeching God to fight on their side, rushed to the strongholds of the Idumaeans. 17 Attacking them vigorously, they gained possession of the places, and beat off all who fought upon the wall, and slew those whom they encountered, killing no fewer than twenty thousand. 

18 When no less than nine thousand took refuge in two very strong towers well equipped to withstand a siege,  19 Maccabaeus left Simon and Joseph, and also Zacchaeus and his men, a force sufficient to besiege them; and he himself set off for places where he was more urgently needed. 20 But the men 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. 21 When word of what had happened came to Maccabaeus, he gathered the leaders of the people, and accused these men of having sold their brethren for money by setting their enemies free to fight against them. 22 Then he slew these men who had turned traitor, and immediately captured the two towers. 23 Having success at arms in everything he undertook, he destroyed more than twenty thousand in the two strongholds. 

24 Now Timotheus, 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 Judaea by storm.  25 As he drew near, Maccabaeus and his men sprinkled dust upon their heads and girded their loins with sackcloth, in supplication to God. 26 Falling upon the steps before the altar, they besought him to be gracious to them and to be an enemy to their enemies and an adversary to their adversaries, as the law declares. 27 And rising from their prayer they took up their arms and advanced a considerable distance from the city; and when they came near to the enemy they halted. 28 Just as dawn was breaking, the two armies joined battle, the one having as pledge of success and victory not only their valour but their reliance upon 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.  30 Surrounding Maccabaeus and protecting him with their own armour and weapons, they kept him from being wounded. And they showered arrows and thunderbolts upon the enemy, so that, confused and blinded, they were thrown into disorder and cut to pieces. 31 Twenty thousand five hundred were slaughtered, besides six hundred horsemen. 

32 Timotheus himself fled to a stronghold called Gazara, especially well garrisoned, where Chaereas was commander.  33 Then Maccabaeus and his men were glad, and they besieged the fort for four days. 34 The men within, relying on the strength of the place, blasphemed terribly and hurled out wicked words. 35 But at dawn of the fifth day, twenty young men in the army of Maccabaeus, fired with anger because of the blasphemies, bravely stormed the wall and with savage fury cut down every one they met. 36 Others 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. 37 They killed Timotheus, who was hidden in a cistern, and his brother Chaereas, and Apollophanes. 38 When they had accomplished these things, with hymns and thanksgivings they blessed the Lord who shows great kindness to Israel and gives them the victory. 

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

6 When Maccabaeus and his men got word that Lysias was besieging the strongholds, they and all the people, with lamentations and tears, besought the Lord to send a good angel to save Israel.  7 Maccabaeus himself was the first to take up arms, and he urged the others to risk their lives with him to aid their brethren. Then they eagerly rushed off together. 8 And there, while they were still near Jerusalem, a horseman appeared at their head, clothed in white and brandishing weapons of gold. 9 And they all together praised the merciful God, and were strengthened in heart, ready to assail not only men but the wildest beasts or walls of iron. 10 They advanced in battle order, having their heavenly ally, for the Lord had mercy on them. 11 They hurled themselves like lions against the enemy, and slew eleven thousand of them and sixteen hundred horsemen, and forced all the rest to flee. 12 Most of them got away stripped and wounded, and Lysias himself escaped by disgraceful flight. 13 And as he was not without intelligence, he pondered over the defeat which had befallen him, and realised that the Hebrews were invincible because the mighty God fought on their side. So he sent to them 14 and persuaded them to settle everything on just terms, promising that he would persuade the king, constraining him to be their friend. 15 Maccabaeus, having regard for the common good, agreed to all that Lysias urged. For the king granted every request in behalf of the Jews which Maccabaeus 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, greeting.  17 John and Absalom, who were sent by you, have delivered your signed communication and have asked about the matters indicated therein. 18 I have informed the king of everything that needed to be brought before him, and he has agreed to what was possible. 19 If you will maintain your good will toward the government, I will endeavour for the future to help promote your welfare. 20 And concerning these matters and their details, I have ordered these men and my representatives to confer with you. 21 Farewell. The one hundred and forty-eighth year, (?) Dioscorinthius twenty-fourth { 165/4 B.C. }." 

22 The king's letter ran thus:  

"King Antiochus to his brother Lysias, greeting.  23 Now 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. 24 We 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. 25 Accordingly, since we choose that this nation also be free from disturbance, our decision is that their temple be restored to them and that they live according to the customs of their ancestors. 26 You 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, greeting.  28 If you are well, it is as we desire. We also are in good health. 29 Menelaus has informed us that you wish to return home and look after your own affairs. 30 Therefore those who go home by the thirtieth day of Xanthicus will have our pledge of friendship and full permission 31 for the Jews to enjoy their own food and laws, just as formerly, and none of them shall be molested in any way for what he may have done in ignorance. 32 And I have also sent Menelaus to encourage you. 33 Farewell. The one hundred and forty-eighth year, Xanthicus fifteenth { March 164 B.C. }." 

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, greeting.  35 With regard to what Lysias the kinsman of the king has granted you, we also give consent. 36 But as to the matters which he decided are to be referred to the king, as soon as you have considered them, send some one promptly, so that we may make proposals appropriate for you. For we are on our way to Antioch. 37 Therefore make haste and send some men, so that we may have your judgment. 38 Farewell. The one hundred and forty-eighth year, Xanthicus fifteenth { March 164 B.C. }." 

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1 When 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, Timotheus and Apollonius the 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.  3 And some men 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 which they had provided, as though there were no ill will to the Jews; 4 and this was done by public vote of the city. And when they accepted, because they wished to live peaceably and suspected nothing, the men of Joppa took them out to sea and drowned them, not less than two hundred. 5 When Judas heard of the cruelty visited on his countrymen, he gave orders to his men 6 and, calling upon God the righteous Judge, attacked the murderers of his brethren. He set fire to the harbour by night, and burned the boats, and massacred those who had taken refuge there. 7 Then, because the city's gates were closed, he withdrew, intending to come again and root out the whole community of Joppa. 8 But learning that the men in Jamnia meant in the same way to wipe out the Jews who were living among them, 9 he attacked the people of Jamnia 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. 

10 When they had gone more than a mile from there, on their march against Timotheus, not less than five thousand Arabs with five hundred horsemen attacked them.  11 After a hard fight Judas and his men won the victory, by the help of God. The defeated nomads besought Judas to grant them pledges of friendship, promising to give him cattle and to help his people in all other ways. 12 Judas, thinking that they might really be useful in many ways, agreed to make peace with them; and after receiving his pledges they departed to their tents. 

13 He also attacked a certain city which was strongly fortified with earthworks and walls, and inhabited by all sorts of Gentiles. Its name was Caspin.  14 And those who were within, relying on the strength of the walls and on their supply of provisions, behaved most insolently toward Judas and his men, railing at them and even blaspheming and saying unholy things. 15 But 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. 16 They took the city 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. 

17 When they had gone ninety-five miles from there, they came to Charax, to the Jews who are called Tūbians.  18 They did not find Timotheus in that region, for he had by then departed from the region without accomplishing anything, though in one place he had left a very strong garrison. 19 Dositheus and Sosipater, who were captains under Maccabaeus, marched out and destroyed those whom Timotheus had left in the stronghold, more than ten thousand men. 20 But Maccabaeus arranged his army in divisions, set men in command of the divisions, and hastened after Timotheus, who had with him a hundred and twenty thousand infantry and two thousand five hundred cavalry. 21 When Timotheus 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. 22 But when Judas' first division appeared, terror and fear came over the enemy at the manifestation to them of him who sees all things; and they rushed off in flight and were swept on, this way and that, so that often they were injured by their own men and pierced by the points of their swords. 23 And Judas pressed the pursuit with the utmost vigour, putting the sinners to the sword, and destroyed as many as thirty thousand men. 

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

26 Then Judas marched against Carnaim and the temple of Atargatis, and slaughtered twenty-five thousand people.  27 After the rout and destruction of these, he marched also against Ephron, a fortified city where Lysias dwelt 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. 28 But the Jews called upon the Sovereign who with power shatters the might of his enemies, and they got the city into their hands, and killed as many as twenty-five thousand of those who were within it. 

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

32 After the feast called Pentecost, they hastened against Gorgias, the governor of Idumaea.  33 And he came out with three thousand infantry and four hundred cavalry. 34 When they joined battle, it happened that a few of the Jews fell. 35 But 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 horsemen bore down upon 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.  37 In the language of their fathers he raised the battle cry, with hymns; then he charged against Gorgias' men when they were not expecting it, and put them to flight. 

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 they kept the sabbath there.  

39 On the next day, as by that time it had become necessary, Judas and his men went to take up the bodies of the fallen and to bring them back to lie with their kinsmen in the sepulchres of their fathers.  40 Then under the tunic of every 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 why these men had fallen. 41 So they all blessed the ways of the Lord, the righteous Judge, who reveals the things that are hidden; 42 and they turned to prayer, beseeching that the sin which had been committed might be wholly blotted out. And the noble Judas exhorted the people to keep themselves free from sin, for they had seen with their own eyes what had happened because of the sin of those who had fallen. 43 He 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. 44 For 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. 45 But 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, that they might be delivered from their sin. 

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1 In the one hundred and forty-ninth year { 163 B.C. } word came to Judas and his men that Antiochus Eupator was coming with a great army against Judaea,  2 and 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.  4 But 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 which is the custom in that place. 5 For there is a tower in that place, fifty cubits high, full of ashes, and it has a rim running around it which on all sides inclines precipitously into the ashes. 6 There they all push to destruction any man guilty of sacrilege or notorious for other crimes. 7 By such a fate it came about that Menelaus the lawbreaker died, without even burial in the earth. 8 And 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. 

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.  10 But when Judas heard of this, he ordered the people to call upon the Lord day and night, now if ever to help those who were on the point of being deprived of the law and their country and the holy temple, 11 and not to let the people who had just begun to revive fall into the hands of the blasphemous Gentiles. 12 When they had all joined in the same petition and had besought 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 Judaea and get possession of the city.  14 So, committing the decision to the Creator of the world and exhorting his men to fight nobly to the death for the laws, temple, city, country, and commonwealth, he pitched his camp near Modein. 15 He gave his men the watchword, "God's victory," and with a picked force of the bravest young men, he attacked the king's pavilion at night and slew as many as two thousand men in the camp. He stabbed the leading elephant and its rider. 16 In the end they filled the camp with terror and confusion and withdrew in triumph. 17 This happened, just as day was dawning, because the Lord's help protected him. 

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

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

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

6 "Those of the Jews who are called Hasidaeans, whose leader is Judas Maccabaeus, are keeping up war and stirring up sedition, and will not let the kingdom attain tranquillity.  7 Therefore I have laid aside my ancestral glory - I mean the high priesthood - and have now come here, 8 first because I am genuinely concerned for the interests of the king, and second because I have regard also for my fellow citizens. For through the folly of those whom I have mentioned our whole nation is now in no small misfortune. 9 Since you are acquainted, O king, with the details of this matter, deign to take thought for our country and our hard-pressed nation with the gracious kindness which you show to all. 10 For as long as Judas lives, it is impossible for the government to find peace." 

11 When he had said this, the rest of the king's friends, who were hostile to Judas, quickly inflamed Demetrius still more.  12 And he immediately chose Nicanor, who had been in command of the elephants, appointed him governor of Judaea, and sent him off 13 with orders to kill Judas and scatter his men, and to set up Alcimus as high priest of the greatest temple. 14 And the Gentiles throughout Judaea, who had fled before Judas, flocked to join Nicanor, thinking that the misfortunes and calamities of the Jews would mean prosperity for themselves. 

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

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

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

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

28 When this message came to Nicanor, he was troubled and grieved that he had to annul their agreement when the man had done no wrong.  29 Since it was not possible to oppose the king, he watched for an opportunity to accomplish this by a stratagem. 30 But Maccabaeus, noticing that Nicanor was more austere in his dealings with him and was meeting him more rudely than had been his custom, concluded that this austerity did not spring from the best motives. So he gathered not a few of his men, and went into hiding from Nicanor. 

31 When the latter became aware that he had been cleverly outwitted by the man, he went to the great and holy temple while the priests were offering the customary sacrifices, and commanded them to hand the man over.  32 And when they declared on oath that they did not know where the man was whom he sought, 33 he stretched out his right hand toward the sanctuary, and swore this oath: "If you do not hand Judas over to me as a prisoner, I will level this precinct of God to the ground and tear down the altar, and I will build here a splendid temple to Dionysus." 

34 Having said this, he went away. Then the priests stretched forth their hands toward heaven and called upon the constant Defender of our nation, in these words:  35 "O Lord of all, who hast need of nothing, thou wast pleased that there be a temple for thy habitation among us; 36 so now, O holy One, Lord of all holiness, keep undefiled for ever this house that has been so recently purified." 

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

[15]     G 

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

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

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

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

20 When all were now looking forward to the coming decision, and the enemy was already close at hand with their army drawn up for battle, the elephants strategically stationed and the cavalry deployed on the flanks,  21 Maccabaeus, perceiving the hosts that were before him and the varied supply of arms and the savagery of the elephants, stretched out his hands toward heaven and called upon the Lord who works wonders; for he knew that it is not by arms, but as the Lord decides, that he gains the victory for those who deserve it. 22 And he called upon him in these words: "O Lord, thou didst send thy angel in the time of Hezekiah king of Judaea, and he slew fully a hundred and eighty-five thousand in the camp of Sennacherib. 23 So now, O Sovereign of the heavens, send a good angel to carry terror and trembling before us. 24 By the might of thy arm may these blasphemers who come against thy holy people be struck down." With these words he ended his prayer. 

25 Nicanor and his men advanced with trumpets and battle songs;  26 and Judas and his men met the enemy in battle with invocation to God and prayers. 27 So, fighting with their hands and praying to God in their hearts, they laid low no less than thirty-five thousand men, and were greatly gladdened by God's manifestation. 

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

37 This, then, is how matters turned out with Nicanor. And from that time the city has been in the possession of the Hebrews. So I too will here end my story.  38 If it is well told and to the point, that is what I myself desired; if it is poorly done and mediocre, that was the best I could do. 39 For just as it is harmful to drink wine alone, or, again, to drink water alone, while wine mixed with water is sweet and delicious and enhances one's enjoyment, so also the style of the story delights the ears of those who read the work. And here will be the end. 


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