Josephus: Jewish Antiquities, Book 12

Sections 287 - 434

Translated by R. Marcus (1943). The section numbers in the Greek text are shown in red; the traditional chapter numbers (as in Whiston's translation) are shown in green.

 See key to translations for an explanation of the format. Click on the G symbols to go to the Greek text of each section.

Josephus' account of the exploits of Judas Maccabaeus is mostly derived from the 'First Book of Maccabees', chapters 3-9 .

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  {7.}   [287] Hearing of this, Apollonius, the governor of Samaria, took his force of men and set out against Judas. But Judas on meeting him and engaging him and in battle defeated him, and killed many of the enemy, among them their general Apollonius himself, and taking as spoil the sword which Apollonius was then using, kept it for himself ; he also left more of them wounded, and after taking much booty from the camp of the enemy, he withdrew. [288] G   But when Seron, who was governor of Coele-Syria, heard that many had joined themselves to Judas, and that he had already surrounded himself with a force to be reckoned with in a contest of war, he decided to march against him, considering it his duty to try to punish those who had violated the king's commands. [289] He therefore gathered together whatever force he had, and having also enrolled the fugitives and irreligious men among the Jews, he came against Judas ; and having advanced as far as the village of Baithoron in Judaea, he encamped there. [290] G   But Judas, meeting him there and intending to engage him, saw that his soldiers were shrinking from the battle because of their small number and lack of food - for they had fasted - and so he began to encourage them, saying that victory and mastery over the enemy lay not in numbers, but in being pious toward the Deity. [291] And of this they had the clearest example in their forefathers, who because of their righteousness and their struggles on behalf of their own laws and children had many times defeated many tens of thousands ; for, he said, in doing no wrong there is a mighty force. [292] G   By saying this he persuaded his men to hold in contempt the great numbers of their adversaries and to encounter Seron, and so, after engaging the Syrians, he routed them, for when their commander fell, they all made haste to flee, thinking that their safety lay in that. But Judas pursued them as far as the plain, and killed about eight hundred of the enemy ; the rest, however, escaped to the sea-coast.   

  [293] Hearing of this, King Antiochus was greatly incensed by what had happened, and having collected all of his own forces and taking with him many mercenaries from the islands, he made preparations to invade Judaea about the beginning of the spring. [294] G   But when he had distributed the soldiers' pay he saw that his treasuries were failing and that there was a lack of money - for not all the tribute had been paid because of uprisings among the (subject) nations - and also, being munificent and liberal with gifts, he had not limited himself to his actual resources,- and so he decided first to go to Persia and collect the tribute of that country. [295] He therefore left in charge of the government a certain Lysias, a who was held in honour by him and ruled over the country from the Euphrates river as far as the borders of Egypt and Lower Asia, and he also left behind a part of his force and his elephants ; [296] G   and he charged Lysias to bring up his son Antiochus with the greatest care until he returned, and when he had subdued Judaea and reduced its inhabitants to slavery, to make an end of Jerusalem and destroy the Jewish race. [297] Having given these instructions to Lysias, King Antiochus marched away to Persia in the hundred and forty-seventh year { 165 B.C. }, and after he had crossed the Euphrates, went on into the Upper Satrapies.  

  [298] G   Thereupon Lysias chose Ptolemaeus, the son of Dorymenes, and Nicanor and Gorgias, persons of power among the Friends of the king, and giving over to them a force of forty thousand foot-soldiers and seven thousand horsemen, sent them out against Judaea. And when they had gone as far as the city of Emmaus, they encamped in the plain. [299] Then there came to them allies from Syria and the surrounding territory, and many of the Jewish refugees, and also certain slave-dealers, who with the intention of buying the expected captives brought chains with which to bind those who might be taken, and a store of gold and silver to pay for them. [300] G   But when Judas caught sight of the camp and the great numbers of his adversaries, he tried to persuade his own soldiers to have courage, and exhorted them to place their hopes of victory in God and to make supplication to liim dressed in sackcloth according to their ancestral custom, and by exhibiting to Him this form of supplication, usual in time of great danger, to constrain Him to grant them victory over their foes. [301] Then he drew them up, according to the ancient custom of their fathers, under commanders of thousands and lower officers, and having dismissed the newly married men, and sent back those who had recently acquired property, in order that they might not, for the sake of enjoying these things, be too eager to live and so fight with too little spirit, [302] G   he urged his soldiers on to the contest with these words. " No time will ever be given you, my comrades, when there will be more need for courage and contempt of danger than at the present moment. For if you now fight bravely, you may recover that liberty which is loved for its own sake by all men, [303] but to you most of all happens to be desirable because it gives you the right to worship the Deity. Since, therefore, at the present moment it lies in your power either to recover this liberty and regain a happy and blessed life" - by this he meant a life in accordance with the laws and customs of their fathers - "or to suffer the most shameful fate and to leave your race without any seed by being cowardly in battle, [304] G   exert yourselves accordingly, bearing in mind that death is the portion even of those who do not fight, and holding firmly to the belief that if you die for such precious causes as liberty, country, laws and religion, you will gain eternal glory. Make ready, therefore, and be prepared in spirit so that at daybreak to-morrow you may meet the enemy."   

  [305] These were the words which Judas spoke to encourage his army. But the enemy sent Gorgias with five thousand foot-soldiers and a thousand horsemen to fall upon Judas by night, for which purpose he took some of the Jewish refugees as guides ; and when the son of Mattathias became aware of this, he decided to fall upon the enemy's camp himself, and to do this when their force was divided. [306] G   Having, therefore, supped in good time and left many fires in his camp, he marched all night toward those of the enemy who were in Emmaus. And when Gorgias found that his foes were not in their camp, he suspected that they had withdrawn and hidden themselves in the mountains, and so he decided to go in search of them wherever they might be. [307] But near dawn Judas appeared before the enemy at Emmaus with three thousand men poorly armed because of their poverty, and when he saw that his foes were excellently protected and had shown great skill in taking up their position, he urged his own men on. saying that they must fight even if with unarmed bodies, and that the Deity had on other occasions in the past given the victory over more numerous and well-armed enemies to men in their condition because He admired their courage, and he ordered the trumpeters to sound the signal. [308] G   Then falling upon the unsuspecting enemy and striking terror into their hearts and throwing them into confusion, he killed many of those who opposed him, while the rest he pursued as far as Gazara and the plains of Idumaea and Azotus and Jamneia, and of these there fell some three thousand. [309] Judas, however, exhorted his soldiers not to be too hungry for spoil, for there still awaited them a contest and battle against Gorgias and the force with him ; but, he said, when they had conquered these also, then they might take spoil in security, having only this task and nothing else to undertake. [310] G   But while he was still addressing his soldiers in these words, the men with Gorgias looked down from the heights and saw that the army which they had left in the camp had been routed, and that the camp had been burned ; for the smoke brought to them from a distance evidence of what had happened. [311] Accordingly, when the men with Gorgias discovered that this was how things were, and perceived that Judas' men were ready for battle, they too became frightened and turned to flee. [312] G   Thereupon Judas, with the knowledge that the soldiers with Gorgias had been defeated without fighting, returned and earned off the spoil, and taking much gold and silver and stuffs of purple and hyacinth, returned home, rejoicing and praising God in song for his successes ; for this victory contributed not a little to the regaining of their liberty.   

[313] But Lysias, who was dismayed at the defeat of the men sent out by him, in the following year collected sixty thousand picked men and five thousand horsemen, and with these invaded Judaea, and going up into the hill country , encamped at Bethsura, a village in Judaea. [314] G   There Judas met him with ten thousand men, and seeing the great number of the enemy, he prayed to God to be his ally against them, and on engaging the enemy's skirmishers, defeated them and slew about five thousand of them, thereby becoming an object of fear to the rest. [315] Indeed, when Lysias saw the spirit of the Jews and that they were prepared to die if they could not live as free men, he feared this desperate resolution of theirs as strength, and taking the remainder of his force, he returned to Antioch, where he remained to enlist mercenaries and make preparations to invade Judaea with a greater army.   

  [316] G   And now that the generals of King Antiochus had been defeated so many times, Judas assembled the people and said that after the many victories which God had given them, they ought to go up to Jerusalem and purify the temple and offer the customary sacrifices. [317] But when he came to Jerusalem with the entire multitude and found the temple desolate, the gates burned down and plants growing up by themselves in the sanctuary because of the desolation, he began to lament with his men in dismay at the appearance of the temple. [318] G   Then he selected some of his soldiers and commanded them to keep fighting the men who guarded the Akra until he himself should have sanctified the temple. And when he had carefully purified it, he brought in new vessels, such as a lamp-stand, table and altar, which were made of gold, and hung curtains from the doors, and replaced the doors themselves ; he also pulled down the altar, and built a new one of various stones which had not been hewn with iron. [319] And on the twenty-fifth of the month Chasleu, which the Macedonians call Apellaios, they kindled the lights on the lamp-stand and burned incense on the altar and set out the loaves on the table and offered whole burnt-offerings upon the new altar. [320] G   These things, as it chanced, took place on the same day on which, three years before, their holy service had been transformed into an impure and profane form of worship. For the temple, after being made desolate by Antiochus, had remained so for three years ; [321] it was in the hundred and forty-fifth year { 167 B.C. }that these things befell the temple, on the twenty-fifth of the month Apellaios, in the hundred and fifty-third Olympiad. And the temple was renovated on the same day, the twenty-fifth of the month Apellaios, in the hundred and forty-eighth year { 164 B.C. }, in the hundred and fifty-fourth Olympiad. [322] G   Now the desolation of the temple came about in accordance with the prophecy of Daniel, which had been made four hundred and eight years before ; for he had revealed that the Macedonians would destroy it.   

  [323] And so Judas together with his fellow-citizens celebrated the restoration of sacrifices in the temple for eight days, omitting no form of pleasure, but feasting them on costly and splendid sacrifices, and while honouring God with songs of praise and the playing of harps, at the same time delighted them. [324] G   So much pleasure did they find in the renewal of their customs and in unexpectedly obtaining the right to have their own service after so long a time, that they made a law that their descendants should celebrate the restoration of the temple service for eight days. [325] And from that time to the present we observe this festival, which we call the Festival of Lights, giving this name to it, I think, from the fact that the right to worship appeared to us at a time when we hardly dared hope for it. [326] G   Then Judas erected walls round the city, and having built high towers against the incursions of the enemy, he placed guards in them ; and he also fortified the city of Bethsura in order that he might use it as a fortress in any emergency caused by the enemy.   

  {8.} G     [327] When these things had been done in this fashion, the surrounding nations, who resented the reviving of the strength of the Jews, banded together against them and destroyed many of them, whom they had got into their power through ambushes and plots. Against these enemies Judas waged continuous war in an attempt to check their inroads and the mischief which they were doing the Jews. [328] G   And falling upon the Idumaeans, the descendants of Esau, at Akrabatene, he killed many of them and took their spoil. He also hemmed in the Baanites, who were ambushing the Jews, and after besieging them closely, burned their towers and destroyed their men. [329] Then he set out from there against the Ammanites, who had a great and numerous force, which was led by Timotheus. And when he had subdued them also, he took the city of Jazora, and after taking captive their wives and children, and burning the city, he returned to Judaea. [330] G   Thereupon the neighbouring nations, on learning that he had returned, gathered together in Galaaditis against the Jews who were in their borders. But these fled to the fortress of Diathema and sent to Judas, informing him that Timotheus was making an effort to seize the place in which they had taken refuge. [331] And while these letters were being read, there came messengers from Galilee also, announcing that a force had been raised against him by those in Ptolemais, Tyre and Sidon and the other nations of Galilee.   

  [332] G   Judas, therefore, considering what had to be done in both these cases of need which had been reported, commanded his brother Simon to take some three thousand of the picked men and go out to the help of the Jews in Galilee, [333] while he himself and his other brother Jonathan with eight thousand soldiers set out for Galaaditis ; and over the remainder of the force he left Joseph, the son of Zacharias, and Azarias, whom he commanded to guard Judaea carefully and not to join battle with anyone until he himself returned. [334] G   And so Simon went to Galilee , and engaging the foe, put them to flight, and after pursuing them as far as the gates of Ptolemais, killed about three thousand of them ; then taking the spoil of the slain, and bringing back the Jews who had been made captive by them, and their belongings, he returned once more to his own country.   

  [335] As for Judas Maccabaeus and his brother Jonathan, they crossed the river Jordan, and after covering a distance of three days' march from it, they came upon the Nabataeans, who greeted them peaceably. [336] G   And they told him what had happened to those in Galaaditis, and that many of them were in distress after being shut up in the fortresses and cities of Galaaditis ; and when they urged him to march speedily against the foreigners and to try to save his countrymen from them, he followed their advice, and returned into the wilderness ; then falling first upon the inhabitants of Bosora, and taking that city, he destroyed all the males and those able to fight, and set fire to the city. [337] And not even when night came on did he call a halt, but marched through the night toward the fortress where the Jews had been shut up when Timotheus invested the place with his force, and reached it at dawn. [338] G   And finding that the enemy was already assaulting the walls, some bringing up ladders to scale them, and others siege-engines, he ordered the trumpeter to sound the charge ; then, after urging his soldiers to face danger gladly for their brothers and kin, he divided his army into three parts, and fell upon the enemy's rear. [339] And when Timotheus' men recognised Maccabaeus, of whose courage and good fortune in war they had already had proof, they took to flight ; but Judas followed them closely with his army, and slew as many as eight thousand. [340] G   Then turning aside to one of the gentile cities called Mella, he took this also, and killed all the males, and burned the city itself. From there he moved on, and subdued Chasphomake and Bosor and many other cities of Galaaditis.   

  [341] Not long after this Timotheus made ready a great force, and taking, in addition to other allies, some of the Arabs whom he persuaded by payment of money to join his campaign, he led his army across the stream opposite Romphon - [342] G   this was a city - and exhorted his soldiers, if they engaged the Jews in battle, to fight eagerly and prevent them from crossing the stream ; for, he predicted, if the Jews crossed, they themselves would be defeated. [343] But when Judas heard that Timotheus had made ready for battle, he took all his own force and hastened to meet the enemy ; and after crossing the stream, he fell upon his foes, and slew some of them who opposed him, and struck fear into the others and forced them to throw away their arms and flee. [344] G   And so some of them escaped, while others took refuge in the sacred precinct called Enkranai, where they hoped to find safety. But Judas took this city, and killed the inhabitants, and also burned the sacred precinct ; thus he accomplished the destruction of the enemy under various forms.   

  [345] Having achieved these things and gathered together the Jews in Galaaditis with their children and wives and belongings, he was ready to lead them back to Judaea. [346] G   But when he came to a certain city by the name of Emphron, which lay on his road, as it was not possible for him to avoid it by taking another road, and being unwilling to turn back, he sent to the inhabitants and requested them to open their gates and permit him to go on through their city ; for they had blocked the gates with stones, and had cut off any passage through it. [347] The Emphraeans, however, would not consent to this, and so he urged on his men and surrounded the city and besieged it, and after investing it for a day and a night, he took the city, and killed all the males who were in it, and burned it all down, and so made a way ; but so great was the number of the slain that they had to walk over their dead bodies. [348] G   And after crossing the Jordan, they came to the Great Plain, in front of which lies Bethsane, by the Greeks called Scythopolis. [349] And setting out from there, they came to Judaea, playing harps and singing songs of praise and observing such forms of merry-making as are customary at celebrations of a victory ; then they offered the sacrifices of thanksgiving for their successes and for the safety of their army, for not one of the Jews had met death in these wars.  

  [350] G   Now Joseph, the son of Zacharias, and Azarias, whom Judas had left in command at the time when Simon was in Galilee warring against those in Ptolemais, and Judas himself and his brother Jonathan at were in Galaaditis - they too wished to acquire the reputation of being generals valiant in action, and so they took their force and went to Jamneia. [351] But Gorgias, the commander of Jamneia, met them there, and in the engagement which took place they lost two thousand men of their army, and fleeing, were pursued as far as the borders of Judaea. [352] G   This reverse befell them because they disobeyed the instructions of Judas not to engage anyone in battle before his arrival ; for in addition to the other instances of Judas' cleverness, one might well admire him also for having foreseen that such a reverse would come to the men under Joseph and Azarias if they departed in any respect from the instructions given them. [353] Meanwhile Judas and his brothers were warring on the Idumaeans without ceasing, and pressed them closely on all sides ; and after taking the city of Hebron, they destroyed all its fortifications and burned its towers ; and they ravaged the foreign territory, including the city of Marisa, and coming to Azotus, they took this city and sacked it. Then they returned to Judaea, carrying much spoil and booty.   

  {9.}   [354] G   About the same time King Antiochus, as he was entering the upper country, heard of a city in Persia of surpassing wealth, named Elymais, and that there was in it a rich temple of Artemis, which was full of all kinds of dedicatory offerings, as well as of arms and breastplates which he learned had been left behind by Alexander, the son of Philip, king of Macedon. [355] And so, being excited by these reports, he set out for Elymais. and assaulted it and began a siege. As those within the city, however, were not dismayed either by his attack or by the siege, but stoutly held out against him, his hopes were dashed ; for they drove him off from the city, and went out against him in pursuit, so that he had to come to Babylon as a fugitive, and lost many of his army. [356] G   And as he was grieving over this failure, some men brought him news also of the defeat of the generals whom he had left to make war on the Jews, and of the strength which the Jews now had. [357] And so, with the anxiety over these events added to his former anxiety, he was overwhelmed, and in his despondency fell ill ; and as his illness lingered on, and his sufferings increased, he perceived that he was about to die ; he therefore called together his friends and told them that his illness was severe, and confessed a that he was suffering these afflictions because he had harmed the Jewish nation by despoiling their temple and treating God with contempt ; and with these words he expired. [358] G   Accordingly I am surprised that Polybius of Megalopolis, who is an honest man, says { 31.9 } that Antiochus died because he wished to despoil the temple of Artemis in Persia ; for merely to wish a thing without actually doing it is not deserving of punishment. [359] But although Polybius may think that Antiochus lost his life on that account, it is much more probable that the king died because of sacrilegiously despoiling the temple in Jerusalem. Concerning this matter, however, I shall not dispute with those who believe that the cause given by the Megalopolitan is nearer the truth than that given by us.   

  [360] G   Now before he died, Antiochus summoned Philip, one of his companions, and appointed him regent of his kingdom, and giving him his diadem and the Seleucid robe and seal-ring, ordered him to take these and give them to his son Antiochus ; and he requested Philip to look after his son's education and to guard the kingdom for him. [361] And Antiochus died in the hundred and forty-ninth year { 164 B.C. }. Then Lysias, after informing the people of his death, appointed his son Antiochus king - for he had charge of him,- and called him Eupator.   

  [362] G   At this time the garrison in the Akra of Jerusalem and the Jewish renegades did much harm to the Jews ; for when they went up to the temple with the intention of sacrificing, the garrison would sally out and kill them - for the Akra commanded the temple. [363] And so, as a result of these experiences, Judas determined to drive out the garrison, and gathering together all the people, he stoutly besieged those in the Akra. This was in the hundred and fiftieth year of the Seleucid reign { 163/2 B.C. }. Accordingly, he constructed siege-engines, and erected earthworks, and assiduously applied himself to the capture of the Akra. [364] G   But many of the renegades within the Akra went out by night into the country, and having gathered together some of the irreligious men like themselves, came to King Antiochus and said that they did not deserve to be left to suffer these hardships at the hands of their countrymen, especially as they were enduring them for the sake of his father, for they had broken with their ancestral religion and had adopted that which he had commanded them to follow ; [365] and now, they continued, the citadel was in danger of being taken by Judas and his men, as well as the garrison stationed there by the king, unless some assistance were sent by him. [366] G   When the young Antiochus heard this, he became angry, and sending for his officers and Friends, ordered them to collect mercenaries and those in his kingdom who were of military age. And so an army was collected, which consisted of about a hundred thousand foot-soldiers and twenty thousand horsemen and thirty-two elephants.   

  [367] Thereupon he took this force and set out from Antioch with Lysias, who was in command of the entire army, and after coming to Idumaea, he went up from there to Bethsura, a very strong city and one difficult to take, and he invested the city and besieged it. [368] G   However, as the people of Bethsura strongly resisted and burned his supply of siege-engines - for they sallied out against him,- much time was consumed in the siege. [369] And when Judas heard of the king's advance, he left off besieging the Akra, and went to meet the king, pitching his camp near the mountain passes, at a place called Bethzacharias, which was seventy stades away from the enemy. [370] G   Thereupon the king set out from Bethsura and led his army to the passes and Judas' camp ; and at daybreak he drew up his army for battle. [371] And he made his elephants follow one another, since they could not be placed side by side in an extended line because of the narrow space. Round each elephant there advanced together a thousand foot soldiers and five hundred horsemen ; and the elephants carried high towers and archers. He also made the rest of his force ascend the mountains on either side, putting his light-armed troops in front of them. [372] G   Then he ordered his army to raise the battle-cry, and set upon the enemy, uncovering his shields of gold and bronze so that a brilliant light was given off by them, while the mountains re-echoed the shouts of his men. Judas saw this, and yet was not terrified, but valiantly met the enemy's charge, and slew some six hundred of their skirmishers. [373] And his brother Eleazar, whom they called Auran, on seeing that the tallest of the elephants was armed with breastplates like those of the king, and supposing that the king was mounted on it, risked his life by rushing upon it boldly, and after killing many of the men round the elephant and scattering the others, he slipped under the elephant's belly and killed it with a thrust. [374] G   But the animal came down upon Eleazar and crushed the hero under its weight. And so, after bravely destroying many of the foe, Eleazar met his end in this manner.   

  [375] Thereupon Judas, seeing how strong the enemy was, retired to Jerusalem and prepared himself for a siege. And Antiochus sent a part of his army to Bethsura to assault it, while he himself with the rest of his force came to Jerusalem. [376] G   Now the inhabitants of Bethsura, being overawed by his strength, and seeing how scarce their provisions were, surrendered to him, after receiving sworn assurances that they should suffer no harm at the hands of the king. Then Antiochus took the city and did nothing to them beyond expelling them unarmed ; and he stationed his own garrison in the city. [377] But the siege of the temple in Jerusalem kept him there a long time, for those within stoutly resisted; and every siege-engine which the king set up against them, they, in turn, countered with another engine. [378] G   Their supply of food, however, had begun to give out, for the present crop had been consumed, and the ground  had not been tilled that year, but had remained unsown because it was the seventh year, during which our law obliges us to let it lie uncultivated. Many of the besieged, therefore, ran away because of the lack of necessities, so that only a few were left in the temple.   

  [379] Such were the circumstances of those who were besieged in the temple. But when Lysias, the commander, and the king were informed that Philip was coming against them from Persia to secure the government for himself, they were ready to abandon the siege and set out against Philip ; they decided, however, not to reveal their plan to the soldiers and their officers, [380] G   but instead, the king ordered Lysias to address him and the officers publicly and say nothing of the trouble with Philip, but merely show that the siege would take a very long time, and the place was very strong, and explain that their supply of food had already begun to fail, and that it was necessary to put in order many of the affairs of the kingdom, [381] and that it seemed much better to make a treaty with the besieged and seek the friendship of their whole nation by permitting them to observe their fathers' laws, the loss of which had caused them to begin the present war ; and that then they should return home. Lysias spoke in this manner, and both the army and their officers a were pleased with his advice.   

  [382] G   And so the king sent to Judas and those who were being besieged with him, and offered to make peace with them and allow them to live in accordance with their fathers' laws. Thereupon the Jews gladly  accepted his proposals, and after receiving sworn assurances of his good faith, went out from the temple. [383] But when Antiochus entered it and saw how strong the place was, he violated his oaths, and ordered his force to go round and pull down the wall to the ground. After doing this, he returned to Antioch, taking with him the high priest Onias, who was also called Menelaus. [384] G   For Lysias had advised the king to slay Menelaus, if he wished the Jews to remain quiet and not give him any trouble ; it was this man, he said, who had been the cause of the mischief by persuading the king's father to compel the Jews to abandon their fathers' religion. [385] Accordingly, the king sent Menelaus to Beroea in Syria, and there had him put to death ; he had served as high priest for ten years, and had been a wicked and impious man, who in order to have sole authority for himself had compelled his nation to violate their own laws. The high priest chosen after the death of Menelaus was Alcimus, also called Jakeimos. [386] G   Now when King Antiochus found that Philip had already seized control of the government, he made war on him, and after getting him into his power, killed him.  [387] Then Onias, the son of the high priest, who, as we said before, had been left a mere child when his father died, seeing that the king had slain his uncle Menelaus and had given the high priesthood to Alcimus, although he was not of the family of high priests, because he had been persuaded by Lysias to transfer the office from this house to another, fled to Ptolemy, the king of Egypt. [388] G   And being treated with honour by him and his wife Cleopatra, he received a place in the nome of Heliopolis, where he built a temple similar to that in Jerusalem. Of this, however, we shall give an account on a more fitting occasion. 

  {10.} G     [389] About the same time Demetrius, the son of Seleucus, escaped from Rome, and occupying Tripolis in Syria, placed the diadem on his own head : then he gathered round him a number of mercenaries, and entered the kingdom, where all the people received him gladly and submitted to him. [390] G   They also seized King Antiochus and Lysias. and brought them to him alive. And by order of Demetrius these two were immediately put to death, Antiochus having reigned two years, as has already been related elsewhere. [391] Then there came to him in a body many of the wicked and renegade Jews, among whom was the high priest Alcimus, and they accused their whole nation, especially Judas and his brothers, [392] G   saying that they had killed all the king's friends, and had destroyed al, those in the kingdom who were of his party and awaited his coming, and had driven the present speakers out of their country and made them aliens in a strange land, and now they requested him to send one of his own friends and learn from him what bold crimes had been committed by Judas and his men.   

[393] And so Demetrius, being roused to anger, sent out Bacchides, a friend of King Antiochus Epiphanes, and a worthy man, who had been entrusted with the government of all Mesopotamia, and giving him a force of soldiers, and putting Alcimus under his protection, instructed him to kill Judas and the men with him. [394] G   Thereupon Bacchides set out with his force from Antioch, and when he came to Judaea, sent to Judas and his brothers to discuss friendship and peace, for he planned to take him by deceit. [395] But Judas did not trust him, for he saw that he had come with such an army as one has when going to war, but not when making peace. Some of the citizens, however, giving car to the peace proposals made by Bacchides, and believing that they would suffer no harm at the hands of Alcimus, who was their countryman, went over to them, [396] G   and after receiving oaths from both men that neither they themselves nor those who were of their mind should suffer in any way, put themselves in their hands. But Bacchides made light of his oaths, and killed sixty of them : and so, by not keeping faith with the first, deterred the others who were thinking of going over to him from doing so. [397] And when, after marching out of Jerusalem, he came to a village called Berzetho, he sent his men to seize many of the deserters and some of the people, and after killing all these, commanded all who lived in the country to obey Alcimus : and leaving him with enough of an army to enable him to keep the country under his control, he returned to Antioch to King Demetrius.  

  [398] G   But Alcimus, wishing to strengthen his authority, and perceiving that by making the people feel friendly toward him he would govern with greater security, led them on with kind words, and speaking to everyone in a pleasant and gracious manner, very soon indeed acquired a large body of men and a force behind him, [399] who were for the most part from the irreligious and renegades, and these he used as his attendants and soldiers in going through the country ; and all those whom he found in it siding with Judas he slew. [400] G   When Judas, therefore, saw that Alcimus had now become powerful and had put to death many of the good and pious men of the nation, he also went through the country, and put to death those who sided with the enemy. And when Alcimus saw that he was not able to withstand Judas, but was inferior to him in strength, he decided to turn for help to his ally King Demetrius. [401] Accordingly, he went to Antioch and roused the king's anger against Judas, at whose hands he said in his accusation, he had suffered many injuries, which would become still greater unless Judas were first caught and brought to punishment by having a strong force sent against him.   

  [402] G   Thereupon Demetrius, beginning to believe that it would be hazardous to his own interests also to do nothing about Judas' growing strength, sent out Nicanor, the most devoted and faithful of his Friends - for it was he who had escaped with him from the city of Rome,- and giving him as large a force as he thought would be sufficient for him to use against Judas, ordered him to deal unsparingly with the nation. [403] But when Nicanor came to Jerusalem, he decided not to fight Judas immediately, but chose to get him into his power by deceit, and so he sent him offers of peace, saving that there was no necessity for their making war and facing danger, but he would give Judas his oath that he should suffer no harm ; for, he said, he had come with some friends to make clear to them what the intentions of King Demetrius were, and how he felt toward their race. [404] G   This offer, which was made by the envoys of Nicanor, was believed by Judas and his brothers, and not suspecting any treachery, they gave pledges to him, and received Nicanor with his force. But he, after greeting Judas, and while conversing with him, gave his men a certain signal by which they were to seize Judas. [405] He, however, saw through the plot, and dashing out, escaped to his own men. Accordingly, since his purpose and the trap had become known, Nicanor decided to make war on Judas ; but the other, having organised his men and prepared for battle, engaged him at a certain village called Kapharsalama, and defeated him and forced him to flee to the Akra in Jerusalem. 

  [406] G   And again, as Nicanor was coming down from the Akra to the temple, he was met by some of the priests and elders, who greeted him and showed him the sacrifices which they said they were offering to God on behalf of the king. Thereupon he fell to cursing them, and threatened that, if the people did not give Judas up to him, he would pull down the temple when he returned. [407] After making these threats, he left Jerusalem, while the priests burst into tears in their distress over his words, and supplicated God to deliver them from their enemies. [408] G   Now after Nicanor had left Jerusalem, he came to a certain village called Bethoron, and there encamped, being joined by another force from Syria. And Judas encamped at Adasa, another village thirty stades distant from Bethoron, with two thousand men in all. [409] These he exhorted not to be overawed by the numbers of their adversaries nor to reflect how many they were about to contend against, but to bear in mind who they were and for what prize they were facing danger, and bravely encounter the enemy ; and then he led them out to battle. And engaging Nicanor, he defeated his adversaries after a severe fight, and killed many of them ; and finally Nicanor himself fell, fighting gloriously. [410] G   When he fell, his army did not stay , but having lost their commander, threw away all their armour, and turned to flight. But Judas pursued and slew them, and caused the trumpets to signal to the surrounding villages that he was defeating the enemy. [411] When their inhabitants heard this, they leaped to arms, and heading off the fugitives, met them face to face, and killed them, so that from this battle not a single man escaped out of the nine thousand who were in it. [412] G   Now the victory took place on the thirteenth of the month which is called Adar by the Jews, and Dystros by the Macedonians. And the Jews celebrate their victory every year in this month, and observe this day as a festival. But though the Jewish nation for a little while after that date had respite from war and enjoyed peace, thereafter it was again to undergo a period of struggle and danger.  

  [413] As the high priest Alcimus was planning to pull down the wall of the Holy Place, which was very old and had been erected by the ancient prophets, a sudden stroke from God seized him, by which he was brought speechless to the ground, and after suffering torment for many days, he died, having been high priest for four years. [414] G   And when he died, the people gave the high priesthood to Judas ; thereupon, having heard of the power of the Romans and that they had subdued Galatia and Iberia and Carthage in Libya, and in addition had conquered Greece and the kings Perseus, Philip and Antiochus the Great, he decided to make a treaty of friendship with them. [415] Accordingly, he sent to Rome his friends Eupolemus, the son of Joannes, and Jason, the son of Eleazar, and through them requested the Romans to become his allies and friends, and to write to Demetrius that he should not make war on the Jews.

[416] G   When the envoys sent by Judas came to Rome, the Senate received them, and after they had spoken about their mission, agreed to the alliance. It also made a decree concerning this, and sent a copy to Judaea, while the original was engraved on bronze tablets and deposited in the Capitol. [417] It read as follows. "A decree of the Senate concerning a treaty of alliance and goodwill a with the Jewish nation. No one of those who are subject to the Romans shall make war on the Jewish nation, or furnish to those who make war on them any grain, ships or money. [418] G   And if any attack the Jews, the Romans shall assist them so far as they are able, and on the other hand, if any attack the Romans, the Jews shall help them as allies. And if the Jewish nation wishes either to add anything to, or remove anything from, this treaty of alliance, this shall be done with the concurrence of the Roman people, and whatever may be added shall be valid." [419] The decree was signed by Eupolemus, the son of Joannes, and by Jason, the son of Eleazar, Judas being high priest of the nation, and his brother Simon commander. This, then, is how the first treaty of friendship and alliance between the Romans and the Jews came about.   

  {11.}   [420] G   Now when Demetrius was informed of the death of Nicanor and of the destruction of the army with him, he again sent out Bacchides with a force to Judaea. [421] Setting out from Antioch, he came to Judaea and encamped at Arbela, a city in Galilee ; and after besieging those who were in the caves there - for many had taken refuge in these,- he captured them, and departing from there, hastened toward Jerusalem. [422] G   But when he learned that Judas had encamped at a certain village by the name of Berzetho, he pushed on to meet him with twenty thousand foot-soldiers and two thousand horsemen ; while Judas' whole force amounted to only a thousand. When these saw the great numbers of Bacchides' men, they became afraid, and abandoning their lines, all but eight hundred fled. [423] But Judas, although abandoned by his own soldiers, and with the enemy pressing him and allowing him no time to rally his force, was ready to engage Bacchides' men with his eight hundred ; and so he exhorted these few to face danger bravely, and urged them to advance to battle. [424] G   They, however, said that they were not sufficiently strong to fight so great an army, and advised him to retreat for the time being, and so save them, but, when he had assembled his men, to engage the foe then. "May the sun not look upon such a thing," he replied, "as that I should show my back to the enemy. [425] But even if the present moment brings death to me, and I must inevitably perish in the fight, I will stand my ground, valiantly enduring all things rather than flee now and so bring disgrace upon my former achievements and upon the glory won through them." So he spoke to those who were left, urging them to show contempt for danger and join battle with the enemy.   

  [426] G   Meanwhile Bacchides led his force out of their camp, and drew them up for battle ; his horsemen he stationed on either wing, and the light-armed troops and archers he placed in front of his main body, while he himself was on the right wing. [427] Having marshalled his army in this way, he came close to the enemy's lines, and ordered his trumpeter to sound the charge, and his army to raise the battle-cry and go forward. [428] G   And Judas, doing the same, engaged the enemy, and as both sides fought stoutly, the battle was prolonged till sunset ; but Judas, seeing that Bacchides and the strongest part of his army were on the right wing, took his bravest men and made for that part of the line, and falling upon the troops there, broke their solid ranks. [429] Then thrusting himself through their midst, he forced them to flee, and pursued them as far as Mount Aza, as it is called. But when those of the left observed the rout of their right wing, they encircled Judas as he was pursuing it, and coming up behind him, caught him in their midst. [430] G   And so, being unable to flee, and surrounded by the enemy, he stood there with his followers and fought. But after killing many of his adversaries, he became worn out, and himself fell ; and so, still performing glorious deeds as he was dying, like those which he had performed in the past, he breathed his last. [431] When Judas fell, his followers, having no one to look to thereafter, and being deprived of so great a commander, fled forthwith. [432] G   But Simon and Jonathan, the brothers of Judas, obtained his dead body from the enemy under a truce, and carrying it to the village of Modeein, where their father also had been buried, performed the last rites ; and the people mourned him for many days, and publicly honoured him with the customary ceremonies. [433] Such was the end of Judas, who had been a valiant man and a great warrior, and mindful of the injunctions of his father Mattathias, had had the fortitude to do and suffer all things for the liberty of his fellow-citizens. [434] G   And such was the prowess of this man that he left behind him the greatest and most glorious of memorials - to have freed his nation and rescued them from slavery to the Macedonians. And he had held the high priesthood for three years when he died. 

Book 13 →

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