II Maccabees


The book of II Maccabees, in a sense, is the only one of the books called Maccabees to rightly be called Maccabees since this is the only book that really deals with Judas Maccabeus. The other books might more correctly be called “Things Hasmonean” or “The Hasmonean House.”

The book was originally written in Greek and soon after it had been written it was translated into Latin, Syriac and Armenian. It is thought to have been written between 104 and 63 B.C.E.

Scholars across the centuries have questioned the reliability of this book. The numbers of warriors involved in battle, and the numbers of those who were slain are often questioned and thought to be inflated.

The book seems to have seven segments:

I Two letters:

A. The letter to the Jews in Egypt 1:1 - 9

B. The letter to Aristobulus. 1:10- 2:18

II God blesses the Jewish protection of the temple 2:19 – 3.

from desecration.

III God’s punishment of Jerusalem. 4 – 7

IV God’s merciful deliverance of the Jews 8:1 - 10:9

and the re-consecration of the temple.

V God’s loyal support of Judas and his victories. 10:10 – 13:26

VI God’s self-manifestation in his defense of 14:1 – 15:36

Jerusalem and the temple.

VII Epilogue. 15:37 - 39

The book contains the belief in the resurrection of the dead, which had already been hinted at in Daniel 12:2. It is clearly stated in II Maccabees 7 - 8. It also states that the world was created out of nothing, the efficacy of praying for the dead, and that divine retribution is perfectly just, the last two of which are questioned by many theologians.

The book appears to parallel I Maccabees 1 - 8 but presents a different theological point of view. The author seems to be influenced by Greek historians and writes in a similar manner, though he adds a theological point of view. The author or editor of the book is unknown.

II Maccabees

A Letter to the Jews in Egypt

1 The Jews in Jerusalem and those in the land of Judea,

To their Jewish kindred in Egypt: Greetings and true peace.

2 May God do good to you, and may he remember his covenant with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, his faithful servants. 3 May he give you all a heart [1] to worship him and to do his will with a strong heart and a willing spirit. 5 May he open your heart to his law and his commandments, and may he bring peace. 5 May he hear your prayers and be reconciled to you, and may he not forsake you in time of evil. 6 We are now praying for you here.

7 In the reign of Demetrius II, in the one hundred sixty-ninth year, [2] we Jews had already written to you, in the extreme tribulation [3] that came upon us in those years after Jason and his company revolted from the holy land and the kingdom 8 and burned the gate [4] and slaughtered innocent people. We prayed to the Lord and were heard, and we offered sacrifice and grain offering, and we lit lamps and set out the loaves. 9 And now see that you keep the festival of booths in the month of Chislev, [5] in the one hundred eighty-eighth year. [6]


The Death of King Antiochus

10 The people of Jerusalem and of Judea and the senate and Judas,

To Aristobulus, who is of the family of the anointed priests,

teacher of King Ptolemy, and to the Jews in Egypt..

Greetings and good health.

11 Having been saved by God out of grave dangers we thank him greatly for taking our side against the king, [7] 12 for he drove out those who fought against the holy city. 13 When the leader reached Persia with a force that seemed invincable, they were cut to pieces in the temple of Nanea by a deception (or, treachery) employed by the priests of the goddess [8] Nanea. 14 On the pretext of intending to marry her, Antiochus came to the place together with his Friends, to secure most of its treasurers as a dowry. [9] 15 When the priests of the temple of Nanea [10] had set out the treasures and Antiochus had come with a few men inside the wall of the sacred precinct, they closed the temple a soon as he entered it. 16 Opening a secret door in the ceiling they threw stones and struck down the leader and his men, as if by a thunderbolt, and they dismembered them and cut of their heads and threw them to the people outside. 17Blessed be our God, in every way, who has brought judgment on those who have behaved impiously.

18 Since on the twenty-fifth day of Cheslev we will be celebrating the purification of the temple, we thought it would be important to notify you, in order that you might also celebrate the festival of Booths as well as the festival of fire that was given when Nehemiah, who restored the temple and the altar offered sacrifices

Fire Consumes Nehemiah’s Sacrifice

19 For when our ancestors were being led as captives to Persia, the pious priests of that time took some of the fire of the altar and secretly hid it in the hollow of a dry cistern, where they took such precautions that the place was unknown to anyone. 20 But after many years had passed, when it pleased God Nehemiah, having been commissioned by the king in Persia, sent Nehemiah and the descendants of the priests who had hidden the fire to get it. And when they reported to us that they had not found fire but only a thick liquid, he ordered them to dip it out and bring it. 21 When the materials for the sacrifices were presented, Nehemiah ordered the priests to sprinkle the liquid on the wood and on the things laid upon it. 22 When this had been done and some time had passed, and when the sun, which had been clouded over, shone out, a great fire lazed up, so that all marveled. 23 And while the sacrifice was being consumed, the priests offered prayer—the priests and everyone, Jonathan led, and the rest responded as did Nehemiah. 24 The prayer was something like this:

Nehemiah’s Prayer

“O God, Lord God, Creator of all things, you are awe-inspiring and strong and just and merciful, you alone are king and are kind, 25 You alone are bountiful, you alone are just, and almighty and eternal. You rescue Israel from every evil, you chose the ancestors and consecrated them. 26 Accept this sacrifice on behalf of all your people Israel and preserve your portion and make it holy, 27 Gather together our scattered people, set free those who are slaves among the Gentiles, look on those who are rejected and despised and let the Gentiles know that you are our God. 28 Punish those who oppress and are insolent with pride. 29 Plant your people in your holy place, as Moses promised.”

The Persian Emperor Hears about the Fire

30 Then the priests sang the hymns. 31 After the materials of the sacrifice had been consumed, Nehemiah ordered the liquid that was left should be poured [11] on large stones 32 When this was done it shot up as a flame and burned until the light from the altar outshone it, and it went out. 33 When this matter became known, and it was reported to the king of the Persians that, in the place where the exiled priests had hidden the fire, the liquid had appeared with which Nehemiah and his associates had burned the materials of the sacrifice.34 the king investigated the matter and enclosed the place and made it sacred. 35 With those persons whom the king favored he exchanged many excellent gifts. 36 Nehemiah and his associates called this “nephthar,” which means purification, but by most people it is called naptha. [12]


Jeremiah Hides the Tent of the Lord’s Presence

1 One finds in the records that the prophet Jeremiah ordered those who were being deported [to Babylon] to take some of the fire, as had been mentioned, 2 and that prophet, after giving them the law, instructed those who were being deported not to neglect the commandments of the Lord, or to be led astray in their thoughts on seeing the gold and silver statues and their adornment. 3 With other similar words he exhorted them that the law should not depart from their hearts. [13]

4 It was also in the same document that the prophet, having received an oracle, ordered that the tent and the ark should follow him, and that he went out to the mountain where Moses had gone up and had seen the inheritance of God. 5 Jeremiah came and found a cave-dwelling, and he brought there the tent and the ark and the altar of incense, then he sealed up the entrance. 6 Some of those who followed him came up intending to mark the way, but could not find it. 7 When Jeremiah learned of it, he reprimanded them and declared: “The place shall remain unknown until God gathers his people together again and shows his mercy. 8 Then the Lord will disclose these things, and the dazzling light of he Lord and the cloud will appear, which will be revealed to them as in the case of Moses, and as Solomon asked that the place be properly consecrated.

How Solomon Celebrated the Festival

9 It was also made clear that being possessed of wisdom Solomon offered sacrifice for the dedication and completion of the temple. 10 Just as Moses prayed to the Lord, and fire came down from heaven and consumed the sacrifices, [14] 11 so also Solomon prayed, and the fire came down and consumed the whole burnt offerings. 12 Likewise Solomon also kept the eight days.

Nehemiah’s Library

13 The same things are reported in the records and in the memoirs of Nehemiah, and also that he founded a library and collected books about the kings and prophets, and the wrings of David and letters of kings about votive offerings. [15] 14 The same way Judas also collected all the books that had been scattered due to war that had come upon us, and they are in our possession. 15 So if you have need of them, send people to get them for you.

An Invitation to Celebrate the Festival

16 Since, therefore, we are about to celebrate the purification, we write to you. Will you therefore please keep the days? 17 It is God who has saved all his people, and has returned the inheritance to all, and the kingship and the priesthood and the consecration, 18 as he promised through the law. We have hope in God that he will soon have mercy on us and will gather us from everywhere under heaven into his holy place, for he has rescued us from great evils and has purified the place.

Author’s Preface

19 The story of Judas Maccabeus and his brothers, and the purification of the great temple, and the dedication of the altar, 20 and further the wars against Antiochus Epiphanes and his son Eupator, 21 and the appearances that came from heaven to those who fought bravely for Judaism, so that though few in number they seized the whole land and pursued the barbarian hordes, [16] 22 and regained possession of the temple famous throughout the world, and liberated the city, and re-established the laws that were about to be abolished, while the Lord with great kindness became gracious to them---23 all this, which has been set forth by Jason of Cyrene in five volumes, we will attempt to condense into a single book. 24 For considering the flood of statistics involved and the difficulty there is for those who wish to enter upon the narratives of history because of the mass of material, 25 we have aimed to please those who wish to read for sheer pleasure, to make it easy for those who are inclined to memorize, and to profit all readers. 26 For us who have undertaken the toil of summarizing, it is no light matter but calls for difficult work [17] and loss of sleep, 27 Just as it is not easy for one who prepares a banquet and seeks to satisfy the tastes of everyone who eats. Never-the-less, to secure the gratitude of many we will gladly endure the uncomfortable toil, 28 leaving the responsibility for exact details to the compiler, while devoting our efforts to arriving at the outlines of the condensation. 29 For as the master builder of a new house must be concerned with the whole construction, while the one who undertakes its painting and decoration has to consider only what is suitable for its adornment, such in my judgment is the case with us. 30 It is the duty of the original historian to occupy the ground, to discuss matters from every side, and to take trouble with details, 31 but the one who recasts the narrative should be allowed to strive for brevity of expression and to forego exhaustive treatment. 32 At this point therefore let us begin our narrative, without adding any repetition of what has already been said; for it would be foolish to lengthen the preface while cutting short the history itself.

<CHAPTER 3> [18]

The Argument between Onias and Simon

1 While the holy city was inhabited in unbroken peace and the laws were strictly observed because of the piety of the high priest Onias and his hatred of wickedness. 2 The kings themselves honored and glorified the temple with the most magnificent, 3 even to the extent that King Seleucus [19] of Asia who defrayed all the expenses connected with the service of the sacrifices at his own expense..

4 But a man named Simon of the tribe of Benjamin, [20] who had been made administrator of the temple, had a disagreement with the high priest about the administration of the city market. 5 Since he could not get the better of Onias, he went to Apollonius [son] of Tarsus, who at that time was governor of Coele-synai and Phoenicia, 6 and reported to him that the treasury in Jerusalem was full of seemingly unlimited sums of money, so that the amount of the funds could not be determined, and that they did not belong to the account of the sacrifices, but that it was possible for them to fall under the control of the king. 7 When Apollonius met the king, he told him of the money about which he had been informed. The king chose Heliodorus, who was in charge of his affairs, and sent him with commands to effect the removal of the reported wealth. 8 Heliodorus at once set out on his journey, ostensibly to make a tour of inspection of the cities of Coele-syria and Phoenicia, but in fact to carry out the king’s purpose.

9 When he had arrived at Jerusalem and had been cordially received by the high priest of the city, he told about the disclosure that had been made and stated why he had come, and he inquired whether this really was the situation. 10 The high priest explained that there were some deposits belonging to widows and orphans, 11 and also some money of Hyrcanus son of Tobias, a man of very high standing, and that it totaled in all four hundred talents of silver [21] and two hundred of gold. [22] To such an extent the impious Simon had misrepresented the facts. 12 And he said that it was utterly impossible that wrong should be done to those people who had trusted in the holiness of the place and in the sanctity and inviolablility of the temple that is honored throughout the entire world

Heliodorus Plans to Enter the Temple

13 But Heliodorus, because of the orders he had been given by the king, said that this money must in any case be confiscated for the royal treasury. 14 So he set a day, and went in to direct the inspection of these funds.

There was great distress throughout the entire city. 15 The priests prostrated themselves before the altar in their priestly vestments and called toward heaven upon him who had given the law about deposits, that he should keep them safe, and intact for those who had deposited them. 16 To see the appearance of the high priest it was obvious that his heart was breaking, for his face and the change of his color disclosed the anguish of his soul. 17 Terror and bodily trembling had come over the man, which plainly showed to those who looked at him that the pain lodged in his heart. 18 People also hurried out of their houses in crowds to make a general supplication because the holy place was about to be brought into dishonor. 19 Women wore sackcloth skirts, with their breasts bare, as they thronged the streets. Some of the young women who were kept indoors ran together to the gates, and some to the walls, while others peered out of their windows. 20 and holding up their hands to heaven, they all made supplication. 21 It was pitiable to see the populace crowded together, prostrated; and the anxiety of the high priest to his great anguish.

The Lord Protects His temple

22 While they were calling upon the Almighty Lord that he would keep what had been entrusted safe and secure for those who had entrusted it, 23 Heliodorus went on with what had been decided. 24 But when he arrived at the treasury with his body guard, then and there the Sovereign of spirits and of all authority causes so great a manifestation that all who had been so bold as to accompany him, were astounded by the power of God, and became faint with terror. 25 There appeared to them a magnificently caparisoned horse, with a rider of frightening mien, it rushed furiously at Heliodorus and struck him with its front hoofs. Its rider was seen to have armor and weapons of gold. 26 Two young men also appeared to him, remarkably strong, gloriously beautiful and splendidly dressed, who stood on either side of him and flogged him continuously, inflicting many blows on him. 27 When he suddenly fell to the ground and deep darkness came over him, his men took him up, put him on a stretcher, 28 and carried him away---this man who had just entered the aforesaid treasury with a great retinue and all his body guards but was unable o help himself. They recognized clearly the sovereign power of God.

Onias Prays for Heliodorus

29 While he lay prostrate, speechless because of the divine intervention he was deprived of any hope of recovery, 30 they praised the Lord who had acted miraculously for his own place, the temple, which a little while before was full of fear and disturbance, was filled with joy and gladness, now that the Almighty Lord had appeared.

31 Some of Heliodors’s friends quickly begged Onias to call upon the Most High to grant life to one who was lying quiet at his last gas[. 32 So the high priest, fearing that the king might get the notion that some foul play had been perpetrated by the Jews with regard to Heliodorus, offered a sacrifice for the man’s recovery. 33 While the high priest was making an atonement, the same young men appeared again to Heliodorus dressed in the same clothing, and they stood and said, ”Be very grateful to the high priest Onias, since for his sake the Lord has granted you your life. 34 See that you, who have been flogged by heaven, report to all people the majestic power of God.” Having said this they vanished.

Heliodorus Praises God

35 Then Heliodorus offered sacrifice to the Lord and made very great vows to the Savior of his life, and having bidden Onias farewell, he ached off with his forces to the king. 36 He bore witness to all concerning the deeds of the supreme God, which he had seen with his own eyes.37 When the king asked Heliodorus what sort of person would be suitable to send on another mission to Jerusalem, he replied, 38 ”If you have any enemy or plotter against your government, send him there, for you will get him back thoroughly flogged, if he survives at all, for there is certainly some power of God about the place. 39 He who has his dwelling in heaven watches over that lace himself and brings it aid and he strikes and destroys those who come to do it injury. 40 This was the outcome of the episode of Heliodoris and the protection of the treasury.


1 The previously mentioned Simon who had informed about the money against (or, and) his own country slandered Onias, saying that it was Simon who had incited

Heliodorus and had been the real cause of the misfortune. 2 He dared to designate the man who was the benefactor of the city, the protector of his companions, and a zealot of the laws, as a plotter against the government. 3 When his feud had progressed to such a degree that even murders were committed by one of Simon’s approved agents, 4 OPnias recognized that the rivalry was serious and that Apollonius son of Menestheus, and governor of Coele-syria and Phoenicia was intensifying the malice of Simon. 5 So he appealed to the king, not accusing his compatriots but having in view the welfare, both public and private, of all the people. 6 For he saw that without the king’s attention public affairs could not again reach a peaceful settlement, and that Simon would not stop his folly.

7 When Seleucus died [23] and Antiochus, who was called Epiphanes, became the rule of the kingdom, Jason the brother of Onias, procured the high priesthood by corrupt means, 8 promising the king at an interview (or, by a petition) three hundred sixty talents of silver, and from another source of revenue eighty talents. 9 In addition to this he promised to pay one hundred fifty [24] more if permission were given to establish by his authority a gymnasium and a body of youth for it, and to enroll the people of Jerusalem as citizens of Antioch. 10 When the king assented and Jason came to office, he at once shifted his fellow Jews over to the Greek way of life.

Jason Introduces Greek Customs

11 He set aside the existing royal concessions to the Jews, secured through John the father of Eupolemus, who went on the mission to establish a friendship and an alliance with the Romans; and he destroyed the lawful ways of living and introduced new customs contrary to the law. 12 He took delight in establishing a gymnasium right under the citadel, and he induced the noblest of the young men to wear the Greek hat. [25] 13There was such an extreme of Hellenization and increase in the adoption of foreign ways because of the surpassing wickedness of Jason, who was ungodly and no true high priest., 14 that the priests were no longer interested in their service at the altar. Despising the sanctuary and neglecting their activities, they hurried to take part in the unlawful proceedings in the wrestling arena, after the signal for the discus throwing, 15 disdaining the honors prized by their ancestors and putting the highest value on Greek forms of prestige, 16 For this reason heavy disaster overtook them, and those whose ways of living they admired and wished to imitate completely because their enemies an d punish them.. 17 It is no light thing to show irreverence to the divine laws---a fact that later events will make clear.

Jerusalem under Syrian Influence

18 When the quadrennial games were being held at Tyre [26] and the king was present, 19 the villainous Jason sent envoys, citizens as being Antiochian citizens from Jerusalem, to carry three hundred silver drachmas for the sacrifice to Hercules. Those who carried the money, however, thought it best not to use it for sacrifice, because that was inappropriate, but to spend it for another purpose. 20 So this money was intended by the sender for the sacrifice to Hercules, but by the decision of its carriers it was applied to the construction of triremes.

21 When Apollonius son of Menestheus was sent to Egypt for the coronation (or, blessing) of Philometor as king, Antiochus learned that Philometor had become hostile to his government, and he took measures for his own security. Therefore, upon arriving in Joppa, he proceeded to Jerusalem. [27] 22 He was welcomed magnificently by Jason and the city, and ushered in with a blaze of torches and with shouts. Then he garrisoned his army into Phoenicia.

Menelaus Becomes High Priest

23 After a period of three years Jason sent Menelaus, the brother of the previously mentioned Simon , to carry the money to the king and to complete the records of essential business. 24 But he, when presented to the king, extolled him with an air of authority, and secured the high priesthood for himself, outbidding Jason by three hundred talents of silver. 25 After receiving the king’s orders he returned, possessing no qualification for the high priesthood , but having a hot temper of a cruel tyrant and the rage of a savage wild beast. 26 So Jason, who after supplanting his own brother was supplanted by another man, was driven as a fugitive into the land of Ammon . 27 Although Menelaus continued to hold the office, he did not regularly pay any of the money promised to the king. 28 When Sostratus the captain of the citadel kept requesting payment –for the collection of the revenue was his responsibility—the two of them were summoned by the king on account of this issue. 29 Menelaus left his own brother Lysimachus as deputy [28] in the high priesthood, while Sostratus left Crates, the command er of the Cyprian troops.

The Murder of Onias

30 While all this was taking place, the people of Tarsus and of Mallus revolted because their cities had been given as a present to Antiochus, the king’s concubine. 31 So the king went hurriedly to restore order, leaving Andromicus, a man of high rank, to act as his deputy. 32 But Menelaus, thinking he had obtained a suitable opportunity stole some of the gold vessels from the temple and gave them to Andronicus, other vessels, as it happened, he had sold to Tyre and the neighboring cities. 33 When Omias became fully aware of these acts, he publicly exposed them, having first withdrawn to a place of sanctuary at Daphne near Antioch. 34 Therefore Menelaus, taking Andromicus aside, urged him to kill Onias. Andromicus came to Onias, and resorting to treachery, offered him sworn pledges and gave him his right hand; he persuaded him though still suspicious, to come out from the place of sanctuary, then, with no regard for justice, he immediately put him to death.

Andronicus is Punished

35 For this reason not only Jews, but many also of other nations, were grieved and displeased at the unjust murder of the man. 36 When the king returned from the region of Cilicia, the Jews in the city appealed to him with regard to the undefemdable murder of Onias, and the Greeks shared their hatred of the crime. 37 Therefore Antiochus was grieved at heart and filled with pity, and wit tears, because of the moderation and good conduct of the deceased. 38 Inflamed with anger, he immediately stripped off the purple robe from Andronicus, tore off his clothes, and led him around the entire city to that very place where he had committed the outrage against Onias, and there he dispatched the bloodthirsty fellow. The Lord thus repaid him with the punishment he deserved.

Lysimachus Is Killed

39 When many acts of sacrilege had been committed in the city by Lysimachus with the connivance of Menelalus, and when report of them had spread abroad, the populace gathered against Lysimachus, because many of the gold vessels had already been stolen. 40 Since the crowds were becoming aroused and filled with anger, Lysimachus armed about three thousand men and launched an unjust attack, under the leadership of a certain Auranus, [29] a man advanced in years and no less advanced in folly. 41 But when the Jews became aware that Lysimachus was attacking them, some picked dp stones, some blocks of wood, and others took handfuls of ashes that were lying around, and threw them in wild confusion at Lysimachus and his men. 42 As a result, they wounded many of them, and killed some, and put all the rest to flight; the temple robber himself they killed close to the treasury.

Menelaus Is Brought to Trial

43 Charges were brought against Menelaus about this incident. 44 Menelaus, already as good as beaten, promised a substantial bribe to Ptolemy son of Dorymenes to win over the king. 46 Therefore Ptolemy, taking the king aside into a colonnade as if for refreshment, induced the king to change his mind. 47 Menelaus was the cause of all the trouble. He was acquitted of the charges against him, while he sentenced to death those unfortunate men who would have been freed un-condemned, if they had pleaded even before Scythians. 48 So those who had spoken for the city and the villages [30] and the holy vessels quickly suffered the unjust penalty. 49 Therefore even the Tyrans, showing their hatred of the crime, provided magnificently for their funeral. 50 But Menelaus, because of the greed of those in power, remained in office, growing in wickedness, having became the chief plotter against his compatriots.


Visions of Battle

1 About this time Antiochus IV made his second invasion of Egypt. 2 It happened that, for almost forty days, there appeared over the city, golden clad cavalry charging through the air, in companies fully armed with lances and drawn swords --- 3 troops of cavalry drawn up, attacks and counterattacks made on this side and on that, brandishing shields, massing of spears, hurling of missiles, the flash of golden trappings, and armor of all kinds. 4 Therefore everyone prayed that the apparition might be a phenomenon which boded a good omen.

Jason attacks Jerusalem

5 Based on a false rumor Antiochus was dead, as body guards, Jason took no fewer than a thousand men and suddenly made an assault on the city. When the troops on the wall had been forced back and at last the city was being taken, Menelaus took, refuge in the citadel. 6 But Jason kept relentlessly slaughtering his fellow citizens, not realizing that success at the cost of one’s kindred is the greatest misfortune, but imagining that he was setting up trophies of victory over enemies and thereby defeating his own people.. 7 He, however, did not gain control of the government, in the end he only got shame from his conspiracy, and fled again into the country of the Ammonites. 8 Finally he met a miserable end. Accused [31] before Aretas the ruler of the Arabs, fleeing from city to city, pursued by everyone, hated as a renegade in opposition to the law, and abhorred as the butcher of his country and his relatives, he was cast ashore in Egypt. 9 There he who had driven many from their own country into exile died in exile, having embarked to go to Lacedacmonians [32] in hope of finding protections because of their being related.. 10 He who had cast out many to lie unburied had no one to mourn for him; for he had no funeral of any sort and no place in the tomb of his ancestors.

Antiochus Attacks Jerusalem

11 When news of what had happened reached the king, he took it to mean that Judea was undergoing an insurrection.. So, raging inwardly, [33] he left Egypt and took the city by storm. 12 He commanded his soldiers to relentlessly slaughtered [34] everyone they met and to kill those who went into their homes. 13 Then there was massacre of young and old, destruction of boys, women, and children, and slaughter of young girls and infants. 14 Within the total of three days eighty thousand were destroyed, forty thousand in hand –to-hand fighting and as men were sold into slavery or killed.

15 Not being satisfied with this, Antiochus dared to enter the most holy temple in all the world, guided by Menelaus, who had turned traitor both to the laws and to his country. 16 Antiochus took the holy vessels with his polluted hands, and swept away with profane hands the votive offerings that other kings had made to enhance the glory and honor of the place.

17 Antiochus was elated in spirit, [35] and did not perceive that the Lord was angered for a little while because of the sin of those who lived in the city, and that this was the reason he was disregarding the holy place. 18 But if it had not happened that they were involved in many sins, this man would have been flogged and turned back from his rash acts as soon as he came forward, just as Heliodorus had been, whom King Seleucus sent to inspect the treasury. 19 But the Lord did not choose the nation for the sake of the holy place, but the place for the sake of the nation. 20 Therefore the place itself shared in the misfortunes that befell the nation and afterward participated in its benefits and what was forsaken in the wrath of the Almighty was restored again in all its glory when the great Lord became reconciled,

Another Attack aginst Jerusalem

21 So Antiochus carried off eighteen hundred talents from the temple , and hurried away to Antioch, thinking in his arrogance that he would sail on the land and walk on the sea, because his mind was elated. 22 He left governors to oppress the people of Jerusalem,

among them, Philip, by birth, a Phrygian and in character more barbarous than Antiochus who appointed him, 23 and at [Mount] Gerizim, Andronicus, and besides these Menelaus, who lorded it over his compatriots whose than the others did. In his malice toward the Jewish citizens [36] 24 Antiochus sent Apollonius, the captain of the Mysians, [37] with an army of twenty-two thousand and commanded him to kill all all the grown men and to sell the women and boys as slaves. 25 When this man arrived in Jerusalem, he pretended to be peaceably disposed and waited until the holy Sabbath day; then finding the Jews not at work, he ordered his troops to parade under arms. 26 He put to the sword all those who came out to see them, then rushed into the city with his armed warriors and killed great numbrs of people.

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


The Jews Are Persecurted Because of Their Faith

1 Not long after this, the king sent an Athenian[38] senator [39]to compel the Jews to forsake the laws of their ancestors and no give up their regard for obeying the laws of God: 2 also to pollute the temple in Jerusalem and to call it the temple of Olympian Zeus, [40]and to call the one at (Mount) Gerizim the temple of Zeus-the-Friend-of-Strangers, [41] as did the people who lived in that place.

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

7 On the monthly celebration of the king’s birthday, [42] the Jews [43] were taken under bitter constraint, to partake of the sacrifices; and when a festival of Dionysus was celebrated, they were forcibly compelled to wear wreaths of ivy and to walk in the procession in honor of Dionysus. 8 At the suggestion of the people of Ptolemais [44] a decree was issued to the neighboring Greek cities that they should adopt the same policy toward the Jews and make them partake in the sacrifices, [45] 9 and they should kill those who did not choose to change over to Greek customs. One could see, therefore, the misery that had come upon them. 10 For example, two women were brought in for having circumcised their children. They publicly paraded them around the city, with their babies hanging at their breasts, and then hurled them down headlong from the wall. 11 Others who had assembled in the caves nearby, in order to observe the seventh day in secret, were betrayed to Philip and were all burned together, because their party kept them from defending themselves, in view of their regard for that most holy day.

The Lord Punishes and Shows Mercy

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

Eleazar Dies for His Faith

18 Eleazar, one of the scribes in high position, a man now advanced in age and of noble presence, was being forced to open his mouth to eat swine’s flesh. 19 But he, welcoming death with honor rather than life with pollution, went up to the rack of his own accord, spitting out the flesh, 20 as all ought to do who have the courage to refuse things that are not right to taste, even for the natural love of life. [46]

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

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

When he had said this, he went [47] at once to the rack. 29 Those who a little before had acted toward him with goodwill now changed to ill will; because the words he had uttered were sheer madness in their opinion.. [48] 30 When he was at the point of death because of the blows, he groaned aloud and said, “It is clear to the Lord in his holy knowledge that, though I might have been saved from death, I am enduring terrible sufferings in body under this beating, but in my soul I am glad to suffer these things because I revere him.”

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


A Mother and Her Sons Die for Their Faith

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

3 The king fell into a rage, and gave orders to have pans and caldrons heated. 4 These were heated immediately. He commanded that the tongue of their spokesman be cut out and that they scalp him [49] and cut off his hands and feet, while the rest of the brothers and the mother looked on. 5 When he was utterly helpless, the king ordered them to take him to the fire, still breathing, and to fry him in a pan. The smoke from the pan spread widely, but the brothers and their mother encouraged one another to die nobly, saying, 6 ”The Lord God is watching over us and in truth has compassion on us, as Moses declared in his song that bore witness against the people to their faces, when he said, ‘And he will have compassion on his servants.’” [50]

7 After the first brother had died in this way, they brought forward the second for their sport. They tore off the skin of his head, with the hair, and asked him, “Will you eat rather than have your body punished limb by limb?” 8 He replied in the language of his ancestors and said to them “Eat? No. Never!” Therefore he in turn underwent tortures as the first brother had done. 9 When he was about to breathe his last breath , he said, “You accursed wretch, you set us free from this present life, but the king of the universe will raise us up to an everlasting renewal of life, because we have died for his laws.”
10 After him, the third was the victim of their sport. When it was demanded, he quickly put out his tongue and courageously stretched out his hands, 11 and said nobly, “I got these from Heaven, and because God’s laws mean more to me than these hands so I disdain them, and from God I hope to get them back again.” 12 As a result the king himself and those with him were astonished at the young man’s spirit, for he regarded his sufferings as nothing.

13 After he too had died, they maltreated and tortured the fourth in the same way. 14 When he was near death, he said, “It is better to die at the hands of mortals and to cherish the hope God gives of being raised again by him. But for you there will be no resurrection of life!”

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

18 After him they brought forward the sixth. When he was about to die he said, “Do not deceive yourself in vain. For we are suffering these things on our own account, because of our sins against our own God. Therefore [51] astounding things have happened. 19 But do not think that you will go unpunished for having tried to fight against God!”

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

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

30 While she was speaking the young man said, “What are you waiting for? I will not obey the king’s command, but I obey the command of the law that was given to our ancestors through Moses. 31 But you who have contrived all sorts of evil against the Hebrews, will certainly not escape the hands of God. 32 For we are suffering because of our own sins. 33 And if our living Lord is angry for a little while, to rebuke and discipline us, he will again be reconciled with his own servants.[52] 34 But you, as an impious creature, are the most defiled of all mortals. Do not be elated with vain hopes and puffed up illusions and uncertain hopes, when you raise your hand against the children of heaven. 35 You have not yet escaped the judgment of the almighty, all-seeing God. 36 For our brothers after enduring a brief suffering have, under God’s covenant, drunk [53] of ever-flowing life, but you, through the judgment of God, will receive just punishment for your arrogance. 37 I, like my brothers, give up body and life for the laws of our ancestors, appealing to God to show mercy soon to our nation and by trials and plagues to make you confess that he alone is God, 38 and through me and my brothers to bring to an end the wrath of the Almighty that has justly fallen on our entire nation.”

39 The king became infuriated, and treated him worse than the others, being exasperated, and scornful. 40 So he died in his integrity, putting his whole trust in the Lord.

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

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


Judas Maccabeus Revolts

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

5As soon as Maccabeus got his army organized, the Gentiles could not withstand him, for the wrath of the Lord turned to mercy. 6 Coming without warning, he would set fire to towns and villages. He recaptured many of the enemy. 7 He found the nights most advantageous for such attacks. Talk of his valor spread everywhere.

Ptolemy Sends Nicanor to Attack Juda

8 When Philip saw that Judas Maccabeus was gaining ground with increasing frequency, and that he was pushing ahead with more frequent success, he wrote to Ptolemy, the governor of Cocle-syria and Phoenicia, to come to his aid to protect royal interests. 9 Then Ptolemy promptly appointed Nicanor son of Patroclus, one of the king’s chief Friends, and set him to command no fewer than twenty thousand Gentiles of various nationalities, to exterminate the entire population of Judea. He employed a general named Gorgias; a man of experience in military service. 10 Nicanor determined to make up for the king the tribute due to the Romans, two thousand talents, [54] by selling the captured Jews into slavery. 11 So he immediately sent to the towns on the seacoast, inviting them to buy Jewish slaves and promising to hand over ninety slaves for a talent, [55] not expecting the judgment from the Almighty that was about to overtake him.

Judas Learns of Nicanor’s Plans

12 Word came to Judas concerning Nicanor’s invasion; and when he told his companions of the arrival of the enemy, 13 those who were cowardly and distrustful of God’s justice deserted and fled. 14 Others sold all their remaining property, and a the same time implored the Lord to rescue those who had been sold by the ungodly Nicanor before he ever met them, 15 if not for their own sake, [56] then for the sake of the covenants made with their ancestors, and because he had called them by his holy and glorious name.

16 But Maccabeus gathered his forces together, numbering of six thousand, and exhorted them not to be frightened by the enemy and not to panic before the great multitude of Gentiles who, without a cause, were wickedly coming against them, but to fight nobly, 17 keeping before their eyes the lawless outrage that the Gentiles had inflicted against the holy place, and the torture of the derided city, and besides, the suppression of their ancestral way of life. 18 “For they trust to arms and acts of daring,” he said, ”but we trust in the almighty God, who is able with a single nod to strike down those who are coming against us, and even, if necessary, the entire world.”

19 Moreover, he told them of the occasions when help came to their ancestors , how, in the time of Sennacherib, when one hundred eighty-five thousand Jews [57] fought along with four thousand Macedonians; yet when the Macedonians were hard pressed, the eight thousand, by the help that come the them in heaven, destroyed one hundred twenty thousand Galatians [58] and took a great amount of booty.

Judas Defeats Nicanor

21 With these words he filled them with courage and made them ready to die for their laws and their country, then he divided his army into four parts. 22 He appointed his brothers also, Simon and Joseph [59] and Jonathan, each to command a division , putting fifteen hundred men under each. 23 Besides, he appointed Eleazar to read aloud [60] from the holy book, and gave the watchword, “The help of God”; then, leading the first division himself, he joined battle with Nicanor.

24 With the Almighty as their ally they killed more than nine thousand of the enemy, and wounded and disabled most of Nicanor’s army, and forced hem all to flee. 25 They captured the money of those who had come to buy slaves. After pursuing them for some distance, they were obliged to return because the hour was late. 26 It was the day before the Sabbath, and for that reason they did not continue their pursuit. 27 When they had collected )or, piled up) the arms of the enemy and stripped them of their spoils, they kept the Sabbath, giving great praise and thanks to the Lord, who had preserved them for that day and allotted it to them as the beginning of mercy. 28 After the Sabbath they gave some of the spoils to those who were victims who had been tortured and to the widows and orphans, and distributed the remainder among themselves and their children. 29 When they had done this, they made common supplications and implored the merciful Lord to be wholly reconciled with his servants. [61]

Judas Defeats Timothy and Bacchides

30 In encounters with the forces of Timothy and Bacchides they killed more than twenty thousand of them and obtained possession of some exceedingly high strongholds, and they divided a very large amount of plunder, allotting it to those who had beeen tortured and to the orphans and widows, and lo to the aged, shares equal to their own. 31 They collected the arms of the enemy, and carefully stored all of them in strategic places, the rest of the spoils were carried to Jerusalem. 32 They killed the commander of Timothy’s forces, a most wicked man, and one who had greatly troubled the Jews. 33 While they were celebrating the victory of the city of their ancestors, they burned those who had set fire to the sacred gates, Callisthenes and some others who had fled into one small house, so these received the proper reward for their impiety. [62]

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


The Lord Punishes Antiochus [63]

1 About that time, as it happened, Antiochus had retreated in disorder from the region of Persia. 2 He had entered the city called Persepolis [64] and attempted to successfully plunder the temple and gain control the city. Therefore the populous rushed to the rescue with arms, and Antiochus and his army were defeated with the result that Antiochus was put to flight by the inhabitants and beat a shameful retreat. 3 While he was in Ecbatana, [65] news came to him of what had happened to Nicanor and the forces of Timothy. 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 divine judgment rode with him! In his arrogance he said, “When I get there I will make Jerusalem a cemetery for Jews.”

5 But the all-seeing Lord, the God of Israel, struck him with a fatal and invisible blow. As soon as he stopped speaking he was seized with an acute pain in his intestines, for which there was no relief, and with a internal tortures---6 and this 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 firey threats in his rage against the Jews, and giving orders to drive even faster. And so it came about that he fell out of his chariot as it was rushing along, and the fall was so hard as to torture every limb in his body. 8 Thus he who only a little while before had thought in his superhuman arrogance that he could command the waves of the sea, and had imagined that he could weigh the high mountains in a balance, was brought down to earth and carried in a litter, making the power of God manifest to all. 9 So the ungodly man’s body swarmed with worms, and while he was still living in anguish and pain, his flesh rotted away, and because of the stench no one was able to carry the man who a little while before had thought that he could touch the stars of heaven (or, die). [66].

Antiochus Makes a Promise to God

11 It was then 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 incessant. 12 When he could not endure his own stench, he uttered these words, ”It is right to be subject to God; mortals should not think they are equal to God.” [67]

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 hurrying 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 for the wild animals and to the birds to eat, he would make, all of them, equal to citizens of Athens, 16 and the holy temple, which he had formerly plundered, he would adorn with the finest offerings; and all the holy vessels he would return many times over, and the expenses included for the sacrifices he would provide out of 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.

Antiochus’ Letter to the Jews

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 the following letter tp the Jews, in the form of a supplication (a kind of olive branch).. This was its contents”

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 goodwill, On my way back from Persia I suffered an annoying illness, and I have determined it necessary to take thought for the general security of all. [68] 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, [69] 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 neighbors of my kingdom keep watching for opportunities and waiting to see what will happen. So I have appointed my son, Antiochus to be king, whom I have often entrusted and commended to most of you when I hurried off to the upper provinces, and I have written to him what is written here. 26 I therefore urge and beg you to remember the public and private services rendered to you and to maintain your present goodwill, each of you, toward me and my son. 27 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 most 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 Philip, [his foster brother], one of the courtiers, took his body home; then fearing the son of Antiochus, he withdrew to Ptolemy Philometor in Egypt


The Rededication of the Temple

1 Now Maccabeus and his followers, the Lord leading them on, recovered the temple and the city, 2 they tore down the altars that had been built in the public sqrare by the Gentiles, and also destroyed the sacred precincts. 3 They purified the sanctuary, and made another altar of sacrifice, then, striking fire out of flint, [70] they offered incense and lit lamps and set out the bread of the Presence. [for the first time in two years] .4 When they had done this, they prostrated themselves and implored the Lord that they might never again fall into such misfortunes, but that if they should ever sin, they might be disciplined by him with clemency rather than to be handed over to blasphemous and barbarous Gentiles. 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 Chislev. 6 They celebrated it for eight days with rejoicing, in the manner of the festival of booths, remembering how not long before, during the festival of booths, they had been wandering in the mountains and caves like wild animals. 7 Therefore, carrying ivy-wreathed wands and beautiful branches and also fronds of palm, the offered hymns of thanksgiving to him who had given success to the purifying of his own holy place. 8 They decreed by pubic edict, ratified by vote, that the entire nation of the Jews should observe this day every year.

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

Ptolemy Macron Commits Suicide

10 Now we will tell what took place under Antiochus Eupator, who was the son of the 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 [71] to have charge of the government and to be chief governor of Cocie-syria and Phoenicia. 12 Ptolemy, who was called Macron, took the lead in showing justice to the Jews because they had been treated wrongly, 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 Philometer had entrusted to him, and had gone over to Antiochus Epiphanes. Unable to command the respect due his office [72] he took poison and ended his life.

Judas Maccabeus Defeatsthe Idumeans

14 When Gorgias became governor of the region, he hired a force of mercenaries, and at every sought every opportunity to keep attacking the Jews. 15 Besides this, the Idumeans, who had control of important strongholds, were harassing the Jews, they received those who were banished from Jerusalem [73] and endeavored to keep up the war. 16 Maccabeus and the forces, after making solemn supplication and imploring God to fight on their side, launched an attack of the strongholds of the Idumeans. 17 They attacked them vigorously, and they gained possession of the places and beat off all who fought upon the wall, and slaughtered those whom they encountered, killing no fewer than twenty thousand.

18 When at least nine thousand took refuge in two very strong towers well equipped to withstand a siege, 19 Maccabeus left Simon and Joseph, and also Zacchaeus [74] and his troops, a force sufficient to besiege them and he himself set off for places where he was more urgently needed. 20 But those with Simon, who were avericious, 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 Maccabeus, he gathered the leaders of the people and denounced these men of having sold their kindred for money by setting their enemies free to fight against them. [75] 22 Then he killed those men who had turned traitor, and immediately captured the two towers.23 Having success in their military operation, he undertook, he destroyed more than twenty thousand in the two strongholds.

Judas Maccabeus Defeats Timothy

24 Now Timothy, who had been defeated by the Jews before, mustered a tremendous army of mercenaries and collected the cavalry from Asia in large numbers. He came on, intending to take Judea by storm. 25 As he drew near, Maccabeus and his men sprinkled dust on their heads and girded their loins with sackcloth, in supplication to God. 26 Falling upon the steps before the altar, they implored God 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 the enemy they halted. 28 Just at dawn was breaking the two armies joined battle, the one having as a pledge of success and victory not only their valor but also the reliance on the Lord, while the other made rage their leader in the fight.

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

32 Timothy himself fled to a stronghold called Gazara, [76] especially well garrisoned, where Chaereas was commander. 33 Then Maccabeus and his men were glad, and they besieged the fort for four days. 35 The men within, relying on the strength of the place, kept blaspheming terribly, and uttering wicked words. 35 But at dawn of the fifth day, twenty young men from the army of Maccabeus, fired with anger because of the blasphemy, bravely stormed the wall and with savage fury cut down everyone they met. 36 Others who came up in the same way wheeled around against the defenders and set fire to the towers, they lit 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 Timothy, who was hiding 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 victory.


Judas Maccabeus Defeats Lysias

1 Shortly after these events, Lysias, the king’s guardian and kinsman, who was in charge of the government, being vexed at what had happened, 2 mustered about eighty thousand infantry and all his cavalry and came against the Jews. He intended to make the city of Jerusalem a home for Greeks [or, Gentiles], 3 and to levy a tax 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 to the highest bidder. 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 Judea, he approached Beth-zura, which was a fortified place about five stadia (or, 5/8ths of a mile) from Jerusalem and pressed it hard in the attack.

6 When Maccabeus and his men got word that Lysias was besieging the strongholds, they and all the people, with lamentations and tears, prayed the Lord to send a good angel [77] to save Israel. 7 Maccabeus himself was the first to take up arms, and he urged the others to risk their lives with him to aid their kindred. Then they eagerly rushed off together. 8 And there while they were still near Jerusalem, a horseman appeared at their head, adorned in white and brandishing weapons of gold. 9 Together they all praised the merciful God, and were strengthened in heart, ready to assail not only humans but the wild animals 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 laid low eleven thousand of them and sixteen hundred cavalry, and forced all the rest to flee. 12 Most of them escaped stripped and wounded, and Lysias himself escaped by impious flight.

Lysias Makes Peace with the Jews

13 As he was not without intelligence, he pondered over the defeat that had befallen him, and realized that the Hebrews were invincible because the mighty God fought on their side. So he sent to them 14 and persuaded them to settle everything on acceptable terms, promising that he would persuade the king, constraining him to be their friend. [78] 15 Maccabeus, having regard for the common goodl agreed to all that Lysias urged. For the king granted every request in behalf of the Jews which Maccabeus delivered to Lysias in writing to their satisfaction.

The Letter of Lysias to the Jews

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

Lysias to the people of the Jews, greetings. 17 John and Absalom, [79] who were sent by you, have delivered your signed communication and have asked about the matters indicated in it. 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 goodwill toward the government, I will endeavor in the future to help promote your welfare. 20 Concerning such matters and their details, I have ordered these men and my representatives to confer with you. 21 Farewell. The one hundred forty eighth year. [80]Dioscorinthius twenty-forth.” [81]

The King’s Letter to Lysias

22 The king’s letter ran thus:

:”King Antiochus to his brother Lysias, greetings. 23 Now that our father has journeyed on to the gods, [82] 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 should be free from disturbance, our decision is that their temple be restored to them and that they shall live according to the customs of their ancestors. 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 cheeer and go on happily in the conduct of their own affairs.”

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

“King Antiochus to the senate of the Jews and to the other Jews, greetings. 28 If you are well, it is as we desire. We also are in good health. 29 Menelaus has informed us that if it is your wish to return home and look after your own affairs it is permitted. 30 Therefore those who go home [83] by the thirtieth of Xanthicus [84] will have our pledge of friendship and full permission 31 for the Jews to enjoy their won food and laws, just as formerly, and none of them are to be molested in any way for what may have been done in ignorance. 32 I have also sent Menelaus to encourage you. 33 Farewell. The one hundred forty-eighth year,[85] Xanthicus the fifteenth.

The letter of the Romans to the Jews

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

“Quintus Memmius and Titus Manius, [86] envoys of the Romans, to the people of the Jews, greetings: 35 With regard to what Lysias the kinsman of the king has granted you, we also give consent. 36 But as to the matters that 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 messengers so that we may have your judgment. 38 Farewell. The one hundred forty-eighth year. Xanthicus fifteenth.”


The Jews of Joppa Are Murdered

1 When the agreement had been reached Lysias returned to the king, and the Jews were busy on their farms.

2 But some of the governors in various places, Timothy and Apollonius son of Gennaeus, as well as Hieronymus and Demophon, and in addition to these Nicanor the governor of Cyprus, [87] would not let them live quietly and peacefully..

3 The people of Joppa did so ungodly a deed as this: they invited dthe Jews who lived among them to embark, with their wives and children, on boats that they had provided, as though there were no ill will to the Jews, 4 and this was done by public vote of the city. When they accepted, because they wished to live peaceably and suspected nothing, the people of Joppa took them out to sea and drowned them, at least two hundred. 5 When Judas learned of the brutal attack; that took place against people of his nation, he gave orders to his men 6 and, calling upon God the righteous judge, attacked the murderers of his nation, He set fire to the harbor by night, burned the boats, and massacred those who had taken refuge there. 7 Then, because the city gates were closed, he withdrew, intending to come again and root out the entire community of Joppa. 8 But learning that the people in Jamnia meant in the same way to wipe out the Jews who were living among them, 9 he attacked the Jamnians by night and set fire to the harbor and the fleet, so that the glow of the light was seen in Jerusalem thirty miles [88] distant.

Judas’ Victories in the Region of Gilead

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

13 He also attacked a certain town that was strongly fortified with earth-works and walls, and inhabited by a mixed population of Gentiles. Its name was Caspin. 14 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 say unholy things. 15 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 captured the town by the will of God, and slaughtered untold numbers, so that the adjoining lake, a quarter of a mile [89] wide, appeared to be running over with blood.

Judas Defeats Timothy’s Army

17 When they had gone ninety-five miles[90] from there, they came to Charax, to the Jews who are called Toubiani. 18 They did not find Timothy in that region, for he had left there without accomplishing anything, though in one place he had left a very strong garrison. 19 Dositheus and Sosipater, who were captains under Maccabeus, marched out and destroyed those whom Timothy had left in the stronghold, more than ten thousand men. 20 but Maccabeus arranged his army in divisions, set men in command of the divisions, and hurried after Timothy, who had with him one hundred twenty thousand infantry and two thousand five hundred cavalry. 21 When Timothy learned of the approach of Judas, he sent off the women and the children and also0 the baggage to a place called Carnaim, [91] for that place was hard to besiege and difficult of access because of the narrowness of all the approaches. 22 When Judas’s first division appeared, terror and fear came over the enemy at the manifestation to them of him who sees all things. in their flight they rushed headlong in every direction, so that often they were injured by their own men and pierced by the points of their own swords. 23 Judas pressed the pursusit with the utmost vigor, putting the sinners to the sword, and destroyed as many as thirty thousand

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

Judas Wins Other Victories

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. Judas also marched against Ephron, a fortified town where Lysias lived with multitudes of people of all nationalities. [92] Stalwart young men took their stand before the walls and made a vigorous defense; and great stores of war engines and missiles were there. 28 The Jews called upon the Sovereign who with power shatters the might of his enemies, and they got the town into their hands, and killed as many as twenty-five thousand of those who were in it,

29 Setting out from there, they hastened to Scythopolis, (also called Beth-shan),[93] which was seventy-five miles [94] from Jerusalem. 30 but when the Jews who lived there bore witness sto the goodwill that 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 festival of weeks was close at hand.

Judas Defeats Gorgias

32 After the festival called Pentecost, they hurried against Gorgias, the governoo Idumea, 33 who 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, [95] 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 accused man alive, when one of the Thracian cavalry bore down on him and cut off his arm, so Gorgias escaped and reached Marisa. [96]

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

Prayers for Men Killed in Battle

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

39 On the next day, since they had not need to do battle, Judas and his men went to take up the bodies of the fallen and to bring them back to lie with their kindred in sepulchers of their ancestors. 40 Then under the tunic of each one of the dead they found sacred tokens of the idols of Jamnia, [97] which the law forbids the Jews to wear. And it became clear to all that this was the reason that 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 supplication, praying that the sin that had been committed might be wholly blotted out. The noble Judas exhorted the people to keep themselves free from sin, for they had seen with their own eyes what had happened as the result of the sin of those who had fallen. 43 He also took up a collection, man by man, to amount to two thousand drachmas of silver, and sent it to Jerusalem to provide for a sin offering. In doing this he acted very well and honorably, 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, so that they might be delivered from their sin.


Meneleus is Put to Death

1 In the one hundred forty-ninth year [98] word came to Judas and his men that Antiochus Eupator was coming with a great army against Judea, 2 and with him Lysias, his guardian, who had charge of the government. Each of them had a Greek force of one hundred 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 (or, egged Antiochus on for personal gain), 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 that is customary in that place. [99] 5 There is a tower there, fifty-cubits (75 feet) high, full of ashes, and it has a rim running around it that on all sides inclines precipitously into the ashes. 6 There their all out push to destruction of anyone guilty of sacrilege or notorious for other times. [100] 7 By such fate it came about that Menelaus the renegade died, without even burial in the earth. 8 This was eminently just, because he had committed many sins against the altar whose fire and ashes were holy, he met his death in ashes.

A Battle Near the City of Medein

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 be left to the people who had just begun to revive, lest they fall into the hands of the blasphemous Gentiles. 12 When they had all joined in the same petition and had implored the merciful Lord with weeping and fasting and lying prostrate for three days without ceasing, Judas to utter many exhortations for the people, and ordered them to stand ready.

13 After consulting privately with the elders, he determined to march out and decide the matter by the help of God before the king’s army could enter Judea and get possession of the city. 14 So, committing the decision to the Creator of the world and exhorting his troops to fight bravely to the death for the laws, temple, city, country, and commonwealth, he pitched his camp near Modein. 15 He gave his troops the watchword, “God’s victory,” and with picked force of the bravest young men, he attacked the king’s pavilion at night and killed as many as two thousand men in the camp. He stabbed [101] the leading elephant and its rider. 16 In the end he 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.

Antiochus the Fifth Makes a Treaty with the Jews

18 The king having had a taste of the daring of the Jews, tried strategy in attacking their positions. 19 He advanced against Beth-zura, a strong fortress of the Jews, was turned back, attacked again (or, faltered), 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. [102] 22 The king negotiated a second time with the people of Beth-zura, gave pledges, received theirs, withdrew attacked Judas and his men, was defeated; 23 he received word that Philip, 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, honored the sanctuary and showed generosity to the holy place. 24 He received Maccabeaus, left Hegemonides [103] as governor from Ptolemais to Gerar, [104] 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 (or, mounted the rostrum), and made the best possible defense, convinced them, appeased them, gained their good will, and set out for Antioch. This is how the kings’ attack and withdrawal turned out.


Alcimus Speaks Against Judas

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

3 Now a certain Alcimus, who had formerly been high priest but had willfully defiled [105] himself in the times of separation from the Gentiles, realized that there was no way of him to be safe or to have access again to the holy altar, 4 and went to the king Demetrius in about the one hundred fifty-first year, [106] 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 own misguided scheme, when he was invited by Demetrius to a meeting of the council and was asked about the attitude and intention of the Jews. He answered:

6 ”Those of the Jews who are called Hasideans, whose leader is Judas Maccabeus, are keeping up war and stirring up sedition, and will not let the kingdom attain tranquility. 7 Therefore I have laid aside my ancestral glory—I mean the high priesthood—and have now come here, 8 first because I have regard also for my compatriots. 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, may it please you to take thought for our country and our beleaguered nation with the gracious kindness that you show to all. 10 For as long as Judas lives, it is impossible for the government to find peace.”

Demetrius Sends Nicanor to Attack Judas

11 When he had said this the rest of the king’s Friends, [107] who were hostile to Judas, quickly inflamed Demetrius still more. 12 He immediately chose Nicanor, who had been in command of the elephants, appointed him governor of Judea, and sent him off 13 with orders to kill Judas, and scatter his troops, and to install Alcimus as high priest of the great [108] temple. 14 The Gentiles throughout Judea, who had been driven to flee before Judas [109] 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 on their heads and prayed to him who established his own people forever and always upholds his own heritage by manifesting himself. 16 At the command of the leader, they (or, he) set out from there immediately and engaged them in battle at a village called Dessau, [110] 17 Simon, the brother of Judas, had encountered Nicanor, but had been temporarily[111]. checked because of the sudden consternation created by the enemy.

18 Nevertheless Nicanor, hearing of the valor of Judas and his troops and their courage in battle for their country, shrank from deciding the issue by bloodshed. 19 Therefore he sent Posidonius, 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, andi had appeared that they were of one mind, they agreed to the covenant. 21 The leaders set a day on which to meet by themselves. A chariot came forward from each army, seats of honor were set I place; 22 Judas posted armed men in readiness at key places to prevent sudden treachery on the part of the enemy; so they duly held the consultation.

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

Nicanor Turns Against Judas

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, since 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 the depraved Aleimus, wrote to Nicanor, stating that he was displeased with the covenant and commanding him to send Maccabeus to Antioch as a prisoner without delay.

26 When the 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 kingk he watched for an opportunity to accomplish this by a stratagem. 30 But Maccabeus, 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 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 [112] and holy temple while the priests were offering the Jews the customary sacrifices, and commanded them to hand over the man. 32 When they declared on oath that they did not know where the man was whom he wanted, 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 shrine of God to the ground and tear down the altar, and build a splendid temple to Dionysus here.”

34 Having said this he went away. Then the priests stretched out their hands toward heaven and called upon the constant Defender of our nation, in these words: 35 “O Lord of all, though you have need of nothing, you were pleased that there should be a temple for your habitation among us, 36 so now, O holy One, Lord of all holiness, keep this house undefiled forever, that has been so recently purified.”

Razis Dies for His Country

37 A certain Razis, one of the elders of Jerusalem, was denounced to Nicanor as a man who loved his compatriots and was very well thought off and for his goodwill was called father of the Jews. 38 In former times, when there was no mingling with the Gentiles, he had been accused of Judaism, and he had most zealously risked his body and life for Judaism. 39 Nicanor, wishing to exhibit the enmity that he had for the Jews, sent more than five hundred soldiers to arrest him, 40 for he thought that by arresting him, he would injure the cause of the Jews. 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 on his own swo4d, 42 preferring to die nobly rather than to fall into the hands of sinners and suffer outrages unworthy of his noble birth, 43 But the heat of the struggle he misjudged the position of the point of the sword, and the crowd was now rushing in through the doors. He courageously ran up on the wall, and bravely threw himself down into the crowd. 44 But as they quickly drew back, a space opened and he fell into the empty space. 45 Still alive and blazing with anger, he rose, and though his blood gushed forth, and his wounds were severe he ran through the crowd, and standing upon a prominent rock, 46 with his blood now completely drained from him, he tore out his entrails, took them in 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.


Nicanor’s Cruel Plan

1 When Nicanor received the report that Judas and his troops were in the region of Samaria, he made plans to attack them, knowing that it could be done with complete safety on the day of rest. 2 When the Jews who were compelled to follow him said, “Do not destroy so savagely and barbarously, but show respect for the day that he who sees all things has honored 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 When they declared, “It is the living Lord himself, the Sovereign in heaven, who ordered us to observe the seventh day.” 5 He replied, “But 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. [113]

Judas Prepares His Troops for Battle

6 This Nicanor, in his utter pretentiousness and unlimited arrogance had determined to erect a public monument of victory over Judas and his forces, from the spoils. 7 But Maccabeus did not cease to trust with all confidence that he would get help from the Lord. 8 He exhorted his troops 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 so to look for the victory that 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 When he had aroused their courage, he issued his orders, at the same time pointing out the perfidy of the Gentiles an their violation of oaths. 11 He armed each of them not so much with confidence in shields, and spears as with the inspiration to brave words, and he cheered them all by relating a dream, a sort of vision [114] 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 in the same fashion another appeared, distinguished by his gray hair and dignity, a man of marvelous majesty and authority. 24 Onias spoke, saying, “This is a man who loves the family of Israel 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 valor and awakening courage in the souls of the young, they determined not to carry on a campaign (or, to remain in camp) 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 brothers and sisters, (or, to remain in camp) and relatives, lay upon them less heavily, their greatest and first fear was for the consecrated sanctuary. 19 Those who had to remain in the city were greatly distressed, being anxious over the encounter that was taking place in the open country.

The Defeat and Death of Nicanor

20 When all were now looking forward to the coming issue, and the enemy was already close at hand with the united forces of the army in close ranks, ready for battle, the elephants [115] strategically stationed [for every action], and the cavalry deployed on the flanks, 21 Maccabeus, observing the masses that were in front of 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 knows that it is not by arms, but as the Lord decides, that he gains the victory for those who deserve it. 22 He called upon him in these words,: ”O Lord, you sent your angel in the time of King Hezekiah of Judea, and he killed fifty one hundred eighty-five thousand in the camp of Sennacherib. 23 So now, O Sovereign of the heavens, send a good angel to spread terror and trembling before us, 24 By the might of your arm may these blasphemers who come against your holy people, be struck down.” With these words he ended his prayer.

25 Nicanor and his troops advanced with trumpets and battle songs, 26 but Judas and his troops met the enemy in battle with invocations to God and prayers. 27 So, fighting with their hands and praying to God in their hearts, asking for bravery in all as they laid low at least thirty-five thousand and were greatly gladdened by God’s manifestation.

28 When the action was over they were returning with joy, they recognized Nicanor, lying dead, in full armor. 29 Then there was tumultious shouting and tumult and they blessed the Sovereign Lord in he language of their ancestors. 30 Then the man who was ever in body and soul the defender of his people, the man who maintained his youthful goodwill toward his compatriots, ordered them to cut off Nicanor’s head and arm and carry them to Jerusalem. 31 When he arrived there and had called his compatriots 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 house of the Almighty. 33 He cut out the tongue of the ungodly Nicanor and said that he would feed it piecemeal to the birds and would hang up these rewards of his senseless folly opposite the sanctuary. 34 They all, looking to heaven, blessed the Lord who had manifested himself, saying, “Blessed is he who has kept his own place undefiled.” 35 Judas hung Nicanor’s head [116] from the citadel, a clear and conspicuous sign to everyone of the help of the Lord. 36 They all decreed by public vote never ot let this day go unobserved, but to celebrate the thirteenth day of the twelfth month—which is called Adar in the Aramaic language—the day before Mordecai’s day. [117]

Concluding Words

37 This, then is how matters turned out with Nicanor, and from that time the city has been in the possession of the Hebrews. [118] So I 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, 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 this work. And here will be the end.

[1] So literally. The word “heart: is used 3 times in two sentences. Desire or will might be a good translation.

[2] 143 B.C.E.

[3] Literally in Greek it appears to be an exaggeration.

[4] The Greek is not clear. Possibly the reference is to “the temple porch.”

[5] November / December.

[6] 124 B.C.E.

[7] Literally: “as those who array themselves against the king.”

[8] This word is omitted in Greek.

[9] This ploy was attempted by several rulers. Antiochus and Hierapolis in Syria, Antiochus III in the Elymaean hills, Antiochus VII in Parthia.

[10] It also went by the name: The temple of Elymas or Artemis, or Aphrodite in Assyria; Amasa in Persia; and Nana in Babylon.

[11] This verse has a slight emendation. Without this emendation the sentence would be obscure or corrupt.

[12] Greek: naphthai.

[13] Legends have no limits. The writer of II Maccabees writes as if he has written proof of what he is writing about. This is based on legend or on his own musing. There is no known record to support the comments about Nehimiah and his actions as they are described here.

[14] A Midrash type of interpretation of Leviticus 9:23-24.

[15] Verse 13 gives honor to Nehemiah that he does not mention, nor is it in the book that bears his name.

[16] Verse 21 gives the impression that their piety alone was the basis for winning the battle.

[17] Literally: “sweat.”

[18] There area a number of problems within the text of this chapter. This translation is an attempt to produce an understandable translation from a sometimes questionable text.

[19] King Seleucus IV reigned frm 187 – 175 B.C.E. He is known by several names.

[20] Some manuscripts have Bulgany. Cf. Nehemiah 12:5, 15.

[21] 30,000 pounds of silver.

[22] 15,000 pounds of gold.

[23] Josephus recoreds difference in the death, and where it occurred.

[24] Approximately 400 pounds.

[25] The hat was called a protasiV. It had a broad rim and its significance was that is was saying that the wearer was a believer in Hermes.

[26] These games took place every five years.

[27] Verse 21 is a statement which, by the speaker, sounds good. It is not based on historical facts.

[28] The Greek use of the word translated as “deputy” is a rather rare word, a transliteration of an Egyptian word, for a person who is entitled to be present and act as a spokesman in court.

[29] He is also called “Thrannus.” The meaning of the word is unknown. Some scholars call him “the stabber.”

[30] Some manuscripts read: “the people.”

[31] Literally: “imprisoned.”

[32] I.e. Sparta. There was a tradition that Jews and Spartans were related, coming from the same ancestors.

[33] Literally: “raged like a wild beast.”

[34] Literally: “cut down.”

[35] In this instance pride was his downfall.

[36] Another possible translation is: “whose then the others and in his malice toward the Jewish citizens.

[37] The Mysians were mercenaries. This appointment was possibly derogatory. Mysians were considered to be people of ill repute.

[38] Other sources read: “Antiochian.”

[39] Other sources read Geron and Athenian..” This could be translated as Elderly Athenian.

[40] Zeus was considered by the Greeks to be “the sufficient god.” He was also the protector of strangers.

[41] This could be translated as: “the god of hospitality.”

[42] This custom was common in the lands surrounding the Mediterranean Sea.

[43] Literally: “they.”

[44] Other manuscripts read: “suggestion of the Ptolemies (or of Ptolemy).”

[45] Several scholars report that this meant they were to eat the intestines of the sacrifice

[46] In Greek this sentence is awkward.

[47] Some recensions read: “he was dragged to the rack.”

[48] The meaning of the Greek is uncertain.

[49] Scalping was a cusom among the ancient Scythians.

[50] Literally: “slaves.” The reference is to a passage in Deuteronomy 32:34..

[51] So: Latin. The other languages omit “Therefore.”

[52] Literally: “slaves.”

[53] Greek: “fallen.”

[54] 150,000 pounds of silver.

[55] On that basis a slave would cost less than a pound of silver

[56] An alternate translation might be: “their own merits.”

[57] The word “Jews” is omitted in the Greek.

[58] “Galatians” is omitted in the Greek text.

[59] Here and in chapter 10 the use of the name Joseph is clearly an error on the part of the historian or the copyist.

[60] The meaning of this sentence in Greek is uncertain.

[61] Literally: “slaves.”

[62] The meaning of this sentence is uncertain.

[63] Antiochus does what others who have offended God and the Jews experienced. He is the only one who at one point, as death was approaching, he was ready to become a Jew. This would have been as a trade off with God.

[64] Persepolis was founded by Darias (1532 B.C.E.) It became the capital of the Persian Empire.

[65] The capital of Media.

[66] The medical problem is unknown though in the past some scholars felt it was Melosis. Worms are mentioned elsewhere in Acts 12:20 for example when death came to those who opposed the Almighty.

[67] A variant reads: “not think thoughts proper only to God.”

[68] In Greek verse seems to be nclear.

[69] A euphemism.

[70] The thought of that day was that fire on a holy altar needed holy fire. The flint was to be used since the flint was created by God, it was not an unnatural source of fire.

[71] Lysias is out of place here. Historicalll he appeared at a different time.

[72] The meaning of the Greek is uncertain.

[73] I.e. Hellenistic Jews.

[74] History does not include his name on this occasion.

[75] Verse 21 reminds the reader that not all were interested in establishing a Jewish nation, but rather establishing a good financial backing.

[76] The city also goes by the name Jaser in Gilead.

[77] Cf. Tobit 5:2. This would be a guiding angel, dressed in white apparel.

[78] The meaning, in Greek, is uncertain, possibly due to a corrupt text.

[79] This is possibly the same Absalom mentioned in I Maccabees 13:12.

[80] 164 B.C.E.

[81] This was equivalent to the month of Adar. It was the 3rd month in the calendar in Crete.

[82] I.e.: “has died.”

[83] Literally: “to go down.”

[84] I.e. March/April.

[85] See footnote 77.

[86] Two years later he was the envoy to Egypt.

[87] Manuscripts vary. Some read: “chief of the Cyprian mercenaries.”

[88] Literally: “two hundred forty stadia.”

[89] Literally: “two stadia.”

[90] Literally: “seven hundred fifty stadia.”

[91] C.f.:I Maccabees 5:26, 43. This was a place where the idol

[92] The meaning of the Greek text is uncertain.

[93] Cf.: I Maccabees 5:52.

[94] Literally: “six hundred stadia.”

[95] Presumably not the one found in 19 and 29.

[96] The seat of the cities of Tob.

[97] This practice has been forbidden in Deuteronomy 7:26. These were small portable idols.

[98] 163 B.C.E.

[99] Nothing else is known about the custom in Beroea.. This Beroea was located near Allepo. Apparetly the one who was doomed was to walk around the rim of the seventy five foot tower. The rim was slanted so the peson walking would slide into the ashes that filled the tower. There is evidence that something similar ws done in Persia and the person who was condemned suffocated upon being covered with ashes.

[100] The intent of this verse is uncertain.

[101] The meaning is uncertain.

[102] Rhodocus was apparently treated in a more kindly fashion than Meneleus.

[103] A Hittite name .

[104] It is also spelled Gerraha.”

[105] Literally: “polluted himself.”

[106] 161 B.C.E.

[107] Greek: literally: of the Friends.”

[108] Greek: “greatest.:

[109] The meaning is uncertain.

[110] The site is unknown. The spelling varies in the manuscripts.

[111] Perhaps the word should be emended to read “slowly.”

[112] Greek: “greatest.”

[113] The writer gives no suggestion as to what might have transpired.

[114] The meaning of the Greek is uncertain.

[115] Greek: “animals.”

[116] The Greek word is not precise. It might mean “head and shoulder.”

[117] Cf. The Feast of Purim. Esther 9:17 – 20; 15:36; I Maccabees 7:49.

[118] A pious exaggeration.