2Maccabées (NAB) 7
7 1 It also happened that seven brothers with their mother were arrested and tortured with whips and scourges by the king, to force them to eat pork in violation of God's law.2 One of the brothers, speaking for the others, said: "What do you expect to achieve by questioning us? We are ready to die rather than transgress the laws of our ancestors."3 At that the king, in a fury, gave orders to have pans and caldrons heated.4 While they were being quickly heated, he commanded his executioners to cut out the tongue of the one who had spoken for the others, to scalp him and cut off his hands and feet, while the rest of his brothers and his mother looked on.5 When he was completely maimed but still breathing, the king ordered them to carry him to the fire and fry him. As a cloud of smoke spread from the pan, the brothers and their mother encouraged one another to die bravely, saying such words as these:6 "The Lord God is looking on, and he truly has compassion on us, as Moses declared in his canticle, when he protested openly with the words, 'And he will have pity on his servants.'"
7 When the first brother had died in this manner, they brought the second to be made sport of. After tearing off the skin and hair of his head, they asked him, "Will you eat the pork rather than have your body tortured limb by limb?"8 Answering in the language of his forefathers, he said, "Never!" So he too in turn suffered the same tortures as the first.9 At the point of death he said: "You accursed fiend, you are depriving us of this present life, but the King of the world will raise us up to live again forever. It is for his laws that we are dying."
10 After him the third suffered their cruel sport. He put out his tongue at once when told to do so, and bravely held out his hands,11 as he spoke these noble words: "It was from Heaven that I received these; for the sake of his laws I disdain them; from him I hope to receive them again."12 Even the king and his attendants marveled at the young man's courage, because he regarded his sufferings as nothing.
13 After he had died, they tortured and maltreated the fourth brother in the same way.14 When he was near death, he said, "It is my choice to die at the hands of men with the God-given hope of being restored to life by him; but for you, there will be no resurrection to life."
15 They next brought forward the fifth brother and maltreated him. Looking at the king,16 he said: "Since you have power among men, mortal though you are, do what you please. But do not think that our nation is forsaken by God.17 Only wait, and you will see how his great power will torment you and your descendants."
18 After him they brought the sixth brother. When he was about to die, he said: "Have no vain illusions. We suffer these things on our own account, because we have sinned against our God; that is why such astonishing things have happened to us.19 Do not think, then, that you will go unpunished for having dared to fight against God."
20 Most admirable and worthy of everlasting remembrance was the mother, who saw her seven sons perish in a single day, yet bore it courageously because of her hope in the Lord.21 Filled with a noble spirit that stirred her womanly heart with manly courage, she exhorted each of them in the language of their forefathers with these words:22 "I do not know how you came into existence in my womb; it was not I who gave you the breath of life, nor was it I who set in order the elements of which each of you is composed.23 Therefore, since it is the Creator of the universe who shapes each man's beginning, as he brings about the origin of everything, he, in his mercy, will give you back both breath and life, because you now disregard yourselves for the sake of his law." Martyrdom of Mother and Sons
24 Antiochus, suspecting insult in her words, thought he was being ridiculed. As the youngest brother was still alive, the king appealed to him, not with mere words, but with promises on oath, to make him rich and happy if he would abandon his ancestral customs: he would make him his Friend and entrust him with high office.25 When the youth paid no attention to him at all, the king appealed to the mother, urging her to advise her boy to save his life.26 After he had urged her for a long time, she went through the motions of persuading her son.27 In derision of the cruel tyrant, she leaned over close to her son and said in their native language: "Son, have pity on me, who carried you in my womb for nine months, nursed you for three years, brought you up, educated and supported you to your present age.28 I beg you, child, to look at the heavens and the earth and see all that is in them; then you will know that God did not make them out of existing things; and in the same way the human race came into existence. 29 Do not be afraid of this executioner, but be worthy of your brothers and accept death, so that in the time of mercy I may receive you again with them."
30 She had scarcely finished speaking when the youth said: "What are you waiting for? I will not obey the king's command. I obey the command of the law given to our forefathers through Moses.31 But you, who have contrived every kind of affliction for the Hebrews, will not escape the hands of God.32 We, indeed, are suffering because of our sins.33 Though our living Lord treats us harshly for a little while to correct us with chastisements, he will again be reconciled with his servants.34 But you, wretch, vilest of all men! do not, in your insolence, concern yourself with unfounded hopes, as you raise your hand against the children of Heaven.35 You have not yet escaped the judgment of the almighty and all-seeing God.36 My brothers, after enduring brief pain, have drunk of never-failing life, under God's covenant, but you, by the judgment of God, shall receive just punishments for your arrogance.37 Like my brothers, I offer up my body and my life for our ancestral laws, imploring God to show mercy soon to our nation, and by afflictions and blows to make you confess that he alone is God.38 Through me and my brothers, may there be an end to the wrath of the Almighty that has justly fallen on our whole nation."
39 At that, the king became enraged and treated him even worse than the others, since he bitterly resented the boy's contempt.40 Thus he too died undefiled, putting all his trust in the Lord.
41 The mother was last to die, after her sons.
42 Enough has been said about the sacrificial meals and the excessive cruelties.
8 1 Judas Maccabeus and his companions entered the villages, secretly, summoned their kinsmen, and by also enlisting others who remained faithful to Judaism, assembled about six thousand men.2 They implored the Lord to look kindly upon his people, who were being oppressed on all sides; to have pity on the temple, which was profaned by godless men;3 to have mercy on the city, which was being destroyed and about to be leveled to the ground; to hearken to the blood that cried out to him;4 to remember the criminal slaughter of innocent children and the blasphemies uttered against his name; and to manifest his hatred of evil.
5 Once Maccabeus got his men organized, the Gentiles could not withstand him, for the Lord's wrath had now changed to mercy.6 Coming unexpectedly upon towns and villages, he would set them on fire. He captured strategic positions, and put to flight a large number of the enemy.7 He preferred the nights as being especially helpful for such attacks. Soon the fame of his valor spread everywhere.
8 When Philip saw that Judas was gaining ground little by little and that his successful advances were becoming more frequent, he wrote to Ptolemy, governor of Coelesyria and Phoenicia, to come to the aid of the king's government. 9 Ptolemy promptly selected Nicanor, son of Patroclus, one of the Chief Friends, and sent him at the head of at least twenty thousand armed men of various nations to wipe out the entire Jewish race. With him he associated Gorgias, a professional military commander, well-versed in the art of war.10 Nicanor planned to raise the two thousand talents of tribute owed by the king to the Romans by selling captured Jews into slavery.11 So he immediately sent word to the coastal cities, inviting them to buy Jewish slaves and promising to deliver ninety slaves for a talent-- little did he dream of the punishment that was to fall upon him from the Almighty.
12 When Judas learned of Nicanor's advance and informed his companions about the approach of the army,13 the cowardly and those who lacked faith in God's justice deserted and got away.14 But the others sold everything they had left, and at the same time besought the Lord to deliver those whom the ungodly Nicanor had sold before even meeting them.15 They begged the Lord to do this, if not for their sake, at least for the sake of the covenants made with their forefathers, and because they themselves bore his holy, glorious name.16 Maccabeus assembled his men, six thousand strong, and exhorted them not to be panic-stricken before the enemy, nor to fear the large number of the Gentiles attacking them unjustly, but to fight courageously,17 keeping before their eyes the lawless outrage perpetrated by the Gentiles against the holy Place and the affliction of the humiliated city, as well as the subversion of their ancestral way of life.18 "They trust in weapons and acts of daring," he said, "but we trust in almighty God, who can by a mere nod destroy not only those who attack us, but the whole world."19 He went on to tell them of the times when help had been given their ancestors: both the time of Sennacherib, when a hundred and eighty-five thousand of his men were destroyed,20 and the time of the battle in Babylonia against the Galatians, when only eight thousand Jews fought along with four thousand Macedonians; yet when the Macedonians were hard pressed, the eight thousand routed one hundred and twenty thousand and took a great quantity of booty, because of the help they received from Heaven.
21 With such words he encouraged them and made them ready to die for their laws and their country. Then Judas divided his army into four,22 placing his brothers, Simon, Joseph, and Jonathan, each over a division, assigning to each fifteen hundred men. 23 (There was also Eleazar.) After reading to them from the holy book and giving them the watchword, "The Help of God," he himself took charge of the first division and joined in battle with Nicanor.24 With the Almighty as their ally, they killed more than nine thousand of the enemy, wounded and disabled the greater part of Nicanor's army, and put all of them to flight.25 They also seized the money of those who had come to buy them as slaves. When they had pursued the enemy for some time,26 they were obliged to return by reason of the late hour, it was the day before the sabbath, and for that reason they could not continue the pursuit.27 They collected the enemy's arms and stripped them of their spoils, and then observed the sabbath with fervent praise and thanks to the Lord who kept them safe for that day on which he let descend on them the first dew of his mercy.28 After the sabbath, they gave a share of the booty to the persecuted and to widows and orphans; the rest they divided among themselves and their children.29 When this was done, they made supplication in common, imploring the merciful Lord to be completely reconciled with his servants.
30 They also challenged the forces of Timothy and Bacchides, killed more than twenty thousand of them, and captured some very high fortresses. They divided the enormous plunder, allotting half to themselves and the rest to the persecuted, to orphans, widows, and the aged.31 They collected the enemies' weapons and carefully stored them in suitable places; the rest of the spoils they carried to Jerusalem.32 They also killed the commander of Timothy's forces, a most wicked man, who had done great harm to the Jews.33 While celebrating the victory in their ancestral city, they burned both those who had set fire to the sacred gates and Callisthenes, who had taken refuge in a little house; so he received the reward his wicked deeds deserved.
34 The accursed Nicanor, who had brought the thousand slave dealers to buy the Jews,35 after being humbled through the Lord's help by those whom he had thought of no account, laid aside his fine clothes and fled alone across country like a runaway slave, until he reached Antioch. He was eminently successful in destroying his own army.36 So he who had promised to provide tribute for the Romans by the capture of the people of Jerusalem testified that the Jews had a champion, and that they were invulnerable for the very reason that they followed the laws laid down by him. Death of Antiochus
9 1 About that time Antiochus retreated in disgrace from the region of Persia. 2 He had entered the city called Persepolis and attempted to rob the temple and gain control of the city. Thereupon the people had swift recourse to arms, and Antiochus' men were routed, so that in the end Antiochus was put to flight by the natives and forced to beat a shameful retreat.3 On his arrival in Ecbatana, he learned what had happened to Nicanor and to Timothy's forces.4 Overcome with anger, he planned to make the Jews suffer for the injury done by those who had put him to flight. Therefore he ordered his charioteer to drive without stopping until he finished the journey. Yet the condemnation of Heaven rode with him, since he said in his arrogance, "I will make Jerusalem the common graveyard of the Jews as soon as I arrive there."
5 So the all-seeing Lord, the God of Israel, struck him down with an unseen but incurable blow; for scarcely had he uttered those words when he was seized with excruciating pains in his bowels and sharp internal torment,6 a fit punishment for him who had tortured the bowels of others with many barbarous torments.7 Far from giving up his insolence, he was all the more filled with arrogance. Breathing fire in his rage against the Jews, he gave orders to drive even faster. As a result he hurtled from the dashing chariot, and every part of his body was racked by the violent fall.8 Thus he who previously, in his superhuman presumption, thought he could command the waves of the sea, and imagined he could weigh the mountaintops in his scales, was now thrown to the ground and had to be carried on a litter, clearly manifesting to all the power of God.9 The body of this impious man swarmed with worms, and while he was still alive in hideous torments, his flesh rotted off, so that the entire army was sickened by the stench of his corruption.10 Shortly before, he had thought that he could reach the stars of heaven, and now, no one could endure to transport the man because of this intolerable stench.
11 At last, broken in spirit, he began to give up his excessive arrogance, and to gain some understanding, under the scourge of God, for he was racked with pain unceasingly.12 When he could no longer bear his own stench, he said, "It is right to be subject to God, and not to think one's mortal self divine."
13 Then this vile man vowed to the Lord, who would no longer have mercy on him,14 that he would set free the holy city, toward which he had been hurrying with the intention of leveling it to the ground and making it a common graveyard;15 he would put on perfect equality with the Athenians all the Jews, whom he had judged not even worthy of burial, but fit only to be thrown out with their children to be eaten by vultures and wild animals;16 he would adorn with the finest offerings the holy temple which he had previously despoiled; he would restore all the sacred vessels many times over; and would provide from his own revenues the expenses required for the sacrifices.17 Besides all this, he would become a Jew himself and visit every inhabited place to proclaim there the power of God.
18 But since God's punishment had justly come upon him, his sufferings were not lessened, so he lost hope for himself and wrote the following letter to the Jews in the form of a supplication. It read thus: Death of Antiochus
19 "To my esteemed Jewish citizens, Antiochus, their king and general, sends hearty greetings and best wishes for their health and happiness. 20 If you and your children are well and your affairs are going as you wish, I thank God very much, for my hopes are in heaven.
21 Now that I am ill, I recall with affection the esteem and good will you bear me. On returning from the regions of Persia, I fell victim to a troublesome illness; so I thought it necessary to form plans for the general welfare of all.
22 Actually, I do not despair about my health, since I have great hopes of recovering from my illness.23 Nevertheless, I know that my father, whenever he went on campaigns in the hinterland, would name his successor,24 so that, if anything unexpected happened or any unwelcome news came, the people throughout the realm would know to whom the government had been entrusted, and so not be disturbed.25 I am also bearing in mind that the neighboring rulers, especially those on the borders of our kingdom, are on the watch for opportunities and waiting to see what will happen. I have therefore appointed as king my son Antiochus, whom I have often before entrusted and commended to most of you, when I made hurried visits to the outlying provinces. I have written to him the letter copied below. 26 Therefore I beg and entreat each of you to remember the general and individual benefits you have received, and to continue to show good will toward me and my son.27 I am confident that, following my policy, he will treat you with mildness and kindness in his relations with you."
28 So this murderer and blasphemer, after extreme sufferings, such as he had inflicted on others, died a miserable death in the mountains of a foreign land.29 His foster brother Philip brought the body home; but fearing Antiochus' son, he later withdrew into Egypt, to Ptolemy Philometor.
10 1 When Maccabeus and his companions, under the Lord's leadership, had recovered the temple and the city,2 they destroyed the altars erected by the Gentiles in the marketplace and the sacred enclosures.3 After purifying the temple, they made a new altar. Then, with fire struck from flint, they offered sacrifice for the first time in two years, burned incense, and lighted lamps. They also set out the showbread. 4 When they had done this, they prostrated themselves and begged the Lord that they might never again fall into such misfortunes, and that if they should sin at any time, he might chastise them with moderation and not hand them over to blasphemous and barbarous Gentiles.5 On the anniversary of the day on which the temple had been profaned by the Gentiles, that is, the twenty-fifth of the same month Chislev, the purification of the temple took place.6 The Jews celebrated joyfully for eight days as on the feast of Booths, remembering how, a little while before, they had spent the feast of Booths living like wild animals in caves on the mountains.7 Carrying rods entwined with leaves, green branches and palms, they sang hymns of grateful praise to him who had brought about the purification of his own Place.8 By public edict and decree they prescribed that the whole Jewish nation should celebrate these days every year.
9 Such was the end of Antiochus surnamed Epiphanes.
10 Now we shall relate what happened under Antiochus Eupator, the son of that godless man, and shall give a summary of the chief evils caused by the wars.
11 When Eupator succeeded to the kingdom, he put a certain Lysias in charge of the government as commander-in-chief of Coelesyria and Phoenicia.12 Ptolemy, surnamed Macron, had taken the lead in treating the Jews fairly because of the previous injustice that had been done them, and he endeavored to have peaceful relations with them. 13 As a result, he was accused before Eupator by the King's Friends. In fact, on all sides he heard himself called a traitor for having abandoned Cyprus, which Philometor had entrusted to him, and for having gone over to Antiochus Epiphanes. Since he could not command the respect due to his high office, he ended his life by taking poison.
14 When Gorgias became governor of the region, he employed foreign troops and used every opportunity to attack the Jews. 15 At the same time the Idumeans, who held some important strongholds, were harassing the Jews; they welcomed fugitives from Jerusalem and endeavored to continue the war.
16 Maccabeus and his companions, after public prayers asking God to be their ally, moved quickly against the strongholds of the Idumeans.17 Attacking vigorously, they gained control of the places, drove back all who manned the walls, and cut down those who opposed them, killing as many as twenty thousand men.18 When at least nine thousand took refuge in two very strong towers, containing everything necessary to sustain a siege,19 Maccabeus left Simon and Joseph, along with Zacchaeus and his men, in sufficient numbers to besiege them, while he himself went off to places where he was more urgently needed.20 But some of the men in Simon's force who were money lovers let themselves be bribed by some of the men in the towers; on receiving seventy thousand drachmas, they allowed a number of them to escape.21 When Maccabeus was told what had happened, he assembled the rulers of the people and accused those men of having sold their kinsmen for money by setting their enemies free to fight against them.22 So he put them to death as traitors, and without delay captured the two towers.23 As he was successful at arms in all his undertakings, he destroyed more than twenty thousand men in the two strongholds.
24 Timothy, who had previously been defeated by the Jews, gathered a tremendous force of foreign troops and collected a large number of cavalry from Asia; then he appeared in Judea, ready to conquer it by force. 25 At his approach, Maccabeus and his men made supplication to God, sprinkling earth upon their heads and girding their loins in sackcloth.26 Lying prostrate at the foot of the altar, they begged him to be gracious to them, and to be an enemy to their enemies, and a foe to their foes, as the law declares.27 After the prayer, they took up their arms and advanced a considerable distance from the city, halting when they were close to the enemy.28 As soon as dawn broke, the armies joined battle, the one having as pledge of success and victory not only their valor but also their reliance on the Lord, and the other taking fury as their leader in the fight. 29 In the midst of the fierce battle, there appeared to the enemy from the heavens five majestic men riding on golden-bridled horses, who led the Jews on.30 They surrounded Maccabeus, and shielding him with their own armor, kept him from being wounded. They shot arrows and hurled thunderbolts at the enemy, who were bewildered and blinded, thrown into confusion and routed.31 Twenty-five hundred of their foot soldiers and six hundred of their horsemen were slain.32 Timothy, however, fled to a well-fortified stronghold called Gazara, where Chaereas was in command.33 For four days Maccabeus and his men eagerly besieged the fortress.34 Those inside, relying on the strength of the place, kept repeating outrageous blasphemies and uttering abominable words.35 When the fifth day dawned, twenty young men in the army of Maccabeus, angered over such blasphemies, bravely stormed the wall and with savage fury cut down everyone they encountered.36 Others who climbed up the same way swung around on the defenders, taking the besieged in the rear; they put the towers to the torch, spread the fire and burned the blasphemers alive. Still others broke down the gates and let in the rest of the troops, who took possession of the city.37 Timothy had hidden in a cistern, but they killed him, along with his brother Chaereas, and Apollophanes. 38 On completing these exploits, they blessed, with hymns of grateful praise, the Lord who shows great kindness to Israel and grants them victory.
11 1 Very soon afterward, Lysias, guardian and kinsman of the king and head of the government, being greatly displeased at what had happened, 2 mustered about eighty thousand infantry and all his cavalry and marched against the Jews. His plan was to make Jerusalem a Greek settlement;3 to levy tribute on the temple, as he did on the sanctuaries of the other nations; and to put the high priesthood up for sale every year.4 He did not take God's power into account at all, but felt exultant confidence in his myriads of foot soldiers, his thousands of horsemen, and his eighty elephants.5 So he invaded Judea, and when he reached Beth-zur, a fortified place about twenty miles from Jerusalem, launched a strong attack against it.6 When Maccabeus and his men learned that Lysias was besieging the strongholds, they and all the people begged the Lord with lamentations and tears to send a good angel to save Israel.7 Maccabeus himself was the first to take up arms, and he exhorted the others to join him in risking their lives to help their kinsmen. Then they resolutely set out together.8 Suddenly, while they were still near Jerusalem, a horseman appeared at their head, clothed in white garments and brandishing gold weapons.9 Then all of them together thanked God for his mercy, and their hearts were filled with such courage that they were ready to assault not only men, but the most savage beasts, yes, even walls of iron.10 Now that the Lord had shown his mercy toward them, they advanced in battle order with the aid of their heavenly ally.11 Hurling themselves upon the enemy like lions, they laid low eleven thousand foot soldiers and sixteen hundred horsemen, and put all the rest to flight.12 Most of those who got away were wounded and stripped of their arms, while Lysias himself escaped only by shameful flight.
13 But Lysias was not a stupid man. He reflected on the defeat he had suffered, and came to realize that the Hebrews were invincible because the mighty God was their ally. He therefore sent a message14 persuading them to settle everything on just terms, and promising to persuade the king also, and to induce him to become their friend.15 Maccabeus, solicitous for the common good, agreed to all that Lysias proposed; and the king, on his part, granted in behalf of the Jews all the written requests of Maccabeus to Lysias.
16 These are the terms of the letter which Lysias wrote to the Jews: "Lysias sends greetings to the Jewish people.17 John and Absalom, your envoys, have presented your signed communication and asked about the matters contained in it.18 Whatever had to be referred to the king I called to his attention, and the things that were acceptable he has granted.19 If you maintain your loyalty to the government, I will endeavor to further your interests in the future.20 On the details of these matters I have authorized my representatives, as well as your envoys, to confer with you.21 Farewell." The year one hundred and forty-eight, the twenty-fourth of Dioscorinthius.
22 The king's letter read thus: "King Antiochus sends greetings to his brother Lysias.23 Now that our father has taken his place among the gods, we wish the subjects of our kingdom to be undisturbed in conducting their own affairs.24 We understand that the Jews do not agree with our father's policy concerning Greek customs but prefer their own way of life. They are petitioning us to let them retain their own customs.25 Since we desire that this people too should be undisturbed, our decision is that their temple be restored to them and that they live in keeping with the customs of their ancestors.26 Accordingly, please send them messengers to give them our assurances of friendship, so that, when they learn of our decision, they may have nothing to worry about but may contentedly go about their own business."
27 The king's letter to the people was as follows: "King Antiochus sends greetings to the Jewish senate and to the rest of the Jews.28 If you are well, it is what we desire. We too are in good health.29 Menelaus has told us of your wish to return home and attend to your own affairs.30 Therefore, those who return by the thirtieth of Xanthicus will have our assurance of full permission31 to observe their dietary laws and other laws, just as before, and none of the Jews shall be molested in any way for faults committed through ignorance.32 I have also sent Menelaus to reassure you.33 Farewell." In the year one hundred and forty-eight, the fifteenth of Xanthicus.
34 The Romans also sent them a letter as follows: "Quintus Memmius and Titus Manius, legates of the Romans, send greetings to the Jewish people.35 Whatever Lysias, kinsman of the king, has granted you, we also approve.36 But the matters on which he passed judgment should be submitted to the king. As soon as you have considered them, send someone to us with your decisions so that we may present them to your advantage, for we are on our way to Antioch.37 Make haste, then, to send us those who can inform us of your intentions.38 Farewell." In the year one hundred and forty-eight, the fifteenth of Xanthicus.
12 1 After these agreements were made, Lysias returned to the king, and the Jews went about their farming.2 But some of the local governors, Timothy and Apollonius, son of Gennaeus, as also Hieronymus and Demophon, to say nothing of Nicanor, the commander of the Cyprians, would not allow them to live in peace.
3 Some people of Joppa also committed this outrage: they invited the Jews who lived among them, together with their wives and children, to embark on boats which they had provided. There was no hint of enmity toward them;4 this was done by public vote of the city. When the Jews, not suspecting treachery and wishing to live on friendly terms, accepted the invitation, the people of Joppa took them out to sea and drowned at least two hundred of them.
5 As soon as Judas heard of the barbarous deed perpetrated against his countrymen, he summoned his men;6 and after calling upon God, the just judge, he marched against the murderers of his kinsmen. In a night attack he set the harbor on fire, burnt the boats, and put to the sword those who had taken refuge there.7 When the gates of the town were shut, he withdrew, intending to come back later and wipe out the entire population of Joppa.
8 On hearing that the men of Jamnia planned to give like treatment to the Jews who lived among them,9 he attacked the Jamnian populace by night, setting fire to the harbor and the fleet, so that the glow of the flames was visible as far as Jerusalem, thirty miles away.
10 When the Jews had gone about a mile from there in the campaign against Timothy, they were attacked by Arabs numbering at least five thousand foot soldiers, and five hundred horsemen. 11 After a hard fight, Judas and his companions, with God's help, were victorious. The defeated nomads begged Judas to make friends with them and promised to supply the Jews with cattle and to help them in every other way.12 Realizing that they could indeed be useful in many respects, Judas agreed to make peace with them. After the pledge of friendship had been exchanged, the Arabs withdrew to their tents.
13 He also attacked a certain city called Caspin, fortified with earthworks and ramparts and inhabited by a mixed population of Gentiles.14 Relying on the strength of their walls and their supply of provisions, the besieged treated Judas and his men with contempt, insulting them and even uttering blasphemies and profanity.15 But Judas and his men invoked the aid of the great Sovereign of the world, who, in the day of Joshua, overthrew Jericho without battering-ram or siege machine; then they furiously stormed the ramparts.16 Capturing the city by the will of God, they inflicted such indescribable slaughter on it that the adjacent pool, which was about a quarter of a mile wide, seemed to be filled with the blood that flowed into it.
17 When they had gone on some ninety miles, they reached Charax, where there were certain Jews known as Toubiani. 18 But they did not find Timothy in that region, for he had already departed from there without having done anything except to leave behind in one place a very strong garrison.19 But Dositheus and Sosipater, two of Maccabeus' captains, marched out and destroyed the force of more than ten thousand men that Timothy had left in the stronghold.
20 Meanwhile, Maccabeus divided his army into cohorts, with a commander over each cohort, and went in pursuit of Timothy, who had a force of a hundred and twenty thousand foot soldiers and twenty-five hundred horsemen.21 When Timothy learned of the approach of Judas, he sent on ahead of him the women and children, as well as the baggage, to a place called Karnion, which was hard to besiege and even hard to reach because of the difficult terrain of that region.22 But when Judas' first cohort appeared, the enemy was overwhelmed with fear and terror at the manifestation of the All-seeing. Scattering in every direction, they rushed away in such headlong flight that in many cases they wounded one another, pierced by the swords of their own men.23 Judas pressed the pursuit vigorously, putting the sinners to the sword and destroying as many as thirty thousand men.24 Timothy himself fell into the hands of the men under Dositheus and Sosipater; but with great cunning, he asked them to spare his life and let him go, because he had in his power the parents and relatives of many of them, and could make these suffer.25 When he had fully confirmed his solemn pledge to restore them unharmed, they let him go for the sake of saving their brethren.
26 Judas then marched to Karnion and the shrine of Atargatis, where he killed twenty-five thousand people.
27 After the defeat and destruction of these, he moved his army to Ephron, a fortified city inhabited by people of many nationalities. Robust young men took up their posts in defense of the walls, from which they fought valiantly; inside were large supplies of machines and missiles.28 But the Jews, invoking the Sovereign who forcibly shatters the might of his enemies, got possession of the city and slaughtered twenty-five thousand of the people in it.
29 Then they set out from there and hastened on to Scythopolis, seventy-five miles from Jerusalem. 30 But when the Jews who lived there testified to the good will shown by the Scythopolitans and to their kind treatment even in times of adversity,
31 Judas and his men thanked them and exhorted them to be well disposed to their race in the future also. Finally they arrived in Jerusalem, shortly before the feast of Weeks.
32 After this feast called Pentecost, they lost no time in marching against Gorgias, governor of Idumea,33 who opposed them with three thousand foot soldiers and four hundred horsemen.34 In the ensuing battle, a few of the Jews were slain.35 A man called Dositheus, a powerful horseman and one of Bacenor's men, caught hold of Gorgias, grasped his military cloak and dragged him along by main strength, intending to capture the vile wretch alive, when a Thracian horseman attacked Dositheus and cut off his arm at the shoulder. Then Gorgias fled to Marisa. 36 After Esdris and his men had been fighting for a long time and were weary, Judas called upon the Lord to show himself their ally and leader in the battle.37 Then, raising a battle cry in his ancestral language, and with songs, he charged Gorgias' men when they were not expecting it and put them to flight.
38 Judas rallied his army and went to the city of Adullam. As the week was ending, they purified themselves according to custom and kept the sabbath there.39 On the following day, since the task had now become urgent, Judas and his men went to gather up the bodies of the slain and bury them with their kinsmen in their ancestral tombs.40 But under the tunic of each of the dead they found amulets sacred to the idols of Jamnia, which the law forbids the Jews to wear. So it was clear to all that this was why these men had been slain.41 They all therefore praised the ways of the Lord, the just judge who brings to light the things that are hidden.42 Turning to supplication, they prayed that the sinful deed might be fully blotted out. The noble Judas warned the soldiers to keep themselves free from sin, for they had seen with their own eyes what had happened because of the sin of those who had fallen.
43 He then took up a collection among all his soldiers, amounting to two thousand silver drachmas, which he sent to Jerusalem to provide for an expiatory sacrifice. In doing this he acted in a very excellent and noble way, inasmuch as he had the resurrection of the dead in view;44 for if he were not expecting the fallen to rise again, it would have been useless and foolish to pray for them in death.45 But if he did this with a view to the splendid reward that awaits those who had gone to rest in godliness, it was a holy and pious thought.46 Thus he made atonement for the dead that they might be freed from this sin.
2Maccabées (NAB) 7