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The Early Victories of Judas

Then his son Judas, who was called Maccabeus, took command in his place. All his brothers and all who had joined his father helped him; they gladly fought for Israel.

He extended the glory of his people.
    Like a giant he put on his breastplate;
he bound on his armor of war and waged battles,
    protecting the camp by his sword.
He was like a lion in his deeds,
    like a lion’s cub roaring for prey.
He searched out and pursued those who broke the law;
    he burned those who troubled his people.
Lawbreakers shrank back for fear of him;
    all the evildoers were confounded;
    and deliverance prospered by his hand.
He embittered many kings,
    but he made Jacob glad by his deeds,
    and his memory is blessed forever.
He went through the cities of Judah;
    he destroyed the ungodly out of the land;[a]
    thus he turned away wrath from Israel.
He was renowned to the ends of the earth;
    he gathered in those who were perishing.

10 Apollonius now gathered together Gentiles and a large force from Samaria to fight against Israel. 11 When Judas learned of it, he went out to meet him, and he defeated and killed him. Many were wounded and fell, and the rest fled. 12 Then they seized their spoils; and Judas took the sword of Apollonius, and used it in battle the rest of his life.

13 When Seron, the commander of the Syrian army, heard that Judas had gathered a large company, including a body of faithful soldiers who stayed with him and went out to battle, 14 he said, “I will make a name for myself and win honor in the kingdom. I will make war on Judas and his companions, who scorn the king’s command.” 15 Once again a strong army of godless men went up with him to help him, to take vengeance on the Israelites.

16 When he approached the ascent of Beth-horon, Judas went out to meet him with a small company. 17 But when they saw the army coming to meet them, they said to Judas, “How can we, few as we are, fight against so great and so strong a multitude? And we are faint, for we have eaten nothing today.” 18 Judas replied, “It is easy for many to be hemmed in by few, for in the sight of Heaven there is no difference between saving by many or by few. 19 It is not on the size of the army that victory in battle depends, but strength comes from Heaven. 20 They come against us in great insolence and lawlessness to destroy us and our wives and our children, and to despoil us; 21 but we fight for our lives and our laws. 22 He himself will crush them before us; as for you, do not be afraid of them.”

23 When he finished speaking, he rushed suddenly against Seron and his army, and they were crushed before him. 24 They pursued them[b] down the descent of Beth-horon to the plain; eight hundred of them fell, and the rest fled into the land of the Philistines. 25 Then Judas and his brothers began to be feared, and terror fell on the Gentiles all around them. 26 His fame reached the king, and the Gentiles talked of the battles of Judas.

The Policy of Antiochus

27 When King Antiochus heard these reports, he was greatly angered; and he sent and gathered all the forces of his kingdom, a very strong army. 28 He opened his coffers and gave a year’s pay to his forces, and ordered them to be ready for any need. 29 Then he saw that the money in the treasury was exhausted, and that the revenues from the country were small because of the dissension and disaster that he had caused in the land by abolishing the laws that had existed from the earliest days. 30 He feared that he might not have such funds as he had before for his expenses and for the gifts that he used to give more lavishly than preceding kings. 31 He was greatly perplexed in mind; then he determined to go to Persia and collect the revenues from those regions and raise a large fund.

32 He left Lysias, a distinguished man of royal lineage, in charge of the king’s affairs from the river Euphrates to the borders of Egypt. 33 Lysias was also to take care of his son Antiochus until he returned. 34 And he turned over to Lysias[c] half of his forces and the elephants, and gave him orders about all that he wanted done. As for the residents of Judea and Jerusalem, 35 Lysias was to send a force against them to wipe out and destroy the strength of Israel and the remnant of Jerusalem; he was to banish the memory of them from the place, 36 settle aliens in all their territory, and distribute their land by lot. 37 Then the king took the remaining half of his forces and left Antioch his capital in the one hundred and forty-seventh year.[d] He crossed the Euphrates river and went through the upper provinces.

Preparations for Battle

38 Lysias chose Ptolemy son of Dorymenes, and Nicanor and Gorgias, able men among the Friends of the king, 39 and sent with them forty thousand infantry and seven thousand cavalry to go into the land of Judah and destroy it, as the king had commanded. 40 So they set out with their entire force, and when they arrived they encamped near Emmaus in the plain. 41 When the traders of the region heard what was said to them, they took silver and gold in immense amounts, and fetters,[e] and went to the camp to get the Israelites for slaves. And forces from Syria and the land of the Philistines joined with them.

42 Now Judas and his brothers saw that misfortunes had increased and that the forces were encamped in their territory. They also learned what the king had commanded to do to the people to cause their final destruction. 43 But they said to one another, “Let us restore the ruins of our people, and fight for our people and the sanctuary.” 44 So the congregation assembled to be ready for battle, and to pray and ask for mercy and compassion.

45 Jerusalem was uninhabited like a wilderness;
    not one of her children went in or out.
The sanctuary was trampled down,
    and aliens held the citadel;
    it was a lodging place for the Gentiles.
Joy was taken from Jacob;
    the flute and the harp ceased to play.

46 Then they gathered together and went to Mizpah, opposite Jerusalem, because Israel formerly had a place of prayer in Mizpah. 47 They fasted that day, put on sackcloth and sprinkled ashes on their heads, and tore their clothes. 48 And they opened the book of the law to inquire into those matters about which the Gentiles consulted the likenesses of their gods. 49 They also brought the vestments of the priesthood and the first fruits and the tithes, and they stirred up the nazirites[f] who had completed their days; 50 and they cried aloud to Heaven, saying,

“What shall we do with these?
    Where shall we take them?
51 Your sanctuary is trampled down and profaned,
    and your priests mourn in humiliation.
52 Here the Gentiles are assembled against us to destroy us;
    you know what they plot against us.
53 How will we be able to withstand them,
    if you do not help us?”

54 Then they sounded the trumpets and gave a loud shout. 55 After this Judas appointed leaders of the people, in charge of thousands and hundreds and fifties and tens. 56 Those who were building houses, or were about to be married, or were planting a vineyard, or were fainthearted, he told to go home again, according to the law. 57 Then the army marched out and encamped to the south of Emmaus.

58 And Judas said, “Arm yourselves and be courageous. Be ready early in the morning to fight with these Gentiles who have assembled against us to destroy us and our sanctuary. 59 It is better for us to die in battle than to see the misfortunes of our nation and of the sanctuary. 60 But as his will in heaven may be, so shall he do.”

The Battle at Emmaus

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

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

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

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

First Campaign of Lysias

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

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

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

Footnotes

  1. 1 Maccabees 3:8 Gk it
  2. 1 Maccabees 3:24 Other ancient authorities read him
  3. 1 Maccabees 3:34 Gk him
  4. 1 Maccabees 3:37 165 b.c.
  5. 1 Maccabees 3:41 Syr: Gk Mss, Vg slaves
  6. 1 Maccabees 3:49 That is those separated or those consecrated
  7. 1 Maccabees 4:20 Gk they
  8. 1 Maccabees 4:20 Gk they
  9. 1 Maccabees 4:34 Or and some fell on the opposite side

Early victories of Judas

Then his son Judas, known as Maccabeus, took command in his place. Every one of his brothers and all who had joined his father helped him, and they gladly fought for Israel.

He advanced the honor of his people.
    He put on his breastplate like a giant.
He strapped on his war armor
and waged battles,
    protecting the camp with his sword.
He was like a lion in his actions,
    like a lion’s cub roaring after prey.
He hunted and pursued
those who broke the Law.
    He burned up
    those who troubled his people.
Lawbreakers were afraid of him
and retreated.
    All evildoers were in turmoil.
        His hand successfully
        brought deliverance.
He angered many kings,
    but he brought joy to Jacob by his deeds.
        His memory is blessed forever.
He went through the cities of Judah
    and destroyed the ungodly
    out of the land.
        As a result, he turned wrath
        away from Israel.
His fame extended
to the ends of the earth.
    He gathered together
    those who were perishing.

10 Apollonius gathered Gentiles and a large force from Samaria to fight against Israel. 11 When Judas found out about it, he went out to meet him in battle, then defeated and killed him. Judas wounded and killed many, while the rest fled. 12 Then the Israelites seized their spoils. Judas took Apollonius’ sword and used it in battle for the rest of his life.

13 At this point, Seron the commander of the Syrian army heard that Judas had gathered a large company, including a group of faithful soldiers who stayed with him and went out to battle. 14 He said, “I will make a name for myself and win honor in the kingdom. I will make war on Judas and his companions who reject the king’s command.” 15 Once more, a strong army of godless men went up with Seron to help him take vengeance on the Israelites.

16 When he approached the ascent to go up to Beth-horon, Judas went out to meet him with a small group. 17 When they saw Seron’s army that was coming against them, they said to Judas, “How can we, who are so few, fight against so large and strong a multitude? What’s more, we feel faint because we haven’t eaten today.”

18 Judas answered, “It’s easy for many to be trapped by a few. In the sight of heaven, it makes no difference to win by many or by few. 19 It’s not the size of the army that brings victory in battle, because strength comes from heaven. 20 They’re coming against us with a lot of pride and evil. They want to destroy us, along with our wives and children. They want to ruin us. 21 But we are fighting for our lives and for our laws. 22 The heavenly one himself will crush them before us. Don’t be afraid of them.”

23 After Judas said these words, his soldiers rushed suddenly against Seron’s army, and they crushed them. 24 Judas’ soldiers pursued Seron’s army down the hill from Beth-horon to the plain below. Eight hundred of them died. The rest fled into the land of the Philistines. 25 After this, Judas and his brothers were feared. Terror fell on all the Gentiles around them. 26 Even the king heard about his reputation, and the Gentiles talked about the battles waged by Judas.

Policy of Antiochus

27 When King Antiochus heard about these matters, he became very angry. So he gathered together all the forces of his empire, a mighty army. 28 He opened up his treasury and gave his soldiers a year’s pay in advance, and he ordered them to be ready for anything. 29 Then he realized that the money in his treasury was all used up. The revenues from the country were small because of the turmoil and disaster that he had brought about in the land by abolishing the laws that had existed from early days. 30 He became afraid that he might not have enough funds to provide for his expenses as well as for the gifts that he granted more abundantly than previous kings. 31 He was very troubled by this. Then he decided to go to Persia and collect revenues there and raise a large sum of money.

32 The king appointed Lysias, a distinguished man from a royal family, to be in charge of his affairs from the Euphrates River to the Egyptian border. 33 He also wanted Lysias to take care of his young son Antiochus until he returned. 34 So he gave Lysias authority over half of his armed forces and war elephants. He gave him orders regarding what he wanted him to do, including the matter of the inhabitants of Judea and Jerusalem. 35 He wanted Lysias to send an army against them to wipe out and destroy Israel’s strength and the few remaining in Jerusalem. He ordered that their memory should be completely erased from the place. 36 Lysias was to settle strangers in all their territory and divide up their lands by lot. 37 Then the king took the other half of his forces and left his capital Antioch in the year 147.[a] He crossed the Euphrates River and went through the upper provinces.

Preparations for battle

38 Lysias selected Ptolemy, Dorymenes’ son, as well as Nicanor and Gorgias, two able men who were among the king’s chief political advisors. 39 He sent them with forty thousand infantry and seven thousand cavalry to go into Judah and destroy it, as the king had commanded. 40 So they headed out with their whole force. When they arrived, they set up camp in the plain near Emmaus. 41 When traders in the region heard about their plan, they took a great amount of silver and gold, together with shackles, and went to the camp intending to obtain some Israelites for slaves. A force from Idumea[b] and the land of the Philistines also joined them.

42 Judas and his brothers saw that the situation was becoming increasingly difficult, as the military forces were encamped in their territory. They learned also that the king had commanded their complete destruction. 43 But they spoke to each other, “Let’s restore our people after all they’ve suffered, and fight for our people and the sanctuary.” 44 So the congregation gathered to prepare for battle, and to pray and ask for mercy and compassion.

45 Jerusalem was deserted
like a wilderness.
    None of her children moved around.
The sanctuary was trampled,
    and strangers held the elevated fortress.
        Gentiles lodged there.
Joy was taken from Jacob.
    The flute and the harp
    were no longer heard.

46 Then they assembled and went to Mizpah, across from Jerusalem, because Israelites used to have a place of prayer there. 47 They fasted for a day and put on mourning clothes, sprinkled ashes on their heads, and tore their garments. 48 In addition, they opened up the Law scroll to find answers to the kinds of questions Gentiles would ask of their idols. 49 They also brought out the priestly garments as well as early produce and tenth-part gifts. They stirred up nazirites, who had completed the duration of their solomn promises. 50 Then they cried aloud to heaven:

“What should we do with these people?
    Where should we take them?
51 Your sanctuary is trampled and degraded.
    Your priests mourn in humiliation.
52 The Gentiles are gathered here against us,
        planning to destroy us.
You know what they are plotting.
53     How will we be able to withstand them
        if you don’t help us?”

54 Then they blew the trumpets and gave a loud shout. 55 Judas appointed leaders of the people in charge of thousands and hundreds and fifties and tens. 56 In keeping with the Law, he told all who were building houses or were about to get married or were planting a vineyard or were fainthearted to go home. 57 Then the army went on the march and camped south of Emmaus.

58 Judas said: “Arm yourselves and be fearless. Be ready early in the morning to fight these Gentiles who have gathered here against us to destroy us and our sanctuary. 59 It would be better for us to die fighting than to see the misfortunes of our nation and the sanctuary. 60 Whatever may be heaven’s will, that’s what the heavenly one will do.”

Battle at Emmaus

Gorgias took five thousand infantry and one thousand select cavalry, and this division moved out secretly at night. He wanted to come to the Jewish camp and attack without warning. Men from the elevated fortress served as his guides. But Judas heard about it, and he and his warriors moved out to attack the king’s forces in Emmaus while the division was absent from the camp. So when Gorgias entered Judas’ camp during the night, there was no one there. He started looking for them in the hills, because he said, “These men are running away from us.”

At daybreak, Judas appeared in the plain with three thousand men. But they didn’t have armor and swords such as they would have liked. They saw the Gentile camp, strongly fortified, surrounded by cavalry clearly trained in warfare. Judas said to those who were with him: “Don’t fear their numbers or be afraid when they charge. Remember how our ancestors were saved at the Red Sea,[c] when Pharaoh was pursuing them with his forces. 10 So let’s cry to heaven to see if the heavenly one will favor us and remember his covenant with our ancestors and crush this army in front of us today. 11 Then all the Gentiles will know that there is someone who redeems and saves Israel.”

12 The foreigners looked up and saw the Israelites coming against them. 13 They went out from their camp to engage them in battle. The men with Judas blew their trumpets, and the battle began. 14 The Gentiles were crushed and fled into the plain. 15 All those who were in the rear were killed by the sword. The Israelites pursued them to Gazara, to the plains of Idumea, and to Azotus and Jamnia. Three thousand Gentiles died. 16 Judas and his forces stopped pursuing them. 17 He said to everyone: “Don’t be greedy to plunder, for there is still a battle ahead of us. 18 Gorgias and his force are still near us in the hills. Stand now against our enemies and fight them. Then afterward boldly seize the spoils.”

19 Just as Judas said this, a detachment of Gentiles cautiously appeared, coming out of the hills. 20 They saw that their army had been put to flight and that the Jews were burning the camp, as evident from the smoke over the area. 21 When they saw the devastation and noticed Judas’ army in the plain ready for battle, they were terrified. 22 They ran away into the land of the Philistines. 23 So Judas went back to plunder the camp. His army took a great amount of gold and silver, cloth that was dyed blue and purple, and great riches. 24 As they returned, they sang hymns and songs of praise to heaven: “God is good, because his mercy endures forever.” 25 That day Israel had a great deliverance.

First campaign of Lysias

26 The foreigners who escaped went and told Lysias about all that had happened. 27 When he heard it, he was perplexed and discouraged. Things hadn’t happened to Israel as he had intended, and they hadn’t turned out the way that the king commanded. 28 The next year he gathered together sixty thousand select men and five thousand cavalry, intending to subdue the Israelites. 29 They came to Idumea and camped at Beth-zur. Judas, on the other hand, went out to meet them with ten thousand men.

30 When Judas saw how numerous their army was, he prayed:

Blessed are you, Savior of Israel,
    who crushed the attack
    of the mighty warrior
        through the power
        of your servant David.
You handed over the camp
of the Philistines
    to Saul’s son Jonathanand
    and the man who carried his armor.
31 So surround this army
by the power of your people Israel,
    and let them be disappointed
    by their troops and cavalry.
32 Fill them with cowardice.
    Melt away the boldness
    of their strength.
    Let them quake in their destruction.
33 Strike them down with the sword
of those who love you,
    and let all who know your name
    praise you with hymns.

34 Then both sides attacked each other. Five thousand men from Lysias’ army died in the fighting. 35 Lysias saw his troops being defeated and took note of the boldness that inspired Judas’ troops—how ready they were to live or die bravely. So he withdrew to Antioch and enlisted mercenaries so that he could invade Judea again with an even bigger army.

Footnotes

  1. 1 Maccabees 3:37 166 BCE
  2. 1 Maccabees 3:41 Correction; LXX Syria
  3. 1 Maccabees 4:9 Traditionally Reed Sea in the Hebrew Bible