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1 Maccabees 4:1-35 Good News Translation (GNT)

Gorgias took 5,000 infantry and 1,000 of his most experienced cavalry and left camp by night, with men from the fort in Jerusalem as his guides. He had planned to make a surprise attack on the Jewish army, but Judas learned of the plan and moved out with his men to attack the king's army at Emmaus while Gorgias and his troops were still away from the camp. When Gorgias and his army reached Judas' camp that night, they found no one there. They thought Judas and his men were trying to escape, so they started looking for them in the mountains.

At dawn Judas appeared in the plain with 3,000 men, not all of them as well armed as they would have liked. They saw the huge Gentile army of experienced troops wearing armor and protected by cavalry. But Judas said to his men,

Don't worry about the size of their army, and don't be frightened when they attack. Remember how our ancestors were saved at the Red Sea when the king of Egypt was pursuing them with his army! 10 Now let us ask the Lord to have mercy on us. Let us pray that he will honor his covenant with our ancestors and crush this army when we attack today. 11 Then all the Gentiles will know that Israel has a God who rescues and saves them.

12 When the Gentiles saw Judas and his men preparing for battle, 13 they moved out of their camp to fight. Then Judas and his men sounded their trumpets 14 and attacked. The Gentiles broke ranks and fled to the plain, 15 but all the stragglers were killed. The Israelites pursued the enemy as far as Gezer, the plains of Idumea, and the towns of Azotus and Jamnia. Altogether they killed about 3,000 of the enemy.

16 When Judas and his army came back from the pursuit, 17-18 he said to his men,

Don't be greedy for loot. Gorgias and his army are nearby in the mountains, so there is still heavy fighting ahead of us. We must stand firm and fight. After that, you can safely take all the loot you want. 19 Judas was just finishing his speech when an enemy patrol on a scouting mission looked down from the mountains 20 and saw that their army had been put to flight; they could tell from the smoke that their camp was burning. 21 When they saw all this, they were terrified, and when they also saw that Judas' army was in the plain ready for battle, 22 they all fled to Philistia. 23 Then Judas returned to loot the enemy camp; he took large amounts of gold and silver, blue and purple cloth, and other rich plunder. 24 When the Jews came back to their own camp, they sang a hymn:
The Lord is worthy of praise; his mercy endures forever. 25 That day brought a great victory to the people of Israel.

Victory over Lysias

26 The Gentile troops that escaped went to Lysias and reported all that had happened. 27 When Lysias heard that his troops had lost the battle, he was shocked and disappointed that Israel had not been defeated as the king had commanded.

28 In the following year Lysias gathered an army of 60,000 well-trained infantry and 5,000 cavalry, intending to conquer the Jews. 29 They marched into Idumea and camped at Bethzur. Judas came to meet them with 10,000 men. 30 When Judas saw how strong the enemy's army was, he prayed,

We will praise you, Savior of Israel. You broke the attack of the giant by the hand of your servant David and you let Saul's son Jonathan and the young man who carried his weapons defeat the entire Philistine army. 31 Now in the same way let your people Israel defeat our enemy. Put them to shame, in spite of all their confidence in their infantry and cavalry. 32 Make them afraid; let their bold strength melt away; let them tremble at the prospect of defeat. 33 We love and worship you; so let us kill our enemies, that we may then sing your praises.

34 The battle began, and in the hand-to-hand fighting about 5,000 of Lysias' men were killed. 35 When Lysias saw that his army was being defeated and when he saw the reckless courage of Judas and his men, who showed that they were ready to live or die with honor, he returned to Antioch. There he recruited some mercenaries and planned to return to Judea later with a much larger army.

Good News Translation (GNT)

Copyright © 1992 by American Bible Society

1 Maccabees 4:1-35 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

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[a] had been put to flight, and that the Jews[b] 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.[c] 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.


  1. 1 Maccabees 4:20 Gk they
  2. 1 Maccabees 4:20 Gk they
  3. 1 Maccabees 4:34 Or and some fell on the opposite side
New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

'1 Maccabees 4:1-35' not found for the version: Complete Jewish Bible.
Complete Jewish Bible (CJB)

Copyright © 1998 by David H. Stern. All rights reserved.

'1 Maccabees 4:1-35' not found for the version: The Message.
The Message (MSG)

Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson

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