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1 Maccabees 6:28-54 New American Bible (Revised Edition) (NABRE)

28 When the king heard this he was enraged, and he called together all his Friends, the officers of his army, and the commanders of the cavalry. 29 Mercenary forces also came to him from other kingdoms and from the islands of the seas. 30 His army numbered a hundred thousand footsoldiers, twenty thousand cavalry, and thirty-two elephants trained for war. 31 They passed through Idumea and camped before Beth-zur. For many days they attacked it; they constructed siege engines, but the besieged made a sortie and burned these, and they fought bravely.

Battle of Beth-zechariah. 32 Then Judas marched away from the citadel and moved his camp to Beth-zechariah,[a] opposite the king’s camp. 33 The king, rising before dawn, moved his force hastily along the road to Beth-zechariah; and the troops prepared for battle and sounded the trumpet. 34 They made the elephants drunk on the juice of grapes and mulberries to get them ready to fight. 35 The beasts were distributed along the phalanxes, each elephant having assigned to it a thousand men in coats of mail, with bronze helmets on their heads, and five hundred picked cavalry. 36 These accompanied the beast wherever it was; wherever it moved, they moved too and never left it. 37 Each elephant was outfitted with a strong wooden tower, fastened to it by a harness; each tower held three soldiers who fought from it, besides the Indian driver. 38 The remaining cavalry were stationed on one or the other of the two flanks of the army, to harass the enemy and to be protected by the phalanxes. 39 When the sun shone on the gold and bronze shields, the mountains gleamed with their brightness and blazed like flaming torches. 40 Part of the king’s army spread out along the heights, while some were on low ground, and they marched forward steadily in good order. 41 All who heard the noise of their numbers, the tramp of their marching, and the clanging of the arms, trembled; for the army was very great and strong.

42 Judas with his army advanced to fight, and six hundred men of the king’s army fell. 43 Eleazar, called Avaran, saw one of the beasts covered with royal armor and bigger than any of the others, and so he thought the king was on it. 44 He gave up his life to save his people and win an everlasting name for himself. 45 He dashed courageously up to it in the middle of the phalanx, killing men right and left, so that they parted before him. 46 He ran under the elephant, stabbed it and killed it. The beast fell to the ground on top of him, and he died there. 47 But when Judas’ troops saw the strength of the royal army and the ardor of its forces, they retreated from them.

The Siege of Jerusalem. 48 Some of the king’s army went up to Jerusalem to attack them, and the king established camps in Judea and at Mount Zion. 49 He made peace with the people of Beth-zur, and they evacuated the city, because they had no food there to enable them to withstand a siege, for that was a sabbath year in the land.[b] 50 The king took Beth-zur and stationed a garrison there to hold it. 51 For many days he besieged the sanctuary, setting up platforms and siege engines, fire-throwers, catapults and mechanical bows for shooting arrows and projectiles. 52 The defenders countered by setting up siege engines of their own, and kept up the fight a long time. 53 But there were no provisions in the storerooms, because it was the seventh year, and the reserves had been eaten up by those who had been rescued from the Gentiles and brought to Judea. 54 Few men remained in the sanctuary because the famine was too much for them; the rest scattered, each to his own home.


  1. 6:32 Beth-zechariah: south of Jerusalem, and six miles north of Beth-zur.
  2. 6:49 A sabbath year in the land: when sowing and reaping were prohibited (Ex 23:10–11; Lv 25:2–7). The year without a harvest (autumn of 164 to autumn of 163) was followed by a food shortage.
New American Bible (Revised Edition) (NABRE)

Scripture texts, prefaces, introductions, footnotes and cross references used in this work are taken from the New American Bible, revised edition © 2010, 1991, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Inc., Washington, DC All Rights Reserved. No part of this work may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the copyright owner.


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