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1 Maccabees 9 Common English Bible (CEB)

Bacchides returns to Judea

When Demetrius heard that Nicanor and his army had been defeated in battle, he sent Bacchides and Alcimus into the land of Judah a second time. The right wing of the army was with them. They went by the road that leads to Gilgal[a] and prepared for battle against Mesaloth in Arbela. They captured it and killed many people. In the first month[b] of the year 152,[c] they camped against Jerusalem. Then they marched off and went to Berea with twenty thousand infantry and two thousand cavalry.

Now Judas was camped at Elasa with three thousand handpicked soldiers. When they saw the huge number of enemy forces, they became afraid. Many of them slipped away from the camp, until no more than eight hundred of them remained.

When Judas saw that members of his army had slipped away and the battle was coming close, he was dejected because he had no time to assemble more troops. He felt weak, but he said to those who stayed, “Let’s get up and move against our enemies. We may be able to fight them.”

They tried to change his mind: “We don’t have the strength. Let’s save ourselves now and come back later with our people to fight them. We are too few.”

10 But Judas replied, “Don’t even consider running from them. If our time has come, then let’s die bravely for our people. Let’s leave no reason to question our honor.”

Final battle of Judas

11 Then the enemy army marched out from the camp and took its positions to fight. The cavalry was divided into two companies. The slingers and the archers went ahead of the army, as did all the best warriors. 12 Bacchides was on the right wing. Flanked by the two companies, the military force advanced to the sound of the trumpets. Those with Judas also blew their trumpets. 13 The earth shook from the noise of the armies. And the battle raged from morning till evening.

14 Judas saw that Bacchides and the strength of his army were on the right. Then Judas’ most courageous soldiers went with him. 15 They crushed the right wing and pursued them as far as Mount Azotus. 16 When those on the left wing saw that the right wing had been crushed, they turned and followed close behind Judas and his men. 17 The battle became frantic, and many on both sides were wounded and died. 18 Judas himself died, and the rest fled.

19 Then Jonathan and Simon took their brother Judas, buried him in their ancestral tomb at Modein, 20 and wept for him. All Israel expressed deep sorrow for him and mourned for many days. They said, 21 “What a mighty one has fallen, saving Israel!” 22 Now the rest of Judas’ achievements—his wars, the brave things that he did, his greatness—haven’t been recorded, but they were many.

Jonathan succeeds Judas

23 After Judas’ death, renegades appeared throughout Israel. All the immoral people reappeared. 24 There was also a very great famine at that time, and the country went over to the enemy’s side. 25 Bacchides chose the godless and put them in charge of the country. 26 They hunted down Judas’ friends and brought them to Bacchides. He took vengeance on them and treated them terribly. 27 So there was great distress in Israel, the worst since the time when prophets ceased to appear among them.

28 Then the other friends of Judas assembled and said to Jonathan, 29 “Since your brother Judas died, there hasn’t been anyone like him to fight against our enemies and Bacchides, and to deal with those among our people who hate us. 30 So we’ve chosen you today to take his place as our ruler and leader to fight our battle.” 31 Jonathan accepted the leadership at that time in place of his brother Judas.

Campaigns of Jonathan

32 When Bacchides learned about this development, he tried to kill Jonathan. 33 But Jonathan, his brother Simon, and all those with him heard about it and fled into the Tekoa wilderness. They camped beside the water of the pool of Asphar. 34 Bacchides found out about this on a Sabbath day, and he and his army crossed the Jordan River.

35 Jonathan sent his brother John, as leader of a large contingent, to beg his friends the Nabateans for permission to store with them the large amount of baggage that they had. 36 But the family of Jambri from Medeba came out and captured John and everything he had. And they left with it.

37 After this Jonathan and his brother Simon were told, “The family of Jambri is celebrating a great wedding. They are bringing the bride, a daughter of one of the great officials of Canaan, from Nadabath with a large escort.” 38 Remembering how their brother John had been killed, they went out and hid under cover of the mountain. 39 They looked out and saw a rowdy procession with a large amount of baggage. The bridegroom came out with his friends and his brothers to meet them with tambourines, musicians, and many weapons. 40 Then those who were with Jonathan ambushed them and began killing them. They wounded and killed many. The rest fled to the mountain, and the Jews took all their goods. 41 So the wedding turned into mourning, and the sound of their musicians into a funeral hymn. 42 After they had fully avenged their brother’s death, they returned to the marshes of the Jordan.

43 When Bacchides heard about this, he came with a large force to the banks of the Jordan on the Sabbath. 44 Jonathan said to his companions, “Let’s get up now and fight for our lives. Today things are not like they were before. 45 Look! The battle is in front of us and behind us. The water of the Jordan is on this side and on that, with marsh and thicket. There’s no place to turn. 46 Cry out now to heaven so that you may be rescued from our enemies.” 47 So the battle began. Jonathan reached out his hand to strike Bacchides, but he escaped and went to the rear. 48 Then Jonathan and his forces jumped into the Jordan and swam to the other side. The enemy didn’t cross the Jordan to attack them. 49 About one thousand of Bacchides’ soldiers died that day.

Bacchides builds fortifications

50 Then Bacchides returned to Jerusalem and built strong cities in Judea: the fortress in Jericho, Emmaus, Beth-horon, Bethel, Timnath, Pharathon, and Tephon, all with high walls and gates and bars. 51 He placed soldiers in each of them to harass Israel. 52 He also fortified Beth-zur, Gazara, and the elevated fortress. He put soldiers and stores of food in them. 53 He took hostage the sons of the leading citizens and put them under guard in the elevated fortress at Jerusalem.

54 In the second month of the year 153,[d] Alcimus gave orders to tear down the wall of the inner court of the sanctuary—to tear down the work of the prophets. But he only initiated the project. 55 Right at that moment Alcimus had a stroke, and his work was stalled. He was paralyzed and couldn’t speak or give commands concerning his house. 56 Alcimus died a painful death shortly thereafter. 57 When Bacchides saw that Alcimus was dead, he returned to the king. The land of Judah was quiet for two years.

End of the war

58 Then all the people who did not live by the Law developed a plan and said, “Look! Jonathan and his people are living in quiet and confidence. Now let’s bring Bacchides back—he’ll capture them all in one night.” 59 They went and talked it over with him. 60 He came with a large military force. Secretly, he sent letters to all his allies in Judea. He told them to seize Jonathan and his followers. But they weren’t able to do it because their plan was discovered. 61 Instead, Jonathan’s followers captured approximately fifty people who were leaders in this treachery and killed them.

62 Then Jonathan, his followers, and Simon withdrew to Bethbasi in the wilderness. He rebuilt the parts of it that had been demolished and fortified it. 63 When Bacchides found out about this, he assembled all his forces and gave orders to the Judeans. 64 Then he came and camped against Bethbasi. He made war machines and fought against it for many days.

65 But Jonathan left his brother Simon in the town while he went out into the country. He took only a few men and 66 struck down Odomera and his people, as well as the people of Phasiron in their tents. Then he began to attack and went into battle with his forces. 67 Simon and his group left the town and set fire to the war machines. 68 They fought Bacchides, and he was crushed by them. They put so much pressure on him that his plan and invasion came to nothing. 69 So he was very angry at the renegade Jews who had advised him to return to the country. He killed many of them before he decided to go back to his own land.

70 When Jonathan learned about this, he sent ambassadors to make peace with him and to gain release of captives. 71 Bacchides agreed and kept his word. He swore to Jonathan that he wouldn’t try to harm him for the rest of his life. 72 He returned the captives he had taken previously from the land of Judah. Then he turned and went back to his own land and didn’t come again into their territory. 73 So war had ended for Israel. Jonathan settled in Michmash and began to govern the people. He destroyed the godless who were in Israel.


  1. 1 Maccabees 9:2 Or Galilee
  2. 1 Maccabees 9:3 March–April, Nisan
  3. 1 Maccabees 9:3 160 BCE
  4. 1 Maccabees 9:54 April–May, Iyar, 159 BCE
Common English Bible (CEB)

Copyright © 2011 by Common English Bible


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