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2 Maccabees 5 Common English Bible (CEB)

Antiochus robs the temple

At about this time, Antiochus made his second invasion of Egypt. For about forty days, there were visions of soldiers on horses running through the air around the city. They wore gold garments and were armed with spears and with drawn swords. They organized companies of cavalry, each attacking and counterattacking, wielding shields and spears and shooting arrows. Gold ornaments and armor gleamed brightly. As a result, everyone hoped that the visions were a good sign. When a false rumor spread that Antiochus had died, Jason took no fewer than a thousand soldiers and made an unexpected assault on the city. When the troops on the wall had been defeated, and the city had been seized at last, Menelaus fled into the elevated fortress.[a] Jason mercilessly slaughtered his own citizens. He failed to realize military success against one’s own people is the greatest misfortune but thought that he was winning trophies from his enemies and not from his fellow citizens. But he didn’t gain the government; instead, he received shame as a result of his plot and again fled as a fugitive into Ammonite country. Finally, he came to a miserable end. Brought up on charges before Aretas the Arab tyrant, he fled from city to city, chased by everyone. Hated as a traitor to the laws and loathed as the murderer of his native land and citizens, he was cast ashore in Egypt. He, who had exiled many from their homeland, died in a foreign land after he sailed to the Spartans to seek protection because of their kinship. 10 So the one who had cast out a crowd of corpses to lie unburied died without mourning and received no funeral or place in his ancestral burial plot.

11 When the news of these events reached the king, he thought Judea was in revolt. So he broke camp and marched from Egypt while wild with emotion, and took the city by force. 12 He commanded his soldiers to cut down without mercy anyone they met and to slaughter those fleeing into their houses. 13 They killed young and old, murdered adolescents, women and children, and slaughtered virgins and infants. 14 Over a three-day period, eighty thousand people’s lives were ruined. Forty thousand were killed in hand-to-hand fighting, and no fewer than those slaughtered were sold as slaves. 15 Not content with these measures, he dared to enter into the holiest temple of all the earth, guided by Menelaus, who had become a traitor to the laws and to his native land. 16 Clutching the holy equipment with polluted and unclean hands, Antiochus made off with them and the things donated by other kings to increase the prestige, glory, and honor of the holy place. 17 Antiochus was really pleased with himself, not realizing the Lord had become angry for a short time because of the sins of those who lived in the city. For this reason, he had shut his eyes to the holy temple.[b] 18 If they hadn’t previously been involved in so many sins, Antiochus would have been forced to abandon his rashness and been defeated at once when he attacked, just like Heliodorus (the one King Seleucus sent to inspect the treasury). 19 But the Lord didn’t choose the nation because of the place, but the place because of the nation. 20 So the temple[c] also shared the misfortunes of the nation, but afterward it also shared in its good fortunes. That which the almighty abandoned in his wrath would again be restored with all glory when the nation was reconciled to the great Lord.

21 Antiochus carried away 102,600 pounds of silver from the temple and hurried back to Antioch, imagining in his pride and arrogance that it was possible to sail across the land and march across the sea. 22 He left governors who mistreated the people. In Jerusalem there was Philip of the Phrygians, who had a manner more barbarous than that of the man who appointed him. 23 In Mount Gerizim there was Andronicus, and in addition there was Menelaus, who treated the citizens worse than the others. In his hostility against the Jewish citizens, 24 Antiochus sent Apollonius, a Mysian leader of twenty-two thousand soldiers, with the command to slaughter all adult men but to sell the women and children into slavery. 25 When Apollonius arrived in Jerusalem, he pretended to be peaceable. He waited until the holy Sabbath day to take advantage of the Jewish rest from work, and then he led an armed parade of his troops. 26 He suddenly killed with swords all those who had come out to see the spectacle. While running into the city with his foot soldiers, he slaughtered a large number of the crowd. 27 But Judas, also known as the Maccabee, and about ten men with him, fled into the highlands where he (along with those accompanying him) managed to avoid defiling themselves by living like wild animals: they ate grass for food.


  1. 2 Maccabees 5:5 Gk acropolis
  2. 2 Maccabees 5:17 Or place
  3. 2 Maccabees 5:20 Or place
Common English Bible (CEB)

Copyright © 2011 by Common English Bible

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