A A A A A
Bible Book List

2 Maccabees 15 Good News Translation (GNT)

Nicanor's Cruel Plan

15 Nicanor learned that Judas and his men were in the region of Samaria, and so he decided to attack them on a Sabbath, when he could do so without any danger to himself. The Jews who were forced to accompany his army begged him not to do such a cruel and savage thing, but to respect the day that the all-seeing God had honored and made the most holy of all days. Then Nicanor, the lowest creature on earth, asked if there was some sovereign ruler in heaven who had commanded them to honor the Sabbath. And the Jews replied,

Yes; the living Lord, who rules in heaven, commanded us to honor the Sabbath.

But Nicanor answered,
    I am the ruler on earth, and I order you to take up your weapons and to do what the king commands. However, he did not succeed in carrying out his cruel plan.

Judas Prepares His Troops for Battle

In his arrogance Nicanor had boasted that he would set up a monument in honor of his victory over Judas. But Judas was fully confident that the Lord would help him, so he urged his men not to be afraid of the enemy. He encouraged them to remember how the Almighty had helped them in times past and to rest assured that he would give them victory this time also. He renewed their hope by reading to them from the Law and the Prophets and by reminding them of the battles they had already won. 10 When his men were ready for battle, he gave them their orders and at the same time pointed out how the Gentiles could not be trusted, because they never kept their treaties. 11 He armed all his men, not by encouraging them to trust in shields and spears, but by inspiring them with courageous words. He also lifted their morale by telling them about his dream, a kind of vision that they could trust in.

12 He told them that he had seen a vision of Onias, the former High Priest, that great and wonderful man of humble and gentle disposition, who was an outstanding orator and who had been taught from childhood how to live a virtuous life. With outstretched arms Onias was praying for the entire Jewish nation. 13 Judas then saw an impressive white-haired man of great dignity and authority. 14 Onias said:

This is God's prophet Jeremiah, who loves the Jewish people and offers many prayers for us and for Jerusalem, the holy city.

15 Then Jeremiah stretched out his right hand and gave Judas a gold sword, saying as he did so,
16     This holy sword is a gift from God. Take it and destroy your enemies.

17 The eloquent words that Judas spoke encouraged everyone to be brave, and inspired boys to fight like men. Their city, their religion, and their Temple were in danger. So the Jews made up their minds not to waste any time, but to make a daring attack against the enemy and bravely decide their fate in hand-to-hand combat. 18 They were not so concerned about their own families and relatives as they were about their sacred Temple. 19 And the people who had to stay in Jerusalem were deeply concerned about how a battle on open ground would turn out.

The Defeat and Death of Nicanor

20 Everyone was waiting to see who would win the battle. The enemy troops were already moving forward, with their cavalry on each side of them, and their elephants placed in strategic positions. 21 Judas Maccabeus looked at the huge enemy force, the variety of their weapons, and their fierce elephants. Then he raised his hands toward heaven and prayed to the Lord, who works miracles, because he knew that the Lord gives victory to those who deserve it, not to those who have a strong army. 22 Judas said:

Lord, when Hezekiah was king of Judah, you sent your angel, who killed 185,000 of King Sennacherib's men. 23 Now once again, Lord of heaven, send your good angel to make our enemies shake and tremble with fear. 24 With your great power, destroy these people who have slandered you and have come out to attack your chosen people.
So Judas ended his prayer.

25 Nicanor and his army moved forward to the sound of trumpets and battle songs, 26 but Judas and his men went into battle calling on God for help. 27 So by fighting with their hands and praying to God in their hearts, the Jews killed more than 35,000 of the enemy. How grateful they were for the help they had received from God! 28 When the battle was over and they were going home celebrating their victory, they noticed Nicanor in full armor lying dead on the battlefield. 29 Then with loud shouts they praised the Lord in their native language.

30 Judas Maccabeus, who had always fought with all his body and soul for his own people, never losing the patriotism of his youth, ordered his men to cut off Nicanor's head and right arm and to take them to Jerusalem. 31 When they arrived in the city, he called together all the people, stationed the priests before the altar, and sent for the men in the fort. 32 He showed them the head of the evil Nicanor and the arm which that wicked man had arrogantly stretched out against the sacred Temple of the Almighty God. 33 Then he cut out the tongue of that godless man, promising to feed it bit by bit to the birds and to hang up his head opposite the Temple, as evidence of what his foolishness did for him. 34 Everyone there looked up to heaven and praised the Lord, who had revealed his power and had kept his Temple from being defiled. 35 Judas hung Nicanor's head from the wall of the fort, as a clear proof to everyone of the Lord's help. 36 By unanimous vote it was decided that this day would never be forgotten, but would be celebrated each year on the eve of Mordecai's Day,[a] which is the thirteenth day of the twelfth month, called Adar in Aramaic.

Concluding Words

37 That is how things turned out for Nicanor. The city of Jerusalem remained in the possession of the Jewish people from that time on, so I will end my story here. 38 If it is well written and to the point, I am pleased; if it is poorly written and uninteresting, I have still done my best. 39 We know it is unhealthy to drink wine or water alone, whereas wine mixed with water makes a delightfully tasty drink. So also a good story skillfully written gives pleasure to those who read it. With this I conclude.

Footnotes:

  1. 2 Maccabees 15:36 mordecai's day: The Festival of Purim (see Es 9.17-22).
Good News Translation (GNT)

Copyright © 1992 by American Bible Society

2 Maccabees 15 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

Nicanor’s Arrogance

15 When Nicanor heard that Judas and his troops were in the region of Samaria, he made plans to attack them with complete safety on the day of rest. When the Jews who were compelled to follow him said, “Do not destroy so savagely and barbarously, but show respect for the day that he who sees all things has honored and hallowed above other days,” the thrice-accursed wretch asked if there were a sovereign in heaven who had commanded the keeping of the sabbath day. When they declared, “It is the living Lord himself, the Sovereign in heaven, who ordered us to observe the seventh day,” he replied, “But I am a sovereign also, on earth, and I command you to take up arms and finish the king’s business.” Nevertheless, he did not succeed in carrying out his abominable design.

Judas Prepares the Jews for Battle

This Nicanor in his utter boastfulness and arrogance had determined to erect a public monument of victory over Judas and his forces. But Maccabeus did not cease to trust with all confidence that he would get help from the Lord. He exhorted his troops not to fear the attack of the Gentiles, but to keep in mind the former times when help had come to them from heaven, and so to look for the victory that the Almighty would give them. Encouraging them from the law and the prophets, and reminding them also of the struggles they had won, he made them the more eager. 10 When he had aroused their courage, he issued his orders, at the same time pointing out the perfidy of the Gentiles and their violation of oaths. 11 He armed each of them not so much with confidence in shields and spears as with the inspiration of brave words, and he cheered them all by relating a dream, a sort of vision,[a] which was worthy of belief.

12 What he saw was this: Onias, who had been high priest, a noble and good man, of modest bearing and gentle manner, one who spoke fittingly and had been trained from childhood in all that belongs to excellence, was praying with outstretched hands for the whole body of the Jews. 13 Then in the same fashion another appeared, distinguished by his gray hair and dignity, and of marvelous majesty and authority. 14 And Onias spoke, saying, “This is a man who loves the family of Israel and prays much for the people and the holy city—Jeremiah, the prophet of God.” 15 Jeremiah stretched out his right hand and gave to Judas a golden sword, and as he gave it he addressed him thus: 16 “Take this holy sword, a gift from God, with which you will strike down your adversaries.”

17 Encouraged by the words of Judas, so noble and so effective in arousing valor and awaking courage in the souls of the young, they determined not to carry on a campaign[b] but to attack bravely, and to decide the matter by fighting hand to hand with all courage, because the city and the sanctuary and the temple were in danger. 18 Their concern for wives and children, and also for brothers and sisters[c] and relatives, lay upon them less heavily; their greatest and first fear was for the consecrated sanctuary. 19 And those who had to remain in the city were in no little distress, being anxious over the encounter in the open country.

The Defeat and Death of Nicanor

20 When all were now looking forward to the coming issue, and the enemy was already close at hand with their army drawn up for battle, the elephants[d] strategically stationed and the cavalry deployed on the flanks, 21 Maccabeus, observing the masses that were in front of him and the varied supply of arms and the savagery of the elephants, stretched out his hands toward heaven and called upon the Lord who works wonders; for he knew that it is not by arms, but as the Lord[e] decides, that he gains the victory for those who deserve it. 22 He called upon him in these words: “O Lord, you sent your angel in the time of King Hezekiah of Judea, and he killed fully one hundred eighty-five thousand in the camp of Sennacherib. 23 So now, O Sovereign of the heavens, send a good angel to spread terror and trembling before us. 24 By the might of your arm may these blasphemers who come against your holy people be struck down.” With these words he ended his prayer.

25 Nicanor and his troops advanced with trumpets and battle songs, 26 but Judas and his troops met the enemy in battle with invocations to God and prayers. 27 So, fighting with their hands and praying to God in their hearts, they laid low at least thirty-five thousand, and were greatly gladdened by God’s manifestation.

28 When the action was over and they were returning with joy, they recognized Nicanor, lying dead, in full armor. 29 Then there was shouting and tumult, and they blessed the Sovereign Lord in the language of their ancestors. 30 Then the man who was ever in body and soul the defender of his people, the man who maintained his youthful goodwill toward his compatriots, ordered them to cut off Nicanor’s head and arm and carry them to Jerusalem. 31 When he arrived there and had called his compatriots together and stationed the priests before the altar, he sent for those who were in the citadel. 32 He showed them the vile Nicanor’s head and that profane man’s arm, which had been boastfully stretched out against the holy house of the Almighty. 33 He cut out the tongue of the ungodly Nicanor and said that he would feed it piecemeal to the birds and would hang up these rewards of his folly opposite the sanctuary. 34 And they all, looking to heaven, blessed the Lord who had manifested himself, saying, “Blessed is he who has kept his own place undefiled!” 35 Judas[f] hung Nicanor’s head from the citadel, a clear and conspicuous sign to everyone of the help of the Lord. 36 And they all decreed by public vote never to let this day go unobserved, but to celebrate the thirteenth day of the twelfth month—which is called Adar in the Aramaic language—the day before Mordecai’s day.

37 This, then, is how matters turned out with Nicanor, and from that time the city has been in the possession of the Hebrews. So I will here end my story.

The Compiler’s Epilogue

38 If it is well told and to the point, that is what I myself desired; if it is poorly done and mediocre, that was the best I could do. 39 For just as it is harmful to drink wine alone, or, again, to drink water alone, while wine mixed with water is sweet and delicious and enhances one’s enjoyment, so also the style of the story delights the ears of those who read the work. And here will be the end.

Footnotes:

  1. 2 Maccabees 15:11 Meaning of Gk uncertain
  2. 2 Maccabees 15:17 Or to remain in camp
  3. 2 Maccabees 15:18 Gk for brothers
  4. 2 Maccabees 15:20 Gk animals
  5. 2 Maccabees 15:21 Gk he
  6. 2 Maccabees 15:35 Gk He
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.

2 Maccabees 15 New American Bible (Revised Edition) (NABRE)

Chapter 15

Nicanor’s Arrogance. When Nicanor learned that Judas and his companions were in the territory of Samaria, he decided he could attack them in complete safety on the day of rest. The Jews who were forced to accompany him pleaded, “Do not massacre them so savagely and barbarously, but show respect for the day which the All-seeing has exalted with holiness above all other days.” At this the thrice-accursed wretch asked if there was a ruler in heaven who prescribed the keeping of the sabbath day. They replied, “It is the living Lord, the ruler in heaven, who commands the observance of the sabbath day.” Then he said, “I, the ruler on earth, command you to take up arms and carry out the king’s business.” Nevertheless he did not succeed in carrying out his cruel plan.

In his utter boastfulness and arrogance Nicanor had determined to erect a public victory monument[a] over Judas and his companions. But Maccabeus remained confident, fully convinced that he would receive help from the Lord. He urged his men not to fear the attack of the Gentiles, but mindful of the help they had received in the past from Heaven, to expect now the victory that would be given them by the Almighty. By encouraging them with words from the law and the prophets,[b] and by reminding them of the battles they had already won, he filled them with fresh enthusiasm. 10 Having stirred up their courage, he gave his orders and pointed out at the same time the perfidy of the Gentiles and their violation of oaths. 11 When he had armed each of them, not so much with the security of shield and spear as with the encouragement of noble words, he cheered them all by relating a dream, a kind of waking vision, worthy of belief.

12 What he saw was this: Onias, the former high priest,[c] a noble and good man, modest in bearing, gentle in manner, distinguished in speech, and trained from childhood in all that belongs to excellence, was praying with outstretched arms for the whole Jewish community. 13 Then in the same way another man appeared, distinguished by his white hair and dignity, and with an air of wondrous and majestic authority. 14 Onias then said of him, “This is a man[d] who loves his fellow Jews and fervently prays for the people and the holy city—the prophet of God, Jeremiah.” 15 Stretching out his right hand, Jeremiah presented a gold sword to Judas. As he gave it to him he said, 16 “Accept this holy sword as a gift from God; with it you shall shatter your adversaries.”

17 Encouraged by Judas’ words, so noble and capable of instilling valor and stirring young hearts to courage, they determined not merely to march, but to charge gallantly and decide the issue by hand-to-hand combat with the utmost courage, since city, sanctuary and temple were in danger. 18 They were not so much concerned about wives and children, or family and relations; their first and foremost fear was for the consecrated sanctuary. 19 Those who were left in the city suffered no less an agony, anxious as they were about the battle in the open country. 20 Everyone now awaited the decisive moment. The enemy were already drawing near with their troops drawn up in battle line, their beasts placed in strategic positions, and their cavalry stationed on the flanks.

Defeat of Nicanor. 21 Maccabeus, surveying the hosts before him, the variety of weaponry, and the fierceness of their beasts, stretched out his hands toward heaven and called upon the Lord who works wonders; for he knew that it is not weapons but the Lord’s decision that brings victory to those who deserve it. 22 Calling upon God, he spoke in this manner: “You, master, sent your angel in the days of King Hezekiah of Judea, and he slew a hundred and eighty-five thousand men of Sennacherib’s camp. 23 And now, Sovereign of the heavens, send a good angel to spread fear and trembling ahead of us. 24 By the might of your arm may those be struck down who have blasphemously come against your holy people!” With these words he ended his prayer.

25 Nicanor and his troops advanced to the sound of trumpets and battle songs. 26 But Judas and his troops met the enemy with supplication and prayers. 27 Fighting with their hands and praying to God with their hearts, they laid low at least thirty-five thousand, and rejoiced greatly over this manifestation of God’s power. 28 When the battle was over and they were joyfully departing, they discovered Nicanor fallen there in all his armor; 29 so they raised tumultuous shouts in their ancestral language in praise of the divine Sovereign.

30 Then Judas, that man who was ever in body and soul the chief defender of his fellow citizens, and had maintained from youth his affection for his compatriots, ordered Nicanor’s head and right arm up to the shoulder to be cut off and taken to Jerusalem. 31 When he arrived there, he assembled his compatriots, stationed the priests before the altar, and sent for those in the citadel.[e] 32 He showed them the vile Nicanor’s head and the wretched blasphemer’s arm that had been boastfully stretched out against the holy dwelling of the Almighty. 33 He cut out the tongue of the godless Nicanor, saying he would feed it piecemeal to the birds and would hang up the other wages of his folly opposite the temple. 34 At this, everyone looked toward heaven and praised the Lord who manifests himself: “Blessed be the one who has preserved undefiled his own place!” 35 Judas hung Nicanor’s head and arm on the wall of the citadel, a clear and evident sign to all of the Lord’s help. 36 By public vote it was unanimously decreed never to let this day pass unobserved, but to celebrate the thirteenth day of the twelfth month, called Adar in Aramaic, the eve of Mordecai’s Day.[f]

VII. Epilogue

Compiler’s Apology. 37 Since Nicanor’s doings ended in this way, with the city remaining in the possession of the Hebrews from that time on, I will bring my story to an end here too. 38 If it is well written and to the point, that is what I wanted; if it is poorly done and mediocre, that is the best I could do. 39 Just as it is unpleasant to drink wine by itself or just water, whereas wine mixed with water makes a delightful and pleasing drink, so a skillfully composed story delights the ears of those who read the work. Let this, then, be the end.

Footnotes:

  1. 15:6 Public victory monument: a heap of stones covered with the arms and armor of the fallen enemy.
  2. 15:9 The law and the prophets: the first of the three parts of the Hebrew Scriptures, called the sacred books (1 Mc 12:9; 2 Mc 2:14).
  3. 15:12 Onias, the former high priest: Onias III (3:1–40). Evidently the author believed that departed just persons were in some way alive even before their resurrection.
  4. 15:14 A man: regarded by the postexilic Jews as one of the greatest figures in their history; cf. 2:1; Mt 16:14. Who…prays for the people: Jeremiah’s prayer in heaven has been taken in the Roman Catholic tradition as a biblical witness to the intercession of the saints.
  5. 15:31 Those in the citadel: presumably Jewish soldiers; actually, the citadel was still in the possession of the Syrians (1 Mc 13:50).
  6. 15:36 Mordecai’s Day: the feast of Purim, celebrated on the fourteenth and fifteenth days of Adar (Est 3:7; 9:20–23; F:10).
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.

2 Maccabees 15 New Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition (NRSVCE)

Nicanor’s Arrogance

15 When Nicanor heard that Judas and his troops were in the region of Samaria, he made plans to attack them with complete safety on the day of rest. When the Jews who were compelled to follow him said, “Do not destroy so savagely and barbarously, but show respect for the day that he who sees all things has honored and hallowed above other days,” the thrice-accursed wretch asked if there were a sovereign in heaven who had commanded the keeping of the sabbath day. When they declared, “It is the living Lord himself, the Sovereign in heaven, who ordered us to observe the seventh day,” he replied, “But I am a sovereign also, on earth, and I command you to take up arms and finish the king’s business.” Nevertheless, he did not succeed in carrying out his abominable design.

Judas Prepares the Jews for Battle

This Nicanor in his utter boastfulness and arrogance had determined to erect a public monument of victory over Judas and his forces. But Maccabeus did not cease to trust with all confidence that he would get help from the Lord. He exhorted his troops not to fear the attack of the Gentiles, but to keep in mind the former times when help had come to them from heaven, and so to look for the victory that the Almighty would give them. Encouraging them from the law and the prophets, and reminding them also of the struggles they had won, he made them the more eager. 10 When he had aroused their courage, he issued his orders, at the same time pointing out the perfidy of the Gentiles and their violation of oaths. 11 He armed each of them not so much with confidence in shields and spears as with the inspiration of brave words, and he cheered them all by relating a dream, a sort of vision,[a] which was worthy of belief.

12 What he saw was this: Onias, who had been high priest, a noble and good man, of modest bearing and gentle manner, one who spoke fittingly and had been trained from childhood in all that belongs to excellence, was praying with outstretched hands for the whole body of the Jews. 13 Then in the same fashion another appeared, distinguished by his gray hair and dignity, and of marvelous majesty and authority. 14 And Onias spoke, saying, “This is a man who loves the family of Israel and prays much for the people and the holy city—Jeremiah, the prophet of God.” 15 Jeremiah stretched out his right hand and gave to Judas a golden sword, and as he gave it he addressed him thus: 16 “Take this holy sword, a gift from God, with which you will strike down your adversaries.”

17 Encouraged by the words of Judas, so noble and so effective in arousing valor and awaking courage in the souls of the young, they determined not to carry on a campaign[b] but to attack bravely, and to decide the matter by fighting hand to hand with all courage, because the city and the sanctuary and the temple were in danger. 18 Their concern for wives and children, and also for brothers and sisters[c] and relatives, lay upon them less heavily; their greatest and first fear was for the consecrated sanctuary. 19 And those who had to remain in the city were in no little distress, being anxious over the encounter in the open country.

The Defeat and Death of Nicanor

20 When all were now looking forward to the coming issue, and the enemy was already close at hand with their army drawn up for battle, the elephants[d] strategically stationed and the cavalry deployed on the flanks, 21 Maccabeus, observing the masses that were in front of him and the varied supply of arms and the savagery of the elephants, stretched out his hands toward heaven and called upon the Lord who works wonders; for he knew that it is not by arms, but as the Lord[e] decides, that he gains the victory for those who deserve it. 22 He called upon him in these words: “O Lord, you sent your angel in the time of King Hezekiah of Judea, and he killed fully one hundred eighty-five thousand in the camp of Sennacherib. 23 So now, O Sovereign of the heavens, send a good angel to spread terror and trembling before us. 24 By the might of your arm may these blasphemers who come against your holy people be struck down.” With these words he ended his prayer.

25 Nicanor and his troops advanced with trumpets and battle songs, 26 but Judas and his troops met the enemy in battle with invocations to God and prayers. 27 So, fighting with their hands and praying to God in their hearts, they laid low at least thirty-five thousand, and were greatly gladdened by God’s manifestation.

28 When the action was over and they were returning with joy, they recognized Nicanor, lying dead, in full armor. 29 Then there was shouting and tumult, and they blessed the Sovereign Lord in the language of their ancestors. 30 Then the man who was ever in body and soul the defender of his people, the man who maintained his youthful goodwill toward his compatriots, ordered them to cut off Nicanor’s head and arm and carry them to Jerusalem. 31 When he arrived there and had called his compatriots together and stationed the priests before the altar, he sent for those who were in the citadel. 32 He showed them the vile Nicanor’s head and that profane man’s arm, which had been boastfully stretched out against the holy house of the Almighty. 33 He cut out the tongue of the ungodly Nicanor and said that he would feed it piecemeal to the birds and would hang up these rewards of his folly opposite the sanctuary. 34 And they all, looking to heaven, blessed the Lord who had manifested himself, saying, “Blessed is he who has kept his own place undefiled!” 35 Judas[f] hung Nicanor’s head from the citadel, a clear and conspicuous sign to everyone of the help of the Lord. 36 And they all decreed by public vote never to let this day go unobserved, but to celebrate the thirteenth day of the twelfth month—which is called Adar in the Aramaic language—the day before Mordecai’s day.

37 This, then, is how matters turned out with Nicanor, and from that time the city has been in the possession of the Hebrews. So I will here end my story.

The Compiler’s Epilogue

38 If it is well told and to the point, that is what I myself desired; if it is poorly done and mediocre, that was the best I could do. 39 For just as it is harmful to drink wine alone, or, again, to drink water alone, while wine mixed with water is sweet and delicious and enhances one’s enjoyment, so also the style of the story delights the ears of those who read the work. And here will be the end.

Footnotes:

  1. 2 Maccabees 15:11 Meaning of Gk uncertain
  2. 2 Maccabees 15:17 Or to remain in camp
  3. 2 Maccabees 15:18 Gk for brothers
  4. 2 Maccabees 15:20 Gk animals
  5. 2 Maccabees 15:21 Gk he
  6. 2 Maccabees 15:35 Gk He
New Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition (NRSVCE)

New Revised Standard Version Bible: Catholic Edition, copyright © 1989, 1993 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.

Viewing of
Cross references
Footnotes