1. The Jewish brethren
in Jerusalem and those in the land of Judea, To their Jewish brethren in Egypt,
Greeting, and good peace.
2. May God do good to
you, and may he remember his covenant with Abraham and Isaac and Jacob, his
3. May he give you all
a heart to worship him and to do his will with a strong heart and a willing
4. May he open your
heart to his law and his commandments, and may he bring peace.
5. May he hear your
prayers and be reconciled to you, and may he not forsake you in time of evil.
6. We are now praying
for you here.
7. In the reign of Demetrius, in the one hundred and sixty-ninth year, we Jews wrote to you, in the
critical distress which came upon us in those years after Jason and his company
revolted from the holy land and the kingdom
8. and burned the gate
and shed innocent blood. We besought the Lord and we were heard, and we offered
sacrifice and cereal offering, and we lighted the lamps and we set out the
9. And now see that
you keep the feast of booths in the month of Chislev, in the one hundred and
10. Those in Jerusalem
and those in Judea and the senate and Judas, To Aristobulus, who is of the family of the anointed
priests, teacher of Ptolemy the king, and to the Jews in Egypt, Greeting, and good health.
11. Having been saved
by God out of grave dangers we thank him greatly for taking our side against the
12. For he drove out
those who fought against the holy city.
13. For when the
leader reached Persia with a force that seemed irresistible, they were cut to
pieces in the temple of Nanea by a deception employed by the priests of Nanea.
14. For under pretext
of intending to marry her, Antiochus came to the place together with his
friends, to secure most of its treasures as a dowry.
15. When the priests
of the temple of Nanea had set out the treasures and Antiochus had come with a
few men inside the wall of the sacred precinct, they closed the temple as soon
as he entered it.
16. Opening the secret
door in the ceiling, they threw stones and struck down the leader and his men,
and dismembered them and cut off their heads and threw them to the people
17. Blessed in every
way be our God, who has brought judgment upon those who have behaved impiously.
18. Since on the
twenty-fifth day of Chislev we shall celebrate the purification of the temple,
we thought it necessary to notify you, in order that you also may celebrate the
feast of booths and the feast of the fire given when Nehemiah, who built the
temple and the altar, offered sacrifices.
19. For when our
fathers were being led captive to Persia, the pious priests of that time took
some of the fire of the altar and secretly hid it in the hollow of a dry
cistern, where they took such precautions that the place was unknown to any one.
20. But after many
years had passed, when it pleased God, Nehemiah, having been commissioned by the
king of Persia, sent the descendants of the priests who had hidden the fire to
get it. And when they reported to us that they had not found fire but thick
liquid, he ordered them to dip it out and bring it.
21. And when the
materials for the sacrifices were presented, Nehemiah ordered the priests to
sprinkle the liquid on the wood and what was laid upon it.
22. When this was done
and some time had passed and the sun, which had been clouded over, shone out, a
great fire blazed up, so that all marveled.
23. And while the
sacrifice was being consumed, the priests offered prayer -- the priests and
every one. Jonathan led, and the rest responded, as did Nehemiah.
24. The prayer was to
this effect: "O Lord, Lord God, Creator of all things, who art
awe-inspiring and strong and just and merciful, who alone art King and art kind,
25. who alone art
bountiful, who alone art just and almighty and eternal, who dost rescue Israel
from every evil, who didst choose the fathers and consecrate them,
26. accept this
sacrifice on behalf of all thy people Israel and preserve thy portion and make
27. Gather together
our scattered people, set free those who are slaves among the Gentiles, look
upon those who are rejected and despised, and let the Gentiles know that thou
art our God.
28. Afflict those who
oppress and are insolent with pride.
29. Plant thy people
in thy holy place, as Moses said."
30. Then the priests
sang the hymns.
31. And when the
materials of the sacrifice were consumed, Nehemiah ordered that the liquid that
was left should be poured upon large stones.
32. When this was
done, a flame blazed up; but when the light from the altar shone back, it went
33. When this matter
became known, and it was reported to the king of the Persians that, in the place
where the exiled priests had hidden the fire, the liquid had appeared with which
Nehemiah and his associates had burned the materials of the sacrifice,
34. the king
investigated the matter, and enclosed the place and made it sacred.
35. And with those
persons whom the king favored he exchanged many excellent gifts.
36. Nehemiah and his
associates called this "nephthar," which means purification, but by
most people it is called naphtha.
1. One finds in the
records that Jeremiah the prophet ordered those who were being deported to take
some of the fire, as has been told,
2. and that the
prophet after giving them the law instructed those who were being deported not
to forget the commandments of the Lord, nor to be led astray in their thoughts
upon seeing the gold and silver statues and their adornment.
3. And with other
similar words he exhorted them that the law should not depart from their hearts.
4. It was also in the
writing that the prophet, having received an oracle, ordered that the tent and
the ark should follow with him, and that he went out to the mountain where Moses
had gone up and had seen the inheritance of God.
5. And Jeremiah came
and found a cave, and he brought there the tent and the ark and the altar of
incense, and he sealed up the entrance.
6. Some of those who
followed him came up to mark the way, but could not find it.
7. When Jeremiah
learned of it, he rebuked them and declared: "The place shall be unknown
until God gathers his people together again and shows his mercy.
8. And then the Lord
will disclose these things, and the glory of the Lord and the cloud will appear,
as they were shown in the case of Moses, and as Solomon asked that the place
should be specially consecrated."
9. It was also made
clear that being possessed of wisdom Solomon offered sacrifice for the
dedication and completion of the temple.
10. Just as Moses
prayed to the Lord, and fire came down from heaven and devoured the sacrifices,
so also Solomon prayed, and the fire came down and consumed the whole burnt
11. And Moses said,
"They were consumed because the sin offering had not been eaten."
12. Likewise Solomon
also kept the eight days.
13. The same things
are reported in the records and in the memoirs of Nehemiah, and also that he
founded a library and collected the books about the kings and prophets, and the
writings of David, and letters of kings about votive offerings.
14. In the same way
Judas also collected all the books that had been lost on account of the war
which had come upon us, and they are in our possession.
15. So if you have
need of them, send people to get them for you.
16. Since, therefore,
we are about to celebrate the purification, we write to you. Will you therefore
please keep the days?
17. It is God who has
saved all his people, and has returned the inheritance to all, and the kingship
and priesthood and consecration,
18. as he promised
through the law. For we have hope in God that he will soon have mercy upon us
and will gather us from everywhere under heaven into his holy place, for he has
rescued us from great evils and has purified the place.
19. The story of Judas
Maccabeus and his brothers, and the purification of the great temple, and the
dedication of the altar,
20. and further the
wars against Antiochus Epiphanes and his son Eupator,
21. and the
appearances which came from heaven to those who strove zealously on behalf of
Judaism, so that though few in number they seized the whole land and pursued the
22. and recovered the
temple famous throughout the world and freed the city and restored the laws that
were about to be abolished, while the Lord with great kindness became gracious
to them --
23. all this, which
has been set forth by Jason of Cyrene in five volumes, we shall attempt to
condense into a single book.
24. For considering
the flood of numbers involved and the difficulty there is for those who wish to
enter upon the narratives of history because of the mass of material,
25. we have aimed to
please those who wish to read, to make it easy for those who are inclined to
memorize, and to profit all readers.
26. For us who have
undertaken the toil of abbreviating, it is no light matter but calls for sweat
and loss of sleep,
27. just as it is not
easy for one who prepares a banquet and seeks the benefit of others. However, to
secure the gratitude of many we will gladly endure the uncomfortable toil,
28. leaving the
responsibility for exact details to the compiler, while devoting our effort to
arriving at the outlines of the condensation.
29. For as the master
builder of a new house must be concerned with the whole construction, while the
one who undertakes its painting and decoration has to consider only what is
suitable for its adornment, such in my judgment is the case with us.
30. It is the duty of
the original historian to occupy the ground and to discuss matters from every
side and to take trouble with details,
31. but the one who
recasts the narrative should be allowed to strive for brevity of expression and
to forego exhaustive treatment.
32. At this point
therefore let us begin our narrative, adding only so much to what has already
been said; for it is foolish to lengthen the preface while cutting short the
1. While the holy city
was inhabited in unbroken peace and the laws were very well observed because of
the piety of the high priest Onias and his hatred of wickedness,
2. it came about that
the kings themselves honored the place and glorified the temple with the finest
3. so that even
Seleucus, the king of Asia, defrayed from his own revenues all the expenses
connected with the service of the sacrifices.
4. But a man named
Simon, of the tribe of Benjamin, who had been made captain of the temple, had a
disagreement with the high priest about the administration of the city market;
5. and when he could
not prevail over Onias he went to Apollonius of Tarsus, who at that time was
governor of Coelesyria and Phoenicia.
6. He reported to him
that the treasury in Jerusalem was full of untold sums of money, so that the
amount of the funds could not be reckoned, and that they did not belong to the
account of the sacrifices, but that it was possible for them to fall under the
control of the king.
7. When Apollonius met
the king, he told him of the money about which he had been informed. The king
chose Heliodorus, who was in charge of his affairs, and sent him with commands
to effect the removal of the aforesaid money.
8. Heliodorus at once
set out on his journey, ostensibly to make a tour of inspection of the cities of
Coelesyria and Phoenicia, but in fact to carry out the king's purpose.
9. When he had arrived
at Jerusalem and had been kindly welcomed by the high priest of the city, he
told about the disclosure that had been made and stated why he had come, and he
inquired whether this really was the situation.
10. The high priest
explained that there were some deposits belonging to widows and orphans,
11. and also some
money of Hyrcanus, son of Tobias, a man of very prominent position, and that it
totaled in all four hundred talents of silver and two hundred of gold. To such
an extent the impious Simon had misrepresented the facts.
12. And he said that
it was utterly impossible that wrong should be done to those people who had
trusted in the holiness of the place and in the sanctity and inviolability of
the temple which is honored throughout the whole world.
13. But Heliodorus,
because of the king's commands which he had, said that this money must in any
case be confiscated for the king's treasury.
14. So he set a day
and went in to direct the inspection of these funds. There was no little
distress throughout the whole city.
15. The priests
prostrated themselves before the altar in their priestly garments and called
toward heaven upon him who had given the law about deposits, that he should keep
them safe for those who had deposited them.
16. To see the
appearance of the high priest was to be wounded at heart, for his face and the
change in his color disclosed the anguish of his soul.
17. For terror and
bodily trembling had come over the man, which plainly showed to those who looked
at him the pain lodged in his heart.
18. People also
hurried out of their houses in crowds to make a general supplication because the
holy place was about to be brought into contempt.
19. Women, girded with
sackcloth under their breasts, thronged the streets. Some of the maidens who
were kept indoors ran together to the gates, and some to the walls, while others
peered out of the windows.
20. And holding up
their hands to heaven, they all made entreaty.
21. There was
something pitiable in the prostration of the whole populace and the anxiety of
the high priest in his great anguish.
22. While they were
calling upon the Almighty Lord that he would keep what had been entrusted safe
and secure for those who had entrusted it,
23. Heliodorus went on
with what had been decided.
24. But when he
arrived at the treasury with his bodyguard, then and there the Sovereign of
spirits and of all authority caused so great a manifestation that all who had
been so bold as to accompany him were astounded by the power of God, and became
faint with terror.
25. For there appeared
to them a magnificently caparisoned horse, with a rider of frightening mien, and
it rushed furiously at Heliodorus and struck at him with its front hoofs. Its
rider was seen to have armor and weapons of gold.
26. Two young men also
appeared to him, remarkably strong, gloriously beautiful and splendidly dressed,
who stood on each side of him and scourged him continuously, inflicting many
blows on him.
27. When he suddenly
fell to the ground and deep darkness came over him, his men took him up and put
him on a stretcher
28. and carried him
away, this man who had just entered the aforesaid treasury with a great retinue
and all his bodyguard but was now unable to help himself; and they recognized
clearly the sovereign power of God.
29. While he lay
prostrate, speechless because of the divine intervention and deprived of any
hope of recovery,
30. they praised the
Lord who had acted marvelously for his own place. And the temple, which a little
while before was full of fear and disturbance, was filled with joy and gladness,
now that the Almighty Lord had appeared.
31. Quickly some of
Heliodorus' friends asked Onias to call upon the Most High and to grant life to
one who was lying quite at his last breath.
32. And the high
priest, fearing that the king might get the notion that some foul play had been
perpetrated by the Jews with regard to Heliodorus, offered sacrifice for the
33. While the high
priest was making the offering of atonement, the same young men appeared again
to Heliodorus dressed in the same clothing, and they stood and said, "Be
very grateful to Onias the high priest, since for his sake the Lord has granted
you your life.
34. And see that you,
who have been scourged by heaven, report to all men the majestic power of
God." Having said this they vanished.
35. Then Heliodorus
offered sacrifice to the Lord and made very great vows to the Savior of his
life, and having bidden Onias farewell, he marched off with his forces to the
36. And he bore
testimony to all men of the deeds of the supreme God, which he had seen with his
37. When the king
asked Heliodorus what sort of person would be suitable to send on another
mission to Jerusalem, he replied,
38. "If you have
any enemy or plotter against your government, send him there, for you will get
him back thoroughly scourged, if he escapes at all, for there certainly is about
the place some power of God.
39. For he who has his
dwelling in heaven watches over that place himself and brings it aid, and he
strikes and destroys those who come to do it injury."
40. This was the
outcome of the episode of Heliodorus and the protection of the treasury.
1. The previously
mentioned Simon, who had informed about the money against his own country,
slandered Onias, saying that it was he who had incited Heliodorus and had been
the real cause of the misfortune.
2. He dared to
designate as a plotter against the government the man who was the benefactor of
the city, the protector of his fellow countrymen, and a zealot for the laws.
3. When his hatred
progressed to such a degree that even murders were committed by one of Simon's
4. Onias recognized
that the rivalry was serious and that Apollonius, the son of Menestheus and
governor of Coelesyria and Phoenicia, was intensifying the malice of Simon.
5. So he betook
himself to the king, not accusing his fellow citizens but having in view the
welfare, both public and private, of all the people.
6. For he saw that
without the king's attention public affairs could not again reach a peaceful
settlement, and that Simon would not stop his folly.
7. When Seleucus died
and Antiochus who was called Epiphanes succeeded to the kingdom, Jason the
brother of Onias obtained the high priesthood by corruption,
8. promising the king
at an interview three hundred and sixty talents of silver and, from another
source of revenue, eighty talents.
9. In addition to this
he promised to pay one hundred and fifty more if permission were given to
establish by his authority a gymnasium and a body of youth for it, and to enrol
the men of Jerusalem as citizens of Antioch.
10. When the king
assented and Jason came to office, he at once shifted his countrymen over to the
Greek way of life.
11. He set aside the
existing royal concessions to the Jews, secured through John the father of
Eupolemus, who went on the mission to establish friendship and alliance with the
Romans; and he destroyed the lawful ways of living and introduced new customs
contrary to the law.
12. For with alacrity
he founded a gymnasium right under the citadel, and he induced the noblest of
the young men to wear the Greek hat.
13. There was such an
extreme of Hellenization and increase in the adoption of foreign ways because of
the surpassing wickedness of Jason, who was ungodly and no high priest,
14. that the priests
were no longer intent upon their service at the altar. Despising the sanctuary
and neglecting the sacrifices, they hastened to take part in the unlawful
proceedings in the wrestling arena after the call to the discus,
15. disdaining the
honors prized by their fathers and putting the highest value upon Greek forms of
16. For this reason
heavy disaster overtook them, and those whose ways of living they admired and
wished to imitate completely became their enemies and punished them.
17. For it is no light
thing to show irreverence to the divine laws -- a fact which later events will
18. When the
quadrennial games were being held at Tyre and the king was present,
19. the vile Jason
sent envoys, chosen as being Antiochian citizens from Jerusalem, to carry three
hundred silver drachmas for the sacrifice to Hercules. Those who carried the
money, however, thought best not to use it for sacrifice, because that was
inappropriate, but to expend it for another purpose.
20. So this money was
intended by the sender for the sacrifice to Hercules, but by the decision of its
carriers it was applied to the construction of triremes.
21. When Apollonius
the son of Menestheus was sent to Egypt for the coronation of Philometor as
king, Antiochus learned that Philometor had become hostile to his government,
and he took measures for his own security. Therefore upon arriving at Joppa he
proceeded to Jerusalem.
22. He was welcomed
magnificently by Jason and the city, and ushered in with a blaze of torches and
with shouts. Then he marched into Phoenicia.
23. After a period of
three years Jason sent Menelaus, the brother of the previously mentioned Simon,
to carry the money to the king and to complete the records of essential
24. But he, when
presented to the king, extolled him with an air of authority, and secured the
high priesthood for himself, outbidding Jason by three hundred talents of
25. After receiving
the king's orders he returned, possessing no qualification for the high
priesthood, but having the hot temper of a cruel tyrant and the rage of a savage
26. So Jason, who
after supplanting his own brother was supplanted by another man, was driven as a
fugitive into the land of Ammon.
27. And Menelaus held
the office, but he did not pay regularly any of the money promised to the king.
28. When Sostratus the
captain of the citadel kept requesting payment, for the collection of the
revenue was his responsibility, the two of them were summoned by the king on
account of this issue.
29. Menelaus left his
own brother Lysimachus as deputy in the high priesthood, while Sostratus left
Crates, the commander of the Cyprian troops.
30. While such was the
state of affairs, it happened that the people of Tarsus and of Mallus revolted
because their cities had been given as a present to Antiochis, the king's
31. So the king went
hastily to settle the trouble, leaving Andronicus, a man of high rank, to act as
32. But Menelaus,
thinking he had obtained a suitable opportunity, stole some of the gold vessels
of the temple and gave them to Andronicus; other vessels, as it happened, he had
sold to Tyre and the neighboring cities.
33. When Onias became
fully aware of these acts he publicly exposed them, having first withdrawn to a
place of sanctuary at Daphne near Antioch.
34. Therefore Menelaus,
taking Andronicus aside, urged him to kill Onias. Andronicus came to Onias, and
resorting to treachery offered him sworn pledges and gave him his right hand,
and in spite of his suspicion persuaded Onias to come out from the place of
sanctuary; then, with no regard for justice, he immediately put him out of the
35. For this reason
not only Jews, but many also of other nations, were grieved and displeased at
the unjust murder of the man.
36. When the king
returned from the region of Cilicia, the Jews in the city appealed to him with
regard to the unreasonable murder of Onias, and the Greeks shared their hatred
of the crime.
Antiochus was grieved at heart and filled with pity, and wept because of the
moderation and good conduct of the deceased;
38. and inflamed with
anger, he immediately stripped off the purple robe from Andronicus, tore off his
garments, and led him about the whole city to that very place where he had
committed the outrage against Onias, and there he dispatched the bloodthirsty
fellow. The Lord thus repaid him with the punishment he deserved.
39. When many acts of
sacrilege had been committed in the city by Lysimachus with the connivance of
Menelaus, and when report of them had spread abroad, the populace gathered
against Lysimachus, because many of the gold vessels had already been stolen.
40. And since the
crowds were becoming aroused and filled with anger, Lysimachus armed about three
thousand men and launched an unjust attack, under the leadership of a certain
Auranus, a man advanced in years and no less advanced in folly.
41. But when the Jews
became aware of Lysimachus' attack, some picked up stones, some blocks of wood,
and others took handfuls of the ashes that were lying about, and threw them in
wild confusion at Lysimachus and his men.
42. As a result, they
wounded many of them, and killed some, and put them all to flight; and the
temple robber himself they killed close by the treasury.
43. Charges were
brought against Menelaus about this incident.
44. When the king came
to Tyre, three men sent by the senate presented the case before him.
45. But Menelaus,
already as good as beaten, promised a substantial bribe to Ptolemy son of
Dorymenes to win over the king.
46. Therefore Ptolemy,
taking the king aside into a colonnade as if for refreshment, induced the king
to change his mind.
47. Menelaus, the
cause of all the evil, he acquitted of the charges against him, while he
sentenced to death those unfortunate men, who would have been freed uncondemned
if they had pleaded even before Scythians.
48. And so those who
had spoken for the city and the villages and the holy vessels quickly suffered
the unjust penalty.
49. Therefore even the
Tyrians, showing their hatred of the crime, provided magnificently for their
50. But Menelaus,
because of the cupidity of those in power, remained in office, growing in
wickedness, having become the chief plotter against his fellow citizens.
1. About this time
Antiochus made his second invasion of Egypt.
2. And it happened
that over all the city, for almost forty days, there appeared golden-clad
horsemen charging through the air, in companies fully armed with lances and
drawn swords --
3. troops of horsemen
drawn up, attacks and counterattacks made on this side and on that, brandishing
of shields, massing of spears, hurling of missiles, the flash of golden
trappings, and armor of all sorts.
4. Therefore all men
prayed that the apparition might prove to have been a good omen.
5. When a false rumor
arose that Antiochus was dead, Jason took no less than a thousand men and
suddenly made an assault upon the city. When the troops upon the wall had been
forced back and at last the city was being taken, Menelaus took refuge in the
6. But Jason kept
relentlessly slaughtering his fellow citizens, not realizing that success at the
cost of one's kindred is the greatest misfortune, but imagining that he was
setting up trophies of victory over enemies and not over fellow countrymen.
7. He did not gain
control of the government, however; and in the end got only disgrace from his
conspiracy, and fled again into the country of the Ammonites.
8. Finally he met a
miserable end. Accused before Aretas the ruler of the Arabs, fleeing from city
to city, pursued by all men, hated as a rebel against the laws, and abhorred as
the executioner of his country and his fellow citizens, he was cast ashore in
9. and he who had
driven many from their own country into exile died in exile, having embarked to
go to the Lacedaemonians in hope of finding protection because of their kinship.
10. He who had cast
out many to lie unburied had no one to mourn for him; he had no funeral of any
sort and no place in the tomb of his fathers.
11. When news of what
had happened reached the king, he took it to mean that Judea was in revolt. So,
raging inwardly, he left Egypt and took the city by storm.
12. And he commanded
his soldiers to cut down relentlessly every one they met and to slay those who
went into the houses.
13. Then there was
killing of young and old, destruction of boys, women, and children, and
slaughter of virgins and infants.
14. Within the total
of three days eighty thousand were destroyed, forty thousand in hand-to-hand
fighting; and as many were sold into slavery as were slain.
15. Not content with
this, Antiochus dared to enter the most holy temple in all the world, guided by
Menelaus, who had become a traitor both to the laws and to his country.
16. He took the holy
vessels with his polluted hands, and swept away with profane hands the votive
offerings which other kings had made to enhance the glory and honor of the
17. Antiochus was
elated in spirit, and did not perceive that the Lord was angered for a little
while because of the sins of those who dwelt in the city, and that therefore he
was disregarding the holy place.
18. But if it had not
happened that they were involved in many sins, this man would have been scourged
and turned back from his rash act as soon as he came forward, just as Heliodorus
was, whom Seleucus the king sent to inspect the treasury.
19. But the Lord did
not choose the nation for the sake of the holy place, but the place for the sake
of the nation.
20. Therefore the
place itself shared in the misfortunes that befell the nation and afterward
participated in its benefits; and what was forsaken in the wrath of the Almighty
was restored again in all its glory when the great Lord became reconciled.
21. So Antiochus
carried off eighteen hundred talents from the temple, and hurried away to
Antioch, thinking in his arrogance that he could sail on the land and walk on
the sea, because his mind was elated.
22. And he left
governors to afflict the people: at Jerusalem, Philip, by birth a Phrygian and
in character more barbarous than the man who appointed him;
23. and at Gerizim,
Andronicus; and besides these Menelaus, who lorded it over his fellow citizens
worse than the others did. In his malice toward the Jewish citizens,
24. Antiochus sent
Apollonius, the captain of the Mysians, with an army of twenty-two thousand, and
commanded him to slay all the grown men and to sell the women and boys as
25. When this man
arrived in Jerusalem, he pretended to be peaceably disposed and waited until the
holy sabbath day; then, finding the Jews not at work, he ordered his men to
parade under arms.
26. He put to the
sword all those who came out to see them, then rushed into the city with his
armed men and killed great numbers of people.
27. But Judas
Maccabeus, with about nine others, got away to the wilderness, and kept himself
and his companions alive in the mountains as wild animals do; they continued to
live on what grew wild, so that they might not share in the defilement.
1. Not long after
this, the king sent an Athenian senator to compel the Jews to forsake the laws
of their fathers and cease to live by the laws of God,
2. and also to pollute
the temple in Jerusalem and call it the temple of Olympian Zeus, and to call the
one in Gerizim the temple of Zeus the Friend of Strangers, as did the people who
dwelt in that place.
3. Harsh and utterly
grievous was the onslaught of evil.
4. For the temple was
filled with debauchery and reveling by the Gentiles, who dallied with harlots
and had intercourse with women within the sacred precincts, and besides brought
in things for sacrifice that were unfit.
5. The altar was
covered with abominable offerings which were forbidden by the laws.
6. A man could neither
keep the sabbath, nor observe the feasts of his fathers, nor so much as confess
himself to be a Jew.
7. On the monthly
celebration of the king's birthday, the Jews were taken, under bitter
constraint, to partake of the sacrifices; and when the feast of Dionysus came,
they were compelled to walk in the procession in honor of Dionysus, wearing
wreaths of ivy.
8. At the suggestion
of Ptolemy a decree was issued to the neighboring Greek cities, that they should
adopt the same policy toward the Jews and make them partake of the sacrifices,
9. and should slay
those who did not choose to change over to Greek customs. One could see,
therefore, the misery that had come upon them.
10. For example, two
women were brought in for having circumcised their children. These women they
publicly paraded about the city, with their babies hung at their breasts, then
hurled them down headlong from the wall.
11. Others who had
assembled in the caves near by, to observe the seventh day secretly, were
betrayed to Philip and were all burned together, because their piety kept them
from defending themselves, in view of their regard for that most holy day.
12. Now I urge those
who read this book not to be depressed by such calamities, but to recognize that
these punishments were designed not to destroy but to discipline our people.
13. In fact, not to
let the impious alone for long, but to punish them immediately, is a sign of
14. For in the case of
the other nations the Lord waits patiently to punish them until they have
reached the full measure of their sins; but he does not deal in this way with
15. in order that he
may not take vengeance on us afterward when our sins have reached their height.
16. Therefore he never
withdraws his mercy from us. Though he disciplines us with calamities, he does
not forsake his own people.
17. Let what we have
said serve as a reminder; we must go on briefly with the story.
18. Eleazar, one of
the scribes in high position, a man now advanced in age and of noble presence,
was being forced to open his mouth to eat swine's flesh.
19. But he, welcoming
death with honor rather than life with pollution, went up to the the rack of his
own accord, spitting out the flesh,
20. as men ought to go
who have the courage to refuse things that it is not right to taste, even for
the natural love of life.
21. Those who were in
charge of that unlawful sacrifice took the man aside, because of their long
acquaintance with him, and privately urged him to bring meat of his own
providing, proper for him to use, and pretend that he was eating the flesh of
the sacrificial meal which had been commanded by the king,
22. so that by doing
this he might be saved from death, and be treated kindly on account of his old
friendship with them.
23. But making a high
resolve, worthy of his years and the dignity of his old age and the gray hairs
which he had reached with distinction and his excellent life even from
childhood, and moreover according to the holy God-given law, he declared himself
quickly, telling them to send him to Hades.
pretense is not worthy of our time of life," he said, "lest many of
the young should suppose that Eleazar in his ninetieth year has gone over to an
25. and through my
pretense, for the sake of living a brief moment longer, they should be led
astray because of me, while I defile and disgrace my old age.
26. For even if for
the present I should avoid the punishment of men, yet whether I live or die I
shall not escape the hands of the Almighty.
27. Therefore, by
manfully giving up my life now, I will show myself worthy of my old age
28. and leave to the
young a noble example of how to die a good death willingly and nobly for the
revered and holy laws." When he had said this, he went at once to the rack.
29. And those who a
little before had acted toward him with good will now changed to ill will,
because the words he had uttered were in their opinion sheer madness.
30. When he was about
to die under the blows, he groaned aloud and said: "It is clear to the Lord
in his holy knowledge that, though I might have been saved from death, I am
enduring terrible sufferings in my body under this beating, but in my soul I am
glad to suffer these things because I fear him."
31. So in this way he
died, leaving in his death an example of nobility and a memorial of courage, not
only to the young but to the great body of his nation.
1. It happened also
that seven brothers and their mother were arrested and were being compelled by
the king, under torture with whips and cords, to partake of unlawful swine's
2. One of them, acting
as their spokesman, said, "What do you intend to ask and learn from us? For
we are ready to die rather than transgress the laws of our fathers."
3. The king fell into
a rage, and gave orders that pans and caldrons be heated.
4. These were heated
immediately, and he commanded that the tongue of their spokesman be cut out and
that they scalp him and cut off his hands and feet, while the rest of the
brothers and the mother looked on.
5. When he was utterly
helpless, the king ordered them to take him to the fire, still breathing, and to
fry him in a pan. The smoke from the pan spread widely, but the brothers and
their mother encouraged one another to die nobly, saying,
6. "The Lord God
is watching over us and in truth has compassion on us, as Moses declared in his
song which bore witness against the people to their faces, when he said, `And he
will have compassion on his servants.'"
7. After the first
brother had died in this way, they brought forward the second for their sport.
They tore off the skin of his head with the hair, and asked him, "Will you
eat rather than have your body punished limb by limb?"
8. He replied in the
language of his fathers, and said to them, "No." Therefore he in turn
underwent tortures as the first brother had done.
9. And when he was at
his last breath, he said, "You accursed wretch, you dismiss us from this
present life, but the King of the universe will raise us up to an everlasting
renewal of life, because we have died for his laws."
10. After him, the
third was the victim of their sport. When it was demanded, he quickly put out
his tongue and courageously stretched forth his hands,
11. and said nobly,
"I got these from Heaven, and because of his laws I disdain them, and from
him I hope to get them back again."
12. As a result the
king himself and those with him were astonished at the young man's spirit, for
he regarded his sufferings as nothing.
13. When he too had
died, they maltreated and tortured the fourth in the same way.
14. And when he was
near death, he said, "One cannot but choose to die at the hands of men and
to cherish the hope that God gives of being raised again by him. But for you
there will be no resurrection to life!"
15. Next they brought
forward the fifth and maltreated him.
16. But he looked at
the king, and said, "Because you have authority among men, mortal though
you are, you do what you please. But do not think that God has forsaken our
17. Keep on, and see
how his mighty power will torture you and your descendants!"
18. After him they
brought forward the sixth. And when he was about to die, he said, "Do not
deceive yourself in vain. For we are suffering these things on our own account,
because of our sins against our own God. Therefore astounding things have
19. But do not think
that you will go unpunished for having tried to fight against God!"
20. The mother was
especially admirable and worthy of honorable memory. Though she saw her seven
sons perish within a single day, she bore it with good courage because of her
hope in the Lord.
21. She encouraged
each of them in the language of their fathers. Filled with a noble spirit, she
fired her woman's reasoning with a man's courage, and said to them,
22. "I do not
know how you came into being in my womb. It was not I who gave you life and
breath, nor I who set in order the elements within each of you.
23. Therefore the
Creator of the world, who shaped the beginning of man and devised the origin of
all things, will in his mercy give life and breath back to you again, since you
now forget yourselves for the sake of his laws."
24. Antiochus felt
that he was being treated with contempt, and he was suspicious of her
reproachful tone. The youngest brother being still alive, Antiochus not only
appealed to him in words, but promised with oaths that he would make him rich
and enviable if he would turn from the ways of his fathers, and that he would
take him for his friend and entrust him with public affairs.
25. Since the young
man would not listen to him at all, the king called the mother to him and urged
her to advise the youth to save himself.
26. After much urging
on his part, she undertook to persuade her son.
27. But, leaning close
to him, she spoke in their native tongue as follows, deriding the cruel tyrant:
"My son, have pity on me. I carried you nine months in my womb, and nursed
you for three years, and have reared you and brought you up to this point in
your life, and have taken care of you.
28. I beseech you, my
child, to look at the heaven and the earth and see everything that is in them,
and recognize that God did not make them out of things that existed. Thus also
mankind comes into being.
29. Do not fear this
butcher, but prove worthy of your brothers. Accept death, so that in God's mercy
I may get you back again with your brothers."
30. While she was
still speaking, the young man said, "What are you waiting for? I will not
obey the king's command, but I obey the command of the law that was given to our
fathers through Moses.
31. But you, who have
contrived all sorts of evil against the Hebrews, will certainly not escape the
hands of God.
32. For we are
suffering because of our own sins.
33. And if our living
Lord is angry for a little while, to rebuke and discipline us, he will again be
reconciled with his own servants.
34. But you, unholy
wretch, you most defiled of all men, do not be elated in vain and puffed up by
uncertain hopes, when you raise your hand against the children of heaven.
35. You have not yet
escaped the judgment of the almighty, all-seeing God.
36. For our brothers
after enduring a brief suffering have drunk of everflowing life under God's
covenant; but you, by the judgment of God, will receive just punishment for your
37. I, like my
brothers, give up body and life for the laws of our fathers, appealing to God to
show mercy soon to our nation and by afflictions and plagues to make you confess
that he alone is God,
38. and through me and
my brothers to bring to an end the wrath of the Almighty which has justly fallen
on our whole nation."
39. The king fell into
a rage, and handled him worse than the others, being exasperated at his scorn.
40. So he died in his
integrity, putting his whole trust in the Lord.
41. Last of all, the
mother died, after her sons.
42. Let this be
enough, then, about the eating of sacrifices and the extreme tortures.
1. But Judas, who was
also called Maccabeus, and his companions secretly entered the villages and
summoned their kinsmen and enlisted those who had continued in the Jewish faith,
and so they gathered about six thousand men.
2. They besought the
Lord to look upon the people who were oppressed by all, and to have pity on the
temple which had been profaned by ungodly men,
3. and to have mercy
on the city which was being destroyed and about to be leveled to the ground, and
to hearken to the blood that cried out to him,
4. and to remember
also the lawless destruction of the innocent babies and the blasphemies
committed against his name, and to show his hatred of evil.
5. As soon as
Maccabeus got his army organized, the Gentiles could not withstand him, for the
wrath of the Lord had turned to mercy.
6. Coming without
warning, he would set fire to towns and villages. He captured strategic
positions and put to flight not a few of the enemy.
7. He found the nights
most advantageous for such attacks. And talk of his valor spread everywhere.
8. When Philip saw
that the man was gaining ground little by little, and that he was pushing ahead
with more frequent successes, he wrote to Ptolemy, the governor of Coelesyria
and Phoenicia, for aid to the king's government.
9. And Ptolemy
promptly appointed Nicanor the son of Patroclus, one of the king's chief
friends, and sent him, in command of no fewer than twenty thousand Gentiles of
all nations, to wipe out the whole race of Judea. He associated with him
Gorgias, a general and a man of experience in military service.
10. Nicanor determined
to make up for the king the tribute due to the Romans, two thousand talents, by
selling the captured Jews into slavery.
11. And he immediately
sent to the cities on the seacoast, inviting them to buy Jewish slaves and
promising to hand over ninety slaves for a talent, not expecting the judgment
from the Almighty that was about to overtake him.
12. Word came to Judas
concerning Nicanor's invasion; and when he told his companions of the arrival of
13. those who were
cowardly and distrustful of God's justice ran off and got away.
14. Others sold all
their remaining property, and at the same time besought the Lord to rescue those
who had been sold by the ungodly Nicanor before he ever met them,
15. if not for their
own sake, yet for the sake of the covenants made with their fathers, and because
he had called them by his holy and glorious name.
16. But Maccabeus
gathered his men together, to the number six thousand, and exhorted them not to
be frightened by the enemy and not to fear the great multitude of Gentiles who
were wickedly coming against them, but to fight nobly,
17. keeping before
their eyes the lawless outrage which the Gentiles had committed against the holy
place, and the torture of the derided city, and besides, the overthrow of their
ancestral way of life.
18. "For they
trust to arms and acts of daring," he said, "but we trust in the
Almighty God, who is able with a single nod to strike down those who are coming
against us and even the whole world."
19. Moreover, he told
them of the times when help came to their ancestors; both the time of
Sennacherib, when one hundred and eighty-five thousand perished,
20. and the time of
the battle with the Galatians that took place in Babylonia, when eight thousand
in all went into the affair, with four thousand Macedonians; and when the
Macedonians were hard pressed, the eight thousand, by the help that came to them
from heaven, destroyed one hundred and twenty thousand and took much booty.
21. With these words
he filled them with good courage and made them ready to die for their laws and
their country; then he divided his army into four parts.
22. He appointed his
brothers also, Simon and Joseph and Jonathan, each to command a division,
putting fifteen hundred men under each.
23. Besides, he
appointed Eleazar to read aloud from the holy book, and gave the watchword,
"God's help"; then, leading the first division himself, he joined
battle with Nicanor.
24. With the Almighty
as their ally, they slew more than nine thousand of the enemy, and wounded and
disabled most of Nicanor's army, and forced them all to flee.
25. They captured the
money of those who had come to buy them as slaves. After pursuing them for some
distance, they were obliged to return because the hour was late.
26. For it was the day
before the sabbath, and for that reason they did not continue their pursuit.
27. And when they had
collected the arms of the enemy and stripped them of their spoils, they kept the
sabbath, giving great praise and thanks to the Lord, who had preserved them for
that day and allotted it to them as the beginning of mercy.
28. After the sabbath
they gave some of the spoils to those who had been tortured and to the widows
and orphans, and distributed the rest among themselves and their children.
29. When they had done
this, they made common supplication and besought the merciful Lord to be wholly
reconciled with his servants.
30. In encounters with
the forces of Timothy and Bacchides they killed more than twenty thousand of
them and got possession of some exceedingly high strongholds, and they divided
very much plunder, giving to those who had been tortured and to the orphans and
widows, and also to the aged, shares equal to their own.
31. Collecting the
arms of the enemy, they stored them all carefully in strategic places, and
carried the rest of the spoils to Jerusalem.
32. They killed the
commander of Timothy's forces, a most unholy man, and one who had greatly
troubled the Jews.
33. While they were
celebrating the victory in the city of their fathers, they burned those who had
set fire to the sacred gates, Callisthenes and some others, who had fled into
one little house; so these received the proper recompense for their impiety.
thrice-accursed Nicanor, who had brought the thousand merchants to buy the Jews,
35. having been
humbled with the help of the Lord by opponents whom he regarded as of the least
account, took off his splendid uniform and made his way alone like a runaway
slave across the country till he reached Antioch, having succeeded chiefly in
the destruction of his own army!
36. Thus he who had
undertaken to secure tribute for the Romans by the capture of the people of
Jerusalem proclaimed that the Jews had a Defender, and that therefore the Jews
were invulnerable, because they followed the laws ordained by him.
1. About that time, as
it happened, Antiochus had retreated in disorder from the region of Persia.
2. For he had entered
the city called Persepolis, and attempted to rob the temples and control the
city. Therefore the people rushed to the rescue with arms, and Antiochus and his
men were defeated, with the result that Antiochus was put to flight by the
inhabitants and beat a shameful retreat.
3. While he was in
Ecbatana, news came to him of what had happened to Nicanor and the forces of
4. Transported with
rage, he conceived the idea of turning upon the Jews the injury done by those
who had put him to flight; so he ordered his charioteer to drive without
stopping until he completed the journey. But the judgment of heaven rode with
him! For in his arrogance he said, "When I get there I will make Jerusalem
a cemetery of Jews."
5. But the all-seeing
Lord, the God of Israel, struck him an incurable and unseen blow. As soon as he
ceased speaking he was seized with a pain in his bowels for which there was no
relief and with sharp internal tortures --
6. and that very
justly, for he had tortured the bowels of others with many and strange
7. Yet he did not in
any way stop his insolence, but was even more filled with arrogance, breathing
fire in his rage against the Jews, and giving orders to hasten the journey. And
so it came about that he fell out of his chariot as it was rushing along, and
the fall was so hard as to torture every limb of his body.
8. Thus he who had
just been thinking that he could command the waves of the sea, in his superhuman
arrogance, and imagining that he could weigh the high mountains in a balance,
was brought down to earth and carried in a litter, making the power of God
manifest to all.
9. And so the ungodly
man's body swarmed with worms, and while he was still living in anguish and
pain, his flesh rotted away, and because of his stench the whole army felt
revulsion at his decay.
10. Because of his
intolerable stench no one was able to carry the man who a little while before
had thought that he could touch the stars of heaven.
11. Then it was that,
broken in spirit, he began to lose much of his arrogance and to come to his
senses under the scourge of God, for he was tortured with pain every moment.
12. And when he could
not endure his own stench, he uttered these words: "It is right to be
subject to God, and no mortal should think that he is equal to God."
13. Then the
abominable fellow made a vow to the Lord, who would no longer have mercy on him,
14. that the holy
city, which he was hastening to level to the ground and to make a cemetery, he
was now declaring to be free;
15. and the Jews, whom
he had not considered worth burying but had planned to throw out with their
children to the beasts, for the birds to pick, he would make, all of them, equal
to citizens of Athens;
16. and the holy
sanctuary, which he had formerly plundered, he would adorn with the finest
offerings; and the holy vessels he would give back, all of them, many times
over; and the expenses incurred for the sacrifices he would provide from his own
17. and in addition to
all this he also would become a Jew and would visit every inhabited place to
proclaim the power of God.
18. But when his
sufferings did not in any way abate, for the judgment of God had justly come
upon him, he gave up all hope for himself and wrote to the Jews the following
letter, in the form of a supplication. This was its content:
19. "To his
worthy Jewish citizens, Antiochus their king and general sends hearty greetings
and good wishes for their health and prosperity.
20. If you and your
children are well and your affairs are as you wish, I am glad. As my hope is in
21. I remember with
affection your esteem and good will. On my way back from the region of Persia I
suffered an annoying illness, and I have deemed it necessary to take thought for
the general security of all.
22. I do not despair
of my condition, for I have good hope of recovering from my illness,
23. but I observed
that my father, on the occasions when he made expeditions into the upper
country, appointed his successor,
24. so that, if
anything unexpected happened or any unwelcome news came, the people throughout
the realm would not be troubled, for they would know to whom the government was
25. Moreover, I
understand how the princes along the borders and the neighbors to my kingdom
keep watching for opportunities and waiting to see what will happen. So I have
appointed my son Antiochus to be king, whom I have often entrusted and commended
to most of you when I hastened off to the upper provinces; and I have written to
him what is written here.
26. I therefore urge
and beseech you to remember the public and private services rendered to you and
to maintain your present good will, each of you, toward me and my son.
27. For I am sure that
he will follow my policy and will treat you with moderation and kindness."
28. So the murderer
and blasphemer, having endured the more intense suffering, such as he had
inflicted on others, came to the end of his life by a most pitiable fate, among
the mountains in a strange land.
29. And Philip, one of
his courtiers, took his body home; then, fearing the son of Antiochus, he betook
himself to Ptolemy Philometor in Egypt.
1. Now Maccabeus and
his followers, the Lord leading them on, recovered the temple and the city;
2. and they tore down
the altars which had been built in the public square by the foreigners, and also
destroyed the sacred precincts.
3. They purified the
sanctuary, and made another altar of sacrifice; then, striking fire out of
flint, they offered sacrifices, after a lapse of two years, and they burned
incense and lighted lamps and set out the bread of the Presence.
4. And when they had
done this, they fell prostrate and besought the Lord that they might never again
fall into such misfortunes, but that, if they should ever sin, they might be
disciplined by him with forbearance and not be handed over to blasphemous and
5. It happened that on
the same day on which the sanctuary had been profaned by the foreigners, the
purification of the sanctuary took place, that is, on the twenty-fifth day of
the same month, which was Chislev.
6. And they celebrated
it for eight days with rejoicing, in the manner of the feast of booths,
remembering how not long before, during the feast of booths, they had been
wandering in the mountains and caves like wild animals.
7. Therefore bearing
ivy-wreathed wands and beautiful branches and also fronds of palm, they offered
hymns of thanksgiving to him who had given success to the purifying of his own
8. They decreed by
public ordinance and vote that the whole nation of the Jews should observe these
days every year.
9. Such then was the
end of Antiochus, who was called Epiphanes.
10. Now we will tell
what took place under Antiochus Eupator, who was the son of that ungodly man,
and will give a brief summary of the principal calamities of the wars.
11. This man, when he
succeeded to the kingdom, appointed one Lysias to have charge of the government
and to be chief governor of Coelesyria and Phoenicia.
12. Ptolemy, who was
called Macron, took the lead in showing justice to the Jews because of the wrong
that had been done to them, and attempted to maintain peaceful relations with
13. As a result he was
accused before Eupator by the king's friends. He heard himself called a traitor
at every turn, because he had abandoned Cyprus, which Philometor had entrusted
to him, and had gone over to Antiochus Epiphanes. Unable to command the respect
due his office, he took poison and ended his life.
14. When Gorgias
became governor of the region, he maintained a force of mercenaries, and at
every turn kept on warring against the Jews.
15. Besides this, the
Idumeans, who had control of important strongholds, were harassing the Jews;
they received those who were banished from Jerusalem, and endeavored to keep up
16. But Maccabeus and
his men, after making solemn supplication and beseeching God to fight on their
side, rushed to the strongholds of the Idumeans.
17. Attacking them
vigorously, they gained possession of the places, and beat off all who fought
upon the wall, and slew those whom they encountered, killing no fewer than
18. When no less than
nine thousand took refuge in two very strong towers well equipped to withstand a
19. Maccabeus left
Simon and Joseph, and also Zacchaeus and his men, a force sufficient to besiege
them; and he himself set off for places where he was more urgently needed.
20. But the men with
Simon, who were money-hungry, were bribed by some of those who were in the
towers, and on receiving seventy thousand drachmas let some of them slip away.
21. When word of what
had happened came to Maccabeus, he gathered the leaders of the people, and
accused these men of having sold their brethren for money by setting their
enemies free to fight against them.
22. Then he slew these
men who had turned traitor, and immediately captured the two towers.
23. Having success at
arms in everything he undertook, he destroyed more than twenty thousand in the
24. Now Timothy, who
had been defeated by the Jews before, gathered a tremendous force of mercenaries
and collected the cavalry from Asia in no small number. He came on, intending to
take Judea by storm.
25. As he drew near,
Maccabeus and his men sprinkled dust upon their heads and girded their loins
with sackcloth, in supplication to God.
26. Falling upon the
steps before the altar, they besought him to be gracious to them and to be an
enemy to their enemies and an adversary to their adversaries, as the law
27. And rising from
their prayer they took up their arms and advanced a considerable distance from
the city; and when they came near to the enemy they halted.
28. Just as dawn was
breaking, the two armies joined battle, the one having as pledge of success and
victory not only their valor but their reliance upon the Lord, while the other
made rage their leader in the fight.
29. When the battle
became fierce, there appeared to the enemy from heaven five resplendent men on
horses with golden bridles, and they were leading the Jews.
Maccabeus and protecting him with their own armor and weapons, they kept him
from being wounded. And they showered arrows and thunderbolts upon the enemy, so
that, confused and blinded, they were thrown into disorder and cut to pieces.
31. Twenty thousand
five hundred were slaughtered, besides six hundred horsemen.
32. Timothy himself
fled to a stronghold called Gazara, especially well garrisoned, where Chaereas
33. Then Maccabeus and
his men were glad, and they besieged the fort for four days.
34. The men within,
relying on the strength of the place, blasphemed terribly and hurled out wicked
35. But at dawn of the
fifth day, twenty young men in the army of Maccabeus, fired with anger because
of the blasphemies, bravely stormed the wall and with savage fury cut down every
one they met.
36. Others who came up
in the same way wheeled around against the defenders and set fire to the towers;
they kindled fires and burned the blasphemers alive. Others broke open the gates
and let in the rest of the force, and they occupied the city.
37. They killed
Timothy, who was hidden in a cistern, and his brother Chaereas, and
38. When they had
accomplished these things, with hymns and thanksgivings they blessed the Lord
who shows great kindness to Israel and gives them the victory.
1. Very soon after
this, Lysias, the king's guardian and kinsman, who was in charge of the
government, being vexed at what had happened,
2. gathered about
eighty thousand men and all his cavalry and came against the Jews. He intended
to make the city a home for Greeks,
3. and to levy tribute
on the temple as he did on the sacred places of the other nations, and to put up
the high priesthood for sale every year.
4. He took no account
whatever of the power of God, but was elated with his ten thousands of infantry,
and his thousands of cavalry, and his eighty elephants.
5. Invading Judea, he
approached Beth-zur, which was a fortified place about five leagues from
Jerusalem, and pressed it hard.
6. When Maccabeus and
his men got word that Lysias was besieging the strongholds, they and all the
people, with lamentations and tears, besought the Lord to send a good angel to
7. Maccabeus himself
was the first to take up arms, and he urged the others to risk their lives with
him to aid their brethren. Then they eagerly rushed off together.
8. And there, while
they were still near Jerusalem, a horseman appeared at their head, clothed in
white and brandishing weapons of gold.
9. And they all
together praised the merciful God, and were strengthened in heart, ready to
assail not only men but the wildest beasts or walls of iron.
10. They advanced in
battle order, having their heavenly ally, for the Lord had mercy on them.
11. They hurled
themselves like lions against the enemy, and slew eleven thousand of them and
sixteen hundred horsemen, and forced all the rest to flee.
12. Most of them got
away stripped and wounded, and Lysias himself escaped by disgraceful flight.
13. And as he was not
without intelligence, he pondered over the defeat which had befallen him, and
realized that the Hebrews were invincible because the mighty God fought on their
side. So he sent to them
14. and persuaded them
to settle everything on just terms, promising that he would persuade the king,
constraining him to be their friend.
15. Maccabeus, having
regard for the common good, agreed to all that Lysias urged. For the king
granted every request in behalf of the Jews which Maccabeus delivered to Lysias
16. The letter written
to the Jews by Lysias was to this effect: "Lysias to the people of the
17. John and Absalom,
who were sent by you, have delivered your signed communication and have asked
about the matters indicated therein.
18. I have informed
the king of everything that needed to be brought before him, and he has agreed
to what was possible.
19. If you will
maintain your good will toward the government, I will endeavor for the future to
help promote your welfare.
20. And concerning
these matters and their details, I have ordered these men and my representatives
to confer with you.
21. Farewell. The one
hundred and forty-eighth year, Dioscorinthius twenty-fourth."
22. The king's letter
ran thus: "King Antiochus to his brother Lysias, greeting.
23. Now that our
father has gone on to the gods, we desire that the subjects of the kingdom be
undisturbed in caring for their own affairs.
24. We have heard that
the Jews do not consent to our father's change to Greek customs but prefer their
own way of living and ask that their own customs be allowed them.
25. Accordingly, since
we choose that this nation also be free from disturbance, our decision is that
their temple be restored to them and that they live according to the customs of
26. You will do well,
therefore, to send word to them and give them pledges of friendship, so that
they may know our policy and be of good cheer and go on happily in the conduct
of their own affairs."
27. To the nation the
king's letter was as follows: "King Antiochus to the senate of the Jews and
to the other Jews, greeting.
28. If you are well,
it is as we desire. We also are in good health.
29. Menelaus has
informed us that you wish to return home and look after your own affairs.
30. Therefore those
who go home by the thirtieth day of Xanthicus will have our pledge of friendship
and full permission
31. for the Jews to
enjoy their own food and laws, just as formerly, and none of them shall be
molested in any way for what he may have done in ignorance.
32. And I have also
sent Menelaus to encourage you.
33. Farewell. The one
hundred and forty-eighth year, Xanthicus fifteenth."
34. The Romans also
sent them a letter, which read thus: "Quintus Memmius and Titus Manius, envoys of the
Romans, to the people of the Jews, greeting.
35. With regard to
what Lysias the kinsman of the king has granted you, we also give consent.
36. But as to the
matters which he decided are to be referred to the king, as soon as you have
considered them, send some one promptly, so that we may make proposals
appropriate for you. For we are on our way to Antioch.
37. Therefore make
haste and send some men, so that we may have your judgment.
38. Farewell. The one
hundred and forty-eighth year, Xanthicus fifteenth."
1. When this agreement
had been reached, Lysias returned to the king, and the Jews went about their
2. But some of the
governors in various places, Timothy and Apollonius the son of Gennaeus, as well
as Hieronymus and Demophon, and in addition to these Nicanor the governor of
Cyprus, would not let them live quietly and in peace.
3. And some men of
Joppa did so ungodly a deed as this: they invited the Jews who lived among them
to embark, with their wives and children, on boats which they had provided, as
though there were no ill will to the Jews;
4. and this was done
by public vote of the city. And when they accepted, because they wished to live
peaceably and suspected nothing, the men of Joppa took them out to sea and
drowned them, not less than two hundred.
5. When Judas heard of
the cruelty visited on his countrymen, he gave orders to his men
6. and, calling upon
God the righteous Judge, attacked the murderers of his brethren. He set fire to
the harbor by night, and burned the boats, and massacred those who had taken
7. Then, because the
city's gates were closed, he withdrew, intending to come again and root out the
whole community of Joppa.
8. But learning that
the men in Jamnia meant in the same way to wipe out the Jews who were living
9. he attacked the
people of Jamnia by night and set fire to the harbor and the fleet, so that the
glow of the light was seen in Jerusalem, thirty miles distant.
10. When they had gone
more than a mile from there, on their march against Timothy, not less than five
thousand Arabs with five hundred horsemen attacked them.
11. After a hard fight
Judas and his men won the victory, by the help of God. The defeated nomads
besought Judas to grant them pledges of friendship, promising to give him cattle
and to help his people in all other ways.
12. Judas, thinking
that they might really be useful in many ways, agreed to make peace with them;
and after receiving his pledges they departed to their tents.
13. He also attacked a
certain city which was strongly fortified with earthworks and walls, and
inhabited by all sorts of Gentiles. Its name was Caspin.
14. And those who were
within, relying on the strength of the walls and on their supply of provisions,
behaved most insolently toward Judas and his men, railing at them and even
blaspheming and saying unholy things.
15. But Judas and his
men, calling upon the great Sovereign of the world, who without battering-rams
or engines of war overthrew Jericho in the days of Joshua, rushed furiously upon
16. They took the city
by the will of God, and slaughtered untold numbers, so that the adjoining lake,
a quarter of a mile wide, appeared to be running over with blood.
17. When they had gone
ninety-five miles from there, they came to Charax, to the Jews who are called
18. They did not find
Timothy in that region, for he had by then departed from the region without
accomplishing anything, though in one place he had left a very strong garrison.
19. Dositheus and
Sosipater, who were captains under Maccabeus, marched out and destroyed those
whom Timothy had left in the stronghold, more than ten thousand men.
20. But Maccabeus
arranged his army in divisions, set men in command of the divisions, and
hastened after Timothy, who had with him a hundred and twenty thousand infantry
and two thousand five hundred cavalry.
21. When Timothy
learned of the approach of Judas, he sent off the women and the children and
also the baggage to a place called Carnaim; for that place was hard to besiege
and difficult of access because of the narrowness of all the approaches.
22. But when Judas'
first division appeared, terror and fear came over the enemy at the
manifestation to them of him who sees all things; and they rushed off in flight
and were swept on, this way and that, so that often they were injured by their
own men and pierced by the points of their swords.
23. And Judas pressed
the pursuit with the utmost vigor, putting the sinners to the sword, and
destroyed as many as thirty thousand men.
24. Timothy himself
fell into the hands of Dositheus and Sosipater and their men. With great guile
he besought them to let him go in safety, because he held the parents of most of
them and the brothers of some and no consideration would be shown them.
25. And when with many
words he had confirmed his solemn promise to restore them unharmed, they let him
go, for the sake of saving their brethren.
26. Then Judas marched
against Carnaim and the temple of Atargatis, and slaughtered twenty-five
27. After the rout and
destruction of these, he marched also against Ephron, a fortified city where
Lysias dwelt with multitudes of people of all nationalities. Stalwart young men
took their stand before the walls and made a vigorous defense; and great stores
of war engines and missiles were there.
28. But the Jews
called upon the Sovereign who with power shatters the might of his enemies, and
they got the city into their hands, and killed as many as twenty-five thousand
of those who were within it.
29. Setting out from
there, they hastened to Scythopolis, which is seventy-five miles from Jerusalem.
30. But when the Jews
who dwelt there bore witness to the good will which the people of Scythopolis
had shown them and their kind treatment of them in times of misfortune,
31. they thanked them
and exhorted them to be well disposed to their race in the future also. Then
they went up to Jerusalem, as the feast of weeks was close at hand.
32. After the feast
called Pentecost, they hastened against Gorgias, the governor of Idumea.
33. And he came out
with three thousand infantry and four hundred cavalry.
34. When they joined
battle, it happened that a few of the Jews fell.
35. But a certain
Dositheus, one of Bacenor's men, who was on horseback and was a strong man,
caught hold of Gorgias, and grasping his cloak was dragging him off by main
strength, wishing to take the accursed man alive, when one of the Thracian
horsemen bore down upon him and cut off his arm; so Gorgias escaped and reached
36. As Esdris and his
men had been fighting for a long time and were weary, Judas called upon the Lord
to show himself their ally and leader in the battle.
37. In the language of
their fathers he raised the battle cry, with hymns; then he charged against
Gorgias' men when they were not expecting it, and put them to flight.
38. Then Judas
assembled his army and went to the city of Adullam. As the seventh day was
coming on, they purified themselves according to the custom, and they kept the
39. On the next day,
as by that time it had become necessary, Judas and his men went to take up the
bodies of the fallen and to bring them back to lie with their kinsmen in the sepulchres of their fathers.
40. Then under the
tunic of every one of the dead they found sacred tokens of the idols of Jamnia,
which the law forbids the Jews to wear. And it became clear to all that this was
why these men had fallen.
41. So they all
blessed the ways of the Lord, the righteous Judge, who reveals the things that
42. and they turned to
prayer, beseeching that the sin which had been committed might be wholly blotted
out. And the noble Judas exhorted the people to keep themselves free from sin,
for they had seen with their own eyes what had happened because of the sin of
those who had fallen.
43. He also took up a
collection, man by man, to the amount of two thousand drachmas of silver, and
sent it to Jerusalem to provide for a sin offering. In doing this he acted very
well and honorably, taking account of the resurrection.
44. For if he were not
expecting that those who had fallen would rise again, it would have been
superfluous and foolish to pray for the dead.
45. But if he was
looking to the splendid reward that is laid up for those who fall asleep in
godliness, it was a holy and pious thought. Therefore he made atonement for the
dead, that they might be delivered from their sin.
1. In the one hundred
and forty-ninth year word came to Judas and his men that Antiochus Eupator was
coming with a great army against Judea,
2. and with him
Lysias, his guardian, who had charge of the government. Each of them had a Greek
force of one hundred and ten thousand infantry, five thousand three hundred
cavalry, twenty-two elephants, and three hundred chariots armed with scythes.
3. Menelaus also
joined them and with utter hypocrisy urged Antiochus on, not for the sake of his
country's welfare, but because he thought that he would be established in
4. But the King of
kings aroused the anger of Antiochus against the scoundrel; and when Lysias
informed him that this man was to blame for all the trouble, he ordered them to
take him to Beroea and to put him to death by the method which is the custom in
5. For there is a
tower in that place, fifty cubits high, full of ashes, and it has a rim running
around it which on all sides inclines precipitously into the ashes.
6. There they all push
to destruction any man guilty of sacrilege or notorious for other crimes.
7. By such a fate it
came about that Menelaus the lawbreaker died, without even burial in the earth.
8. And this was
eminently just; because he had committed many sins against the altar whose fire
and ashes were holy, he met his death in ashes.
9. The king with
barbarous arrogance was coming to show the Jews things far worse than those that
had been done in his father's time.
10. But when Judas
heard of this, he ordered the people to call upon the Lord day and night, now if
ever to help those who were on the point of being deprived of the law and their
country and the holy temple,
11. and not to let the
people who had just begun to revive fall into the hands of the blasphemous
12. When they had all
joined in the same petition and had besought the merciful Lord with weeping and
fasting and lying prostrate for three days without ceasing, Judas exhorted them
and ordered them to stand ready.
13. After consulting
privately with the elders, he determined to march out and decide the matter by
the help of God before the king's army could enter Judea and get possession of
14. So, committing the
decision to the Creator of the world and exhorting his men to fight nobly to the
death for the laws, temple, city, country, and commonwealth, he pitched his camp
15. He gave his men
the watchword, "God's victory," and with a picked force of the bravest
young men, he attacked the king's pavilion at night and slew as many as two
thousand men in the camp. He stabbed the leading elephant and its rider.
16. In the end they
filled the camp with terror and confusion and withdrew in triumph.
17. This happened,
just as day was dawning, because the Lord's help protected him.
18. The king, having
had a taste of the daring of the Jews, tried strategy in attacking their
19. He advanced
against Beth-zur, a strong fortress of the Jews, was turned back, attacked
again, and was defeated.
20. Judas sent in to
the garrison whatever was necessary.
21. But Rhodocus, a
man from the ranks of the Jews, gave secret information to the enemy; he was
sought for, caught, and put in prison.
22. The king
negotiated a second time with the people in Beth-zur, gave pledges, received
theirs, withdrew, attacked Judas and his men, was defeated;
23. he got word that
Philip, who had been left in charge of the government, had revolted in Antioch;
he was dismayed, called in the Jews, yielded and swore to observe all their
rights, settled with them and offered sacrifice, honored the sanctuary and
showed generosity to the holy place.
24. He received
Maccabeus, left Hegemonides as governor from Ptolemais to Gerar,
25. and went to
Ptolemais. The people of Ptolemais were indignant over the treaty; in fact they
were so angry that they wanted to annul its terms.
26. Lysias took the
public platform, made the best possible defense, convinced them, appeased them,
gained their good will, and set out for Antioch. This is how the king's attack
and withdrawal turned out.
1. Three years later,
word came to Judas and his men that Demetrius, the son of Seleucus, had sailed
into the harbor of Tripolis with a strong army and a fleet,
2. and had taken
possession of the country, having made away with Antiochus and his guardian
3. Now a certain
Alcimus, who had formerly been high priest but had wilfully defiled himself in
the times of separation, realized that there was no way for him to be safe or to
have access again to the holy altar,
4. and went to King
Demetrius in about the one hundred and fifty-first year, presenting to him a
crown of gold and a palm, and besides these some of the customary olive branches
from the temple. During that day he kept quiet.
5. But he found an
opportunity that furthered his mad purpose when he was invited by Demetrius to a
meeting of the council and was asked about the disposition and intentions of the
Jews. He answered:
6. "Those of the
Jews who are called Hasideans, whose leader is Judas Maccabeus, are keeping up
war and stirring up sedition, and will not let the kingdom attain tranquillity.
7. Therefore I have
laid aside my ancestral glory -- I mean the high priesthood -- and have now come
8. first because I am
genuinely concerned for the interests of the king, and second because I have
regard also for my fellow citizens. For through the folly of those whom I have
mentioned our whole nation is now in no small misfortune.
9. Since you are
acquainted, O king, with the details of this matter, deign to take thought for
our country and our hard-pressed nation with the gracious kindness which you
show to all.
10. For as long as
Judas lives, it is impossible for the government to find peace."
11. When he had said
this, the rest of the king's friends, who were hostile to Judas, quickly
inflamed Demetrius still more.
12. And he immediately
chose Nicanor, who had been in command of the elephants, appointed him governor
of Judea, and sent him off.
13. with orders to
kill Judas and scatter his men, and to set up Alcimus as high priest of the
14. And the Gentiles
throughout Judea, who had fled before Judas, flocked to join Nicanor, thinking
that the misfortunes and calamities of the Jews would mean prosperity for
15. When the Jews
heard of Nicanor's coming and the gathering of the Gentiles, they sprinkled dust
upon their heads and prayed to him who established his own people for ever and
always upholds his own heritage by manifesting himself.
16. At the command of
the leader, they set out from there immediately and engaged them in battle at a
village called Dessau.
17. Simon, the brother
of Judas, had encountered Nicanor, but had been temporarily checked because of
the sudden consternation created by the enemy.
Nicanor, hearing of the valor of Judas and his men and their courage in battle
for their country, shrank from deciding the issue by bloodshed.
19. Therefore he sent
Posidonius and Theodotus and Mattathias to give and receive pledges of
20. When the terms had
been fully considered, and the leader had informed the people, and it had
appeared that they were of one mind, they agreed to the covenant.
21. And the leaders
set a day on which to meet by themselves. A chariot came forward from each army;
seats of honor were set in place;
22. Judas posted armed
men in readiness at key places to prevent sudden treachery on the part of the
enemy; they held the proper conference.
23. Nicanor stayed on
in Jerusalem and did nothing out of the way, but dismissed the flocks of people
that had gathered.
24. And he kept Judas
always in his presence; he was warmly attached to the man.
25. And he urged him
to marry and have children; so he married, settled down, and shared the common
26. But when Alcimus
noticed their good will for one another, he took the covenant that had been made
and went to Demetrius. He told him that Nicanor was disloyal to the government,
for he had appointed that conspirator against the kingdom, Judas, to be his
27. The king became
excited and, provoked by the false accusations of that depraved man, wrote to
Nicanor, stating that he was displeased with the covenant and commanding him to
send Maccabeus to Antioch as a prisoner without delay.
28. When this message
came to Nicanor, he was troubled and grieved that he had to annul their
agreement when the man had done no wrong.
29. Since it was not
possible to oppose the king, he watched for an opportunity to accomplish this by
30. But Maccabeus,
noticing that Nicanor was more austere in his dealings with him and was meeting
him more rudely than had been his custom, concluded that this austerity did not
spring from the best motives. So he gathered not a few of his men, and went into
hiding from Nicanor.
31. When the latter
became aware that he had been cleverly outwitted by the man, he went to the
great and holy temple while the priests were offering the customary sacrifices,
and commanded them to hand the man over.
32. And when they
declared on oath that they did not know where the man was whom he sought,
33. he stretched out
his right hand toward the sanctuary, and swore this oath: "If you do not
hand Judas over to me as a prisoner, I will level this precinct of God to the
ground and tear down the altar, and I will build here a splendid temple to
34. Having said this,
he went away. Then the priests stretched forth their hands toward heaven and
called upon the constant Defender of our nation, in these words:
35. "O Lord of
all, who hast need of nothing, thou wast pleased that there be a temple for thy
habitation among us;
36. so now, O holy
One, Lord of all holiness, keep undefiled for ever this house that has been so
37. A certain Razis,
one of the elders of Jerusalem, was denounced to Nicanor as a man who loved his
fellow citizens and was very well thought of and for his good will was called
father of the Jews.
38. For in former
times, when there was no mingling with the Gentiles, he had been accused of
Judaism, and for Judaism he had with all zeal risked body and life.
39. Nicanor, wishing
to exhibit the enmity which he had for the Jews, sent more than five hundred
soldiers to arrest him;
40. for he thought
that by arresting him he would do them an injury.
41. When the troops
were about to capture the tower and were forcing the door of the courtyard, they
ordered that fire be brought and the doors burned. Being surrounded, Razis fell
upon his own sword,
42. preferring to die
nobly rather than to fall into the hands of sinners and suffer outrages unworthy
of his noble birth.
43. But in the heat of
the struggle he did not hit exactly, and the crowd was now rushing in through
the doors. He bravely ran up on the wall, and manfully threw himself down into
44. But as they
quickly drew back, a space opened and he fell in the middle of the empty space.
45. Still alive and
aflame with anger, he rose, and though his blood gushed forth and his wounds
were severe he ran through the crowd; and standing upon a steep rock,
46. with his blood now
completely drained from him, he tore out his entrails, took them with both hands
and hurled them at the crowd, calling upon the Lord of life and spirit to give
them back to him again. This was the manner of his death.
1. When Nicanor heard
that Judas and his men were in the region of Samaria, he made plans to attack
them with complete safety on the day of rest.
2. And when the Jews
who were compelled to follow him said, "Do not destroy so savagely and
barbarously, but show respect for the day which he who sees all things has
honored and hallowed above other days,"
3. the thrice-accursed
wretch asked if there were a sovereign in heaven who had commanded the keeping
of the Sabbath day.
4. And when they
declared, "It is the living Lord himself, the Sovereign in heaven, who
ordered us to observe the seventh day,"
5. he replied,
"And 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.
6. This Nicanor in his
utter boastfulness and arrogance had determined to erect a public monument of
victory over Judas and his men.
7. But Maccabeus did
not cease to trust with all confidence that he would get help from the Lord.
8. And he exhorted his
men 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 now to look for the victory which
the Almighty would give them.
9. 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. And when he had
aroused their courage, he gave 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,
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 likewise a
man 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 brethren 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
17. Encouraged by the
words of Judas, so noble and so effective in arousing valor and awaking
manliness in the souls of the young, they determined not to carry on a campaign
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 brethren 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.
20. When all were now
looking forward to the coming decision, and the enemy was already close at hand
with their army drawn up for battle, the elephants strategically stationed and
the cavalry deployed on the flanks,
perceiving the hosts that were before 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
decides, that he gains the victory for those who deserve it.
22. And he called upon
him in these words: "O Lord, thou didst send thy angel in the time of
Hezekiah king of Judea, and he slew fully a hundred and eighty-five thousand in
the camp of Sennacherib.
23. So now, O
Sovereign of the heavens, send a good angel to carry terror and trembling before
24. By the might of
thy arm may these blasphemers who come against thy holy people be struck
down." With these words he ended his prayer.
25. Nicanor and his
men advanced with trumpets and battle songs;
26. and Judas and his
men met the enemy in battle with invocation to God and prayers.
27. So, fighting with
their hands and praying to God in their hearts, they laid low no less than
thirty-five thousand men, 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
30. And the man who
was ever in body and soul the defender of his fellow citizens, the man who
maintained his youthful good will toward his countrymen, ordered them to cut off
Nicanor's head and arm and carry them to Jerusalem.
31. And when he
arrived there and had called his countrymen 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. and he cut out the
tongue of the ungodly Nicanor and said that he would give it piecemeal to the
birds and 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. And he hung
Nicanor's head from the citadel, a clear and conspicuous sign to every one 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 Syrian
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 too will here end my story.
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.