2 Maccabees - 5


1At about this time, Antiochus was preparing for his second attack on Egypt. 2It then happened that al over the city for nearly forty days there were apparitions of horsemengalloping through the air in cloth of gold, troops of lancers ful y armed, 3squadrons of cavalry in order of battle, attacks and charges this way and that, a flourish of shields, aforest of pikes, a brandishing of swords, a hurling of missiles, a glittering of golden accoutrements and armour of al kinds. 4So everyone prayed that this manifestation might prove a good omen. 5Then, on the strength of a false report that Antiochus was dead, Jason took at least a thousand menand launched an unexpected attack on the city. When the wal s had been breached and the city was final y onthe point of being taken, Menelaus took refuge in the Citadel. 6Jason, however, made a pitiless slaughter of his fel ow-citizens, oblivious of the fact that successagainst his own countrymen was the greatest of disasters, but rather picturing himself as winning trophies fromsome enemy, and not from his fel ow- countrymen. 7Even so, he did not manage to seize power; and, in the end, his machinations brought him nothing butshame, and he took refuge once more in Ammanitis. 8His career of wickedness was thus brought to a halt: imprisoned by Aretas, the Arab despot, escapingfrom his town, hunted by everyone, detested for having overthrown the laws, abhorred as the butcher of hiscountry and his countrymen, he drifted to Egypt. 9He who had exiled so many from their fatherland, himself perished on foreign soil, having travel ed toSparta, hoping that, for kinship's sake, he might find harbour there. 10So many carcases he had thrust out to lie unburied; now he himself had none to mourn him, nofuneral rites, no place in the tomb of his ancestors. 11When the king came to hear of what had happened, he concluded that Judaea was in revolt. Hetherefore marched from Egypt, raging like a wild beast, and began by storming the city. 12He then ordered his soldiers to cut down without mercy everyone they encountered, and to butcher allwho took refuge in their houses. 13It was a massacre of young and old, a slaughter of women and children, a butchery of young girls andinfants. 14There were eighty thousand victims in the course of those three days, forty thousand dying byviolence and as many again being sold into slavery. 15Not content with this, he had the audacity to enter the holiest Temple in the entire world, withMenelaus, that traitor to the laws and to his country, as his guide; 16with impure hands he seized the sacred vessels; with impious hands he seized the offeringspresented by other kings for the aggrandisement, glory and dignity of the holy place. 17Holding so high an opinion of himself, Antiochus did not realise that the Lord was temporarily angry atthe sins of the inhabitants of the city, hence his unconcern for the holy place. 18Had they not been entangled in many sins, Antiochus too, like Heliodorus when King Seleucus senthim to inspect the Treasury, would have been flogged the moment he arrived and checked in his presumption. 19The Lord, however, had not chosen the people for the sake of the holy place, but the holy place forthe sake of the people; 20and so the holy place itself, having shared the disasters that befel the people, in due course alsoshared their good fortune; having been abandoned by the Almighty in his anger, once the great Sovereign wasplacated it was reinstated in al its glory. 21Antiochus, having extracted eighteen hundred talents from the Temple, hurried back to Antioch; in hispride he would have undertaken to make the dry land navigable and the sea passable on foot, so high hisarrogance soared. 22But he left officials behind to plague the nation: in Jerusalem, Philip, a Phrygian by race, and bynature more barbarous than the man who appointed him; 23on Mount Gerizim, Andronicus; and, besides these, Menelaus, who lorded it over his countrymenworse than al the others. In his rooted hostility to the Jews, 24the king also sent the Mysarch Apollonius at the head of an army twenty-two thousand strong, withorders to put to death al men in their prime and to sel the women and children. 25Arriving in Jerusalem and posing as a man of peace, this man waited until the holy day of the Sabbathand then, taking advantage of the Jews as they rested from work, ordered his men to parade ful y armed; 26al those who came out to watch he put to the sword; then, rushing into the city with his armed troops,he cut down an immense number of people. 27Judas, also known as Maccabaeus, however, with about nine others, withdrew into the desert. Helived like the wild animals in the hil s with his companions, eating nothing but wild plants to avoid contractingdefilement.
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