1 Maccabees - 1

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1Alexander of Macedon son of Philip had come from the land of Kittim and defeated Darius king of thePersians and Medes, whom he succeeded as ruler, at first of Hel as. 2He undertook many campaigns, gained possession of many fortresses, and put the local kings todeath. 3So he advanced to the ends of the earth, plundering nation after nation; the earth grew silent beforehim, and his ambitious heart swel ed with pride. 4He assembled very powerful forces and subdued provinces, nations and princes, and they became histributaries. 5But the time came when Alexander took to his bed, in the knowledge that he was dying. 6He summoned his officers, noblemen who had been brought up with him from his youth, and dividedhis kingdom among them while he was stil alive. 7Alexander had reigned twelve years when he died. 8Each of his officers established himself in his own region. 9Al assumed crowns after his death, they and their heirs after them for many years, bringing increasingevils on the world. 10From these there grew a wicked offshoot, Antiochus Epiphanes son of King Antiochus; once ahostage in Rome, he became king in the 107th year of the kingdom of the Greeks. 11It was then that there emerged from Israel a set of renegades who led many people astray. 'Come,'they said, 'let us al y ourselves with the gentiles surrounding us, for since we separated ourselves from themmany misfortunes have overtaken us.' 12This proposal proved acceptable, 13and a number of the people eagerly approached the king, who authorised them to practise thegentiles' observances. 14So they built a gymnasium in Jerusalem, such as the gentiles have, 15disguised their circumcision, and abandoned the holy covenant, submitting to gentile rule as willingslaves of impiety. 16Once Antiochus had seen his authority established, he determined to make himself king of Egypt andthe ruler of both kingdoms. 17He invaded Egypt in massive strength, with chariots and elephants (and cavalry) and a large fleet. 18He engaged Ptolemy king of Egypt in battle, and Ptolemy turned back and fled before his advance,leaving many casualties. 19The fortified cities of Egypt were captured, and Antiochus plundered the country. 20After his conquest of Egypt, in the year 143, Antiochus turned about and advanced on Israel andJerusalem in massive strength. 21Insolently breaking into the sanctuary, he removed the golden altar and the lamp-stand for the lightwith all its fittings, 22together with the table for the loaves of permanent offering, the libation vessels, the cups, the goldencensers, the veil, the crowns, and the golden decoration on the front of the Temple, which he stripped ofeverything. 23He made off with the silver and gold and precious vessels; he discovered the secret treasures andseized them 24and, removing all these, he went back to his own country, having shed much blood and uttered wordsof extreme arrogance. 25There was deep mourning for Israel throughout the country: 26Rulers and elders groaned; girls and young men wasted away; the women's beauty suffered achange; 27every bridegroom took up a dirge, the bride sat grief-stricken on her marriage-bed. 28The earth quaked because of its inhabitants and the whole House of Jacob was clothed with shame. 29Two years later the king sent the Mysarch through the cities of Judah. He came to Jerusalem with animpressive force, 30and addressing them with what appeared to be peaceful words, he gained their confidence; thensuddenly he fell on the city, dealing it a terrible blow, and destroying many of the people of Israel. 31He pil aged the city and set it on fire, tore down its houses and encircling wal , 32took the women and children captive and commandeered the cattle. 33They then rebuilt the City of David with a great strong wal and strong towers and made this theirCitadel. 34There they installed a brood of sinners, of renegades, who fortified themselves inside it, 35storing arms and provisions, and depositing there the loot they had collected from Jerusalem; theywere to prove a great trouble. 36It became an ambush for the sanctuary, an evil adversary for Israel at all times. 37They shed innocent blood al round the sanctuary and defiled the sanctuary itself. 38The citizens of Jerusalem fled because of them, she became a dwelling-place of strangers; estrangedfrom her own offspring, her children forsook her. 39Her sanctuary became as forsaken as a desert, her feasts were turned into mourning, her Sabbathsinto a mockery, her honour into reproach. 40Her dishonour now ful y matched her former glory, her greatness was turned into grief. 41The king then issued a proclamation to his whole kingdom that al were to become a single people,each nation renouncing its particular customs. 42Al the gentiles conformed to the king's decree, 43and many Israelites chose to accept his religion, sacrificing to idols and profaning the Sabbath. 44The king also sent edicts by messenger to Jerusalem and the towns of Judah, directing them to adoptcustoms foreign to the country, 45banning burnt offerings, sacrifices and libations from the sanctuary, profaning Sabbaths and feasts, 46defiling the sanctuary and everything holy, 47building altars, shrines and temples for idols, sacrificing pigs and unclean beasts, 48leaving their sons uncircumcised, and prostituting themselves to al kinds of impurity and abomination, 49so that they should forget the Law and revoke all observance of it. 50Anyone not obeying the king's command was to be put to death. 51Writing in such terms to every part of his kingdom, the king appointed inspectors for the whole peopleand directed al the towns of Judah to offer sacrifice city by city. 52Many of the people -- that is, every apostate from the Law -- rallied to them and so committed evil inthe country, 53forcing Israel into hiding in any possible place of refuge. 54On the fifteenth day of Chislev in the year 145 the king built the appalling abomination on top of thealtar of burnt offering; and altars were built in the surrounding towns of Judah 55and incense offered at the doors of houses and in the streets. 56Any books of the Law that came to light were torn up and burned. 57Whenever anyone was discovered possessing a copy of the covenant or practising the Law, theking's decree sentenced him to death. 58Month after month they took harsh action against any offenders they discovered in the towns of Israel. 59On the twenty-fifth day of each month, sacrifice was offered on the altar erected on top of the altar ofburnt offering. 60Women who had had their children circumcised were put to death according to the edict 61with their babies hung round their necks, and the members of their household and those who hadperformed the circumcision were executed with them. 62Yet there were many in Israel who stood firm and found the courage to refuse unclean food. 63They chose death rather than contamination by such fare or profanation of the holy covenant, andthey were executed. 64It was a truly dreadful retribution that visited Israel.
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