1 Maccabees - 2


1About then, Mattathias son of John, son of Simeon, a priest of the line of Joarib, left Jerusalem andsettled in Modein. 2He had five sons, John known as Gaddi, 3Simon cal ed Thassi, 4Judas cal ed Maccabaeus, 5Eleazar, cal ed Avaran, and Jonathan cal ed Apphus. 6When he saw the blasphemies being committed in Judah and Jerusalem, 7he said, 'Alas that I should have been born to witness the ruin of my people and the ruin of the HolyCity, and to sit by while she is delivered over to her enemies, and the sanctuary into the hand of foreigners. 8'Her Temple has become like someone of no repute, 9the vessels that were her glory have been carried off as booty, her babies have been slaughtered inher streets, her young men by the enemy's sword. 10Is there a nation that has not claimed a share of her royal prerogatives, that has not taken some of herspoils? 11Al her ornaments have been snatched from her, her former freedom has become slavery. 12See how the Holy Place, our beauty, our glory, is now laid waste, see how the gentiles have profanedit! 13What have we left to live for?' 14Mattathias and his sons tore their garments, put on sackcloth, and observed deep mourning. 15The king's commissioners who were enforcing the apostasy came to the town of Modein for thesacrifices. 16Many Israelites gathered round them, but Mattathias and his sons drew apart. 17The king's commissioners then addressed Mattathias as fol ows, 'You are a respected leader, a greatman in this town; you have sons and brothers to support you. 18Be the first to step forward and conform to the king's decree, as all the nations have done, and theleaders of Judah and the survivors in Jerusalem; you and your sons shal be reckoned among the Friends of theKing, you and your sons wil be honoured with gold and silver and many presents.' 19Raising his voice, Mattathias retorted, 'Even if every nation living in the king's dominions obeys him,each forsaking its ancestral religion to conform to his decrees, 20I, my sons and my brothers will stil fol ow the covenant of our ancestors. 21May Heaven preserve us from forsaking the Law and its observances. 22As for the king's orders, we will not fol ow them: we shal not swerve from our own religion either toright or to left.' 23As he finished speaking, a Jew came forward in the sight of al to offer sacrifice on the altar in Modeinas the royal edict required. 24When Mattathias saw this, he was fired with zeal; stirred to the depth of his being, he gave vent to hislegitimate anger, threw himself on the man and slaughtered him on the altar. 25At the same time he killed the king's commissioner who was there to enforce the sacrifice, and toredown the altar. 26In his zeal for the Law he acted as Phinehas had against Zimri son of Salu. 27Then Mattathias went through the town, shouting at the top of his voice, 'Let everyone who has anyzeal for the Law and takes his stand on the covenant come out and follow me.' 28Then he fled with his sons into the hills, leaving al their possessions behind in the town. 29Many people who were concerned for virtue and justice went down to the desert and stayed there, 30taking with them their sons, their wives and their cattle, so oppressive had their sufferings become. 31Word was brought to the royal officials and forces stationed in Jerusalem, in the City of David, thatthose who had repudiated the king's edict had gone down to the hiding places in the desert. 32A strong detachment went after them, and when it came up with them ranged itself against them inbattle formation, preparing to attack them on the Sabbath day, 33and said, 'Enough of this! Come out and do as the king orders and you will be spared.' 34The others, however, replied, 'We refuse to come out, and we wil not obey the king's orders andprofane the Sabbath day.' 35The royal forces at once went into action, 36but the others offered no opposition; not a stone was thrown, there was no barricading of the hidingplaces. 37They only said, 'Let us all die innocent; let heaven and earth bear witness that you are massacring uswith no pretence of justice.' 38The attack was pressed home on the Sabbath itself, and they were slaughtered, with their wives andchildren and cattle, to the number of one thousand persons. 39When the news reached Mattathias and his friends, they mourned them bitterly 40and said to one another, 'If we al do as our brothers have done, and refuse to fight the gentiles for ourlives and institutions, they wil only destroy us the sooner from the earth.' 41So then and there they came to this decision, 'If anyone attacks us on the Sabbath day, whoever hemay be, we shall resist him; we must not al be kil ed, as our brothers were in the hiding places.' 42Soon they were joined by the Hasidaean party, stout fighting men of Israel, each one a volunteer onthe side of the Law. 43Al the refugees from the persecution ral ied to them, giving them added support. 44They organised themselves into an armed force, striking down the sinners in their anger, and therenegades in their fury, and those who escaped them fled to the gentiles for safety. 45Mattathias and his friends made a tour, overthrowing the altars 46and forcibly circumcising al the boys they found uncircumcised in the territories of Israel. 47They hunted down the upstarts and managed their campaign to good effect. 48They wrested the Law out of the control of the gentiles and the kings and reduced the sinners toimpotence. 49As the days of Mattathias were drawing to a close, he said to his sons, 'Arrogance and outrage arenow in the ascendant; it is a period of turmoil and bitter hatred. 50This is the time, my children, for you to have a burning zeal for the Law and to give your lives for thecovenant of our ancestors. 51Remember the deeds performed by our ancestors, each in his generation, and you wil win greathonour and everlasting renown. 52Was not Abraham tested and found faithful, was that not considered as justifying him? 53Joseph in the time of his distress maintained the Law, and so became lord of Egypt. 54Phinehas, our father, in return for his burning zeal, received the covenant of everlasting priesthood. 55Joshua, for carrying out his task, became judge of Israel. 56Caleb, for his testimony before the assembled people, received an inheritance in the land. 57David for his generous heart inherited the throne of an everlasting kingdom. 58Elijah for his consuming fervour for the Law was caught up to heaven itself. 59Hananiah, Azariah and Mishael, for their fidelity, were saved from the flame. 60Daniel for his singleness of heart was rescued from the lion's jaws. 61Know then that, generation after generation, no one who hopes in him will be overcome. 62Do not fear the threats of the sinner, al his brave show must come to the dunghill and the worms. 63Exalted today, tomorrow he is nowhere to be found, for he has returned to the dust he came from andhis scheming is brought to nothing. 64My children, be resolute and courageous for the Law, for it wil bring you glory. 65'Here is your brother Simeon, I know he is a man of sound judgement. Listen to him al your lives; lethim take your father's place. 66Judas Maccabaeus, strong and brave from his youth, let him be your general and conduct the waragainst the gentiles. 67The rest of you are to enrol in your ranks al those who keep the Law, and to assure the vengeance ofyour people. 68Pay back the gentiles to the ful , and hold fast to the ordinance of the Law.' 69Then he blessed them and was joined to his ancestors. 70He died in the year 146 and was buried in his ancestral tomb at Modein, and al Israel mourned himdeeply.
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