1 Maccabees - 3


1His son, Judas, known as Maccabaeus, then took his place. 2Al his brothers, and al who had attached themselves to his father, supported him, and they fought forIsrael with a wil . 3He extended the fame of his people. Like a giant, he put on the breastplate and buckled on his warharness; he engaged in battle after battle, protecting the ranks with his sword. 4He was like a lion in his exploits, like a young lion roaring over its prey. 5He pursued and tracked down the renegades, he consigned those who troubled his people to theflames. 6The renegades quailed with the terror he inspired, all evil-doers were utterly confounded, anddeliverance went forward under his leadership. 7He brought bitterness to many a king and rejoicing to Jacob by his deeds, his memory is blessed forever and ever. 8He went through the towns of Judah eliminating the irreligious from them, and diverted the Retributionfrom Israel. 9His name resounded to the ends of the earth, he rallied those who were on the point of perishing. 10Next, Apollonius mustered the gentiles and a large force from Samaria to make war on Israel. 11When Judas learned of it, he went out to meet him and routed and kil ed him. Many fell wounded, andthe survivors took to flight. 12Their spoils were seized and the sword of Apollonius was taken by Judas, who used it to fight withthroughout his life. 13On hearing that Judas had raised a mixed force of believers and seasoned fighters, 14Seron, commander of the Syrian troops, said, 'I shall make a name for myself and gain honour in thekingdom if I fight Judas and those supporters of his who are so contemptuous of the king's orders.' 15He therefore launched another expedition, with a strong army of unbelievers to support him in takingrevenge on the Israelites. 16He had nearly reached the descent of Beth-Horon when Judas went out to confront him with a handfulof men. 17But as soon as these saw the force advancing to meet them, they said to Judas, 'How can we, few aswe are, engage such overwhelming numbers? We are exhausted as it is, not having had anything to eat today.' 18'It is easy', Judas answered, 'for a great number to be defeated by a few; indeed, in the sight ofHeaven, deliverance, whether by many or by few, is al one; 19for victory in war does not depend on the size of the fighting force: Heaven accords the strength. 20They are coming against us in ful -blown insolence and lawlessness to destroy us, our wives and ourchildren, and to plunder us; 21but we are fighting for our lives and our laws, 22and he will crush them before our eyes; do not be afraid of them.' 23When he had finished speaking, he made a sudden sal y against Seron and his force andoverwhelmed them. 24Judas pursued them down from Beth-Horon as far as the plain. About eight hundred of their men fel ,and the rest took refuge in the country of the Philistines. 25Judas and his brothers began to be feared, and alarm seized the surrounding peoples. 26His name even reached the king's ears, and among the nations there was talk of Judas and hisbattles. 27The news of these events infuriated Antiochus, and he ordered mobilisation of al the forces in hiskingdom, a very powerful army. 28Opening his treasury, he distributed a year's pay to his troops, telling them to be prepared for anyeventuality. 29He then found that the money in his coffers had run short and that the tribute of the province haddecreased, as a result of the dissension and disaster brought on the country by his own abrogation of laws thathad been in force from antiquity. 30He began to fear that, as had happened more than once, he would not have enough to cover theexpenses and the lavish bounties he had previously been accustomed to make on a larger scale than hispredecessors on the throne. 31In this grave quandary he resolved to invade Persia, there to levy tribute on the provinces and soaccumulate substantial funds. 32He therefore left Lysias, a nobleman and member of the royal family, to manage the royal affairsbetween the River Euphrates and the Egyptian frontier, 33making him responsible for the education of his son Antiochus, until he should come back. 34To him Antiochus made over half his forces, with the elephants, giving him instructions about what hewanted done, particularly with regard to the inhabitants of Judaea and Jerusalem, 35against whom he was to send a force, to crush and destroy the power of Israel and the remnant ofJerusalem, to wipe out their very memory from the place, 36to settle foreigners in al parts of their territory and to distribute their land into lots. 37The king took the remaining half of his troops with him and set out from Antioch, the capital of hiskingdom, in the year 147; he crossed the River Euphrates and made his way through the Upper Provinces. 38Lysias chose Ptolemy son of Dorymenes, with Nicanor and Gorgias, influential men from among theFriends of the King, 39and, under their command, despatched forty thousand foot and seven thousand horse to invade theland of Judah and devastate it, as the king had ordered. 40The entire force set out and reached the neighbourhood of Emmaus in the lowlands, where theypitched camp. 41The local merchants, hearing the news of this, arrived at the camp, bringing with them a large amountof gold and silver, and fetters as wel , proposing to buy the Israelites as slaves; they were accompanied by acompany from Idumaea and the Philistine country. 42Judas and his brothers saw that the situation was going from bad to worse and that armies werecamping in their territory; they were also well aware that the king had ordered the people's total destruction. 43So they said to each other, 'Let us restore the ruins of our people and fight for our people and oursanctuary.' 44The Assembly was summoned, to prepare for war, to offer prayer and to implore compassion andmercy. 45Jerusalem was as empty as a desert, none of her children to go in and out. The sanctuary wastrodden underfoot, men of an alien race held the Citadel, which had become a lodging for gentiles. There was nomore rejoicing for Jacob, the flute and lyre were mute. 46After mustering, they made their way to Mizpah, opposite Jerusalem, since Mizpah was traditional y aplace of prayer for Israel. 47That day they fasted and put on sackcloth, covering their heads with ashes and tearing theirgarments. 48For the guidance that the gentiles would have sought from the images of their false gods, they openedthe Book of the Law. 49They also brought out the priestly vestments, with first-fruits and tithes, and marshal ed the Naziriteswho had completed the period of their vow. 50Then, raising their voices to Heaven, they cried, 'What shal we do with these people, and where arewe to take them? 51Your holy place has been trampled underfoot and defiled, your priests mourn in their humiliation, 52and now the gentiles are in al iance to destroy us: you know what they have in mind for us. 53How can we stand up and face them if you do not come to our aid?' 54Then they sounded the trumpets and raised a great shout. 55Next, Judas appointed leaders for the people, to command a thousand, a hundred, fifty or ten men. 56Those who were in the middle of building a house, or were about to be married, or were planting avineyard, or were afraid, he told to go home again, as the Law al owed. 57The column then marched off and took up a position south of Emmaus. 58'Stand to your arms,' Judas told them, 'acquit yourselves bravely, in the morning be ready to fightthese gentiles massed against us to destroy us and our sanctuary. 59Better for us to die in battle than to watch the ruin of our nation and our Holy Place. 60Whatever be the wil of Heaven, he wil perform it.'
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