1 Maccabees - 9


1Demetrius, hearing that Nicanor and his army had fal en in battle, sent Bacchides and Alcimus asecond time into Judaea, and with them the right wing of his army. 2They took the road to Galilee and besieged Mesaloth in Arbela, and captured it, putting many people todeath. 3In the first month of the year 152, they encamped outside Jerusalem; 4they then moved on, making their way to Beer-Zaith with twenty thousand foot and two thousand horse. 5Judas lay in camp at Elasa, with three thousand picked men. 6When they saw the huge size of the enemy forces they were terrified, and many slipped out of thecamp, until no more than eight hundred of the force were left. 7With battle now inevitable, Judas realised that his army had melted away; he was aghast, for he had notime to ral y them. 8Yet, dismayed as he was, he said to those who were left, 'Up! Let us face the enemy; we may yet have the strength to fight them.' 9His men tried to dissuade him, declaring, 'We have no strength for anything but to escape with our livesthis time; then we can come back with our brothers to fight them; by ourselves we are too few.' 10Judas retorted, 'That I should do such a thing as run away from them! If our time has come, at leastlet us die like men for our countrymen, and leave nothing to tarnish our reputation.' 11The army marched out of camp and drew up, facing the enemy. The cavalry was drawn up in twosquadrons; the slingers and archers marched in the van of the army, and al the best fighters were put in thefront rank; 12Bacchides was on the right wing. The phalanx advanced from between the two squadrons, soundingthe trumpets; the men on Judas' side also blew their trumpets, 13and the earth shook with the noise of the armies. The engagement lasted from morning until evening. 14Judas saw that Bacchides and the main strength of his army lay on the right; al the stout-heartedral ied to him, 15and they crushed the right wing, pursuing them as far as the Azara Hil s. 16But when the Syrians on the left wing saw that the right had been broken, they turned and followedhot on the heels of Judas and his men to take them in the rear. 17The fight became desperate, and there were many casualties on both sides. 18Judas himself fel , and the remnant fled. 19Jonathan and Simon took up their brother Judas and buried him in his ancestral tomb at Modein. 20Al Israel wept and mourned him deeply and for many days they repeated this dirge. 21'What a downfall for the strong man, the man who kept Israel safe!' 22The other deeds of Judas, the battles he fought, the exploits he performed, and all his titles togreatness have not been recorded; but they were very many. 23After the death of Judas, the renegades came out of hiding throughout Israel and al the evil-doersreappeared. 24At that time there was a severe famine, and the country went over to their side. 25Bacchides deliberately chose the enemies of religion to administer the country. 26These traced and searched out the friends of Judas and brought them before Bacchides, who il -treated and mocked them. 27A terrible oppression began in Israel; there had been nothing like it since the disappearance ofprophecy among them. 28The friends of Judas then al united in saying to Jonathan, 29'Since your brother Judas died, there has been no one like him to head the resistance against ourenemies, people like Bacchides and others who hate our nation. 30Accordingly, we have today chosen you to take his place as our ruler and leader and to fight ourcampaigns.' 31Whereupon, Jonathan took command, in succession to his brother Judas. 32Bacchides, when he heard the news, made plans to kil Jonathan. 33But this became known to Jonathan, his brother Simon and al his supporters, and they took refuge inthe desert of Tekoa, camping by the water-supply at Asphar storage-well. 34(Bacchides came to know of this on the Sabbath day, and he too crossed the Jordan with his entirearmy.) 35Jonathan sent his brother, who was one of his commanders, to ask his friends the Nabataeans tostore their considerable baggage for them. 36The sons of Amrai, however, those of Medeba, intercepted them, captured John and everything hehad and made off with their prize. 37Later, Jonathan and his brother Simon were told that the sons of Amrai were celebrating an importantwedding, and were escorting the bride, a daughter of one of the great notables of Canaan, from Nabata with alarge retinue. 38Remembering the bloody end of their brother John, they went up and hid under cover of the mountain. 39As they were keeping watch, a noisy procession came into sight with a great deal of baggage, and thebridegroom, with his groomsmen and his family, came out to meet it with tambourines and a band, and rich,warlike display. 40The Jews rushed down on them from their ambush and killed them, inflicting heavy casualties; thesurvivors escaped to the mountain, leaving their entire baggage train to be captured. 41Thus, the wedding was turned into mourning and the music of their band into lamentation. 42Having in this way avenged in ful the blood of their brother, they returned to the marshes of theJordan. 43As soon as Bacchides heard this, he came on the Sabbath day with a considerable force to the steepbanks of the Jordan. 44Jonathan said to his men, 'Up! Let us fight for our lives, for today it is not as in the old days. 45You can see, we shall have to fight on our front and to our rear; we have the waters of the Jordan onone side, the marsh and scrub on the other, and we have no line of withdrawal. 46This is the moment to call on Heaven, to deliver you from the clutches of your enemies.' 47The engagement was begun by Jonathan, who aimed a blow at Bacchides, but the Syrian disengagedhimself and withdrew, 48whereupon Jonathan and his men leapt into the Jordan and swam to the other bank; the enemy didnot, however, cross the Jordan in pursuit. 49That day, Bacchides lost about a thousand men. 50Bacchides went back to Jerusalem and began fortifying some of the Judaean towns: the fortresses ofJericho, Emmaus, Beth-Horon, Bethel, Timnath, Pharathon and Tephon, with high wal s and barred gates, 51and stationed a garrison in each of them to harass Israel. 52He also fortified the town of Beth-Zur, Gezer and the Citadel, and placed troops in them with suppliesof provisions. 53He took the sons of the leading men of the country as hostages, and had them placed under guard inthe Citadel of Jerusalem. 54In the year 153, in the second month, Alcimus ordered the demolition of the wall of the inner court ofthe sanctuary, destroying the work of the prophets. Alcimus had just begun the demolition 55when he suffered a stroke, and his work was interrupted. His mouth became obstructed, and hisparalysis made him incapable of speaking at al or giving directions to his household; 56it was not long before he died in great agony. 57On the death of Alcimus, Bacchides went back to the king, and Judaea was left in peace for twoyears. 58The renegades then al agreed on a plan. 'Now is the time,' they said, 'while Jonathan and hissupporters are living in peace and are ful of confidence, for us to bring back Bacchides, and he wil arrest the lotof them in one night.' 59So they went to him and reached an understanding. 60Bacchides at once set out with a large force, and sent secret instructions to al his allies in Judaea toseize Jonathan and his supporters. But they were unable to do this because their plan became known, 61and Jonathan and his men arrested some fifty of the men of the country who were ringleaders in theplot, and put them to death. 62Jonathan and Simon then retired with their partisans to Beth-Bassi in the desert; they rebuilt theruinous parts of the place and fortified it. 63When Bacchides heard this, he mustered his whole force and notified his adherents in Judaea. 64He then proceeded to lay siege to Beth-Bassi, the fighting was protracted, and he constructed siege-engines. 65Jonathan, however, leaving his brother Simon in the town, broke out into the countryside with ahandful of men. 66He launched a blow at Odomera and his brothers, and at the sons of Phasiron in their encampment;whereupon, these too came into the struggle, joining forces with him. 67Simon and his people, meanwhile, made a sortie from the town and set fire to the siege-engines. 68Taking the offensive against Bacchides, they defeated him. He was greatly disconcerted to find thathis plan and his assault had come to nothing, 69and vented his anger on those renegades who had induced him to enter the country, putting many ofthem to death; he then decided to take his own troops home. 70Discovering this, Jonathan sent envoys to negotiate peace terms and the release of prisoners withhim. 71Bacchides agreed to this, accepting his proposals and swearing never to seek occasion to harm himfor the rest of his life. 72Having surrendered to Jonathan those prisoners he had earlier taken in Judaea, he turned about andwithdrew to his own country, and never again came near their frontiers. 73The sword no longer hung over Israel, and Jonathan settled in Michmash, where he began to judgethe people and to rid Israel of the godless.
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