Saturday, 22 June 2024 - San Tommaso Moro ( Letture di oggi)

1 Maccabees 1


1After Alexander the Macedonian, Philip's son, who came from the land of Kittim, had defeated Darius, king of the Persians and Medes, he became king in his place, having first ruled in Greece.2He fought many campaigns, captured fortresses, and put kings to death.3He advanced to the ends of the earth, gathering plunder from many nations; the earth fell silent before him, and his heart became proud and arrogant.4He collected a very strong army and conquered provinces, nations, and rulers, and they became his tributaries.5But after all this he took to his bed, realizing that he was going to die.6He therefore summoned his officers, the nobles, who had been brought up with him from his youth, to divide his kingdom among them while he was still alive.7Alexander had reigned twelve years when he died.8So his officers took over his kingdom, each in his own territory,9and after his death they all put on royal crowns, and so did their sons after them for many years, causing much distress over the earth.10There sprang from these a sinful offshoot, Antiochus Epiphanes, son of King Antiochus, once a hostage at Rome. He became king in the year one hundred and thirty-seven of the kingdom of the Greeks.11In those days there appeared in Israel men who were breakers of the law, and they seduced many people, saying: "Let us go and make an alliance with the Gentiles all around us; since we separated from them, many evils have come upon us."12The proposal was agreeable;13some from among the people promptly went to the king, and he authorized them to introduce the way of living of the Gentiles.14Thereupon they built a gymnasium in Jerusalem according to the Gentile custom.15They covered over the mark of their circumcision and abandoned the holy covenant; they allied themselves with the Gentiles and sold themselves to wrongdoing.16When his kingdom seemed secure, Antiochus proposed to become king of Egypt, so as to rule over both kingdoms.17He invaded Egypt with a strong force, with chariots and elephants, and with a large fleet,18to make war on Ptolemy, king of Egypt. Ptolemy was frightened at his presence and fled, leaving many casualties.19The fortified cities in the land of Egypt were captured, and Antiochus plundered the land of Egypt.20After Antiochus had defeated Egypt in the year one hundred and forty-three, he returned and went up to Israel and to Jerusalem with a strong force.21He insolently invaded the sanctuary and took away the golden altar, the lampstand for the light with all its fixtures,22the offering table, the cups and the bowls, the golden censers, the curtain, the crowns, and the golden ornament on the facade of the temple. He stripped off everything,23and took away the gold and silver and the precious vessels; he also took all the hidden treasures he could find.24Taking all this, he went back to his own country, after he had spoken with great arrogance and shed much blood.25And there was great mourning for Israel, in every place where they dwelt,26and the rulers and the elders groaned. Virgins and young men languished, and the beauty of the women was disfigured.27Every bridegroom took up lamentation, she who sat in the bridal chamber mourned,28And the land was shaken on account of its inhabitants, and all the house of Jacob was covered with shame.29Two years later, the king sent the Mysian commander to the cities of Judah, and he came to Jerusalem with a strong force.30He spoke to them deceitfully in peaceful terms, and won their trust. Then he attacked the city suddenly, in a great onslaught, and destroyed many of the people in Israel.31He plundered the city and set fire to it, demolished its houses and its surrounding walls,32took captive the women and children, and seized the cattle.33Then they built up the City of David with a high, massive wall and strong towers, and it became their citadel.34There they installed a sinful race, perverse men, who fortified themselves inside it,35storing up weapons and provisions, and depositing there the plunder they had collected from Jerusalem. And they became a great threat.36The citadel became an ambush against the sanctuary, and a wicked adversary to Israel at all times.37And they shed innocent blood around the sanctuary; they defiled the sanctuary.38Because of them the inhabitants of Jerusalem fled away, and she became the abode of strangers. She became a stranger to her own offspring, and her children forsook her.39Her sanctuary was as desolate as a wilderness; her feasts were turned into mourning, Her sabbaths to shame, her honor to contempt.40Her dishonor was as great as her glory had been, and her exalation was turned into mourning.41Then the king wrote to his whole kingdom that all should be one people,42each abandoning his particular customs. All the Gentiles conformed to the command of the king,43and many Israelites were in favor of his religion; they sacrificed to idols and profaned the sabbath.44The king sent messengers with letters to Jerusalem and to the cities of Judah, ordering them to follow customs foreign to their land;45to prohibit holocausts, sacrifices, and libations in the sanctuary, to profane the sabbaths and feast days,46to desecrate the sanctuary and the sacred ministers,47to build pagan altars and temples and shrines, to sacrifice swine and unclean animals,48to leave their sons uncircumcised, and to let themselves be defiled with every kind of impurity and abomination,49so that they might forget the law and change all their observances.50Whoever refused to act according to the command of the king should be put to death.51Such were the orders he published throughout his kingdom. He appointed inspectors over all the people, and he ordered the cities of Judah to offer sacrifices, each city in turn.52Many of the people, those who abandoned the law, joined them and committed evil in the land.53Israel was driven into hiding, wherever places of refuge could be found.54On the fifteenth day of the month Chislev, in the year one hundred and forty-five, the king erected the horrible abomination upon the altar of holocausts, and in the surrounding cities of Judah they built pagan altars.55They also burnt incense at the doors of houses and in the streets.56Any scrolls of the law which they found they tore up and burnt.57Whoever was found with a scroll of the covenant, and whoever observed the law, was condemned to death by royal decree.58So they used their power against Israel, against those who were caught, each month, in the cities.59On the twenty-fifth day of each month they sacrificed on the altar erected over the altar of holocausts.60Women who had had their children circumcised were put to death, in keeping with the decree,61with the babies hung from their necks; their families also and those who had circumcised them were killed.62But many in Israel were determined and resolved in their hearts not to eat anything unclean;63they preferred to die rather than to be defiled with unclean food or to profane the holy covenant; and they did die. Terrible affliction was upon Israel.