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1 Maccabees 3

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1 Maccabees 3

The Early Victories of Judas

1Then Judas his son, who was called Maccabe'us, took command in his place. 2All his brothers and all who had joined his father helped him; they gladly fought for Israel.

3He extended the glory of his people.

Like a giant he put on his breastplate;

he girded on his armor of war and waged battles,

protecting the host by his sword.

4He was like a lion in his deeds,

like a lion's cub roaring for prey.

5He searched out and pursued the lawless;

he burned those who troubled his people.

6Lawless men shrank back for fear of him;

all the evildoers were confounded;

and deliverance prospered by his hand.

7He embittered many kings,

but he made Jacob glad by his deeds,

and his memory is blessed for ever.

8He went through the cities of Judah;

he destroyed the ungodly out of the land;a

thus he turned away wrath from Israel.

9He was renowned to the ends of the earth;

he gathered in those who were perishing.

10But Apollo'nius gathered together Gentiles and a large force from Samar'ia to fight against Israel. 11When Judas learned of it, he went out to meet him, and he defeated and killed him. Many were wounded and fell, and the rest fled. 12Then they seized their spoils; and Judas took the sword of Apollo'nius, and used it in battle the rest of his life.

13Now when Seron, the commander of the Syrian army, heard that Judas had gathered a large company, including a body of faithful men who stayed with him and went out to battle, 14he said, "I will make a name for myself and win honor in the kingdom. I will make war on Judas and his companions, who scorn the king's command." 15And again a strong army of ungodly men went up with him to help him, to take vengeance on the sons of Israel.

16When he approached the ascent of Beth-hor'on, Judas went out to meet him with a small company. 17But when they saw the army coming to meet them, they said to Judas, "How can we, few as we are, fight against so great and strong a multitude? And we are faint, for we have eaten nothing today." 18Judas replied, "It is easy for many to be hemmed in by few, for in the sight of Heaven there is no difference between saving by many or by few. 19It is not on the size of the army that victory in battle depends, but strength comes from Heaven. 20They come against us in great pride and lawlessness to destroy us and our wives and our children, and to despoil us; 21but we fight for our lives and our laws. 22He himself will crush them before us; as for you, do not be afraid of them."

23When he finished speaking, he rushed suddenly against Seron and his army, and they were crushed before him. 24They pursued themb down the descent of Beth-hor'on to the plain; eight hundred of them fell, and the rest fled into the land of the Philistines. 25Then Judas and his brothers began to be feared, and terror fell upon the Gentiles round about them. 26His fame reached the king, and the Gentiles talked of the battles of Judas.

The Policy of Antiochus

27When king Anti'ochus heard these reports, he was greatly angered; and he sent and gathered all the forces of his kingdom, a very strong army. 28And he opened his coffers and gave a year's pay to his forces, and ordered them to be ready for any need. 29Then he saw that the money in the treasury was exhausted, and that the revenues from the country were small because of the dissension and disaster which he had caused in the land by abolishing the laws that had existed from the earliest days. 30He feared that he might not have such funds as he had before for his expenses and for the gifts which he used to give more lavishly than preceding kings. 31He was greatly perplexed in mind, and determined to go to Persia and collect the revenues from those regions and raise a large fund.

32He left Lys'ias, a distinguished man of royal lineage, in charge of the king's affairs from the river Euphra'tes to the borders of Egypt. 33Lys'ias was also to take care of Anti'ochus his son until he returned. 34And he turned over to Lys'iasc half of his troops and the elephants, and gave him orders about all that he wanted done. As for the residents of Judea and Jerusalem, 35Lys'ias was to send a force against them to wipe out and destroy the strength of Israel and the remnant of Jerusalem; he was to banish the memory of them from the place, 36settle aliens in all their territory, and distribute their land. 37Then the king took the remaining half of his troops and departed from Antioch his capital in the one hundred and forty-seventh year.d He crossed the Euphra'tes river and went through the upper provinces.

Preparations for Battle

38Lys'ias chose Ptol'emy the son of Dorym'enes, and Nica'nor and Gor'gias, mighty men among the friends of the king, 39and sent with them forty thousand infantry and seven thousand cavalry to go into the land of Judah and destroy it, as the king had commanded. 40So they departed with their entire force, and when they arrived they encamped near Emma'us in the plain. 41When the traders of the region heard what was said of them, they took silver and gold in immense amounts, and fetters,e and went to the camp to get the sons of Israel for slaves. And forces from Syria and the land of the Philistines joined with them.

42Now Judas and his brothers saw that misfortunes had increased and that the forces were encamped in their territory. They also learned what the king had commanded to do to the people to cause their final destruction. 43But they said to one another, "Let us repair the destruction of our people, and fight for our people and the sanctuary." 44And the congregation assembled to be ready for battle, and to pray and ask for mercy and compassion.

45Jerusalem was uninhabited like a wilderness;

not one of her children went in or out.

The sanctuary was trampled down,

and the sons of aliens held the citadel;

it was a lodging place for the Gentiles.

Joy was taken from Jacob;

the flute and the harp ceased to play.

46So they assembled and went to Mizpah, opposite Jerusalem, because Israel formerly had a place of prayer in Mizpah. 47They fasted that day, put on sackcloth and sprinkled ashes on their heads, and rent their clothes. 48And they opened the book of the law to inquire into those matters about which the Gentiles were consulting the images of their idols. 49They also brought the garments of the priesthood and the first fruits and the tithes, and they stirred up the Naz'irites who had completed their days; 50and they cried aloud to Heaven, saying,

"What shall we do with these?

Where shall we take them?

51Thy sanctuary is trampled down and profaned,

and thy priests mourn in humiliation.

52And behold, the Gentiles are assembled against us to destroy us;

thou knowest what they plot against us.

53How will we be able to withstand them,

if thou dost not help us?"

54Then they sounded the trumpets and gave a loud shout. 55After this Judas appointed leaders of the people, in charge of thousands and hundreds and fifties and tens. 56And he said to those who were building houses, or were betrothed, or were planting vineyards, or were fainthearted, that each should return to his home, according to the law. 57Then the army marched out and encamped to the south of Emma'us.

58And Judas said, "Gird yourselves and be valiant. Be ready early in the morning to fight with these Gentiles who have assembled against us to destroy us and our sanctuary. 59It is better for us to die in battle than to see the misfortunes of our nation and of the sanctuary. 60But as his will in heaven may be, so he will do."