2 Maccabees 10

10Now Maccabaeus and his followers, under the leadership of the Lord, recaptured the temple and the city, and pulled down the altars erected by the aliens in the market-place, as well as the sacred inclosures. After cleansing the sanctuary, they erected another altar of sacrifice, and striking fire out of flints they offered sacrifices after a lapse of two years, with incense, lamps, and the presentation of the shew-bread. This done, they fell prostrate before the Lord with entreaties that they might never again incur such disasters, but that, if ever they should sin, he would chasten them with forbearance, instead of handing them over to blasphemous and barbarous pagans. Now it so happened that the cleansing of the sanctuary took place on the very day on which it had been profaned by aliens, on the twenty-fifth day of the same month, which is Chislev. And they celebrated it for eight days with gladness like a feast of tabernacles, remembering how, not long before, during the feast of tabernacles they had been wandering like wild beasts in the mountains and the caves. So, bearing wands wreathed with leaves and fair boughs and palms, they offered hymns of praise to him who had prospered the cleansing of his own place, and also passed a public order and decree that all the Jewish nation should keep these ten days every year.

10:9–38. Further campaigns of Judas.

Such was the end of Antiochus, who was called Epiphanes. 10 We will now explain what occurred under Antiochus Eupator, the son of that godless man, summarizing the calamities of the wars. 11 When he succeeded to the throne, he appointed a certain Lysias as his chancellor and as supreme governor of Coelesyria and Phoenicia. 12 For Ptolemy, who was called Macron, had set an example of justice to the Jews in righting wrongs done to them, and had endeavoured to deal amicably with them. 13 For this he was arraigned before Eupator by the king’s Friends; on every side he heard himself called a traitor for having abandoned the island of Cyprus which Philometor had entrusted to him, and for having sided with Antiochus Epiphanes: so, feeling unable to maintain the prestige of his position, he took poison in a fit of despair and made away with himself.

14 But when Gorgias became governor of this district, he maintained a force of mercenaries and kept up war with the Jews at every turn. 15 Besides that, the Idumaeans, who were in possession of important strongholds, harassed the Jews and did their utmost to keep the feud going by welcoming the refugees from Jerusalem. 16 But Maccabaeus and his men, after solemnly imploring and beseeching God to fight on their side, 17 rushed at the strongholds of the Idumaeans and, after a vigorous assault, captured the positions, beating off those who manned the walls, slaying any whom they came across, and slaughtering no fewer than twenty thousand. 18 No less than nine thousand took refuge in two 19 extremely strong towers, 19 which were well equipped to stand a siege; so Maccabaeus left Simon and Joseph, together with Zacchaeus and his division, as a force adequate for the siege, and went off in person to various places where he was needed. 20 But the covetous retinue of Simon allowed themselves to be bribed by some of those inside the towers, and let some of them slip out, on payment of seventy thousand drachmas. 21 When Maccabaeus learned of what had occurred, he summoned the leaders of the nation and accused them of selling their brethren for money, by setting their enemies free to fight against them; 22 then he slew these men for having turned traitors and instantly stormed the two towers. 23 Successful in every feat of arms which he undertook, he destroyed in the two strongholds more than twenty thousand men.

24 Now Timotheus, who had been previously defeated by the Jews, mustered a foreign force of vast size, and raised a large detachment of Asiatic cavalry, and arrived in Judaea as though he meant to capture it by force of arms. 25 But on his approach Maccabaeus and his men sprinkled earth upon their heads and girded their loins with sackcloth, 26 in supplication to God, and falling down upon the step in front of the altar besought Him to show favour graciously to them, to be the enemy of their enemies, and the adversary of their adversaries, as the law affirmeth. 27 Then rising from prayer they took up their arms and advanced some distance from the city, halting when they drew near to the enemy. 28 And when the dawn came, the two armies joined battle; one had a pledge of success and victory, not only in their valour but in their appeal to the Lord, while the other side were impelled to the struggle by their own passions. 29 And as the fight waxed fierce, the enemy saw five resplendent men from heaven on horses with golden bridles, 30 who led on the Jews and took Maccabaeus between them, sheltering him with their armour and preserving him scatheless; they also showered arrows and thunderbolts on the enemy till, blinded and disordered, they were utterly bewildered and cut to pieces. 31 Twenty thousand five hundred were slain, with six hundred horsemen, 32 and Timotheus himself took refuge in a stronghold called Gazara, which was very strongly fortified under command of Chaereas. 33 The troops of Maccabaeus laid eager siege to this fort for twenty-four days, during which time the besieged, 34 who relied on the strength of the place, blasphemed furiously and gave vent to impious cries. 35 But, as the twenty-fifth day dawned, twenty youths from the Maccabaean army, burning with anger at all this blasphemy, stormed the wall like men, and in a wild fury of passion proceeded to cut down every one they met. 36 Meantime others had followed them up by a wheel movement and had set fire to the towers, kindling fires and burning the blasphemers alive, while some burst the gates open and admitted the rest of the band. 37 So they captured the city, and killed Timotheus, who had concealed himself in a cistern, and his brother Chaereas, and Apollophanes. 38 Having accomplished this feat, they sang hymns of thanksgiving, blessing the Lord who rendereth great services to Israel and giveth them the victory.

11:1–38. Defeat of Lysias, and terms of peace arranged.

Read more