2 Maccabees 11

11Quite soon after this, Lysias, the king’s guardian and kinsman and chancellor, who was seriously 2 annoyed at what had taken place, collected about eighty thousand infantry with all his cavalry and marched against the Jews, intending to make the city a residence for Greeks, to levy tribute on the temple as on the other sacred places of the nations, and to put up the high-priesthood for sale every year; for he never reckoned with the might of God, but was puffed up with his own myriads of infantry and thousands of cavalry and eighty elephants. On entering Judaea, he came up to Bethsuron, a strong fort about five leagues from Jerusalem, and pressed it hard. Now when Maccabaeus and his men learned that he was besieging the strongholds, they and all the people wailed and wept, beseeching the Lord to send a good angel to save Israel. Maccabaeus himself was the first to take up arms, and he urged the others to join him at the hazard of their lives, in order to succour their brethren. So they sallied forth, all together, right willingly. And ere ever they had left Jerusalem, a rider appeared at their head, in white apparel, brandishing weapons of gold; and they joined in blessing God the merciful and were still more encouraged; ready now to break through not only men but ferocious beasts and walls of iron, 10 they advanced in array with their heavenly ally—for the Lord had mercy on them. 11 And leaping like lions upon the foe, they slew eleven thousand of their infantry, and sixteen hundred of their cavalry, and forced all the rest to flee. 12 The majority only escaped with wounds and the loss of their arms, while Lysias himself had to save his life by a disgraceful flight. 13 Now Lysias was no fool. Thinking over the defeat he had sustained, and recognizing that the Hebrews were invincible, 14 thanks to the mighty God who was their ally, he sent to persuade them to agree to a fair and comprehensive settlement, undertaking that he would even induce the king to become their friend. 15 Maccabaeus agreed to all the terms proposed by Lysias, thereby showing a sagacious regard for the interests of the people, since the king did grant all the written demands which Maccabaeus made to Lysias on behalf of the Jews. 16 Now the letter addressed by Lysias to the Jews was to this effect:

17 Lysias to the people of the Jews, greeting. Your envoys, John and Absalom, have presented the appended petition and asked for a decision upon its contents. 18 I have therefore informed the king of whatever had to be laid before him, and he has agreed to all that could be granted. 19 If you will maintain your goodwill toward the State, 20 I will endeavour in future to promote your interests, and, as for this particular business, I have instructed your representatives and my own to confer with you. 21 Fare ye well. Written in the hundred and forty-eighth year, on the four and twentieth day of the month Dioscurus.

22 The king’s letter ran as follows:

23 King Antiochus to his brother Lysias, greeting. Now that our father hath passed over to the gods, it is our pleasure that the subjects of the realm should live undisturbed and attend to their own concerns. 24 As for our Jewish subjects, we understand that they object to our father’s project of bringing them over to Hellenism, preferring their own ways of life and asking permission to follow their own customs. 25 It is our will therefore that this nation also shall not be disturbed, and we have decided to give them back their temple and to permit them to live after the manner of their ancestors. 26 Thou wilt do well therefore to send messengers to them and give them the right hand of fellowship, that they may know our purpose and be of good heart and cheerfully settle down to their own business.

27 The king’s letter to the nation was as follows:

28 King Antiochus to the senate of the Jews and to the rest of the Jews, greeting. If you fare well, it is as we wish; we too are in good health. 29 Menelaus has informed us of your desire to return home and attend to your own affairs. 30 Those Jews then who return home up to the thirtieth day of Xanthicus shall have our friendship, 31 with full permission to use their own food and to observe their own laws as of yore; none of them shall be molested in any way for any unwitting offence. 32 Moreover, I have sent Menelaus to reassure you. 33 Fare ye well. Written in the hundred and forty-eighth year, on the fifteenth day of Xanthicus.

34 The Romans also sent them a letter to this effect:

Quintus Memmius and Titus Manlius, ambassadors of the Romans, to the nation of the Jews, greeting. 35 With reference to what Lysias, the king’s kinsman, has granted you, we hereby give our consent. 36 As for the points which he decided were to be referred to the king, send some one at once to advise on them, that we may act in your interests. 37 We are off to Antioch; make haste, then, to send some of your number, that we may know what your mind is. 38 Fare ye well. Written in the hundred and forty-eighth year, on the fifteenth day of Xanthicus.

12:1–45. Fresh campaigns of Judas.

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