2 Maccabees 12

12After these, agreements had been concluded, Lysias went away to the king, while the Jews devoted themselves to husbandry. But some of the local governors, Timotheus and Apollonius, the son of Gennaeus, with Hieronymus and Demophon, and also Nicanor, the governor of Cyprus, would not let them alone or leave them at peace. Some inhabitants of Joppa also perpetrated the following crime: they invited the Jewish residents to embark, with their wives and children, in boats which they provided, as if they meant no harm at all but were simply acting according to the public regulations of the town. The Jews agreed to go, since they wished to be peaceable and had no suspicions; but, when they were out at sea, the men of Joppa drowned no fewer than two hundred of them. Now when Judas heard of this brutal cruelty to his fellow-countrymen, he summoned his men, called on God the righteous Judge, and attacked the murderers of his brethren, setting fire to the haven by night, burning the boats, and putting to the sword those who had fled thither. Then, as the town was shut against him, he retired, intending to come back and extirpate the entire 8 community of Joppa. And on learning that the inhabitants of Jamnia meant to carry out the same kind of plot against the local Jews, he attacked them also by night, and set fire to the haven and the fleet, so that the glare of the light was seen at Jerusalem, two hundred and forty furlongs distant.

10 Now when they had drawn off nine furlongs from thence, on their march against Timotheus, they were attacked by no fewer than five thousand Arabs, 11 with five hundred horsemen, and a stiff fight was waged in which, by God’s help, Judas and his men won the victory. The vanquished nomads besought Judas to be their friend, promising to give him cattle and to be of service in other ways, and Judas, 12 with the idea that they would really be of use in a number of ways, agreed to keep peace with them; whereupon, after pledging friendship, they departed to their tents.

13 He also fell upon a town which was strongly fortified with earthworks and walls, and inhabited by a mixed population; its name was Caspin. 14 The inhabitants, relying on the strength of their walls and their ample provisions, scoffed insolently at Judas and his men, and, more than that, blasphemed and uttered cries of impiety; 15 but Judas and his men, invoking the great Sovereign of the world, who without rams and instruments of war had laid Jericho low in the days of Joshua, made a furious attack on the walls, 16 and, capturing the town by the will of God, they massacred an unspeakable number, so much so that the adjoining lake, which was two furlongs broad, looked as though it were filled with the deluge of blood.

17 Drawing off seven hundred and fifty furlongs from thence, they made their way to Charax, to the Jews who are styled Tubieni. 18 Timotheus they did not find in that locality; he had gone off without achieving any success, and left behind him in a certain post an extremely strong garrison. 19 But Dositheus and Sosipater, captains of Maccabaeus, sallied out and destroyed the troops left by Timotheus in the stronghold, over ten thousand men. 20 Whereupon Maccabaeus, arranging his men in divisions, set a leader over each division, and hurried after Timotheus, who had with him a hundred and twenty thousand infantry and two thousand five hundred cavalry. 21 Now as soon as Timotheus heard of the onset of Judas, he sent forward the women and children and also the baggage into a place called Carnaim, which was hard to besiege and difficult of access owing to its narrow approaches on all sides. 22 But when the first division of Judas appeared in sight, panic seized the enemy, who were terrified by the manifestation of Him who beholdeth all things; they took to flight in all directions, so that many got hurt by their own men and wounded by the points of one another’s swords, 23 while Judas kept up a hot pursuit, putting the wicked wretches to the sword, and destroying as many as thirty thousand men. 24 Timotheus himself fell into the hands of Dositheus and Sosipater, whom he adjured with plenty of specious guile to spare him and let him go, on the ground that he had the parents of many and the brothers of some in his power, and that (if he were not released) it would be the worse for them. 25 So, to save their brethren, they let him go, after he had solemnly pledged himself with many an oath to restore them unhurt. 26 Then Judas attacked Carnaim and the temple of Atergatis, 27 massacring twenty-five thousand persons, and after this rout and slaughter he made war against Ephron, a strong city, where Lysias had a residence and where the inhabitants came from all nationalities. Stalwart young men drawn up in front of the walls offered a resolute defence, 28 and the place held ample stores of military engines and darts, but the Jews invoked the Sovereign who crusheth forcibly the strength of his enemies, and got the city into their hands, destroying as many as twenty-five thousand of the inhabitants. 29 Setting out from thence they marched in haste against Scythopolis, which is six hundred furlongs from Jerusalem, 30 but since the local Jews testified to the goodwill shown them by the Scythopolitans and to their humane conduct during periods of misfortune, 31 they simply thanked them and enjoined them to continue well-disposed to their race in future. Then they marched up to Jerusalem, as the feast of weeks was close at hand.

32 After the feast called Pentecost they hurried against Gorgias, 33 the governor of Jamnia, who came out to meet them with three thousand foot soldiers and four hundred cavalry. 34 And when they joined battle, it came to pass that a few of the Jews fell. 35 But a man Dositheus, belonging to the Tubieni, who was a powerful horseman, caught hold of Gorgias and, gripping his mantle, dragged him off by main force, meaning to capture the accursed wretch alive. A Thracian horseman bore down on him, however, and disabled his arm, so that Gorgias managed to escape to Marisa. 36 And as Esdris and his men were now exhausted by the long fight, Judas called upon the Lord to show he was their ally and leader in the fight; 37 then, raising the war-cry and songs of praise in the language of the fathers, he made an unexpected rush against the troops of Gorgias and routed them. 38 And Judas took his army to the town of Adullam, where, as the seventh day was coming on, they purified themselves according to custom and kept the sabbath. 39 Next day, when the troops of Judas went—as it was high time they did—to pick up the corpses of the slain, in order to bring them home to lie with their kinsfolk in their fathers’ sepulchres, 40 they discovered under the shirts of every one of the dead men amulets of the idols of Jamnia—a practice forbidden the Jews by law. All saw at once that this was why they had perished, 41 and, blessing the (dealings) of the Lord, the just Judge who revealeth what is secret, 42 all betook themselves to supplication, beseeching that the sin committed might be wholly blotted out; and the noble-hearted Judas exhorted the people to keep themselves from sin, after what they had seen with their own eyes as the result of sin committed by those who had fallen. 43 He then collected from them, man by man, the sum of two thousand drachmas of silver, which he forwarded to Jerusalem for a sin-offering. In this he acted quite rightly and properly, 44 bearing in mind the resurrection—for if he had not expected the fallen to rise again, 45 it would have been superfluous and silly to pray for the dead—and having regard to the splendour of the gracious reward which is reserved for those who have fallen asleep in godliness—a holy and pious consideration! Hence he made propitiation for the dead, that they might be released from their sin.

13:1–26. Lysias and Eupator forced to make terms with Jews.

Read more