2 Maccabees 13

13In the hundred and forty-ninth year tidings were brought to Judas and his men that Antiochus Eupator was marching with large troops against Judaea, accompanied by Lysias his guardian and chancellor, each commanding a Greek force consisting of a hundred and ten thousand foot-soldiers, five thousand three hundred cavalry, twenty-two elephants, and three hundred chariots armed with scythes. Menelaus also attached himself to them and, making loud pretences of patriotism, abetted Antiochus—not that he cared for the safety of the fatherland, but because he thought he would be appointed to office. But the King of kings stirred the anger of Antiochus against the scoundrel, and, learning from Lysias that he was responsible for all the troubles, he ordered him to be taken to Beroea and put to death there in the local fashion. For at Beroea there is a tower, fifty cubits high, filled with (hot) ashes, and a revolving contrivance which drops the victim sheer into the ashes. To this they bring any one who is guilty of sacrilege or other heinous crimes, and they all push him on, to meet his doom. By such a fate it befell that Menelaus, the law-breaker, died, not even getting a grave in earth. And this was perfectly just. Many a sin had he committed against the altar, whose fire and ashes were holy; by ashes, then, he got his death.

Now the king was coming in hot indignation to inflict on the Jews the very sorest of the sufferings that had befallen them in his father’s time. 10 But when Judas heard this, he bade the people call day and night on the Lord, that he would succour them, now if ever, as they were on the point of losing the Law, 11 their country, and the holy temple, and that he would not allow the people, after their brief and recent revival, to fall into the hands of profane pagans. 12 Now when they had all done so with one accord, and implored the merciful Lord for three days without ceasing, weeping and fasting and lying prostrate, Judas addressed them and ordered them to get ready. 13 After consulting privately with the elders, he determined that, before the king could throw his army into Judaea and master the city, they would march out and decide the issue by the help of God. 14 So, committing the outcome of it to the Creator of the world, and charging his men to fight stoutly, even to death, for laws, temple, city, country, and polity, 15 he pitched his camp near Modin, and, giving his troops the watchword of Victory is God’s, he and a picked body of his bravest young men made an onset by night upon the royal tent and slew as many as two thousand men within the camp; they also stabbed the chief elephant and his mahout, 16 and finally, after filling the camp with panic and confusion, 17 got away triumphantly, just as the day began to dawn. This was due to the help of God’s protection.

18 After this taste of the Jews’ prowess the king used stratagem in attacking their positions. 19 Thus he moved upon Beth-sura, a strong fortress of the Jews, was routed, dashed at it (again), was worsted. 20 Judas got the necessaries of life conveyed to those inside. 21 But Rhodocus, a Jewish soldier, betrayed the secrets of the Jews to the enemy; search was made for him, he was arrested and imprisoned. 22 Again the king made overtures to the residents in Beth-sura, pledged his right hand, took theirs, departed, 23 attacked the forces of Judas, was defeated, heard that Philip who had been left as chancellor in Antioch had become desperate, was confounded by the news, proposed peace to the Jews, submitted with an oath to all their equitable conditions, came to terms with them and offered sacrifice, 24 honoured the sanctuary and the sacred Place, behaved humanely, took gracious farewell of Maccabaeus, left Hegemonides in command from Ptolemais to Gerar, went to Ptolemais. 25 The men of Ptolemais felt sore over the treaty; they were excessively indignant with the Jews and wanted to annul the articles of the agreement. 26 Lysias advanced to the bêma, defended it as well as possible, convinced them, pacified and won them over, departed to Antioch. Such was the course of the king’s inroad and retreat.

14:1–46. Intrigues and threats of Nicanor.

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