2 Maccabees 5

5Now about this time Antiochus made his second inroad into Egypt. And it so befell that throughout all the city of Jerusalem for almost forty days horsemen were seen charging in mid-air, wearing robes inwrought with gold, armed with lances, and arrayed in troops: swords flashing, squadrons of horse in array, assaults and charges repeated from one side and another, shields shaken, spears massed together, darts hurtling to and fro, the sheen of golden trappings, and corselets of all kinds. Which made all men pray that the apparition might betoken good.

Now a false rumour got abroad that Antiochus had died. Whereupon Jason took not less than a thousand men, and made a sudden attack on the city; the troops stationed on the walls were routed, and, as the city was now practically captured, Menelaus took refuge in the citadel, while Jason proceeded to slaughter his fellow-citizens without mercy, reckless of the fact that to get any advantage over kinsfolk is the worst kind of disadvantage, and imagining to himself that he was winning trophies from foes and not from fellow-countrymen. He failed to secure the place of power, however; and in the end he reaped only shame from his conspiracy, and had to pass over again as a fugitive into the country of the Ammonites. As for the end of his wretched career—imprisoned under Aretas the Arabian prince, flying from city to city, pursued by all men, hated as an apostate from the laws, and loathed as a butcher of his country and his fellow-citizens, he was expelled into Egypt. He who had driven so many into exile, died himself in exile, crossing over to the Lacedaemonians, with the idea of finding shelter there among kinsfolk. He who had flung out many a corpse to lie unburied had none to mourn for him, nor had he a funeral of any kind or place in the sepulchre of his fathers. 11 Now when tidings of what had happened reached the king, he thought Judaea was in revolt. 12 He therefore started from Egypt in a fury, stormed the city, and commanded his soldiers to cut down without mercy any one they met, and to slay those who sheltered in their houses. 13 So there was a massacre of young and old, an extermination of boys, women, and children, a slaughter of virgins and infants. 14 In the short space of three days eighty thousand were destroyed, forty thousand of them in close combat, and as many again were sold into slavery. 15 Not content with this, he dared to enter the most holy temple on earth, under the guidance of Menelaus, who proved himself a traitor both to the laws and to his country; 16 he laid polluted hands on the sacred vessels, and swept off with his profane hands what other kings had dedicated to enhance the glory and honour of the Place. 17 Uplifted in spirit, Antiochus did not consider that it was on account of the sins of those who dwelt in the city that the Sovereign Lord was provoked to anger for a little while; hence His indifference to the Place. 18 Had they not been involved in so many sins, this fellow would have fared like Heliodorus, who was sent by king Seleucus to pry into the treasury—he would have been scourged as soon as he pressed forward, and turned back from his presumption. 19 But the Lord did not choose the nation for the sake of the Place; he chose the Place for the sake of the nation. 20 And so the Place, after partaking in the calamities that befell the nation, shared afterwards in its prosperity; forsaken in the wrath of the Almighty, it was restored again in full glory when the great Sovereign became reconciled.

21 Antiochus, then, carried off from the temple eighteen hundred talents and hurried away to Antioch, thinking in his arrogance to make the land navigable and the sea passable by foot—so uplifted was he in heart. 22 He also left governors behind him to ill-treat the Jewish people: at Jerusalem, Philip, a Phrygian by race, whose disposition was more barbarous than that of his master; 23 at Gerizim, Andronicus; and, besides these, Menelaus, who lorded it worst of them all over the citizens. 24 And in malice against the Jews he sent the Mysian commander Apollonius with an army of two and twenty thousand, under orders to slay all those that were of full age and to sell the women and the younger men. 25 This fellow, on reaching Jerusalem, played the rôle of a man of peace, waiting till the holy day of the sabbath; then, finding the Jews at rest from work, he commanded his men to parade in arms, 26 put to the sword all who came to see what was going on, and rushing into the city with the armed men killed great numbers. 27 Judas Maccabaeus, however, with about nine others got away, and kept himself and his companions alive in the mountains, as wild beasts do, feeding on herbs, in order that they might not be polluted like the rest.

6:1–31. Enforced Hellenization of the Jews.

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