Loading…
3 Maccabees 1

1Now when Philopator had learned from those who had returned of the capture by Antiochus of the places which had been held by him, he issued orders to all his forces, foot and horse, and taking with him his sister Arsinoe, marched to the district over against Raphia, where the army of Antiochus was encamped. But a certain Theodotus, determining to carry out his plot, took with him the bravest of the soldiers of Ptolemy who had been previously assigned to him, and went by night to the tent of Ptolemy, intending to kill him single-handed, and thereby put an end to the war. But Dositheus, called the son of Drimylus, who was by birth a Jew, but had subsequently abandoned the observance of the law, and renounced his ancestral faith, had conveyed Ptolemy away, and put some obscure person to sleep in the tent; and so it happened that on this man fell the vengeance intended for the other. And when a fierce battle had begun, and things were favouring Antiochus, Arsinoe went frequently up and down the ranks, and her hair dishevelled, exhorted them with lamentation and tears to fight manfully for themselves, their children, and their wives, promising to give them if they conquered two minae of gold each. And thus it came about that their adversaries were destroyed in the encounter, and that many were also taken captive. So Ptolemy, having crushed the attack, determined to visit the neighbouring cities, and encourage them. And having done this, and given gifts to their shrines, he inspired his subjects with confidence. And when the Jews had sent to him some of the senate and eiders to greet him, and bring him gifts, and congratulate him on what had happened, he became the more eager to visit them as quickly as possible. And when he had come to Jerusalem he sacrificed to the Most High God and offered thankofferings, acting in some measure according to what was suitable to the place. And entering into the holy place, 10 and being struck by the care displayed, and the beauty, and admiring also the good order of the temple, it came into his mind to purpose to enter into the sanctuary. 11 And when they said that this was not allowed, since not even members of their own nation could enter, or all the priests, but only the high-priest who was chief of all, and he once a year, he was by no means convinced. 12 And when the law had been read out to him, not even then did he desist from his claim that he himself should enter, saying, Even if they are deprived of this honour, I must not be so. 13 And he asked why, when he entered into every shrine, none of those present hindered him? 14 And some one answered thoughtlessly that he did wrong to make this boast. 15 But since this is so, he said, why should I not enter in any case, whether they wish it or not? 16 Then the priests in all their robes fell down, and besought the Most High God to aid them in that which had come upon them, and to turn the violence of him who was making this wicked attack, filling the temple with lamentation and tears; 17 and those who were left in the city hurried forth in confusion, concluding that something strange was happening. 18 The virgins who had been shut up in their chambers rushed forth with their mothers, and covering their hair with dust and ashes, filled the streets with groanings and lamentations. 19 And those who had been lately married, leaving the chambers prepared for wedded intercourse and forgetting their proper modesty, ran about in confusion through the city. 20 And as for the new-born children, the mothers and nurses who had charge of them left them here and there, in the houses or in the streets without care, and came in crowds to the temple which is high above all. 21 And manifold were the supplications of those gathered here because of the impious enterprise of the king. 22 And with them the bolder from among the citizens would not endure his carrying the matter to an extremity, or his determination to complete his project; 23 but calling on one another to rush to arms, and to die bravely for the law of their fathers, they made great confusion in the place, and being with difficulty turned from their purpose by the elders and the priests, they joined in supplication with them. 24 And the multitude continued meanwhile praying as before. 25 But the elders who were with the king tried in many ways to turn his haughty mind from the purpose he had conceived. 26 But being emboldened and now setting them all aside, he was even beginning to approach, thinking that he would complete the design aforesaid. 27 Therefore those who were with him seeing this, joined with our own people in beseeching him who has all power to defend them in their present need, and not to disregard the lawless and insolent deed. 28 So incessant and vehement was the united cry of the multitude that an indescribable uproar arose. 29 For it might have been thought that not only the people, but even the walls and the whole pavement were crying out, since all preferred death to the profanation of the holy place.

Read more