1. The Jewish brethren in Jerusalem and those in the land of Judea, To their Jewish
brethren in Egypt, Greeting, and good peace.
2. May God do good to you, and may he remember his covenant with Abraham and Isaac and
Jacob, his faithful servants.
3. May he give you all a heart to worship him and to do his will with a strong heart and a
4. May he open your heart to his law and his commandments, and may he bring peace.
5. May he hear your prayers and be reconciled to you, and may he not forsake you in time
6. We are now praying for you here.
7. In the reign of Demetrius, in the one hundred and sixty-ninth year, we Jews wrote to
you, in the critical distress which came upon us in those years after Jason and his
company revolted from the holy land and the kingdom
8. and burned the gate and shed innocent blood. We besought the Lord and we were heard,
and we offered sacrifice and cereal offering, and we lighted the lamps and we set out the
9. And now see that you keep the feast of booths in the month of Chislev, in the one
hundred and eighty-eighth year.
10. Those in Jerusalem and those in Judea and the senate and Judas, To Aristobulus, who is
of the family of the anointed priests, teacher of Ptolemy the king, and to the Jews in
Egypt, Greeting, and good health.
11. Having been saved by God out of grave dangers we thank him greatly for taking our side
against the king.
12. For he drove out those who fought against the holy city.
13. For when the leader reached Persia with a force that seemed irresistible, they were
cut to pieces in the temple of Nanea by a deception employed by the priests of Nanea.
14. For under pretext of intending to marry her, Antiochus came to the place together with
his friends, to secure most of its treasures as a dowry.
15. When the priests of the temple of Nanea had set out the treasures and Antiochus had
come with a few men inside the wall of the sacred precinct, they closed the temple as soon
as he entered it.
16. Opening the secret door in the ceiling, they threw stones and struck down the leader
and his men, and dismembered them and cut off their heads and threw them to the people
17. Blessed in every way be our God, who has brought judgment upon those who have behaved
18. Since on the twenty-fifth day of Chislev we shall celebrate the purification of the
temple, we thought it necessary to notify you, in order that you also may celebrate the
feast of booths and the feast of the fire given when Nehemiah, who built the temple and
the altar, offered sacrifices.
19. For when our fathers were being led captive to Persia, the pious priests of that time
took some of the fire of the altar and secretly hid it in the hollow of a dry cistern,
where they took such precautions that the place was unknown to any one.
20. But after many years had passed, when it pleased God, Nehemiah, having been
commissioned by the king of Persia, sent the descendants of the priests who had hidden the
fire to get it. And when they reported to us that they had not found fire but thick
liquid, he ordered them to dip it out and bring it.
21. And when the materials for the sacrifices were presented, Nehemiah ordered the priests
to sprinkle the liquid on the wood and what was laid upon it.
22. When this was done and some time had passed and the sun, which had been clouded over,
shone out, a great fire blazed up, so that all marveled.
23. And while the sacrifice was being consumed, the priests offered prayer -- the priests
and every one. Jonathan led, and the rest responded, as did Nehemiah.
24. The prayer was to this effect: "O Lord, Lord God, Creator of all things, who art
awe-inspiring and strong and just and merciful, who alone art King and art kind,
25. who alone art bountiful, who alone art just and almighty and eternal, who dost rescue
Israel from every evil, who didst choose the fathers and consecrate them,
26. accept this sacrifice on behalf of all thy people Israel and preserve thy portion and
make it holy.
27. Gather together our scattered people, set free those who are slaves among the
Gentiles, look upon those who are rejected and despised, and let the Gentiles know that
thou art our God.
28. Afflict those who oppress and are insolent with pride.
29. Plant thy people in thy holy place, as Moses said."
30. Then the priests sang the hymns.
31. And when the materials of the sacrifice were consumed, Nehemiah ordered that the
liquid that was left should be poured upon large stones.
32. When this was done, a flame blazed up; but when the light from the altar shone back,
it went out.
33. When this matter became known, and it was reported to the king of the Persians that,
in the place where the exiled priests had hidden the fire, the liquid had appeared with
which Nehemiah and his associates had burned the materials of the sacrifice,
34. the king investigated the matter, and enclosed the place and made it sacred.
35. And with those persons whom the king favored he exchanged many excellent gifts.
36. Nehemiah and his associates called this "nephthar," which means
purification, but by most people it is called naphtha.
1. One finds in the records that Jeremiah the prophet ordered those who were being
deported to take some of the fire, as has been told,
2. and that the prophet after giving them the law instructed those who were being deported
not to forget the commandments of the Lord, nor to be led astray in their thoughts upon
seeing the gold and silver statues and their adornment.
3. And with other similar words he exhorted them that the law should not depart from their
4. It was also in the writing that the prophet, having received an oracle, ordered that
the tent and the ark should follow with him, and that he went out to the mountain where
Moses had gone up and had seen the inheritance of God.
5. And Jeremiah came and found a cave, and he brought there the tent and the ark and the
altar of incense, and he sealed up the entrance.
6. Some of those who followed him came up to mark the way, but could not find it.
7. When Jeremiah learned of it, he rebuked them and declared: "The place shall be
unknown until God gathers his people together again and shows his mercy.
8. And then the Lord will disclose these things, and the glory of the Lord and the cloud
will appear, as they were shown in the case of Moses, and as Solomon asked that the place
should be specially consecrated."
9. It was also made clear that being possessed of wisdom Solomon offered sacrifice for the
dedication and completion of the temple.
10. Just as Moses prayed to the Lord, and fire came down from heaven and devoured the
sacrifices, so also Solomon prayed, and the fire came down and consumed the whole burnt
11. And Moses said, "They were consumed because the sin offering had not been
12. Likewise Solomon also kept the eight days.
13. The same things are reported in the records and in the memoirs of Nehemiah, and also
that he founded a library and collected the books about the kings and prophets, and the
writings of David, and letters of kings about votive offerings.
14. In the same way Judas also collected all the books that had been lost on account of
the war which had come upon us, and they are in our possession.
15. So if you have need of them, send people to get them for you.
16. Since, therefore, we are about to celebrate the purification, we write to you. Will
you therefore please keep the days?
17. It is God who has saved all his people, and has returned the inheritance to all, and
the kingship and priesthood and consecration,
18. as he promised through the law. For we have hope in God that he will soon have mercy
upon us and will gather us from everywhere under heaven into his holy place, for he has
rescued us from great evils and has purified the place.
19. The story of Judas Maccabeus and his brothers, and the purification of the great
temple, and the dedication of the altar,
20. and further the wars against Antiochus Epiphanes and his son Eupator,
21. and the appearances which came from heaven to those who strove zealously on behalf of
Judaism, so that though few in number they seized the whole land and pursued the barbarian
22. and recovered the temple famous throughout the world and freed the city and restored
the laws that were about to be abolished, while the Lord with great kindness became
gracious to them --
23. all this, which has been set forth by Jason of Cyrene in five volumes, we shall
attempt to condense into a single book.
24. For considering the flood of numbers involved and the difficulty there is for those
who wish to enter upon the narratives of history because of the mass of material,
25. we have aimed to please those who wish to read, to make it easy for those who are
inclined to memorize, and to profit all readers.
26. For us who have undertaken the toil of abbreviating, it is no light matter but calls
for sweat and loss of sleep,
27. just as it is not easy for one who prepares a banquet and seeks the benefit of others.
However, to secure the gratitude of many we will gladly endure the uncomfortable toil,
28. leaving the responsibility for exact details to the compiler, while devoting our
effort to arriving at the outlines of the condensation.
29. For as the master builder of a new house must be concerned with the whole
construction, while the one who undertakes its painting and decoration has to consider
only what is suitable for its adornment, such in my judgment is the case with us.
30. It is the duty of the original historian to occupy the ground and to discuss matters
from every side and to take trouble with details,
31. but the one who recasts the narrative should be allowed to strive for brevity of
expression and to forego exhaustive treatment.
32. At this point therefore let us begin our narrative, adding only so much to what has
already been said; for it is foolish to lengthen the preface while cutting short the
Chapter 31. While the holy city was inhabited in unbroken peace and the laws were very well
observed because of the piety of the high priest Onias and his hatred of wickedness,
2. it came about that the kings themselves honored the place and glorified the temple with
the finest presents,
3. so that even Seleucus, the king of Asia, defrayed from his own revenues all the
expenses connected with the service of the sacrifices.
4. But a man named Simon, of the tribe of Benjamin, who had been made captain of the
temple, had a disagreement with the high priest about the administration of the city
5. and when he could not prevail over Onias he went to Apollonius of Tarsus, who at that
time was governor of Coelesyria and Phoenicia.
6. He reported to him that the treasury in Jerusalem was full of untold sums of money, so
that the amount of the funds could not be reckoned, and that they did not belong to the
account of the sacrifices, but that it was possible for them to fall under the control of
7. When Apollonius met the king, he told him of the money about which he had been
informed. The king chose Heliodorus, who was in charge of his affairs, and sent him with
commands to effect the removal of the aforesaid money.
8. Heliodorus at once set out on his journey, ostensibly to make a tour of inspection of
the cities of Coelesyria and Phoenicia, but in fact to carry out the king's purpose.
9. When he had arrived at Jerusalem and had been kindly welcomed by the high priest of the
city, he told about the disclosure that had been made and stated why he had come, and he
inquired whether this really was the situation.
10. The high priest explained that there were some deposits belonging to widows and
11. and also some money of Hyrcanus, son of Tobias, a man of very prominent position, and
that it totaled in all four hundred talents of silver and two hundred of gold. To such an
extent the impious Simon had misrepresented the facts.
12. And he said that it was utterly impossible that wrong should be done to those people
who had trusted in the holiness of the place and in the sanctity and inviolability of the
temple which is honored throughout the whole world.
13. But Heliodorus, because of the king's commands which he had, said that this money must
in any case be confiscated for the king's treasury.
14. So he set a day and went in to direct the inspection of these funds. There was no
little distress throughout the whole city.
15. The priests prostrated themselves before the altar in their priestly garments and
called toward heaven upon him who had given the law about deposits, that he should keep
them safe for those who had deposited them.
16. To see the appearance of the high priest was to be wounded at heart, for his face and
the change in his color disclosed the anguish of his soul.
17. For terror and bodily trembling had come over the man, which plainly showed to those
who looked at him the pain lodged in his heart.
18. People also hurried out of their houses in crowds to make a general supplication
because the holy place was about to be brought into contempt.
19. Women, girded with sackcloth under their breasts, thronged the streets. Some of the
maidens who were kept indoors ran together to the gates, and some to the walls, while
others peered out of the windows.
20. And holding up their hands to heaven, they all made entreaty.
21. There was something pitiable in the prostration of the whole populace and the anxiety
of the high priest in his great anguish.
22. While they were calling upon the Almighty Lord that he would keep what had been
entrusted safe and secure for those who had entrusted it,
23. Heliodorus went on with what had been decided.
24. But when he arrived at the treasury with his bodyguard, then and there the Sovereign
of spirits and of all authority caused so great a manifestation that all who had been so
bold as to accompany him were astounded by the power of God, and became faint with terror.
25. For there appeared to them a magnificently caparisoned horse, with a rider of
frightening mien, and it rushed furiously at Heliodorus and struck at him with its front
hoofs. Its rider was seen to have armor and weapons of gold.
26. Two young men also appeared to him, remarkably strong, gloriously beautiful and
splendidly dressed, who stood on each side of him and scourged him continuously,
inflicting many blows on him.
27. When he suddenly fell to the ground and deep darkness came over him, his men took him
up and put him on a stretcher
28. and carried him away, this man who had just entered the aforesaid treasury with a
great retinue and all his bodyguard but was now unable to help himself; and they
recognized clearly the sovereign power of God.
29. While he lay prostrate, speechless because of the divine intervention and deprived of
any hope of recovery,
30. they praised the Lord who had acted marvelously for his own place. And the temple,
which a little while before was full of fear and disturbance, was filled with joy and
gladness, now that the Almighty Lord had appeared.
31. Quickly some of Heliodorus' friends asked Onias to call upon the Most High and to
grant life to one who was lying quite at his last breath.
32. And the high priest, fearing that the king might get the notion that some foul play
had been perpetrated by the Jews with regard to Heliodorus, offered sacrifice for the
33. While the high priest was making the offering of atonement, the same young men
appeared again to Heliodorus dressed in the same clothing, and they stood and said,
"Be very grateful to Onias the high priest, since for his sake the Lord has granted
you your life.
34. And see that you, who have been scourged by heaven, report to all men the majestic
power of God." Having said this they vanished.
35. Then Heliodorus offered sacrifice to the Lord and made very great vows to the Savior
of his life, and having bidden Onias farewell, he marched off with his forces to the king.
36. And he bore testimony to all men of the deeds of the supreme God, which he had seen
with his own eyes.
37. When the king asked Heliodorus what sort of person would be suitable to send on
another mission to Jerusalem, he replied,
38. "If you have any enemy or plotter against your government, send him there, for
you will get him back thoroughly scourged, if he escapes at all, for there certainly is
about the place some power of God.
39. For he who has his dwelling in heaven watches over that place himself and brings it
aid, and he strikes and destroys those who come to do it injury."
40. This was the outcome of the episode of Heliodorus and the protection of the treasury.
Chapter 41. The previously mentioned Simon, who had informed about the money against his own
country, slandered Onias, saying that it was he who had incited Heliodorus and had been
the real cause of the misfortune.
2. He dared to designate as a plotter against the government the man who was the
benefactor of the city, the protector of his fellow countrymen, and a zealot for the laws.
3. When his hatred progressed to such a degree that even murders were committed by one of
Simon's approved agents,
4. Onias recognized that the rivalry was serious and that Apollonius, the son of
Menestheus and governor of Coelesyria and Phoenicia, was intensifying the malice of Simon.
5. So he betook himself to the king, not accusing his fellow citizens but having in view
the welfare, both public and private, of all the people.
6. For he saw that without the king's attention public affairs could not again reach a
peaceful settlement, and that Simon would not stop his folly.
7. When Seleucus died and Antiochus who was called Epiphanes succeeded to the kingdom,
Jason the brother of Onias obtained the high priesthood by corruption,
8. promising the king at an interview three hundred and sixty talents of silver and, from
another source of revenue, eighty talents.
9. In addition to this he promised to pay one hundred and fifty more if permission were
given to establish by his authority a gymnasium and a body of youth for it, and to enrol
the men of Jerusalem as citizens of Antioch.
10. When the king assented and Jason came to office, he at once shifted his countrymen
over to the Greek way of life.
11. He set aside the existing royal concessions to the Jews, secured through John the
father of Eupolemus, who went on the mission to establish friendship and alliance with the
Romans; and he destroyed the lawful ways of living and introduced new customs contrary to
12. For with alacrity he founded a gymnasium right under the citadel, and he induced the
noblest of the young men to wear the Greek hat.
13. There was such an extreme of Hellenization and increase in the adoption of foreign
ways because of the surpassing wickedness of Jason, who was ungodly and no high priest,
14. that the priests were no longer intent upon their service at the altar. Despising the
sanctuary and neglecting the sacrifices, they hastened to take part in the unlawful
proceedings in the wrestling arena after the call to the discus,
15. disdaining the honors prized by their fathers and putting the highest value upon Greek
forms of prestige.
16. For this reason heavy disaster overtook them, and those whose ways of living they
admired and wished to imitate completely became their enemies and punished them.
17. For it is no light thing to show irreverence to the divine laws -- a fact which later
events will make clear.
18. When the quadrennial games were being held at Tyre and the king was present,
19. the vile Jason sent envoys, chosen as being Antiochian citizens from Jerusalem, to
carry three hundred silver drachmas for the sacrifice to Hercules. Those who carried the
money, however, thought best not to use it for sacrifice, because that was inappropriate,
but to expend it for another purpose.
20. So this money was intended by the sender for the sacrifice to Hercules, but by the
decision of its carriers it was applied to the construction of triremes.
21. When Apollonius the son of Menestheus was sent to Egypt for the coronation of
Philometor as king, Antiochus learned that Philometor had become hostile to his
government, and he took measures for his own security. Therefore upon arriving at Joppa he
proceeded to Jerusalem.
22. He was welcomed magnificently by Jason and the city, and ushered in with a blaze of
torches and with shouts. Then he marched into Phoenicia.
23. After a period of three years Jason sent Menelaus, the brother of the previously
mentioned Simon, to carry the money to the king and to complete the records of essential
24. But he, when presented to the king, extolled him with an air of authority, and secured
the high priesthood for himself, outbidding Jason by three hundred talents of silver.
25. After receiving the king's orders he returned, possessing no qualification for the
high priesthood, but having the hot temper of a cruel tyrant and the rage of a savage wild
26. So Jason, who after supplanting his own brother was supplanted by another man, was
driven as a fugitive into the land of Ammon.
27. And Menelaus held the office, but he did not pay regularly any of the money promised
to the king.
28. When Sostratus the captain of the citadel kept requesting payment, for the collection
of the revenue was his responsibility, the two of them were summoned by the king on
account of this issue.
29. Menelaus left his own brother Lysimachus as deputy in the high priesthood, while
Sostratus left Crates, the commander of the Cyprian troops.
30. While such was the state of affairs, it happened that the people of Tarsus and of
Mallus revolted because their cities had been given as a present to Antiochis, the king's
31. So the king went hastily to settle the trouble, leaving Andronicus, a man of high
rank, to act as his deputy.
32. But Menelaus, thinking he had obtained a suitable opportunity, stole some of the gold
vessels of the temple and gave them to Andronicus; other vessels, as it happened, he had
sold to Tyre and the neighboring cities.
33. When Onias became fully aware of these acts he publicly exposed them, having first
withdrawn to a place of sanctuary at Daphne near Antioch.
34. Therefore Menelaus, taking Andronicus aside, urged him to kill Onias. Andronicus came
to Onias, and resorting to treachery offered him sworn pledges and gave him his right
hand, and in spite of his suspicion persuaded Onias to come out from the place of
sanctuary; then, with no regard for justice, he immediately put him out of the way.
35. For this reason not only Jews, but many also of other nations, were grieved and
displeased at the unjust murder of the man.
36. When the king returned from the region of Cilicia, the Jews in the city appealed to
him with regard to the unreasonable murder of Onias, and the Greeks shared their hatred of
37. Therefore Antiochus was grieved at heart and filled with pity, and wept because of the
moderation and good conduct of the deceased;
38. and inflamed with anger, he immediately stripped off the purple robe from Andronicus,
tore off his garments, and led him about the whole city to that very place where he had
committed the outrage against Onias, and there he dispatched the bloodthirsty fellow. The
Lord thus repaid him with the punishment he deserved.
39. When many acts of sacrilege had been committed in the city by Lysimachus with the
connivance of Menelaus, and when report of them had spread abroad, the populace gathered
against Lysimachus, because many of the gold vessels had already been stolen.
40. And since the crowds were becoming aroused and filled with anger, Lysimachus armed
about three thousand men and launched an unjust attack, under the leadership of a certain
Auranus, a man advanced in years and no less advanced in folly.
41. But when the Jews became aware of Lysimachus' attack, some picked up stones, some
blocks of wood, and others took handfuls of the ashes that were lying about, and threw
them in wild confusion at Lysimachus and his men.
42. As a result, they wounded many of them, and killed some, and put them all to flight;
and the temple robber himself they killed close by the treasury.
43. Charges were brought against Menelaus about this incident.
44. When the king came to Tyre, three men sent by the senate presented the case before
45. But Menelaus, already as good as beaten, promised a substantial bribe to Ptolemy son
of Dorymenes to win over the king.
46. Therefore Ptolemy, taking the king aside into a colonnade as if for refreshment,
induced the king to change his mind.
47. Menelaus, the cause of all the evil, he acquitted of the charges against him, while he
sentenced to death those unfortunate men, who would have been freed uncondemned if they
had pleaded even before Scythians.
48. And so those who had spoken for the city and the villages and the holy vessels quickly
suffered the unjust penalty.
49. Therefore even the Tyrians, showing their hatred of the crime, provided magnificently
for their funeral.
50. But Menelaus, because of the cupidity of those in power, remained in office, growing
in wickedness, having become the chief plotter against his fellow citizens.
1. About this time Antiochus made his second invasion of Egypt.
2. And it happened that over all the city, for almost forty days, there appeared
golden-clad horsemen charging through the air, in companies fully armed with lances and
drawn swords --
3. troops of horsemen drawn up, attacks and counterattacks made on this side and on that,
brandishing of shields, massing of spears, hurling of missiles, the flash of golden
trappings, and armor of all sorts.
4. Therefore all men prayed that the apparition might prove to have been a good omen.
5. When a false rumor arose that Antiochus was dead, Jason took no less than a thousand
men and suddenly made an assault upon the city. When the troops upon the wall had been
forced back and at last the city was being taken, Menelaus took refuge in the citadel.
6. But Jason kept relentlessly slaughtering his fellow citizens, not realizing that
success at the cost of one's kindred is the greatest misfortune, but imagining that he was
setting up trophies of victory over enemies and not over fellow countrymen.
7. He did not gain control of the government, however; and in the end got only disgrace
from his conspiracy, and fled again into the country of the Ammonites.
8. Finally he met a miserable end. Accused before Aretas the ruler of the Arabs, fleeing
from city to city, pursued by all men, hated as a rebel against the laws, and abhorred as
the executioner of his country and his fellow citizens, he was cast ashore in Egypt;
9. and he who had driven many from their own country into exile died in exile, having
embarked to go to the Lacedaemonians in hope of finding protection because of their
10. He who had cast out many to lie unburied had no one to mourn for him; he had no
funeral of any sort and no place in the tomb of his fathers.
11. When news of what had happened reached the king, he took it to mean that Judea was in
revolt. So, raging inwardly, he left Egypt and took the city by storm.
12. And he commanded his soldiers to cut down relentlessly every one they met and to slay
those who went into the houses.
13. Then there was killing of young and old, destruction of boys, women, and children, and
slaughter of virgins and infants.
14. Within the total of three days eighty thousand were destroyed, forty thousand in
hand-to-hand fighting; and as many were sold into slavery as were slain.
15. Not content with this, Antiochus dared to enter the most holy temple in all the world,
guided by Menelaus, who had become a traitor both to the laws and to his country.
16. He took the holy vessels with his polluted hands, and swept away with profane hands
the votive offerings which other kings had made to enhance the glory and honor of the
17. Antiochus was elated in spirit, and did not perceive that the Lord was angered for a
little while because of the sins of those who dwelt in the city, and that therefore he was
disregarding the holy place.
18. But if it had not happened that they were involved in many sins, this man would have
been scourged and turned back from his rash act as soon as he came forward, just as
Heliodorus was, whom Seleucus the king sent to inspect the treasury.
19. But the Lord did not choose the nation for the sake of the holy place, but the place
for the sake of the nation.
20. Therefore the place itself shared in the misfortunes that befell the nation and
afterward participated in its benefits; and what was forsaken in the wrath of the Almighty
was restored again in all its glory when the great Lord became reconciled.
21. So Antiochus carried off eighteen hundred talents from the temple, and hurried away to
Antioch, thinking in his arrogance that he could sail on the land and walk on the sea,
because his mind was elated.
22. And he left governors to afflict the people: at Jerusalem, Philip, by birth a Phrygian
and in character more barbarous than the man who appointed him;
23. and at Gerizim, Andronicus; and besides these Menelaus, who lorded it over his fellow
citizens worse than the others did. In his malice toward the Jewish citizens,
24. Antiochus sent Apollonius, the captain of the Mysians, with an army of twenty-two
thousand, and commanded him to slay all the grown men and to sell the women and boys as
25. When this man arrived in Jerusalem, he pretended to be peaceably disposed and waited
until the holy sabbath day; then, finding the Jews not at work, he ordered his men to
parade under arms.
26. He put to the sword all those who came out to see them, then rushed into the city with
his armed men and killed great numbers of people.
27. But Judas Maccabeus, with about nine others, got away to the wilderness, and kept
himself and his companions alive in the mountains as wild animals do; they continued to
live on what grew wild, so that they might not share in the defilement.
1. Not long after this, the king sent an Athenian senator to compel the Jews to forsake
the laws of their fathers and cease to live by the laws of God,
2. and also to pollute the temple in Jerusalem and call it the temple of Olympian Zeus,
and to call the one in Gerizim the temple of Zeus the Friend of Strangers, as did the
people who dwelt in that place.
3. Harsh and utterly grievous was the onslaught of evil.
4. For the temple was filled with debauchery and reveling by the Gentiles, who dallied
with harlots and had intercourse with women within the sacred precincts, and besides
brought in things for sacrifice that were unfit.
5. The altar was covered with abominable offerings which were forbidden by the laws.
6. A man could neither keep the sabbath, nor observe the feasts of his fathers, nor so
much as confess himself to be a Jew.
7. On the monthly celebration of the king's birthday, the Jews were taken, under bitter
constraint, to partake of the sacrifices; and when the feast of Dionysus came, they were
compelled to walk in the procession in honor of Dionysus, wearing wreaths of ivy.
8. At the suggestion of Ptolemy a decree was issued to the neighboring Greek cities, that
they should adopt the same policy toward the Jews and make them partake of the sacrifices,
9. and should slay those who did not choose to change over to Greek customs. One could
see, therefore, the misery that had come upon them.
10. For example, two women were brought in for having circumcised their children. These
women they publicly paraded about the city, with their babies hung at their breasts, then
hurled them down headlong from the wall.
11. Others who had assembled in the caves near by, to observe the seventh day secretly,
were betrayed to Philip and were all burned together, because their piety kept them from
defending themselves, in view of their regard for that most holy day.
12. Now I urge those who read this book not to be depressed by such calamities, but to
recognize that these punishments were designed not to destroy but to discipline our
13. In fact, not to let the impious alone for long, but to punish them immediately, is a
sign of great kindness.
14. For in the case of the other nations the Lord waits patiently to punish them until
they have reached the full measure of their sins; but he does not deal in this way with
15. in order that he may not take vengeance on us afterward when our sins have reached
16. Therefore he never withdraws his mercy from us. Though he disciplines us with
calamities, he does not forsake his own people.
17. Let what we have said serve as a reminder; we must go on briefly with the story.
18. Eleazar, one of the scribes in high position, a man now advanced in age and of noble
presence, was being forced to open his mouth to eat swine's flesh.
19. But he, welcoming death with honor rather than life with pollution, went up to the the
rack of his own accord, spitting out the flesh,
20. as men ought to go who have the courage to refuse things that it is not right to
taste, even for the natural love of life.
21. Those who were in charge of that unlawful sacrifice took the man aside, because of
their long acquaintance with him, and privately urged him to bring meat of his own
providing, proper for him to use, and pretend that he was eating the flesh of the
sacrificial meal which had been commanded by the king,
22. so that by doing this he might be saved from death, and be treated kindly on account
of his old friendship with them.
23. But making a high resolve, worthy of his years and the dignity of his old age and the
gray hairs which he had reached with distinction and his excellent life even from
childhood, and moreover according to the holy God-given law, he declared himself quickly,
telling them to send him to Hades.
24. "Such pretense is not worthy of our time of life," he said, "lest many
of the young should suppose that Eleazar in his ninetieth year has gone over to an alien
25. and through my pretense, for the sake of living a brief moment longer, they should be
led astray because of me, while I defile and disgrace my old age.
26. For even if for the present I should avoid the punishment of men, yet whether I live
or die I shall not escape the hands of the Almighty.
27. Therefore, by manfully giving up my life now, I will show myself worthy of my old age
28. and leave to the young a noble example of how to die a good death willingly and nobly
for the revered and holy laws." When he had said this, he went at once to the rack.
29. And those who a little before had acted toward him with good will now changed to ill
will, because the words he had uttered were in their opinion sheer madness.
30. When he was about to die under the blows, he groaned aloud and said: "It is clear
to the Lord in his holy knowledge that, though I might have been saved from death, I am
enduring terrible sufferings in my body under this beating, but in my soul I am glad to
suffer these things because I fear him."
31. So in this way he died, leaving in his death an example of nobility and a memorial of
courage, not only to the young but to the great body of his nation.
1. It happened also that seven brothers and their mother were arrested and were being
compelled by the king, under torture with whips and cords, to partake of unlawful swine's
2. One of them, acting as their spokesman, said, "What do you intend to ask and learn
from us? For we are ready to die rather than transgress the laws of our fathers."
3. The king fell into a rage, and gave orders that pans and caldrons be heated.
4. These were heated immediately, and he commanded that the tongue of their spokesman be
cut out and that they scalp him and cut off his hands and feet, while the rest of the
brothers and the mother looked on.
5. When he was utterly helpless, the king ordered them to take him to the fire, still
breathing, and to fry him in a pan. The smoke from the pan spread widely, but the brothers
and their mother encouraged one another to die nobly, saying,
6. "The Lord God is watching over us and in truth has compassion on us, as Moses
declared in his song which bore witness against the people to their faces, when he said,
`And he will have compassion on his servants.'"
7. After the first brother had died in this way, they brought forward the second for their
sport. They tore off the skin of his head with the hair, and asked him, "Will you eat
rather than have your body punished limb by limb?"
8. He replied in the language of his fathers, and said to them, "No." Therefore
he in turn underwent tortures as the first brother had done.
9. And when he was at his last breath, he said, "You accursed wretch, you dismiss us
from this present life, but the King of the universe will raise us up to an everlasting
renewal of life, because we have died for his laws."
10. After him, the third was the victim of their sport. When it was demanded, he quickly
put out his tongue and courageously stretched forth his hands,
11. and said nobly, "I got these from Heaven, and because of his laws I disdain them,
and from him I hope to get them back again."
12. As a result the king himself and those with him were astonished at the young man's
spirit, for he regarded his sufferings as nothing.
13. When he too had died, they maltreated and tortured the fourth in the same way.
14. And when he was near death, he said, "One cannot but choose to die at the hands
of men and to cherish the hope that God gives of being raised again by him. But for you
there will be no resurrection to life!"
15. Next they brought forward the fifth and maltreated him.
16. But he looked at the king, and said, "Because you have authority among men,
mortal though you are, you do what you please. But do not think that God has forsaken our
17. Keep on, and see how his mighty power will torture you and your descendants!"
18. After him they brought forward the sixth. And when he was about to die, he said,
"Do not deceive yourself in vain. For we are suffering these things on our own
account, because of our sins against our own God. Therefore astounding things have
19. But do not think that you will go unpunished for having tried to fight against
20. The mother was especially admirable and worthy of honorable memory. Though she saw her
seven sons perish within a single day, she bore it with good courage because of her hope
in the Lord.
21. She encouraged each of them in the language of their fathers. Filled with a noble
spirit, she fired her woman's reasoning with a man's courage, and said to them,
22. "I do not know how you came into being in my womb. It was not I who gave you life
and breath, nor I who set in order the elements within each of you.
23. Therefore the Creator of the world, who shaped the beginning of man and devised the
origin of all things, will in his mercy give life and breath back to you again, since you
now forget yourselves for the sake of his laws."
24. Antiochus felt that he was being treated with contempt, and he was suspicious of her
reproachful tone. The youngest brother being still alive, Antiochus not only appealed to
him in words, but promised with oaths that he would make him rich and enviable if he would
turn from the ways of his fathers, and that he would take him for his friend and entrust
him with public affairs.
25. Since the young man would not listen to him at all, the king called the mother to him
and urged her to advise the youth to save himself.
26. After much urging on his part, she undertook to persuade her son.
27. But, leaning close to him, she spoke in their native tongue as follows, deriding the
cruel tyrant: "My son, have pity on me. I carried you nine months in my womb, and
nursed you for three years, and have reared you and brought you up to this point in your
life, and have taken care of you.
28. I beseech you, my child, to look at the heaven and the earth and see everything that
is in them, and recognize that God did not make them out of things that existed. Thus also
mankind comes into being.
29. Do not fear this butcher, but prove worthy of your brothers. Accept death, so that in
God's mercy I may get you back again with your brothers."
30. While she was still speaking, the young man said, "What are you waiting for? I
will not obey the king's command, but I obey the command of the law that was given to our
fathers through Moses.
31. But you, who have contrived all sorts of evil against the Hebrews, will certainly not
escape the hands of God.
32. For we are suffering because of our own sins.
33. And if our living Lord is angry for a little while, to rebuke and discipline us, he
will again be reconciled with his own servants.
34. But you, unholy wretch, you most defiled of all men, do not be elated in vain and
puffed up by uncertain hopes, when you raise your hand against the children of heaven.
35. You have not yet escaped the judgment of the almighty, all-seeing God.
36. For our brothers after enduring a brief suffering have drunk of everflowing life under
God's covenant; but you, by the judgment of God, will receive just punishment for your
37. I, like my brothers, give up body and life for the laws of our fathers, appealing to
God to show mercy soon to our nation and by afflictions and plagues to make you confess
that he alone is God,
38. and through me and my brothers to bring to an end the wrath of the Almighty which has
justly fallen on our whole nation."
39. The king fell into a rage, and handled him worse than the others, being exasperated at
40. So he died in his integrity, putting his whole trust in the Lord.
41. Last of all, the mother died, after her sons.
42. Let this be enough, then, about the eating of sacrifices and the extreme tortures.
1. But Judas, who was also called Maccabeus, and his companions secretly entered the
villages and summoned their kinsmen and enlisted those who had continued in the Jewish
faith, and so they gathered about six thousand men.
2. They besought the Lord to look upon the people who were oppressed by all, and to have
pity on the temple which had been profaned by ungodly men,
3. and to have mercy on the city which was being destroyed and about to be leveled to the
ground, and to hearken to the blood that cried out to him,
4. and to remember also the lawless destruction of the innocent babies and the blasphemies
committed against his name, and to show his hatred of evil.
5. As soon as Maccabeus got his army organized, the Gentiles could not withstand him, for
the wrath of the Lord had turned to mercy.
6. Coming without warning, he would set fire to towns and villages. He captured strategic
positions and put to flight not a few of the enemy.
7. He found the nights most advantageous for such attacks. And talk of his valor spread
8. When Philip saw that the man was gaining ground little by little, and that he was
pushing ahead with more frequent successes, he wrote to Ptolemy, the governor of
Coelesyria and Phoenicia, for aid to the king's government.
9. And Ptolemy promptly appointed Nicanor the son of Patroclus, one of the king's chief
friends, and sent him, in command of no fewer than twenty thousand Gentiles of all
nations, to wipe out the whole race of Judea. He associated with him Gorgias, a general
and a man of experience in military service.
10. Nicanor determined to make up for the king the tribute due to the Romans, two thousand
talents, by selling the captured Jews into slavery.
11. And he immediately sent to the cities on the seacoast, inviting them to buy Jewish
slaves and promising to hand over ninety slaves for a talent, not expecting the judgment
from the Almighty that was about to overtake him.
12. Word came to Judas concerning Nicanor's invasion; and when he told his companions of
the arrival of the army,
13. those who were cowardly and distrustful of God's justice ran off and got away.
14. Others sold all their remaining property, and at the same time besought the Lord to
rescue those who had been sold by the ungodly Nicanor before he ever met them,
15. if not for their own sake, yet for the sake of the covenants made with their fathers,
and because he had called them by his holy and glorious name.
16. But Maccabeus gathered his men together, to the number six thousand, and exhorted them
not to be frightened by the enemy and not to fear the great multitude of Gentiles who were
wickedly coming against them, but to fight nobly,
17. keeping before their eyes the lawless outrage which the Gentiles had committed against
the holy place, and the torture of the derided city, and besides, the overthrow of their
ancestral way of life.
18. "For they trust to arms and acts of daring," he said, "but we trust in
the Almighty God, who is able with a single nod to strike down those who are coming
against us and even the whole world."
19. Moreover, he told them of the times when help came to their ancestors; both the time
of Sennacherib, when one hundred and eighty-five thousand perished,
20. and the time of the battle with the Galatians that took place in Babylonia, when eight
thousand in all went into the affair, with four thousand Macedonians; and when the
Macedonians were hard pressed, the eight thousand, by the help that came to them from
heaven, destroyed one hundred and twenty thousand and took much booty.
21. With these words he filled them with good courage and made them ready to die for their
laws and their country; then he divided his army into four parts.
22. He appointed his brothers also, Simon and Joseph and Jonathan, each to command a
division, putting fifteen hundred men under each.
23. Besides, he appointed Eleazar to read aloud from the holy book, and gave the
watchword, "God's help"; then, leading the first division himself, he joined
battle with Nicanor.
24. With the Almighty as their ally, they slew more than nine thousand of the enemy, and
wounded and disabled most of Nicanor's army, and forced them all to flee.
25. They captured the money of those who had come to buy them as slaves. After pursuing
them for some distance, they were obliged to return because the hour was late.
26. For it was the day before the sabbath, and for that reason they did not continue their
27. And when they had collected the arms of the enemy and stripped them of their spoils,
they kept the sabbath, giving great praise and thanks to the Lord, who had preserved them
for that day and allotted it to them as the beginning of mercy.
28. After the sabbath they gave some of the spoils to those who had been tortured and to
the widows and orphans, and distributed the rest among themselves and their children.
29. When they had done this, they made common supplication and besought the merciful Lord
to be wholly reconciled with his servants.
30. In encounters with the forces of Timothy and Bacchides they killed more than twenty
thousand of them and got possession of some exceedingly high strongholds, and they divided
very much plunder, giving to those who had been tortured and to the orphans and widows,
and also to the aged, shares equal to their own.
31. Collecting the arms of the enemy, they stored them all carefully in strategic places,
and carried the rest of the spoils to Jerusalem.
32. They killed the commander of Timothy's forces, a most unholy man, and one who had
greatly troubled the Jews.
33. While they were celebrating the victory in the city of their fathers, they burned
those who had set fire to the sacred gates, Callisthenes and some others, who had fled
into one little house; so these received the proper recompense for their impiety.
34. The thrice-accursed Nicanor, who had brought the thousand merchants to buy the Jews,
35. having been humbled with the help of the Lord by opponents whom he regarded as of the
least account, took off his splendid uniform and made his way alone like a runaway slave
across the country till he reached Antioch, having succeeded chiefly in the destruction of
his own army!
36. Thus he who had undertaken to secure tribute for the Romans by the capture of the
people of Jerusalem proclaimed that the Jews had a Defender, and that therefore the Jews
were invulnerable, because they followed the laws ordained by him.
Chapter 91. About that time, as it happened, Antiochus had retreated in disorder from the
region of Persia.
2. For he had entered the city called Persepolis, and attempted to rob the temples and
control the city. Therefore the people rushed to the rescue with arms, and Antiochus and
his men were defeated, with the result that Antiochus was put to flight by the inhabitants
and beat a shameful retreat.
3. While he was in Ecbatana, news came to him of what had happened to Nicanor and the
forces of Timothy.
4. Transported with rage, he conceived the idea of turning upon the Jews the injury done
by those who had put him to flight; so he ordered his charioteer to drive without stopping
until he completed the journey. But the judgment of heaven rode with him! For in his
arrogance he said, "When I get there I will make Jerusalem a cemetery of Jews."
5. But the all-seeing Lord, the God of Israel, struck him an incurable and unseen blow. As
soon as he ceased speaking he was seized with a pain in his bowels for which there was no
relief and with sharp internal tortures --
6. and that very justly, for he had tortured the bowels of others with many and strange
7. Yet he did not in any way stop his insolence, but was even more filled with arrogance,
breathing fire in his rage against the Jews, and giving orders to hasten the journey. And
so it came about that he fell out of his chariot as it was rushing along, and the fall was
so hard as to torture every limb of his body.
8. Thus he who had just been thinking that he could command the waves of the sea, in his
superhuman arrogance, and imagining that he could weigh the high mountains in a balance,
was brought down to earth and carried in a litter, making the power of God manifest to
9. And so the ungodly man's body swarmed with worms, and while he was still living in
anguish and pain, his flesh rotted away, and because of his stench the whole army felt
revulsion at his decay.
10. Because of his intolerable stench no one was able to carry the man who a little while
before had thought that he could touch the stars of heaven.
11. Then it was that, broken in spirit, he began to lose much of his arrogance and to come
to his senses under the scourge of God, for he was tortured with pain every moment.
12. And when he could not endure his own stench, he uttered these words: "It is right
to be subject to God, and no mortal should think that he is equal to God."
13. Then the abominable fellow made a vow to the Lord, who would no longer have mercy on
14. that the holy city, which he was hastening to level to the ground and to make a
cemetery, he was now declaring to be free;
15. and the Jews, whom he had not considered worth burying but had planned to throw out
with their children to the beasts, for the birds to pick, he would make, all of them,
equal to citizens of Athens;
16. and the holy sanctuary, which he had formerly plundered, he would adorn with the
finest offerings; and the holy vessels he would give back, all of them, many times over;
and the expenses incurred for the sacrifices he would provide from his own revenues;
17. and in addition to all this he also would become a Jew and would visit every inhabited
place to proclaim the power of God.
18. But when his sufferings did not in any way abate, for the judgment of God had justly
come upon him, he gave up all hope for himself and wrote to the Jews the following letter,
in the form of a supplication. This was its content:
19. "To his worthy Jewish citizens, Antiochus their king and general sends hearty
greetings and good wishes for their health and prosperity.
20. If you and your children are well and your affairs are as you wish, I am glad. As my
hope is in heaven,
21. I remember with affection your esteem and good will. On my way back from the region of
Persia I suffered an annoying illness, and I have deemed it necessary to take thought for
the general security of all.
22. I do not despair of my condition, for I have good hope of recovering from my illness,
23. but I observed that my father, on the occasions when he made expeditions into the
upper country, appointed his successor,
24. so that, if anything unexpected happened or any unwelcome news came, the people
throughout the realm would not be troubled, for they would know to whom the government was
25. Moreover, I understand how the princes along the borders and the neighbors to my
kingdom keep watching for opportunities and waiting to see what will happen. So I have
appointed my son Antiochus to be king, whom I have often entrusted and commended to most
of you when I hastened off to the upper provinces; and I have written to him what is
26. I therefore urge and beseech you to remember the public and private services rendered
to you and to maintain your present good will, each of you, toward me and my son.
27. For I am sure that he will follow my policy and will treat you with moderation and
28. So the murderer and blasphemer, having endured the more intense suffering, such as he
had inflicted on others, came to the end of his life by a most pitiable fate, among the
mountains in a strange land.
29. And Philip, one of his courtiers, took his body home; then, fearing the son of
Antiochus, he betook himself to Ptolemy Philometor in Egypt.
1. Now Maccabeus and his followers, the Lord leading them on, recovered the temple and the
2. and they tore down the altars which had been built in the public square by the
foreigners, and also destroyed the sacred precincts.
3. They purified the sanctuary, and made another altar of sacrifice; then, striking fire
out of flint, they offered sacrifices, after a lapse of two years, and they burned incense
and lighted lamps and set out the bread of the Presence.
4. And when they had done this, they fell prostrate and besought the Lord that they might
never again fall into such misfortunes, but that, if they should ever sin, they might be
disciplined by him with forbearance and not be handed over to blasphemous and barbarous
5. It happened that on the same day on which the sanctuary had been profaned by the
foreigners, the purification of the sanctuary took place, that is, on the twenty-fifth day
of the same month, which was Chislev.
6. And they celebrated it for eight days with rejoicing, in the manner of the feast of
booths, remembering how not long before, during the feast of booths, they had been
wandering in the mountains and caves like wild animals.
7. Therefore bearing ivy-wreathed wands and beautiful branches and also fronds of palm,
they offered hymns of thanksgiving to him who had given success to the purifying of his
own holy place.
8. They decreed by public ordinance and vote that the whole nation of the Jews should
observe these days every year.
9. Such then was the end of Antiochus, who was called Epiphanes.
10. Now we will tell what took place under Antiochus Eupator, who was the son of that
ungodly man, and will give a brief summary of the principal calamities of the wars.
11. This man, when he succeeded to the kingdom, appointed one Lysias to have charge of the
government and to be chief governor of Coelesyria and Phoenicia.
12. Ptolemy, who was called Macron, took the lead in showing justice to the Jews because
of the wrong that had been done to them, and attempted to maintain peaceful relations with
13. As a result he was accused before Eupator by the king's friends. He heard himself
called a traitor at every turn, because he had abandoned Cyprus, which Philometor had
entrusted to him, and had gone over to Antiochus Epiphanes. Unable to command the respect
due his office, he took poison and ended his life.
14. When Gorgias became governor of the region, he maintained a force of mercenaries, and
at every turn kept on warring against the Jews.
15. Besides this, the Idumeans, who had control of important strongholds, were harassing
the Jews; they received those who were banished from Jerusalem, and endeavored to keep up
16. But Maccabeus and his men, after making solemn supplication and beseeching God to
fight on their side, rushed to the strongholds of the Idumeans.
17. Attacking them vigorously, they gained possession of the places, and beat off all who
fought upon the wall, and slew those whom they encountered, killing no fewer than twenty
18. When no less than nine thousand took refuge in two very strong towers well equipped to
withstand a siege,
19. Maccabeus left Simon and Joseph, and also Zacchaeus and his men, a force sufficient to
besiege them; and he himself set off for places where he was more urgently needed.
20. But the men with Simon, who were money-hungry, were bribed by some of those who were
in the towers, and on receiving seventy thousand drachmas let some of them slip away.
21. When word of what had happened came to Maccabeus, he gathered the leaders of the
people, and accused these men of having sold their brethren for money by setting their
enemies free to fight against them.
22. Then he slew these men who had turned traitor, and immediately captured the two
23. Having success at arms in everything he undertook, he destroyed more than twenty
thousand in the two strongholds.
24. Now Timothy, who had been defeated by the Jews before, gathered a tremendous force of
mercenaries and collected the cavalry from Asia in no small number. He came on, intending
to take Judea by storm.
25. As he drew near, Maccabeus and his men sprinkled dust upon their heads and girded
their loins with sackcloth, in supplication to God.
26. Falling upon the steps before the altar, they besought him to be gracious to them and
to be an enemy to their enemies and an adversary to their adversaries, as the law
27. And rising from their prayer they took up their arms and advanced a considerable
distance from the city; and when they came near to the enemy they halted.
28. Just as dawn was breaking, the two armies joined battle, the one having as pledge of
success and victory not only their valor but their reliance upon the Lord, while the other
made rage their leader in the fight.
29. When the battle became fierce, there appeared to the enemy from heaven five
resplendent men on horses with golden bridles, and they were leading the Jews.
30. Surrounding Maccabeus and protecting him with their own armor and weapons, they kept
him from being wounded. And they showered arrows and thunderbolts upon the enemy, so that,
confused and blinded, they were thrown into disorder and cut to pieces.
31. Twenty thousand five hundred were slaughtered, besides six hundred horsemen.
32. Timothy himself fled to a stronghold called Gazara, especially well garrisoned, where
Chaereas was commander.
33. Then Maccabeus and his men were glad, and they besieged the fort for four days.
34. The men within, relying on the strength of the place, blasphemed terribly and hurled
out wicked words.
35. But at dawn of the fifth day, twenty young men in the army of Maccabeus, fired with
anger because of the blasphemies, bravely stormed the wall and with savage fury cut down
every one they met.
36. Others who came up in the same way wheeled around against the defenders and set fire
to the towers; they kindled fires and burned the blasphemers alive. Others broke open the
gates and let in the rest of the force, and they occupied the city.
37. They killed Timothy, who was hidden in a cistern, and his brother Chaereas, and
38. When they had accomplished these things, with hymns and thanksgivings they blessed the
Lord who shows great kindness to Israel and gives them the victory.
1. Very soon after this, Lysias, the king's guardian and kinsman, who was in charge of the
government, being vexed at what had happened,
2. gathered about eighty thousand men and all his cavalry and came against the Jews. He
intended to make the city a home for Greeks,
3. and to levy tribute on the temple as he did on the sacred places of the other nations,
and to put up the high priesthood for sale every year.
4. He took no account whatever of the power of God, but was elated with his ten thousands
of infantry, and his thousands of cavalry, and his eighty elephants.
5. Invading Judea, he approached Beth-zur, which was a fortified place about five leagues
from Jerusalem, and pressed it hard.
6. When Maccabeus and his men got word that Lysias was besieging the strongholds, they and
all the people, with lamentations and tears, besought the Lord to send a good angel to
7. Maccabeus himself was the first to take up arms, and he urged the others to risk their
lives with him to aid their brethren. Then they eagerly rushed off together.
8. And there, while they were still near Jerusalem, a horseman appeared at their head,
clothed in white and brandishing weapons of gold.
9. And they all together praised the merciful God, and were strengthened in heart, ready
to assail not only men but the wildest beasts or walls of iron.
10. They advanced in battle order, having their heavenly ally, for the Lord had mercy on
11. They hurled themselves like lions against the enemy, and slew eleven thousand of them
and sixteen hundred horsemen, and forced all the rest to flee.
12. Most of them got away stripped and wounded, and Lysias himself escaped by disgraceful
13. And as he was not without intelligence, he pondered over the defeat which had befallen
him, and realized that the Hebrews were invincible because the mighty God fought on their
side. So he sent to them
14. and persuaded them to settle everything on just terms, promising that he would
persuade the king, constraining him to be their friend.
15. Maccabeus, having regard for the common good, agreed to all that Lysias urged. For the
king granted every request in behalf of the Jews which Maccabeus delivered to Lysias in
16. The letter written to the Jews by Lysias was to this effect: "Lysias to the
people of the Jews, greeting.
17. John and Absalom, who were sent by you, have delivered your signed communication and
have asked about the matters indicated therein.
18. I have informed the king of everything that needed to be brought before him, and he
has agreed to what was possible.
19. If you will maintain your good will toward the government, I will endeavor for the
future to help promote your welfare.
20. And concerning these matters and their details, I have ordered these men and my
representatives to confer with you.
21. Farewell. The one hundred and forty-eighth year, Dioscorinthius twenty-fourth."
22. The king's letter ran thus: "King Antiochus to his brother Lysias, greeting.
23. Now that our father has gone on to the gods, we desire that the subjects of the
kingdom be undisturbed in caring for their own affairs.
24. We have heard that the Jews do not consent to our father's change to Greek customs but
prefer their own way of living and ask that their own customs be allowed them.
25. Accordingly, since we choose that this nation also be free from disturbance, our
decision is that their temple be restored to them and that they live according to the
customs of their ancestors.
26. You will do well, therefore, to send word to them and give them pledges of friendship,
so that they may know our policy and be of good cheer and go on happily in the conduct of
their own affairs."
27. To the nation the king's letter was as follows: "King Antiochus to the senate of
the Jews and to the other Jews, greeting.
28. If you are well, it is as we desire. We also are in good health.
29. Menelaus has informed us that you wish to return home and look after your own affairs.
30. Therefore those who go home by the thirtieth day of Xanthicus will have our pledge of
friendship and full permission
31. for the Jews to enjoy their own food and laws, just as formerly, and none of them
shall be molested in any way for what he may have done in ignorance.
32. And I have also sent Menelaus to encourage you.
33. Farewell. The one hundred and forty-eighth year, Xanthicus fifteenth."
34. The Romans also sent them a letter, which read thus: "Quintus Memmius and Titus
Manius, envoys of the Romans, to the people of the Jews, greeting.
35. With regard to what Lysias the kinsman of the king has granted you, we also give
36. But as to the matters which he decided are to be referred to the king, as soon as you
have considered them, send some one promptly, so that we may make proposals appropriate
for you. For we are on our way to Antioch.
37. Therefore make haste and send some men, so that we may have your judgment.
38. Farewell. The one hundred and forty-eighth year, Xanthicus fifteenth."
Chapter 121. When this agreement had been reached, Lysias returned to the king, and the Jews
went about their farming.
2. But some of the governors in various places, Timothy and Apollonius the son of
Gennaeus, as well as Hieronymus and Demophon, and in addition to these Nicanor the
governor of Cyprus, would not let them live quietly and in peace.
3. And some men of Joppa did so ungodly a deed as this: they invited the Jews who lived
among them to embark, with their wives and children, on boats which they had provided, as
though there were no ill will to the Jews;
4. and this was done by public vote of the city. And when they accepted, because they
wished to live peaceably and suspected nothing, the men of Joppa took them out to sea and
drowned them, not less than two hundred.
5. When Judas heard of the cruelty visited on his countrymen, he gave orders to his men
6. and, calling upon God the righteous Judge, attacked the murderers of his brethren. He
set fire to the harbor by night, and burned the boats, and massacred those who had taken
7. Then, because the city's gates were closed, he withdrew, intending to come again and
root out the whole community of Joppa.
8. But learning that the men in Jamnia meant in the same way to wipe out the Jews who were
living among them,
9. he attacked the people of Jamnia by night and set fire to the harbor and the fleet, so
that the glow of the light was seen in Jerusalem, thirty miles distant.
10. When they had gone more than a mile from there, on their march against Timothy, not
less than five thousand Arabs with five hundred horsemen attacked them.
11. After a hard fight Judas and his men won the victory, by the help of God. The defeated
nomads besought Judas to grant them pledges of friendship, promising to give him cattle
and to help his people in all other ways.
12. Judas, thinking that they might really be useful in many ways, agreed to make peace
with them; and after receiving his pledges they departed to their tents.
13. He also attacked a certain city which was strongly fortified with earthworks and
walls, and inhabited by all sorts of Gentiles. Its name was Caspin.
14. And those who were within, relying on the strength of the walls and on their supply of
provisions, behaved most insolently toward Judas and his men, railing at them and even
blaspheming and saying unholy things.
15. But Judas and his men, calling upon the great Sovereign of the world, who without
battering-rams or engines of war overthrew Jericho in the days of Joshua, rushed furiously
upon the walls.
16. They took the city by the will of God, and slaughtered untold numbers, so that the
adjoining lake, a quarter of a mile wide, appeared to be running over with blood.
17. When they had gone ninety-five miles from there, they came to Charax, to the Jews who
are called Toubiani.
18. They did not find Timothy in that region, for he had by then departed from the region
without accomplishing anything, though in one place he had left a very strong garrison.
19. Dositheus and Sosipater, who were captains under Maccabeus, marched out and destroyed
those whom Timothy had left in the stronghold, more than ten thousand men.
20. But Maccabeus arranged his army in divisions, set men in command of the divisions, and
hastened after Timothy, who had with him a hundred and twenty thousand infantry and two
thousand five hundred cavalry.
21. When Timothy learned of the approach of Judas, he sent off the women and the children
and also the baggage to a place called Carnaim; for that place was hard to besiege and
difficult of access because of the narrowness of all the approaches.
22. But when Judas' first division appeared, terror and fear came over the enemy at the
manifestation to them of him who sees all things; and they rushed off in flight and were
swept on, this way and that, so that often they were injured by their own men and pierced
by the points of their swords.
23. And Judas pressed the pursuit with the utmost vigor, putting the sinners to the sword,
and destroyed as many as thirty thousand men.
24. Timothy himself fell into the hands of Dositheus and Sosipater and their men. With
great guile he besought them to let him go in safety, because he held the parents of most
of them and the brothers of some and no consideration would be shown them.
25. And when with many words he had confirmed his solemn promise to restore them unharmed,
they let him go, for the sake of saving their brethren.
26. Then Judas marched against Carnaim and the temple of Atargatis, and slaughtered
twenty-five thousand people.
27. After the rout and destruction of these, he marched also against Ephron, a fortified
city where Lysias dwelt with multitudes of people of all nationalities. Stalwart young men
took their stand before the walls and made a vigorous defense; and great stores of war
engines and missiles were there.
28. But the Jews called upon the Sovereign who with power shatters the might of his
enemies, and they got the city into their hands, and killed as many as twenty-five
thousand of those who were within it.
29. Setting out from there, they hastened to Scythopolis, which is seventy-five miles from
30. But when the Jews who dwelt there bore witness to the good will which the people of
Scythopolis had shown them and their kind treatment of them in times of misfortune,
31. they thanked them and exhorted them to be well disposed to their race in the future
also. Then they went up to Jerusalem, as the feast of weeks was close at hand.
32. After the feast called Pentecost, they hastened against Gorgias, the governor of
33. And he came out with three thousand infantry and four hundred cavalry.
34. When they joined battle, it happened that a few of the Jews fell.
35. But a certain Dositheus, one of Bacenor's men, who was on horseback and was a strong
man, caught hold of Gorgias, and grasping his cloak was dragging him off by main strength,
wishing to take the accursed man alive, when one of the Thracian horsemen bore down upon
him and cut off his arm; so Gorgias escaped and reached Marisa.
36. As Esdris and his men had been fighting for a long time and were weary, Judas called
upon the Lord to show himself their ally and leader in the battle.
37. In the language of their fathers he raised the battle cry, with hymns; then he charged
against Gorgias' men when they were not expecting it, and put them to flight.
38. Then Judas assembled his army and went to the city of Adullam. As the seventh day was
coming on, they purified themselves according to the custom, and they kept the sabbath
39. On the next day, as by that time it had become necessary, Judas and his men went to
take up the bodies of the fallen and to bring them back to lie with their kinsmen in the
sepulchres of their fathers.
40. Then under the tunic of every one of the dead they found sacred tokens of the idols of
Jamnia, which the law forbids the Jews to wear. And it became clear to all that this was
why these men had fallen.
41. So they all blessed the ways of the Lord, the righteous Judge, who reveals the things
that are hidden;
42. and they turned to prayer, beseeching that the sin which had been committed might be
wholly blotted out. And the noble Judas exhorted the people to keep themselves free from
sin, for they had seen with their own eyes what had happened because of the sin of those
who had fallen.
43. He also took up a collection, man by man, to the amount of two thousand drachmas of
silver, and sent it to Jerusalem to provide for a sin offering. In doing this he acted
very well and honorably, taking account of the resurrection.
44. For if he were not expecting that those who had fallen would rise again, it would have
been superfluous and foolish to pray for the dead.
45. But if he was looking to the splendid reward that is laid up for those who fall asleep
in godliness, it was a holy and pious thought. Therefore he made atonement for the dead,
that they might be delivered from their sin.
Chapter 131. In the one hundred and forty-ninth year word came to Judas and his men that
Antiochus Eupator was coming with a great army against Judea,
2. and with him Lysias, his guardian, who had charge of the government. Each of them had a
Greek force of one hundred and ten thousand infantry, five thousand three hundred cavalry,
twenty-two elephants, and three hundred chariots armed with scythes.
3. Menelaus also joined them and with utter hypocrisy urged Antiochus on, not for the sake
of his country's welfare, but because he thought that he would be established in office.
4. But the King of kings aroused the anger of Antiochus against the scoundrel; and when
Lysias informed him that this man was to blame for all the trouble, he ordered them to
take him to Beroea and to put him to death by the method which is the custom in that
5. For there is a tower in that place, fifty cubits high, full of ashes, and it has a rim
running around it which on all sides inclines precipitously into the ashes.
6. There they all push to destruction any man guilty of sacrilege or notorious for other
7. By such a fate it came about that Menelaus the lawbreaker died, without even burial in
8. And this was eminently just; because he had committed many sins against the altar whose
fire and ashes were holy, he met his death in ashes.
9. The king with barbarous arrogance was coming to show the Jews things far worse than
those that had been done in his father's time.
10. But when Judas heard of this, he ordered the people to call upon the Lord day and
night, now if ever to help those who were on the point of being deprived of the law and
their country and the holy temple,
11. and not to let the people who had just begun to revive fall into the hands of the
12. When they had all joined in the same petition and had besought the merciful Lord with
weeping and fasting and lying prostrate for three days without ceasing, Judas exhorted
them and ordered them to stand ready.
13. After consulting privately with the elders, he determined to march out and decide the
matter by the help of God before the king's army could enter Judea and get possession of
14. So, committing the decision to the Creator of the world and exhorting his men to fight
nobly to the death for the laws, temple, city, country, and commonwealth, he pitched his
camp near Modein.
15. He gave his men the watchword, "God's victory," and with a picked force of
the bravest young men, he attacked the king's pavilion at night and slew as many as two
thousand men in the camp. He stabbed the leading elephant and its rider.
16. In the end they filled the camp with terror and confusion and withdrew in triumph.
17. This happened, just as day was dawning, because the Lord's help protected him.
18. The king, having had a taste of the daring of the Jews, tried strategy in attacking
19. He advanced against Beth-zur, a strong fortress of the Jews, was turned back, attacked
again, and was defeated.
20. Judas sent in to the garrison whatever was necessary.
21. But Rhodocus, a man from the ranks of the Jews, gave secret information to the enemy;
he was sought for, caught, and put in prison.
22. The king negotiated a second time with the people in Beth-zur, gave pledges, received
theirs, withdrew, attacked Judas and his men, was defeated;
23. he got word that Philip, who had been left in charge of the government, had revolted
in Antioch; he was dismayed, called in the Jews, yielded and swore to observe all their
rights, settled with them and offered sacrifice, honored the sanctuary and showed
generosity to the holy place.
24. He received Maccabeus, left Hegemonides as governor from Ptolemais to Gerar,
25. and went to Ptolemais. The people of Ptolemais were indignant over the treaty; in fact
they were so angry that they wanted to annul its terms.
26. Lysias took the public platform, made the best possible defense, convinced them,
appeased them, gained their good will, and set out for Antioch. This is how the king's
attack and withdrawal turned out.
1. Three years later, word came to Judas and his men that Demetrius, the son of Seleucus,
had sailed into the harbor of Tripolis with a strong army and a fleet,
2. and had taken possession of the country, having made away with Antiochus and his
3. Now a certain Alcimus, who had formerly been high priest but had wilfully defiled
himself in the times of separation, realized that there was no way for him to be safe or
to have access again to the holy altar,
4. and went to King Demetrius in about the one hundred and fifty-first year, presenting to
him a crown of gold and a palm, and besides these some of the customary olive branches
from the temple. During that day he kept quiet.
5. But he found an opportunity that furthered his mad purpose when he was invited by
Demetrius to a meeting of the council and was asked about the disposition and intentions
of the Jews. He answered:
6. "Those of the Jews who are called Hasideans, whose leader is Judas Maccabeus, are
keeping up war and stirring up sedition, and will not let the kingdom attain tranquillity.
7. Therefore I have laid aside my ancestral glory -- I mean the high priesthood -- and
have now come here,
8. first because I am genuinely concerned for the interests of the king, and second
because I have regard also for my fellow citizens. For through the folly of those whom I
have mentioned our whole nation is now in no small misfortune.
9. Since you are acquainted, O king, with the details of this matter, deign to take
thought for our country and our hard-pressed nation with the gracious kindness which you
show to all.
10. For as long as Judas lives, it is impossible for the government to find peace."
11. When he had said this, the rest of the king's friends, who were hostile to Judas,
quickly inflamed Demetrius still more.
12. And he immediately chose Nicanor, who had been in command of the elephants, appointed
him governor of Judea, and sent him off.
13. with orders to kill Judas and scatter his men, and to set up Alcimus as high priest of
the greatest temple.
14. And the Gentiles throughout Judea, who had fled before Judas, flocked to join Nicanor,
thinking that the misfortunes and calamities of the Jews would mean prosperity for
15. When the Jews heard of Nicanor's coming and the gathering of the Gentiles, they
sprinkled dust upon their heads and prayed to him who established his own people for ever
and always upholds his own heritage by manifesting himself.
16. At the command of the leader, they set out from there immediately and engaged them in
battle at a village called Dessau.
17. Simon, the brother of Judas, had encountered Nicanor, but had been temporarily checked
because of the sudden consternation created by the enemy.
18. Nevertheless Nicanor, hearing of the valor of Judas and his men and their courage in
battle for their country, shrank from deciding the issue by bloodshed.
19. Therefore he sent Posidonius and Theodotus and Mattathias to give and receive pledges
20. When the terms had been fully considered, and the leader had informed the people, and
it had appeared that they were of one mind, they agreed to the covenant.
21. And the leaders set a day on which to meet by themselves. A chariot came forward from
each army; seats of honor were set in place;
22. Judas posted armed men in readiness at key places to prevent sudden treachery on the
part of the enemy; they held the proper conference.
23. Nicanor stayed on in Jerusalem and did nothing out of the way, but dismissed the
flocks of people that had gathered.
24. And he kept Judas always in his presence; he was warmly attached to the man.
25. And he urged him to marry and have children; so he married, settled down, and shared
the common life.
26. But when Alcimus noticed their good will for one another, he took the covenant that
had been made and went to Demetrius. He told him that Nicanor was disloyal to the
government, for he had appointed that conspirator against the kingdom, Judas, to be his
27. The king became excited and, provoked by the false accusations of that depraved man,
wrote to Nicanor, stating that he was displeased with the covenant and commanding him to
send Maccabeus to Antioch as a prisoner without delay.
28. When this message came to Nicanor, he was troubled and grieved that he had to annul
their agreement when the man had done no wrong.
29. Since it was not possible to oppose the king, he watched for an opportunity to
accomplish this by a stratagem.
30. But Maccabeus, noticing that Nicanor was more austere in his dealings with him and was
meeting him more rudely than had been his custom, concluded that this austerity did not
spring from the best motives. So he gathered not a few of his men, and went into hiding
31. When the latter became aware that he had been cleverly outwitted by the man, he went
to the great and holy temple while the priests were offering the customary sacrifices, and
commanded them to hand the man over.
32. And when they declared on oath that they did not know where the man was whom he
33. he stretched out his right hand toward the sanctuary, and swore this oath: "If
you do not hand Judas over to me as a prisoner, I will level this precinct of God to the
ground and tear down the altar, and I will build here a splendid temple to Dionysus."
34. Having said this, he went away. Then the priests stretched forth their hands toward
heaven and called upon the constant Defender of our nation, in these words:
35. "O Lord of all, who hast need of nothing, thou wast pleased that there be a
temple for thy habitation among us;
36. so now, O holy One, Lord of all holiness, keep undefiled for ever this house that has
been so recently purified."
37. A certain Razis, one of the elders of Jerusalem, was denounced to Nicanor as a man who
loved his fellow citizens and was very well thought of and for his good will was called
father of the Jews.
38. For in former times, when there was no mingling with the Gentiles, he had been accused
of Judaism, and for Judaism he had with all zeal risked body and life.
39. Nicanor, wishing to exhibit the enmity which he had for the Jews, sent more than five
hundred soldiers to arrest him;
40. for he thought that by arresting him he would do them an injury.
41. When the troops were about to capture the tower and were forcing the door of the
courtyard, they ordered that fire be brought and the doors burned. Being surrounded, Razis
fell upon his own sword,
42. preferring to die nobly rather than to fall into the hands of sinners and suffer
outrages unworthy of his noble birth.
43. But in the heat of the struggle he did not hit exactly, and the crowd was now rushing
in through the doors. He bravely ran up on the wall, and manfully threw himself down into
44. But as they quickly drew back, a space opened and he fell in the middle of the empty
45. Still alive and aflame with anger, he rose, and though his blood gushed forth and his
wounds were severe he ran through the crowd; and standing upon a steep rock,
46. with his blood now completely drained from him, he tore out his entrails, took them
with both hands and hurled them at the crowd, calling upon the Lord of life and spirit to
give them back to him again. This was the manner of his death.
1. When Nicanor heard that Judas and his men were in the region of Samaria, he made plans
to attack them with complete safety on the day of rest.
2. And when the Jews who were compelled to follow him said, "Do not destroy so
savagely and barbarously, but show respect for the day which he who sees all things has
honored and hallowed above other days,"
3. the thrice-accursed wretch asked if there were a sovereign in heaven who had commanded
the keeping of the Sabbath day.
4. And when they declared, "It is the living Lord himself, the Sovereign in heaven,
who ordered us to observe the seventh day,"
5. he replied, "And I am a sovereign also, on earth, and I command you to take up
arms and finish the king's business." Nevertheless, he did not succeed in carrying
out his abominable design.
6. This Nicanor in his utter boastfulness and arrogance had determined to erect a public
monument of victory over Judas and his men.
7. But Maccabeus did not cease to trust with all confidence that he would get help from
8. And he exhorted his men not to fear the attack of the Gentiles, but to keep in mind the
former times when help had come to them from heaven, and now to look for the victory which
the Almighty would give them.
9. Encouraging them from the law and the prophets, and reminding them also of the
struggles they had won, he made them the more eager.
10. And when he had aroused their courage, he gave his orders, at the same time pointing
out the perfidy of the Gentiles and their violation of oaths.
11. He armed each of them not so much with confidence in shields and spears as with the
inspiration of brave words, and he cheered them all by relating a dream, a sort of vision,
which was worthy of belief.
12. What he saw was this: Onias, who had been high priest, a noble and good man, of modest
bearing and gentle manner, one who spoke fittingly and had been trained from childhood in
all that belongs to excellence, was praying with outstretched hands for the whole body of
13. Then likewise a man appeared, distinguished by his gray hair and dignity, and of
marvelous majesty and authority.
14. And Onias spoke, saying, "This is a man who loves the brethren and prays much for
the people and the holy city, Jeremiah, the prophet of God."
15. Jeremiah stretched out his right hand and gave to Judas a golden sword, and as he gave
it he addressed him thus:
16. "Take this holy sword, a gift from God, with which you will strike down your
17. Encouraged by the words of Judas, so noble and so effective in arousing valor and
awaking manliness in the souls of the young, they determined not to carry on a campaign
but to attack bravely, and to decide the matter, by fighting hand to hand with all
courage, because the city and the sanctuary and the temple were in danger.
18. Their concern for wives and children, and also for brethren and relatives, lay upon
them less heavily; their greatest and first fear was for the consecrated sanctuary.
19. And those who had to remain in the city were in no little distress, being anxious over
the encounter in the open country.
20. When all were now looking forward to the coming decision, and the enemy was already
close at hand with their army drawn up for battle, the elephants strategically stationed
and the cavalry deployed on the flanks,
21. Maccabeus, perceiving the hosts that were before him and the varied supply of arms and
the savagery of the elephants, stretched out his hands toward heaven and called upon the
Lord who works wonders; for he knew that it is not by arms, but as the Lord decides, that
he gains the victory for those who deserve it.
22. And he called upon him in these words: "O Lord, thou didst send thy angel in the
time of Hezekiah king of Judea, and he slew fully a hundred and eighty-five thousand in
the camp of Sennacherib.
23. So now, O Sovereign of the heavens, send a good angel to carry terror and trembling
24. By the might of thy arm may these blasphemers who come against thy holy people be
struck down." With these words he ended his prayer.
25. Nicanor and his men advanced with trumpets and battle songs;
26. and Judas and his men met the enemy in battle with invocation to God and prayers.
27. So, fighting with their hands and praying to God in their hearts, they laid low no
less than thirty-five thousand men, and were greatly gladdened by God's manifestation.
28. When the action was over and they were returning with joy, they recognized Nicanor,
lying dead, in full armor.
29. Then there was shouting and tumult, and they blessed the Sovereign Lord in the
language of their fathers.
30. And the man who was ever in body and soul the defender of his fellow citizens, the man
who maintained his youthful good will toward his countrymen, ordered them to cut off
Nicanor's head and arm and carry them to Jerusalem.
31. And when he arrived there and had called his countrymen together and stationed the
priests before the altar, he sent for those who were in the citadel.
32. He showed them the vile Nicanor's head and that profane man's arm, which had been
boastfully stretched out against the holy house of the Almighty;
33. and he cut out the tongue of the ungodly Nicanor and said that he would give it
piecemeal to the birds and hang up these rewards of his folly opposite the sanctuary.
34. And they all, looking to heaven, blessed the Lord who had manifested himself, saying,
"Blessed is he who has kept his own place undefiled."
35. And he hung Nicanor's head from the citadel, a clear and conspicuous sign to every one
of the help of the Lord.
36. And they all decreed by public vote never to let this day go unobserved, but to
celebrate the thirteenth day of the twelfth month -- which is called Adar in the Syrian
language -- the day before Mordecai's day.
37. This, then, is how matters turned out with Nicanor. And from that time the city has
been in the possession of the Hebrews. So I too will here end my story.
38. If it is well told and to the point, that is what I myself desired; if it is poorly
done and mediocre, that was the best I could do.
39. For just as it is harmful to drink wine alone, or, again, to drink water alone, while
wine mixed with water is sweet and delicious and enhances one's enjoyment, so also the
style of the story delights the ears of those who read the work. And here will be the end.