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1 Maccabees - Chapter 2

1 About then, Mattathias son of John, son of Simeon, a priest of the line of Joarib, left Jerusalem and settled in Modein.

2 He had five sons, John known as Gaddi,

3 Simon called Thassi,

4 Judas called Maccabaeus,

5 Eleazar, called Avaran, and Jonathan called Apphus.

6 When he saw the blasphemies being committed in Judah and Jerusalem,

7 he said, 'Alas that I should have been born to witness the ruin of my people and the ruin of the Holy City, and to sit by while she is delivered over to her enemies, and the sanctuary into the hand of foreigners.

8 'Her Temple has become like someone of no repute,

9 the vessels that were her glory have been carried off as booty, her babies have been slaughtered in her streets, her young men by the enemy's sword.

10 Is there a nation that has not claimed a share of her royal prerogatives, that has not taken some of her spoils?

11 All her ornaments have been snatched from her, her former freedom has become slavery.

12 See how the Holy Place, our beauty, our glory, is now laid waste, see how the gentiles have profaned it!

13 What have we left to live for?'

14 Mattathias and his sons tore their garments, put on sackcloth, and observed deep mourning.

15 The king's commissioners who were enforcing the apostasy came to the town of Modein for the sacrifices.

16 Many Israelites gathered round them, but Mattathias and his sons drew apart.

17 The king's commissioners then addressed Mattathias as follows, 'You are a respected leader, a great man in this town; you have sons and brothers to support you.

18 Be the first to step forward and conform to the king's decree, as all the nations have done, and the leaders of Judah and the survivors in Jerusalem; you and your sons shall be reckoned among the Friends of the King, you and your sons will be honoured with gold and silver and many presents.'

19 Raising his voice, Mattathias retorted, 'Even if every nation living in the king's dominions obeys him, each forsaking its ancestral religion to conform to his decrees,

20 I, my sons and my brothers will still follow the covenant of our ancestors.

21 May Heaven preserve us from forsaking the Law and its observances.

22 As for the king's orders, we will not follow them: we shall not swerve from our own religion either to right or to left.'

23 As he finished speaking, a Jew came forward in the sight of all to offer sacrifice on the altar in Modein as the royal edict required.

24 When Mattathias saw this, he was fired with zeal; stirred to the depth of his being, he gave vent to his legitimate anger, threw himself on the man and slaughtered him on the altar.

25 At the same time he killed the king's commissioner who was there to enforce the sacrifice, and tore down the altar.

26 In his zeal for the Law he acted as Phinehas had against Zimri son of Salu.

27 Then Mattathias went through the town, shouting at the top of his voice, 'Let everyone who has any zeal for the Law and takes his stand on the covenant come out and follow me.'

28 Then he fled with his sons into the hills, leaving all their possessions behind in the town.

29 Many people who were concerned for virtue and justice went down to the desert and stayed there,

30 taking with them their sons, their wives and their cattle, so oppressive had their sufferings become.

31 Word was brought to the royal officials and forces stationed in Jerusalem, in the City of David, that those who had repudiated the king's edict had gone down to the hiding places in the desert.

32 A strong detachment went after them, and when it came up with them ranged itself against them in battle formation, preparing to attack them on the Sabbath day,

33 and said, 'Enough of this! Come out and do as the king orders and you will be spared.'

34 The others, however, replied, 'We refuse to come out, and we will not obey the king's orders and profane the Sabbath day.'

35 The royal forces at once went into action,

36 but the others offered no opposition; not a stone was thrown, there was no barricading of the hiding places.

37 They only said, 'Let us all die innocent; let heaven and earth bear witness that you are massacring us with no pretence of justice.'

38 The attack was pressed home on the Sabbath itself, and they were slaughtered, with their wives and children and cattle, to the number of one thousand persons.

39 When the news reached Mattathias and his friends, they mourned them bitterly

40 and said to one another, 'If we all do as our brothers have done, and refuse to fight the gentiles for our lives and institutions, they will only destroy us the sooner from the earth.'

41 So then and there they came to this decision, 'If anyone attacks us on the Sabbath day, whoever he may be, we shall resist him; we must not all be killed, as our brothers were in the hiding places.'

42 Soon they were joined by the Hasidaean party, stout fighting men of Israel, each one a volunteer on the side of the Law.

43 All the refugees from the persecution rallied to them, giving them added support.

44 They organised themselves into an armed force, striking down the sinners in their anger, and the renegades in their fury, and those who escaped them fled to the gentiles for safety.

45 Mattathias and his friends made a tour, overthrowing the altars

46 and forcibly circumcising all the boys they found uncircumcised in the territories of Israel.

47 They hunted down the upstarts and managed their campaign to good effect.

48 They wrested the Law out of the control of the gentiles and the kings and reduced the sinners to impotence.

49 As the days of Mattathias were drawing to a close, he said to his sons, 'Arrogance and outrage are now in the ascendant; it is a period of turmoil and bitter hatred.

50 This is the time, my children, for you to have a burning zeal for the Law and to give your lives for the covenant of our ancestors.

51 Remember the deeds performed by our ancestors, each in his generation, and you will win great honour and everlasting renown.

52 Was not Abraham tested and found faithful, was that not considered as justifying him?

53 Joseph in the time of his distress maintained the Law, and so became lord of Egypt.

54 Phinehas, our father, in return for his burning zeal, received the covenant of everlasting priesthood.

55 Joshua, for carrying out his task, became judge of Israel.

56 Caleb, for his testimony before the assembled people, received an inheritance in the land.

57 David for his generous heart inherited the throne of an everlasting kingdom.

58 Elijah for his consuming fervour for the Law was caught up to heaven itself.

59 Hananiah, Azariah and Mishael, for their fidelity, were saved from the flame.

60 Daniel for his singleness of heart was rescued from the lion's jaws.

61 Know then that, generation after generation, no one who hopes in him will be overcome.

62 Do not fear the threats of the sinner, all his brave show must come to the dunghill and the worms.

63 Exalted today, tomorrow he is nowhere to be found, for he has returned to the dust he came from and his scheming is brought to nothing.

64 My children, be resolute and courageous for the Law, for it will bring you glory.

65 'Here is your brother Simeon, I know he is a man of sound judgement. Listen to him all your lives; let him take your father's place.

66 Judas Maccabaeus, strong and brave from his youth, let him be your general and conduct the war against the gentiles.

67 The rest of you are to enrol in your ranks all those who keep the Law, and to assure the vengeance of your people.

68 Pay back the gentiles to the full, and hold fast to the ordinance of the Law.'

69 Then he blessed them and was joined to his ancestors.

70 He died in the year 146 and was buried in his ancestral tomb at Modein, and all Israel mourned him deeply.

Book of 1 Maccabees Chapters

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