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1 Maccabees - Chapter 4

1 Gorgias took with him five thousand foot and a thousand picked cavalry, and the force moved off by night

2 with the object of attacking the Jewish position and dealing them an unexpected blow; the men from the Citadel were there to guide him.

3 Judas got wind of it and himself moved off with his fighters to strike at the royal army at Emmaus,

4 while its fighting troops were still dispersed outside the camp.

5 Hence, when Gorgias reached Judas' camp, he found no one and began looking for the Jews in the mountains. 'For', he said, 'we have got them on the run.'

6 First light found Judas in the plain with three thousand men, although these lacked the armour and swords they would have wished.

7 They could now see the gentile encampment with its strong fortifications and cavalry surrounding it, clearly people who understood warfare.

8 Judas said to his men, 'Do not be afraid of their numbers, and do not flinch at their attack.

9 Remember how our ancestors were delivered at the Red Sea when Pharaoh was pursuing them in force.

10 And now let us call on Heaven: if he cares for us, he will remember his covenant with our ancestors and will destroy this army confronting us today;

11 then all the nations will know for certain that there is One who ransoms and saves Israel.'

12 The foreigners looked up and, seeing the Jews advancing against them,

13 came out of the camp to join battle. Judas' men sounded the trumpet

14 and engaged them. The gentiles were defeated and fled towards the plain

15 and all the stragglers fell by the sword. The pursuit continued as far as Gezer and the plains of Idumaea, Azotus and Jamnia, and the enemy lost about three thousand men.

16 Breaking off the pursuit, Judas returned with his men

17 and said to the people, 'Never mind the booty, for we have another battle ahead of us.

18 Gorgias and his troops are still near us in the mountains. First stand up to our enemies and fight them, and then you can safely collect the booty.'

19 The words were hardly out of Judas' mouth, when a detachment came into view, peering down from the mountain.

20 Observing that their own troops had been routed and that the camp had been fired -- since the smoke, which they could see, attested the fact-

21 they were panic-stricken at the sight; and when, furthermore, they saw Judas' troops drawn up for battle on the plain,

22 they all fled into Philistine territory.

23 Judas then turned back to plunder the camp, and a large sum in gold and silver, with violet and sea-purple stuffs, and many other valuables were carried off.

24 On their return, the Jews chanted praises to Heaven, singing, 'He is kind and his love is everlasting!'

25 That day had seen a remarkable deliverance in Israel.

26 Those of the foreigners who had escaped came and gave Lysias an account of all that had happened.

27 The news shocked and dismayed him, for affairs in Israel had not gone as he intended, and the result was quite the opposite to what the king had ordered.

28 The next year he mobilised sixty thousand picked troops and five thousand cavalry with the intention of finishing off the Jews.

29 They advanced into Idumaea and made their base at Beth-Zur, where Judas met them with ten thousand men.

30 When he saw their military strength he offered this prayer, 'Blessed are you, Saviour of Israel, who shattered the mighty warrior's attack at the hand of your servant David, and delivered the Philistine camp into the hands of Jonathan son of Saul, and his armourbearer.

31 Crush this expedition in the same way at the hands of your people Israel; let their troops and cavalry bring them nothing but shame.

32 Sow panic in their ranks, confound the confidence they put in their numbers and send them reeling in defeat.

33 Overthrow them by the sword of those who love you, and all who acknowledge your name will sing your praises.'

34 The two forces engaged, and five thousand men of Lysias' troops fell in hand-to-hand fighting.

35 Seeing the rout of his army and the courage of Judas' troops and their readiness to live or die nobly, Lysias withdrew to Antioch, where he recruited mercenaries for a further invasion of Judaea in even greater strength.

36 Judas and his brothers then said, 'Now that our enemies have been defeated, let us go up to purify the sanctuary and dedicate it.'

37 So they marshalled the whole army, and went up to Mount Zion.

38 There they found the sanctuary deserted, the altar desecrated, the gates burnt down, and vegetation growing in the courts as it might in a wood or on some mountain, while the storerooms were in ruins.

39 They tore their garments and mourned bitterly, putting dust on their heads.

40 They prostrated themselves on the ground, and when the trumpets gave the signal they cried aloud to Heaven.

41 Judas then ordered his men to keep the Citadel garrison engaged until he had purified the sanctuary.

42 Next, he selected priests who were blameless and zealous for the Law

43 to purify the sanctuary and remove the stones of the 'Pollution' to some unclean place.

44 They discussed what should be done about the altar of burnt offering which had been profaned,

45 and very properly decided to pull it down, rather than later be embarrassed about it since it had been defiled by the gentiles. They therefore demolished it

46 and deposited the stones in a suitable place on the hill of the Dwelling to await the appearance of a prophet who should give a ruling about them.

47 They took unhewn stones, as the Law prescribed, and built a new altar on the lines of the old one.

48 They restored the Holy Place and the interior of the Dwelling, and purified the courts.

49 They made new sacred vessels, and brought the lamp-stand, the altar of incense, and the table into the Temple.

50 They burned incense on the altar and lit the lamps on the lamp-stand, and these shone inside the Temple.

51 They placed the loaves on the table and hung the curtains and completed all the tasks they had undertaken.

52 On the twenty-fifth of the ninth month, Chislev, in the year 148 they rose at dawn

53 and offered a lawful sacrifice on the new altar of burnt offering which they had made.

54 The altar was dedicated, to the sound of hymns, zithers, lyres and cymbals, at the same time of year and on the same day on which the gentiles had originally profaned it.

55 The whole people fell prostrate in adoration and then praised Heaven who had granted them success.

56 For eight days they celebrated the dedication of the altar, joyfully offering burnt offerings, communion and thanksgiving sacrifices.

57 They ornamented the front of the Temple with crowns and bosses of gold, renovated the gates and storerooms, providing the latter with doors.

58 There was no end to the rejoicing among the people, since the disgrace inflicted by the gentiles had been effaced.

59 Judas, with his brothers and the whole assembly of Israel, made it a law that the days of the dedication of the altar should be celebrated yearly at the proper season, for eight days beginning on the twenty-fifth of the month of Chislev, with rejoicing and gladness.

60 They then proceeded to build high walls with strong towers round Mount Zion, to prevent the gentiles from coming and riding roughshod over it as in the past.

61 Judas stationed a garrison there to guard it; he also fortified Beth-Zur, so that the people would have a fortress confronting Idumaea.

Book of 1 Maccabees Chapters

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