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1 Maccabees - Chapter 9

1 Demetrius, hearing that Nicanor and his army had fallen in battle, sent Bacchides and Alcimus a second time into Judaea, and with them the right wing of his army.

2 They took the road to Galilee and besieged Mesaloth in Arbela, and captured it, putting many people to death.

3 In the first month of the year 152, they encamped outside Jerusalem;

4 they then moved on, making their way to Beer-Zaith with twenty thousand foot and two thousand horse.

5 Judas lay in camp at Elasa, with three thousand picked men.

6 When they saw the huge size of the enemy forces they were terrified, and many slipped out of the camp, until no more than eight hundred of the force were left.

7 With battle now inevitable, Judas realised that his army had melted away; he was aghast, for he had no time to rally them.

8 Yet, dismayed as he was, he said to those who were left, 'Up! Let us face the enemy; we may yet have the strength to fight them.'

9 His men tried to dissuade him, declaring, 'We have no strength for anything but to escape with our lives this time; then we can come back with our brothers to fight them; by ourselves we are too few.'

10 Judas retorted, 'That I should do such a thing as run away from them! If our time has come, at least let us die like men for our countrymen, and leave nothing to tarnish our reputation.'

11 The army marched out of camp and drew up, facing the enemy. The cavalry was drawn up in two squadrons; the slingers and archers marched in the van of the army, and all the best fighters were put in the front rank;

12 Bacchides was on the right wing. The phalanx advanced from between the two squadrons, sounding the trumpets; the men on Judas' side also blew their trumpets,

13 and the earth shook with the noise of the armies. The engagement lasted from morning until evening.

14 Judas saw that Bacchides and the main strength of his army lay on the right; all the stout-hearted rallied to him,

15 and they crushed the right wing, pursuing them as far as the Azara Hills.

16 But when the Syrians on the left wing saw that the right had been broken, they turned and followed hot on the heels of Judas and his men to take them in the rear.

17 The fight became desperate, and there were many casualties on both sides.

18 Judas himself fell, and the remnant fled.

19 Jonathan and Simon took up their brother Judas and buried him in his ancestral tomb at Modein.

20 All Israel wept and mourned him deeply and for many days they repeated this dirge.

21 'What a downfall for the strong man, the man who kept Israel safe!'

22 The other deeds of Judas, the battles he fought, the exploits he performed, and all his titles to greatness have not been recorded; but they were very many.

23 After the death of Judas, the renegades came out of hiding throughout Israel and all the evil-doers reappeared.

24 At that time there was a severe famine, and the country went over to their side.

25 Bacchides deliberately chose the enemies of religion to administer the country.

26 These traced and searched out the friends of Judas and brought them before Bacchides, who ill-treated and mocked them.

27 A terrible oppression began in Israel; there had been nothing like it since the disappearance of prophecy among them.

28 The friends of Judas then all united in saying to Jonathan,

29 'Since your brother Judas died, there has been no one like him to head the resistance against our enemies, people like Bacchides and others who hate our nation.

30 Accordingly, we have today chosen you to take his place as our ruler and leader and to fight our campaigns.'

31 Whereupon, Jonathan took command, in succession to his brother Judas.

32 Bacchides, when he heard the news, made plans to kill Jonathan.

33 But this became known to Jonathan, his brother Simon and all his supporters, and they took refuge in the desert of Tekoa, camping by the water-supply at Asphar storage-well.

34 (Bacchides came to know of this on the Sabbath day, and he too crossed the Jordan with his entire army.)

35 Jonathan sent his brother, who was one of his commanders, to ask his friends the Nabataeans to store their considerable baggage for them.

36 The sons of Amrai, however, those of Medeba, intercepted them, captured John and everything he had and made off with their prize.

37 Later, Jonathan and his brother Simon were told that the sons of Amrai were celebrating an important wedding, and were escorting the bride, a daughter of one of the great notables of Canaan, from Nabata with a large retinue.

38 Remembering the bloody end of their brother John, they went up and hid under cover of the mountain.

39 As they were keeping watch, a noisy procession came into sight with a great deal of baggage, and the bridegroom, with his groomsmen and his family, came out to meet it with tambourines and a band, and rich, warlike display.

40 The Jews rushed down on them from their ambush and killed them, inflicting heavy casualties; the survivors escaped to the mountain, leaving their entire baggage train to be captured.

41 Thus, the wedding was turned into mourning and the music of their band into lamentation.

42 Having in this way avenged in full the blood of their brother, they returned to the marshes of the Jordan.

43 As soon as Bacchides heard this, he came on the Sabbath day with a considerable force to the steep banks of the Jordan.

44 Jonathan said to his men, 'Up! Let us fight for our lives, for today it is not as in the old days.

45 You can see, we shall have to fight on our front and to our rear; we have the waters of the Jordan on one side, the marsh and scrub on the other, and we have no line of withdrawal.

46 This is the moment to call on Heaven, to deliver you from the clutches of your enemies.'

47 The engagement was begun by Jonathan, who aimed a blow at Bacchides, but the Syrian disengaged himself and withdrew,

48 whereupon Jonathan and his men leapt into the Jordan and swam to the other bank; the enemy did not, however, cross the Jordan in pursuit.

49 That day, Bacchides lost about a thousand men.

50 Bacchides went back to Jerusalem and began fortifying some of the Judaean towns: the fortresses of Jericho, Emmaus, Beth-Horon, Bethel, Timnath, Pharathon and Tephon, with high walls and barred gates,

51 and stationed a garrison in each of them to harass Israel.

52 He also fortified the town of Beth-Zur, Gezer and the Citadel, and placed troops in them with supplies of provisions.

53 He took the sons of the leading men of the country as hostages, and had them placed under guard in the Citadel of Jerusalem.

54 In the year 153, in the second month, Alcimus ordered the demolition of the wall of the inner court of the sanctuary, destroying the work of the prophets. Alcimus had just begun the demolition

55 when he suffered a stroke, and his work was interrupted. His mouth became obstructed, and his paralysis made him incapable of speaking at all or giving directions to his household;

56 it was not long before he died in great agony.

57 On the death of Alcimus, Bacchides went back to the king, and Judaea was left in peace for two years.

58 The renegades then all agreed on a plan. 'Now is the time,' they said, 'while Jonathan and his supporters are living in peace and are full of confidence, for us to bring back Bacchides, and he will arrest the lot of them in one night.'

59 So they went to him and reached an understanding.

60 Bacchides at once set out with a large force, and sent secret instructions to all his allies in Judaea to seize Jonathan and his supporters. But they were unable to do this because their plan became known,

61 and Jonathan and his men arrested some fifty of the men of the country who were ringleaders in the plot, and put them to death.

62 Jonathan and Simon then retired with their partisans to Beth-Bassi in the desert; they rebuilt the ruinous parts of the place and fortified it.

63 When Bacchides heard this, he mustered his whole force and notified his adherents in Judaea.

64 He then proceeded to lay siege to Beth-Bassi, the fighting was protracted, and he constructed siege-engines.

65 Jonathan, however, leaving his brother Simon in the town, broke out into the countryside with a handful of men.

66 He launched a blow at Odomera and his brothers, and at the sons of Phasiron in their encampment; whereupon, these too came into the struggle, joining forces with him.

67 Simon and his people, meanwhile, made a sortie from the town and set fire to the siege-engines.

68 Taking the offensive against Bacchides, they defeated him. He was greatly disconcerted to find that his plan and his assault had come to nothing,

69 and vented his anger on those renegades who had induced him to enter the country, putting many of them to death; he then decided to take his own troops home.

70 Discovering this, Jonathan sent envoys to negotiate peace terms and the release of prisoners with him.

71 Bacchides agreed to this, accepting his proposals and swearing never to seek occasion to harm him for the rest of his life.

72 Having surrendered to Jonathan those prisoners he had earlier taken in Judaea, he turned about and withdrew to his own country, and never again came near their frontiers.

73 The sword no longer hung over Israel, and Jonathan settled in Michmash, where he began to judge the people and to rid Israel of the godless.

Book of 1 Maccabees Chapters

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