Chapter 5 (I. Maccabees)

When the surrounding nations heard that the altar had been rebuilt and the sanctuary restored to what it had been before, they became very angry 2 and decided to destroy the descendants of Jacob living among them; they began to murder and evict our people. 3 Judas made war on the sons of Esau in Idumaea, in the region of Acrabattene where they were besieging the Israelites. He dealt them a serious blow, drove them off and despoiled them. 4 He also remembered the wickedness of the sons of Baean, who were a menace and a trap for the people with their ambushes on the roads. 5 Having blockaded them in their town and besieged them, he put them under the curse of destruction; he then set fire to their towers and burned them down with everyone inside.

6 Next, he crossed over to the Ammonites where he found a strong fighting force and a numerous people, commanded by Timotheus. 7 He fought many battles with them, defeated them and cut them to pieces. 8 Having captured Jazer and its dependent villages, he retired to Judaea. 9 Next, the gentiles of Gilead banded together to destroy the Israelites living in their territory. The latter, however, took refuge in the fortress of Dathema, 10 and sent the following letter to Judas and his brothers: 'The gentiles round us have banded themselves together against us to destroy us,

11 and they are preparing to storm the fortress in which we have taken refuge; Timotheus is in command of their forces. 12 Come at once and rescue us from their clutches, for we have already suffered great losses. 13 All our countrymen living in Tobias' country have been killed, their women and children have been taken into captivity, their property has been seized, and about a thousand men have been destroyed there.' 14 While the letter was being read, other messengers arrived from Galilee with their garments torn, bearing similar news, 15 'The people of Ptolemais, Tyre and Sidon have joined forces with the whole of gentile Galilee to destroy us!'

16 When Judas and the people heard this, they held a great assembly to decide what should be done for their oppressed countrymen who were under attack from their enemies. 17 Judas said to his brother Simon, 'Pick your men and go and relieve your countrymen in Galilee, while my brother Jonathan and I make our way into Gilead.' 18 He left Joseph son of Zechariah and the people's leader Azariah with the remainder of the army in Judaea to keep guard, and gave them these orders, 19 'You are to be responsible for our people. Do not engage the gentiles until we return.' 20 Simon was allotted three thousand men for the expedition into Galilee, Judas eight thousand for Gilead.

21 Simon advanced into Galilee, engaged the gentiles in several battles and swept all before him; 22 he pursued them to the gate of Ptolemais, and they lost about three thousand men, whose spoils he collected. 23 With him, he took away the Jews of Galilee and Arbatta, with their wives and children and all their possessions, and brought them into Judaea with great rejoicing. 24 Meanwhile Judas Maccabaeus and his brother Jonathan crossed the Jordan and made a three-days' march through the desert, 25 where they encountered the Nabataeans, who gave them a friendly reception and told them everything that had been happening to their brothers in Gilead,

26 many of whom, they said, were shut up in Bozrah and Bosor, Alema, Chaspho, Maked and Carnaim, all large fortified towns. 27 Others were blockaded in the other towns of Gilead, and the enemy planned to attack and capture these strongholds the very next day, and destroy all the people inside them on one day. 28 Judas and his army at once turned off by the desert road to Bozrah. He took the town and, having put all the males to the sword and collected the booty, burned it down. 29 When night came, he left the place, and they continued their march until they reached the fortress. 30 In the light of dawn they looked, and there was an innumerable horde, setting up ladders and engines to capture the fortress; the assault was just beginning.

31 When Judas saw that the attack had begun and that the war cry was rising to heaven from the city, mingled with trumpet calls and a great clamour, 32 he said to the men of his army, 'Into battle today for your brothers!' 33 Dividing them into three commands, he advanced on the enemy's rear, with trumpets sounding and prayers shouted aloud. 34 The troops of Timotheus, recognising that this was Maccabaeus, fled before his advance; Maccabaeus dealt them a crushing defeat; about eight thousand of their men fell that day. 35 Then, wheeling on Alema, he attacked and captured it and, having killed all the males and collected the booty, burned the place down.

36 From there he moved on and took Chaspho, Maked, Bosor and the remaining towns of Gilead. 37 After these events, Timotheus mustered another force and pitched camp opposite Raphon, on the far side of the stream-bed. 38 Judas sent men to reconnoitre the camp, and these reported back as follows, 'With him are massed all the gentiles surrounding us, making a very numerous army, 39 with Arab mercenaries as auxiliaries; they are encamped on the far side of the stream-bed, and ready to launch an attack on you.' Judas then advanced to engage them, 40 and was approaching the watercourse with his troops when Timotheus told the commanders of his army, 'If he crosses first we shall not be able to resist him, because he will have a great advantage over us;

41 but if he is afraid and camps on the other side of the stream, we shall cross over to him and the advantage will then be ours.' 42 As soon as Judas reached the watercourse, he posted people's scribes along it, giving them this order: 'Do not let anyone pitch his tent; all are to go into battle!' 43 He was himself the first across to the enemy side, with all the people following. He defeated all the opposing gentiles, who threw down their arms and ran for refuge in the sanctuary of Carnaim. 44 The Jews first captured the town and then burned down the temple with everyone inside. And so Carnaim was overthrown, and the enemy could offer no further resistance to Judas. 45 Next, Judas assembled all the Israelites living in Gilead, from the least to the greatest, with their wives, children and belongings, an enormous muster, to take them to Judaea.

46 They reached Ephron, a large town straddling the road and strongly fortified. As it was impossible to by-pass it either to right or to left, there was nothing for it but to march straight through. 47 But the people of the town denied them passage and barricaded the gates with stones. 48 Judas sent them a conciliatory message in these terms, 'We want to pass through your territory to reach our own; no one will do you any harm, we only want to go through on foot.' But they would not open up for him. 49 So Judas sent an order down the column for everyone to halt where he stood. 50 The fighting men took up their positions; Judas attacked the town all day and night, and the town fell to him.

51 He put all the males to the sword, rased the town to the ground, plundered it and marched through the town square over the bodies of the dead. 52 They then crossed the Jordan into the Great Plain, opposite Beth-Shean, 53 Judas all the time rallying the stragglers and encouraging the people the whole way until they reached Judaea. 54 They climbed Mount Zion in joy and gladness and presented burnt offerings because they had returned safe and sound without having lost a single man. 55 While Judas and Jonathan were in Gilead and Simon his brother in Galilee outside Ptolemais,

56 Joseph son of Zechariah, and Azariah, who were in command of the army, heard of their valiant deeds and of the battles they had been fighting, 57 and said, 'Let us make a name for ourselves too and go and fight the nations around us.' 58 So they issued orders to the men under their command and marched on Jamnia. 59 Gorgias and his men came out of the town and gave battle. 60 Joseph and Azariah were routed and pursued as far as the frontiers of Judaea. That day about two thousand Israelites lost their lives.

61 Our people thus met with a great reverse, because they had not listened to Judas and his brothers, thinking that they would do something equally valiant. 62 They were not, however, of the same breed of men as those to whom the deliverance of Israel was entrusted. 63 The noble Judas and his brothers, however, were held in high honour throughout Israel and among all the nations wherever their name was heard, 64 and people thronged round to acclaim them. 65 Judas marched out with his brothers to fight the Edomites in the country towards the south; he stormed Hebron and its dependent villages, threw down its fortifications and burned down its encircling towers.

66 Leaving there, he made for the country of the Philistines and passed through Marisa. 67 Among the fallen in that day's fighting were some priests who sought to prove their courage there by joining in the battle, a foolhardy venture. 68 Judas next turned on Azotus, which belonged to the Philistines; he overthrew their altars, burned the statues of their gods and, having pillaged their towns, withdrew to Judaea.

Show All Chapters
List All Apocryphal Books

More forecasts: