Chapter 7 (I. Maccabees)

In the year 151, Demetrius son of Seleucus left Rome and arrived with a few men at a town on the coast, where he inaugurated his reign. 2 It so happened that, as he was entering the royal residence of his ancestors, the army captured Antiochus and Lysias, and intended to bring them to him. 3 On hearing this, he said, 'Keep them out of my sight.' 4 The army put them to death, and Demetrius ascended his throne. 5 Next, all those Israelites without law or piety, led by Alcimus, whose ambition was to become high priest,

6 approached the king and denounced our people to him. 'Judas and his brothers', they said, 'have killed all your friends, and he has driven us out of our country. 7 Send someone now whom you can trust; let him go and see the wholesale ruin Judas has brought on us and on the king's dominions, and let him punish the wretches and all who assist them.' 8 The king chose Bacchides, one of the Friends of the King, governor of Transeuphrates, an important personage in the kingdom and loyal to the king. 9 He sent him with the godless Alcimus, whom he confirmed in the high priesthood, with orders to exact retribution from the Israelites. 10 So they set out with a large force and, on reaching Judaea, sent emissaries to Judas and his brothers with proposals peaceable yet treacherous.

11 The latter, however, did not put any faith in their words, aware that they had come with a large force. 12 Nevertheless, a commission of scribes presented themselves before Alcimus and Bacchides, to sue for just terms. 13 The first among the Israelites to ask them for peace terms were the Hasidaeans, 14 who reasoned thus, 'This is a priest of Aaron's line who has come with the armed forces; he will not wrong us.' 15 He did in fact discuss peace terms with them and gave them his oath, 'We shall not attempt to injure you or your friends.'

16 They believed him, but he arrested sixty of them and put them to death on one day, fulfilling the words of scripture: 17 They have scattered the bodies of your faithful, and shed their blood all round Jerusalem, leaving no one to bury them! 18 At this, fear and dread gripped the whole people. 'There is no truth or virtue in them,' they said, 'they have broken their agreement and their sworn oath.' 19 Bacchides then left Jerusalem and encamped at Beth-Zeth, and from there sent and arrested many of the men who had deserted him and a few of our people too; he had them killed and thrown down the great well. 20 He then put Alcimus in charge of the province, leaving an army with him to support him; Bacchides himself returned to the king.

21 Alcimus continued his struggle to become high priest, 22 and all who were disturbing the peace of their own people rallied to him, and, having won control of Judaea, did much harm in Israel. 23 Seeing that all the wrongs done to the Israelites by Alcimus and his supporters exceeded what the gentiles had done, 24 Judas went right round the whole territory of Judaea to take vengeance on those who had deserted him and to prevent their free movement about the country. 25 When Alcimus saw how strong Judas and his supporters had grown and realised that he was powerless to resist them, he went back to the king, to whom he made malicious accusations against them.

26 The king sent Nicanor, one of his generals ranking as Illustrious and a bitter enemy of Israel, with orders to exterminate the people. 27 Reaching Jerusalem with a large force, Nicanor sent a friendly, yet treacherous, message to Judas and his brothers, as follows: 28 'Let us have no fighting between you and me; I shall come with a small escort for a peaceful meeting with you.' 29 He met Judas and they exchanged friendly greetings; the enemy, however, had made preparations to abduct Judas. 30 When Judas became aware of Nicanor's treacherous purpose in coming to see him, he took fright and refused any further meeting.

31 Nicanor then realised that his plan had been discovered, and took the field against Judas, to give battle near Caphar-Salama. 32 About five hundred of Nicanor's men fell; the rest took refuge in the City of David. 33 After these events Nicanor went up to Mount Zion. Some of the priests came out of the Holy Place with some elders, to give him a friendly welcome and show him the burnt offering being presented for the king. 34 But he ridiculed them, laughed at them, defiled them and used insolent language, swearing in his rage, 35 'Unless Judas is handed over to me this time with his army, as soon as I am safely back, I promise you, I shall burn this building down!'

36 Then he went off in a fury. At this, the priests went in again, and stood weeping in front of the altar and the Temple, saying, 37 'You have chosen this house to be called by your name, to be a house of prayer and petition for your people. 38 Take vengeance on this man and on his army, and let them fall by the sword; remember their blasphemies and give them no respite.' 39 Nicanor left Jerusalem and encamped at Beth-Horon, where he was joined by an army from Syria. 40 Judas, meanwhile, camped at Adasa with three thousand men, and offered this prayer,

41 'When the king's envoys blasphemed, your angel went out and struck down one hundred and eighty-five thousand of his men. 42 In the same way let us see you crush this army today, so that everyone else may know that this man has spoken blasphemously against your sanctuary: pass judgement on him as his wickedness deserves!' 43 The armies met in battle on the thirteenth of the month Adar, and Nicanor's army was crushed, he himself being the first to fall in the battle. 44 When Nicanor's soldiers saw him fall, they threw down their arms and fled. 45 The Jews pursued them a day's journey, from Adasa to the approaches of Gezer; they sounded their trumpets in warning as they followed them,

46 and people came out of all the surrounding Judaean villages to encircle the fugitives, who then turned back on their own men. All fell by the sword, not one being left alive. 47 Having collected the spoils and booty, they cut off Nicanor's head and the right hand he had stretched out in a display of insolence; these were taken and displayed within sight of Jerusalem. 48 The people were overjoyed and kept that day as a great holiday: 49 indeed they decided to celebrate it annually on the thirteenth of Adar. 50 For a short while Judaea enjoyed peace.

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