Chapter 10 (II. Maccabees)

Maccabaeus and his companions, under the Lord's guidance, restored the Temple and the city, 2 and pulled down the altars erected by the foreigners in the market place, as well as the shrines. 3 They purified the sanctuary and built another altar; then, striking fire from flints and using this fire, they offered the first sacrifice for two years, burning incense, lighting the lamps and setting out the loaves. 4 When they had done this, prostrating themselves on the ground, they implored the Lord never again to let them fall into such adversity, but if they should ever sin, to correct them with moderation and not to deliver them over to blasphemous and barbarous nations. 5 This day of the purification of the Temple fell on the very day on which the Temple had been profaned by the foreigners, the twenty-fifth of the same month, Chislev.

6 They kept eight festal days with rejoicing, in the manner of the feast of Shelters, remembering how, not long before at the time of the feast of Shelters, they had been living in the mountains and caverns like wild beasts. 7 Then, carrying thyrsuses, leafy boughs and palms, they offered hymns to him who had brought the cleansing of his own holy place to a happy outcome. 8 They also decreed by public edict, ratified by vote, that the whole Jewish nation should celebrate those same days every year. 9 Such were the circumstances attending the death of Antiochus styled Epiphanes. 10 Our task now is to unfold the history of Antiochus Eupator, son of that godless man, and briefly to relate the evil effects of the wars.

11 On coming to the throne, this prince put at the head of affairs a certain Lysias, the general officer commanding Coele-Syria and Phoenicia, 12 whereas Ptolemy, known as Macron, and the first person to govern the Jews justly, had done his best to govern them peacefully to make up for the wrongs inflicted on them in the past. 13 Denounced, in consequence, to Eupator by the Friends of the King, he heard himself called traitor at every turn: for having abandoned Cyprus, which had been entrusted to him by Philometer, for having gone over to Antiochus Epiphanes, and for having shed no lustre on his illustrious office: he committed suicide by poisoning himself. 14 Gorgias now became general of the area; he maintained a force of mercenaries and a continual state of war with the Jews. 15 At the same time, the Idumaeans, who controlled important fortresses, were harassing the Jews, welcoming outlaws from Jerusalem and endeavouring to maintain a state of war.

16 Maccabaeus and his men, after making public supplication to God, entreating him to support them, began operations against the Idumaean fortresses. 17 Vigorously pressing home their attack, they seized possession of these vantage points, beating off all who fought on the ramparts; they slaughtered all who fell into their hands, accounting for no fewer than twenty thousand. 18 Nine thousand at least took refuge in two exceptionally strong towers with everything they needed to withstand a siege, 19 whereupon, Maccabaeus left Simon and Joseph, with Zacchaeus and his forces, in sufficient numbers to besiege them, and himself went off to other places requiring his attention. 20 But Simon's men were greedy for money and allowed themselves to be bribed by some of the men in the towers; accepting seventy thousand drachmas, they let a number of them escape.

21 When Maccabaeus was told what had happened, he summoned the people's commanders and accused the offenders of having sold their brothers for money by releasing their enemies to fight them. 22 Having executed them as traitors, he at once proceeded to capture both towers. 23 Successful in all that he undertook by force of arms, in these two fortresses he slaughtered more than twenty thousand men. 24 Timotheus, who had been beaten by the Jews once before, now assembled an enormous force of mercenaries, mustering cavalry from Asia in considerable numbers, and soon appeared in Judaea, expecting to conquer it by force of arms. 25 At his approach, Maccabaeus and his men made their supplications to God, sprinkling earth on their heads and putting sackcloth round their waists.

26 Prostrating themselves on the terrace before the altar, they begged him to support them and to show himself the enemy of their enemies, the adversary of their adversaries, as the Law clearly states. 27 After these prayers, they armed themselves and advanced a fair distance from the city, halting when they were close to the enemy. 28 As the first light of dawn began to spread, the two sides joined battle, the one having as their pledge of success and victory not only their own valour but their recourse to the Lord, the other making their own ardour their mainstay in the fight. 29 When the battle was at its height, the enemy saw five magnificent men appear from heaven on horses with golden bridles and put themselves at the head of the Jews; 30 surrounding Maccabaeus and screening him with their own armour, they kept him unscathed, while they rained arrows and thunderbolts on the enemy until, blinded and confused, they scattered in complete disorder.

31 Twenty thousand five hundred infantry and six hundred cavalry were slaughtered. 32 Timotheus himself fled to a strongly guarded citadel called Gezer, where Chaereas was in command. 33 For four days Maccabaeus and his men eagerly besieged the fortress, 34 while the defenders, confident in the security of the place, hurled fearful blasphemies and godless insults at them. 35 At daybreak on the fifth day, twenty young men of Maccabaeus' forces, fired with indignation at the blasphemies, manfully assaulted the wall, with wild courage cutting down everyone they encountered.

36 Others, in a similar scaling operation, took the defenders in the rear, and set fire to the towers, lighting pyres on which they burned the blasphemers alive. The first, meanwhile, breaking open the gates, let the rest of the army in and, at their head, captured the town. 37 Timotheus had hidden in a storage-well, but they killed him, with his brother Chaereas, and Apollophanes. 38 When all this was over, with hymns and thanksgiving they blessed the Lord, who had shown such great kindness to Israel and given them the victory.

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