Chapter 13 (II. Maccabees)

In the year one hundred and forty-nine, Judas and his men discovered that Antiochus Eupator was advancing in force against Judaea, 2 and with him Lysias his tutor and chief minister; he had moreover a Greek force of one hundred and ten thousand infantry, five thousand three hundred cavalry, twenty-two elephants, and three hundred chariots fitted with scythes. 3 Menelaus, too, joined them and very craftily kept urging Antiochus on, not for the welfare of his own country but in the hope of being restored to office. 4 But the King of kings stirred up the anger of Antiochus against the guilty wretch, and when Lysias made it clear to the king that Menelaus was the cause of all the troubles, Antiochus gave orders for him to be taken to Beroea and there put to death by the local method of execution. 5 In that place there is a tower fifty cubits high, full of ash, with an internal lip all round overhanging the ashes.

6 If anyone is convicted of sacrilegious theft or of some other heinous crime, he is taken up to the top and pushed over to perish. 7 In such a manner was the renegade fated to die; Menelaus had not even the privilege of burial. 8 Deserved justice, this; since he had committed many sins against the altar, the fire and ashes of which were holy, it was in ashes that he met his death. 9 The king, then, was advancing, his mind filled with barbarous designs, to give the Jews a demonstration of far worse things than anything that had happened under his father. 10 When Judas heard of this, he ordered the people day and night to call on the Lord as never before, to come to the help of those who were in peril of being deprived of the Law, their fatherland and the holy Temple,

11 and not to allow the people, just when they were beginning to breathe again, to fall into the power of ill-famed foreigners. 12 When they had all, with one voice, obeyed his instructions and had made their petitions to the merciful Lord, weeping, fasting and prostrating themselves for three days continuously, Judas spoke words of encouragement and told them to keep close to him. 13 After separate consultation with the elders, he resolved not to wait for the king's army to invade Judaea and take possession of the city, but to march out and settle the whole matter with the Lord's help. 14 Having thus committed the outcome to the Creator of the world, and having exhorted his soldiers to fight bravely to the death for the laws, the Temple, the city, their country and their way of life, he encamped his army near Modein. 15 Giving his men the password 'Victory from God', he made a night attack on the king's pavilion with a picked band of the bravest young men. Inside the camp he destroyed about two thousand, and his men cut down the largest of the elephants with its mahout;

16 having eventually filled the camp with terror and confusion, they successfully withdrew, 17 just as dawn was breaking. This was achieved, thanks to the protection which the Lord granted Judas. 18 The king, having had a taste of Jewish daring, now tried to capture their positions by trickery. 19 He advanced on Beth-Zur, a strong fortress of the Jews, but was checked, overcome and so repulsed. 20 Judas supplied the garrison with what they needed,

21 but Rhodocus, of the Jewish army, supplied the enemy with secret information; the man was identified, arrested, and dealt with. 22 A second time, the king parleyed with the garrison of Beth-Zur; he offered and accepted pledges of friendship, retired, then attacked Judas and his men, but lost the battle. 23 He was then told that Philip, left in charge of affairs, had rebelled in Antioch. He was stunned by this, opened negotiations with the Jews, came to an agreement, and swore to abide by all reasonable conditions. Agreement reached, he offered a sacrifice, honoured the Temple, and made generous gifts to the holy place. 24 He received Maccabaeus kindly and, leaving Hegemonides to exercise command from Ptolemais to the territory of the Gerrenians, 25 went to Ptolemais. The inhabitants of the place disapproved of the treaty; they complained furiously and wanted to annul its provisions.

26 Lysias mounted the rostrum and made a convincing defence of the provisions which convinced and calmed them and won their goodwill. He then withdrew to Antioch. So much for the episode of the king's offensive and retreat.

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