Judas Maccabaeus history



Antiochus, despising the son of Ptolemy as being but weak, and coveting the possession of Egypt, conducted an expedition against that country with a great force; but was compelled to withdraw by a declaration of the Romans. On his way back from Alexandria he took the city of Jerusalem, entering it without fighting in the 143rd year of the kingdom of the Seleucidae. He slew many of the citizens, plundered the city of much money and returned to Antioch.

After two years he again came up against Jerusalem, and this time left the Temple bare, taking away the golden altar and candlesticks, the table of shewbread, and the altar of burnt offering and all the secret treasures. He slew some of the people, and carried off into captivity about ten thousand, burnt the finest buildings, erected a citadel and therein placed a garrison of Macedonians. Building an idol altar in the Temple, he offered swine on it, and he compelled many of the Jews to raise idol altars in every town and village and to offer swine on them every day. But many disregarded him, and these underwent bitter punishment. They were tortured or scourged or crucified.

Now, at this time there dwelt at Modin a priest named Mattathias, a citizen of Jerusalem. He had five sons, one of whom, Judas, was called Maccabaeus. Mattathias and his sons not only refused to sacrifice as Antiochus commanded, but, with his sons, attacked and slew an apostate Jewish worshipper and Apelles, the king's general, and a few of his soldiers. Then the priest and his five sons overthrew the idol altar and fled into the desert, followed by many of their followers with their wives and children. About a thousand of these who had hidden in caves were overtaken and destroyed; but many who escaped joined themselves to Mattathias and appointed him to be the ruler, who taught them to fight, even on the Sabbath. Gathering a great army, he overthrew the idol altars and slew those who broke the laws. But after ruling one year, he fell into a distemper, and committed to his sons the conduct of affairs. He was buried at Modin, all the people making great lamentation.

His son Judas took upon himself the administration of affairs in the 146th year, and with the help of his brothers and others cast their enemies out of the country and purified the land of its pollutions. Judas celebrated in the Temple at Jerusalem the festival of the restoration of the sacrifices for eight days. From that time we call the yearly celebration the Feast of Lights. Judas also rebuilt the wall and reared towers of great height.

When these things were over he made excursions against adversaries on every side, he and his brothers Simon and Jonathan subduing in turn Idumaea, Gilead, Jazer, Tyre and Ashdod.

Antiochus died of a distemper which overtook him as he was fleeing from Elymais, from which he was driven during an attack upon its gates. Before he died he called his friends about him, and confessed that his calamities had come upon him for the miseries he had brought upon the Jewish nation.

Antiochus was succeeded by his son, Antiochus Eupator, a boy of tender age, whose guardians were Philip and Lysias. He reigned but two years, being put to death, together with Lysias, by order of the usurper Demetrius, the son of Seleucus, who fled from Rome and, landing in Syria, gathered an army and was joyfully received by the people. Against Jerusalem, Demetrius sent an expedition commanded by his general, Bacchides. Judas Maccabaeus, fighting with great courage, but having with him only 800 men, fell in the battle. His brothers Simon and Jonathan, receiving his body by treaty from the enemy, carried it to the village of Modin and there buried him. He left behind him a glorious reputation, by gaining freedom for his nation, and delivering them from slavery under the Macedonians. He died after filling the office of high-priest for three years.





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