2nd Maccabees – Chapters 9-12

Chapter 9

Elohim Punishes Antiochus

About this time Antiochus was retreating in disorder from Persia,  where he had entered the city of Persepolis and had attempted to rob a temple and take control of the city.
2 The people took up arms and attacked Antiochus, forcing his army to retreat in disgrace.
When he reached Ecbatana, he was told what had happened to the forces of Nicanor and Timotiyos.
He became furious and decided to make the Yehudim pay for the defeat he had suffered. So he ordered his chariot driver not to stop until they reached Yerushalayim. With great arrogance he said, I will turn Yerushalayim into a graveyard full of Yehudim. But he did not know that he was heading straight for Elohim’s judgment.
5 In fact, as soon as he had said these words, the all-seeing Yahweh, the Elohim of Yisra’el, struck him down with an invisible but fatal blow.
6 He was seized with sharp intestinal pains for which there was no relief—  a fitting punishment for the man who had tortured others in so many terrible ways!
7 But this in no way caused him to give up his pride. Instead he became more arrogant than ever, and breathing out fiery threats against the Yehudim, he gave orders to drive even faster. As a result he fell out of his chariot with such a thud that it made every bone in his body ache.
8 His arrogant pride made him think he had the superhuman strength to make ocean waves obey him and to weigh high mountains on a pair of scales. But suddenly he fell flat on the ground and had to be carried off on a stretcher, a clear sign to everyone of Elohim’s power.
9 Even the eyes of this heathen man were crawling with worms and he lived in terrible pain and agony.
10The stink was so bad that his entire army was sickened,  and no one was able to come close enough to carry him around. Yet only a short while before, he thought he could take hold of the stars.

Antiochus Makes a Promise to Yahweh

11 Antiochus was deeply depressed and suffered constant pain because of the punishment that Yahweh had brought on him, so he finally came to his senses and gave up his arrogant pride.
12 Then, when he could no longer endure his own stink, he said, It is right that all mortals should be subject to Yahweh and not think that they are his equal.
13 The time of the Elohim’s mercy had come to an end for Antiochus, but this worthless man made Elohim a promise:
14 I once intended to level Yerushalayim to the ground and make that holy city a graveyard full of Yehudim, he said, but now I declare it a free city.
15 I had planned to throw out the dead bodies of the Yehudim and their children for the wild animals and the birds to eat, for I did not consider them worth burying. But now I intend to grant them the same privileges as the citizens of Athens enjoy.
16 I once looted the Temple and took its sacred utensils, but I will fill it with splendid gifts and with better utensils than before, and I will pay the cost of the sacrifices from my own resources.
17 Besides all this, I will become a Yehudite myself and go wherever people live, telling them of Yahweh’s power.

Antiochus’ Letter to the Yehudim

18 Antiochus was in despair and could find no relief from his pain, because Yahweh was punishing him as he deserved, so he wrote the following letter to the Yehudim:
19 King Antiochus to the Yehudim, my most distinguished subjects. Warm greetings and best wishes for your health and prosperity.
20 I hope that you and your families are in good health and that all goes well with you. My hope is in Yahweh, and I remember with a deep sense of joy the respect and kindness that you have shown me.
21 On my way home from Persia, I fell violently ill, and so I thought it best to begin making plans for the general welfare of the people.
22 I have not given up hopes of getting well; in fact I am fully confident that I will recover.
23 But I recall that my father used to appoint a successor whenever he went on a military campaign east of the Euphrates.
24 He did this so that if something unexpected happened, or if some bad news came back, then his subjects would not be afraid, for they knew who had been left in command.
25 Also, I know how the rulers along the frontiers of my kingdom are constantly on the lookout for any opportunity that may come along. That is why I have appointed my son Antiochus to succeed me as king. I have frequently entrusted him to your care and recommended him to you when I went on my regular visits to the provinces east of the Euphrates. (He is receiving a copy of the letter which follows.)
26 Now I strongly urge each of you to keep in mind the good things that I have done for you, both individually and as a nation, and to continue in your good will toward me and my son.
27 I am confident that he will treat you with fairness and kindness, just as I have always done.
28 And so, this murderer, who had cursed Yahweh, suffered the same terrible agonies he had brought on others, and then died a miserable death in the mountains of a foreign land.
29 One of his close friends, Philip, took his body home; but, because he was afraid of Antiochus’ son, he went on to King Ptolemy Philometor of Mitsrayim.


Chapter 10

The Rededication of the Temple

1 Yehudah (Judas) Maccabeus and his followers, under the leadership of Elohim, recaptured the Temple and the city of Yerushalayim. 
2 They tore down the altars which foreigners had set up in the marketplace and destroyed the other places of worship that had been built. 
3 They purified the Temple and built a new altar. Then, with new fire started by striking flint, they offered sacrifice for the first time in two years, burned incense, lighted the lamps, and set out the shewbread.
After they had done all this, they lay face down on the ground and prayed that Elohim would never again let such disasters strike them. They begged him to be merciful when he punished them for future sins and not hand them over any more to barbaric, pagan Gentiles.
They rededicated the Temple on the twenty-fifth day of the month of Kislev¹, the same day of the same month on which the Temple had been desecrated by the Gentiles.
The happy celebration lasted eight days, like the Feast of Booths², and the people remembered how only a short time before, they had spent the Feast of Booths wandering like wild animals in the mountains and living in caves.
7 But now, carrying green palm branches and sticks decorated with ivy, they paraded around, singing grateful praises to him who had brought about the purification of his own Temple.
8 Everyone agreed that the entire Yehudite nation should celebrate this feast each year.
*1) The Feast of cHannukah, or Feast of Rededication, takes place late November to Early December, Kislev 25 to Tevet 2
*2) Also known as the Feast of Tabernacles or Sukkot, takes place late September to early October, Tishrei 15 to Tishrei 23

Ptolemy Macron Commits Suicide

9 The days of Antiochus Epiphanes had come to an end.
10 Now we will tell about Antiochus Eupator, the son of this heathen man, and give a summary of the evil effects of his wars.
11 When he became king he appointed a man by the name of Lysias to be in charge of the affairs of state and to be chief governor of Greater Assyria, replacing Ptolemy Macron, who had been the first governor to treat the Yehudim fairly. 
12 Macron had established peaceful relations with them in an attempt to make up for the wrongs they had suffered.
13 As a result the King’s Friends went to Eupator and accused Macron of treachery, because he had abandoned the island of Cyprus, which King Philometor of Mitsrayim had placed under his command, and had gone over to Antiochus Epiphanes. In fact, everyone called Macron a traitor. No longer able to maintain the respect that his office demanded, he committed suicide by taking poison.

Yehudah Maccabeus Defeats the Edomites

14 When Gorgias became governor of Edom (Idumea), he kept a force of mercenaries and attacked the Yehudim at every opportunity.
15 Not only this, but the Edomites themselves controlled certain strategic fortresses and were constantly harassing the Yehudim. They welcomed those who fled from Yerushalayim and did everything they could to keep the country in a perpetual state of war.
16 So Yehudah Maccabeus and his men, after offering prayers for Yahweh’s help, rushed out and made a vigorous attack against the Edomite fortresses.
17 They beat back those who were defending the walls and captured the fortresses, killing everyone they found, a total of about 20,000 people.
18 About 9,000 of the enemy, however, managed to take refuge in two easily defended forts, with everything they needed to withstand a siege.
19 Yehudah had to go on to some other places in the country, where he was more urgently needed, but he left behind Shim’on and Yoseph, together with Zakkay¹ (Zacchaeus) and his men.
20 This force was large enough to continue the siege,  but some of Simon’s men were greedy, and when they were offered 140 pounds of silver, they let some of the enemy escape from the forts.
21 When Yehudah heard what had happened, he called together the leaders of his troops and accused those men of selling their brothers by setting their enemies free to fight against them.
22 Then he executed the traitors and immediately captured the two forts.
23 Yehudah was always successful in battle, and in his assault on those two forts he killed more than 20,000 men.
*1) Zacchaeus comes from the Hebrew word “Zakkay” which means “pure and innocent”

Yehudah Defeats Timotiyos

24 Timotiyos, who had been defeated by the Yehudim once before, had gathered a large number of cavalry from Asia and a tremendous force of mercenary troops and was now advancing to take Yehudah by armed attack.
25 But as the enemy forces were approaching, Yehudah and his men prayed to Yahweh. 
26 They put on sackcloth, threw dirt on their heads,and lay face downward on the steps of the altar, begging Yahweh to help them by fighting against their enemies, as he had promised in his Torah.
27 When they had finished praying, they took up their weapons, went out a good distance from Yerushalayim, and stopped for the night not far from the enemy.
28 At daybreak the two armies joined in battle. The Yehudite forces depended upon both their bravery and their trust in Elohim for victory, while the enemy relied only on their ability to fight fiercely.
29 When the fighting was at its worst, the enemy saw five handsome men riding on horses with gold bridles and leading the Yehudite forces.
30 These five men surrounded Yehudah, protecting him with their own armor and showering the enemy with arrows and bolts.
31 The enemy forces then became so confused and bewildered that they broke ranks, and the Yehudim cut them to pieces, slaughtering 20,500 infantry and 600 cavalry.
32 Timotiyos escaped to the strongly defended fort of Gezer, where his brother Chaereas was in command.
33 Yehudah and his men besieged the fort for four days with great enthusiasm,
34 but those inside trusted to the security of their positions and shouted all sorts of terrible insults against the Yehudim and their Elohim.
35 At dawn on the fifth day, twenty of Yehudah men, burning with anger at these insults, bravely climbed the wall and with savage fury chopped down everyone they met.
36 At the same time, others climbed the walls on the other side of the fort and set the towers on fire. Many of the enemy were burned to death as the flames spread. A third force broke down the gates and let in the rest of Yehudah men to capture the city.
37 Timotiyos had hidden in a cistern, but they killed him, as well as his brother Chaereas and Apollophanes.
38 When it was over, the Yehudim celebrated by singing hymns and songs of thanksgiving to Yahweh, who had shown them great kindness and had given them victory.


Chapter 11

Yehudah Maccabeus Defeats Lysias

11 Not long after Timotiyos was defeated, Lysias, the King’s guardian and relative, and head of the government, heard what had happened.
2 He became angry and led 80,000 infantry and all his cavalry against the Yehudim with the intention of turning Yerushalayim into a Hellenized city.
3 The Temple would be taxed, as were all Gentile places of worship, and the office of High Priest would be up for sale each year.
Lysias was so pleased with his tens of thousands of infantry, his thousands of cavalry, and his eighty elephants that he failed to take into account the power of Yahweh.
He invaded Yehudah and attacked the fort of Beyth Tsur (Bethsura), about twenty miles south of Yerushalayim.
When Yehudah and his men heard that Lysias was laying siege to their forts, they and all the people cried and wept, begging Elohim to send a messenger to save them.
7 Yehudah was the first to take up his weapons, and he urged the others to join him in risking their lives to help the other Yehudim. So with great eagerness they all set out together.
8 But they had not gone far from Jerusalem, when suddenly they noticed they were being led by a horseman dressed in white and carrying gold weapons.
9 Immediately all of them together thanked Yahweh for his loving-kindness; he had made them brave enough to attack not only men, but even the most savage animals or even walls of iron.
10 So they marched in battle formation, and with them went the one whom Elohim in his compassion had sent to fight on their side.
11 Then they charged into the enemy like lions, killing 11,000 infantry and 1,600 cavalry, and forcing the rest to run for their lives.
12 Most of those who ran were wounded and had lost their weapons, and Lysias himself managed to escape only because he ran away like a coward.

Lysias Makes Peace with the Yehudim

13 Lysias was no fool. As he thought about the defeat he had suffered, he realized it was because Almighty Yahweh had fought for the Yehudim, making it impossible for them to be defeated.
14 So he sent a message to the Yehudim, trying to persuade them to agree to a just settlement and promising to do all he could to make the king friendly toward them.
15 Yehudah Maccabeus considered what would be best for the people, and so he agreed to all the proposals Lysias had made, since the king had granted every written request that Judas had presented to Lysias.

The Letter of Lysias to the Yehudim

16 Here is a copy of the letter which Lysias wrote to the Yehudim: Lysias to the Yehudite people, greetings.
17 Your representatives Yochanan and Abshalom have delivered to me the official document you sent with them, and they have asked me to agree to what is contained in it.
18 I have informed the king of the matters that needed to be brought to his attention, and he has agreed to do whatever is possible.
19 If you continue to be loyal to the government, I will do everything I can in the future to benefit your nation.
20 I have instructed your representatives and mine to meet with you to discuss the details of these matters.
21 May all go well with you. Dated the twenty-fourth day of the month of Cheshvan¹ in the year 148.
*1) The original source has the month of Dioscorinthius, an unknown month in many calendars, best guess is that it translates to the month Dios in the Makedonian calendar which is equal to the month of Marcheshvan (Cheshvan) or the 8th month in the Hebrew Calendar.

The King’s Letter to Lysias

22 Here is a copy of the King’s letter: King Antiochus to the honorable Lysias, greetings.
23 Now that my father has gone to be with the g-ds, I want the subjects of my kingdom to conduct their own affairs without interference.
24 I understand that the Yehudim do not wish to adopt the Greek way of life, as my father had intended, but prefer their own way of life and have requested that they be allowed to live according to their own customs.
25 Since I desire that they live undisturbed like the other nations in my empire, I hereby decree that their Temple be restored to them and that they be allowed to live according to the customs of their ancestors.
26 Please inform them of this decision and assure them of my friendship, so that they may conduct their own affairs in peace, without anything to worry about.
27 Here is a copy of the king’s letter to the Yehudite people: King Antiochus to the Yehudite leaders and all the Yehudim, greetings.
28 I hope that all is going well for you. I am in good health.
29 Menelaus has informed me of your desire to return home and attend to your own affairs.
30 So then, those of you who return home by the thirtieth of the month of Aviv/Nisan¹ may rest assured that you have nothing to fear.
31 You may continue to observe your dietary laws and other laws, as you used to do, and no Yehudite will be punished for any crime done in ignorance.
32 I am sending Menelaus to set your minds at ease.
3May all go well with you. Dated the fifteenth day of the month of Aviv/Nisan in the year 148.
*1) In both occasions listing a month, the original source material calls the month Xanthicus which is the first month of the Makedonian calendar. It is equivalent to the month of Aviv, or Nisan after the Babylonian exile, in the Hebrew calendar. 

The Letter of the Romiyim to the Yehudim

34 The Romiyim (Romans) also sent the Yehudim the following letter: Quintus Memmius and Titus Manius, representatives of the Romiyim, to the Yehudim, greetings.
35 We are in complete agreement with all that has been granted to you by the honorable Lysias.
36 We are now on our way to Antioch, so please examine carefully those matters that Lysias referred to the king.
37 Then send a reply to us immediately so that we can represent your best interests before him. Do this as soon as you can, without delay, so that we may know what you have decided.
38 May all go well with you. Dated the fifteenth day of the month of Aviv/Nisan¹ in the year 148.
*1) see previous footnote about Xanthicus.


Chapter 12

The Yehudim of Yapho Are Murdered

When the peace agreement between the Yehudim and the Assyrians was completed, Lysias returned to the king, and the Yehudim went back to their farming.
But some of the local governors, Timotiyos and Apollonius son of Gennaeus, as well as Hieronymus and Demophon, would not let them live in shalom; and neither would Nicanor, the commander of the mercenaries from Cyprus.
About this time, the people of Yapho did a cruel thing to the Yehudim of their city. They pretended to be friendly to the Yehudim and invited them and their families to go sailing with them on ships they had provided.
4 Since all the people of the town had decided to do this, the Yehudim suspected nothing and accepted the invitation out of a feeling of good will. But when they were out at sea, the people of Yapho drowned all two hundred of them.
5 As soon as Yehudah heard of this inhuman thing that had been done to those Yehudim, he informed his men.
After they had prayed to Yahweh, the just judge, they attacked the murderers. Under cover of darkness they set fire to the harbor, burning all the ships, and killing everyone they found hiding there.
The gates of the city were locked, so Yehudah withdrew; but he was determined to return at some other time and wipe out everyone living there.
8 Yehudah heard that the people of Yamnia had plans to kill the Yehudim of their city also.
9 So he attacked Yamnia at night, setting fire to its harbor and the ships there. The flames could be seen as far as Yerushalayim, thirty miles away.

Yehudah’s Victories in the Region of Gil’ad

10 When Yehudah and his men were about a mile away from Yamnia on their way to meet Timotiyos in battle, they were attacked by more than 5,000 Arabs, supported by 500 cavalry.
11 It was a hard fight, but with the help of Yahweh they defeated these desert tribesmen, who then asked to be on friendly terms with the Yehudim, promising to give them some livestock and offering to help them in other ways as well.
12 Yehudah thought their friendship might prove useful in many ways, so he agreed to make peace with them; after that the Arabs returned to their tents.
13 Yehudah also attacked the heavily fortified walled city of Caspin. The people who lived there were a mixed population of Gentiles  who relied on the strength of their walls and felt confident that they had enough food stored up to last through a siege.
14So they made fun of Yehudah and his men, shouting out insults against them and profanities against their Elohim.
15 But the Yehudim prayed to the Almighty Elohim of the universe, who had torn down the walls of Yericho in the days of Yehoshua without using battering rams or siege weapons.¹ 
16 Then they made a fierce attack against the wall and because it was Yahweh’s will, they captured the city. The Yehudim slaughtered so many people that a nearby lake, which was about a quarter of a mile wide, seemed to be overflowing with blood.
*1) Yehoshua (Joshua) 6:1-27

Yehudah Defeats Timotiyos’s Army

17 From the city of Caspin, Judas and his men marched about 95 miles, until they came to the Yehudite settlement of Kerek, near the city of Tob.
18 But they did not find Timotiyos there, because he had already left the region. He had been able to do nothing there except leave behind a strong garrison in one place.
19 Two of Yehudah’s generals, Dositheus and Sosipater, attacked the garrison and killed all 10,000 men stationed there.
20 Then Yehudah divided his army into several divisions, placing Dositheus and Sosipater each in command of a division, and hurried after Timotiyos, who had a force of 120,000 infantry and 2,500 cavalry.
21 When Timotiyos found out that Yehudah was coming after him, he sent the women and the children on ahead with the baggage to the city of Karnaim, which was almost impossible to besiege or even to reach, because of the narrow passes that led up to it.
22 But at the moment that Yehudah’s first division came into sight, the enemy forces were thrown into panic by a vision sent by Yahweh, who sees everything. In terror they began to run wildly about and many of them were wounded by the swords of their own men.
23 So Yehudah and his men pursued them as hard as they could, killing at least 30,000 of the enemy.
24 Timotiyos himself was captured by the troops of Dositheus and Sosipater. But he was very shrewd and managed to convince them that many of their relatives were his prisoners and would be put to death if anything happened to him.
25 Finally, after he had promised to send their relatives home safely, they let him go free.

Yehudah Wins Other Victories

26 Next, Yehudah attacked the city of Karnaim and the temple of  Astoreth there, killing 25,000 people and completely destroying both the city and the temple.
27 Then he attacked the fortified city of Ephron where Lysias and people of all nationalities were living. Strong young men took up their positions in front of the walls and fought bravely, while inside the city were stored large quantities of military supplies and weapons.
28 But the Yehudim prayed for help to Elohim, who crushes the power of his enemies. So they captured the city and killed about 25,000 people.
29 From there they hurried on to the city of Bashan, seventy-five miles north of Yerushalayim.
30 The Yehudim there told Yehudah how kindly the people of the city had treated them, especially during hard times.
31 So Yehudah and his men thanked the people and urged them to show the same good will toward the Yehudim in the future. Then they left for Yerushalayim, where they arrived shortly before the Feast of  Shavuot.

Yehudah Defeats Gorgias

32 After Shavuot (also “Pentecost” in Greek) Yehudah and his men quickly marched out against Gorgias, the governor of Edom¹, who met them with 3,000 infantry and 400 cavalry.
33In the battle that followed, a few Yehudim were killed.
34 Then a Yehudite from the city of Tob, a powerful cavalry soldier by the name of Dositheus, grabbed Gorgias by his cloak and started dragging him away by brute force, intending to take the worthless man alive.
35 But suddenly one from the Thracian cavalry rushed at Dositheus and chopped off his arm, allowing Gorgias to escape to the city of Tel Maresha.
36 By now the Yehudite men under the command of Esdras had been fighting for a long time and were exhausted. So Yehudah prayed that Elohim would show that he was on their side and in command of their troops.
37 Then, while Yehudah sang a hymn in his native language as a battle cry, the Yehudim made a surprise attack against Gorgias and his men and put them to flight.
*1) The same as Idumea

Prayers for Those Killed in Battle

38 After the battle Yehudah led his men to the town of Adullam. It was the day before the Shabbat, so they purified themselves according to Yehudite custom and then observed the set-apart day.
39 By the following day it was urgent that they gather up the bodies of the men who had been killed in battle and bury them in their family tombs.
40 But on each of the dead, hidden under their clothes, they found small images of the deities worshiped in Yamnia, which the Torah forbids the Yehudim to wear. Everyone then knew why these men had been killed.
41 So they praised the ways of Elohim, the just judge, who reveals what is hidden, and they begged him that this sin might be completely blotted out.
42 Then, Yehudah, that great man, urged the people to keep away from sin, because they had seen for themselves what had happened to those men who had sinned.