Death of Judas Maccabeus
1 When Demetrius was in formed of the death of Nicanor and the defeat of his army, he sent Bacchides and Alcimus back to Judea with the best troops of his army. 2 They took the road to Galilee and besieged the city of Mesaloth in the Arbela region. They captured it and killed many. 3 In the first month of the year one hundred and fifty-two, they encamped before Jeru salem. 4 From there twenty thousand infantry and two thousand cavalry set out for Berea. 5 Judas had his camp in Elasa with three thousand picked men. 6 When they saw the huge number of enemies, they were terrified. Many slipped out of the camp, and only eight hundred men were left. 7 Judas saw the dispersal of his army and this crushed his spirit. The battle was imminent but he had no time to group them together. 8 Yet in spite of being dismayed, he did his best to encourage those who remained with him: “Let us fight our enemies. We may yet be able to defeat them.”
9 They tried to dissuade him, “We cannot do anything now but save ourselves. We can come back later with our brothers and fight. But now we are too few.” 10 But Judas answered them, “God forbid that I should run away from them. If our time has come, then let us die as valiant men for our brothers, without tarnishing our glory.”
11 The army of Bacchides mar ched out of their camp while the Jews remained in their place to engage them in battle. The cavalry was divided into two wings. In the first line, the veterans in war ad vanced, and the archers and sling ers followed. 12 Bacchides was on the right wing. At the sound of the trumpets, they advanced on both sides. The Jews also sounded the trumpets. 13 And the earth trem bled with the noise of the armies, and a battle began which lasted the whole day.
14 Judas saw that Bacchides and the main strength of his army was on the right. The most courageous of the Israelites went with him, 15 and they defeated the right wing of the enemy, pursuing them up to the hills. 16 But when those on the left wing saw the right wing being defeated, they attacked Judas and his men from the rear. 17 They fought bitterly and many fell on both sides. 18 Judas also fell, and the rest fled.
19 Jonathan and Simon took their brother and buried him in the tomb of their fathers at Modein. 20 All the people of Israel mourned and wept for him for many days, repeating this lamentation: 21 “How the hero has fallen, he who saved Israel.”
22 The other deeds of Judas, his battles, exploits and heroism were not written for they were many.
Jonathan succeeds Judas
23 After the death of Judas, the renegades reappeared throughout the territory of Israel and the evildoers took cour age. 24 At the same time, there was a severe famine, and the country went over to their side. 25 Bacchides chose renegade men and made them masters of the land. 26 These men traced and searched out all the friends and supporters of Judas and brought them before Bacchides who punished and humiliated them in a thousand ways. 27 It was a terrible trial for Israel such as had never been experienced since the disappearance of the prophets.
28 So the friends of Judas came to gether and said to Jonathan, 29 “Since your brother Judas died, we haven’t found anyone like him to head the resistance against the enemy, against Bac chides and all the enemies of our nation. 30 So we now choose you to take his place, to be our head and lead us in our wars.” So from that day on, 31 Jonathan accepted the leadership and succeeded his brother Judas.
32 When Bacchides heard of this, he planned to kill Jonathan. 33 But Jona than was informed of the plot and fled to the desert of Tekoa, together with his brother Simon and his followers. They encamped by the lake Asphar. 34 Bac chides found this out on the sabbath day, and with all his army he crossed the Jordan.
35 Jonathan had sent his brother John, representative of the people, to ask their friends the Nabatean to store for them their large amount of baggage. 36 But the tribe of Yambri and the people of Medeba captured John and took all he had with him, then departed with the booty. 37 After this had happened, Jonathan and his brother Simon were told that the Yam brites were celebrating a solemn wedding and were escorting the bride, a daughter of one of the magnates, from Nadabath with great pomp.
38 Both remembered the murder of their brother John, so they went up and hid under cover of the mountain. 39 At a certain moment they heard a confusion of sounds; then they saw a great deal of baggage. The bride groom, his friends and brothers came straight to them with tambourines, musical instruments and many weapons. 40 Then the Jews rushed down on them from their ambush and killed them. There were many casualties and others fled to the mountain. Finally the Jews seized all the plunder. 41 So the wedding turned to mourning and the music to lamen tation. 42 Having avenged the death of their brother, the Israelites went back to the marshes of the Jordan.
42 Let us return to Bacchides. 43 He arrived with a strong army on the sabbath day at the banks of the Jordan. 44 So Jonathan said to his men, “Courage! Let us fight for our lives, for today things are going to be serious. 45 Dangers surround us – we have the waters of the Jordan on this side, the marshes and the thickets on the other side – there is no place to turn. 46 So cry out to Heaven for deliverance from our enemies.”
47 And the battle began. Jonathan stretched out his arm to strike Bacchides, but he eluded him and withdrew. 48 So Jonathan and his men leapt into the Jordan, swimming to the other side; but their enemies did not follow them. 49 On that day, about a thousand of Bacchides’ men fell.
50 Bacchides returned to Jerusalem. Then he began to build fortified cities in Judea – the strongholds of Jericho, Emmaus, Beth-horon, Bethel, Timnath, Pharathon and Tephon – with high walls and barred gates, 51 and a garrison stationed in each of them to harass the Isra elites. 52 He also fortified the cities of Beth-zur, Gazara and the Citadel, and placed troops in each of them with supplies of provisions. 53 He took the sons of the leaders of the land as hostages and imprisoned them in the Citadel of Jeru salem.
54 In the year one hundred and fifty-three (159 B.C.), in the second month, Alcimus ordered the demolition of the wall of the inner court of the temple. This meant no less than destroying the work of the prophets. 55 Al cimus did in fact begin the demolition but soon after suffered a stroke, so the work was suspended. Alcimus was no longer able to speak, not even to rule over his household. 56 After a while, he died in great agony. 57 Because of his death, Bacchides returned to the king and the land had peace for two years.
The siege of Bethbasi
58 Then all the renegades agreed on a plan: “Jonathan and his people now live in peace without any fear at all. Let us bring Bacchides back; he can arrest them all in one night.” 59 They went to Bac chides, and when they had convinced him, 60 he set out with a large contingent. He secretly sent letters to his supporters in Judea instructing them to seize Jona than and his men. But their plot was found out and their plan foiled. 61 Instead the supporters of Jonathan arrested fifty Jewish leaders of this conspiracy and had them executed.
62 Jonathan and Simon then withdrew with their men to Bethbasi in the desert; they rebuilt the ruins and fortified it. 63 When Bacchides heard this, he assembled all his men and notified his adherents in Judea. 64 He went to attack Bethbasi, besieged it for many days and built engines of war. 65 Then Jonathan left his brother Simon in the city and went out into the countryside with a handful of men. 66 He defeated Odomera and his brothers and the people of Phasiron in their camp. 67 Then they turned back and began to attack the troops who had laid siege to the city. Meanwhile, Simon and his men went out of the city and burned the engines. 68 They attacked Bacchides who was defeated and dismayed by the failure of his expe dition. 69 He was greatly enraged against the renegades who had advised him to return to the Jewish country; he executed many of them, and decided to return to his own land. 70 When Jonathan learned this, he sent messengers to him to make a treaty of peace and to exchange prisoners.
71 Bacchides accepted his terms. For Bacchides’ part, he fulfilled his promises and swore that henceforth and until the day of his death, he would never harm him in any way. 72 He turned over to Jonathan the prisoners taken earlier in Judea. Then he returned to his own country and never came back again to the territory of Judea. 73 So there was peace in Israel, and Jonathan resided in Mich mash where he began to govern the land, and the renegades disappeared from Israel.