First campaign of Lysias
1 After a while, Lysias, the king’s tutor and kinsman, who was head of the government, was much displeased at the turn of events, 2 and gathered together about eighty thousand men and his entire cavalry. They advanced against the Jews intending to make the city of Jerusalem a Greek colony and 3 to convert the Temple into a source of revenue, as they had done with other sanctuaries of the pagans, and to put the office of high priest up for sale every year.
4 He took God’s power for granted, and went up with his infantry regiments, his horsemen by the thousands, and his eighty elephants. 5 He entered Judea, came near Beth-zur, a strong city some kilometers away from Jerusalem, and besieged it.
6 When the men of Maccabeus learned that Lysias had begun laying siege to their strong cities, they prayed to the Lord together with all the people, with tears and lamentations, that the Lord might send a good angel to save Israel. 7 Macca beus himself was the first to take arms and exhort the rest to go with him to face the danger and help their brothers and sisters. They set out together, full of enthusiasm. 8 While they were still near Jerusalem, a horseman dressed in white with golden armor appeared and stood at the head of them. 9 So with one voice, everyone blessed the merciful God. They were strengthened and prepared not only to face men in battle but even the most savage beasts and walls of iron.
10 They advanced with the aid of this ally sent from heaven, for the Lord had compassion on them. 11 They charged like lions against the enemy, brought down eleven thousand infantrymen and one thousand six hundred horsemen, and forced the rest to flee. 12 Most of them fled, wounded and disarmed, until Lysias himself fled in disgrace in order to save himself.
13 Lysias, being an intelligent man, reflected on the defeat he had suffered and understood that the Hebrews were invincible because the powerful God fought for them. 14 So he sent a messenger to convince them to accept peace with every kind of just condition. And he even promised to persuade the king to make peace with them, too.
15 Maccabeus, thinking of the common good of all, accepted Lysias’ offer of peace. And in fact, the king granted all the demands that Maccabeus had presented to Lysias in writing. 16 Lysias wrote to them as follows:
16 “From Lysias to the Jewish people, greetings. 17 John and Absalom, your envoys, have delivered to us your written petitions, asking us to respond. 18 I have set forth before the king everything that needed his attention; and I have granted everything that was within my com pe tence. 19 Therefore, if you maintain your good will toward the State, I will also try in the future to work in your favor. 20 As for the details, I have given orders for your envoys and my own rep resentatives to discuss these with you. 21 May everything go well with you. In the year one hundred and forty-eight, the twenty-fourth day of the month of the Corinthian God.”
22 The king’s letter was as follows: “King Antiochus greets his brother Lysias. 23 From the day we succeeded to the throne of our father, who has gone to the dwelling place of the gods, it has been our desire that all our subjects live undisturbed so that everyone may dedicate him self to his own work. 24 Learning that the Jews do not wish to adopt Greek customs, as it was the will of my father, but prefer their own way of life and ask that they be allowed to live according to their laws, 25 and since it is our desire that this nation live in peace, we have decreed that the Temple be restored to them and that they be allowed to live according to the laws and customs of their ancestors.
26 You will do well, therefore, to send envoys to conclude a treaty of peace with them. May they come to know our constant aim, so they may be reassured and dedicate themselves with joy to their own occupations.”
27 This was the king’s letter to the Je wish people: “King Antiochus to the Coun cil of Elders and to the Jewish people: greetings! 28 If you enjoy good health, we are happy for you; we ourselves are also well.
29 Menelaus has told us that you wish to re turn to your homes and occupations. 30 There fore, I have issued a decree of amnesty for all who would go home before the thirtieth of the month of Xanthicus. 31 The Jews from now on may live according to their own customs concerning their food, and be governed by their own laws as before. None of them is to be molested in any way for anything done involun tarily. 32 I have ordered Menelaus to reassure you of all this. 33 I wish you good health. In the year one hundred and forty-eight, the fifteenth day of the month of Xanthicus.”
34 The Romans also sent them a letter which read as follows: “Quintus Mem mius and Titus Manius, ambassadors of the Romans, send their greetings to the Jewish people. 35 Everything that Lysias, the king’s kinsman, has granted you, we also approve. 36 As for the matters about which Lysias considered it necessary to inform the king and take up with him, we ask that you study them carefully and send someone to us at once, so we can explain ev erything to the king to your advantage, for we are now leaving for Antioch.
37 Lose no time, therefore, in sending some one to us, that we may know your plans. 38 We wish you good health. In the fifteenth of the month of Xanthicus in the year one hundred and forty-eight.”