Antiochus invades Judea
1 In the year one hundred and forty-nine, the men of Judas learned that Antiochus Eupator had come against Judea with countless troops, 2 together with Lysias, his tutor who was head of the government. Each of them was in command of a Greek army of one hundred and ten thousand infantrymen, five thousand and three hundred horsemen, twenty-two elephants and about three hundred chariots of war with scythes.
3 Menelaus joined them, and incited Antiochus with every evil intent since he was not seeking the freedom of his country but only hoping that he would be restored to the office of High Priest. 4 But the King of kings roused the anger of Antiochus against that wicked man, when Lysias made the king realize that Mene laus was the cause of all the evils.
4 So the king ordered that Menelaus be taken to Berea and executed according to the custom of the place. 5 There is a tower in that place, twenty-five meters high, full of burning ashes, provided with a revolving device on top, which sloped on all sides into ashes. 6 Whoever robbed any sacred thing or committed any other notorious crime was brought up to the tower, and then, pushed into the ashes. 7 In this way, Menelaus died without even a burial. 8 This was indeed a just punishment for him who had committed so many offenses against the Altar whose fire and ashes were sacred; and so, he met his death in ashes.
Prayer and success of the Jews in Modein
9 The king came with a heart full of evil designs, prepared to be more cruel to the Jews, than his father had been. 10 When Judas learned of this, he ordered his army to call on God day and night, so that as God had done in other circumstances, he would now also help those 11 who were in danger of be -ing deprived of their Law, their country and their temple. God could not let his people, who had hardly begun to breathe freely, fall once again into the hands of blasphemous pagans.
12 Once all the people had carried out the order to pray to the merciful Lord with lamentations, fasting and prayer for three consecutive days, Judas encouraged them and commanded them to stand ready. 13 After sum moning the Elders in private, he determined to leave with his men for a decisive attempt with the help of God, before the king’s army could invade Judea and take control of Jeru salem.
14 Judas entrusted the decision to the Creator of the world, and encouraged his men to fight heroically to the death for the Law, the Temple, the city, the country and the institutions. So he left with his army and encamped near Modein. 15 He gave his men this watchword: “God’s victory.” With the most capable young men of his army he attacked by night the tent of the king, putting to the sword about two thousand men, the strongest elephant and its rider. 16 They caused fear and confusion in the camp and then withdrew in complete success. 17 All this happened just as day was dawning, for God’s help protected them.
18 When the king saw the daring of the Jews, he tried to take control of their fortresses by using tricks. 19 He advanced against Beth-zur, a city strongly defended by the Jews; he attacked it but was repelled and defeated. 20 Judas supplied the defenders of the city with everything they needed.
21 Rhodocus, one of Judas’ men, gave secret information to the enemies. He was hunted, captured and executed. 22 The king again kept in contact with the defenders of Beth-zur, made peace with them and withdrew. 23 He attacked the troops of Judas but was defeated. When he was informed that Philip, whom he had left in Antioch as head of the government, had revolted, he was dismayed. He sought peace with the Jews and had to accept and swear to observe their just petitions; he became reconciled with them, offered sacrifices, honored the Tem ple and showed generosity to the Holy Place.
24 The king took leave of Maccabeus and named Hegemonides as governor from Ptolemais to the land of the Gera rrites. 25 When he came to Ptolemais, he found the inhabitants were indignant over that treaty; they were so angry they wanted to annul its terms. 26 But Lysias came up to the tribunal to defend what had been decided; he convinced and ap peased them, winning their goodwill before he set out for Antioch. This was what happened with the king’s expedition and retreat.