Antiochus sacks the temple
1 By this time, Antiochus was preparing a second expedition against Egypt. 2 And for nearly forty days, there appeared throughout the city, galloping through the air, horsemen dressed in gold, 3 troops with swords drawn and formed in squadrons, cavalry squad rons in order of battle, attacks and charges from this side and that, movements of shields, many spears, arrows, missiles, the glitter of golden outfits and armor of all kinds. 4 Everyone prayed that these apparitions would be an announcement of something good about to happen.
5 As a false rumor spread that Antio chus had died, Jason gathered together about ten thousand men and launched a surprise attack on the city. The troops upon the walls defended the city, but once these were taken, the whole city fell into the hands of Jason, while Menelaus took refuge in the Citadel. 6 Jason cruelly massacred his fellow citizens, without realizing that his victory against his own nation was the greatest defeat. He seemed to believe that he was winning over enemies when, in reality, these were his own people. 7 But he did not stay in power for long and after obtaining nothing but shame for himself, he had to flee once again to the land of Ammon. 8 Finally, he had a very unfortunate end. Accused before Aretas, the king of the Arabs, fleeing from city to city, pursued by all, scorned as a renegade from the law and hated as the executioner of his country and fellow citizens, he was banished to Egypt. 9 And he, who had exiled so many from their own country, died in exile: for he went as far as Lacedemonia in the hope of finding protection there because of the kinship between that peo ple and ours. 10 He, who had deprived so many of burial places, died with no one to mourn him, no funeral rites nor place in the tomb of his fathers.
Persecution of Antiochus
11 When news of these events reached the king, he thought that the whole of Judea had risen in rebellion. He became furious and, leav ing Egypt, went to take Jerusalem by force. 12 He ordered his soldiers to kill without mercy everyone they encountered and to behead as well all those who took refuge in their houses. 13 Young and old perished; men, women and children were massacred, and infants and virgins were put to the sword. 14 Within only three days, there were eighty thousand victims – forty thousand perished in the slaughter and as many were sold as slaves. 15 Not content with this, Antiochus boldly entered the holiest Tem ple in the entire world, guided by Menelaus, the traitor to the law and country.
16 With his unclean hands, Antiochus seized the sacred vessels, and with impious hands took away what other kings had given as gifts for the glory and honor of the Temple. 17 But in acting in such an insolent manner, Antiochus did not realize that the Lord had let him profane the Temple in order to punish the inhabitants of the city, because their sins had offended him.
18 For, had the city not been sinful, Antiochus would have been flogged the moment he entered, as Heliodorus who was sent by Seleucus to rob the treasury had been. And he would have also repented of his audacity. 19 But God had not chosen the people for the Temple, but the Temple for the sake of the nation.
20 Therefore, the Temple also shared in the nation’s misfortune, as it also shared afterward in its restoration. As it had been abandoned in the time of the wrath of God, it was again restored to its glory when the Most High Lord was appeased.
21 Antiochus took with him eighteen hundred talents which he had stolen from the Temple, and hurriedly went back to Antioch, so proud that he thought himself capable of sailing by land and walking on the sea. 22 At his departure, he left ministers to oppress our race. In Jerusalem, he appointed Philip, of Phrygian ancestry and of more barbarous character than he who had appointed him; 23 and he left Andronicus in Gerizim. Besides there was Menelaus, who surpassed them in his hatred for his fellow citizens. This man had indeed a deep hatred for Jewish compatriots.
24 Antiochus also sent Apollonius with an army of twenty-two thousand soldiers with orders to behead all the grown men and sell the women and children. 25 Arriving in Jerusalem, under the pretext of peace, he waited until the holy day of the sabbath. Then he took the Jews by surprise as they rested. He ordered his men to conduct a military parade, 26 and he killed all those who came out to see the show. Then, running through the streets, the soldiers killed many people.
27 Judas Maccabeus, however, withdrew in to the desert with about nine others willing to live like the wild beasts. There they fed on clean vegetables, for they did not want to eat unclean meat.