First exploits of Judas Maccabeus
1 Meanwhile, Judas, also called Mac cabeus, and his companions, would enter secretly into the villages, call their relatives, summon those who had remained faithful to Judaism, and finally they assembled about six thousand men. 2 They prayed to the Lord to turn his countenance on his people oppressed on all sides, to take pity on the Sanc tuary profaned by the impious, 3 to have compassion on the city – destroyed and on the point of being leveled – to listen to the cry of the blood reaching out to him; 4 and they asked that he not forget the unjust killing of innocent children and show his indignation against those who had insulted his Name.
5 The Lord’s anger turned into com passion, and as soon as Mac cabeus had organized his troops, they became invincible against the pagans.
5 Judas generally took advantage of the night for his military campaigns. 6 So he attacked them by surprise, set cities and villages on fire, captured strategic positions, and put to flight many of the enemies. 7 And people everywhere talked about him and his bravery.
8 When Philip saw that Judas was making progress little by little and his victories increased from day to day, he wrote to Ptolemy, the military commissioner of Coele-Syria and Phoenicia, to come and help him under the king’s service. 9 Pto lemy at once appointed Nicanor, son of Patroclus, one of the king’s first Friends, and sent him at the head of some twenty thousand men coming from all nations, with the order to wipe out all the Jews. At his side, he put Gorgias, a general of much experience in matters of war.
10 Nicanor intended to raise two thousand talents by the sale of Jewish slaves in order to pay for the tribute the king owed to the Romans. 11 So he extended an invitation to all the coastal cities to come and buy slaves for a talent, with out any regard for the punishment of the Almighty that might come upon him.
12 When Judas learned that Nicanor had come with a great army, he told his men about this. 13 So the cowardly and those who had no confidence in divine justice took to flight. 14 Still others sold everything they owned and asked God to deliver from the impious Nicanor those who had been sold even before any battle. 15 They prayed that if the Lord would not save them because of their own merits, that at least out of consideration for the covenant he made with their ancestors and for that great venerable Name with which he had blessed his people, he would do so.
16 Maccabeus gathered and reorganized his troops, numbering about six thousand, and exhorted them not to fear the enemy but to fight bravely against their unjust aggressors, despite their great number. 17 He reminded them how those men had profaned the Holy Place, slaughtered the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and removed their traditional institutions. 18 He said to them, “They come with confidence in their weapons and their boldness, but we trust in the almighty God, who is able to wipe out in one stroke all who invade our land and even the whole world.” 19 He recounted to them all the occasions when God had come to help their ancestors, especially when he wiped out one hun dred and eighty-five thousand men under Sen na cherib. 20 He also re minded them of what had happened in Babylonia, in the battle against the Gala tians. On that day, eight thousand Jews fought side by side with four thousand Mace donians, and as the Macedonians were hard pressed, their Jewish allies alone killed twenty thousand of the enemies’ troops with heaven’s help and seized a great booty.
21 Judas encouraged them with these words, and made them ready to die for their laws and country; then, he divided the army into four groups. 22 He assigned his brothers Simon, Joseph and Jonathan to each lead one division with fifteen hundred men in each. 23 He ordered that the Sacred Book be read, and he gave them their watchword “Help from God”; then, he himself led the first battalion, and fell on Nicanor. 24 With the help of the Almighty they slaughtered nine thousand enemies, wounded and crippled many, and put the rest to flight.
25 They seized the money of those who had come to buy the Jews, and pursued them for a good while. But it was nearly evening, 26 so they had to return because it was the vigil of the sab bath. That is why they stopped pursuing their enemies. 27 They gathered the weapons and the plunder of their enemies, and celebrated the sabbath on that day with praise and thanks giving to God who had just saved them and had begun to show them his mercy. 28 After the sabbath, they divided part of the booty among those who had been tortured, the widows and the orphans; and they divided the rest among themselves and their men. 29 Having done this, they asked the Merciful Lord during a public prayer to be fully reconciled with his servants.
30 Then, in an encounter with the army of Timotheus and Bacchides, they killed more than twenty thousand men, and took control of the fortified cities. They divided the abundant plunder into equal shares among themselves, those who had been tortured, the orphans, the widows and the aged.
31 They carefully stored in safe places the weapons they had taken from the enemies, and brought the rest of the booty to Jerusalem. 32 They killed the chief guard of Timotheus, an extremely wret ched man who had done so much evil against the Jews. 33 Then, as they celebrated their victory in Jerusalem, they burned alive those who had burned the temple gates, including Callisthenes who had taken refuge in one small house. So these men paid the price deserved for their impiety.
34 The thrice-as-wretched Nicanor, who had brought thousands of merchants to buy the Jews, 35 found himself humbled with God’s help by those same men he had despised before. Having discarded his splendid robe he fled across the country as a fugitive, and reached Antioch, very much relieved that he had not perished with his army.
36 He who had intended to pay the tribute owed to the Romans by selling the Jews, now affirmed that the Jews were invincible and in vulnerable, and that Someone fought for them, provided they were obeying the laws prescribed by him.