By April 8, 2008 0 Comments Read More →

1 Maccabees 7-10: The Final Hasmonean Victory

Tetradrachm of Demetrius IIThe Seleucids attempted to neutralize Judah by appointing Alcimus as high priest. Together with the Seleucid commanders, he fought against the Hasmonean forces. Ultimately, Judah himself fell in battle. Once again the Hellenizers and their Seleucid supporters controlled Judea for a time, until Jonathan began to retake the countryside. The Seleucids were forced to recognize Jonathan as ruler and high priest. The battle had finally been won.

7-1 In the one hundred and fifty-first year Demetrius the son of Seleucus 133 set forth from Rome, sailed with a few men to a city by the sea, 134 and there began to reign… 5 Then there came to him all the lawless and ungodly men of Israel; they were led by Alcimus who wanted to be high priest. 135 6 And they brought to the king this accusation against the people- “Judas and his brothers have destroyed all your friends, and have driven us out of our land. 7 Now then send a man whom you trust; let him go and see all the ruin which Judas has brought upon us and upon the land of the king, and let him punish them and all who help them.”

8 So the king chose Bacchides, one of the king’s friends, governor of the province Beyond the River; 136 he was a great man in the kingdom and was faithful to the king. 9 And he sent him, and with him the ungodly Alcimus, whom he made high priest; and he commanded him to take vengeance on the sons of Israel. 10 So they marched away and came with a large force into the land of Judah; and he sent messengers to Judas and his brothers with peaceable but treacherous words. 11 But they paid no attention to their words, for they saw that they had come with a large force.

12 Then a group of scribes appeared in a body before Alcimus and Bacchides to ask for just terms. 13 The Hasideans were the first among the sons of Israel to seek peace from them, 14 for they said, “A priest of the line of Aaron has come with the army, and he will not harm us.” 15 And he spoke peaceable words to them and swore this oath to them, “We will not seek to injure you or your friends.” 16 So they trusted him; but he seized sixty of them and killed them in one day, in accordance with the word which was written.

17 “The flesh of thy saints and their blood

they poured out round about Jerusalem,

and there was none to bury them.’’’ 137

18 Then the fear and dread of them fell upon all the people, for they said, “There is no truth or justice in them, for they have violated the agreement and the oath which they swore.”

19 Then Bacchides departed from Jerusalem and encamped in Beth-zaith. 138 And he sent and seized many of the men who had deserted to him, and some of the people, and killed them and threw them into the great pit. 20 He placed Alcimus in charge of the country and left with him a force to help him; then Bacchides went back to the king.

21 Alcimus strove for the high priesthood 22 and all who were troubling their people joined him. They gained control of the land of Judah and did great damage in Israel. 23 And Judas saw all the evil that Alcimus and those with him had done among the sons of Israel; it was more than the Gentiles had done. 24 So Judas went out into all the surrounding parts of Judea, and took vengeance on the men who had deserted and he prevented those in the city from going out into the country. 25 When Alcimus saw that Judas and those with him had grown strong, and realized that he could not withstand them, he returned to the king and brought wicked charges against them.

26 Then the king sent Nicanor, one of his honored princes, who hated and detested Israel, and he commanded him to destroy the people….

43 So the armies met in battle on the thirteenth day of the month of Adar. 139 The army of Nicanor was crushed, and he himself was the first to fall in the battle. 44 When his army saw that Nicanor had fallen, they threw down their arms and fled. 45 The Jews pursued them a day’s journey, from Adasa l40 as far as Gazara, and as they followed kept sounding the battle call on the trumpets. 46 And men came out of all the villages of Judea round about, and they out-flanked the enemy and drove them back to their pursuers, so that they all fell by the sword; not even one of them was left. 47 Then the Jews seized the spoils and the plunder, and they cut off Nicanor’s head and the right hand which he had so arrogantly stretched out, and brought them and displayed them just outside of Jerusalem. 48 The people rejoiced greatly and celebrated that day as a day of great gladness. 49 And they decreed that this day should be celebrated each year on the thirteenth day of Adar. 50 So the land of Judah had rest for a few days….

9- 1 When Demetrius heard that Nicanor and his army had fallen in battle, he sent Bacchides and Alcimus into the land of Judah a second time, and with them the right wing of the army. 2 They went by the road which leads to Gilgal and encamped against Mesaloth in Arbela, 141 and they took it and killed many people. 3 In the first month of the one hundred and fifty second year 142 they encamped against Jerusalem….

11 Then the army of Bacchides marched out from the camp and took its stand for the encounter. . . .

17 The battle became desperate, and many on both sides were wounded and fell. 18 Judas also fell, and the rest fled.

19 Then Jonathan and Simon took Judas their brother and buried him in the tomb of their fathers at Modein, 20 and wept for him. And all Israel made great lamentation for him; they mourned many days and said,

21 “How is the mighty fallen,

the savior of Israel!” 143

22 Now the rest of the acts of Judas, and his wars and the brave deeds that he did, and his greatness, have not been recorded, for they were very many.

23 After the death of Judas, the lawless emerged in all parts of Israel; all the doers of injustice appeared. 24 In those days a very great famine occurred, and the country deserted with them to the enemy. 25 And Bacchides chose the ungodly and put them in charge of the country. 26 They sought and searched for the friends of Judas, and brought them to Bacchides, and he took vengeance on them and made sport of them. 27 Thus there was great distress in Israel, such as had not been since the time that prophets ceased to appear among them.

28 Then all the friends of Judas assembled and said to Jonathan, 29 “Since the death of your brother Judas there has been no one like him to go against our enemies and Bacchides, and to deal with those of our nation who hate us. 30 So now we have chosen you today to take his place as our ruler and leader, to fight our battle.” 31 And Jonathan at that time accepted the leadership and took the place of Judas his brother….

50 Bacchides then returned to Jerusalem and built strong cities in Judea- the fortress in Jericho, and Emmaus, and Beth-horon, and Bethel, and Timnath, and Pharathon, and Tephon, with high walls and gates and bars. 51 And he placed garrisons in them to harass Israel. 52 He also fortified the city of Beth-zur, and Gazara, and the citadel, and in them he put troops and stores of food. 53 And he took the sons of the leading men of the land as hostages and put them under guard in the citadel at Jerusalem.

54 In the one hundred and fifty-third year, in the second month, 144 Alcimus gave orders to tear down the wall of the inner court of the sanctuary. He tore down the work of the prophets! 55 But he only began to tear it down, for at that time Alcimus was stricken and his work was hindered; his mouth was stopped and he was paralyzed, so that he could no longer say a word or give commands concerning his house.

56 And Alcimus died at that time in great agony. 57 When Bacchides saw that Alcimus was dead, he returned to the king, and the land of Judah had rest for two years.

58 Then all the lawless plotted and said, “See! Jonathan and his men are living in quiet and confidence. So now let us bring Bacchides back, and he will capture them all in one night.” 59 And they went and consulted with him. 60 He started to come with a large force, and secretly sent letters to all his allies in Judea, telling them to seize Jonathan and his men; but they were unable to do it, because their plan became known. 61 And Jonathan’s men seized about fifty of the men of the country who were leaders in this treachery, and killed them….

68 They fought with Bacchides, and he was crushed by them. They distressed him greatly, for his plan and his expedition had been in vain. 69 So he was greatly enraged at the lawless men who had counseled him to come into the country, and he killed many of them. Then he decided to depart to his own land.

70 When Jonathan learned of this, he sent ambassadors to him to make peace with him and obtain release of the captives. 71 He agreed, and did as he said, and he swore to Jonathan that he would not try to harm him as long as he lived. 72 He restored to him the captives whom he had formerly taken from the land of Judah, then he turned and departed to his own land, and came no more into their territory. 73 Thus the sword ceased from Israel. And Jonathan dwelt in Michmash. 145 And Jonathan began to judge the people, and he destroyed the ungodly out of Israel.

10-1 In the one hundred and sixtieth year 146 Alexander Epiphanes, the son of Antiochus, 147 landed and occupied Ptolemais. They welcomed him, and there he began to reign. 2 When Demetrius the king heard of it, he assembled a very large army and marched out to meet him in battle. 3 And Demetrius sent Jonathan a letter in peaceable words to honor him; 4 for he said, “Let us act first to make peace with him before he makes peace with Alexander against us, 5 for he will remember all the wrongs which we did to him and to his brothers and his nation.” 6 So Demetrius gave him authority to recruit troops, to equip them with arms, and to become his ally; and he commanded that the hostages in the citadel should be released to him.

7 Then Jonathan came to Jerusalem and read the letter in the hearing of all the people and of the men in the citadel. 8 They were greatly alarmed when they heard that the king had given him authority to recruit troops. 9 But the men in the citadel released the hostages to Jonathan, and he returned them to their parents.

10 And Jonathan dwelt in Jerusalem and began to rebuild and restore the city. 11 He directed those who were doing the work to build the walls and encircle Mount Zion with squared stones, for better fortification; and they did so….

15 Now Alexander the king heard of all the promises which Demetrius had sent to Jonathan, and men told him of the battles that Jonathan and his brothers had fought, of the brave deeds that they had done, and of the troubles that they had endured. 16 So he said, “Shall we find another such man? Come now, we will make him our friend and ally.” 17 And he wrote a letter and sent it to him, in the following words-

18 “King Alexander to his brother Jonathan, greeting. 19 We have heard about you, that you are a mighty warrior and worthy to be our friend. 20 And so we have appointed you today to be the high priest of your nation; you are to be called the king’s friend” (and he sent him a purple robe and a golden crown) “and you are to take our side and keep friendship with us.”

21 So Jonathan put on the holy garments in the seventh month of the one hundred and sixtieth year, at the feast of tabernacles, 148 and he recruited troops and equipped them with arms in abundance.

133. Demetrius I Soter (reigned 162-150 B.C.E.) was the son of Seleucus IV Philopater and the brother of Antiochus IV.

134. 2 Macc. 14-1 identifies this city as Tripolis.

135. Alcimus was not a member of the high priestly family and so had no legitimate claim to that position. He was an extreme Hellenizer and allied himself with the Seleucids.

136. The province west of the Euphrates River.

137. Ps. 79-2-3.

138. South of Jerusalem.

139. March, 161 D.C.E.

140. Five and a half miles north of Jerusalem.

141. Northwest of Tiberias in the Galilee, Hebrew Arbel. Mesaloth literally means “steps.”

142. April 160 B.C.E.

143. Cf. 2 Sam. 1-19

144. April-May of 159 B.C.E.

145. Eight miles northeast of Jerusalem.
146. 152 B.C.E.

147. Alexander Balas, who ruled 152-145 B.C.E., claimed to be the son of Antiochus IV.

148. The festival of Sukkot in September-October of 152 B.C.E.

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