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Judaean coin, showing  a bunch of grapes.

1 Maccabees 16

The First Book of Maccabees describes the struggle of the Jews for religious, cultural, and political independence against the Seleucid king Antiochus IV Epiphanes and his successors, who were Greeks and sympathized with the hellenization of Judah. Although it can not be denied that the book is biased, it is certainly not the worst of all historical studies from Antiquity. The final chapter of 1 Maccabees is offered here in the Revised Standard version; an introduction and the first chapter can be found here.
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Coin of the Seleucid king Antiochus VII Sidetes or Euergetes.
Antiochus VII Sidetes
John went up from Gazara and reported to Simon his father what Cendebeus had done. And Simon called in his two older sons Judas and John, and said to them: "I and my brothers and the house of my father have fought the wars of Israel from our youth until this day, and things have prospered in our hands so that we have delivered Israel many times. But now I have grown old, and you by His mercy are mature in years. Take my place and my brother's, and go out and fight for our nation, and may the help which comes from Heaven be with you."

So John chose out of the country twenty thousand warriors and horsemen, and they marched against Cendebeus and camped for the night in Mode'in. fEarly in the morning they arose and marched into the plain, and behold, a large force of infantry and horsemen was coming to meet them; and a stream lay between them. Then he and his army lined up against them. And he saw that the soldiers were afraid to cross the stream, so he crossed over first; and when his men saw him, they crossed over after him. Then he divided the army and placed the horsemen in the midst of the infantry, for the cavalry of the enemy were very numerous. And they sounded the trumpets, and Cendebeus and his army were put to flight, and many of them were wounded and fell; the rest fled into the stronghold.

At that time Judas the brother of John was wounded, but John pursued them until Cendebeus reached Kedron, which he had built. They also fled into the towers that were in the fields of Azotus, and John burned it with fire, and about two thousand of them fell. And he returned to Judah safely.

Now Ptolemy the son of Abubus had been appointed governor over the plain of Jericho, and he had much silver and gold, for he was son-in-law of the high priest. His heart was lifted up; he determined to get control of the country, and made treacherous plans against Simon and his sons, to do away with them.

Now Simon was visiting the cities of the country and attending to their needs, and he went down to Jericho with Mattathias and Judas his sons, in the one hundred and seventy-seventh year, in the eleventh month, which is the month of Shebat[Seleucid Era; 21 January 134]The son of Abubus received them treacherously in the little stronghold called Dok, which he had built; he gave them a great banquet, and hid men there. When Simon and his sons were drunk, Ptolemy and his men rose up, took their weapons, and rushed in against Simon in the banquet hall, and they killed him and his two sons and some of his servants. So he committed an act of great treachery and returned evil for good.

Then Ptolemy wrote a report about these things and sent it to the king, asking him to send troops to aid him and to turn over to him the cities and the country. He sent other men to Gazara to do away with John; he sent letters to the captains asking them to come to him so that he might give them silver and gold and gifts; and he sent other men to take possession of Jerusalem and the temple hill. But some one ran ahead and reported to John at Gazara that his father and brothers had perished, and that "he has sent men to kill you also."

When he heard this, he was greatly shocked; and he seized the men who came to destroy him and killed them, for he had found out that they were seeking to destroy him.

The rest of the acts of John and his wars and the brave deeds which he did, and the building of the walls which he built, and his achievements, behold, they are written in the chronicles of his high priesthood, from the time that he became high priest after his father.[1]

Note 1:
John, surnamed Hyrcanus, immediately had to cope with an invasion by king Antiochus, who besieged Judaea. In the end, he recognizesd John as high priest and did not interfere with the Jewish religion. For this behavior, he is sometimes called Euergetes, 'benefactor'.

Online 2006
Latest revision: 6 December 2006

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