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2 Maccabees 12
The twelfth chapter of 2
Maccabees is offered here in the Revised Standard version; the first
chapter can be found here.
Sack of JoppaWhen this agreement had been reached, Lysias returned to the king, and the Jews went about their farming. But some of the governors in various places, Timothy and Apollonius the son of Gennaeus, as well as Hieronymus and Demophon, and in addition to these Nicanor the governor of Cyprus, would not let them live quietly and in peace. And some men of Joppa did so ungodly a deed as this: they invited the Jews who lived among them to embark, with their wives and children, on boats which they had provided, as though there were no ill will to the Jews; and this was done by public vote of the city. And when they accepted, because they wished to live peaceably and suspected nothing, the men of Joppa took them out to sea and drowned them, not less than two hundred.
When Judas heard of the cruelty visited on his countrymen, he gave orders to his men and, calling upon God the righteous Judge, attacked the murderers of his brethren. He set fire to the harbor by night, and burned the boats, and massacred those who had taken refuge there. Then, because the city's gates were closed, he withdrew, intending to come again and root out the whole community of Joppa.
learning that the men in Jamnia meant in the same way to wipe out the Jews
who were living among them, he
attacked the people of Jamnia by night and set fire to the harbor and the
fleet, so that the glow of the light was seen in Jerusalem, thirty miles
Campaign to GileadWhen they had gone more than a mile from there, on their march against Timothy, not less than five thousand Arabs with five hundred horsemen attacked them. After a hard fight Judas and his men won the victory, by the help of God. The defeated nomads besought Judas to grant them pledges of friendship, promising to give him cattle and to help his people in all other ways. Judas, thinking that they might really be useful in many ways, agreed to make peace with them; and after receiving his pledges they departed to their tents.
He also attacked a certain city which was strongly fortified with earthworks and walls, and inhabited by all sorts of Gentiles. Its name was Caspin. And those who were within, relying on the strength of the walls and on their supply of provisions, behaved most insolently toward Judas and his men, railing at them and even blaspheming and saying unholy things. But Judas and his men, calling upon the great Sovereign of the world, who without battering-rams or engines of war overthrew Jericho in the days of Joshua, rushed furiously upon the walls. They took the city by the will of God, and slaughtered untold numbers, so that the adjoining lake, a quarter of a mile wide, appeared to be running over with blood.
When they had gone ninety-five miles from there, they came to Charax, to the Jews who are called Toubiani. They did not find Timothy in that region, for he had by then departed from the region without accomplishing anything, though in one place he had left a very strong garrison. Dositheus and Sosipater, who were captains under Maccabeus, marched out and destroyed those whom Timothy had left in the stronghold, more than ten thousand men.
But Maccabeus arranged his army in divisions, set men in command of the divisions, and hastened after Timothy, who had with him a hundred and twenty thousand infantry and two thousand five hundred cavalry. When Timothy learned of the approach of Judas, he sent off the women and the children and also the baggage to a place called Carnaim; for that place was hard to besiege and difficult of access because of the narrowness of all the approaches. But when Judas' first division appeared, terror and fear came over the enemy at the manifestation to them of him who sees all things; and they rushed off in flight and were swept on, this way and that, so that often they were injured by their own men and pierced by the points of their swords. And Judas pressed the pursuit with the utmost vigor, putting the sinners to the sword, and destroyed as many as thirty thousand men.
Timothy himself fell into the hands of Dositheus and Sosipater and their men. With great guile he besought them to let him go in safety, because he held the parents of most of them and the brothers of some and no consideration would be shown them. And when with many words he had confirmed his solemn promise to restore them unharmed, they let him go, for the sake of saving their brethren.
Then Judas marched against Carnaim and the temple of Atargatis, and slaughtered twenty-five thousand people. After the rout and destruction of these, he marched also against Ephron, a fortified city where Lysias dwelt with multitudes of people of all nationalities. Stalwart young men took their stand before the walls and made a vigorous defense; and great stores of war engines and missiles were there. But the Jews called upon the Sovereign Who with power shatters the might of His enemies, and they got the city into their hands, and killed as many as twenty-five thousand of those who were within it.
Setting out from
there, they hastened to Scythopolis, which is seventy-five miles from Jerusalem. But
when the Jews who dwelt there bore witness to the good will which the people
of Scythopolis had shown them and their kind treatment of them in times
of misfortune, they
thanked them and exhorted them to be well disposed to their race in the
future also. Then they went up to Jerusalem, as the feast of weeks was
close at hand.
Campaign against GorgiasAfter the feast called Pentecost, they hastened against Gorgias, the governor of Idumea. And he came out with three thousand infantry and four hundred cavalry. When they joined battle, it happened that a few of the Jews fell. But a certain Dositheus, one of Bacenor's men, who was on horseback and was a strong man, caught hold of Gorgias, and grasping his cloak was dragging him off by main strength, wishing to take the accursed man alive, when one of the Thracian horsemen bore down upon him and cut off his arm; so Gorgias escaped and reached Marisa.
As Esdris and his
men had been fighting for a long time and were weary, Judas called upon
the Lord to show Himself their ally and leader in the battle. In
the language of their fathers he raised the battle cry, with hymns; then
he charged against Gorgias' men when they were not expecting it, and put
them to flight. Then
Judas assembled his army and went to the city of Adullam. As the seventh
day was coming on, they purified themselves according to the custom, and
they kept the sabbath there.
Sin offeringOn the next day, as by that time it had become necessary, Judas and his men went to take up the bodies of the fallen and to bring them back to lie with their kinsmen in the sepulchres of their fathers. Then under the tunic of every one of the dead they found sacred tokens of the idols of Jamnia, which the law forbids the Jews to wear. And it became clear to all that this was why these men had fallen.
So they all blessed the ways of the Lord, the righteous Judge, Who reveals the things that are hidden; and they turned to prayer, beseeching that the sin which had been committed might be wholly blotted out. And the noble Judas exhorted the people to keep themselves free from sin, for they had seen with their own eyes what had happened because of the sin of those who had fallen.
He also took up a collection, man by man, to the amount of two thousand drachmas of silver, and sent it to Jerusalem to provide for a sin offering. In doing this he acted very well and honorably, taking account of the resurrection. For if he were not expecting that those who had fallen would rise again, it would have been superfluous and foolish to pray for the dead. But if he was looking to the splendid reward that is laid up for those who fall asleep in godliness, it was a holy and pious thought. Therefore he made atonement for the dead, that they might be delivered from their sin.
Latest revision: 8 December 2006