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2 Maccabees 14
The fourteenth chapter of
Maccabees is offered here in the Revised Standard version; the first
chapter can be found here.
Demetrius I Soter
Alcimus[161 BCE] Three years later, word came to Judas and his men that Demetrius, the son of Seleucus, had sailed into the harbor of Tripolis with a strong army and a fleet, and had taken possession of the country, having made away with Antiochus and his guardian Lysias.
Now a certain Alcimus, who had formerly been high priest but had wilfully defiled himself in the times of separation, realized that there was no way for him to be safe or to have access again to the holy altar, and went to King Demetrius in about the one hundred and fifty-first year, presenting to him a crown of gold and a palm, and besides these some of the customary olive branches from the temple. During that day he kept quiet.
But he found an opportunity that furthered his mad purpose when he was invited by Demetrius to a meeting of the council and was asked about the disposition and intentions of the Jews. He answered: "Those of the Jews who are called Hasideans, whose leader is Judas Maccabeus, are keeping up war and stirring up sedition, and will not let the kingdom attain tranquillity. Therefore I have laid aside my ancestral glory - I mean the high priesthood - and have now come here, first because I am genuinely concerned for the interests of the king, and second because I have regard also for my fellow citizens. For through the folly of those whom I have mentioned our whole nation is now in no small misfortune. Since you are acquainted, O king, with the details of this matter, deign to take thought for our country and our hard-pressed nation with the gracious kindness which you show to all. For as long as Judas lives, it is impossible for the government to find peace."
Nicanor and JudasAnd he immediately chose Nicanor, who had been in command of the elephants, appointed him governor of Judea, and sent him off with orders to kill Judas and scatter his men, and to set up Alcimus as high priest of the greatest temple.
And the Gentiles throughout Judea, who had fled before Judas, flocked to join Nicanor, thinking that the misfortunes and calamities of the Jews would mean prosperity for themselves. When the Jews heard of Nicanor's coming and the gathering of the Gentiles, they sprinkled dust upon their heads and prayed to him who established his own people for ever and always upholds his own heritage by manifesting himself. At the command of the leader, they set out from there immediately and engaged them in battle at a village called DessaŘ.
Simon, the brother of Judas, had encountered Nicanor, but had been temporarily checked because of the sudden consternation created by the enemy. Nevertheless Nicanor, hearing of the valor of Judas and his men and their courage in battle for their country, shrank from deciding the issue by bloodshed. Therefore he sent Posidonius and Theodotus and Mattathias to give and receive pledges of friendship.
When the terms had been fully considered, and the leader had informed the people, and it had appeared that they were of one mind, they agreed to the covenant. And the leaders set a day on which to meet by themselves. A chariot came forward from each army; seats of honor were set in place; Judas posted armed men in readiness at key places to prevent sudden treachery on the part of the enemy; they held the proper conference.
on in Jerusalem and did nothing out of the way, but dismissed the flocks
of people that had gathered. And
he kept Judas always in his presence; he was warmly attached to the man. And
he urged him to marry and have children; so he married, settled down, and
shared the common life.
Death of RazisBut when Alcimus noticed their good will for one another, he took the covenant that had been made and went to Demetrius. He told him that Nicanor was disloyal to the government, for he had appointed that conspirator against the kingdom, Judas, to be his successor. The king became excited and, provoked by the false accusations of that depraved man, wrote to Nicanor, stating that he was displeased with the covenant and commanding him to send Maccabeus to Antioch as a prisoner without delay.
When this message came to Nicanor, he was troubled and grieved that he had to annul their agreement when the man had done no wrong. Since it was not possible to oppose the king, he watched for an opportunity to accomplish this by a stratagem.
But Maccabeus, noticing that Nicanor was more austere in his dealings with him and was meeting him more rudely than had been his custom, concluded that this austerity did not spring from the best motives. So he gathered not a few of his men, and went into hiding from Nicanor.
When the latter became aware that he had been cleverly outwitted by the man, he went to the great and holy temple while the priests were offering the customary sacrifices, and commanded them to hand the man over. And when they declared on oath that they did not know where the man was whom he sought, he stretched out his right hand toward the sanctuary, and swore this oath: "If you do not hand Judas over to me as a prisoner, I will level this precinct of God to the ground and tear down the altar, and I will build here a splendid temple to Dionysus."
Having said this, he went away. Then the priests stretched forth their hands toward heaven and called upon the constant Defender of our nation, in these words: "O Lord of all, who hast need of nothing, Thou wast pleased that there be a temple for Thy habitation among us; so now, O holy One, Lord of all holiness, keep undefiled for ever this house that has been so recently purified."
A certain Razis, one of the elders of Jerusalem, was denounced to Nicanor as a man who loved his fellow citizens and was very well thought of and for his good will was called father of the Jews. For in former times, when there was no mingling with the Gentiles, he had been accused of Judaism, and for Judaism he had with all zeal risked body and life.
Nicanor, wishing to exhibit the enmity which he had for the Jews, sent more than five hundred soldiers to arrest him; for he thought that by arresting him he would do them an injury. When the troops were about to capture the tower and were forcing the door of the courtyard, they ordered that fire be brought and the doors burned. Being surrounded, Razis fell upon his own sword, preferring to die nobly rather than to fall into the hands of sinners and suffer outrages unworthy of his noble birth. But in the heat of the struggle he did not hit exactly, and the crowd was now rushing in through the doors. He bravely ran up on the wall, and manfully threw himself down into the crowd. But as they quickly drew back, a space opened and he fell in the middle of the empty space. Still alive and aflame with anger, he rose, and though his blood gushed forth and his wounds were severe he ran through the crowd; and standing upon a steep rock, with his blood now completely drained from him, he tore out his entrails, took them with both hands and hurled them at the crowd, calling upon the Lord of life and spirit to give them back to him again. This was the manner of his death.
Latest revision: 8 December 2006