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The Makers and Teachers of Judaism by Charles Foster Kent

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And served as a place of ambush against the sanctuary,
And an evil adversary to Israel continually.
And they shed innocent blood on every side of the sanctuary
And polluted the sanctuary.
Then the inhabitants of Jerusalem fled because of this,
And she became the habitation of foreigners.
And she became strange to those who were born in her,
And her children forsook her.
Her sanctuary was laid waste like a wilderness.
Her feasts were turned into mourning,
Her sabbaths into a reproach,
Her honor into contempt,
So great as was once her glory, so now was her dishonor,
And her exaltation was turned into mourning.

[Sidenote: I Macc. 1:41-53]
Then King Antiochus wrote to his whole kingdom commanding that all should
be one people, and that each should give up his own laws. And all the
heathen nations yielded to the demand of the king. Many Israelites too
consented to worship him and sacrificed to the idols, and profaned the
sabbath. And the king sent letters by messengers to Jerusalem and the
cities of Judah commanding them to follow customs foreign to the land, and
to prevent the making of whole burnt-offerings and sacrifices and
libations in the sanctuary, and to profane the sabbaths and feasts, and
pollute the sanctuary and the holy things, to build altars, temples, and
shrines for idols, and to sacrifice swine's flesh and unclean beasts; also
to leave their sons uncircumcised, to stain their souls with all manner of
uncleanness and profanation, so that they might forget the law, and change
all the customs. And that whoever would not do as the king commanded
should die. Thus he wrote to his whole kingdom; and appointed overseers
over all the people, who commanded the cities of Judah to sacrifice city
by city. Then many of the people, every one who had forsaken the law,
gathered about them. And they did evil things in the land, and caused the
Israelites to hide themselves in all their places of refuge.

[Sidenote: I Macc. 1:54-58]
On the twenty-fifth day of Chislev, in the one hundred and forty-fifth
year, they built an abomination of desolation upon the altar; and in the
cities of Judah on every side they built idol altars. And at the doors of
the houses and in the streets they burnt incense. And tearing in pieces
the books of the law which they found, they set fire to them. And wherever
a book of the covenant was found in the possession of anyone, or if anyone
obeyed the law, the king's decree sentenced him to death. Thus they did in
their might month by month to the Israelites who were found in the cities.

[Sidenote: I Macc. 1:59-63]
And on the twenty-fifth day of the month they sacrificed upon the idol
altar which was upon Jehovah's sacrificial altar. And the women who had
circumcised their children they put to death according to the command. And
they hanged their babies about their necks, and destroyed their households
with those who had circumcised them. But many in Israel made strong
resolutions not to eat unclean things, choosing to die that they might not
be defiled with the meats, and might not profane the holy covenant. So
they died. And exceedingly great woe came upon Israel.

I. Character and Contents of I Maccabees. The first book of Maccabees is
in many ways the best history that has come down from ancient Israel.
Luther's conclusion that it was more deserving of a place in the Old
Testament canon than, for example, the book of Esther is now being widely
accepted both in theory and practice. The religious spirit in which it is
written, the importance of the events with which it deals, and the
faithfulness with which they are recorded, all confirm this conclusion. It
is the work of a devoted patriot, who appears to have been personally
acquainted with the events which he records. He was an ardent admirer of
Judas Maccabeus, and may well have been one of the many valiant Jews who
rallied about this sturdy champion. The author was familiar with the early
histories of his race, for he has adopted many of the phrases peculiar to
the books of Samuel and Kings. His idioms leave no doubt that he wrote in
Hebrew, although this version has been lost.

The first book of Maccabees opens with a brief reference to Alexander the
Great and to the Greek rulers who succeeded him. The detailed history,
however, begins with Antiochus Epiphanes and continues to the death of
Simon in 135 B.C. The references in the prologue to the rebuilding of the
walls of Jerusalem by Simon's son, John Hyrcanus, between 135 and 125
B.C., and the absence of any allusions to the more important events in the
latter part of his reign, indicate that his history was probably completed
by 125 B.C. It was written, therefore, less than half a century after all
the events which it records took place. While the author is a true patriot
and keenly interested in the history of his race, he does not allow his
patriotism to carry him into exaggeration. He reveals the true historical
spirit and a splendid reserve in recounting the epoch-making events that
he records.

II. Character and Contents of II Maccabees. In marked contrast with I
Maccabees is the second book which bears this name. The author states in
2:19-32 that it was based on an earlier five-volume history written by
Jason, of Cyrene, in northern Africa. The final epitomizer of this earlier
work probably lived not long after 50 B.C. Jason himself appears to have
lived somewhere between 160 and 140 B.C. and to have written from northern
Syria. The language of the original was evidently Greek. The aim of the
author was didactic rather than historical, and he drew freely from
popular tradition. In general character it corresponds closely to the work
of the Chronicler, who compiled the Old Testament books of Chronicles and
Ezra-Nehemiah. The miraculous element is prominent, numbers are frequently
enlarged, and Israel's disasters are minimized. Notwithstanding all of its
obvious faults, II Maccabees has preserved many important historical
facts. Where its testimony differs from that of I Maccabees, the latter in
general should be followed, but its account of the events which led to the
Maccabean uprising are much more detailed than those of I Maccabees, which
it supplements at many important points. With the aid of these two
histories it is possible to gain a remarkably vivid and detailed
conception of the half-century that witnessed the reawakening of Judaism
and the birth of a new national spirit.

III. Aggressive Character of Hellenic Culture. Jewish life and religion
were at times almost uprooted, but never fundamentally transformed by the
Babylonian and Persian conquerors. Alexander, however, and those who
followed in his wake introduced an entirely new and aggressive force into
the life and thought of Palestine. The centuries that began with 332 B.C.
witnessed the most important struggle that the world has ever seen. It was
fought not on the open battle-field, but wherever in Palestine and the
lands of the dispersion the currents of that ancient life and commerce met
and mingled. It was the age-long conflict between Hellenism and Judaism,
those two mighty forces that had long been maturing in the coast lands of
the northern and eastern Mediterranean. The outcome of this contest was
destined to affect the civilization and faith of all the world throughout
the ages.

Judaism represented the life and faith of a peasant people, while
Hellenism was born in the city. Wherever Hellenism went, it found
expression in civic life. The heathen races of Palestine, the Phoenicians
and Philistines on the coast, and the east-Jordan peoples readily welcomed
the superior civilization of the conquerors. It appealed powerfully to
their intellectual, social, and aesthetic sense, and, in the debased form
that it assumed in the East, to their passions. Even the Samaritans
readily accepted it; and the city of Samaria was settled by a colony of
Macedonian soldiers. The ancient cities of Gaza, Askelon, Accho under
the name of Ptolemais, Tyre, Sidon, Damascus, Bethshean under its new name
Scythopolis, Rabbath-ammon under the name of Philadelphia, and most of the
important east-Jordan cities were soon transformed into active centres of
Hellenic culture. Civic pride and patriotism took possession of their
inhabitants. Most of the cities had a senate and magistrates elected each
year by popular vote. Many of them were adorned by magnificent public
buildings, including a forum, theatre, stadium, hippodrome, and gymnasium.
Civic patriotism took the place of the old despotism and selfish
individualism. Each Hellenic city gave to its citizens new ideals and
opportunities. The discussions of the forum, the agora, and the gymnasium
inspired them with political, social, and intellectual interests. The
plays in the theatres, the races in the hippodrome and stadium amazed and
fascinated them. Many of the youths were enlisted in the clubs that were
formed in connection with the gymnasium, and all classes participated in
the public festivities.

IV. Contrast Between Hellenism and Judaism. In the broad perspective of
history it is clear that both Hellenism and Judaism were essential to the
upbuilding and broadening of the human character and ideals. Hellenism in
its nobler form brought what Judaism lacked, and Judaism was fitted to
correct the evils and fatal weaknesses of Hellenism. Ben Sira vaguely
recognized this, and sought to reconcile these two types of civilization;
but in the second century B.C. men were chiefly aware of the glaring
contrasts. Compared with the splendor of the life in the Greek cities that
of the orthodox Jews seemed crude and barbarous. The intense horror with
which the Jews viewed every form of idolatry led them to reject all forms
of art. Their hatred of sensuality and immorality led them to regard with
aversion the sports and exercises of the gymnasium and the attendant
licentiousness. The practical teachers of Israel looked with suspicion
upon the subtleties of the different Greek philosophical schools. On the
other hand, the homely, domestic joys of the average Jew and his intense
devotion to the service of the temple and to the faith of his fathers
seemed contemptible to those familiar with the brilliant, voluptuous life
of the Hellenic cities. Hellenism protested against the narrowness,
barrenness, and intolerance of Judaism; Judaism protested against the
godlessness and immorality of Hellenism. Both were right in their
protests, and yet each in a sense needed the other.

V. Apostasy of the Jews and the Perfidy of the High Priests. At the
beginning of the second century B.C. the Judean state was closely
encircled by a ring of Hellenic cities and subjected on every side to the
seductions of that debased Greek culture which had taken firm root in the
soil of Palestine. As was almost inevitable, many of the Jewish youth
yielded to its attractions. Distaste for the narrowness and austere
customs of their fathers begat in their minds a growing contempt for
their race and its religion. Even some of the younger priests forsook
the temple for the gymnasium. Unconsciously but surely Judaism was
drifting from its old moorings toward Hellenism, until the perfidy of
its high priests and the persecutions of Antiochus Epiphanes aroused
it to a full realization of its peril. The apostates in Jerusalem found a
leader in Jeshua, who had assumed the Greek name of Jason. He was the
brother of Onias III, the reigning high priest, and had been sent to
represent him at the Syrian court. There he improved the opportunity by
promising greater tribute to secure his appointment as high priest. He was
soon outbid, however, by a certain renegade named Menelaus, who with the
aid of Syrian soldiers drove Jason from Jerusalem and took his place as
head of the hellenizing party. The first cause, therefore, of the
Maccabean struggle was the apostasy of certain of the Jews themselves.
Apparently in large numbers they abandoned the traditions of their race,
and assumed the Greek garb and customs, thus leading their Syrian rulers
to believe that the hellenizing of the entire race would be comparatively

VI. Character of Antiochus Epiphanes. The ruler who by his injustice and
persecutions fanned the smouldering flame of Jewish patriotism into a
mighty conflagration was Antiochus Epiphanes. As a youth he had been
educated at Rome with the profligate sons of those who ruled the Imperial
City. The Greek and Roman historians, especially Polybius, give vivid
portraits of this tyrannical king. In him the prevailing passion for
Hellenism found extreme expression. To dazzle his contemporaries by the
splendor of his building enterprises and by his dramatic display was his
chief ambition. In gratifying thus his selfish ambition he drained the
resources of his kingdom, and was therefore obliged to resort to extreme
measures to replenish his treasury. In 170 B.C. he made a successful
campaign into Egypt. Two years later he again invaded the rich land of the
Nile, only to find himself confronted by a Roman general, who peremptorily
ordered him to retreat. Rome was already the chief power in the eastern
Mediterranean, and Antiochus, although in a rage, wisely decided to
retire. It was at this inopportune moment that he found Jerusalem in
revolt, misled by a false report and by the renegade high priest Jason.
Antiochus not only improved this opportunity to loot the temple and slay
many of the inhabitants, but from this time on conceived a bitter
antipathy to the Jewish race. This antipathy he shared in common with all
the Greek world, for already, as a result of the peculiar religion and
customs of the Jews and their success in commercial pursuits, that which
is known to-day as the anti-Semitic spirit was fully developed. One of
Antiochus's chief ambitions was also to hellenize all his subjects, and
the Jews alone offered opposition to the realization of this ambition.
Hence they could expect no mercy at the hands of this selfish, capricious

VII. Antiochus's Policy toward the Jews. The measures which Antiochus
employed to crush the faith of Judaism were relentlessly thorough. He
began with the seizure of Jerusalem, the tearing down of its walls, the
fortifying and garrisoning of its citadel with Syrian soldiers and
apostate Jews, and the slaughter of all who refused to accede to his
demands. Not only was the temple service stopped, but the altar was torn
down and desecrated and a heathen altar to Zeus--the abominable desolation
of the book of Daniel--was reared in its place. On this swine's flesh was
sacrificed, and the presence of harlots in the sacred precincts completed
its ceremonial and moral pollution. All the surviving inhabitants of
Jerusalem were compelled to sacrifice and pay homage to the heathen gods.
Those who retained copies of their laws or persisted in maintaining the
customs of their fathers were slain. When many fled to the outlying towns,
emissaries of Antiochus pursued them, demanding of each citizen public
recognition of the Greek gods. A majority of the Jews apparently yielded
to these drastic measures and joined the ranks of the apostates. Of the
many crises through which Israel passed this was in many ways the most
severe; but then it gave to the world some of the noblest martyrs. The
early Christians who perished for their faith were inspired by the example
of their Master and by the hope of blessed, individual immortality. To the
Jews of the Greek period, however, the great calamity that overtook them
came as a sudden and unexpected blow. No clear hope of immortality at
first inspired them, for, like Ben Sira and the earlier teachers of the
race, the majority of them probably regarded the life beyond death as a
passionless existence in the land of darkness. Even the expectation of
family or racial immortality seemed denied by the dark outlook. They died
as did Eleazar, the aged scribe, simply because of their devotion to the
God and laws of their fathers, and because that loyalty meant more to them
than life.


[Sidenote: I Macc. 2:1-4]
At that time arose Mattathias the son of John the son of Simeon, a priest
of the sons of Joarib, from Jerusalem; and he dwelt in Modein. And he had
five sons, John, who was surnamed Gaddis, Simon, who was called Thassi,
Judas, who was called Maccabeus, Eleazar, who was called Avaran, Jonathan,
who was called Apphus.

[Sidenote: I Macc. 2:5-14]
When he saw the sacrilegious acts that were being committed in Judah and
in Jerusalem, he said,

Woe to me! Why was I born
To see the ruin of my people,
And the ruin of the holy city,
And to dwell there while it was being given into the hands of the foe,
The sanctuary into the hands of foreigners?
The temple has become as though it had no glory,
Its splendid vessels have been carried into captivity.
Her children have been slain in the streets,
Her young men by the sword of the enemy.
What people has not taken possession of her palace,
And seized upon her spoils?
All her adornments have been taken away,
From freedom she has been reduced to slavery.
And now our holy things, our beauty and our glory have been laid waste,
And the heathen have polluted them.
Why should we still live?

And Mattathias and his son tore their clothes, and put on sackcloth, and
mourned bitterly.

[Sidenote: I Macc. 2:15-22]
Now the king's officers who were enforcing the apostasy, came into the
city of Modein to sacrifice. And many of Israel went over to them, but
Mattathias and his sons offered resistance. Then the king's officers said
to Mattathias, You are a ruler and a man honored in this city and
strengthened by sons and brothers. Now therefore come first and do what
the king commands, as all the nations have done, the men of Judah too,
with those who remain in Jerusalem. Then you and your house shall be in
the number of the king's Friends, and you and your sons shall be honored
with silver and gold and many gifts. But Mattathias replied with a loud
voice, If all the nations included in the king's dominion obey him, in
that each is untrue to the worship of his fathers and chooses to follow
his command, yet I and my sons and my brothers will walk in the covenant
made with our fathers. Heaven forbid that we should forsake the law and
the ordinances. We will not listen to the king's words, to go aside from
our worship, either to the right hand or to the left.

[Sidenote: I Macc. 2:23-28]
And when he had finished saying these things a Jew came in sight of all
to sacrifice on the altar that was in Modein according to the king's
command. When Mattathias saw it, his zeal was kindled and he trembled
inwardly. And he let his anger take possession of him, as was right, and
he ran and slew the Jew upon the altar. Also he killed at that time the
king's officer, who was compelling men to sacrifice, and pulled down the
altar. Thus he showed his zeal for the law, just as Phinehas did in the
case of Zimri the son of Salu. Then Mattathias cried out in the city with
a loud voice, saying, Whoever is zealous for the law and will maintain the
covenant, let him follow me. And he and his sons fled into the mountains,
and left behind all that they had in the city.

[Sidenote: I Macc. 2:29-38]
Then many who sought justice and right went down into the wilderness, to
dwell there with their sons and wives and cattle, because the evils were
becoming ever harder for them to bear. And it was reported to the king's
officers and to the forces that were in Jerusalem, the city of David, that
certain men who had broken the king's command had gone down into the
hiding places in the wilderness. So many pursued after them, and having
overtaken them encamped against them, and drew up the line of battle
against them on the sabbath day. And they said to them, Things have gone
far enough, now come forth and obey the command of the king and you shall
live. But they said, We will not come forth, neither will we do as the
king commands, to profane the sabbath day. Then they at once offered them
battle. But they made no resistance, neither did they cast a stone at
them, nor stop up the places of concealment, for they said, Let us all die
in our innocency: let heaven and earth bear witness for us, that you put
us to death unjustly. Then they rose up against them in battle on the
sabbath, and thus they died with their wives and children and cattle, to
the number of a thousand souls.

[Sidenote: I Macc. 2:39-48]
When Mattathias and his friends knew it they mourned bitterly over them.
And they said to each other, If we all do as our brothers have done, and
do not fight against the armed heathen for our lives and our customs, they
will now quickly destroy us from off the earth. So they took counsel that
day, saying, Whoever shall come against us for battle on the sabbath day,
let us fight against him, and we will by no means all die, as our brothers
died in the hiding places. Then there gathered together to them a company
of Hasideans, brave men of Israel, every one who offered himself willingly
for the law. And all who fled from the evils were added to them, and
strengthened them. And they mustered a host.

And smote the sinners in their anger
And the lawless in their wrath.

And the rest fled to the heathen for safety. Also Mattathias and his
friends went about and pulled down the altars, and circumcised by force
the children who were uncircumcised, as many as they found in the
territory of Israel. Thus they pursued the sons of arrogance, and the
work prospered in their hand. They took the direction of affairs out of
the hands of the heathen and of the kings, nor did they yield ground to
the sinner.

[Sidenote: I Macc. 2:49-64]
When the time approached for Mattathias to die he said to his sons, Now
insolence and insult have grown strong, and a period of reversals has
come, with flaming wrath.

Now, my sons, be zealous for the law,
And give your lives for the covenant of your fathers.
And remember the deeds which your forefathers did in their generations;
And win great glory and everlasting fame.
Was not Abraham found faithful when tested?
And it was counted to him as righteousness.
Joseph in the time of his distress kept the commandment,
And became lord of Egypt,
Phinehas our father, because he was so zealous,
Received the covenant of an everlasting priesthood.
Joshua for carrying out the word of God,
Became a ruler in Israel.
Caleb for bearing witness in the congregation,
Obtained a heritage in the land.

David for being merciful,
Inherited a kingly throne for ever and ever.
Elijah because he was so zealous for the law,
Was taken up into heaven.
Hananiah, Azariah, Mishael believed,
And were rescued from the flame.
Daniel because of his innocence,
Was delivered from the mouth of lions.
And thus consider from generation to generation:
None who put their trust in him ever want strength.
Then be not afraid of the words of a sinful man;
For his glory shall be dung and worms.
To-day he is exalted, but to-morrow he cannot be found,
Because he has returned to dust, and the memory of him has perished.

Then my sons be strong, and show yourselves men in behalf of the law;
By so doing you shall obtain glory.

[Sidenote: I Macc. 2:65-68]
And, behold, Simon your brother, I know that he is a man of counsel;
Obey him always; let him be your adviser.
Judas Maccabeus, too, has been a man of war from his youth;
He shall be your captain, and fight the battle of the people.
And take to yourselves all law-abiding men,
And avenge the wrong of your people.
Render a recompense to the heathen,
And give heed to the commands of the law.

[Sidenote: I Macc. 2:69-70]
Thus he blessed them and was gathered to his fathers. And he died in the
one hundred and forty-sixth year, and his sons buried him in the
sepulchres of his fathers at Modein, and all Israel made a great
lamentation for him.

[Sidenote: Dan. 7:1-8]
In the first year of Belshazzar king of Babylon Daniel had a dream and
visions of his head upon his bed. Then he wrote down the dream: I saw in
my vision by night, and behold, the four winds of heaven broke forth upon
the great sea. And four great beasts came up from the sea, each different
from the other. The first was like a lion and had eagle's wings. I looked
until its wings were stripped off, and it was lifted up from the earth,
and made to stand upon two feet as a man; and a man's heart was given to
it. And behold, a second beast, like a bear; and it was raised up on one
side, and three ribs were in its mouth, between its teeth; and they said
thus to it: Arise, devour much flesh. After this I beheld, and lo, another
like a leopard, which had upon its sides four wings of a bird; and the
beast had also four heads, and dominion was given to it. After this I saw
in the night visions, and behold, a fourth beast, terrible and fearful,
and exceedingly strong; and it had great iron teeth; it devoured and broke
in pieces and stamped the rest with its feet; and it differed from all the
beasts that were before it; and it had ten horns. I gave attention to the
horns, and behold another little horn came up amongst them, before which
three of the first horns were plucked up by the roots; and behold, in this
horn were eyes, like the eyes of a man, and a mouth speaking great things.

[Sidenote: Dan. 7:9, 10]
I waited until thrones were set up, and an aged one took his seat; his
clothing was white as snow, and his hair like spotless wool, his throne
was fiery flames, its wheels burning fire. A fiery stream issued and came
forth before him; thousands of thousands ministered to him, and ten
thousand times ten thousand stood before him; the judgment was set and the
books were opened.

[Sidenote: Dan. 7:11, 12]
I looked at that time because of the sound of the great words which the
horn spoke--I looked even until the beast was slain, and its body
destroyed, and given to be fuel for the fire. Also the rule of the rest of
the beasts was taken away; but their lives were prolonged for a fixed time
and season.

[Sidenote: Dan. 7:13, 14]
I saw in the night visions, and behold, there came with the clouds of
heaven one like to a son of man, and he came even to the Aged One, and was
brought near before him. And there was given him dominion and glory, and
sovereignty that all the peoples, nations, and languages should serve him;
his dominion is an everlasting dominion which shall not pass away, and his
sovereignty one which shall not be destroyed.

[Sidenote: Dan. 7:15-18]
As for me, Daniel, my spirit was grieved by reason of this, and the
visions of my head troubled me. I came near to one of those who stood by,
and asked him the truth concerning all this. So he told me and made me
know the interpretation of the things. These four great beasts are four
kings who shall arise out of the earth. But the saints of the Most High
shall receive the sovereignty, and possess the sovereignty forever, even
for ever and ever.

[Sidenote: Dan. 7:19-22]
Then I desired to know the truth concerning the fourth beast, which was
different from all of them, exceeding terrible, whose teeth were of iron,
and its nails of brass; which devoured, broke in pieces, and stamped the
rest with its fourth feet; and concerning the ten horns that were on its
head, and the other horn which came up, and before which three horns
fell--it that had eyes, and a mouth that spoke great things, and it
appeared to be greater than the rest. I looked, and the same horn made war
with the saints, and prevailed against them, until the Aged One came, and
judgment was given to the saints of the Most High, and the fixed time came
that the saints possessed the sovereignty.

[Sidenote: Dan. 7:23-27]
Thus he said, The fourth beast shall be a fourth kingdom upon earth, which
shall be different from all the kingdoms; and shall devour the whole
earth, and shall tread it down, and break it in pieces. And as for the ten
horns, out of this kingdom shall ten kings arise; and another shall arise
after them; and he shall be different from the former, and he shall put
down three kings. And he shall speak words against the Most High, and
shall continually harass the saints of the Most High; and he shall think
to change the fixed times and the law; and they shall be given into his
hand until a time and times and half a time. But the judgment shall be
set, and they shall take away his kingdom, to consume and to destroy
finally. And the sovereignty, and the dominion, and the greatness of the
kingdoms under the whole heaven, shall surely be given to the people
of the saints of the Most High; his sovereignty is an everlasting
sovereignty, and all dominions shall serve and obey him.

[Sidenote: Dan. 12:1-3]
And at that time Michael shall stand up, the great prince who stands for
the children of my people; and there shall be a time of affliction such as
there never was since there was a nation, even to that time; and at that
time thy people shall be delivered, every one who shall be found written
in the book. And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall
awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting
contempt. And they who are wise shall shine as the brightness of the
firmament; and they who turn many to righteousness as the stars forever
and ever.

I. The Uprising Led by Mattathias. The persecutions of Antiochus

Epiphanes had at last reached the point where patient submission and even
martyrdom ceased to be a virtue. His agents had successfully carried the
merciless, hellenizing campaign throughout practically all the territory
of Judea. It was not until they reached its extreme northwestern border
that they met the first open opposition. The little town of Modein lay out
on the edge of the great plain where the central hills of Palestine break
down into low foot-hills. These are intersected by rushing brooks and
clear, crystal streams that descend from the heights above. The town lay
on a rounded hill about one-third of a mile in diameter that rises
abruptly in a series of steep terraces. The Wady Malakeh encircled it on
the south and west. On the northeastern side, where lies the modern town,
was a broad shoulder of land slightly lower and larger than the acropolis.
In ancient times it was probably the site of the lower city. Deep,
encircling valleys on the north and east completed the natural defences of
this border village that became the altar of Jewish freedom. To-day the
scattered ruins of the acropolis are covered in spring-time with a
luxuriant growth of grain and olive trees, making it one of the most
picturesque mounds in Palestine.

It is surprising that the revolt against the cruel tyranny of Antiochus
was led by an aged priest. Like many priests, his home was outside
Jerusalem. Evidently he was one of the chief men of Modein. He was
descended from the family of Hasmon, hence his descendants, who ultimately
became the independent rulers of their race, are sometimes called the
Hasmonians. In Mattathias the long-suppressed, hot indignation of the
Jewish race at last found expression. In slaying the apostate Jew and
Syrian official, Mattathias evoked that warlike spirit which had in
earlier days given Israel a home and a place among the nations. His
impulsive act inaugurated a new chapter in Israel's life and thought. In
its far-reaching consequences it was comparable only to Moses' impulsive
slaying of the Egyptian taskmaster.

II. Party of the Hasideans or Pious. It was fortunate that Mattathias
had five able, mature sons to support him. Simon, the eldest, was already
famous in council. Judas, who bore the surname Maccabeus (whence the word
Maccabees), soon proved himself a great military leader. Jonathan combined
the qualities of Simon and Judas with a certain craftiness that makes
him the least attractive of the three. Eleazar later proved on the
battle-field that he had the qualities that make heroes and martyrs. Among
the Judean hills, and especially in the barren, almost inaccessible
fastnesses that descend in a series of terraces from the central plateau
to the Dead Sea, Mattathias and his followers found refuge. Hither many
patriotic Jews had already fled. The Syrian mercenaries, however, led by
the relentless, apostate Jews, pursued them, and, knowing their scruples,
attacked them on the sabbath day and pitilessly slaughtered them. Learning
from this awful example, Mattathias and his sons wisely decided that it
was more important to fight for their lives than to die for a mere
institution. They soon attracted to their standard all who were still
faithful to the law. Chief among these were those known as the Hasideans
or Pious. They were the spiritual successors of the pious or afflicted,
whose woes are voiced in the earlier psalms of the Psalter (Section
XLVII:v). They were also the forerunners of the party of the Pharisees,
which was one of the products of the Maccabean struggle. In them faith and
patriotism were so blended that, like Cromwell's Ironsides, they were
daunted by no odds. At first they depended upon the guerilla type of
warfare, to which the hills of Judea were especially adapted. By enforcing
the law of circumcision, by punishing the apostates, and by attacking
straggling Syrian bands, they encouraged the faltering Jews, and
intimidated the agents of Antiochus. Mattathias soon died, leaving the
leadership to his third son, Judas. The poem recording his dying
injunctions voices the inspiration that came at this time to Israel's
patriots from their nation's past, and that supreme devotion to the law
and dauntless courage that animated the leaders in this great movement.

III. Date of the Visions in Daniel 7-12. A parallel but different type
of character and hope is reflected in the latter part of the book of
Daniel. In the form of visions or predictions, these chapters interpret
the meaning of the great world movements from the beginning of the
Babylonian to the end of the Greek period. Each vision culminates in
a symbolic but detailed description of the rule and persecutions of
Antiochus Epiphanes. Several passages describe the destructive policies
of this Syrian ruler almost as vividly as the books of Maccabees (Dan.
8:11, 12): "It (Antiochus) magnified itself even to the Prince of the Host
(Jehovah), and took away from him the daily sacrifice, and cast down
the place of his sanctuary, and set up the sacrilegious thing over the
daily sacrifice, and cast down truth to the ground, and did it and

Daniel 11:20-44 contains a review of the chief events of Antiochus's
reign. This description closes with the prediction: "He shall plant his
palace between the Mediterranean and the glorious holy mountain; so he
shall come to his end and none shall help him." Contemporary records
indicate, however, that Antiochus died while engaged in a campaign in
distant Persia and not in western Palestine as the author of Daniel
anticipated. In the other visions, after the description of Antiochus's
persecutions, the details suddenly give place to general predictions,
implying that at this point the author turned from the contemplation
of past and present events to that which was to him future. The great
victories of Judas and his followers that led to the restoration of the
temple in 165 B.C. are nowhere mentioned. In 11:34 is found an allusion
to the Maccabean uprising: "Now when they are falling they shall be helped
with a little help; but many shall join themselves to them with false
protestations." This movement, clearly, is not regarded by the author as
significant. The date of these visions, therefore, may be fixed with great
confidence between the years 168 and 166 B.C.

IV. Their Real Character and Aim. In interpreting these visions it is
important to note that they belong to the so-called apocalyptic type of
literature. Already Ezekiel and Zechariah had employed the complex
symbolism of the apocalypse to stir the imagination and strengthen the
faith of their discouraged countrymen. The aim of the author of the
closing chapters of Daniel was primarily to present a religious philosophy
of history. Through the rise and fall of nations Jehovah's purpose was
slowly but surely being realized. They are the expression of the eternal
optimism of the prophets. They voice their deathless hope that "the best
is yet to be." They were intended to encourage those in the midst of
persecution with the assurance that God was still in his heaven, and that
all would yet be right with his world.

V. The Four Heathen Kingdoms and the Kingdom of God. In the symbolism of
the prophet the four beasts of Daniel 7 represented the Chaldean, Medean,
Persian, and Greek Empires. The fourth beast with iron teeth that devoured
and broke in pieces the rest was clearly the empire of Alexander, and the
little horn that sprang up was the little horn which gored and mangled the
helpless people of Jehovah. Opposed to the four beasts which represented
the angels, or demons, the champions of each of the great heathen
kingdoms, was Israel's patron angel Michael. It is this angel that is
apparently referred to in 7:13 as coming from heaven, and in appearance
like to a son of man. At Jehovah's direction he was to establish a
glorious, universal kingdom, the citizens of which were to be the saints,
the faithful Jews who remained loyal to Jehovah during the long, cruel
persecutions. Not only those who survived but the martyrs sleeping in the
dust of the earth were to awake and receive their glorious reward. The
apostates were to be sentenced to everlasting shame and contempt. The wise
teachers and martyrs who by word and example had striven to keep their
race loyal to Jehovah were to be exalted in the coming messianic kingdom.
Thus these visions reveal the hopes that inspired certain of the Jewish
race in its period of supreme trial: the belief that Jehovah through his
angel would speedily overthrow the power of the heathen persecutor, that
he would establish a universal kingdom in which his own people should have
chief place, and finally that even the bonds of death would not hold those
who had died for the law. Thus at last out of this struggle Judaism
emerged with a new-found faith in individual immortality. It was still
bound up in the belief in the bodily resurrection, but at last the
imperishable worth of the individual had become one of the cornerstones
of Israel's religion.


[Sidenote: I Macc. 3:1-9]
Then his son Judas, who was called Maccabeus, rose up in his place. And
all his brothers helped him, as did all those who had supported his
father, and they fought with gladness the battle of Israel.

He spread far and wide the fame of his glory
And put on his breastplate like a giant,
And girded on his weapons of war,
And set battles in array,
Protecting the army with his sword.
He was like a lion in his deeds,
And as a lion's whelp roaring for prey.
He pursued the lawless, seeking them out,
And he burnt up those who troubled his people.
The lawless shrunk for fear of him,
And all the workers of lawlessness were greatly terrified;
And deliverance was attained through him.
He angered many kings,
And made Jacob glad with his acts;
And his memory is blessed forever.
He went about among the cities of Judah,
And destroyed the godless from the land,
And turned away the wrath of God from Israel.
And he was renowned to the ends of the earth.

[Sidenote: I Macc. 3:10-12]
Then Apollonius gathered the heathen together and a great army from
Samaria to fight against Israel. And when Judas learned of it, he went
out to meet him, and defeated and slew him; and many fell mortally
wounded, while the rest fled. And they captured their spoils, and Judas
took the sword of Apollonius, with which he fought all his days.

[Sidenote: I Macc. 3:13-15]
When Seron, the commander of the army of Syria, heard that Judas had
gathered a large force of faithful men about him, who went with him to
war, he said, I will make myself famous and gain renown in the kingdom;
for I will fight with Judas and those with him, who are defying the
command of the king. And there went up with him also a mighty army of the
godless to help him, to take vengeance on the Israelites.

[Sidenote: I Macc. 3:16-22]
As he approached the ascent of Bethhoron, Judas went forth to meet him
with a small company. But when they saw the army coming to meet them, they
said to Judas, How shall we, few as we are, be able to battle against so
great a multitude? and we are faint also, having tasted no food to-day.
Then Judas said, It is an easy thing for many to be shut up in the hands
of a few; and with Heaven it is equally easy to save by many or by few;
for victory in battle does not depend upon the size of an army, but from
Heaven comes the strength. They come to us full of insolence and
lawlessness, to destroy us with our wives and children and to plunder us;
but, as for us, we are fighting for our lives and our laws. And he himself
will crush them before our face; so do not be afraid of them.

[Sidenote: I Macc. 3:23, 24]
Now when he had finished speaking, he leaped suddenly upon them, and Seron
and his army were put to flight before him. And they pursued them by the
descent of Bethhoron to the plain, and there fell of them about eight
hundred men; but the rest fled into the land of the Philistines.

[Sidenote: I Macc. 3:25-31]
Now the fear of Judas and his brothers and the dread of them began to fall
upon the nations round about them. And his reputation reached the king,
for every nation was telling of the battles of Judas. But when King
Antiochus heard these things, he was filled with indignation and sent
and gathered together all the forces of his realm, a very strong army.
And he opened his treasury and gave his forces pay for a year, and
commanded them to be ready for every emergency. And seeing that money was
scarce in his treasury and that the tributes of the country were small,
because of the dissension and calamity which he had brought upon the land,
for the purpose of taking away the laws which had been in force from the
earliest days, he feared that he should not have enough, as at other
times, for the expenses and the gifts which he had formerly given with a
liberal hand, in which he had surpassed the kings who had been before him.
And he was exceedingly perplexed in his mind, and determined to go into
Persia and to take the tributes of the countries and to gather much money.

[Sidenote: I Macc. 3:32-37]
So he left Lysias, an honorable man and one of the royal family in charge
of the affairs of the king from the River Euphrates to the borders of
Egypt and to bring up his son Antiochus, until he returned. And he
delivered to him the half of his forces and the elephants, and gave him
charge of all the things that he wished to have done and concerning those
who dwelt in Judea and in Jerusalem, that he should send a force against
them, to root out and destroy the strength of Israel and the remnant of
Jerusalem, and to take away their memory from the place, and that he
should make foreigners dwell in all their territory and should divide
their land to them by lot. Then the king took the remaining half of the
forces and set out from Antioch his capital, in the one hundred and
forty-seventh year, and, crossing the Euphrates, he went through the upper

[Sidenote: I Macc. 3:38-41]
Now Lysias chose Ptolemy the son of Dorymenes, and Nicanor, and Gorgias,
influential men among the king's Friends, and with them sent forty
thousand footmen and seven thousand horsemen to go into the land of Judah
to destroy it, as the king had ordered. And they set out with all their
army and pitched their camp near Emmaus in the plain. And the merchants of
the country heard the rumors about them, and taking silver and gold in
large quantities, and shackles, they came into the camp to get the
Israelites for slaves. There were added to them the forces of Syria and of
the Philistines.

[Sidenote: I Macc. 3:42, 43, 46-54]
Then Judas and his brothers saw that evils were increasing and that the
forces were encamping in their territory, and when they learned of the
commands which the king had given to destroy the people and make an end of
them, they said to each other,

Let us raise up the ruin of our people
And let us fight for our people and the sanctuary;

So they gathered together and came to Mizpeh, opposite Jerusalem; for in
Mizpeh there was a place of prayer for Israel. And they fasted that day,
and put sackcloth and ashes on their heads and tore their clothes, and
spread out the book of the law--one of those in which the heathen had been
painting images of their idols. And they brought the priests' garments
with the first-fruits, and the tithes, and they cut the hair of the
Nazirites who had accomplished their days. And they cried aloud toward
Heaven, saying, What shall we do with these and whither shall we carry
them away? For thy sanctuary is trodden down and profaned, and thy priests
are in sorrow, and humiliation. And now the heathen have assembled
together against us to destroy us. Thou knowest what plans they are making
against us. How shall we be able to stand before them, except thou be our
help? And they sounded with the trumpets, and cried with a loud voice.

[Sidenote: I Macc. 3:55-60]
And after this Judas appointed leaders of the people, commanders over
thousands, over hundreds, over fifties, and over tens. And he told those
who were building houses and those who were planting vineyards and those
who were afraid, to return, each to his own house, as the law commanded.
Then the army removed and encamped upon the south side of Emmaus. And
Judas said, Gird yourselves and be valiant men; and be ready in the
morning to fight with these heathen who are assembled together against us
to destroy us and our sanctuary. For it is better for us to die in
battle than to see the misfortunes of our nation and of the sanctuary.
Nevertheless, let Heaven do whatever be his will.

[Sidenote: I Macc. 4:1-6a]
And Gorgias took five thousand footmen, and a thousand chosen horsemen,
and the army set out by night, that it might fall upon the army of the
Jews and attack them suddenly. And the men of the citadel were his guides.
But when Judas heard of it, he broke camp with his valiant men, that he
might attack the king's army which was at Emmaus, while as yet the forces
were dispersed from the camp. And when Gorgias came to the camp of Judas
by night, he found no one. Then he looked for them in the mountains,
thinking that the men were fleeing from him.

[Sidenote: I Macc. 4:6b-11]
But as soon as it was day, Judas appeared in the plain with three thousand
men; only they had neither armor nor swords as they wished. When now they
saw the camp of the heathen strongly fortified and cavalry about it and
experienced warriors there, Judas said to the men who were with him, Fear
not their multitude neither be afraid of their attack. Remember how our
fathers were saved in the Red Sea, when Pharaoh pursued them with a host.
And now let us cry to Heaven, if he will show favor to us and will
remember the covenant made with our fathers and destroy this army before
our face to-day, that all the heathen may know that there is one who
redeemeth and saveth Israel.

[Sidenote: I Macc. 4:12-15]
Then when the foreigners lifted up their eyes and saw them coming toward
them, they went from their camp to battle. And those who were with Judas
sounded their trumpets and joined battle; and the heathen were defeated
and fled into the plain. But all who were in the rear fell by the sword,
and they pursued them to Gazara and to the plains of Idumea and Azotus and
Jamnia, and there fell of them about three thousand men.

[Sidenote: I Macc. 4:16-25]
When Judas and his army returned from pursuing them, he said to the
people, Do not be greedy for the spoils, since there is a battle before
us, and Gorgias and his army are near us in the mountain. But stand now
against our enemies and fight them, and afterward you may openly take the
spoils. While Judas was still speaking there appeared a part of them,
looking out from the mountain; and these saw that their army had been put
to flight and that the Jews were burning their camp, for the smoke that
was seen showed what had been done. And when they perceived these things,
they were thrown into a panic, and seeing the army of Judas also in
the plain ready for battle, they all retreated into the land of the
Philistines. And Judas returned to sack the camp, and they took much gold
and silver and blue and sea-purple and great riches. Then they returned
home and sang a song of thanksgiving and gave praise to Heaven, because he
is good, because his mercy endureth forever. Thus Israel had a great
deliverance that day.

[Sidenote: I Macc. 4:26, 27]
But the foreigners, as many as had escaped, came and told Lysias all the
things that had happened. And when he heard it he was astonished and
discouraged, because neither had Israel met with reverses as he wished nor
had what the king commanded been realized.

[Footnote: I Macc. 4:28-34]
Now in the next year [Lysias] gathered together sixty thousand picked
footmen and five thousand horsemen, that he might subdue [the Jews]. When
they came to Idumea and encamped at Bethsura, Judas met them with ten
thousand men. As he saw that the army was strong, he prayed and said,
Blessed art thou, O Saviour of Israel, who didst shatter the attacking
power of the mighty man by the hand of thy servant David, and didst
deliver the army of the heathen into the hands of Jonathan the son of
Saul, and of his armor-bearer.

Shut up this army in the hand of thy people Israel,
And let them be ashamed of their army and their horsemen.
Give them faintness of heart,
And let their bold courage melt away,
And let them tremble at their destruction.
Cast them down by the sword of those who love thee,
So that all may know thy name who praise thee with thanksgiving.

Then they joined battle; and there fell of the army of Lysias about five
thousand men, and they fell on the spot before them.

[Sidenote: I Macc. 4:35]
But when Lysias saw that his army was retreating, and the boldness that
had come upon those who were with Judas, and how they were ready either to
live or to die nobly, he removed to Antioch and gathered together hired
soldiers, that he might come again into Judea with a still greater force.

[Sidenote: I Macc. 4:36-51]
Then Judas and his brothers said, Now that our enemies have been defeated,
let us go up to cleanse the sanctuary and to dedicate it again; so they
went up to Mount Zion. And all the army was gathered together and went up
to Mount Zion. And when they saw the sanctuary laid desolate, the altar
profaned, the gates burnt, and shrubs growing in the courts, as in a
forest or as on one of the mountains, and the priests' chambers pulled
down, they tore their garments and made great lamentation, and putting
ashes upon their heads, they fell prone upon the ground. Then they blew a
signal on the trumpets and cried to Heaven. And Judas appointed certain
men to fight against those who were in the citadel, until he should have
cleansed the sanctuary. And he chose priests who were unimpeachable
observers of the law, who cleansed the sanctuary and carried out the
polluted stones to an unclean place. And they deliberated as to what they
should do with the altar of burnt-offerings which had been profaned. They
finally reached this wise decision: to pull it down lest it should be a
reproach to them, because the heathen had defiled it. So they pulled down
the altar and laid the stones on the temple mount in a convenient place,
until there should come a prophet to give an oracle concerning them. Then
they took whole stones as the law required and built a new altar after the
design of the former. They also rebuilt the sanctuary and the inner parts
of the temple and consecrated the courts. They also made the holy vessels
new and brought the candlestick and the altar for burnt-offerings and for
incense and the table into the temple. And they burned incense on the
altar and lighted the lamps that were on the candlestick, and they gave
light in the temple. Then they set loaves upon the table and spread out
the veils. So they finished all the work they had undertaken.

[Sidenote: I Macc. 4:52-61]
And they arose early in the morning of the twenty-fifth day of the ninth
month, which is the month Chislev, in the one hundred and forty-eighth
year (165 B.C.) and offered sacrifice according to the law upon the new
altar of burnt-offering which they had made. About the same time and on
the same day, in which the heathen had profaned it, was it dedicated again
with songs and harps and lutes and with cymbals. And all the people
prostrated themselves and worshipped and gave praise to Heaven, who had
given them good success. And they celebrated the dedication of the altar
eight days, and offered burnt-offerings with gladness and sacrificed a
sacrifice of deliverance and praise. And they decorated the front of the
temple with crowns of gold and small shields and rededicated the gates and
the priests' chambers and made doors for them. And great joy reigned among
the people, because the reproach of the heathen had been removed. And
Judas and his brothers and the whole congregation of Israel decreed that
the days of the dedication of the altar should be kept in their seasons
from year to year for the period of eight days, from the twenty-fifth day
of the month Chislev, with gladness and joy. At that time also they
fortified Mount Zion with high walls and strong towers all round, lest by
any chance the heathen should come and tread them down, as they had done
before. And he stationed there a force to keep it, and they fortified
Bethsura, that the people might have a stronghold in Idumea.

I. The Character of Judas. Judas Maccabeus was a man of unquestioned
courage. In the many battles which he fought he was always found at the
forefront in the most desperate engagement. More than that he was able to
arouse courage in a people that for centuries had learned only to bow
unresistingly before their conquerors. All the evidence found in the two
books of Maccabees indicates that he was inspired by the noblest
patriotism. The motive power in his patriotism was devotion to the law and
customs of his race. In this respect he was a leader supremely acceptable
to the Hasideans or Pious, who rallied about his standard. In any other
age or setting his devotion would have seemed but fanaticism. The
situation, however, was extremely critical. Disloyalty to the law and the
distinctive rites of Judaism was treason. If ever in the world's history
it was justifiable to meet force by force and to unshield the sword in
behalf of religion, this certainly was the occasion. In his military
tactics Judas revealed the cunning that characterizes the hunted. He
developed great skill in choosing a strategic position and in launching
his followers against a vulnerable point in the enemy's line. In this
respect he showed himself a disciple of David's able general Joab. They
were the same tactics that Napoleon employed so effectively in later days
and on larger battle-fields. Judas resembled in many ways Israel's first
king, Saul. He was impetuous, patriotic, intense, and energetic. He was
especially skilled in leading a sudden attack. His task also was
strikingly similar to that of Israel's first king, and like Saul in his
later days he showed the same inability to organize and hold his followers
in a time of comparative peace.

II. Obstacles against Which Judas Contended. When Judas was called to
champion the cause of the Jews, they were hated by the rest of the world.
It was a disorganized band of fugitives that rallied about him, without
homes, resources, or arms. Opposed to him were the large armies of a
powerful empire. The Greek mercenaries that fought in the Syrian ranks
were armed with coats of mail and the best weapons known to the ancient
world. They were also thoroughly trained in the art of war and under the
direction of experienced generals. On every battle-field the Syrians
outnumbered the Jews almost six to one. Pitted against Judas and his
followers were apostates of his own race, who knew the land, were able to
spy out the movements of the Jews, and were inspired by the bitterest
hatred. The few advantages on the side of Judas were: first, his followers
were aroused to heroic deeds by the peril of the situation. In the second
place they were inspired by an intense religious zeal. The one force
throughout Semitic history that has bound together tribes and nations and
made the Semite an almost invincible fighting power has been religion.
The familiar illustrations are the Mohammedan conquests that swept
victoriously across the Bosporus and conquered Constantinople, also across
northern Africa, and surged into southern Europe over the Straits of
Gibraltar and threatened for a time completely to engulf the Western
civilization. Familiar modern illustrations are the Mahdist insurrections
that have from time to time taxed the resources of the English in northern
Africa. In the third place the land of Judea, with its narrow western
passes rapidly ascending to the heights above, enabled Judas to choose his
battle-field at a point where only a few of the enemy could be brought
into action and where a handful of valiant men could keep an army at bay.

III. Defeat of Apollonius and Seron. At first Judas wisely confined
himself to guerilla warfare. This enabled him in time to clothe and arm
his followers with the garments and weapons taken from the enemy. The most
important of these smaller engagements took place north of Jerusalem. As
Apollonius, the Syrian governor of Samaria, was advancing into Judea,
Judas suddenly fell upon the Syrians and slew their leader. Henceforth the
sword of the Syrian governor was effectively wielded by Judas in behalf of
religious liberty.

News of the victory soon brought Seron, the governor of Coele-Syria, with
a large army. He advanced from the coast plain by the most direct road to
Jerusalem over the famous pass of the Bethhorons. Within a distance of two
miles the road ascended nearly fifteen hundred feet. At points it was
merely a steep, rocky pass, so that an invading army was forced to march
single file and to pull themselves up over the rocks. Here on the heights
that looked out toward his home at Modein Judas, appealing to the faith
and patriotism of his men, swept down upon the enemy and won his first
great victory.

IV. The Battle of Emmaus. The first great Jewish victory was a severe
blow to the power of Antiochus Epiphanes, for at that time he was
confronted by a depleted treasury. He therefore left his kingdom in charge
of Lysias, one of his nobles, and set out on a campaign into Persia from
which he never returned. Three generals with a large army were sent by
Lysias against the Jews. So confident were they of a Syrian victory that a
horde of slave merchants accompanied the army that they might purchase the
Jewish captives. This time the Syrians avoided the difficult pass of
Bethhoron and chose the Wady Ali, along which the modern carriage road
winds up from the coast to Jerusalem. The main camp was pitched at Emmaus
at the southeastern side of the Plain of Ajalon under the Judean hills.
Meantime Judas had selected as his head-quarters the lofty hill of Mizpah,
associated by earlier tradition with Samuel and the scene of the
short-lived rule of Gedaliah. It was well chosen, for it commanded a view
of the territory to the north, south, and west. While the army of the
Syrians, sent by night to surprise Judas, were marching up the northern
valley, the Jewish patriots were led westward toward the plain along one
of the parallel valleys that penetrated the Judean hills. Having appealed
to the patriotic memories and the religious zeal of his followers, Judas
led them in a sudden early morning attack against the Syrians encamped
near Emmaus. Soon the Syrians were in wild flight across the plain to the
Philistine cities, and Judas and his followers were left in possession of
the camp and its rich spoil. Panic also seized his pursuers when they saw
their camp in possession of the enemy, and Judas was left for the moment
undisputed master of the land of his fathers. This victory in the year
166 B.C. was in many ways the most sweeping and significant in early
Maccabean history.

V. The Battle at Bethsura. The next year Lysias himself gathered a huge
army of sixty thousand infantry and five thousand cavalry and led them
against the Jews. This time the Syrians advanced through the broad valley
of Elah where David had fought against the Philistine giant. Thence they
followed the Wady Sur, turned southward and then eastward, penetrating to
the top of the Judean plateau a little north of Hebron. Approaching from
this point the Syrians were protected in their rear by the Idumeans, the
descendants of the Edomites. They succeeded in reaching the point where
the road from the west joins the central highway from Hebron to Jerusalem.
There on a sloping hill crowned with the border town of Bethsura, Judas
was able to rally ten thousand followers to meet the huge Syrian army.
From the parallel account in II Maccabees it is clear that he did not
succeed in winning a decisive victory, but a crisis in Antioch suddenly
compelled Lysias to return, leaving the Jews in possession of the

VI. Restoration of the Temple Service. With mingled sadness and
rejoicing Judas proceeded at once to Jerusalem and with his followers took
up the task of restoring the desecrated temple and its service. The
citadel of Acra, which appears to have been situated on the Hill of Ophel
to the south of the temple, was still strongly garrisoned by apostate Jews
and Syrian soldiers. For nearly a quarter of a century, until the days of
Simon, it continued to be held by Syrian forces, and remained a constant
menace to the peace of Jerusalem. The vivid account of the purification of
the temple reveals the intense devotion of the Jews to this ancient
sanctuary, and throws clear light upon the nature of its service. This
epoch-making act is commemorated even to-day by the Jews throughout the
world and is known as the Feast of Lights. It is a memorial of that
successful struggle for religious freedom in which Principles were
established that have affected the thought and action of all succeeding
generations. Through all their many vicissitudes and under their many
Gentile rulers, with few exceptions, the Jews have enjoyed uninterruptedly
the right of worshipping in accordance with the dictates of their law and
the customs of their fathers.

VII. The New Spirit in Judaism. Henceforth the law for which their
fathers had poured out their life-blood and for which the Jews had fought
so valiantly was regarded with new and deeper veneration and its commands
gained a new authority. Again the Jews had enjoyed a taste of freedom and
had learned that by united and courageous action they could shake off the
hated heathen yoke. This new warlike note is sounded in many of the later
psalms of the Psalter. Chapters 9-14, appended to the older books of
Zechariah, apparently come from this same period and voice the thought of
the conquerors. The words of the ninth chapter express their joy and

For I have bent Judah to me,
As a bow which I have filled with Ephraim;
I will urge thy sons against the sons of Greece,
And I will make thee like the sword of a hero.
Then Jehovah shall be seen above them,
And his shaft shall go forth like lightning.
Jehovah shall blow a blast upon a trumpet,
And travel on the whirlwinds of the south.
Jehovah of hosts shall defend them;
And they shall devour and tread down the slingstones,
They shall drink their blood like wine,
They shall be filled with it like the crevices of an altar.
And Jehovah their God shall give them victory in that day.
Like sheep he shall feed them in his land.
Yea, how good and how beautiful shall it be!
Corn shall make the young men flourish, and new wine the maidens.

The victories of Judas in all probability also inspired the messianic hope
expressed in 9:9-10:

Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion.
Shout aloud, O daughter of Jerusalem!
Behold thy king will come to thee;
Vindicated and victorious is he,
Humble, and riding upon an ass.
Upon the foal of an ass.
He shall cut off chariots from Ephraim,
And horses from Jerusalem;
The battle-bow shall also be cut off,
And he shall speak to the nations;
His rule shall be from sea to sea,
From the river to the ends of the earth.


[Sidenote: I Macc. 5:1-5]
Now when the heathen round about heard that the altar had been built and
the sanctuary dedicated as it was formerly, they were very angry and
concluded to destroy the race of Jacob that was in the midst of them, and
they began to slay and destroy among the people. Judas, however, fought
against the people of Esau in Idumea at Akrabattine, because they besieged
Israel, and he defeated them with a great slaughter and humbled their
pride and took their spoils. He remembered the wickedness of the
inhabitants of Baean, who were a source of annoyance and of danger, lying
in ambush for them along the roads. And they were shut up by him in the
towers, and he besieged them and destroyed them utterly and burned the
towers of the place, with all who were in them.

[Sidenote: I Macc. 5:6-8]
Then he passed over to the Ammonites and found a strong force and many
people, with Timotheus as their leader. And he fought many battles with
them, and they were defeated before him, and he conquered them. Then when
he had gained possession of Jazer and its villages, he returned again into

[Sidenote: I Macc. 5:9-15]
Then the heathen who were in Gilead gathered together against the
Israelites who were on the borders to destroy them. And they fled to the
stronghold of Dathema and sent letters to Judas and his brothers, saying,

The heathen who are about us have gathered together against us to destroy
us, and they are preparing to come and get possession of the stronghold to
which we have fled for refuge, and Timotheus is the leader of their
forces. Now therefore come and rescue us from their power, for many of our
men have fallen; and all our countrymen who dwell in the land of Tob, have
been put to death, and they have carried into captivity their wives and
children and their possessions. And they destroyed there about a thousand
men. While the letters were being read, there came other messengers from
Galilee with their garments torn, bringing a message of similar import,
saying, That there were gathered together against them men of Ptolemais,
of Tyre, of Sidon, and from all heathen Galilee to destroy them

[Sidenote: I Macc. 5:16-20]
Now when Judas and the people heard these things, a great assembly came
together to consult what they should do for their kinsmen who were in
distress and being attacked by the heathen. And Judas said to Simon his
brother, Choose men, and go, rescue your countrymen who are in Galilee,
but Jonathan my brother and I will go into the land of Gilead. And he left
Joseph the son of Zacharias and Azarias, as leaders of the people, with
the rest of the army in Judea, in order to guard it. And he gave orders to
them, saying, Take charge of the heathen until we return. And to Simon
were assigned three thousand men to go to Galilee and to Judas eight
thousand men to go into the land of Gilead.

[Sidenote: I Macc. 5:21-23]
Then Simon went into Galilee and fought many battles with the heathen, and
the heathen were defeated by him. And he pursued them to the gate of
Ptolemais. And there fell of the heathen about three thousand men, and he
took the spoils from them. They took with them those who were in Galilee
and in Arbatta, with their wives and their children and all that they had,
and brought them into Judea with great rejoicing.

[Sidenote: I Mac. 5:45, 54]
Then Judas gathered all the Israelites who were in the land of Gilead,
from the least to the greatest, with their wives and children and their
household possessions, a very great host, that they might go into the land
of Judah. And they went up to Mount Zion with gladness and joy and offered
whole burnt-offerings, because not one of them had been slain, but they
had returned safe and sound.

[Sidenote: I Macc. 5:65-68, 63]
Then Judas and his brothers went out and fought against the people of Esau
in the land toward the south. And he smote Hebron and the villages
belonging to it and pulled down its citadel and burned the surrounding
towers. Then he set out to go into the land of the Philistines; and he
went through Marissa. On that day certain priests, desiring to do exploits
there, were slain in battle, when they unwisely went out to fight. Then
Judas turned aside to Azotus, to the land of the Philistines, and pulled
down their altars and burned the carved images of their gods and, taking
the spoil of their cities, he returned to the land of Judah. And the hero
Judas and his brothers were greatly honored by all Israel and by all the
heathen wherever their name was heard.

[Sidenote: I Macc. 6:18-27]
Now those who were in the citadel were hindering Israel round about the
sanctuary and were always seeking to do them harm and were a support to
the heathen. But Judas determined to destroy them and called all the
people together to besiege them. And they were gathered together and
besieged them in the hundred and fiftieth year, and he made mounds from
which to shoot and engines of war. Then some of those who were shut up
came out and certain apostate Israelites joined them. And they went to the
king and said, When will you finally satisfy justice and avenge our
brothers? We were willing to serve your father and to live as he enjoined,
and to obey his commands; but because of this our own people besieged us
in the citadel and were alienated from us; and as many of us as they could
find, they killed and despoiled our inheritances. And not against us only
have they stretched out their hand, but also against all that bordered on
them. And now they are to-day encamped against the citadel at Jerusalem,
to take it, and they have fortified the sanctuary and Bethsura. And if you
do not quickly anticipate them, they will do greater things than these,
and you will not be able to check them.

[Sidenote: I Macc. 6:28-41]
When the king had heard this, he was angry, and gathered together all his
Friends, the officers of his army, and those who commanded the cavalry.
There came to him also from other kingdoms and from isles of the sea,
bands of hired soldiers. So the number of his forces was a hundred
thousand footmen and twenty thousand horsemen and thirty-two elephants
trained for war. Then they went through Idumea and encamped against
Bethsura and carried on the siege a long time and made engines of war.
The besieged, however, sallied out and burned them and fought valiantly.
And Judas departed from the citadel and encamped at Beth-zacharias,
opposite the king's camp. Then the king rose early in the morning and had
his army set out at full speed along the road to Beth-zacharias and his
forces prepared for battle and the trumpets were sounded. And they showed
the elephants the blood of grapes and mulberries, in order to excite them
for the battle. Then they distributed the beasts among the phalanxes and
stationed by each elephant a thousand men armed with coats of mail and
helmets, with brass on their heads; and to each beast five hundred chosen
horsemen were appointed. These were already there, wherever the beast was,
and wherever the beast went, they went with him and did not separate
themselves from him. And upon them were towers of wood, strong, covered,
one girded upon each beast. Upon them were engines and two or three men,
who fought upon them, besides the Indian who guided the elephant. The rest
of the horsemen he stationed on both sides of the two wings of the army to
inspire terror and to protect the phalanxes. And when the sun struck the
golden and bronze shields, the mountain shone with them and blazed like
torches of fire. And a part of the king's army was spread out on the
heights, and some on the low ground, and they moved firmly and in good
order. And all who heard the noise of their multitude, and the marching of
the great numbers, and the rattling of the arms, trembled because the army
was very great and strong.

[Sidenote: I Macc. 6:42-47]
Then Judas and his army approached for battle, and there fell of the
king's army six hundred men. Now when Eleazar, who was called Avaran, saw
one of the beasts armed with royal breastplates, which was higher than all
the beasts, and it looked as though the king was upon it, he gave himself
to save his people and to gain for himself an everlasting fame; and he ran
upon him courageously in the midst of the phalanx and slew on the right
hand and on the left, and they scattered from before him on either side.
Then he crept under the elephant, thrust him from beneath, and slew him.
And the elephant fell to the earth upon him, and he died there. But when
they saw the strength of the king and the fierce onset of the armies, they
turned away from them.

[Sidenote: I Macc. 6:48-54]
But those who were in the king's army went up to Jerusalem to meet them,
and the king encamped for a struggle with Judea and Mount Zion. And he
made peace with those in Bethsura; for they surrendered the city, because
they had no food there to endure the siege, because the land had a
sabbath. So the king took Bethsura and stationed a garrison there to keep
it. Then he encamped against the sanctuary for a long time; and he set
there mounds from which to shoot and engines of war and instruments for
casting stones and fire, and pieces to cast darts and slings. And they
also erected engines against those of the besiegers and fought for a long
time. But since there was no food in the sanctuary, because it was the
seventh year and those who had fled for safety into Judea from among the
heathen had eaten up what remained of the store of provisions, there were
but a few left in the sanctuary, because the famine became so severe upon
them, and they scattered, each man to his own home.

[Sidenote: I Macc. 6:55-63]
Now Lysias heard that Philip, whom Antiochus the king, had appointed
during his lifetime to bring up his son Antiochus that he might be king,
had returned from Persia and Media and with him the forces that went with
the king, and that he was trying to get control of the government, he
hastily decided to depart. And he said to the king, and to the officers of
the army and to the men, We are growing weaker every day, our supplies are
scanty, and the place which we are besieging is strong, and the welfare of
the kingdom depends upon us; now therefore let us give the right hand to
these men and make peace with them and with all their nation, and covenant
with them that they may live according to their own customs as formerly;
for because of their laws, which we abolished, they were angered and did
all these things. This counsel pleased the king and the princes, and he
sent to them to make peace. They accepted it, and when the king and the
princes took oath to them, they came out of the stronghold. But when the
king entered Mount Zion and saw the strength of the place, he broke the
oath which he had sworn and gave orders to pull down the wall round about.
Then he set out in haste and returned to Antioch and found Philip master
of the city; and he fought against him and took the city by force.

[Sidenote: I Macc. 7:1-4]
In the one hundred and fiftieth year, Demetrius the son of Seleucus
escaped from Rome and went up with a few men to a city by the sea, and
there proclaimed himself king. And when he entered the palace of his
fathers, the army seized Antiochus and Lysias, to bring them to him. But
when the fact was made known to him, he said, Do not show me their faces.
And the army slew them. So Demetrius sat upon the throne of his kingdom.

[Sidenote: I Macc. 7:5-18]
And there came to him all the lawless and the apostate men of Israel, with
Alcimus, their leader, desiring to be high priest. And they accused the
people before the king, saying, Judas and his brothers have destroyed all
your Friends, and have scattered us from our own land. Now therefore send
a man whom you trust, and let him go and see all the havoc which he has
made of us and of the king's country, and how he has punished them and all
who helped them. So the king chose Bacchides, one of the king's Friends,
who was ruler in the province beyond the River Euphrates, and was a great
man in the kingdom, and faithful to the king. He sent him and also that
godless Alcimus, and confirmed him in the high priesthood, and commanded
him to take vengeance upon the Israelites. So they set out and came with a
great army into the land of Judah, and he sent messengers to Judas and his
brothers with words of peace, deceitfully. But they paid no attention to
their words for they saw that these men had come with a great army. Then
there were gathered together to Alcimus and Bacchides a company of
scribes, to seek for justice. And the Hasideans were the first among the
Israelites who sought peace with them; for they said, One who is a
descendant of Aaron has come with the forces and he will do us no wrong.
And he spoke words of peace to them, and took oath to them, saying, We
will seek the hurt neither of you nor of your friends. And they put
confidence in him. But he seized sixty of them, and slew them in one day,
as it is written in the Scriptures,

The flesh of thy saints...
And their blood they poured out round about Jerusalem;
And there was no man to bury them.

And the fear and hatred of them fell upon all the people, for they said,
There is neither truth nor justice in them; for they have broken the
covenant and the oaths which they made.

[Sidenote: I Macc. 7:13-26]
And when Judas saw that Alcimus and his company had done more mischief
among the Israelites than the heathen, he went out into the whole
territory of Judea round about and took vengeance on the men who had
deserted from him, and they were restrained from going forth into the
country. But when Alcimus saw that Judas and his company were growing
strong and knew that he was not able to withstand them, he returned to the
king and brought evil charges against them. So the king sent Nicanor, one
of his honored princes, a man who hated Israel and was their enemy, and
commanded him to destroy the people.

[Sidenote: I Macc. 7:27-32]
When Nicanor came to Jerusalem with a great army, he sent to Judas and his
brother a message of peaceful words with deceitful intent, saying, Let
there be no battle between us. I will come with a few men, that I may see
your faces in peace. And he came to Judas, and they saluted one another
peaceably. But the enemies were prepared to take away Judas, by violence.
And when the fact was clear to Judas, that he had come to him with deceit,
he was very much afraid of him and would see his face no more. So Nicanor
knew that his plan was discovered, and he went out to meet Judas in battle
near Capharsalama. And there fell of those with Nicanor about five hundred
men. Then they fled into the city of David.

[Sidenote: I Macc. 7:33-38]
Now after these things Nicanor went to Zion. And when some of the priests
came out of the sanctuary, and some the elders of the people, to salute
him peaceably and to show him the whole burnt-offering that was being
offered for the king, he mocked them, and laughed at them, and abused
them, and talked insolently. He also swore in a rage, saying, Unless Judas
and his army are now delivered into my hands, if I come again in peace, I
will burn up this temple. He went out in a great rage. Then the priests
went in and stood before the altar and the temple; and they wept and said,
Thou didst choose this temple to be called by thy name, to be a house of
prayer and supplication for thy people. Take vengeance on this man and his
army, and let him fall by the sword. Remember their blasphemies, and let
them live no longer.

[Sidenote: I Macc. 7:39-48]
And Nicanor set forth from Jerusalem and encamped in Bethhoron, and there
the army of Syria met him. But Judas encamped in Adasa with three thousand
men. Then Judas prayed and said, When they who came from the king
blasphemed, thine angel went out and smote among them an hundred and
sixty-five thousand. Even so destroy thou this army before us to-day, and
let all the rest know that he hath spoken wickedly against thy sanctuary,
and judge thou him according to his wickedness. So on the thirteenth day
of the month Adar the armies joined battle; and Nicanor's army was
defeated, and he himself was the first to fall in the battle. And when his
army saw that Nicanor had fallen, they threw away their weapons and fled.
And [the Jews] pursued them a day's journey from Adasa as far as Gazara
when they sounded the trumpet-signal for the return. Then they came out
from all the villages of Judea on every hand and outflanked them; and the
one turned them back on the other army, and they all fell by the sword, so
that none of them was left.

[Sidenote: I Macc. 7:47-50]
And they took the spoils and the booty, and they struck off Nicanor's head
and his right hand, which he had stretched out so haughtily, and brought
them and hung them up in the citadel of Jerusalem. And the people were
very glad. They also enacted an ordinance for the celebration of this day
year by year, the thirteenth day of Adar. So the land of Judah had rest
for a brief period.

[Sidenote: I Macc. 9:1-6]
When Demetrius heard that Nicanor had fallen with his forces in battle, he
sent Bacchides and Alcimus again into the land of Judah a second time, and
the southern wing of his army with them. And they went by that way that
leads to Gilgal, and encamped against Masaloth, which is in Arbela, and
gained possession of it and destroyed many people. And the first month of
the hundred and fifty-second year they encamped against Jerusalem. Then
they set out and went to Berea with twenty thousand footmen and two
thousand horsemen. And Judas was encamped at Elasa, and three thousand
chosen men with him. And when they saw the multitude of the forces, that
they were many, they were greatly frightened, and many slipped away from
the army, so that there were left of them not more than eight hundred men.

[Sidenote: I Macc. 9:7-10]
And when Judas saw that his army had dispersed, he was deeply troubled,
because he had no time to gather them together, and he grew discouraged.
And he said to those who were left, Let us arise and go up against our
adversaries, if perhaps we may be able to fight with them. And they would
have dissuaded him, saying, We shall not be able; but let us rather save
our lives now; let us return again with our fellow-countrymen and fight
against them, for we are few. But Judas said, Far be it from me so to do,
that I should flee from them. For if our time has come, let us die
manfully for the sake of our fellow-countrymen and not leave a cause of
reproach against our honor.

[Sidenote: I Macc. 9:11-18]
Then the army set out from the camp and drew up to meet them; and the
cavalry drew up into two companies, and the slingers and the archers went
before the army, with all the strong, foremost warriors. But Bacchides was
in the rear wing. Then the phalanx advanced on both sides, and they
sounded their trumpets. And Judas's men also sounded their trumpets, and
the earth shook with the shout of the armies; so the battle was begun and
continued from morning until evening. And when Judas saw that Bacchides
and the strength of his army were on the right side, all who were brave in
heart went with him, and the right wing was defeated by them, and he
pursued them to the slope of the mountains. And they who were on the left
wing, when they saw that the right wing was defeated, turned and followed
upon the footsteps of Judas and of those who were with him. And the battle
grew fierce, and many on both sides fell mortally wounded. Then Judas fell
and the rest fled.

[Sidenote: I Macc. 9:19, 20]
And Jonathan and Simon took Judas their brother and buried him in the
sepulchre of his fathers at Modein. And they bewailed him, and all Israel
made great lamentation for him and mourned many days, and said,

How is the hero fallen,
The saviour of Israel!

[Sidenote: I Macc. 9:22]
And the rest of the valiant acts of Judas, and his wars and the valiant
deeds which he did, and his greatness--they have not been recorded, for
they were very many.

[Sidenote: I Macc. 9:23-27]
Now after the death of Judas, the apostates showed themselves in all the
territory of Israel, and all who practised injustice flourished. About the
same time there was a very severe famine, and the whole people sided with
them. Then Bacchides selected the godless men and made them rulers of the
country. And they conducted a thorough search for the friends of Judas and
brought them to Bacchides, and he took vengeance on them and tortured them
cruelly. Then great tribulation came upon Israel, such as had not been
since the time that prophets had ceased to appear among them.

[Sidenote: I Macc. 9:28-35]
Thereupon all the friends of Judas assembled and said to Jonathan, Since
your brother Judas has died, we have no one like him to go out against our
enemies and Bacchides and against those of our own kin who hate us. Now
therefore we have chosen you this day to be our prince and leader in his
place that you may fight our battles. So Jonathan assumed the leadership
at that time and took the place of his brother Judas.

[Sidenote: I Macc. 10:1-6]
Now in the one hundred and sixtieth year, Alexander the son of Antiochus
Epiphanes went up and took possession of Ptolemais, and they received him,
and he reigned there. When King Demetrius heard of it, he gathered very
large forces and went out to meet him in battle. Demetrius also sent
letters to Jonathan with words of peace, so as to honor him greatly. For
he said, Let us get the start in making peace with them before he makes a
compact with Alexander against us. For he will remember all the wrongs
that we have done to him, and to his brothers and his nation. And he gave
him authority to collect forces and to provide arms and to be his ally.
Also he commanded that they should deliver up to him the hostages who were
in the citadel.

[Sidenote: I Macc. 10:7-14]
Then Jonathan came to Jerusalem, and read the letters in the hearing of
all the people, and of those who were in the citadel. And they were
greatly afraid when they heard that the king had given him authority to
collect an army. And the garrison delivered up the hostages to Jonathan,
and he restored them to their parents. And Jonathan took up his residence
in Jerusalem and began to rebuild and renew the city. And he commanded
those who did the work to build the walls and Mount Zion round about with
square stones for defence; and they did so. Then the foreigners, who were
in the strongholds which Bacchides had built, fled, and each man left his
place and went into his own land. Only some of those who had forsaken the
law and the commandments were left at Bethsura, because it was an asylum
for them.

[Sidenote: I Macc. 10:15-17]
And when King Alexander heard all the promises which Demetrius had made to
Jonathan and had been told of the battles which he and his brothers had
fought and the valiant deeds that they had done and of the hardships which
they had endured, he said, Shall we find such another man? Now therefore
let us make him our friend and ally. So he wrote letters and sent them to
him with contents like these:

King Alexander to his brother Jonathan, greeting: We have heard of you
that you are a valiant man and fit to be our friend. And now we have
appointed you to-day to be high priest of your nation and to be called the
king's Friend (and he sent to him a purple robe and a crown of gold), and
to take our part and to remain on friendly terms with us.

[Sidenote: I Macc. 10:21]
And Jonathan put on the holy garments in the seventh month of the hundred
and sixtieth year at the feast of tabernacles, and he gathered together
forces, and provided arms in abundance.

[Sidenote: I Macc. 10:67-71]
Now in the one hundred and sixty-fifth year, Demetrius son of Demetrius,
came from Crete into the land of his fathers. Then King Alexander heard of
it, and he was exceedingly troubled and returned to Antioch. And Demetrius
appointed Apollonius, who was over Coele-Syria, and he collected a great
army and encamped in Jamnia, and sent to Jonathan the high priest this

You alone are hostile to us, and I have become a laughing-stock and butt
of ridicule on account of you. Now why do you flaunt your power against us
in the mountains? If, indeed, you trust your forces, come down to us in
the plain, and there let us try the matter together, because with me is
the power of the cities.

[Sidenote: I Macc. 10:74-76]
Now when Jonathan heard the words of Apollonius, he was stirred to anger,
and he chose ten thousand men and went forth from Jerusalem, and Simon his
brother met him to help him. And he encamped against Joppa. The people of
the city, however, shut him out, because Apollonius had a garrison in
Joppa. So they fought against it. Then the people of the city were afraid
and opened to him, and Jonathan became master of Joppa.

[Sidenote: I Macc. 11:20-27]
At that time Jonathan gathered together the people of Judea to take the
citadel that was at Jerusalem, and he erected many engines of war against
it. Some, however, who hated their own nation, apostates, went to the
king, and reported to him that Jonathan was besieging the citadel. And
when he heard it, he was angry, and immediately after he heard of it he
set out and came to Ptolemais, and wrote to Jonathan that he should not
besiege it, and that he should meet him and confer with him at Ptolemais
with all speed. But when Jonathan heard this, he gave orders to proceed
with the siege, while he chose certain of the elders of Israel and of the
priests, and putting himself in peril, and taking silver and gold and
garments, and various presents besides, he went to the king at Ptolemais.
And he was favorably received; and although some apostates of the nation
Made complaints against him, the king treated him just as his predecessors
had done and exalted him in the presence of all his Friends, both
confirming to him the high priesthood, and all the other honors that he
had before, and giving him preeminence among his Chief Friends.

[Sidenote: I Macc. 11:28, 29]
And Jonathan requested the king to make Judea free from tribute, together
with the three districts of Samaria, and he promised him three hundred
talents. And the king consented and wrote letters to Jonathan concerning
all these things.

I. The Political Situation. The position of the Jewish patriots was both
perilous and tragic. A ring of hostile peoples pressed them closely on
every side. The Jews were the victims of centuries of wrong and hatred.
Those residing in the neighboring lands also suffered from this widespread
and bitter hostility. Among all the peoples of southwestern Asia they had
no allies except the Nabateans, an Arabian people that had driven the
Edomites from their home on Mount Seir. The only bond that bound them to
this ambitious heathen race was the common hatred of the Syrians. It was
natural, therefore, that Judas a little later should send an embassy with
the object of securing the moral support, if not the direct intervention,
of the distant Roman power whose influence was beginning to be felt
throughout all the Mediterranean coast lands. For the present, however,
Judas was dependent simply upon the sword for defence. He also had no time
for permanent conquest, for he must prepare himself for the heavier blow
that the court of Antioch was preparing to deliver. All that he could do,
therefore, was to make sudden attacks upon his foes on every side and
rescue the persecuted Jews by bringing them back with him to Judea.

II. The Jewish Attitude toward the Heathen Reflected in the Book of
Esther. In these perilous circumstances it is not strange that the Jews
gravitated far from the position of broad tolerance advocated by the II
Isaiah and the authors of the prophecy of Malachi and in the stories of
Ruth and Jonah. In the stress of conflict they completely lost sight of
their mission as Jehovah's witnesses to all the world. The destruction of
the heathen seemed to them absolutely necessary if Jehovah's justice was
to be vindicated. The spirit of this warlike, blood-thirsty age is most
clearly formulated in the book of Esther. The presence of Aramaic and
Persian words testify to its late date. It is closely allied to the
midrashim or didactic stories that were a characteristic literary product
of later Judaism. Like the stories of Daniel, the book of Esther contains
many historical inconsistencies. For example, Mordecai, carried as a
captive to Babylon in 597 B.C., is made Xerxes's prime-minister in 474
B.C. Its pictures of Persian customs are also characteristic of popular
tradition rather than of contemporary history. Its basis is apparently an
old Babylonian tradition of a great victory of the Babylonians over their
ancient foes, the Elamites. Mordecai is a modification of the name of the
Babylonian god Marduk. Estra, which appears in the Hebrew Esther, was the
late Babylonian form of the name of the Semitic goddess Ishtar. Vashti
and Hamman, the biblical Haman, were names of Elamite deities. Like
the story of creation, this tale has been Hebraized and adapted to the
story-teller's purpose. His aim is evidently to trace the origin of the
late Jewish feast of Purim. It is probable that this feast was an
adaptation of the Babylonian New-Year's feast which commemorated the
ancient victory. The story in its present form is strongly Jewish. It
exalts loyalty to the race, but its morality is far removed from that of
Amos and Isaiah. Its exultation over the slaughter of thousands of the
heathen is displeasing even in a romance, although it can easily be
understood in the light of the Maccabean age in which it was written.

III. Campaigns against the Neighboring Peoples. The first book of
Maccabees records in detail the repeated blows that Judas struck against
his heathen foes. At Akrabattine, probably identical with the Scorpion
Pass at the southwestern end of the Dead Sea, he fought and won a signal
victory over his hereditary foes, the Idumeans. His chief enemy on the
east was Timotheus, the leader of the Ammonites against whom Judas was
successful in the preliminary skirmishes. Angered by these defeats, the
heathen east of the Jordan attacked the resident Jews, who fled to one of
the towns, where they were besieged. Judas, assembling six thousand of his
picked warriors, made a rapid march of three days out into the wilderness.
He apparently carried few supplies, but depended rather upon the spoil of
the captured towns for support. Bosra, far out on the borders of the
desert, was seized and looted. Thence returning westward, he rescued the
Jews from the town of Damethah, or, as it appears in the Syriac, Rametha.
This is probably identical with the modern town of Remtheh a little south
of the Yarmuk on the great pilgrim highway from Damascus to Mecca. After
making a detour to the south he crossed the Yarmuk and captured a series
of towns lying to the north and northeast of this river. Returning he
apparently met his Ammonite foe, who had succeeded in rallying an army, at
the point where the pilgrim highway crosses the headwaters of the Yarmuk.
Here Judas won a sweeping victory. Then collecting the many Jews of the
dispersion who had settled near these upper waters of the Yarmuk, he
returned victoriously to Jerusalem. His brother Simon, who had been
despatched on a similar mission to Galilee, likewise came back bringing
many fellow-Jews and laden with spoils.

Anticipating a renewal of the Syrian attack, Judas next made a rapid
campaign into the territory of the Idumeans, capturing the old Hebrew
capital of Hebron and carrying his victories as far as Ashdod on the
western borders of the Philistine plain. Within a few months he had
overrun and partially conquered a territory larger than the kingdom of
David. In an incredibly short time this peasant warrior had won more
victories against greater odds than any other leader in Israel's
history. The results of these victories were necessarily ephemeral. They
accomplished, however, three things: (1) Judas intimidated his foes and
established his prestige; (2) he was able to rescue thousands of Jews from
the hands of the heathen; and (3) by bringing them back to Judea he
increased its population and laid the foundations of that kingdom which
rose as the result of his patriotic achievements.

IV. The Battle of Beth-zacharias. There was still a Syrian outpost in
the heart of Judea: it was the citadel at Jerusalem, which looked down
upon the temple area. This Judas attempted to capture, but in so doing
incited to action the Syrian king, Antiochus Eupator, who had succeeded
to the throne after the death of his father Antiochus Epiphanes. Under
the direction of his prime-minister Lysias he collected a huge army of one
hundred thousand infantry and twenty thousand cavalry. To this was added
thirty-two elephants with full military equipment--the heavy ordinance
used in the warfare of the period. The approach from the plain was along
the valley of Elah and up past Bethsura, as in the last Syrian campaign.
Judas, who was able at this time to rally an army of ten thousand men, met
the Syrian host near the town of Beth-zacharias, a little north of
Bethsura on the central highway from Hebron to Jerusalem. This time the
natural advantages were with the Syrians, one wing of whose army rested
upon a declining hill and the other on the level plain. Thus they were
able to utilize their entire fighting force and to launch against the
valiant Jews their elephants against which the heroism of an Eleazar was
fruitless. For the first time during this struggle Judas was defeated and
fell back upon Jerusalem, where he was closely besieged. Soon the Jews
were obliged to surrender, and the Maccabean cause would have been lost
had not complications at Antioch compelled the Syrians to retire.

V. Victories Over Nicanor. In the treaty which followed the surrender
of Jerusalem the religious liberty of the Jews was assured. This
concession satisfied the majority of the Hasideans, so that henceforth
Judas found himself deserted by a great body of his followers. The
apostate high priest who was placed in control of the temple was supported
by Syrian soldiery and Judas was obliged to resort again to outlaw life.
He succeeded, however, in winning two signal victories over Nicanor, the
Syrian general. The one at Capharsalama was probably fought near the
modern town of Kefr Silwan, across the Kidron Valley from the City of
David on the southern slope of Jerusalem. In the latter victory Nicanor
was slain, and Judas was left for the moment in control of Judea.

VI. The Death of Judas. Soon another Syrian army invaded the land. The
advance was from the northwest up over the pass of Bethhoron. A little
east of the road that ascends from Lower to Upper Bethhoron, near where he
won his first great battle and in sight of his home at Modein, the
intrepid Jewish champion fought his last battle. Terror at the approach of
the enemy had thinned his ranks until he was obliged to meet them with
only eight hundred men at his back. Even against these great odds he was
on the eve of victory when he was slain. At the sight of their fallen
leader his followers fled. This disastrous ending of his career as a
warrior obscured to a great extent the character and quality of Judas's
services for his people. In brief (1) he taught them to fight for their
rights; (2) he helped them to save their law and traditions; (3) he
secured for them religious freedom; (4) he restored many of the Jews of
the dispersion and thus prepared the way for the consolidated kingdom
which later rose with Jerusalem as the centre; (5) he inspired his
countrymen with ambitions for political independence; and (6) he set them
a noble example of courage, patriotism, and practical piety. While
measured by the higher standards of a later day Judas is not without his
faults, yet he is unquestionably one of the great heroes of Israel's
history and an example to all of unselfish and devoted patriotism.

VII. The Dissensions in the Syrian Court. The Jews ultimately attained
political independence not primarily through their own efforts, but
because the protracted contests between the rival claimants for the Syrian
throne gave them opportunities which they quickly improved. In 152 B.C. a
youth known as Alexander Balas, who claimed to be a son of Antiochus
Epiphanes, raised the standard of revolt against the reigning Syrian king,
Demetrius I. The kings of southwestern Asia and Egypt at first lent their
support to this impostor. By 150 B.C. he had succeeded in defeating and
putting to death Demetrius I. Two years later, however, Demetrius II, the
son of the deposed king, appeared with a large body of Cretan mercenaries
to contest the throne of his father. Many of the Syrian cities at once
espoused his cause. Ptolemy Philometor, of Egypt, finally turned against
Alexander Balas; and in 145 B.C. this strange adventurer was slain near
Antioch by his own followers. Soon after his death, however, one of his
generals, Tryphon, appeared with an infant son of Alexander whom he sought
to place on the Syrian throne, thus perpetuating the feud that was
constantly undermining the power of the Seleucid kingdom.

VIII. Concessions to Jonathan. The Jews profited by each turn in these
tortuous politics. In 158 B.C., after a period of outlawry in the
wilderness east of Judea, Jonathan and his followers were allowed by
Demetrius I to settle again within the bounds of Judea. Jonathan
Established his head-quarters at Michmash, the fortress famous for the
achievement of Saul's valiant son Jonathan. Here he ruled over the Jews as
a vassal of Demetrius, who retained immediate control over the citadel at
Jerusalem and the fortified cities that had been built along the borders
of Judea. On the appearance of Alexander Balas in 152 B.C. Demetrius I, in
order to retain the loyalty of the Jews, permitted Jonathan to maintain a
small standing army and to rebuild the fortifications of Jerusalem. To
outbid his rival the impostor Alexander Balas conferred upon Jonathan the
coveted honor of the high priesthood, thus making him both the civil and
religious head of the Jewish state. Disregarding his promises to Demetrius
and the contemptible character of Alexander, Jonathan at once proceeded to
establish his new authority. He was doubtless more acceptable to the
majority of the Jews than the apostate high priests whom he succeeded, but
the stricter Hasideans naturally regarded it as a sacrilege that a man
whose hands were stained with war and bloodshed should perform the holiest
duties in the temple service.

Under Alexander Balas Jonathan's power rapidly increased. He was made
governor of Judea, and, under pretence of supporting the waning fortunes
of Alexander, he captured in succession the Philistine cities of Joppa,
Azotus (Ashdod), Ascalon, and Akron. When Demetrius II became master of
Syria, Jonathan succeeded by rich gifts and diplomacy in so far gaining
the support of the new king that part of the territory of Samaria was
joined to Judea. In return for three hundred talents they were also
promised exemption from taxation. Furthermore, membership in one of the
royal orders was conferred upon the Maccabean leader. Thus by good fortune
and by often questionable diplomacy the Jews finally secured in the days
of Jonathan that freedom for which they had fought and which they had
partially won under the valiant Judas.


[Sidenote: I Macc. 11:38-40]
And when King Demetrius saw that the land was quiet before him and that
no resistance was made to him, he sent all his forces, each one to his own
home, except the foreign mercenaries, whom he had enlisted from the isles
of the heathen. All the troops, however, who had served his father hated
him. Now Tryphon was one of those who had formerly belonged to Alexander's
party, and when he saw that all the troops were murmuring against
Demetrius, he went to Yamliku, the Arabian who was bringing up Antiochus,
the young child of Alexander, and importuned him that he should deliver
him to him, that he might reign in his father's place. And he told him all
that Demetrius had done, and the hatred which his troops bore him. And he
stayed there a long time.

[Sidenote: I Macc. 11:54-56]
Now after this Tryphon returned, and with him the young child Antiochus,
and he assumed the sovereignty and put on the diadem. And there were
gathered to him all the forces which Demetrius had sent away in disgrace,
and they fought against him, and he fled and was defeated. And Tryphon
took the elephants and became master of Antioch.

[Sidenote: I Macc. 12:39-47]
Then Tryphon tried to get the sovereignty over Asia and to put on the
diadem and to engage in hostilities against Antiochus the king. But he
was afraid lest perhaps Jonathan might not allow him, and that he might
fight against him. So he sought a way to take him, that he might destroy
him. And he set out and came to Bethshan. Then Jonathan went out to meet
him with forty thousand picked soldiers and came to Bethshan. And when
Tryphon saw that he came with a great army, he was afraid to attack him,
and he received him honorably and commended him to all his Friends and
gave him gifts, and commanded his forces to be obedient to him as to
himself. And he said to Jonathan, Why have you put all this people to
trouble, since that there is no war between us? Now therefore send them
away to their homes, retaining for yourself only a few men who shall be
with you, and come with me to Ptolemais, and I will give it to you with
the rest of the strongholds and the rest of the forces and all the king's
officers, and I will set out on my way back, for this is the cause of my
coming. Then he trusted him and did even as he said, and sent away his
forces so that they departed into the land of Judah. But he reserved for
himself three thousand men, of whom he left two thousand in Galilee, while
one thousand went with him.

[Sidenote: I Macc. 12:48-53]
Now as soon as Jonathan entered Ptolemais, the people of Ptolemais shut
the gates and laid hands on him, and they slew with the sword all who came
in with him. And Tryphon sent forces and horsemen into Galilee, and into
the great plain, to destroy all of Jonathan's men. But they perceived
that he had been taken and had perished, and those who were with him, and
they encouraged one another and marched in closed ranks, prepared to
fight. And when those who were pursuing them saw that they were ready to
fight for their lives, they turned back again. Thus they all came safely
into the land of Judah, and they mourned for Jonathan and those who were
with him, and they were greatly afraid. And all Israel mourned bitterly.
Then all the heathen who were round about them sought to destroy them
utterly, for they said, They have no ruler nor any to help them, now
therefore let us fight against them and wipe out the memory of them from
among men.

[Sidenote: I Macc. 13:1-11]
Now when Simon heard that Tryphon had collected a vast army to come into
the land of Judah to destroy it utterly, and saw that the people trembled
and were greatly afraid, he went up to Jerusalem and gathered the people
together, and encouraged them and said to them, You yourselves know all
the things that I and my brothers, and my father's house, have done for
the laws and the sanctuary, and the battles and times of distress through
which we have passed. In this cause all my brothers have perished for
Israel's sake, and I alone am left. And now be it far from me that I
should spare my own life, in any time of affliction; for I am not better
than my brothers. Rather I will take revenge for my nation, and for the
sanctuary, and for our wives and children, because all the heathen are
gathered to destroy us out of pure hatred. And the courage of the people
rose as they heard these words. And they answered with a loud voice,
saying, You are our leader instead of Judas and Jonathan your brothers.
Fight our battles, and we will do all that you command. So he gathered
together all the warriors and made haste to finish the walls of Jerusalem,
and fortified the entire length of it. And he sent Jonathan the son of
Absalom at the head of a large army to Joppa, and he drove out those who
were in it, and stayed there in it.

[Sidenote: I Macc. 13:20-22]
And after this Tryphon came to invade the land and destroy it, and he went
round about by the way that goes to Adora; and Simon and his army marched
opposite and abreast of him to every place wherever he went. And the
people of the citadel sent to Tryphon ambassadors urging him to come by
forced marches through the wilderness to them and to send them supplies.
So Tryphon made ready all his cavalry to go. But that night a very deep
snow fell, so that he did not come because of the snow.

[Sidenote: I Macc. 13:23-30]
Then he set out and came to the country of Gilead, and when he came near
to Bascama, he slew Jonathan, and he was buried there. But when Tryphon
went back into his own land, Simon sent and took the bones of Jonathan his
brother, and buried them at Modein, his ancestral city. And all Israel
made great lamentation over him and mourned for him for many days. And
Simon built a monument upon the sepulchre of his father and his brothers,
and raised it aloft to the sight, with polished stone on the back and
front sides. He also set up seven pyramids, one opposite another, for his
father and his mother and his four brothers. And for these he made
artistic designs, setting about them great pillars, and upon the pillars
he fashioned different kinds of arms as an everlasting memorial, and
beside the arms ships carved, that they should be seen by all who sail on
the sea. This is the sepulchre which he made at Modein, which stands there
at the present time.

[Sidenote: I Macc. 13:33, 43-48]
Then Simon built the strongholds of Judea and fenced them about with high
towers and great walls and gates and bars, and laid up stores in the
strongholds. In those days he laid siege to Gazara, and surrounded it with
armies, and made an engine of siege and brought it up to the city, and
smote a tower and captured it. And those who were in the engine leaped
forth into the city, and there was a great tumult in the city. And the
people of the city tore their garments, and went up on the walls with
their wives and children, and cried with a loud voice, requesting Simon to
make peace with them. And they said, Do not deal with us according to our
wickednesses but according to your mercy. So Simon was reconciled to them
and did not fight against them. But he expelled them from the city and
cleansed the houses in which the idols were, and so entered into it with
singing and praise. And when he had put all uncleanness out of it, he
placed in it such men as would keep the law and made it stronger than it
was before, and built a dwelling place for himself in it.

[Sidenote: I Macc. 13:49-53]
But those who were in the citadel at Jerusalem were prevented from going
out and from going into the country, and from buying and selling, so that
they suffered exceedingly from hunger, and a great number of them perished
through famine. Then they cried out to Simon to make peace with them. He
did so, but put them out from there, and cleansed the citadel from its
pollutions. And he entered it on the twenty-third day of the second month
in the one hundred and seventy-first year, with praise and palm branches,
with harps, with cymbals, with viols, with hymns, and with songs, because
a great enemy was destroyed out of Israel. And he ordained that they
should observe that day each year with gladness. And the temple mount,
which was beside the citadel, he made stronger than before, and there he
dwelt with his men. And Simon saw that John his son had grown to manhood,
and so he made him commander of all his forces. And he lived in Gazara.

[Sidenote: I Macc. 14:16-18]
Now when they heard at Rome and at Sparta that Jonathan was dead, they
were very sorry. But as soon as they learned that his brother Simon had
been made high priest in his place and ruled the country and its cities,
they wrote to him on brass tablets, to renew with him the friendship and
the treaty which they had made with Judas and Jonathan his brothers.

[Sidenote: I Macc. 14:38-47]
Moreover King Demetrius confirmed to him the high priesthood according to
these things, and made him one of his Friends, and bestowed great honor
upon him, for he had heard that the Jews had been called friends and
allies and brothers by the Romans, and that they had met the ambassadors
of Simon with honor, and that the Jews and the priests were well pleased
that Simon should be their governor and high priest forever, until there
should arise a faithful prophet; and that he should be commander over
them, and should take charge of the sanctuary, to appoint men on his own
authority over their works and over the country and over the arms and over
the forts, and that he should be obeyed by all, and that all documents
drawn up in the country should be written in his name, and that he should
be clothed in purple, and wear gold; and that it should not be lawful for
any of the people or of the priests to nullify any of these things, or to
resist the commands that he should issue, or to gather an assembly in the
country without his permission, or to be clothed in purple or to wear a
golden buckle. But whoever should do otherwise, or act in defiance of any
of these things, should be liable to punishment. All the people agreed to
ordain that Simon should act according to these regulations. And Simon
accepted and consented to be high priest and to be general and governor of
the Jews and of the priests and to be protector of all.

[Sidenote: I Macc. 14:48, 49]
And they gave orders to put this writing on brass tablets and to set them
up within the precinct of the sanctuary in a conspicuous place, and also
to put the copies of it in the treasury in order that Simon and his sons
might have them.

[Sidenote: I Macc. 15:4-8]
So the land had rest all the days of Simon,
And he sought the good of his nation.
His authority and his glory were well-pleasing to them all his days.
And amid all his glory he took Joppa for a haven,
And made it a way to the isles of the sea,
And he enlarged the boundaries of his nation,
And became master of the land.
He also brought many captives together,
And made himself master of Gazara and Bethsura, and the citadel.
Moreover he took away from it its uncleannesses;
And there was none who resisted him.
And they tilled their land in peace,
And the earth gave her increase,
And the trees of the plains their fruit.

[Sidenote: 15:9-15]
The old men sat in the streets,
They talked together of the common good,
And the young men put on glorious, fine apparel.
He provided food for the cities,
And furnished them with means of fortification,
Until his famous name was known to the end of the earth.
He made peace in the land,
And Israel rejoiced with great joy,
Everyone sat under his own vine and fig tree,
And there was no one to make them afraid,
And none who warred against them was left upon the earth,
For the kings were utterly crushed in those days.
And he strengthened all the distressed of his people,
He was full of zeal for the law,
And every lawless and wicked person he banished.
He made the sanctuary glorious,
And multiplied the vessels of the temple.

I. Capture and Death of Jonathan. It was not strange in that corrupt age
that Jonathan, who had risen to power largely by intrigue, should himself
in the end fall a prey to treachery. Tryphon, the general who secretly
aspired to the Syrian throne, by lies succeeded in misleading even the
wily Jewish leader. His object was to gain possession of southern
Palestine, and he evidently believed that by capturing Jonathan he would
easily realize his ambition. He overlooked the fact, however, that Simon,
next to Judas the ablest of the sons of Mattathias, still remained to
rally and lead the Jewish patriots. The natural barriers of Judea again
proved insurmountable, for when Tryphon tried repeatedly on the west,
south, and east to invade the central uplands, he found the passes
guarded by Simon and his experienced warriors. Thus baffled, the
treacherous Tryphon vented his disappointment upon Jonathan, whom he
slew in Gilead. As the would-be usurper advanced northward, where he
ultimately met the fate which he richly deserved, Simon and his followers
bore the body of Jonathan back to Modein, and there they reared over it
the fourth of those tombs which testified to the warlike spirit and
devotion of the sons of Mattathias.

II. Character and Policy of Simon. Simon, who was at this crisis called
to the leadership of the Jewish race, had been famed from the first for
his moderation and wise counsel. In many campaigns he had also shown the
military skill and courage that had characterized his younger brothers. In
him the noble spirit of Judas lived again. He was devoted to the law,
intent upon building up the state, and at the same time was deeply and
genuinely interested in all members of his race, whether in Judea or in
distant nations. Like David and Josiah, he was a true father of his people
and set an example which unfortunately his descendants failed to follow.
He still recognized the authority of Demetrius II, but the Syrian kingdom
was so weak that Simon succeeded in securing a definite promise of the
remission of all taxes, and ruled practically as an independent sovereign.
To strengthen his position he sent an embassy laden with rich gifts to
Rome. During a later crisis in his rule its prestige proved of great
value, but Simon in following the example of his brothers gave to Rome
that claim upon Judea that was destined within less than a century to put
an end to Jewish independence. In still further consolidating and
developing the resources of his people and in preparing for future
expansion, Simon laid the foundations for the later Jewish kingdom. His
policy also brought to Palestine that peace and prosperity which made his
rule one of the few bright spots in Israel's troubled history.

III. His Conquests. The chief conquest of Simon was the capture of
Gazara, the ancient Gezer. This lay on the western side of the plain of
Ajalon. It guarded the approaches to Judea from the west, and above all
the highway that ran from Joppa and along which passed the commerce of the
Mediterranean. After a stubborn resistance he captured the town, deported
part of its heathen population, and settled Jewish colonists in their
place. Joppa also was under Simon's control. Thus he also prepared the
way for that commercial expansion which was necessary if the Jewish state
was to survive in the midst of its many powerful foes. Early in his reign
Simon laid siege to the Syrian garrison in Jerusalem, and finally, amidst
the rejoicing of the people, captured this stronghold and delivered Judea
from the presence of the hated foreigners. The temple area was also
fortified. Simon's victories, and especially his conquest of the Greek
cities on the plain, aroused the Syrian king, Antiochus Sidetes, the son

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