The Holy Bible – Knox Translation
The Second Book of Machabees
So all was agreed upon; Lysias was for the court again, and the Jewish folk went back to their farms.
But neither rest nor respite might they have while Timotheus✻ and Apollonius, son of Gennaeus, were left at their posts; Hieronymus, too, and Demophon, and Nicanor that ruled in Cyprus.
This was a very foul deed done by the men of Joppe; they fitted out certain vessels of theirs, and would have the neighbouring Jews go aboard, with their wives and children, for all the world as if there were no grudge between them.
It was the common wish of their fellow-citizens; how should the Jews gainsay it? They were lovers of peace, and cause for suspicion had none. Yet once they were on the high seas, they were cast overboard and drowned, a full two hundred of them.
Such tidings of cruel murder done upon men of his own race, Judas could not hear unmoved; mustering his followers, and calling upon God, that judges aright, to speed him,
he marched out against the slayers of his brethren; at dead of night he burned down their wharves, and set all the ships ablaze, nor any man that escaped the fire but was put to the sword.
This done, he left them, but threatening he would return, and leave none alive in Joppe.
He had word, too, that the men of Jamnia meant to do the same by the Jews in their part;
so he fell on Jamnia, too, by night, and burnt both wharves and ships there; the light of that blaze was seen at Jerusalem, thirty miles off. …
Nine furlongs they had marched, on their way to meet Timotheus, when an Arab force engaged them, of five thousand foot and five hundred horse.✻
Stern was the encounter, but with God’s help they won the day; and the defeated remnant of the Arabs asked Judas for quarter, promising a grant of pasture-lands, with other advantages.
And, beyond doubt, they could be many ways serviceable to him; so he made terms with them. They swore friendship, and the Arabs went back to their tents.
A city there was called Casphin, moated and walled about for its defence, and held by a rabble of many races; this, too, Judas attacked.
Such trust the defenders had in the strength of their ramparts, and their plentiful supplies of food, they carried themselves recklessly, hurling taunts at Judas, with blasphemies and other talk little fit to be uttered.
But Machabaeus to that King made appeal, who needed neither engine nor battering-ram, in Josue’s day, to bring Jericho down in ruins; a fierce attack he delivered upon the walls,
and, so God willed, became master of the city. The slaughter in it was past reckoning; there was a pool hard by, of two furlongs’ breadth, that seemed as if it ran in full tide with the blood of slain men.
It needed a march of ninety-five miles to bring them to Charax, where the Jews were whom they call Tubianaeans.
Yet could they not come up with Timotheus; he had retired, with nothing achieved, leaving a strong garrison in one of the forts there;
which garrison of his, ten thousand strong, was destroyed by two of Machabaeus’ captains, Dositheus and Sosipater.
Machabaeus himself, with six thousand men at his heels, divided into companies, pressed on against Timotheus, that had a hundred and twenty thousand foot, and two thousand five hundred horse, under his command.
At the news of Judas’ coming, Timotheus was fain to send on women, children, and stores, to Carnion, an impregnable fortress and one difficult of approach, so narrow the pass was.
And now the first of Judas’ companies came in sight, and with it the presence of the all-seeing God.✻ What fear fell upon the enemy, how they scattered in flight, stumbling over their own fellows, wounded by the point of their own swords!
And all the while Judas pressed them hard, the scourge of ill-doers; thirty thousand of them that day he slaughtered.
As for Timotheus, he fell into the hands of another force, under Dositheus and Sosipater; of these he begged earnestly for his life, telling them of Jewish hostages in his keeping, their own fathers and brothers, that would get no quarter if he came by his death.
Many were the pledges he gave, covenanting for the restoration of these hostages, and at last, for love of their brethren, they let him go free.
Judas went on to Carnion, where the enemy lost twenty-five thousand men,
routed and slain; thence to Ephron, a fortified city, where stout warriors of many different breeds manned the walls most valiantly, well provided with engines and weapons.
Yet strength is none can hold its own against the Omnipotent; to him the Jews made appeal, and so took the city, killing twenty-five thousand of the defenders.
And thence to Scythopolis, at seventy-five miles’ distance from Jerusalem;
but here the Jews themselves bore witness, how kindly their neighbours used them, and how honourably they carried themselves even in troublous times.
Thanking all such, and desiring them they would continue their good offices towards the Jewish folk, the army returned to Jerusalem, to keep the festival of the Weeks.
Then, after Pentecost, they marched away to meet Gorgias, that was in command of Idumaea;✻
it was but a muster of three thousand foot and four hundred horse.✻
Battle was joined, and some few Jews fell.
As for Gorgias, one Dositheus, a great warrior that was in Bacenor’s company of horse, kept close on his heels and would have taken him alive; but one of the Thracian horsemen fell upon him and cut off his arm at the shoulder, so Gorgias escaped safe to Maresa.
A long fight Esdrin’s company had of it, and were full weary, when Judas called upon the Lord to succour them and lead them onwards,
battle-hymn and battle-cry raising in his own language; and so he put Gorgias’ army to the rout.
And now, recalling his men from the pursuit, he made his way to the city of Adollam; the week had gone round, and here, duly cleansed from defilement, they kept the sabbath.
Next day, with Judas at their head, they went back to recover the bodies of the slain, for burial among their own folk in their fathers’ graves;
and what found they? Each of the fallen was wearing, under his shirt, some token carried away from the false gods of Jamnia. Here was defiance of the Jewish law, and none doubted it was the cause of their undoing;
none but praised the Lord for his just retribution, that had brought hidden things to light;
and so they fell to prayer, pleading that the sin might go unremembered. Judas himself, their gallant commander, gave public warning to his men, of fault they should evermore keep clear, with the fate of these transgressors under their eyes.
Then he would have contribution made; a sum of twelve thousand silver pieces he levied, and sent it to Jerusalem, to have sacrifice made there for the guilt of their dead companions. Was not this well done and piously? Here was a man kept the resurrection ever in mind;
he had done fondly and foolishly indeed, to pray for the dead, if these might rise no more, that once were fallen!
And these had made a godly end; could he doubt, a rich recompense awaited them?
A holy and wholesome thought it is to pray for the dead, for their guilt’s undoing.
The Holy Bible