The Holy Bible – Knox Translation
The Second Book of Machabees
It was in the hundred and forty-ninth year news came to Judas that Antiochus Eupator was marching on Judaea in great force.
Lysias was at his side, that was lord protector and managed the affairs of the realm, and with him were a hundred and ten thousand foot, five thousand horse, twenty-two elephants, and three hundred scythed chariots.
Menelaus, too, must be of their company, and ever it was treacherous advice he gave to Antiochus; not that he cared for his country’s safety, but he had designs upon the high priesthood still.
And hereupon the King of all kings brought this guilty wretch into ill favour with his master Antiochus, who (upon Lysias’ averring, here was the true source of all their misadventures) would have him apprehended and put to death according to the custom of the place where they were quartered.
There is here a tower fifty cubits in height, rising sheer above a heap of ashes that surrounds it;
from its walls the author of sacrilege is thrust forward to his death by the common impulse of the bystanders.
This, then, was the doom of Menelaus; by this law the law-breaker met his end, and lay there unburied.
A fitting reward, this, for one that had done so many outrages upon God’s altar; fire of it and ashes of it are sacred, and it was by ashes Menelaus went to his death.
Yet still the king pressed forward on his mad career, as if he would prove himself a worse enemy of Jewry than his father;
and Judas, when the news came to him, bade the people entreat God night and day he would come to their rescue, as ever he was wont hitherto.
Here was great peril, they should be deprived at one blow of law, of country, and of sanctuary; would he allow blaspheming Gentiles to lord it again over his people, that had but now won a little breathing-space?
Entreat the Lord they did, and with one accord, for his mercy; wept they and fasted, and kept on their knees for three days together. Then Judas gave them the word to arm,
and himself called the elders to a council; his plan was, he told them, to march out and engage the king before he could reach Judaea and overpower the city, and the issue of it he would leave to the Lord’s good pleasure.
So, committing all to God, the world’s creator, and bidding his men fight bravely, even to the death, for law, temple, city, country and kinsmen, he pitched his camp at Modin.
The watchword he gave them was, Victory lies with God; and now, choosing out the best of his fighting men, he made a night attack upon the royal quarters. Four thousand men they slew in the camp, and the greatest of all the elephants, with the crew that rode him,
and so went back in triumph, leaving the camp all confusion and dismay.
After this daybreak victory, won under God’s protection,
the king had taste enough of Jewish valour, and set about to reduce the strongholds by policy.
And first he would deliver an attack upon Bethsura, a fortress of the Jews, but ever he was thrown back and repulsed with great loss,
so well did Judas supply the garrison with all they needed.
There was one Rhodocus in the Jewish army that betrayed secrets to the enemy, but, upon enquiry made, he was apprehended and put under arrest;
so the king was fain to parley with the defenders of Bethsura, and, upon agreed terms, the siege of it was raised.
Thus did he try conclusions with Judas, and had the worst of it; news came to him besides that Philip, whom he had left in charge at Antioch, was levying revolt against him. So, in great consternation of mind, he must needs throw himself on the mercy of the Jews, submitting under oath to the just terms they imposed on him. In token of this reconciliation, he offered sacrifice, paying the temple much reverence and offering gifts there;
as for Machabaeus, the king made a friend of him, and appointed him both governor and commander of all the territory from Ptolemais to the Gerrenes.✻
When he reached Ptolemais, he found the citizens much incensed over this treaty made, and angrily averring the terms of it would never be kept;
until at last Lysias must go up to an open stage, and give his reasons; whereby he calmed the indignation of the people, and so returned to Antioch. Such was the king’s march upon Judaea, and such his homecoming.
The Holy Bible