The Holy Bible – Knox Translation
The First Book of Machabees
Great indignation had the Gentiles that lived round about, when they heard that altar and temple were standing as of old.
Their first thought was to rid their own territory of Jacob’s breed, and all at once they set about to murder and harry them.
So Judas must needs take arms against them, Esau’s race in Idumaea, and the men of Acrabathane, that were keeping Israelite folk under strict siege; and signally he defeated them.
Nor might he overlook Beän’s tribe and the treachery they shewed, ever catching Israel at unawares by laying an ambush in his path.
These he chased into their strongholds and besieged them there; laid them under a ban✻ and burned the strongholds to the ground, with their defenders in them.
Then he crossed over into Ammon, where he came upon strong resistance and a great muster of men, that had one Timotheus for their leader;
often he engaged them, and as often put them to rout; when he had defeated them,
and taken Gazer with its daughter townships, he marched back into Judaea.
But by this all the heathen folk in the country of Galaad were making common cause against the Israelites who dwelt there, eager to be rid of them. And these, taking refuge in the stronghold of Datheman,
sent dispatches to Judas and his brethren. Here be all the neighbours, they wrote, banded together for our destruction.
Even now, Timotheus at their head, they are setting about the reduction of this our fortress;
come speedily to the rescue; they have taken cruel toll of our lives already.
Slain, all those clansmen of ours that had their dwelling in the Tubin country, carried away, their wives, their children, and their goods; nigh upon a thousand warriors then and there have perished.
This letter was still in the reading, when all of a sudden came other envoys from Galilee, their garments rent about them; their message was,
Ptolemais, Tyre and Sidon were up in arms together, and all Galilee was overrun with heathen folk, bent on massacre.
Grave tidings, these, for Judas and his people; met they in high debate, and took counsel how they might best aid their brethren in peril of assault.
And now Judas must share the command with his brother Simon; Pick thy men, said he, and make for Galilee, while Jonathan and I march into Galaad.
Part of his army he left to defend Judaea, with Joseph son of Zachary and Azarias for its captains;
Here is your charge, said he; and see to it that you do not embroil yourselves with the Gentiles while we are gone.
To Simon and to Galilee three thousand men were allotted; to Judas and to Galaad eight thousand.
As for Simon, when he reached Galilee, full many a battle he must fight with the Gentiles, that he drove ever before him, till he pursued them at last to the very gates of Ptolemais.
Of the enemy, some three thousand fell, and his men had the spoiling of them;
the Israelites that dwelt in Galilee and Arbata he took home with him, and their wives and children and all they had; great rejoicing there was when he brought them back safe to Judaea.
Meanwhile Judas Machabaeus and his brother Jonathan had crossed the Jordan, and marched for three days through the desert.
There the Nabuthaeans came to meet them, and gave them friendly welcome, and told them of all that had befallen their brethren in the Galaad country;
how there were many whom their fellow-citizens had brought to bay in such great fortified cities as Barasa, Bosor, Alima, Casphor, Mageth and Carnaim;
besides many others cut off in the rest of the Galaadite towns. And to-morrow, he was told, the heathen mean to occupy these cities with their army, seizing upon the Israelites and making an end of them, all in one day’s work.
Whereupon Judas and his men suddenly turned aside from their course into the desert of Bosor, and took the city; all its men-folk he put to the sword, and carried off the spoil of it, and burned it to the ground.
At night-fall they continued their journey, and reached the Israelite stronghold.✻
What a sight was this that met their eyes, when day broke! A great rabble of men past all counting, that brought up scaling-ladders and engines, as if they would take the stronghold by storm.
Here was the battle fairly begun; the cry of them went up to heaven, loud as clarion-call, and a great cry, too, was raised within the city.
Now, cried Judas to his men, now to fight for your brethren’s deliverance!
And hard at the enemy’s heels he followed, with three companies of warriors that blew trumpets as they went, and cried aloud in prayer.
The name of Machabaeus once heard, how fled Timotheus’ army at his approach! How grievous the blow that fell on them, when eight thousand fell in a single day!
Once more Judas turned aside, to Maspha; took it by storm, slew men of it, took spoil of it, burned it to the ground;
then on to seize Casbon, and Mageth, and Bosor, and the remaining cities of Galaad.✻
Yet, when all was done, Timotheus put another army into the field, and encamped close by Raphon, across the stream.
What learned Judas from the scouts he had sent forward? Here were all the neighbouring tribes assembled in great force,
with hired support from Arabia besides, camped beyond the stream ready to engage him; so out he marched to offer battle.
Wait we, said Timotheus to his captains, till Judas and his army reach yonder stream. Cross he and challenge us, we may not speed; beyond doubt he has the mastery of us.
Fear he the passage, and encamp on the further side, then cross we boldly, the day is ours.
But Judas, when he drew near the ravine, had muster-masters in attendance by the stream, that were charged to let none linger behind, but send every man across into battle.
So he crossed, challenging them, and all the army at his heels, and sure enough the Gentile host was routed at their coming; threw arms away, and sought refuge in the temple at Carnaim.✻
Upon taking the city, he burned its temple to the ground with all that were sheltered in it; so was Carnaim vanquished, and could make head against Juda no more.
And now Judas gathered all the Israelites in the Galaad country, high and low, with their wives and children, a whole army of them, to come back with him to Juda.
They journeyed safely as far as Ephron, that was a great city and well fortified, the very gate of Juda; turn to right or left they might not, their road lay through the heart of it.
And what must they do, the townspeople, but stand to the defence of it, and barricade the entrance with great boulders! Thereupon Judas made peaceful overtures to them;
Grant us leave, said he, to make our way through your country to ours, nor any harm shall befall you; we ask but the right of passage, and on foot. But open the gates they would not;
so Judas made a cry through the camp, every man should go to the assault,✻ there where he stood;
and go to the assault they did, the fighting men of his company. All day and all night they attacked the city, and Judas was given the mastery of it.
Never a male creature there but was put to the sword; the city was plundered and pulled down; and so he passed on through the streets of it, all paved with dead men.
Jordan they must still cross, there by the great plain that faces Bethsan;
and to the last Judas went ever to and fro, rallying the stragglers and encouraging the people on their journey, till the land of Juda was reached.
Glad and merry were men’s hearts as they climbed up Sion mountain, and there offered burnt-sacrifice in thanks for their safe home-coming, with never a life lost.✻
So fought Judas and Jonathan in Galaad, and their brother Simon in Galilee at the gates of Ptolemais;
meanwhile, what of Joseph son of Zachary, and Azarias, that had charge of the garrison? News came to them of victories gained, and great deeds done,
and nothing would serve but they must make a great name for themselves too, by offering battle to the Gentiles round about.
So orders went out to the army, to march on Jamnia,
where Gorgias and his men came out to meet them.
Back fell Joseph and Azarias to the frontiers of Judaea in great disorder, with a loss to Israel of two thousand men; such defeat they brought on our arms,
because they would not listen to Judas and his brethren, but must be great warriors like the rest.
Not of that race they sprang that should afford Israel deliverance.
But as for Judas and his company,✻ they were held high in honour, both among Israelite folk, and wherever the renown of them was heard;
all flocked to greet them with cries of acclaim.
But still he and his brethren would be on the march, reducing the men of Edom in the south country; on Hebron and its daughter townships the blow fell, neither wall nor tower of it but was burned to the ground.
Then he moved camp, to march on Philistia, and would make his way through Samaria.✻
Priests there were that took up arms and fell in battle that day, rashly desirous of a warrior’s renown.✻
And now Judas turned aside to Azotus, in the country of the Philistines; altars he pulled down, images of their gods burned to ashes, gave up their cities to plunder, and so came back again to the land of Juda.
The Holy Bible