The Holy Bible – Knox Translation
The First Book of Machabees
While this was afoot, news came to Demetrius that Nicanor and his men had perished in the encounter. But he would still have his way; Bacchides and Alcimus should be sent back to Judaea, and the northern command✻ of his army with them.
Marching out along the Galgala road, they encamped at Masaloth in Arbella; the town was surprised, and many of its inhabitants massacred.
Then, in the first month of the hundred and fifty-second year, they began an attack on Jerusalem,
moving their camp to Berea. It was a force of twenty thousand foot and two thousand horse;
Judas, encamped at Laisa, had three thousand picked followers with him,
but these were greatly daunted when they saw what heavy odds were against them, and began to desert their lines, till no more than eight hundred of them were left.
One by one they slipped away, and raise fresh levies he might not, with the battle so hard upon his heels; what wonder if Judas lost heart, and was unmanned?
Yet said he to the remnant that was left him, Up, go we to the attack, and try conclusions with the enemy!
In vain they sought to dissuade him; Speed we may not, they said; let us save our skins now, we may yet join hands with our brethren, and do battle hereafter; why, we are but a handful!
Nay, said Judas, that may I never do; what, shew them our backs? If our time is come, die we manfully in our brethren’s cause, nor suffer any foul blot to fall on our name!
By this, the opposing army had moved forward out of its lines, and stood fronting them; here were the two bodies of horse, the slingers and archers going on before the rest, and the choice troops that would bear the shock of the encounter;
here was Bacchides himself, on the right wing. This side and that the phalanx drew nearer, with a great blowing of trumpets,
and Judas’ men, they raised a great cry on their own part, till the earth rang again with the noise of the two armies. Thus begun, the battle went on from morning till dusk.
On the right, where he saw Bacchides’ army was strongest, Judas made the attack, and all the most valiant of his men with him;
broke their line, and chased them all the way to mount Azotus.
But now those on the left, seeing their right wing routed, cut off Judas and his men from the rear;
now indeed the battle grew fierce, and there were many fell wounded on either part,
till at last Judas fell, and with that, all the rest took to their heels.
As for his body, his brothers Jonathan and Simon recovered it, and so buried him where his fathers were buried, in the city of Modin.
Great lament all Israel made over him, and long they mourned him;
Here is a great warrior fallen, they said, that once brought his people deliverance!
What other battles Judas fought, deeds did, greatness achieved, you shall not find set down here; too long the record of them.
Once Judas was dead, there was no corner in Israel but treason began to shew its face there, and lawlessness to abound;
under such leadership the whole country, at this time much distressed by famine, went over to Bacchides.
Good care he took to choose out godless men, that should have the governance of his territory;
and these raised a hue and cry after Judas’ partisans, haling them before Bacchides to be punished and used despitefully;
never, since prophecy died out among them, had the men of Israel known such distress.
And now all that had loved Judas rallied to Jonathan instead;
Since thy brother’s death, they told him, none is left to take the field against our enemies as he did, this Bacchides and all else that bear a grudge against our race.✻
There is but one way of it; this day we have chosen thee to be our ruler, our chieftain, to fight our battles for us.
So, from that day forward, Jonathan took command, in succession to his brother Judas.
Bacchides no sooner heard of it than he marked him down for death;
but of this Jonathan had warning, and took refuge, with his brother Simon and all his company, in the desert of Thecue. It was there, by Asphar pool, they halted;
and it was there that Bacchides, well informed of their movements, crossed Jordan at the head of his army and came upon them, one sabbath day.
This was the manner of it. Jonathan had sent his brother John, that was in command of the camp followers, on an errand to his good friends the Nabuthaeans. They had brought a deal of their household stuff with them; would the Nabuthaeans take it into safe keeping?
But, as they went, some of Jambri’s folk came out from Madaba, seized John and all that he had with him, and went off with them.
Afterwards, Jonathan and Simon heard that the men of Jambri had a great wedding toward; they must bring home the bride from Nadabatha,✻ and with much pomp, because her father was a notable Chanaanite chief.
So, to avenge the death of their brother John, they climbed the hill-side and lay in ambush there.
What a sight was this met their eyes! All manner of rout and display; the bridegroom, his friends and his brethren, passing on their way to the trysting-place, with beating of drums, and making of music, and all manner of warlike array!
Then rose they up from their ambush and laid about them, till many fell wounded, and the rest fled into the hills, leaving all their spoil behind them.
So turned they wedding mirth into funeral dirge,
to avenge the murder of their brother, and withdrew to the banks of Jordan again.✻
Hearing of these alarms, Bacchides marched down to Jordan bank one sabbath day, in great force.
Up now! cried Jonathan to his men; engage our enemy we must. Gone is the vantage we had till now;
here is armed force confronting us, and all around us is Jordan stream, Jordan banks full of marshes and thickets; escape is none.
Cry we rather upon heaven, for deliverance out of the enemy’s hand. So the battle was joined;
and here was Jonathan exerting all his strength to deal a blow at Bacchides, who declined the encounter!
What did Jonathan then? With all his company, he leapt into Jordan. So now, to reach them, the enemy must swim for it across the stream.✻
A thousand men of his following Bacchides lost that day, and was fain to return to Jerusalem.
After this, they took to fortifying the cities of Judaea with high walls and barred gates, making strongholds at Jericho, Ammaum, Bethoron, Bethel, Thamnata, Phara and Thopo;
here garrisons were set, for the harrying of Israel.
Bethsura, too, Bacchides fortified, and Gazara, and the Citadel itself, keeping all of them well manned and provisioned;
ay, and the great men of all the country round must yield up their children as hostages, to be held in Jerusalem citadel for safe keeping.
Then, in the second month of the hundred and fifty-third year, came an order from Alcimus, the dividing wall of the temple’s inner court should be dismantled. The Prophets’ Building✻ he had already cleared away, and begun the dismantling,
when himself was smitten down, and all his plans interrupted. Dumbstricken and palsied, he never spoke again, even to dispose of his goods,
but died there and then, in great torment.
Alcimus dead, Bacchides was for Judaea no longer; away he went to the king’s court, and for two years the land was at peace.
But ere long there was conspiracy afoot among the godless party; here were Jonathan and his men living secure of their safety; let Bacchides come in again, he might seize them all, and make one night’s work of it.
To Bacchides, then, they went, and imparted their scheme to him;
whereupon he raised a great army for marching on Judaea, but first sent word privately to his partisans there, bidding them seize Jonathan and his company for themselves. Word went abroad, and the plan miscarried;
it was Jonathan✻ seized fifty notables of Judaea, that were the authors of the conspiracy, and put them to death.
Then, with Simon and the rest of his following, he removed to Bethbessen, out in the desert, and set about rebuilding it, to make a stronghold for them.
Bacchides had news of this; mustering his whole force, and sending word to his Jewish supporters,
he marched in and pitched his camp so as to command Bethbessen. Long time he besieged it, and brought up engines against it;
meanwhile, Jonathan had left his brother Simon in command of the city, and was roaming the country-side. When he came back, it was with a band of men at his heels;
smote he Odares and his clan, smote he the men of Phaseron where they lay encamped; everywhere laid about him, and still gained strength.✻
As for Simon and his company, they made a sally out of the town, and set fire to the engines;
afterwards they engaged Bacchides himself, and worsted him, so that he must pay dearly for plot and tryst of his that came to nothing.
So enraged was he with the malcontents whose counsel had brought him into Judaea, he put many of them to death, and was for marching home again with the rest of his following,
when Jonathan, hearing of it, sent envoys to offer peace, and an exchange of prisoners.
This offer he gladly accepted, and carried out the terms of it, giving his word he would do Jonathan no more injury as long as he lived,
and restoring all the prisoners he had ever taken in the land of Juda. So he took himself back to his own country, and never came that way again.
Israel had a respite from fighting at last, and Jonathan took up his dwelling at Machmas, whence he ruled the people thenceforward, ridding the land of godless folk altogether.
The Holy Bible