Good News Translation (GNB)

The Early Victories of Judas

(2 Macc 8.1–7)

31Judas Maccabaeus took the place of his father Mattathias. 2All his brothers and all the loyal followers of his father gave him their support, and they were happy to carry on Israel's war.

3Judas brought greater glory to his people.

In his armour, he was like a giant.

He took up his weapons and went to war;

with his own sword he defended his camp.

4He was like a ferocious lion roaring as it attacks.

5Judas hunted down those who broke the Law

and set fire to all who oppressed his people.

6In fear of him, lawless men huddled together in terror,

not knowing which way to turn.

He advanced the cause of freedom by what he did.

7He made life miserable for many kings,

but brought joy to the people of Israel.

We will praise him for ever for what he did.

8He went through the towns of Judea

and destroyed all the godless men.

He relieved Israel of its terrible suffering.3.8 relieved Israel of its terrible suffering; or saved Israel from God's anger.

9His fame spread to the ends of the earth,

as he gathered together those who were threatened with death.

10Then Apollonius assembled a Gentile army, including a large force from Samaria, to attack the people of Israel. 11When Judas learnt of this, he marched out to battle, defeated the army, and killed Apollonius. Many Gentiles lost their lives, and the rest fled. 12When the spoils of war were collected, Judas took the sword of Apollonius and used it in battle until the day he died.

13Seron, the general of the Syrian forces, learnt that Judas had gathered together an army, consisting of a band of loyal men who were ready to fight under his command. 14Seron said to himself, “I will make a reputation for myself throughout the empire by defeating Judas and his men, who have no respect for the king's command.” 15Then he began a new campaign against Judas and was joined by a strong force of godless men who were eager to help him take vengeance on Israel. 16When he approached the pass at Beth Horon, Judas went out to meet him with a small group of men. 17When Judas' men saw the army coming against them, they asked, “How can our little group of men fight an army as big as that? Besides, we have not eaten all day, and we are tired!”

18“It is not difficult,” Judas answered, “for a small group to overpower a large one. It makes no difference to the Lord whether we are rescued by many people or by just a few. 19Victory in battle does not depend on who has the largest army; it is the Lord's power that determines the outcome. 20Our enemies are coming against us with great violence, intending to plunder our possessions and kill our wives and children. 21But we are fighting for our lives and for our religion. 22When we attack, the Lord will crush our enemies, so don't be afraid of them.”

23As soon as Judas had finished speaking, he and his men made a sudden attack against Seron and his army and crushed them. 24They pursued them down the pass at Beth Horon to the plain and killed about 800 men. Those who escaped fled to Philistia. 25After that, Gentiles everywhere began to be afraid of Judas and his brothers. 26His fame reached the ears of King Antiochus, and people in every nation talked about Judas and his victories.

The King Appoints Lysias as Governor

27When Antiochus heard what had happened, he was furious. He ordered all the armies of his empire to assemble in one huge force. 28From his treasury he paid a full year's wages to his soldiers and ordered them to be prepared for any emergency. 29But then he found that the funds in his treasury were exhausted. Income from taxes had decreased because of the disorder and the troubles he had brought on the world by doing away with the laws which had been in force from the earliest times. 30Antiochus had always given presents more lavishly than earlier kings, but now he was worried that he might not be able to continue this, or even to meet expenses — this had happened once or twice before. 31He was very disturbed; but finally he decided to go to Persia, collect the taxes from the provinces there, and bring together a large sum of ready cash.

32He appointed Lysias, an important man who had been granted the title “Relative of the King,” as governor to take care of the king's affairs in the whole territory between the River Euphrates and the Egyptian border. 33The king also made Lysias the guardian of his son Antiochus the Fifth until his own return. 34He put Lysias in charge of all the elephants and of half his army, and then gave him detailed instructions about what he wanted done, and in particular, what he wanted done with the inhabitants of Judea and Jerusalem. 35Lysias was ordered to send an army against the Jews, especially the Jews in Jerusalem, to break their power and destroy them, so that no trace of them would remain. 36He was ordered to take their land and give it to foreigners, who would settle the whole area. 37Taking the other half of his army, the king set out from Antioch, his capital city, in the year 147.3.37 the year 147: This corresponds to 165 bc. He crossed the Euphrates and marched through Mesopotamia.

The Victories of Judas

(2 Macc 8.8–29, 34–36)

38Lysias chose Nicanor, Gorgias, and Ptolemy son of Dorymenes as army commanders; all three were able men who bore the title “Friend of the King.” 39He put them in charge of 40,000 infantry and 7,000 cavalry and ordered them to invade the land of Judea and destroy it as the king had commanded. 40These commanders set out with their entire force, and when they came to the plains near Emmaus, they made camp. 41A force from Idumea3.41 Probable text Idumea; Greek Syria. and Philistia joined them. The merchants of the region heard about the strength of the army, and they came to the camp with chains and a large amount of money, hoping to buy some Jewish slaves.

42Judas and his brothers saw that their situation was getting more and more difficult, with foreign armies camped within their own borders. They also learnt that the king had commanded the complete destruction of the people. 43So they determined to rebuild their ruined nation and fight for their country and the Temple. 44Then the whole community came together to prepare for war and to pray for God's mercy.

45Jerusalem was as empty as a wilderness;

no citizens left or entered the city.

The holy Temple was profaned by foreigners,

and Gentiles camped in the city's fort;

so joy departed from the people of Israel,

and the sound of music was heard no more.

46Then Judas and his men assembled and marched to Mizpah, opposite Jerusalem, because the people of Israel had previously had a place of worship there. 47In deep mourning, they fasted all that day, put on sackcloth, threw ashes on their heads, and tore their clothes. 48The Gentiles would have consulted their idols in such a situation, but the Israelites unrolled the book of the Law to search for God's guidance. 49They brought the priests' robes, the offerings of the first grain, and the tithes, and then they brought in some Nazirites who had completed their vows. 50The whole community prayed, “Lord, what shall we do with these things? Where shall we take them, 51now that your holy Temple has been trampled and profaned by Gentiles, and your priests mourn in disgrace? 52The Gentiles have come to attack and destroy us. You know what they plan to do! 53If you don't help us, how can we stand up against them?” 54Then they blew trumpets and shouted loudly.

55After that, Judas divided his men into groups of ten, fifty, a hundred, and a thousand, placing officers in charge of each group. 56

Deut 20.5–8
Judg 7.3
Then, in obedience to the Law, he sent home everyone who had recently been married, or built a house, or planted a vineyard, as well as anyone who was afraid. 57Finally, the army marched out and took up positions south of Emmaus, 58where Judas said to them: “Prepare yourselves for battle and be courageous! Be ready early tomorrow morning to fight these Gentiles who have joined forces to attack us and destroy us and our Temple. 59It is better for us to die fighting than to stand idly by and watch the destruction of our nation and our Temple. 60But the Lord will do what he pleases.”


41Gorgias took 5,000 infantry and 1,000 of his most experienced cavalry and left camp by night, 2with men from the fort in Jerusalem as his guides. He had planned to make a surprise attack on the Jewish army, 3but Judas learnt of the plan and moved out with his men to attack the king's army at Emmaus 4while Gorgias and his troops were still away from the camp. 5When Gorgias and his army reached Judas' camp that night, they found no one there. They thought Judas and his men were trying to escape, so they started looking for them in the mountains.

6At dawn Judas appeared in the plain with 3,000 men, not all of them as well armed as they would have liked. 7They saw the huge Gentile army of experienced troops wearing armour and protected by cavalry. 8But Judas said to his men, “Don't worry about the size of their army, and don't be frightened when they attack. 9Remember how our ancestors were saved at the Red Sea when the king of Egypt was pursuing them with his army! 10Now let us ask the Lord to have mercy on us. Let us pray that he will honour his covenant with our ancestors and crush this army when we attack today. 11Then all the Gentiles will know that Israel has a God who rescues and saves them.”

12When the Gentiles saw Judas and his men preparing for battle, 13they moved out of their camp to fight. Then Judas and his men sounded their trumpets 14and attacked. The Gentiles broke ranks and fled to the plain, 15but all the stragglers were killed. The Israelites pursued the enemy as far as Gezer, the plains of Idumea, and the towns of Azotus and Jamnia. Altogether they killed about 3,000 of the enemy.

16When Judas and his army came back from the pursuit, 17-18he said to his men, “Don't be greedy for loot. Gorgias and his army are near by in the mountains, so there is still heavy fighting ahead of us. We must stand firm and fight. After that, you can safely take all the loot you want.” 19Judas was just finishing his speech when an enemy patrol on a scouting mission looked down from the mountains 20and saw that their army had been put to flight; they could tell from the smoke that their camp was burning. 21When they saw all this, they were terrified, and when they also saw that Judas' army was in the plain ready for battle, 22they all fled to Philistia. 23Then Judas returned to loot the enemy camp; he took large amounts of gold and silver, blue and purple cloth, and other rich plunder. 24When the Jews came back to their own camp, they sang a hymn: “The Lord is worthy of praise; his mercy endures for ever.” 25That day brought a great victory to the people of Israel.

Victory over Lysias

(2 Macc 11.1–12)

26The Gentile troops that escaped went to Lysias and reported all that had happened. 27When Lysias heard that his troops had lost the battle, he was shocked and disappointed that Israel had not been defeated as the king had commanded.

28In the following year Lysias gathered an army of 60,000 well-trained infantry and 5,000 cavalry, intending to conquer the Jews. 29They marched into Idumea and camped at Bethzur. Judas came to meet them with 10,000 men. 30

1 Sam 17.41–54
When Judas saw how strong the enemy's army was, he prayed, “We will praise you, Saviour of Israel. You broke the attack of the giant by the hand of your servant David and you let Saul's son Jonathan and the young man who carried his weapons defeat the entire Philistine army. 31Now in the same way let your people Israel defeat our enemy. Put them to shame, in spite of all their confidence in their infantry and cavalry. 32Make them afraid; let their bold strength melt away; let them tremble at the prospect of defeat. 33We love and worship you; so let us kill our enemies, that we may then sing your praises.”

34The battle began, and in the hand-to-hand fighting about 5,000 of Lysias' men were killed. 35When Lysias saw that his army was being defeated and when he saw the reckless courage of Judas and his men, who showed that they were ready to live or die with honour, he returned to Antioch. There he recruited some mercenaries and planned to return to Judea later with a much larger army.

The Purification of the Temple

(2 Macc 10.1–8)

36Judas and his brothers said, “Now that our enemies have been defeated, let's go to Jerusalem to purify the Temple and rededicate it.” 37So the whole army was assembled and went up to Mount Zion. 38There they found the Temple abandoned, the altar profaned, the gates torn down, the courtyards overgrown with a forest of weeds, and the priests' rooms burnt down. 39In their sorrow, they tore their clothes, cried loudly, threw ashes on their heads, 40and fell face downwards on the ground. When the signal was given on the trumpets, everyone cried out to the Lord.

41Then Judas ordered some of his soldiers to attack the men in the fort, while he purified the Temple. 42He chose some priests who were qualified and who were devoted to the Law. 43They purified the Temple and took the stones that had been defiled and put them in an unclean place. 44They discussed what should be done with the altar of burnt offerings, which had been desecrated 45by the Gentiles, and decided to tear it down, so that it would not stand there as a monument to their shame. So they tore down the altar 46and put the stones in a suitable place on the Temple hill, where they were to be kept until a prophet should appear and decide what to do with them. 47

Ex 20.25
Deut 27.5–6
Then they took uncut stones, as the Law of Moses required, and built a new altar like the old one. 48They repaired the Temple, inside and out, and dedicated its courtyards. 49They made new utensils for worship and brought the lampstand, the altar of incense, and the table for the bread into the Temple. 50They burnt incense on the altar and lit the lamps on the lampstand, and there was light in the Temple! 51They placed the loaves of bread on the table, hung the curtains, and completed all the work.


1 Macc 1.54
The 25th day of the ninth month, the month of Kislev, in the year 1484.52–54 the year 148: This corresponds to 164 bc. was the anniversary of the day the Gentiles had desecrated the altar. On that day a sacrifice was offered on the new altar in accordance with the Law of Moses. The new altar was dedicated and hymns were sung to the accompaniment of harps, lutes, and cymbals. 55All the people bowed down with their faces to the ground and worshipped and praised the Lord for giving them victory.

56For eight days they celebrated the rededication of the altar. With great joy they brought burnt offerings and offered fellowship offerings and thank-offerings. 57They decorated the front of the Temple with gold crowns and shields, rebuilt the gates and the priests' rooms and put doors on them. 58Now that the Jews had removed the shame which the Gentiles had brought, they held a great celebration. 59Then Judas, his brothers, and the entire community of Israel decreed that the rededication of the altar should be celebrated with a festival of joy and gladness at the same time each year, beginning on the 25th of the month of Kislev and lasting for eight days.

60Then they built high walls and strong towers round Mount Zion, so that the Gentiles could not come in and trample and defile it again. 61Judas placed a detachment of soldiers there to guard the Temple. He also fortified the town of Bethzur, so that the people of Israel would have a fortress facing Idumea.


Wars with Neighbouring Nations

(2 Macc 10.14–33; 12.10–45)

51When the neighbouring nations heard that the Jews had built the altar and restored the Temple as it had been before, they were so furious 2that they made up their minds to destroy all the Jews who were living among them. So they began to murder and kill our people.

3The Idumeans were blockading the Israelites, so Judas went to war against them at Akrabattene, crushed them, and looted them. 4He also dealt with the people of Baean, who were a constant threat to the people of Israel, because they used to lie in ambush waiting to trap Israelite travellers. 5He shut the Baeanites up in their forts, took a solemn oath that he would destroy them, and burnt their forts with everyone in them. 6Then he marched against the land of Ammon, where he met a large and powerful army under the command of a man named Timothy. 7Judas won many battles against them and finally defeated them. 8He captured Jazer and its surrounding villages and then returned to Judea.

9The Gentiles in Gilead assembled to attack and destroy the Israelites living in their territory. But the Israelites fled to the fortress of Dathema 10-11and sent the following letter to Judas and his brothers: “The Gentiles round us are joining forces under Timothy. We have fled to this fortress for protection, and now they are getting ready to capture it and destroy us. 12Many of us have already been killed. Come and rescue us! 13All the Jewish men in the region of Tob5.13 in the region of Tob; or who were fighting with Tobias. have been killed, their wives and their children have been taken captive, and their possessions have been carried off. A force of about a thousand men has been destroyed there.”

14This letter was still being read when other messengers, who had torn their clothes in sorrow, arrived with a report from Galilee. 15They said, “An army from Ptolemais, Tyre, Sidon, and the whole of Galilee has come together to destroy us.”

16When Judas and the people heard all this, a great assembly was held to decide what should be done to help their countrymen, who were in such difficulty under enemy attack. 17Judas said to his brother Simon, “Choose some men and go and rescue our fellow-Jews in Galilee; our brother Jonathan and I will go to Gilead.” 18Judas left the rest of his army to defend Judea and put the two leaders, Azariah and Joseph son of Zechariah, in charge of the people. 19He said to them: “I am leaving you in command here, but don't go out and fight the Gentiles until we get back.” 20Then 3,000 men joined Simon for the march into Galilee, and 8,000 men remained with Judas for the march into Gilead.

21Simon went into Galilee and fought many battles with the Gentiles. He defeated them 22and pursued them all the way to the city of Ptolemais, killing about 3,000 of them, and taking the loot. 23Then he took the Jews who were in Galilee and Arbatta, with their wives, their children, and all they owned, and brought them back to Judea with him. There was great rejoicing.

24During this time, Judas Maccabaeus and his brother Jonathan had crossed the River Jordan and had marched for three days through the desert. 25They met some friendly Nabateans who told them all that had happened to the Jews in Gilead. 26They reported that many Jews were imprisoned in the fortified cities of Bozrah, Bosor, Alema, Chaspho, Maked, and Karnaim, 27while others were imprisoned in the smaller towns of Gilead. They also reported that the enemy was drawn up to make an attack the next day on the Jewish fortresses, hoping to destroy all the Jews in a single day.

28So Judas and his army suddenly turned and attacked Bozrah by the desert road, captured the town, and killed every man in it. They looted the town and set it on fire. 29They left there and marched all night to the fortress at Dathema. 30At dawn Judas and his men saw a vast army attacking the fortress; they were bringing up ladders, siege-platforms, and battering-rams in an effort to capture it. 31When Judas heard the noise, the shouts, and the sound of trumpets coming from the city, he realized that the battle had begun, 32so he said to his men, “Fight today for our fellow-Jews!”

33He ordered his men to march in three columns and attack the enemy from the rear. As they moved forward, they blew trumpets and shouted prayers. 34When the army under Timothy's command saw that it was Judas Maccabaeus, the soldiers turned and fled. Judas crushed them and killed about 8,000 men that day.

35Then Judas turned aside to attack the town of Alema;5.35 ALEMA: The name of the town is not certain. he captured it and killed all the men in it. He looted the town and set fire to it. 36From there he went on and captured Chaspho, Maked, Bosor, and the other towns of Gilead.

37After this, Timothy gathered another army and camped opposite Raphon, on the other side of a river. 38Judas sent some men to spy out the camp, and they reported back to him that all the Gentiles in the region had joined Timothy and had formed a large army. 39Timothy had also hired Arab mercenaries to help him, and these were camped on the other side of the river ready to attack Judas. So Judas went out to meet them in battle.

40As Judas and his army came closer to the water, Timothy said to his officers, “If he keeps on coming and crosses the river, we won't be able to turn back his attack, and he will defeat us. 41But if he is afraid and stops on the other side of the river, we will cross over to attack and defeat him.” 42When Judas reached the bank of the river, he gave orders to his officers to let no one stop but to push everyone forward into battle. 43Judas was the first to cross the river against the enemy, and all his men followed him. The Gentiles broke ranks before them, threw away their arms, and fled to the pagan temple at Karnaim. 44But Judas and his men took the city and burnt down the temple with all who were in it. With Karnaim overthrown, the Gentiles could no longer offer any resistance to Judas.

45Then Judas gathered together all the Jews in Gilead to take them back to Judea with him. It was a large group of all kinds of people, together with their wives and children and all that they owned. 46They went as far as Ephron, a large, well-fortified town. It was impossible to go round it on either side, and the road passed directly through the town. 47But the people there would not let them pass and blocked the town gates with stones. 48Then Judas sent a friendly message to them: “Let us pass through your territory to return home. No one will harm you; we will just pass through.” But they still refused to open the gates.

49So Judas told everyone in the group, except the fighting men, to camp where they were. 50The fighting men were ordered to take up their positions and attack the town. They fought all that day and all night, until they had taken it. 51Judas had all the men of Ephron put to death, plundered the town, and levelled it. Then he and his army marched through the town over the dead bodies. 52They crossed the Jordan into the wide plain opposite Beth Shan. 53Throughout the whole march Judas kept gathering up the stragglers and encouraging the people until they reached the land of Judea. 54With thanksgiving and rejoicing, they went up to Mount Zion and sacrificed burnt offerings because they had returned safely without the loss of a single person.

55While Judas and Jonathan were in Gilead and their brother Simon was attacking Ptolemais in Galilee, 56Joseph and Azariah, the commanders of the army in Judea, heard about their brave deeds and victories. 57They said to one another, “Let us go to war with the Gentiles around us and win some fame for ourselves.” 58So they and their men attacked Jamnia. 59Gorgias and his men went out of the town to meet them in battle. 60They defeated Joseph and Azariah and pursued them as far as the borders of Judea. At least 2,000 Israelite men were killed that day. 61This great defeat came about because the Jewish commanders wanted to be heroes and refused to obey Judas and his brothers. 62Besides, they did not belong to the family of the Maccabees, whom God had chosen to bring freedom to the people of Israel.

63But Judas Maccabaeus and his brothers won great respect among all the Israelites and all the Gentiles. When people heard of their fame, 64large crowds gathered to praise them.

65Then Judas and his brothers went to war against the Edomites to the south. He attacked Hebron and its surrounding towns, destroyed its fortifications, and burnt down the towers round it. 66Then he marched into the land of the Philistines and passed through Marisa.5.66 Some ancient translations Marisa; Greek Samaria. 67That day a number of priests were killed in battle because they wanted to be heroes and foolishly went out to fight. 68Judas turned aside to Azotus in Philistia. He pulled down the altars, burnt the images of their gods, plundered their towns, and then returned to Judea.