Good News Translation (GNB)

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.


The Death of Antiochus the Fourth

(2 Macc 1.11–17; 9.1–29; 10.9–11)

61As King Antiochus the Fourth was passing through Mesopotamia, he heard of a city in Persia, named Elymais, which was famous for its riches in silver and gold. 2The temple was very rich, containing gold shields, armour, and weapons left there by Alexander, son of King Philip of Macedonia, who was the first to rule over the Greek Empire. 3Antiochus came and tried to take the city and loot it, but he didn't succeed, because the citizens had learnt what he was planning to do, 4and they drew up their troops to resist him. In great frustration he withdrew to return to Babylonia.

5In Persia a messenger reached him with the news that the armies he had sent into Judea had been defeated. 6Lysias and his strong army had been forced to flee from the Jews, who were now reinforced by the additional weapons, supplies, and loot they had taken from the defeated armies. 7

1 Macc 1.54
The Jews had pulled down the thing they called “The Awful Horror” that Antiochus had built on the altar in Jerusalem. They had also surrounded the Temple with high walls, as it had been before, and had taken and fortified the town of Bethzur, one of the king's own towns.

8When the king heard this report, he was so dumbfounded and terribly shaken that he went to bed in a fit of deep depression because things had not turned out as he had hoped. 9He remained ill for a long time, as waves of despair swept over him, until he finally realized that he was going to die. 10He called together all those to whom he had given the title “Friends of the King” and said to them, “I cannot sleep, and my heart is broken with grief and worry. 11At first I asked myself why these great waves of trouble were sweeping over me, since I have been kind and well-liked during my reign. 12But then I remembered the wrongs I did in Jerusalem when I took all the silver and gold objects from the Temple and tried without any good reason to destroy the inhabitants of Judea. 13I know this is why all these terrible things have happened to me and I am about to die in deep despair here in this foreign land.”

14Then he called Philip, one of his most trusted advisers, and put him in charge of his whole empire. 15He gave him his crown, robe, and official ring, and authorized him to educate his son Antiochus the Fifth and bring him up to be king. 16King Antiochus died there in the year 149.6.16 the year 149: This corresponds to 163 bc.

17When Lysias heard that the king had died, he made the young Antiochus king in place of his father. He had brought up Antiochus from childhood and now gave him the name Eupator.

The Campaign of Antiochus the Fifth and Lysias

(2 Macc 13.1–26; 11.22–26)

18Meanwhile, the enemies at the fort in Jerusalem had been blockading the people of Israel in the area round the Temple, constantly causing them trouble and giving support to the Gentiles. 19So Judas decided to get rid of them and called all the people together to besiege the fort. 20The people assembled and laid siege to the fort in the year 150.6.20 the year 150: This corresponds to 162 bc. They built siege-platforms and battering-rams.

21But some of the men under siege escaped, and together with some of the renegade Jews, they went to the king and said, 22“How long are you going to wait before you take revenge for what was done to our countrymen? 23We were willing to serve your father, follow his orders, and obey his decrees. 24But what good did it do us? Now our own countrymen have become our enemies.6.24 enemies; some manuscripts add and besieged the fort. In fact, they have killed as many of us as they could find and have stolen our possessions. 25But we are not the only ones they have harmed; they have attacked all their neighbours. 26And now they have laid siege to the fort in Jerusalem and are planning to take it. They have also fortified the Temple and Bethzur. 27Unless you act immediately, they will do even more, and you will not be able to stop them.”

28When the king heard this, he was furious. He brought together all the army commanders, the cavalry officers, and his most trusted advisers. 29He also hired mercenary soldiers from other countries and from the Greek islands. 30His forces numbered 100,000 infantry, 20,000 cavalry, and 32 elephants trained for war. 31The king and his army passed through Idumea and laid siege to Bethzur, where they fought for a long time. They built battering-rams and siege-platforms, but the defenders fought bravely and came out of the town and burnt down the platforms.

32Then Judas withdrew his troops from the fort in Jerusalem and set up his camp at Beth Zechariah, blocking the advance of the king's army. 33Early the next morning, the king rapidly moved his army along the road to Beth Zechariah, where his troops took up battle positions and blew trumpets. 34They got the elephants ready for battle by showing them grape juice and mulberry juice. 35The huge animals were distributed among the infantry units. A thousand men, protected by chain armour and bronze helmets, were stationed with each elephant. Each animal was also accompanied by a special force of 500 cavalry, 36which always remained with the elephant. 37A strong, protected wooden platform was securely fastened by a special harness to the back of each elephant. Three6.37 Probable text Three; Greek Thirty or 32. soldiers rode on each animal, in addition to the elephant driver. 38Lysias placed the rest of the cavalry on the two flanks of the army where they could be protected by the infantry while harassing the enemy. 39The sunlight, reflected off the bronze and gold shields, shone on the mountains and flashed like burning torches. 40Part of the king's army was spread out over the higher ground of the mountain slopes and part over the lower land, but they all moved forward steadily and in good order. 41All the people were terrified when they heard the noise made by the clashing of weapons and the marching of that great and powerful army.

42Judas and his army advanced into battle, and immediately killed 600 of the king's army. 43When Eleazar Avaran saw that one of the elephants was larger than the others and that it was covered with royal armour, he thought that the king was riding on it. 44Eleazar sacrificed his life to save his people and to gain eternal fame. 45He ran boldly towards the elephant, which was in the middle of a battalion of infantry. He rushed forward killing men to the right and left, so that the enemy soldiers fell back before him on both sides. 46He slipped in under the elephant and stabbed it to death, and it fell on him and killed him. 47But when the Jews realized how strong the royal army was and how determined it was to fight, they retreated.

48The king and his army advanced to fight the Jews at Jerusalem and laid siege to the whole of Judea and Jerusalem. 49He made peace with the Jews of Bethzur, who then left the town. There had not been enough food in the town for them to withstand the siege because it was the sabbatical year, when no fields were sown. 50The king occupied Bethzur and stationed a whole body of troops there to guard it. 51Then he surrounded the Temple and besieged it for a long time. He set up siege-platforms, battering-rams, catapults for throwing fire and stones, and other weapons to throw spears and rocks. 52The defenders also made war machines to oppose those of the enemy, and so the battle went on for a long time. 53But there was no food left in the Temple storage bins because it was the sabbatical year, and the people who had fled from the Gentiles and taken refuge in Judea had eaten up all the food that had been stored there. 54The shortage of food had been so severe that many people had scattered to their homes, and only a few men were left in the Temple.

55Meanwhile, Philip, who had been appointed by King Antiochus before his death to educate his son to be king, 56returned from Persia and Media. He had come back with the royal army and planned to take control of the government. When Lysias heard this news, 57he made rapid preparations to depart. He said to the young king, to his officers, and to his men, “We are growing weaker each day; we are short of provisions, and this place we are besieging is strong. Besides, there are pressing government affairs which need our attention. 58So now let's arrange a truce and make a peace treaty with the Jews and their whole nation. 59We will allow them to follow their own laws and customs as they did before. All this trouble started when we provoked them by abolishing their laws and customs.”

60This recommendation was well received by the king and the officers, so Lysias proposed peace terms to the Jews, and they accepted them. 61When the king and his officers solemnly agreed to abide by these terms, the Jews came out of their fortress. 62But when the king entered the Temple area on Mount Zion and saw the strong fortifications, he broke his word and ordered the walls surrounding the Temple to be torn down. 63Then he hurriedly left and returned to Antioch, where he found Philip in control of the city. The king attacked the city and took it by force.


The High Priest Alcimus and the Campaign of Nicanor

(2 Macc 14.1–36; 15.1–36)

71In the year 151,7.1 the year 151: This corresponds to 161 bc. Demetrius son of Seleucus left Rome and with a few men landed at a town on the Mediterranean coast, where he proclaimed himself king. 2As he was making his way to the royal palace of his ancestors, the soldiers arrested Antiochus the Fifth and Lysias, planning to take them to Demetrius. 3When Demetrius heard about it, he said, “I don't want to see them.” 4So the soldiers killed them, and Demetrius took the throne.

5Then all the godless traitorous Jews led by Alcimus, who wanted to be High Priest, went to Demetrius. 6They brought accusations against the other Jews and said, “Judas and his brothers have killed everybody who supported you, and they have driven us out of our country. 7We advise you to send someone whom you can trust to go and inspect all the damage done to our property and the king's territory and to punish Judas, his brothers, and all who support them.”

8King Demetrius chose one of his advisers, a man by the name of Bacchides, who was the governor of Greater Syria. He was an important man in the empire and loyal to the king. 9He was sent along with the godless Alcimus, whom the king had appointed High Priest; Alcimus had orders to take revenge on the Jews. 10They left Antioch and arrived in Judea with a large army. Bacchides tried to trick Judas and his brothers by sending to them messengers with offers of peace. 11But when Judas and his brothers saw what a large army they had brought, they did not believe what the messengers said.

12A group of teachers of the Law came to Alcimus and Bacchides, asking for justice. 13These devout and patriotic men were the first of the Jews to try to make peace with Alcimus and Bacchides. 14They trusted Alcimus, who was a priest descended from Aaron, and they thought he would not cause them any harm. 15Alcimus assured them of his peaceful intentions and solemnly promised that no harm would come to them or their friends. 16But as soon as they began to trust him, he arrested sixty of them and put them all to death on the same day. As the scripture says,


Ps 79.2–3
“The blood of your faithful people was poured out,

their bodies were scattered round Jerusalem,

and there was no one left to bury the dead.”

18When this happened, all the people were afraid of Alcimus and Bacchides, and they said, “They don't know what truth or justice means. They gave their solemn word and then broke it!” 19Bacchides left Jerusalem and set up his headquarters at Beth Zaith. He ordered the arrest of some of the faithful Jews and even many of the renegades who had willingly joined him; he had them killed and thrown into a deep pit. 20Bacchides put the country under the control of Alcimus, left troops there to help him, and returned to the king.

21Alcimus then began his struggle to establish himself as High Priest. 22Every troublemaker in the country joined him. They gained control of the land of Judea and caused great difficulties for the Jews. 23Judas saw that the trouble Alcimus and his men had caused was even worse than the damage done by the Gentiles. 24So he went round the whole country of Judea, taking revenge on all the men who had willingly joined Alcimus and preventing them from leaving the towns and going into the country. 25When Alcimus saw that Judas and his men were growing more powerful and when he realized that he would not be able to stand against them, he returned to the king and accused them of great crimes.

26Then the king sent Nicanor, one of his most honoured officers, who hated the Jews, with orders to exterminate them. 27Nicanor came to Jerusalem with a big army. He tried to trick Judas and his brothers by sending peace offers. He said, 28“There need not be any quarrel between you and me. I will come to you with a small escort for a friendly private conversation.” 29When he came to Judas, they exchanged polite greetings, but Judas' enemies were ready to kidnap him. 30When Judas learnt that Nicanor's visit was part of a plot against him, he was afraid and decided not to meet him again. 31Nicanor realized that his plan had been discovered, so he left Jerusalem to meet Judas in battle near Capharsalama. 32About 500 of Nicanor's men were killed, and the rest of the army escaped to the fort in Jerusalem.

33Some time later Nicanor went to Mount Zion. Some of the priests left the Temple and, along with some of the leaders of the people, went to welcome him with words of peace and to show him the burnt offering that was being sacrificed on behalf of the king. 34But he ridiculed them and made them ceremonially unclean by spitting on them. He spoke proudly 35and angrily threatened them with an oath, “Unless Judas and his army are surrendered to me immediately, I will burn this Temple down as soon as I return after my victory.” And he left in a rage.

36The priests went into the courtyard and stood facing the altar and the Temple. They started weeping and prayed, 37“Lord, you chose this Temple to bear your name and to be a place of prayer and intercession for your people. 38Now, take vengeance on this man and his army; let them die in battle. Remember how they spoke evil of you, and let none of them survive.”

39Nicanor left Jerusalem and set up his headquarters at Beth Horon, where the Syrian army joined him. 40Meanwhile, Judas set up camp at Adasa with 3,000 men. There Judas prayed, 41

2 Kgs 19.35
“Lord, the Scriptures tell us that when a king sent messengers to insult you, your angel went out and killed 185,000 of his soldiers. 42Now, in the same way, crush this army before us today and let everyone know that Nicanor is being punished because he insulted your holy Temple. Punish him as his wickedness deserves.”

43The armies met in battle on the thirteenth day of the month of Adar, and Nicanor's army was defeated. Nicanor himself was the first to be killed in the battle, 44and when his soldiers saw that he was dead, they threw down their weapons and fled. 45The Jews pursued them all day long from Adasa to Gezer. As they followed, they kept sounding the call to battle on the trumpets, 46and from all the surrounding villages of Judea people came out and attacked the fleeing enemy from the sides. This forced them back towards the Jews who were chasing them, and all the enemy were killed in the fight. Not one of them survived.

47The Jews took the loot and then cut off Nicanor's head and his right arm, which he had extended so arrogantly. They brought his head and his arm to be put on display outside Jerusalem. 48There was great rejoicing among the Jews. They set that day aside as a special day of celebration, 49and decreed that the thirteenth day of Adar should be observed as an annual day of celebration. 50There was peace in the land of Judea for a little while.