Good News Translation (GNB)
13

Menelaus Is Put to Death

131In the year 14913.1 the year 149: This corresponds to 163 bc. Judas Maccabaeus and his followers found out that Antiochus Eupator was marching against Judea with a large army 2and that Lysias, the young king's guardian and the head of his government, was with him. They13.2 They; Greek unclear. had a force of Greek troops consisting of 110,000 infantry, 5,300 cavalry, 22 elephants, and 300 chariots with sharp blades attached to their wheels.

3Menelaus, trying to take advantage of the situation, went over to their side and urged them on, not because he was concerned for the country, but because he hoped to be confirmed as High Priest. 4But God, the King of kings, made Antiochus furious with Menelaus. Lysias proved to Antiochus that this criminal had been the source of all his troubles, so Antiochus ordered him to be taken to the city of Berea and put to death in the way that it was done there. 5In that city there is a tower about 22 metres high. It is filled with ashes, and all round the inside of the tower is a platform sloping down into the ashes. 6People accused of crimes against the gods or of any other serious crime are taken there and thrown down to their death. 7Menelaus was put to death in that way, without even having the privilege of a burial, 8and that was just what he deserved. He had often profaned the sacred ashes of the altar fire in the Temple, and now he met his death in ashes.

A Battle Near the City of Modein

9King Antiochus arrogantly continued his barbaric invasion of Judea, intending to deal with the Jews more harshly than his father had ever done. 10When Judas learnt of this, he told the people to pray to the Lord day and night, because they were in danger of losing their Law, their country, and their holy Temple. As never before, they needed his help and protection 11to keep their newly restored country from falling into the hands of godless Gentiles. 12For three days the people did nothing but lie face downwards on the ground, fasting and crying, begging the merciful Lord for his help. Then Judas spoke words of encouragement to the people, urging them to get ready for action.

13Afterwards, Judas met privately with the Jewish leaders and decided to march out with God's help to battle against the king, rather than wait for Antiochus to invade Judea and besiege Jerusalem. 14Then, leaving the outcome of the battle to the Creator of the world, Judas encouraged his men to fight bravely and to be willing to die for their laws, the Temple, Jerusalem, their country, and their whole way of life. They set up camp near the city of Modein. 15Judas gave his men the battle-cry, “Victory comes from God,” and that night, with a picked force of his bravest young men, he attacked the area near the king's tent and killed as many as 2,000 men. They also stabbed to death13.15 Probable text stabbed to death; Greek unclear. the leading elephant and its keeper. 16Everyone in camp was terrified and in panic when Judas and his men finally left victoriously 17just before dawn. The help and protection of the Lord had made all this possible.

Antiochus the Fifth Makes a Treaty with the Jews

(1 Macc 6.48–63)

18This taste of Jewish daring was enough to convince King Antiochus that he had to find some better way of capturing the Jewish positions. 19He attacked the strong Jewish fort of Bethzur, but was repeatedly beaten back and finally defeated. 20Judas sent supplies to the men who were defending the fort, 21but a Jewish soldier by the name of Rhodocus gave some secret information to the enemy. He was found out, however, caught, and put to death. 22The king made a second attempt to come to terms with the people of Bethzur, and when he had reached an agreement with them, he withdrew his forces. Then he went to attack Judas, but again he was defeated. 23Meanwhile, Philip had been left at Antioch in charge of the government, but King Antiochus learnt that he had revolted. The king did not know what to do, so he initiated peace talks with the Jews, agreed to their terms, and promised to be just in his treatment of them. To put the treaty into effect, he offered a sacrifice, gave a generous gift to show his respect for the Temple, 24and graciously received Judas Maccabaeus. After that, the king appointed Hegemonides to be governor of the territory between the cities of Ptolemais and Gerar, 25and then he himself went on to Ptolemais. The people there were angry because of the treaty he had made with the Jews — so angry, in fact, that they wanted the treaty cancelled. 26But Lysias made a public speech, defending the treaty as well as he could. After he had calmed the people down and convinced them that he was right, he returned to Antioch.

In this way King Antiochus' invasion was turned into a retreat.

14

Alcimus Speaks against Judas

(1 Macc 7.1–21)

141Three years later, Judas and his men learnt that Demetrius son of Seleucus had sailed into the port of Tripolis with a powerful army and a fleet. 2It was reported that he had killed King Antiochus and his guardian Lysias and had taken over the country.

3There was a man by the name of Alcimus, who had formerly been High Priest but who had gladly adopted the Greek way of life during the revolt. Realizing that he could never again be High Priest and fearful of what the Jews might do to him, 4he went to see King Demetrius in the year 151.14.4 the year 151: This corresponds to 161 bc. On this occasion he presented the king with a gold crown and a palm branch, together with some olive branches traditionally presented to the Temple, but he said nothing about his plans. 5Later, however, he got the chance to put his foolish plans into effect when Demetrius summoned him to a meeting of his advisers and asked him what the Jews were intending to do.

Alcimus said, 6“The followers of Judas Maccabaeus think of themselves as devout and patriotic; they love war and are constantly inciting the people to rebellion and will never leave the nation in peace. 7It is their fault that I no longer hold the glorious position of High Priest, to which I am entitled by birth. And so I have come here, 8primarily out of a genuine concern for your interests as king, but also out of consideration for my own people, for the foolish policies of Judas and his followers have brought terrible suffering on our entire nation. 9When Your Majesty has examined all the details of these matters, please act in your usual kind and generous manner to relieve the oppression of our nation and its people. 10As long as Judas is alive, it will be impossible for our nation to enjoy peace.”

Demetrius Sends Nicanor to Attack Judas

11As soon as Alcimus had finished his speech, the other advisers quickly seized this opportunity to arouse Demetrius' anger against Judas, because they also hated him. 12So King Demetrius immediately appointed Nicanor, who was the commander of his elephant forces, to be governor of Judea, and sent him there 13with orders to kill Judas, scatter his followers, and make Alcimus High Priest of the greatest Temple in all the world. 14All the foreigners in Judea, who had fled from Judas' attacks, now rushed to join forces with Nicanor, because they thought that any defeat or trouble that came to the Jews would be to their own advantage.

15

14.15–25:
1 Macc 7.27–28
The Jews heard that Nicanor was attacking and that the foreigners in their country were giving him their support. So they threw earth on themselves and prayed to their God, who had chosen their nation as his possession for ever and had never failed to help them in time of need. 16Then Judas, their leader, gave the order, and they immediately marched out to engage the enemy in battle near the village of Adasa.14.16 Probable text Adasa; Greek Dessau. 17Judas' brother Simon was fighting Nicanor but was gradually losing the battle because of an unexpected move on the part of the enemy. 18However, when Nicanor heard how bravely and courageously Judas and his men were fighting for their country, he decided not to settle the matter in battle. 19Instead, he sent Posidonius, Theodotus, and Mattathias to make a treaty with the Jews.

20After the terms of the treaty had been worked out in detail, Nicanor informed his troops, and they unanimously agreed. 21Then a day was set on which the leaders would meet in private. Ceremonial chairs were brought out from each camp and set up. 22Judas had taken the precaution of placing fully-armed troops in strategic places, in case of sudden treachery on the part of the enemy. But the two leaders had a friendly meeting. 23Nicanor stayed on in Jerusalem for some time after that. He did not ill-treat the Jews in any way, and even sent away the people who had come over to his side. 24The two men became the best of friends, and Judas was Nicanor's constant companion. 25Nicanor urged him to marry and start a family. So Judas did this and settled down to a peaceful life.

Nicanor Turns against Judas

26When Alcimus noticed how well Judas and Nicanor were getting along, he obtained a copy of the treaty and went to see King Demetrius. He told the king that Nicanor was disloyal to the government, because he had appointed the traitor Judas to be his successor. 27These false accusations infuriated the king, and in his anger he wrote to Nicanor, informing him that he was dissatisfied with the treaty and ordering him to arrest Judas Maccabaeus and send him to Antioch at once.

28When this message reached Nicanor, he was hurt and didn't know what to do, because he did not like having to break an agreement with a man who had kept his part of the bargain. 29Yet it was impossible for him to ignore the king's command, so he began looking for a way to trap Judas. 30Judas, however, noticed that Nicanor was becoming hostile and rude towards him, and he knew that this was a bad sign. So he gathered a large number of his followers and went into hiding.

31

14.31:
1 Macc 7.29–30
When Nicanor realized that Judas had been too clever for him, he went to the great and holy Temple at the time when the priests were offering sacrifice and ordered them to surrender Judas to him. 32But the priests declared under oath that they had no idea where Judas was hiding. 33Then Nicanor raised his right arm in the direction of the Temple and made a solemn threat: “If you do not hand Judas over to me as a prisoner, I will level God's Temple to the ground, demolish this altar, and on this spot build a glorious temple to Dionysus.” 34Then he left, and immediately the priests raised their arms towards heaven and prayed to God, the faithful Defender of our nation: 35“Lord, you are in need of nothing, yet it has pleased you to place your Temple here and to live among us. 36You alone are holy, and your Temple has only recently been purified, so now protect its holiness for ever.”

Razis Dies for his Country

37One of the leaders in Jerusalem, a man by the name of Razis, was denounced to Nicanor. It was said that he had helped his people in many ways and was so highly respected by them that he was known as “the Father of the Jews.” 38During the early days of the revolution he had risked his life for Judaism and had been brought to trial because of his loyalty. 39Wishing to show clearly how much he disliked the Jews, Nicanor sent more than 500 soldiers to arrest Razis, 40because he thought his arrest would be a crippling blow to the Jews. 41The soldiers were about to capture the tower where Razis had gone. They were forcing open the gates to the courtyard, and the order had been given to set the door on fire. Razis realized there was no escape, so he tried to commit suicide with his sword, 42preferring to die with honour rather than suffer humiliation at the hands of evil men.

43Under the pressure of the moment, Razis misjudged the thrust of the sword, and it did not kill him. So, while the soldiers were swarming into the room, he rushed to the wall and jumped off like a brave hero into the crowd below. 44The crowd quickly moved back, and he fell in the space they left. 45Still alive, and burning with courage, he got up, and with blood gushing from his wounds, he ran through the crowd and finally climbed a steep rock. 46Now completely drained of blood, he tore out his intestines with both hands and threw them at the crowd, and as he did so, he prayed for the Lord of life and breath to give them back to him. That was how he died.

15

Nicanor's Cruel Plan

151Nicanor learnt that Judas and his men were in the region of Samaria, so he decided to attack them on the Sabbath, when he could do so without any danger to himself. 2The Jews who were forced to accompany his army begged him not to do such a cruel and savage thing, but to respect the day that the all-seeing God had honoured and made the most holy of all days. 3Then Nicanor, the lowest creature on earth, asked if there was some sovereign ruler in heaven who had commanded them to honour the Sabbath. 4And the Jews replied, “Yes; the living Lord, who rules in heaven, commanded us to honour the Sabbath.”

5But Nicanor answered, “I am the ruler on earth, and I order you to take up your weapons and to do what the king commands.” However, he did not succeed in carrying out his cruel plan.

Judas Prepares His Troops for Battle

6In his arrogance Nicanor had boasted that he would set up a monument in honour of his victory over Judas. 7But Judas was fully confident that the Lord would help him, 8so he urged his men not to be afraid of the enemy. He encouraged them to remember how the Almighty had helped them in times past and to rest assured that he would give them victory this time also. 9He renewed their hope by reading to them from the Law and the Prophets and by reminding them of the battles they had already won. 10When his men were ready for battle, he gave them their orders and at the same time pointed out how the Gentiles could not be trusted, because they never kept their treaties. 11He armed all his men, not by encouraging them to trust in shields and spears, but by inspiring them with courageous words. He also raised their morale by telling them about his dream, a kind of vision that they could trust in.

12He told them that he had seen a vision of Onias, the former High Priest, that great and wonderful man of humble and gentle disposition, who was an outstanding orator and who had been taught from childhood how to live a virtuous life. With outstretched arms Onias was praying for the entire Jewish nation. 13Judas then saw an impressive white-haired man of great dignity and authority. 14Onias said: “This is God's prophet Jeremiah, who loves his fellow-Jews and offers many prayers for us and for Jerusalem, the holy city.”

15Then Jeremiah stretched out his right-hand and gave Judas a gold sword, saying as he did so, 16“This holy sword is a gift from God. Take it and destroy your enemies.”

17The eloquent words that Judas spoke encouraged everyone to be brave, and inspired boys to fight like men. Their city, their religion, and their Temple were in danger. So the Jews made up their minds not to waste any time, but to make a daring attack against the enemy and bravely decide their fate in hand-to-hand combat. 18They were not so concerned about their own families and relatives as they were about their sacred Temple. 19And the people who had to stay in Jerusalem were deeply concerned about how a battle on open ground would turn out.

The Defeat and Death of Nicanor

20Everyone was waiting to see who would win the battle. The enemy troops were already moving forward, with their cavalry on each side of them, and their elephants placed in strategic positions. 21Judas Maccabaeus looked at the huge enemy force, the variety of their weapons, and their fierce elephants. Then he raised his hands towards heaven and prayed to the Lord, who works miracles, because he knew that the Lord gives victory to those who deserve it, not to those who have a strong army. 22

15.22:
2 Kgs 19.35
Judas said: “Lord, when Hezekiah was king of Judah, you sent your angel, who killed 185,000 of Sennacherib's men. 23Now once again, Lord of heaven, send your good angel to make our enemies shake and tremble with fear. 24By your great power, destroy these people who have slandered you and have come out to attack your chosen people.” So Judas ended his prayer.

25

15.25–35:
1 Macc 7.43–50
Nicanor and his army moved forward to the sound of trumpets and battle-songs, 26but Judas and his men went into battle calling on God for help. 27So by fighting with their hands and praying to God in their hearts, the Jews killed more than 35,000 of the enemy. How grateful they were for the help they had received from God! 28When the battle was over and they were going home celebrating their victory, they noticed Nicanor in full armour lying dead on the battlefield. 29Then with loud shouts they praised the Lord in their native language.

30Judas Maccabaeus, who had always fought with all his body and soul for his own people, never losing the patriotism of his youth, ordered his men to cut off Nicanor's head and right arm and to take them to Jerusalem. 31When they arrived in the city, he called together all the people, stationed the priests before the altar, and sent for the men in the fort. 32He showed them the head of the evil Nicanor and the arm which that wicked man had arrogantly stretched out against the sacred Temple of the Almighty God. 33Then he cut out the tongue of that godless man, promising to feed it bit by bit to the birds and to hang up his head opposite the Temple, as evidence of what his foolishness did for him. 34Everyone there looked up to heaven and praised the Lord, who had revealed his power and had kept his Temple from being defiled. 35Judas hung Nicanor's head from the wall of the fort, as a clear proof to everyone of the Lord's help. 36

15.36:
1 Macc 7.49
By unanimous vote it was decided that this day would never be forgotten, but would be celebrated each year on the eve of Mordecai's Day,15.36 mordecai's day: The Festival of Purim (see Esth 9.17–22). which is the thirteenth day of the twelfth month, called Adar in Aramaic.

Concluding Words

37That is how things turned out for Nicanor. The city of Jerusalem remained in the possession of the Hebrew people from that time on, so I will end my story here. 38If it is well written and to the point, I am pleased; if it is poorly written and uninteresting, I have still done my best. 39We know it is unhealthy to drink wine or water alone, whereas wine mixed with water makes a delightfully tasty drink. So also a good story skilfully written gives pleasure to those who read it. With this I conclude.