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2002 11 11
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Chapter 5


1 When the Gentiles round about heard that the altar had been rebuilt and the sanctuary consecrated as before, they were very angry.


So they decided to destroy the descendants of Jacob who were among them, and they began to massacre and persecute the people.


2 Then Judas attacked the sons of Esau at Akrabattene in Idumea, because they were blockading Israel; he defeated them heavily, overcame and despoiled them.


3 He also remembered the malice of the sons of Baean, who had become a snare and a stumbling block to the people by ambushing them along the roads.


He forced them to take refuge in towers, which he besieged; he vowed their annihilation and burned down the towers along with all the persons in them.


4 Then he crossed over to the Ammonites, where he found a strong army and a large body of people with Timothy as their leader.


He fought many battles with them, routed them, and struck them down.


After seizing Jazer and its villages, he returned to Judea.


The Gentiles in Gilead assembled to attack and destroy the Israelites who were in their territory; these then fled to the stronghold of Dathema.


They sent a letter to Judas and his brothers saying: "The Gentiles around us have combined against us to destroy us,


and they are preparing to come and seize this stronghold to which we have fled. Timothy is the leader of their army.


Come at once and rescue us from them, for many of us have fallen.


All our kinsmen who were among the Tobiads have been killed; the Gentiles have carried away their wives and children and their goods, and they have slain there about a thousand men."


While they were reading this letter, suddenly other messengers, in torn clothes, arrived from Galilee to deliver a similar message:


5 that the inhabitants of Ptolemais, Tyre, and Sidon, and the whole of Gentile Galilee had joined forces to destroy them.


When Judas and the people heard this, a great assembly convened to consider what they should do for their unfortunate kinsmen who were being attacked by enemies.


Judas said to his brother Simon: "Choose men for yourself, and go, rescue your kinsmen in Galilee; I and my brother Jonathan will go to Gilead."


In Judea he left Joseph, son of Zechariah, and Azariah, leader of the people, with the rest of the army to guard it.


"Take charge of these people," he commanded them, "but do not fight against the Gentiles until we return."


Three thousand men were allotted to Simon, to go into Galilee, and eight thousand men to Judas, for Gilead.


Simon went into Galilee and fought many battles with the Gentiles. They were crushed before him,


and he pursued them to the very gate of Ptolemais. About three thousand men of the Gentiles fell, and he gathered their spoils.


He took with him the Jews who were in Galilee and in Arbatta, with their wives and children and all that they had, and brought them to Judea with great rejoicing.


Judas Maccabeus and his brother Jonathan crossed the Jordan and marched for three days through the desert.


6 There they met some Nabateans, who received them peacefully and told them all that had happened to the Jews in Gilead:


"Many of them have been imprisoned in Bozrah, in Bosor near Alema, in Chaspho, Maked, and Carnaim" - all of these are large, fortified cities


"and some have been imprisoned in other cities of Gilead. Tomorrow their enemies plan to attack the strongholds and to seize and destroy all these people in one day."


Thereupon Judas suddenly changed direction with his army, marched across the desert to Bozrah, and captured the city. He slaughtered all the male population, took all their possessions, and set fire to the city.


He led his army from that place by night, and they marched toward the stronghold of Dathema.


When morning came, they looked ahead and saw a countless multitude of people, with ladders and devices for capturing the stronghold, and beginning to attack the people within.


When Judas perceived that the struggle had begun and that the noise of the battle was resounding to heaven with trumpet blasts and loud shouting,


he said to the men of his army, "Fight for our kinsmen today."


He came up behind them with three columns blowing their trumpets and shouting in prayer.


When the army of Timothy realized that it was Maccabeus, they fell back before him, and he inflicted on them a crushing defeat. About eight thousand of their men fell that day.


Then he turned toward Alema and attacked and captured it; he killed all the male population, plundered the place, and burned it down.


From there he moved on and took Chaspho, Maked, Bosor, and the other cities of Gilead.


After these events Timothy assembled another army and camped opposite Raphon, on the other side of the stream.


Judas sent men to spy on the camp, and they reported to him: "All the Gentiles around us have rallied to him, making a very large force;


they have also hired Arabs to help them, and have camped beyond the stream, ready to attack you." So Judas went forward to attack them.


As Judas and his army were approaching the running stream, Timothy said to the officers of his army: "If he crosses over to us first, we shall not be able to resist him; he will certainly defeat us.


But if he is afraid and camps on the other side of the river, we will cross over to him and defeat him."


But when Judas reached the running stream, he stationed the officers of the people beside the stream and gave them this order: "Do not allow any man to pitch a tent; all must go into battle."


He was the first to cross to the attack, with all the people behind him, and the Gentiles were crushed before them; they threw away their arms and fled to the temple enclosure at Carnaim.


The Jews captured that city and burnt the enclosure with all who were in it. So Carnaim was subdued, and Judas met with no more resistance.


Then he assembled all the Israelites, great and small, who were in Gilead, with their wives and children and their goods, a great crowd of people, to go into the land of Judah.


7 When they reached Ephron, a large and strongly fortified city along the way, they found it impossible to encircle it on either the right or the left; they would have to march right through it.


But the men in the city shut them out and blocked up the gates with stones.


Then Judas sent them this peaceful message: "We wish to cross your territory in order to reach our own; no one will harm you; we will only march through." But they would not open to him.


So Judas ordered a proclamation to be made in the camp that everyone make an attack from the place where he was.


When the men of the army took up their positions, he assaulted the city all that day and night, and it was delivered to him.


He slaughtered every male, razed and plundered the city, and passed through it over the slain.


Then they crossed the Jordan to the great plain in front of Beth-shan;


and Judas kept rounding up the stragglers and encouraging the people the whole way, until he reached the land of Judah.


They ascended Mount Zion in joy and gladness and offered holocausts, because not one of them had fallen; they had returned in safety.


During the time that Judas and Jonathan were in the land of Gilead, and Simon his brother was in Galilee opposite Ptolemais,


Joseph, son of Zechariah, and Azariah, the leaders of the army, heard about the brave deeds and the fighting that they were doing.


They said, "Let us also make a name for ourselves by going out and fighting against the Gentiles around us."


They gave orders to the men of their army who were with them, and marched toward Jamnia.


But Gorgias and his men came out of the city to meet them in battle.


Joseph and Azariah were beaten, and were pursued to the frontiers of Judea, and about two thousand Israelites fell that day.


It was a bad defeat for the people, because they had not obeyed Judas and his brothers, thinking that they would do brave deeds.


But they did not belong to the family of those men to whom it was granted to achieve Israel's salvation.


The valiant Judas and his brothers were greatly renowned in all Israel and among all the Gentiles, wherever their name was heard;


and men gathered about them and praised them.


8 Then Judas and his brothers went out and attacked the sons of Esau in the country toward the south; he took Hebron and its villages, and he destroyed its strongholds and burned the towers around it.


He then set out for the land of the Philistines and passed through Marisa.


At that time some priests fell in battle who had gone out rashly to fight in their desire to distinguish themselves.


Judas then turned toward Azotus in the land of the Philistines. He destroyed their altars and burned the statues of their gods; and after plundering their cities he returned to the land of Judah.



1 [1] The events of this chapter occurred within the year 163 B.C.

2 Akrabattene: a district southwest of the Dead Sea.

3 [4] Sons of Baean: 2 Macc 10:15-23 calls them simply Idumeans.

4 [6-8] This summary anticipates the order of events and would fit better between 1 Macc 5:36 and 37. It corresponds to 2 Macc 12:17-23. The action was probably a reprisal for the massacre referred to in 1 Macc 5:13. Timothy was the Seleucid governor of Transjordan. Jazer: a town on the road from the Jordan to Amman.

5 [15] Ptolemais: Hebrew Acco ( Judges 1:31), modern Acre, on the coast north of Haifa.

6 [25] Nabateans: an Arab people who acquired wealth and power as caravan merchants in the final two centuries B.C. They settled down, established Petra as their capital, and for a time controlled all of Transjordan, even as far as Damascus. It was from a Nabatean governor that St. Paul escaped about 38 A.D. ( 2 Cor 11:32-33).

7 [46] Ephron: a city in Transjordan opposite Beth-shan, about five miles east of the Jordan River. Situated on a height, it dominated the valleys of the two tributaries of the Jordan.

8 [65] Sons of Esau: Idumeans.

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