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2002 11 11
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Chapter 14


1 Three years later, Judas and his men learned that Demetrius, son of Seleucus, had sailed into the port of Tripolis with a powerful army and a fleet,


and that he had occupied the country, after doing away with Antiochus and his guardian Lysias.


A certain Alcimus, a former high priest, who had willfully incurred defilement at the time of the revolt, realized that there was no way for him to salvage his position and regain access to the holy altar.


So he went to King Demetrius in the year one hundred and fifty-one and presented him with a gold crown and a palm branch, as well as some of the customary olive branches from the temple. On that occasion he kept quiet.


But he found an opportunity to further his mad scheme when he was invited to the council by Demetrius and questioned about the dispositions and intentions of the Jews. He replied:


"Those Jews called Hasideans, led by Judas Maccabeus, are warmongers, who stir up sedition and keep the kingdom from enjoying peace and quiet.


For this reason, now that I am deprived of my ancestral dignity, that is to say, the high priesthood, I have come here - 


first, out of my genuine concern for the king's interests, and secondly, out of consideration for my own countrymen, since our entire nation is suffering great affliction from the unreasonable conduct of the people just mentioned.


When you have informed yourself in detail on these matters, O king, act in the interest of our country and its hard-pressed people with the same gracious consideration that you show toward all.


As long as Judas is around, it is impossible for the state to enjoy peace."


When he had said this, the other Friends who were hostile to Judas quickly added fuel to Demetrius' indignation.


The king immediately chose Nicanor, who had been in command of the elephants, and appointed him governor of Judea. He sent him off


with orders to put Judas to death, to disperse his followers, and to set up Alcimus as high priest of the great temple.


2 The Gentiles from Judea, who would have banished Judas, came flocking to Nicanor, thinking that the misfortunes and calamities of the Jews would mean prosperity for themselves.


When the Jews heard of Nicanor's coming, and that the Gentiles were rallying to him, they sprinkled themselves with earth and prayed to him who established his people forever, and who always comes to the aid of his heritage.


At their leader's command, they set out at once and came upon the enemy at the village of Adasa.


Judas' brother Simon had engaged Nicanor, but because of the sudden appearance of the enemy suffered a slight repulse.


However, when Nicanor heard of the valor of Judas and his men, and the great courage with which they fought for their country, he shrank from deciding the issue by bloodshed.


So he sent Posidonius, Theodotus and Mattathias to arrange an agreement.


After a long discussion of the terms, each leader communicated them to his troops; and when general agreement was expressed, they assented to the treaty.


A day was set on which the leaders would meet by themselves. From each side a chariot came forward and thrones were set in place.


Judas had posted armed men in readiness at suitable points for fear that the enemy might suddenly carry out some treacherous plan. But the conference was held in the proper way.


Nicanor stayed on in Jerusalem, where he did nothing out of place. He got rid of the throngs of ordinary people who gathered around him;


but he always kept Judas in his company, for he had a cordial affection for the man.


He urged him to marry and have children; so Judas married, settled down, and shared the common life.


When Alcimus saw their friendship for each other, he took the treaty that had been made, went to Demetrius, and said that Nicanor was plotting against the state, and that he had appointed Judas, the conspirator against the kingdom, to be his successor.


Stirred up by the villain's calumnies, the king became enraged. He wrote to Nicanor, stating that he was displeased with the treaty, and ordering him to send Maccabeus as a prisoner to Antioch without delay.


When this message reached Nicanor he was dismayed, for he hated to break his agreement with a man who had done no wrong.


However, there was no way of opposing the king, so he watched for an opportunity to carry out this order by a stratagem.


But Maccabeus noticed that Nicanor was becoming cool in his dealings with him, and acting with unaccustomed rudeness when they met; he concluded that this coldness betokened no good. So he gathered together a large number of his men, and went into hiding from Nicanor.


When Nicanor realized that he had been disgracefully outwitted by the man, he went to the great and holy temple, at a time when the priests were offering the customary sacrifices, and ordered them to surrender Judas.


As they declared under oath that they did not know where the wanted man was,


he raised his right hand toward the temple and swore this oath: "If you do not hand Judas over to me as prisoner, I will level this shrine of God to the ground; I will tear down the altar, and erect here a splendid temple to Dionysus."


With these words he went away. The priests stretched out their hands toward heaven, calling upon the unfailing defender of our nation in these words:


"Lord of all, though you are in need of nothing, you have approved of a temple for your dwelling place among us.


Therefore, O holy One, Lord of all holiness, preserve forever undefiled this house, which has been so recently purified."


3 A certain Razis, one of the elders of Jerusalem, was denounced to Nicanor as a patriot. A man highly regarded, he was called a father of the Jews because of his love for them.


In the early days of the revolt, he had been convicted of Judaism, and had risked body and life in his ardent zeal for it.


Nicanor, to show his detestation of the Jews, sent more than five hundred soldiers to arrest him.


He thought that by arresting such a man he would deal the Jews a hard blow.


But when these troops, on the point of capturing the tower, were forcing the outer gate and calling for fire to set the door ablaze, Razis, now caught on all sides, turned his sword against himself,


preferring to die nobly rather than fall into the hands of vile men and suffer outrages unworthy of his noble birth.


In the excitement of the struggle he failed to strike exactly. So while the troops rushed in through the doors, he gallantly ran up to the top of the wall and with manly courage threw himself down into the crowd.


But as they quickly drew back and left an opening, he fell into the middle of the empty space.


Still breathing, and inflamed with anger, he got up and ran through the crowd, with blood gushing from his frightful wounds.


Then, standing on a steep rock, as he lost the last of his blood, he tore out his entrails and flung them with both hands into the crowd, calling upon the Lord of life and of spirit to give these back to him again. Such was the manner of his death.




1 [1] Three years later: actually, Demetrius (I Soter), son of Seleucus (IV), landed at Tripolis in the year 151 of the Seleucid era ( 1 Macc 14:4), i.e., 162-161 B.C.; cf 1 Macc 7:1-7.

2 [14] Who would have banished Judas: the meaning of the Greek is uncertain; some render it: "who had fled before Judas."

3 [37-46] The story of Razis belongs to the "martyrology" class of literature; it is similar to the stories in 2 Macc 6:18- 7:42.

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