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1 Maccabees

The high priest Alcimus & the campaign of Nicanor.  1Mace.7.1-50 161bce (Antioch) - 2Mace.14.1-36, 2Mace.15.1-36

1In the one hundred and fifty-first year Demetrius the son of Seleucus set forth from Rome, sailed with a few men to a city by the sea, and there began to reign. 2As he was entering the royal palace of his fathers, the army seized Antiochus and Lysias to bring them to him. 3But when this act became known to him, he said, "Do not let me see their faces!" 4So the army killed them, and Demetrius took his seat upon the throne of his kingdom.

5Then there came to him all the lawless and ungodly men of Israel; they were led by Alcimus, who wanted to be high priest. 6And they brought to the king this accusation against the people: " Judas and his brothers have destroyed all your friends, and have driven us out of our land. 7Now then send a man whom you trust; let him go and see all the ruin which Judas has brought upon us and upon the land of the king, and let him punish them and all who help them."

8So the king chose Bacchides, one of the king's friends, governor of the province Beyond the River; he was a great man in the kingdom and was faithful to the king. 9And he sent him, and with him the ungodly Alcimus, whom he made high priest; and he commanded him to take vengeance on the sons of Israel.

10So they marched away and came with a large force into the land of Judah; and he sent messengers to Judas and his brothers with peaceable but treacherous words. 11But they paid no attention to their words, for they saw that they had come with a large force.

12Then a group of scribes appeared in a body before Alcimus and Bacchides to ask for just terms. 13The Hasideans were first among the sons of Israel to seek peace from them, 14for they said, "A priest of the line of Aaron has come with the army, and he will not harm us." 15And he spoke peaceable words to them and swore this oath to them, "We will not seek to injure you or your friends." 16So they trusted him; but he seized sixty of them and killed them in one day, in accordance with the word which was written,

17"The flesh of your saints and their blood
they poured out round about Jerusalem,
and there was none to bury them."
18Then the fear and dread of them fell upon all the people, for they said, "There is no truth or justice in them, for they have violated the agreement and the oath which they swore."

19Then Bacchides departed from Jerusalem and encamped in Beth-zaith. And he sent and seized many of the men who had deserted to him, and some of the people, and killed them and threw them into a great pit. 20He placed Alcimus in charge of the country and left with him a force to help him; then Bacchides went back to the king.

21Alcimus strove for the high priesthood, 22and all who were troubling their people joined him. They gained control of the land of Judah and did great damage in Israel. 23And Judas saw all the evil that Alcimus and those with him had done among the sons of Israel; it was more than the Gentiles had done. 24So Judas went out into all the surrounding parts of Judea, and took vengeance on the men who had deserted, and he prevented those in the city from going out into the country. 25When Alcimus saw that Judas and those with him had grown strong, and realized that he could not withstand them, he returned to the king and brought wicked charges against them.

26Then the king sent Nicanor, one of his honoured princes, who hated and detested Israel, and he commanded him to destroy the people. 27So Nicanor came to Jerusalem with a large force, and treacherously sent to Judas and his brothers this peaceable message, 28"Let there be no fighting between me and you; I shall come with a few men to see you face to face in peace." 29So he came to Judas, and they greeted one another peaceably. But the enemy were ready to seize Judas. 30It became known to Judas that Nicanor had come to him with treacherous intent, and he was afraid of him and would not meet him again. 31When Nicanor learned that his plan had been disclosed, he went out to meet Judas in battle near Caphar-salama. 32About five hundred men of the army of Nicanor fell, and the rest fled into the city of David.

33After these events Nicanor went up to Mount Zion. Some of the priests came out of the sanctuary, and some of the elders of the people, to greet him peaceably and to show him the burnt offering that was being offered for the king. 34But he mocked them and derided them and defiled them and spoke arrogantly, 35and in anger he swore this oath, "Unless Judas and his army are delivered into my hands this time, then if I return safely I will burn up this house." And he went out in great anger. 36Then the priests went in and stood before the altar and the temple, and they wept and said,

37"You chose this house to be called by your name,
and to be for your people a house of prayer and supplication.
38Take vengeance on this man and on his army,
and let them fall by the sword;
remember their blasphemies,
and let them live no longer."

39Now Nicanor went out from Jerusalem and encamped in Beth-horon, and the Syrian army joined him. 40And Judas encamped in Adasa with three thousand men. Then Judas prayed and said, 41"When the messengers from the king spoke blasphemy, your angel went forth and struck down one hundred and eighty-five thousand of the Assyrians. 42So also crush this army before us today; let the rest learn that Nicanor has spoken wickedly against the sanctuary, and judge him according to this wickedness." 43So the armies met in battle on the thirteenth day of the month of Adar. The army of Nicanor was crushed, and he himself was the first to fall in the battle. 44When his army saw that Nicanor had fallen, they threw down their arms and fled. 45The Jews pursued them a day's journey, from Adasa as far as Gazara, and as they followed kept sounding the battle call on the trumpets. 46And men came out of all the villages of Judea round about, and they out-flanked the enemy and drove them back to their pursuers, so that they all fell by the sword; not even one of them was left. 47Then the Jews seized the spoils and the plunder, and they cut off Nicanor's head and the right hand which he so arrogantly stretched out, and brought them and displayed them just outside Jerusalem. 48The people rejoiced greatly and celebrated that day as a day of great gladness. 49And they decreed that this day should be celebrated each year on the thirteenth day of Adar. 50So the land of Judah had rest for a few days.


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Revised Standard Version of the Bible, copyright 1952 [2nd edition, 1971], Apocrypha, copyright 1957; The Third and Fourth Books of the Maccabees and Psalm 151, copyright 1977, by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
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