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  • 1 Maccabees 4

    Battle at Emmaus

    Gorgias took five thousand infantry and one thousand select cavalry, and this division moved out secretly at night. He wanted to come to the Jewish camp and attack without warning. Men from the elevated fortress served as his guides. But Judas heard about it, and he and his warriors moved out to attack the king’s forces in Emmaus while the division was absent from the camp. So when Gorgias entered Judas’ camp during the night, there was no one there. He started looking for them in the hills, because he said, “These men are running away from us.”

    At daybreak, Judas appeared in the plain with three thousand men. But they didn’t have armor and swords such as they would have liked. They saw the Gentile camp, strongly fortified, surrounded by cavalry clearly trained in warfare. Judas said to those who were with him: “Don’t fear their numbers or be afraid when they charge. Remember how our ancestors were saved at the Red Sea, when Pharaoh was pursuing them with his forces. 10 So let’s cry to heaven to see if the heavenly one will favor us and remember his covenant with our ancestors and crush this army in front of us today. 11 Then all the Gentiles will know that there is someone who redeems and saves Israel.”

    12 The foreigners looked up and saw the Israelites coming against them. 13 They went out from their camp to engage them in battle. The men with Judas blew their trumpets, and the battle began. 14 The Gentiles were crushed and fled into the plain. 15 All those who were in the rear were killed by the sword. The Israelites pursued them to Gazara, to the plains of Idumea, and to Azotus and Jamnia. Three thousand Gentiles died. 16 Judas and his forces stopped pursuing them. 17 He said to everyone: “Don’t be greedy to plunder, for there is still a battle ahead of us. 18 Gorgias and his force are still near us in the hills. Stand now against our enemies and fight them. Then afterward boldly seize the spoils.”

    19 Just as Judas said this, a detachment of Gentiles cautiously appeared, coming out of the hills. 20 They saw that their army had been put to flight and that the Jews were burning the camp, as evident from the smoke over the area. 21 When they saw the devastation and noticed Judas’ army in the plain ready for battle, they were terrified. 22 They ran away into the land of the Philistines. 23 So Judas went back to plunder the camp. His army took a great amount of gold and silver, cloth that was dyed blue and purple, and great riches. 24 As they returned, they sang hymns and songs of praise to heaven: “God is good, because his mercy endures forever.” 25 That day Israel had a great deliverance.

    First campaign of Lysias

    26 The foreigners who escaped went and told Lysias about all that had happened. 27 When he heard it, he was perplexed and discouraged. Things hadn’t happened to Israel as he had intended, and they hadn’t turned out the way that the king commanded. 28 The next year he gathered together sixty thousand select men and five thousand cavalry, intending to subdue the Israelites. 29 They came to Idumea and camped at Beth-zur. Judas, on the other hand, went out to meet them with ten thousand men.

    30 When Judas saw how numerous their army was, he prayed:

    Blessed are you, Savior of Israel,
        who crushed the attack
        of the mighty warrior
            through the power
            of your servant David.
    You handed over the camp
    of the Philistines
        to Saul’s son Jonathanand
        and the man who carried his armor.
    31 So surround this army
    by the power of your people Israel,
        and let them be disappointed
        by their troops and cavalry.
    32 Fill them with cowardice.
        Melt away the boldness
        of their strength.
        Let them quake in their destruction.
    33 Strike them down with the sword
    of those who love you,
        and let all who know your name
        praise you with hymns.

    34 Then both sides attacked each other. Five thousand men from Lysias’ army died in the fighting. 35 Lysias saw his troops being defeated and took note of the boldness that inspired Judas’ troops—how ready they were to live or die bravely. So he withdrew to Antioch and enlisted mercenaries so that he could invade Judea again with an even bigger army.

    Cleansing and dedication of the temple

    36 At that time Judas and his brothers said, “Look, our enemies have been crushed. Let’s go up to cleanse and rededicate the sanctuary.” 37 All the army gathered together and went up to Mount Zion. 38 They found the sanctuary deserted, the altar treated with disrespect, and the gates burned. In the courts, bushes had sprung up like in an open field or on one of the mountains. They saw that the priests’ chambers were in ruins as well. 39 So they tore their clothes and mourned with great sorrow. They sprinkled their heads with ashes 40 and fell facedown on the ground. When the trumpets sounded a signal, they cried out to heaven.

    41 Then Judas chose some soldiers to fight against those stationed in the elevated fortress until he completed cleansing the sanctuary. 42 He selected priests who were blameless and devoted to the Law. 43 They cleansed the sanctuary and took the polluted stones to a ritually unclean place. 44 They discussed what to do about the altar for entirely burned offerings, since it had been polluted. 45 They decided it was best to tear it down so that it wouldn’t be a lasting shameful reminder to them that the Gentiles had defiled it. So they tore down the altar. 46 They stored the stones in a convenient place on the temple mount until a prophet should arise who could say what to do with them. 47 They then took unfinished stones, in keeping with the Law, and built a new altar like the former one.

    48 They also restored the sanctuary and the temple interior, and dedicated the courtyards. 49 They fashioned new holy equipment and brought the lampstand, the incense altar, and the table into the temple. 50 Then they offered incense on the altar and lit the lamps on the lampstand, which illuminated the temple. 51 They placed bread on the table and hung curtains. Finally, they completed all the work that they had started.

    52 They rose early in the morning of the twenty-fifth day of the ninth month, the month of Kislev. It was the year 148. 53 They offered sacrifice, following the Law, on the new altar for entirely burned offerings that they had made. 54 In the very season, on the exact day that the Gentiles had polluted it, it was dedicated with songs, harps, lutes, and cymbals. 55 All the people bowed to the ground and worshipped and blessed heaven, which had given them success.

    56 So they celebrated the rededication of the altar for eight days and joyfully made entirely burned offerings. They offered a sacrifice of deliverance and praise. 57 They decorated the front of the temple with gold crowns and small shields. They restored the gates and the priests’ chambers, furnishing them with doors. 58 The people were extremely glad, and the disgrace the Gentiles brought was lifted.

    59 Then Judas, with his brothers and all the assembly of Israel, laid down a law that every year at that season the dedication of the altar should be observed with joy and happiness for eight days, beginning with the twenty-fifth day of Kislev.

    60 At that same time the Israelites built high walls and strong towers all around Mount Zion so that the Gentiles did not come and trample them as they had done previously. 61 Judas stationed an occupying force there as guards. He also built up Beth-zur to protect it so that the people might have a fortress that faced in the direction of Idumea.