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  • 2 Maccabees 11

    Lysias and the Jews

    11 Lysias, the guardian and relative of the king, was in charge of the government. After a very short time he became extremely displeased at what happened. He led eighty thousand troops and all his cavalry against the Jews. He intended to make the city a Greek territory, to make the temple subject to tribute like the sacred sites of other nations, and to put the high priesthood on sale every year. He gave no thought whatsoever to the power of God but was inflated by his tens of thousands of foot soldiers, his thousands of cavalry, and his eighty elephants. He entered Judea, drew near to Beth-zur (a strongly fortified town about a half mile from Jerusalem), and attacked it. When the Maccabee’s followers received information that Lysias was surrounding the fortresses, they and all the people begged the Lord with laments and tears to send a good angel to save Israel. The Maccabee was himself the first to take up arms, and he urged the others to run risks as he did and to come to the aid of their brothers. They dashed out at once, ready for action. While they were still near Jerusalem, a horseman in white garments and wearing full body armor made of gold appeared to them and led them. All together they praised the merciful God, and their souls were strengthened. They prepared themselves to attack not only men but also the most fierce animals and even the iron walls. 10 They proceeded in battle order, having a heavenly ally thanks to the Lord’s mercy toward them. 11 Charging like lions against their enemies, they took down eleven thousand foot soldiers and sixteen hundred horses, and they put all the rest to flight. 12 Most of them escaped wounded and naked, while Lysias himself escaped by disgracefully running away. 13 Showing intelligence, Lysias pondered the reality of this defeat and realized that the Hebrews, assisted by God’s power, couldn’t be defeated. So he sent a messenger 14 and persuaded them to come to a just settlement in all issues concerning civil rights. He also persuaded them that he would convince the king to become their friend. 15 The Maccabee consented to Lysias’ proposals, thinking it was best for all involved. Whatever the Maccabee presented in writing to Lysias concerning the Jews, the king granted.

    16 This is what Lysias’ letter to the Jews said:

    17 Lysias to the Jewish community. Greetings!

    John and Absalom, the men you sent, gave me the administrative document copied below and made a request concerning its contents. 18 Whatever needed to be presented in person to the king, I stated plainly; and whatever was feasible, he has granted. 19 If then you will preserve goodwill toward the government, in the future I will attempt to promote your well-being. 20 But concerning the details, I commanded these men to confer with you, along with my representatives. 21 Farewell!

    Year 148, the twenty-fourth day of the month of Dios Korinthos.

    22 This is what the king’s letter said:

    23 King Antiochus to his brother Lysias. Greetings!

    After our father joined the gods, it was my desire that those who want calm be left alone to tend to their own business. 24 We heard that the Jews haven’t agreed to change to the Greek way of life, as our father wanted, but preferred their own way of life and asked to be permitted to have their own law. 25 Since we would choose for this nation to be free from unrest, we have decided to restore to them their temple and to let them conduct their life according to the customs of their ancestors. 26 You would do well, then, to send a message to them and assure them of friendship, so that they might know our policy and be at ease and live cheerfully, achieving their own goals.

    27 This is what the king’s letter to the nation said:

    King Antiochus to the Jewish council of elders and to all other Jews. Greetings!

    28 If you are well, it is what we wish. We are also in good health. 29 Menelaus has informed us that you want to return home to take care of your own affairs. 30 Those who return by the thirtieth of Xanthicus will have our pledge of friendship with no need for fear. 31 We will allow the Jews to follow their own dietary laws and other laws just as they used to do, and not let anyone bother them concerning any crime committed in ignorance. 32 I have also sent Menelaus to comfort you. 33 Be well!

    Year 148, the fifteenth day of the month of Xanthicus.

    34 Also the Romans sent a letter to the Jews that said:

    Quintus Memmius, Titus Manius, ambassadors of the Romans, to the people of the Jews. Greetings!

    35 Lysias the king’s relative has handed rights over to you, and we agree. 36 But give consideration immediately to whatever he decided to bring to the attention of the king; you should consider and then send someone immediately concerning your views, so that we might make suggestions to you, as is appropriate. We are approaching Antioch, 37 so hurry and send someone so that we might also know of your opinion. 38 Be in good health!

    Year 148, the fifteenth day of the month of Xanthicus.