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  • 2 Maccabees 12

    Judas’ victories

    12 Having reached these agreements, Lysias returned to the king while the Jews went back to farming. But some of the regional governors—Timothy and Apollonius (Gennaeus’ son), Hieronymous and Demophon, as well as Nicanor the commander from Cyprus—wouldn’t permit them to live in peace. Some men from Joppa committed a horrible act. After calling together the Jews living among them with their wives and children, they invited them to go sailing in boats that they provided. They acted as if they had no hostility against them at all. This was a decision made by the city as a whole. The Jews accepted the invitation because they desired to live together with them peaceably, and the Jews had no suspicions. But they took them out to sea and drowned them—no fewer than two hundred people. When Judas received news of the cruelty that had happened to his fellow Jews, he gave orders to his troops. After calling out to God the righteous judge, he moved against the murderers of their brothers, setting fire to the harbor by night, burning the boats, and killing those who took refuge there. Because a large area of the city was secured against his attack, he departed, intending to return and root out the entire citizen community of Joppa. He learned that the people of Jamnia were also planning to finish off the Jews living among them in the same way. So Judas mounted a night attack against Jamnia and set its harbor and fleet on fire, so that the gleams of light shone in Jerusalem twenty-eight miles away.

    10 When Judas withdrew about a mile away from Jamnia, in pursuit of Timothy, Arabs attacked him with no fewer than five thousand men and five hundred cavalry. 11 A fierce battle took place, but Judas’ followers were successful because of God’s help. The defeated nomads asked Judas for a pledge of friendship, promising to give them some livestock and to be of service to them in other ways. 12 Judas agreed to make peace because he thought that they might truly be useful to them in many ways. After pledging friendship to each other, the Arabs departed into their tents.

    13 Judas also made an attack on a city named Caspin, whose defenses included a fortified bridge and surrounding walls. It was inhabited by people from many nations. 14 Because the walls had been solidly secured and there was plenty of food for future use, the inhabitants acted disrespectfully. They not only spoke in an insulting way to Judas’ men, they were even uttering unlawful insults against God. 15 Calling out to the great mighty one of the universe who caused Jericho to fall in Joshua’s time even without battering rams or war engines, Judas’ forces attacked the wall furiously. 16 They took the city by God’s will and killed so many men that a nearby lake a quarter of a mile wide appeared to be filled with blood.

    17 Withdrawing from there, they made a journey of ninety-four miles to Charax, to those Jews who are called Toubians. 18 They didn’t find Timothy in the area because he left the region without any success, except that he left behind one military force in a well-secured place. 19 But the Maccabee’s commanders Dositheus and Sosipater marched out and destroyed those Timothy left in the fortified place, killing more than ten thousand men. 20 The Maccabee, dividing the army around him in units, set men in command over the units and moved quickly against Timothy, who had with him one hundred twenty thousand foot soldiers and twenty-five hundred horses. 21 After receiving information about Judas’ approach, Timothy sent the wives and children and their belongings ahead to a village called Carnaim. He did this because the place was difficult to surround or attack on account of the narrowness of the approaches. 22 After Judas’ first tactical unit appeared, the enemy was afraid, especially when the “one who sees all things” appeared to them. They took flight, running here and there, so that many were injured by their own comrades and pierced by the tips of their own swords. 23 Judas pursued them vigorously. Stabbing sinners left and right, he killed as many as thirty thousand men. 24 Timothy himself fell into the hands of Dositheus, Sosipater, and their men. He skillfully argued that he should be set free, persuading them that he held many parents and other relatives as prisoners who might not receive any consideration. 25 After he promised repeatedly to return them unharmed, they released him for the benefit of the safety of their relatives.

    26 Next Judas attacked Carnaim and the temple of Atargatis, killing twenty-five thousand people. 27 After overturning and destroying these places, he made war also on Ephron, a fortified city with a mixed population, where Lysias made his home. Strong young men fought bravely, however, in front of the walls where there were also many war engines and arrows. 28 Calling on the Lord who crushes the strength of the enemy, the Jews took control of the city and killed about twenty-five thousand people. 29 Then breaking camp and marching from there, they moved swiftly against Scythopolis, seventy-five miles from Jerusalem. 30 But the Jews who lived there reported that the citizens of Scythopolis showed kindness and a civil attitude toward them even in times of misfortune. 31 They thanked them and encouraged them also to be well-disposed toward their people in the future as well. Then they returned to Jerusalem since the Festival of Weeks was about to begin.

    32 After the Festival of Pentecost they moved against Gorgias, the governor of Idumea. 33 He came out with three thousand foot soldiers and four hundred horses. 34 A small number of Jews fell during the battle. 35 Dositheus, one of Bacenor’s men, a strong man on horseback, had seized Gorgias. Holding on to the governor’s robe, he dragged him down roughly, trying to take the horrible man alive. But one of the Thracian cavalry men assaulted Dositheus, crushed his shoulder, and Gorgias escaped into Marisa. 36 The men around Esdris were fighting fiercely but became weary. Judas called out to the Lord to show himself as their ally and to lead the battle. 37 Beginning to sing hymns in the native language with a loud voice, he suddenly made an attack against Gorgias’ men and defeated them.

    38 Judas took his army and came into the city of Adullam. When the seventh day arrived, they purified themselves according to custom and observed the Sabbath. 39 On the next day, it was necessary for Judas and his men to recover the bodies of the fallen and to bury them with their relatives in the ancestral tombs. 40 They found sacred charms, idols from Jamnia that the Law forbids Jews to wear, under the clothing of each of the dead. It became clear to all why these men had fallen. 41 Then they all praised the Lord, the righteous judge who makes hidden things visible. 42 They appealed to God and prayed for the sin that had been committed to be completely wiped out. The honorable Judas called on the people to keep themselves free from sin, since everyone had seen what had happened because of the sin of those who fell. 43 After taking a collection from each man, he sent the sum of two thousand silver drachmen to Jerusalem to provide for a sin offering. He was acting honorably and appropriately, thinking about the resurrection. 44 If he hadn’t been looking forward to the resurrection of the dead, then it would have been unnecessary and frivolous to pray for them. 45 He was looking, however, to that best reward laid up for those who die in godliness, and so this was a pious and holy thought. Thus he made an offering of reconciliation so that the dead would be forgiven of their sin.