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  • 2 Maccabees 13

    Events in Modein and Beth-zur

    13 In year 149 the news reached Judas’ followers that Antiochus Eupator was moving against Judea with a large army. With him was Lysias, Antiochus’ guardian and head of the government. Each one had a Greek force of one hundred ten thousand foot soldiers, fifty-three hundred cavalry, and twenty-two elephants, as well as three hundred chariots armed with scythes. Menelaus also joined them and encouraged Antiochus with many lies, not out of a concern for the safety of his homeland but because he expected that he would be set over the government. The king of kings, however, aroused Antiochus’ anger against the sinner. When Lysias informed the king that this man was the cause of all the evils, Antiochus commanded that Menelaus be brought to Beroea and executed according to the custom there. That place has a tower seventy-five feet tall and full of ashes with a steep rim on all sides leading into the ashes. Here anyone guilty of temple robbery or other similar crimes is thrown down to their death. In this manner the lawless Menelaus died. He didn’t receive a proper burial. This was completely just, since he had committed many sins against the altar whose fire and ashes were holy, so in ashes he died.

    The king became barbaric in his thoughts and intended to show the Jews far worse things than his father did. 10 When Judas learned of these things, he commanded the community to call on the Lord day and night—now if ever—to help those soon to be deprived of the Law, the homeland, and the holy temple. 11 They were to pray that the people who had recently enjoyed temporary relief not be permitted again to come under the control of slanderous nations. 12 After everyone had prayed in the same manner together—pleading with the merciful Lord with weeping and fasting and lying facedown for three days—Judas called them together and commanded them to report for duty. 13 In consultation with the elders, Judas decided to march out to determine the matter by God’s help before the army of the king could enter Judah and take control of the city. 14 He left the decision to the creator of the universe and called on his men to fight to the death for the laws, temple, city, country, and citizenship. He made the region of Modein his headquarters 15 and gave his men the watchword “God’s Victory.” He chose the best of the young men, and attacked the king’s quarters in the enemy camp at night. They killed nearly two thousand men as well as the lead elephant, stabbing its rider. 16 After they filled the camp with fear and panic, they departed in good spirits. 17 This had happened just as the day was dawning because the Lord’s protection had come to Judas’ aid.

    18 Having received a taste of the Jews’ courage, the king made an attempt on their military positions through other tricks. 19 He moved against a well-protected watch-post of the Jews at Beth-zur, but he was pushed back. He struck again, but this time he was defeated. 20 Judas sent necessary supplies to those inside. 21 But Rhodocus from the Judean ranks gave military secrets to the enemies. When it was discovered, he was caught and imprisoned. 22 The king negotiated again with those in Beth-zur. They shared tokens of friendship. Then he went away, mounted an attack against Judas’ men, and was defeated. 23 Meanwhile, he received news that Philip (left in charge of the government in Antioch) had rebelled. He was entirely caught off guard, and so offered reconciliation to the Jews, accepted their terms, swore to respect all their rights, and reached a settlement. He also offered a sacrifice, honored the temple, and was generous toward the place. 24 He welcomed the Maccabee and made Hegemonides governor from Ptolemais to Gerar. 25 Then he went to Ptolemais. The people of Ptolemais found it hard to accept the agreement. They became very angry and wanted to annul the terms of the treaty. 26 In defense Lysias spoke publicly as well as he could and convinced and appeased them. After gaining their support, he marched into Antioch. So this is how the advance and withdrawal of the king occurred.