1 Gorgias took 5,000 infantry and 1,000 of his most experienced cavalry and left camp by night, 2 with men from the fort in Jerusalem as his guides. He had planned to make a surprise attack on the Jewish army, 3 but Judas learned of the plan and moved out with his men to attack the king's army at Emmaus 4 while Gorgias and his troops were still away from the camp. 5 When Gorgias and his army reached Judas' camp that night, they found no one there. They thought Judas and his men were trying to escape, so they started looking for them in the mountains.
6 At dawn Judas appeared in the plain with 3,000 men, not all of them as well armed as they would have liked. 7 They saw the huge Gentile army of experienced troops wearing armor and protected by cavalry. 8 But Judas said to his men, “Don't worry about the size of their army, and don't be frightened when they attack. 9 Remember how our ancestors were saved at the Red Sea when the king of Egypt was pursuing them with his army! 10 Now let us ask the Lord to have mercy on us. Let us pray that he will honor his covenant with our ancestors and crush this army when we attack today. 11 Then all the Gentiles will know that Israel has a God who rescues and saves them.”
12 When the Gentiles saw Judas and his men preparing for battle, 13 they moved out of their camp to fight. Then Judas and his men sounded their trumpets 14 and attacked. The Gentiles broke ranks and fled to the plain, 15 but all the stragglers were killed. The Israelites pursued the enemy as far as Gezer, the plains of Idumea, and the towns of Azotus and Jamnia. Altogether they killed about 3,000 of the enemy.
16 When Judas and his army came back from the pursuit, 17-18 he said to his men, “Don't be greedy for loot. Gorgias and his army are nearby in the mountains, so there is still heavy fighting ahead of us. We must stand firm and fight. After that, you can safely take all the loot you want.” 19 Judas was just finishing his speech when an enemy patrol on a scouting mission looked down from the mountains 20 and saw that their army had been put to flight; they could tell from the smoke that their camp was burning. 21 When they saw all this, they were terrified, and when they also saw that Judas' army was in the plain ready for battle, 22 they all fled to Philistia. 23 Then Judas returned to loot the enemy camp; he took large amounts of gold and silver, blue and purple cloth, and other rich plunder. 24 When the Jews came back to their own camp, they sang a hymn: “The Lord is worthy of praise; his mercy endures forever.” 25 That day brought a great victory to the people of Israel.
Victory over Lysias
(2 Maccabees 11.1-12)
26 The Gentile troops that escaped went to Lysias and reported all that had happened. 27 When Lysias heard that his troops had lost the battle, he was shocked and disappointed that Israel had not been defeated as the king had commanded.
28 In the following year Lysias gathered an army of 60,000 well-trained infantry and 5,000 cavalry, intending to conquer the Jews. 29 They marched into Idumea and camped at Bethzur. Judas came to meet them with 10,000 men. 30 When Judas saw how strong the enemy's army was, he prayed, “We will praise you, Savior of Israel. You broke the attack of the giant by the hand of your servant David and you let Saul's son Jonathan and the young man who carried his weapons defeat the entire Philistine army. 31 Now in the same way let your people Israel defeat our enemy. Put them to shame, in spite of all their confidence in their infantry and cavalry. 32 Make them afraid; let their bold strength melt away; let them tremble at the prospect of defeat. 33 We love and worship you; so let us kill our enemies, that we may then sing your praises.”
34 The battle began, and in the hand-to-hand fighting about 5,000 of Lysias' men were killed. 35 When Lysias saw that his army was being defeated and when he saw the reckless courage of Judas and his men, who showed that they were ready to live or die with honor, he returned to Antioch. There he recruited some mercenaries and planned to return to Judea later with a much larger army.
The Purification of the Temple
(2 Maccabees 10.1-8)
36 Judas and his brothers said, “Now that our enemies have been defeated, let's go to Jerusalem to purify the Temple and rededicate it.” 37 So the whole army was assembled and went up to Mount Zion. 38 There they found the Temple abandoned, the altar profaned, the gates burned down, the courtyards grown up in a forest of weeds, and the priests' rooms torn down. 39 In their sorrow, they tore their clothes, cried loudly, threw ashes on their heads, 40 and fell face down on the ground. When the signal was given on the trumpets, everyone cried out to the Lord.
41 Then Judas ordered some of his soldiers to attack the men in the fort, while he purified the Temple. 42 He chose some priests who were qualified and who were devoted to the Law. 43 They purified the Temple and took the stones that had been defiled and put them in an unclean place. 44 They discussed what should be done with the altar of burnt offerings, which had been desecrated 45 by the Gentiles, and decided to tear it down, so that it would not stand there as a monument to their shame. So they tore down the altar 46 and put the stones in a suitable place on the Temple hill, where they were to be kept until a prophet should appear and decide what to do with them. 47 Then they took uncut stones, as the Law of Moses required, and built a new altar like the old one. 48 They repaired the Temple, inside and out, and dedicated its courtyards. 49 They made new utensils for worship and brought the lampstand, the altar of incense, and the table for the bread into the Temple. 50 They burned incense on the altar and lit the lamps on the lampstand, and there was light in the Temple! 51 They placed the loaves of bread on the table, hung the curtains, and completed all the work.
52-54 The twenty-fifth day of the ninth month, the month of Kislev, in the year 148 was the anniversary of the day the Gentiles had desecrated the altar. On that day a sacrifice was offered on the new altar in accordance with the Law of Moses. The new altar was dedicated and hymns were sung to the accompaniment of harps, lutes, and cymbals. 55 All the people bowed down with their faces to the ground and worshiped and praised the Lord for giving them victory.
56 For eight days they celebrated the rededication of the altar. With great joy they brought burnt offerings and offered fellowship offerings and thank offerings. 57 They decorated the front of the Temple with gold crowns and shields, rebuilt the gates and the priests' rooms and put doors on them. 58 Now that the Jews had removed the shame which the Gentiles had brought, they held a great celebration. 59 Then Judas, his brothers, and the entire community of Israel decreed that the rededication of the altar should be celebrated with a festival of joy and gladness at the same time each year, beginning on the twenty-fifth of the month of Kislev and lasting for eight days.
60 Then they built high walls and strong towers around Mount Zion, so that the Gentiles could not come in and trample and defile it again. 61 Judas placed a detachment of soldiers there to guard the Temple. He also fortified the town of Bethzur, so that the people of Israel would have a fortress facing Idumea.