Wars with Neighboring Nations
(2 Maccabees 10.14-332 12.10-45)
1 When the neighboring nations heard that the Jews had built the altar and restored the Temple as it had been before, they were so furious 2 that they made up their minds to destroy all the Jews who were living among them. So they began to murder and kill our people.
3 The Idumeans were blockading the Israelites, so Judas went to war against them at Akrabattene, crushed them, and looted them. 4 He also dealt with the people of Baean, who were a constant threat to the people of Israel, because they would lie in ambush waiting to trap Israelite travelers. 5 He shut the Baeanites up in their forts, took a solemn oath that he would destroy them, and burned their forts with everyone in them. 6 Then he marched against the land of Ammon, where he met a large and powerful army under the command of a man named Timothy. 7 Judas won many battles against them and finally defeated them. 8 He captured Jazer and its surrounding villages and then returned to Judea.
9 The Gentiles in Gilead assembled to attack and destroy the Israelites living in their territory. But the Israelites fled to the fortress of Dathema 10-11 and sent the following letter to Judas and his brothers: “The Gentiles around us are joining forces under Timothy. We have fled to this fortress for protection, and now they are getting ready to capture it and destroy us. 12 Many of us have already been killed. Come rescue us! 13 All the Jewish men in the region of Tob have been killed, their wives and their children have been taken captive, and their possessions have been carried off. A force of about 1,000 men has been destroyed there.”
14 This letter was still being read when other messengers, who had torn their clothes in sorrow, arrived with a report from Galilee. 15 They said, “An army from Ptolemais, Tyre, Sidon, and all of Galilee has come together to destroy us.”
16 When Judas and the people heard all this, a great assembly was held to decide what should be done to help these countrymen, who were in such difficulty under enemy attack. 17 Judas said to his brother Simon, “Choose some men and go rescue our fellow Jews in Galilee; our brother Jonathan and I will go to Gilead.” 18 Judas left the rest of his army to defend Judea and put the two leaders, Azariah and Joseph son of Zechariah, in charge of the people. 19 He told them: “I am leaving you in command here, but don't go out and fight the Gentiles until we get back.” 20 Then 3,000 men joined Simon for the march into Galilee, and 8,000 remained with Judas for the march into Gilead.
21 Simon went into Galilee and fought many battles with the Gentiles. He defeated them 22 and pursued them all the way to the city of Ptolemais, killing about 3,000 of them, and taking the loot. 23 Then he took the Jews who were in Galilee and Arbatta, with their wives, their children, and all they owned, and brought them back to Judea with him. There was great rejoicing.
24 During this time, Judas Maccabeus and his brother Jonathan had crossed the Jordan River and had marched for three days through the desert. 25 They met some friendly Nabateans who told them all that had happened to the Jews in Gilead. 26 They reported that many Jews were imprisoned in the fortified cities of Bozrah, Bosor, Alema, Chaspho, Maked, and Karnaim, 27 while others were imprisoned in the smaller towns of Gilead. They also reported that the enemy was drawn up to make an attack the next day on the Jewish fortresses, hoping to destroy all the Jews in a single day.
28 So Judas and his army suddenly turned and attacked Bozrah by the desert road, captured the town, and killed every man in it. They looted the town and set it on fire. 29 They left there and marched all night to the fortress at Dathema. 30 At dawn Judas and his men saw a vast army attacking the fortress; they were bringing up ladders, siege platforms, and battering rams in an effort to capture it. 31 When Judas heard the noise, the shouts, and the sound of trumpets coming from the city, he realized that the battle had begun, 32 so he said to his men, “Fight today for our fellow Jews!”
33 He ordered his men to march in three columns and attack the enemy from the rear. As they moved forward, they blew trumpets and shouted prayers. 34 When the army under Timothy's command saw that it was Judas Maccabeus, the soldiers turned and fled. Judas crushed them and killed about 8,000 men that day.
35 Then Judas turned aside to attack the town of Alema; he captured it and killed all the men in it. He looted the town and set fire to it. 36 From there he went on and captured Chaspho, Maked, Bosor, and the other towns of Gilead.
37 After this, Timothy gathered another army and camped opposite Raphon, on the other side of a river. 38 Judas sent some men to spy on the camp, and they reported back to him that all the Gentiles in the region had joined Timothy and had formed a large army. 39 Timothy had also hired Arab mercenaries to help him, and these were camped on the other side of the river ready to attack Judas. So Judas went out to meet them in battle.
40 As Judas and his army came closer to the water, Timothy said to his officers, “If he keeps on coming and crosses the river, we won't be able to turn back his attack, and he will defeat us. 41 But if he is afraid and stops on the other side of the river, we will cross over to attack and defeat him.” 42 When Judas reached the bank of the river, he gave orders to his officers to let no one stop but to push everyone forward into battle. 43 Judas was the first to cross the river against the enemy, and all his men followed him. The Gentiles broke ranks before them, threw away their arms, and fled to the pagan temple at Karnaim. 44 But Judas and his men took the city and burned down the temple with all who were in it. With Karnaim overthrown, the Gentiles could no longer offer any resistance to Judas.
45 Then Judas gathered together all the Jews in Gilead to take them back to Judea with him. It was a large group of all kinds of people, together with their wives and children and all that they owned. 46 They went as far as Ephron, a large, well-fortified town. It was impossible to go around it on either side, and the road passed directly through the town. 47 But the people there would not let them pass and blocked the town gates with stones. 48 Then Judas sent a friendly message to them: “Let us pass through your territory to return home. No one will harm you; we will just pass through.” But they still refused to open the gates.
49 So Judas told everyone in the group, except the fighting men, to camp where they were. 50 The fighting men were ordered to take up their positions and attack the town. They fought all day and all night, until they had taken it. 51 Judas had all the men of Ephron put to death, plundered the town, and leveled it. Then he and his army marched through the town over the dead bodies. 52 They crossed the Jordan into the wide plain opposite Beth Shan. 53 Throughout the whole march Judas kept gathering up the stragglers and encouraging the people until they reached the land of Judea. 54 With thanksgiving and rejoicing, they went up to Mount Zion and sacrificed burnt offerings because they had returned safely without a single loss.
55 While Judas and Jonathan were in Gilead and their brother Simon was attacking Ptolemais in Galilee, 56 Joseph and Azariah, the commanders of the army in Judea, heard about their brave deeds and victories. 57 They said to one another, “Let's go to war with the Gentiles around us and win some fame for ourselves.” 58 So they and their men attacked Jamnia. 59 Gorgias and his men went out of the town to meet them in battle. 60 They defeated Joseph and Azariah and pursued them as far as the borders of Judea. At least 2,000 Israelite men were killed that day. 61 This great defeat came about because the Jewish commanders wanted to be heroes and refused to obey Judas and his brothers. 62 Besides, they did not belong to the family of the Maccabees, whom God had chosen to bring freedom to the people of Israel.
63 But Judas Maccabeus and his brothers won great respect among all the Israelites and all the Gentiles. When people heard of their fame, 64 large crowds gathered to praise them.
65 Then Judas and his brothers went to war against the Edomites to the south. He attacked Hebron and its surrounding towns, destroyed its fortifications, and burned down the towers around it. 66 Then he marched into the land of the Philistines and passed through Marisa. 67 That day a number of priests were killed in battle because they wanted to be heroes and foolishly went out to fight. 68 Judas turned aside to Azotus in Philistia. He pulled down the altars, burned the images of their gods, plundered their towns, and then returned to Judea.