The Death of Judas
1 When Demetrius heard that Nicanor and his army had been annihilated, he again sent Bacchides and Alcimus to the land of Judea, this time with the Syrian wing of the army. 2 They moved along Gilgal Road, laid siege to Mesaloth in Arbela, captured it, and killed many people. 3 In the first month of the year 152, they set up camp opposite Jerusalem. 4 From there they marched to Berea with 20,000 infantry and 2,000 cavalry.
5 Judas had camped at Elasa, with 3,000 experienced soldiers. 6 But when they saw the enormous size of the enemy army, they were terrified. So many men deserted that only 800 Jewish soldiers were left. 7 When Judas saw that his army was dwindling away and that the battle was about to begin, he was worried because there was not enough time to bring his army together. 8 He was discouraged, but he said to those who were still with him, “Let's prepare for the attack; maybe we can still defeat them.”
9 His men tried to talk him out of it. “We are not strong enough,” they said. “Let's retreat now and save our lives. Then we can return with reinforcements and fight the enemy. We don't have enough men now.”
10 Judas replied, “Never let it be said that I ran from a battle. If our time has come, let's die bravely for our fellow Jews and not leave any stain on our honor.”
11 The Syrian army came out of the camp and took up battle positions against the Jews. The cavalry was divided into two parts. The shock troops were in the front lines, but the archers and those who used slings went ahead of the main formation. 12 Bacchides took his position on the right. The infantry advanced, protected on both sides by the cavalry, and the war trumpets were blown. The soldiers of Judas also sounded their trumpets. 13 The ground shook from the noise when the two armies met, and they fought from morning until evening.
14 When Judas saw that Bacchides and the main force of the Syrian army was on the right, all his bravest men joined him, 15 and they crushed the Syrians' right wing. They pursued them as far as the foothills. 16 But when the Syrians on the left wing saw that their right wing had been crushed, they turned to attack Judas and his men from the rear. 17 The fighting became very fierce, and many on both sides were killed. 18 Finally Judas himself was killed. Then all his men fled. 19 Jonathan and Simon took their brother's body and buried it in the family tomb at Modein, 20 and there at the tomb they wept for him. All Israel mourned for him in great sorrow for many days. They said, 21 “It can't be! The mighty hero and savior of Israel has been killed!”
22 The other deeds of Judas, his battles, his courageous deeds, and his great accomplishments, were too many to write down.
Jonathan Succeeds Judas
23 After the death of Judas, the lawless traitors began to reappear everywhere in Judea, and all the wicked people returned. 24 Also at that time there was a severe famine, and the whole country went over to the side of the renegades. 25 Bacchides deliberately appointed some renegade Jews as rulers over the country. 26 These men hunted down the friends of Judas and brought them all before Bacchides, and he subjected them to torture and humiliation. 27 It was a time of great trouble for Israel, worse than anything that had happened to them since the time prophets ceased to appear among them.
28 Then all the friends of Judas came together and said to Jonathan, 29 “Since your brother Judas died, there has been no one like him to lead us against our enemies, against Bacchides and those of our own nation who oppose us. 30 So today we choose you to succeed him as our ruler and commander to carry on our war.” 31 Jonathan accepted the leadership that day and took the place of his brother Judas.
The Campaigns of Jonathan
32 When Bacchides learned of this, he made up his mind to kill Jonathan. 33 But when this news reached Jonathan, he fled, with his brother Simon and their men, to the wilderness of Tekoa and set up camp at the pool of Asphar. ( 34 Bacchides learned about this on the Sabbath and crossed the Jordan with his whole army. ) 35 Jonathan sent his brother John, who was responsible for the soldiers' families, to ask the Nabateans, with whom he was on friendly terms, for permission to store with them the large amount of baggage they had. 36 But the Jambrites of Medeba attacked John, took him captive, and carried off all the baggage. 37 Some time later Jonathan and his brother Simon learned that the Jambrites were about to celebrate an important wedding and that there would be a bridal procession from the town of Nadabath. The bride was the daughter of one of the great princes of Canaan. 38 Jonathan and Simon had wanted revenge for the death of their brother John, so they and their men went up on one of the mountains and hid. 39 They kept watch and saw a noisy crowd loaded down with baggage. The bridegroom, his friends, and his relatives were on their way to meet the bride's party. They were heavily armed and were playing musical instruments and drums. 40 The Jews attacked from their ambush and killed many of them; the rest escaped into the mountains, while the Jews carried off all their possessions. 41 So the wedding was turned into a time of mourning and their joyful music into funeral songs. 42 Jonathan and Simon had taken full revenge for the death of their brother, and they returned to the marshes along the Jordan.
43 Bacchides heard about this and arrived on the Sabbath at the banks of the Jordan with a large army. 44 Jonathan said to his men, “Now we must fight for our lives. We are in a worse situation than we have ever been in before. 45 The enemy is in front of us, the river is behind us, and marshes and thickets are on both sides of us; there is no way out. 46 So pray now for the Lord to save us from our enemies.”
47 The battle began and Jonathan and his men were just about to kill Bacchides, when he escaped to the rear of the army. 48 So Jonathan and his men jumped into the Jordan and swam to the other side to escape, and the Syrian army did not cross the river to follow them. 49 That day Bacchides lost about 1,000 men.
50 After Bacchides returned to Jerusalem, the Syrians built fortifications with high walls and barred gates for a number of towns in Judea: Emmaus, Beth Horon, Bethel, Timnath, Pirathon, Tephon, and the fortress in Jericho. 51 In all of these he placed troops to harass the Jews. 52 He also strengthened the fortifications of the towns of Bethzur and Gezer and of the fort in Jerusalem. He placed army units in them and stored up supplies there. 53 Then he took the sons of the leading men of the country as hostages and imprisoned them in the fort.
54 In the second month of the year 153, the High Priest Alcimus ordered that the wall of the inner court of the Temple be torn down. This would have destroyed what the prophets had accomplished; but just as the work began, 55 he had a stroke, and work was stopped. Paralyzed and unable to open his mouth, he could not speak or even make a will for his family. 56 He died in great torment. 57 When Bacchides learned that Alcimus was dead, he returned to King Demetrius, and the land of Judea had peace for two years.
58 Then all the renegades got together and said, “Look, Jonathan and his men are living in peace and security. If we bring Bacchides here now, he can capture them all in a single night.” 59 They went to discuss the matter with Bacchides, 60 and he set out with a large army. He sent secret letters to all his allies in Judea, asking them to seize Jonathan and his men. But they were not able to do so because the plot was discovered. 61 Jonathan and his men captured 50 of the traitorous leaders who had been involved in the plot and put them to death. 62 Then Jonathan, Simon, and their forces withdrew to Bethbasi in the wilderness. They rebuilt the fallen fortifications and strengthened the town's defenses. 63 When Bacchides learned about all this, he got his whole army together and alerted his supporters in Judea. 64 He attacked Bethbasi from all sides and built siege platforms. After the battle had gone on for a long time, 65 Jonathan slipped out into the country with a small body of men and left his brother Simon in charge of the town. 66 Jonathan defeated Odomera and his people, and then attacked and destroyed the Phasirite camp. Once defeated, they joined Jonathan and advanced with him in his attack against Bacchides. 67 At the same time, Simon and his men rushed from the town and burned the siege platforms. 68 In the battle Bacchides was pressed so hard that all his plans came to nothing, and he was defeated. 69 He was so furious with the traitorous Jews who had urged him to come to Judea that he put many of them to death.
Then Bacchides decided to return to his own country, 70 but when Jonathan learned of this, he sent ambassadors to Bacchides to arrange for peace terms and the return of Jewish prisoners. 71 Bacchides agreed to do as Jonathan asked and gave him his solemn promise that he would let him live in peace the rest of his life. 72 Bacchides handed over the prisoners and returned to his own country. Never again did he come into Jewish territory. 73 War came to an end in Israel. Jonathan settled in Michmash and began to govern the people and to eliminate the renegade Jews from Israel.