HotFreeBooks.com
The Makers and Teachers of Judaism
by Charles Foster Kent
Previous Part     1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9     Next Part
Home - Random Browse

VI. Character of Antiochus Epiphanes. The ruler who by his injustice and persecutions fanned the smouldering flame of Jewish patriotism into a mighty conflagration was Antiochus Epiphanes. As a youth he had been educated at Rome with the profligate sons of those who ruled the Imperial City. The Greek and Roman historians, especially Polybius, give vivid portraits of this tyrannical king. In him the prevailing passion for Hellenism found extreme expression. To dazzle his contemporaries by the splendor of his building enterprises and by his dramatic display was his chief ambition. In gratifying thus his selfish ambition he drained the resources of his kingdom, and was therefore obliged to resort to extreme measures to replenish his treasury. In 170 B.C. he made a successful campaign into Egypt. Two years later he again invaded the rich land of the Nile, only to find himself confronted by a Roman general, who peremptorily ordered him to retreat. Rome was already the chief power in the eastern Mediterranean, and Antiochus, although in a rage, wisely decided to retire. It was at this inopportune moment that he found Jerusalem in revolt, misled by a false report and by the renegade high priest Jason. Antiochus not only improved this opportunity to loot the temple and slay many of the inhabitants, but from this time on conceived a bitter antipathy to the Jewish race. This antipathy he shared in common with all the Greek world, for already, as a result of the peculiar religion and customs of the Jews and their success in commercial pursuits, that which is known to-day as the anti-Semitic spirit was fully developed. One of Antiochus's chief ambitions was also to hellenize all his subjects, and the Jews alone offered opposition to the realization of this ambition. Hence they could expect no mercy at the hands of this selfish, capricious despot.

VII. Antiochus's Policy toward the Jews. The measures which Antiochus employed to crush the faith of Judaism were relentlessly thorough. He began with the seizure of Jerusalem, the tearing down of its walls, the fortifying and garrisoning of its citadel with Syrian soldiers and apostate Jews, and the slaughter of all who refused to accede to his demands. Not only was the temple service stopped, but the altar was torn down and desecrated and a heathen altar to Zeus—the abominable desolation of the book of Daniel—was reared in its place. On this swine's flesh was sacrificed, and the presence of harlots in the sacred precincts completed its ceremonial and moral pollution. All the surviving inhabitants of Jerusalem were compelled to sacrifice and pay homage to the heathen gods. Those who retained copies of their laws or persisted in maintaining the customs of their fathers were slain. When many fled to the outlying towns, emissaries of Antiochus pursued them, demanding of each citizen public recognition of the Greek gods. A majority of the Jews apparently yielded to these drastic measures and joined the ranks of the apostates. Of the many crises through which Israel passed this was in many ways the most severe; but then it gave to the world some of the noblest martyrs. The early Christians who perished for their faith were inspired by the example of their Master and by the hope of blessed, individual immortality. To the Jews of the Greek period, however, the great calamity that overtook them came as a sudden and unexpected blow. No clear hope of immortality at first inspired them, for, like Ben Sira and the earlier teachers of the race, the majority of them probably regarded the life beyond death as a passionless existence in the land of darkness. Even the expectation of family or racial immortality seemed denied by the dark outlook. They died as did Eleazar, the aged scribe, simply because of their devotion to the God and laws of their fathers, and because that loyalty meant more to them than life.



Section CIX. THE EFFECT OF PERSECUTION ON THE JEWS

[Sidenote: I Macc. 2:1-4] At that time arose Mattathias the son of John the son of Simeon, a priest of the sons of Joarib, from Jerusalem; and he dwelt in Modein. And he had five sons, John, who was surnamed Gaddis, Simon, who was called Thassi, Judas, who was called Maccabeus, Eleazar, who was called Avaran, Jonathan, who was called Apphus.

[Sidenote: I Macc. 2:5-14] When he saw the sacrilegious acts that were being committed in Judah and in Jerusalem, he said,

Woe to me! Why was I born To see the ruin of my people, And the ruin of the holy city, And to dwell there while it was being given into the hands of the foe, The sanctuary into the hands of foreigners? The temple has become as though it had no glory, Its splendid vessels have been carried into captivity. Her children have been slain in the streets, Her young men by the sword of the enemy. What people has not taken possession of her palace, And seized upon her spoils? All her adornments have been taken away, From freedom she has been reduced to slavery. And now our holy things, our beauty and our glory have been laid waste, And the heathen have polluted them. Why should we still live?

And Mattathias and his son tore their clothes, and put on sackcloth, and mourned bitterly.

[Sidenote: I Macc. 2:15-22] Now the king's officers who were enforcing the apostasy, came into the city of Modein to sacrifice. And many of Israel went over to them, but Mattathias and his sons offered resistance. Then the king's officers said to Mattathias, You are a ruler and a man honored in this city and strengthened by sons and brothers. Now therefore come first and do what the king commands, as all the nations have done, the men of Judah too, with those who remain in Jerusalem. Then you and your house shall be in the number of the king's Friends, and you and your sons shall be honored with silver and gold and many gifts. But Mattathias replied with a loud voice, If all the nations included in the king's dominion obey him, in that each is untrue to the worship of his fathers and chooses to follow his command, yet I and my sons and my brothers will walk in the covenant made with our fathers. Heaven forbid that we should forsake the law and the ordinances. We will not listen to the king's words, to go aside from our worship, either to the right hand or to the left.

[Sidenote: I Macc. 2:23-28] And when he had finished saying these things a Jew came in sight of all to sacrifice on the altar that was in Modein according to the king's command. When Mattathias saw it, his zeal was kindled and he trembled inwardly. And he let his anger take possession of him, as was right, and he ran and slew the Jew upon the altar. Also he killed at that time the king's officer, who was compelling men to sacrifice, and pulled down the altar. Thus he showed his zeal for the law, just as Phinehas did in the case of Zimri the son of Salu. Then Mattathias cried out in the city with a loud voice, saying, Whoever is zealous for the law and will maintain the covenant, let him follow me. And he and his sons fled into the mountains, and left behind all that they had in the city.

[Sidenote: I Macc. 2:29-38] Then many who sought justice and right went down into the wilderness, to dwell there with their sons and wives and cattle, because the evils were becoming ever harder for them to bear. And it was reported to the king's officers and to the forces that were in Jerusalem, the city of David, that certain men who had broken the king's command had gone down into the hiding places in the wilderness. So many pursued after them, and having overtaken them encamped against them, and drew up the line of battle against them on the sabbath day. And they said to them, Things have gone far enough, now come forth and obey the command of the king and you shall live. But they said, We will not come forth, neither will we do as the king commands, to profane the sabbath day. Then they at once offered them battle. But they made no resistance, neither did they cast a stone at them, nor stop up the places of concealment, for they said, Let us all die in our innocency: let heaven and earth bear witness for us, that you put us to death unjustly. Then they rose up against them in battle on the sabbath, and thus they died with their wives and children and cattle, to the number of a thousand souls.

[Sidenote: I Macc. 2:39-48] When Mattathias and his friends knew it they mourned bitterly over them. And they said to each other, If we all do as our brothers have done, and do not fight against the armed heathen for our lives and our customs, they will now quickly destroy us from off the earth. So they took counsel that day, saying, Whoever shall come against us for battle on the sabbath day, let us fight against him, and we will by no means all die, as our brothers died in the hiding places. Then there gathered together to them a company of Hasideans, brave men of Israel, every one who offered himself willingly for the law. And all who fled from the evils were added to them, and strengthened them. And they mustered a host.

And smote the sinners in their anger And the lawless in their wrath.

And the rest fled to the heathen for safety. Also Mattathias and his friends went about and pulled down the altars, and circumcised by force the children who were uncircumcised, as many as they found in the territory of Israel. Thus they pursued the sons of arrogance, and the work prospered in their hand. They took the direction of affairs out of the hands of the heathen and of the kings, nor did they yield ground to the sinner.

[Sidenote: I Macc. 2:49-64] When the time approached for Mattathias to die he said to his sons, Now insolence and insult have grown strong, and a period of reversals has come, with flaming wrath.

Now, my sons, be zealous for the law, And give your lives for the covenant of your fathers. And remember the deeds which your forefathers did in their generations; And win great glory and everlasting fame. Was not Abraham found faithful when tested? And it was counted to him as righteousness. Joseph in the time of his distress kept the commandment, And became lord of Egypt, Phinehas our father, because he was so zealous, Received the covenant of an everlasting priesthood. Joshua for carrying out the word of God, Became a ruler in Israel. Caleb for bearing witness in the congregation, Obtained a heritage in the land.

David for being merciful, Inherited a kingly throne for ever and ever. Elijah because he was so zealous for the law, Was taken up into heaven. Hananiah, Azariah, Mishael believed, And were rescued from the flame. Daniel because of his innocence, Was delivered from the mouth of lions. And thus consider from generation to generation: None who put their trust in him ever want strength. Then be not afraid of the words of a sinful man; For his glory shall be dung and worms. To-day he is exalted, but to-morrow he cannot be found, Because he has returned to dust, and the memory of him has perished.

Then my sons be strong, and show yourselves men in behalf of the law; By so doing you shall obtain glory.

[Sidenote: I Macc. 2:65-68] And, behold, Simon your brother, I know that he is a man of counsel; Obey him always; let him be your adviser. Judas Maccabeus, too, has been a man of war from his youth; He shall be your captain, and fight the battle of the people. And take to yourselves all law-abiding men, And avenge the wrong of your people. Render a recompense to the heathen, And give heed to the commands of the law.

[Sidenote: I Macc. 2:69-70] Thus he blessed them and was gathered to his fathers. And he died in the one hundred and forty-sixth year, and his sons buried him in the sepulchres of his fathers at Modein, and all Israel made a great lamentation for him.

[Sidenote: Dan. 7:1-8] In the first year of Belshazzar king of Babylon Daniel had a dream and visions of his head upon his bed. Then he wrote down the dream: I saw in my vision by night, and behold, the four winds of heaven broke forth upon the great sea. And four great beasts came up from the sea, each different from the other. The first was like a lion and had eagle's wings. I looked until its wings were stripped off, and it was lifted up from the earth, and made to stand upon two feet as a man; and a man's heart was given to it. And behold, a second beast, like a bear; and it was raised up on one side, and three ribs were in its mouth, between its teeth; and they said thus to it: Arise, devour much flesh. After this I beheld, and lo, another like a leopard, which had upon its sides four wings of a bird; and the beast had also four heads, and dominion was given to it. After this I saw in the night visions, and behold, a fourth beast, terrible and fearful, and exceedingly strong; and it had great iron teeth; it devoured and broke in pieces and stamped the rest with its feet; and it differed from all the beasts that were before it; and it had ten horns. I gave attention to the horns, and behold another little horn came up amongst them, before which three of the first horns were plucked up by the roots; and behold, in this horn were eyes, like the eyes of a man, and a mouth speaking great things.

[Sidenote: Dan. 7:9, 10] I waited until thrones were set up, and an aged one took his seat; his clothing was white as snow, and his hair like spotless wool, his throne was fiery flames, its wheels burning fire. A fiery stream issued and came forth before him; thousands of thousands ministered to him, and ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him; the judgment was set and the books were opened.

[Sidenote: Dan. 7:11, 12] I looked at that time because of the sound of the great words which the horn spoke—I looked even until the beast was slain, and its body destroyed, and given to be fuel for the fire. Also the rule of the rest of the beasts was taken away; but their lives were prolonged for a fixed time and season.

[Sidenote: Dan. 7:13, 14] I saw in the night visions, and behold, there came with the clouds of heaven one like to a son of man, and he came even to the Aged One, and was brought near before him. And there was given him dominion and glory, and sovereignty that all the peoples, nations, and languages should serve him; his dominion is an everlasting dominion which shall not pass away, and his sovereignty one which shall not be destroyed.

[Sidenote: Dan. 7:15-18] As for me, Daniel, my spirit was grieved by reason of this, and the visions of my head troubled me. I came near to one of those who stood by, and asked him the truth concerning all this. So he told me and made me know the interpretation of the things. These four great beasts are four kings who shall arise out of the earth. But the saints of the Most High shall receive the sovereignty, and possess the sovereignty forever, even for ever and ever.

[Sidenote: Dan. 7:19-22] Then I desired to know the truth concerning the fourth beast, which was different from all of them, exceeding terrible, whose teeth were of iron, and its nails of brass; which devoured, broke in pieces, and stamped the rest with its fourth feet; and concerning the ten horns that were on its head, and the other horn which came up, and before which three horns fell—it that had eyes, and a mouth that spoke great things, and it appeared to be greater than the rest. I looked, and the same horn made war with the saints, and prevailed against them, until the Aged One came, and judgment was given to the saints of the Most High, and the fixed time came that the saints possessed the sovereignty.

[Sidenote: Dan. 7:23-27] Thus he said, The fourth beast shall be a fourth kingdom upon earth, which shall be different from all the kingdoms; and shall devour the whole earth, and shall tread it down, and break it in pieces. And as for the ten horns, out of this kingdom shall ten kings arise; and another shall arise after them; and he shall be different from the former, and he shall put down three kings. And he shall speak words against the Most High, and shall continually harass the saints of the Most High; and he shall think to change the fixed times and the law; and they shall be given into his hand until a time and times and half a time. But the judgment shall be set, and they shall take away his kingdom, to consume and to destroy finally. And the sovereignty, and the dominion, and the greatness of the kingdoms under the whole heaven, shall surely be given to the people of the saints of the Most High; his sovereignty is an everlasting sovereignty, and all dominions shall serve and obey him.

[Sidenote: Dan. 12:1-3] And at that time Michael shall stand up, the great prince who stands for the children of my people; and there shall be a time of affliction such as there never was since there was a nation, even to that time; and at that time thy people shall be delivered, every one who shall be found written in the book. And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt. And they who are wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they who turn many to righteousness as the stars forever and ever.

I. The Uprising Led by Mattathias. The persecutions of Antiochus

Epiphanes had at last reached the point where patient submission and even martyrdom ceased to be a virtue. His agents had successfully carried the merciless, hellenizing campaign throughout practically all the territory of Judea. It was not until they reached its extreme northwestern border that they met the first open opposition. The little town of Modein lay out on the edge of the great plain where the central hills of Palestine break down into low foot-hills. These are intersected by rushing brooks and clear, crystal streams that descend from the heights above. The town lay on a rounded hill about one-third of a mile in diameter that rises abruptly in a series of steep terraces. The Wady Malakeh encircled it on the south and west. On the northeastern side, where lies the modern town, was a broad shoulder of land slightly lower and larger than the acropolis. In ancient times it was probably the site of the lower city. Deep, encircling valleys on the north and east completed the natural defences of this border village that became the altar of Jewish freedom. To-day the scattered ruins of the acropolis are covered in spring-time with a luxuriant growth of grain and olive trees, making it one of the most picturesque mounds in Palestine.

It is surprising that the revolt against the cruel tyranny of Antiochus was led by an aged priest. Like many priests, his home was outside Jerusalem. Evidently he was one of the chief men of Modein. He was descended from the family of Hasmon, hence his descendants, who ultimately became the independent rulers of their race, are sometimes called the Hasmonians. In Mattathias the long-suppressed, hot indignation of the Jewish race at last found expression. In slaying the apostate Jew and Syrian official, Mattathias evoked that warlike spirit which had in earlier days given Israel a home and a place among the nations. His impulsive act inaugurated a new chapter in Israel's life and thought. In its far-reaching consequences it was comparable only to Moses' impulsive slaying of the Egyptian taskmaster.

II. Party of the Hasideans or Pious. It was fortunate that Mattathias had five able, mature sons to support him. Simon, the eldest, was already famous in council. Judas, who bore the surname Maccabeus (whence the word Maccabees), soon proved himself a great military leader. Jonathan combined the qualities of Simon and Judas with a certain craftiness that makes him the least attractive of the three. Eleazar later proved on the battle-field that he had the qualities that make heroes and martyrs. Among the Judean hills, and especially in the barren, almost inaccessible fastnesses that descend in a series of terraces from the central plateau to the Dead Sea, Mattathias and his followers found refuge. Hither many patriotic Jews had already fled. The Syrian mercenaries, however, led by the relentless, apostate Jews, pursued them, and, knowing their scruples, attacked them on the sabbath day and pitilessly slaughtered them. Learning from this awful example, Mattathias and his sons wisely decided that it was more important to fight for their lives than to die for a mere institution. They soon attracted to their standard all who were still faithful to the law. Chief among these were those known as the Hasideans or Pious. They were the spiritual successors of the pious or afflicted, whose woes are voiced in the earlier psalms of the Psalter (Section XLVII:v). They were also the forerunners of the party of the Pharisees, which was one of the products of the Maccabean struggle. In them faith and patriotism were so blended that, like Cromwell's Ironsides, they were daunted by no odds. At first they depended upon the guerilla type of warfare, to which the hills of Judea were especially adapted. By enforcing the law of circumcision, by punishing the apostates, and by attacking straggling Syrian bands, they encouraged the faltering Jews, and intimidated the agents of Antiochus. Mattathias soon died, leaving the leadership to his third son, Judas. The poem recording his dying injunctions voices the inspiration that came at this time to Israel's patriots from their nation's past, and that supreme devotion to the law and dauntless courage that animated the leaders in this great movement.

III. Date of the Visions in Daniel 7-12. A parallel but different type of character and hope is reflected in the latter part of the book of Daniel. In the form of visions or predictions, these chapters interpret the meaning of the great world movements from the beginning of the Babylonian to the end of the Greek period. Each vision culminates in a symbolic but detailed description of the rule and persecutions of Antiochus Epiphanes. Several passages describe the destructive policies of this Syrian ruler almost as vividly as the books of Maccabees (Dan. 8:11, 12): "It (Antiochus) magnified itself even to the Prince of the Host (Jehovah), and took away from him the daily sacrifice, and cast down the place of his sanctuary, and set up the sacrilegious thing over the daily sacrifice, and cast down truth to the ground, and did it and prospered."

Daniel 11:20-44 contains a review of the chief events of Antiochus's reign. This description closes with the prediction: "He shall plant his palace between the Mediterranean and the glorious holy mountain; so he shall come to his end and none shall help him." Contemporary records indicate, however, that Antiochus died while engaged in a campaign in distant Persia and not in western Palestine as the author of Daniel anticipated. In the other visions, after the description of Antiochus's persecutions, the details suddenly give place to general predictions, implying that at this point the author turned from the contemplation of past and present events to that which was to him future. The great victories of Judas and his followers that led to the restoration of the temple in 165 B.C. are nowhere mentioned. In 11:34 is found an allusion to the Maccabean uprising: "Now when they are falling they shall be helped with a little help; but many shall join themselves to them with false protestations." This movement, clearly, is not regarded by the author as significant. The date of these visions, therefore, may be fixed with great confidence between the years 168 and 166 B.C.

IV. Their Real Character and Aim. In interpreting these visions it is important to note that they belong to the so-called apocalyptic type of literature. Already Ezekiel and Zechariah had employed the complex symbolism of the apocalypse to stir the imagination and strengthen the faith of their discouraged countrymen. The aim of the author of the closing chapters of Daniel was primarily to present a religious philosophy of history. Through the rise and fall of nations Jehovah's purpose was slowly but surely being realized. They are the expression of the eternal optimism of the prophets. They voice their deathless hope that "the best is yet to be." They were intended to encourage those in the midst of persecution with the assurance that God was still in his heaven, and that all would yet be right with his world.

V. The Four Heathen Kingdoms and the Kingdom of God. In the symbolism of the prophet the four beasts of Daniel 7 represented the Chaldean, Medean, Persian, and Greek Empires. The fourth beast with iron teeth that devoured and broke in pieces the rest was clearly the empire of Alexander, and the little horn that sprang up was the little horn which gored and mangled the helpless people of Jehovah. Opposed to the four beasts which represented the angels, or demons, the champions of each of the great heathen kingdoms, was Israel's patron angel Michael. It is this angel that is apparently referred to in 7:13 as coming from heaven, and in appearance like to a son of man. At Jehovah's direction he was to establish a glorious, universal kingdom, the citizens of which were to be the saints, the faithful Jews who remained loyal to Jehovah during the long, cruel persecutions. Not only those who survived but the martyrs sleeping in the dust of the earth were to awake and receive their glorious reward. The apostates were to be sentenced to everlasting shame and contempt. The wise teachers and martyrs who by word and example had striven to keep their race loyal to Jehovah were to be exalted in the coming messianic kingdom. Thus these visions reveal the hopes that inspired certain of the Jewish race in its period of supreme trial: the belief that Jehovah through his angel would speedily overthrow the power of the heathen persecutor, that he would establish a universal kingdom in which his own people should have chief place, and finally that even the bonds of death would not hold those who had died for the law. Thus at last out of this struggle Judaism emerged with a new-found faith in individual immortality. It was still bound up in the belief in the bodily resurrection, but at last the imperishable worth of the individual had become one of the cornerstones of Israel's religion.



Section CX. THE VICTORIES THAT GAVE THE JEWS RELIGIOUS LIBERTY

[Sidenote: I Macc. 3:1-9] Then his son Judas, who was called Maccabeus, rose up in his place. And all his brothers helped him, as did all those who had supported his father, and they fought with gladness the battle of Israel.

He spread far and wide the fame of his glory And put on his breastplate like a giant, And girded on his weapons of war, And set battles in array, Protecting the army with his sword. He was like a lion in his deeds, And as a lion's whelp roaring for prey. He pursued the lawless, seeking them out, And he burnt up those who troubled his people. The lawless shrunk for fear of him, And all the workers of lawlessness were greatly terrified; And deliverance was attained through him. He angered many kings, And made Jacob glad with his acts; And his memory is blessed forever. He went about among the cities of Judah, And destroyed the godless from the land, And turned away the wrath of God from Israel. And he was renowned to the ends of the earth.

[Sidenote: I Macc. 3:10-12] Then Apollonius gathered the heathen together and a great army from Samaria to fight against Israel. And when Judas learned of it, he went out to meet him, and defeated and slew him; and many fell mortally wounded, while the rest fled. And they captured their spoils, and Judas took the sword of Apollonius, with which he fought all his days.

[Sidenote: I Macc. 3:13-15] When Seron, the commander of the army of Syria, heard that Judas had gathered a large force of faithful men about him, who went with him to war, he said, I will make myself famous and gain renown in the kingdom; for I will fight with Judas and those with him, who are defying the command of the king. And there went up with him also a mighty army of the godless to help him, to take vengeance on the Israelites.

[Sidenote: I Macc. 3:16-22] As he approached the ascent of Bethhoron, Judas went forth to meet him with a small company. But when they saw the army coming to meet them, they said to Judas, How shall we, few as we are, be able to battle against so great a multitude? and we are faint also, having tasted no food to-day. Then Judas said, It is an easy thing for many to be shut up in the hands of a few; and with Heaven it is equally easy to save by many or by few; for victory in battle does not depend upon the size of an army, but from Heaven comes the strength. They come to us full of insolence and lawlessness, to destroy us with our wives and children and to plunder us; but, as for us, we are fighting for our lives and our laws. And he himself will crush them before our face; so do not be afraid of them.

[Sidenote: I Macc. 3:23, 24] Now when he had finished speaking, he leaped suddenly upon them, and Seron and his army were put to flight before him. And they pursued them by the descent of Bethhoron to the plain, and there fell of them about eight hundred men; but the rest fled into the land of the Philistines.

[Sidenote: I Macc. 3:25-31] Now the fear of Judas and his brothers and the dread of them began to fall upon the nations round about them. And his reputation reached the king, for every nation was telling of the battles of Judas. But when King Antiochus heard these things, he was filled with indignation and sent and gathered together all the forces of his realm, a very strong army. And he opened his treasury and gave his forces pay for a year, and commanded them to be ready for every emergency. And seeing that money was scarce in his treasury and that the tributes of the country were small, because of the dissension and calamity which he had brought upon the land, for the purpose of taking away the laws which had been in force from the earliest days, he feared that he should not have enough, as at other times, for the expenses and the gifts which he had formerly given with a liberal hand, in which he had surpassed the kings who had been before him. And he was exceedingly perplexed in his mind, and determined to go into Persia and to take the tributes of the countries and to gather much money.

[Sidenote: I Macc. 3:32-37] So he left Lysias, an honorable man and one of the royal family in charge of the affairs of the king from the River Euphrates to the borders of Egypt and to bring up his son Antiochus, until he returned. And he delivered to him the half of his forces and the elephants, and gave him charge of all the things that he wished to have done and concerning those who dwelt in Judea and in Jerusalem, that he should send a force against them, to root out and destroy the strength of Israel and the remnant of Jerusalem, and to take away their memory from the place, and that he should make foreigners dwell in all their territory and should divide their land to them by lot. Then the king took the remaining half of the forces and set out from Antioch his capital, in the one hundred and forty-seventh year, and, crossing the Euphrates, he went through the upper countries.

[Sidenote: I Macc. 3:38-41] Now Lysias chose Ptolemy the son of Dorymenes, and Nicanor, and Gorgias, influential men among the king's Friends, and with them sent forty thousand footmen and seven thousand horsemen to go into the land of Judah to destroy it, as the king had ordered. And they set out with all their army and pitched their camp near Emmaus in the plain. And the merchants of the country heard the rumors about them, and taking silver and gold in large quantities, and shackles, they came into the camp to get the Israelites for slaves. There were added to them the forces of Syria and of the Philistines.

[Sidenote: I Macc. 3:42, 43, 46-54] Then Judas and his brothers saw that evils were increasing and that the forces were encamping in their territory, and when they learned of the commands which the king had given to destroy the people and make an end of them, they said to each other,

Let us raise up the ruin of our people And let us fight for our people and the sanctuary;

So they gathered together and came to Mizpeh, opposite Jerusalem; for in Mizpeh there was a place of prayer for Israel. And they fasted that day, and put sackcloth and ashes on their heads and tore their clothes, and spread out the book of the law—one of those in which the heathen had been painting images of their idols. And they brought the priests' garments with the first-fruits, and the tithes, and they cut the hair of the Nazirites who had accomplished their days. And they cried aloud toward Heaven, saying, What shall we do with these and whither shall we carry them away? For thy sanctuary is trodden down and profaned, and thy priests are in sorrow, and humiliation. And now the heathen have assembled together against us to destroy us. Thou knowest what plans they are making against us. How shall we be able to stand before them, except thou be our help? And they sounded with the trumpets, and cried with a loud voice.

[Sidenote: I Macc. 3:55-60] And after this Judas appointed leaders of the people, commanders over thousands, over hundreds, over fifties, and over tens. And he told those who were building houses and those who were planting vineyards and those who were afraid, to return, each to his own house, as the law commanded. Then the army removed and encamped upon the south side of Emmaus. And Judas said, Gird yourselves and be valiant men; and be ready in the morning to fight with these heathen who are assembled together against us to destroy us and our sanctuary. For it is better for us to die in battle than to see the misfortunes of our nation and of the sanctuary. Nevertheless, let Heaven do whatever be his will.

[Sidenote: I Macc. 4:1-6a] And Gorgias took five thousand footmen, and a thousand chosen horsemen, and the army set out by night, that it might fall upon the army of the Jews and attack them suddenly. And the men of the citadel were his guides. But when Judas heard of it, he broke camp with his valiant men, that he might attack the king's army which was at Emmaus, while as yet the forces were dispersed from the camp. And when Gorgias came to the camp of Judas by night, he found no one. Then he looked for them in the mountains, thinking that the men were fleeing from him.

[Sidenote: I Macc. 4:6b-11] But as soon as it was day, Judas appeared in the plain with three thousand men; only they had neither armor nor swords as they wished. When now they saw the camp of the heathen strongly fortified and cavalry about it and experienced warriors there, Judas said to the men who were with him, Fear not their multitude neither be afraid of their attack. Remember how our fathers were saved in the Red Sea, when Pharaoh pursued them with a host. And now let us cry to Heaven, if he will show favor to us and will remember the covenant made with our fathers and destroy this army before our face to-day, that all the heathen may know that there is one who redeemeth and saveth Israel.

[Sidenote: I Macc. 4:12-15] Then when the foreigners lifted up their eyes and saw them coming toward them, they went from their camp to battle. And those who were with Judas sounded their trumpets and joined battle; and the heathen were defeated and fled into the plain. But all who were in the rear fell by the sword, and they pursued them to Gazara and to the plains of Idumea and Azotus and Jamnia, and there fell of them about three thousand men.

[Sidenote: I Macc. 4:16-25] When Judas and his army returned from pursuing them, he said to the people, Do not be greedy for the spoils, since there is a battle before us, and Gorgias and his army are near us in the mountain. But stand now against our enemies and fight them, and afterward you may openly take the spoils. While Judas was still speaking there appeared a part of them, looking out from the mountain; and these saw that their army had been put to flight and that the Jews were burning their camp, for the smoke that was seen showed what had been done. And when they perceived these things, they were thrown into a panic, and seeing the army of Judas also in the plain ready for battle, they all retreated into the land of the Philistines. And Judas returned to sack the camp, and they took much gold and silver and blue and sea-purple and great riches. Then they returned home and sang a song of thanksgiving and gave praise to Heaven, because he is good, because his mercy endureth forever. Thus Israel had a great deliverance that day.

[Sidenote: I Macc. 4:26, 27] But the foreigners, as many as had escaped, came and told Lysias all the things that had happened. And when he heard it he was astonished and discouraged, because neither had Israel met with reverses as he wished nor had what the king commanded been realized.

[Footnote: I Macc. 4:28-34] Now in the next year [Lysias] gathered together sixty thousand picked footmen and five thousand horsemen, that he might subdue [the Jews]. When they came to Idumea and encamped at Bethsura, Judas met them with ten thousand men. As he saw that the army was strong, he prayed and said, Blessed art thou, O Saviour of Israel, who didst shatter the attacking power of the mighty man by the hand of thy servant David, and didst deliver the army of the heathen into the hands of Jonathan the son of Saul, and of his armor-bearer.

Shut up this army in the hand of thy people Israel, And let them be ashamed of their army and their horsemen. Give them faintness of heart, And let their bold courage melt away, And let them tremble at their destruction. Cast them down by the sword of those who love thee, So that all may know thy name who praise thee with thanksgiving.

Then they joined battle; and there fell of the army of Lysias about five thousand men, and they fell on the spot before them.

[Sidenote: I Macc. 4:35] But when Lysias saw that his army was retreating, and the boldness that had come upon those who were with Judas, and how they were ready either to live or to die nobly, he removed to Antioch and gathered together hired soldiers, that he might come again into Judea with a still greater force.

[Sidenote: I Macc. 4:36-51] Then Judas and his brothers said, Now that our enemies have been defeated, let us go up to cleanse the sanctuary and to dedicate it again; so they went up to Mount Zion. And all the army was gathered together and went up to Mount Zion. And when they saw the sanctuary laid desolate, the altar profaned, the gates burnt, and shrubs growing in the courts, as in a forest or as on one of the mountains, and the priests' chambers pulled down, they tore their garments and made great lamentation, and putting ashes upon their heads, they fell prone upon the ground. Then they blew a signal on the trumpets and cried to Heaven. And Judas appointed certain men to fight against those who were in the citadel, until he should have cleansed the sanctuary. And he chose priests who were unimpeachable observers of the law, who cleansed the sanctuary and carried out the polluted stones to an unclean place. And they deliberated as to what they should do with the altar of burnt-offerings which had been profaned. They finally reached this wise decision: to pull it down lest it should be a reproach to them, because the heathen had defiled it. So they pulled down the altar and laid the stones on the temple mount in a convenient place, until there should come a prophet to give an oracle concerning them. Then they took whole stones as the law required and built a new altar after the design of the former. They also rebuilt the sanctuary and the inner parts of the temple and consecrated the courts. They also made the holy vessels new and brought the candlestick and the altar for burnt-offerings and for incense and the table into the temple. And they burned incense on the altar and lighted the lamps that were on the candlestick, and they gave light in the temple. Then they set loaves upon the table and spread out the veils. So they finished all the work they had undertaken.

[Sidenote: I Macc. 4:52-61] And they arose early in the morning of the twenty-fifth day of the ninth month, which is the month Chislev, in the one hundred and forty-eighth year (165 B.C.) and offered sacrifice according to the law upon the new altar of burnt-offering which they had made. About the same time and on the same day, in which the heathen had profaned it, was it dedicated again with songs and harps and lutes and with cymbals. And all the people prostrated themselves and worshipped and gave praise to Heaven, who had given them good success. And they celebrated the dedication of the altar eight days, and offered burnt-offerings with gladness and sacrificed a sacrifice of deliverance and praise. And they decorated the front of the temple with crowns of gold and small shields and rededicated the gates and the priests' chambers and made doors for them. And great joy reigned among the people, because the reproach of the heathen had been removed. And Judas and his brothers and the whole congregation of Israel decreed that the days of the dedication of the altar should be kept in their seasons from year to year for the period of eight days, from the twenty-fifth day of the month Chislev, with gladness and joy. At that time also they fortified Mount Zion with high walls and strong towers all round, lest by any chance the heathen should come and tread them down, as they had done before. And he stationed there a force to keep it, and they fortified Bethsura, that the people might have a stronghold in Idumea.

I. The Character of Judas. Judas Maccabeus was a man of unquestioned courage. In the many battles which he fought he was always found at the forefront in the most desperate engagement. More than that he was able to arouse courage in a people that for centuries had learned only to bow unresistingly before their conquerors. All the evidence found in the two books of Maccabees indicates that he was inspired by the noblest patriotism. The motive power in his patriotism was devotion to the law and customs of his race. In this respect he was a leader supremely acceptable to the Hasideans or Pious, who rallied about his standard. In any other age or setting his devotion would have seemed but fanaticism. The situation, however, was extremely critical. Disloyalty to the law and the distinctive rites of Judaism was treason. If ever in the world's history it was justifiable to meet force by force and to unshield the sword in behalf of religion, this certainly was the occasion. In his military tactics Judas revealed the cunning that characterizes the hunted. He developed great skill in choosing a strategic position and in launching his followers against a vulnerable point in the enemy's line. In this respect he showed himself a disciple of David's able general Joab. They were the same tactics that Napoleon employed so effectively in later days and on larger battle-fields. Judas resembled in many ways Israel's first king, Saul. He was impetuous, patriotic, intense, and energetic. He was especially skilled in leading a sudden attack. His task also was strikingly similar to that of Israel's first king, and like Saul in his later days he showed the same inability to organize and hold his followers in a time of comparative peace.

II. Obstacles against Which Judas Contended. When Judas was called to champion the cause of the Jews, they were hated by the rest of the world. It was a disorganized band of fugitives that rallied about him, without homes, resources, or arms. Opposed to him were the large armies of a powerful empire. The Greek mercenaries that fought in the Syrian ranks were armed with coats of mail and the best weapons known to the ancient world. They were also thoroughly trained in the art of war and under the direction of experienced generals. On every battle-field the Syrians outnumbered the Jews almost six to one. Pitted against Judas and his followers were apostates of his own race, who knew the land, were able to spy out the movements of the Jews, and were inspired by the bitterest hatred. The few advantages on the side of Judas were: first, his followers were aroused to heroic deeds by the peril of the situation. In the second place they were inspired by an intense religious zeal. The one force throughout Semitic history that has bound together tribes and nations and made the Semite an almost invincible fighting power has been religion. The familiar illustrations are the Mohammedan conquests that swept victoriously across the Bosporus and conquered Constantinople, also across northern Africa, and surged into southern Europe over the Straits of Gibraltar and threatened for a time completely to engulf the Western civilization. Familiar modern illustrations are the Mahdist insurrections that have from time to time taxed the resources of the English in northern Africa. In the third place the land of Judea, with its narrow western passes rapidly ascending to the heights above, enabled Judas to choose his battle-field at a point where only a few of the enemy could be brought into action and where a handful of valiant men could keep an army at bay.

III. Defeat of Apollonius and Seron. At first Judas wisely confined himself to guerilla warfare. This enabled him in time to clothe and arm his followers with the garments and weapons taken from the enemy. The most important of these smaller engagements took place north of Jerusalem. As Apollonius, the Syrian governor of Samaria, was advancing into Judea, Judas suddenly fell upon the Syrians and slew their leader. Henceforth the sword of the Syrian governor was effectively wielded by Judas in behalf of religious liberty.

News of the victory soon brought Seron, the governor of Coele-Syria, with a large army. He advanced from the coast plain by the most direct road to Jerusalem over the famous pass of the Bethhorons. Within a distance of two miles the road ascended nearly fifteen hundred feet. At points it was merely a steep, rocky pass, so that an invading army was forced to march single file and to pull themselves up over the rocks. Here on the heights that looked out toward his home at Modein Judas, appealing to the faith and patriotism of his men, swept down upon the enemy and won his first great victory.

IV. The Battle of Emmaus. The first great Jewish victory was a severe blow to the power of Antiochus Epiphanes, for at that time he was confronted by a depleted treasury. He therefore left his kingdom in charge of Lysias, one of his nobles, and set out on a campaign into Persia from which he never returned. Three generals with a large army were sent by Lysias against the Jews. So confident were they of a Syrian victory that a horde of slave merchants accompanied the army that they might purchase the Jewish captives. This time the Syrians avoided the difficult pass of Bethhoron and chose the Wady Ali, along which the modern carriage road winds up from the coast to Jerusalem. The main camp was pitched at Emmaus at the southeastern side of the Plain of Ajalon under the Judean hills. Meantime Judas had selected as his head-quarters the lofty hill of Mizpah, associated by earlier tradition with Samuel and the scene of the short-lived rule of Gedaliah. It was well chosen, for it commanded a view of the territory to the north, south, and west. While the army of the Syrians, sent by night to surprise Judas, were marching up the northern valley, the Jewish patriots were led westward toward the plain along one of the parallel valleys that penetrated the Judean hills. Having appealed to the patriotic memories and the religious zeal of his followers, Judas led them in a sudden early morning attack against the Syrians encamped near Emmaus. Soon the Syrians were in wild flight across the plain to the Philistine cities, and Judas and his followers were left in possession of the camp and its rich spoil. Panic also seized his pursuers when they saw their camp in possession of the enemy, and Judas was left for the moment undisputed master of the land of his fathers. This victory in the year 166 B.C. was in many ways the most sweeping and significant in early Maccabean history.

V. The Battle at Bethsura. The next year Lysias himself gathered a huge army of sixty thousand infantry and five thousand cavalry and led them against the Jews. This time the Syrians advanced through the broad valley of Elah where David had fought against the Philistine giant. Thence they followed the Wady Sur, turned southward and then eastward, penetrating to the top of the Judean plateau a little north of Hebron. Approaching from this point the Syrians were protected in their rear by the Idumeans, the descendants of the Edomites. They succeeded in reaching the point where the road from the west joins the central highway from Hebron to Jerusalem. There on a sloping hill crowned with the border town of Bethsura, Judas was able to rally ten thousand followers to meet the huge Syrian army. From the parallel account in II Maccabees it is clear that he did not succeed in winning a decisive victory, but a crisis in Antioch suddenly compelled Lysias to return, leaving the Jews in possession of the battle-field.

VI. Restoration of the Temple Service. With mingled sadness and rejoicing Judas proceeded at once to Jerusalem and with his followers took up the task of restoring the desecrated temple and its service. The citadel of Acra, which appears to have been situated on the Hill of Ophel to the south of the temple, was still strongly garrisoned by apostate Jews and Syrian soldiers. For nearly a quarter of a century, until the days of Simon, it continued to be held by Syrian forces, and remained a constant menace to the peace of Jerusalem. The vivid account of the purification of the temple reveals the intense devotion of the Jews to this ancient sanctuary, and throws clear light upon the nature of its service. This epoch-making act is commemorated even to-day by the Jews throughout the world and is known as the Feast of Lights. It is a memorial of that successful struggle for religious freedom in which Principles were established that have affected the thought and action of all succeeding generations. Through all their many vicissitudes and under their many Gentile rulers, with few exceptions, the Jews have enjoyed uninterruptedly the right of worshipping in accordance with the dictates of their law and the customs of their fathers.

VII. The New Spirit in Judaism. Henceforth the law for which their fathers had poured out their life-blood and for which the Jews had fought so valiantly was regarded with new and deeper veneration and its commands gained a new authority. Again the Jews had enjoyed a taste of freedom and had learned that by united and courageous action they could shake off the hated heathen yoke. This new warlike note is sounded in many of the later psalms of the Psalter. Chapters 9-14, appended to the older books of Zechariah, apparently come from this same period and voice the thought of the conquerors. The words of the ninth chapter express their joy and exultation:

For I have bent Judah to me, As a bow which I have filled with Ephraim; I will urge thy sons against the sons of Greece, And I will make thee like the sword of a hero. Then Jehovah shall be seen above them, And his shaft shall go forth like lightning. Jehovah shall blow a blast upon a trumpet, And travel on the whirlwinds of the south. Jehovah of hosts shall defend them; And they shall devour and tread down the slingstones, They shall drink their blood like wine, They shall be filled with it like the crevices of an altar. And Jehovah their God shall give them victory in that day. Like sheep he shall feed them in his land. Yea, how good and how beautiful shall it be! Corn shall make the young men flourish, and new wine the maidens.

The victories of Judas in all probability also inspired the messianic hope expressed in 9:9-10:

Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion. Shout aloud, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold thy king will come to thee; Vindicated and victorious is he, Humble, and riding upon an ass. Upon the foal of an ass. He shall cut off chariots from Ephraim, And horses from Jerusalem; The battle-bow shall also be cut off, And he shall speak to the nations; His rule shall be from sea to sea, From the river to the ends of the earth.



Section CXI. THE LONG CONTEST FOR POLITICAL INDEPENDENCE

[Sidenote: I Macc. 5:1-5] Now when the heathen round about heard that the altar had been built and the sanctuary dedicated as it was formerly, they were very angry and concluded to destroy the race of Jacob that was in the midst of them, and they began to slay and destroy among the people. Judas, however, fought against the people of Esau in Idumea at Akrabattine, because they besieged Israel, and he defeated them with a great slaughter and humbled their pride and took their spoils. He remembered the wickedness of the inhabitants of Baean, who were a source of annoyance and of danger, lying in ambush for them along the roads. And they were shut up by him in the towers, and he besieged them and destroyed them utterly and burned the towers of the place, with all who were in them.

[Sidenote: I Macc. 5:6-8] Then he passed over to the Ammonites and found a strong force and many people, with Timotheus as their leader. And he fought many battles with them, and they were defeated before him, and he conquered them. Then when he had gained possession of Jazer and its villages, he returned again into Judea.

[Sidenote: I Macc. 5:9-15] Then the heathen who were in Gilead gathered together against the Israelites who were on the borders to destroy them. And they fled to the stronghold of Dathema and sent letters to Judas and his brothers, saying,

The heathen who are about us have gathered together against us to destroy us, and they are preparing to come and get possession of the stronghold to which we have fled for refuge, and Timotheus is the leader of their forces. Now therefore come and rescue us from their power, for many of our men have fallen; and all our countrymen who dwell in the land of Tob, have been put to death, and they have carried into captivity their wives and children and their possessions. And they destroyed there about a thousand men. While the letters were being read, there came other messengers from Galilee with their garments torn, bringing a message of similar import, saying, That there were gathered together against them men of Ptolemais, of Tyre, of Sidon, and from all heathen Galilee to destroy them completely.

[Sidenote: I Macc. 5:16-20] Now when Judas and the people heard these things, a great assembly came together to consult what they should do for their kinsmen who were in distress and being attacked by the heathen. And Judas said to Simon his brother, Choose men, and go, rescue your countrymen who are in Galilee, but Jonathan my brother and I will go into the land of Gilead. And he left Joseph the son of Zacharias and Azarias, as leaders of the people, with the rest of the army in Judea, in order to guard it. And he gave orders to them, saying, Take charge of the heathen until we return. And to Simon were assigned three thousand men to go to Galilee and to Judas eight thousand men to go into the land of Gilead.

[Sidenote: I Macc. 5:21-23] Then Simon went into Galilee and fought many battles with the heathen, and the heathen were defeated by him. And he pursued them to the gate of Ptolemais. And there fell of the heathen about three thousand men, and he took the spoils from them. They took with them those who were in Galilee and in Arbatta, with their wives and their children and all that they had, and brought them into Judea with great rejoicing.

[Sidenote: I Mac. 5:45, 54] Then Judas gathered all the Israelites who were in the land of Gilead, from the least to the greatest, with their wives and children and their household possessions, a very great host, that they might go into the land of Judah. And they went up to Mount Zion with gladness and joy and offered whole burnt-offerings, because not one of them had been slain, but they had returned safe and sound.

[Sidenote: I Macc. 5:65-68, 63] Then Judas and his brothers went out and fought against the people of Esau in the land toward the south. And he smote Hebron and the villages belonging to it and pulled down its citadel and burned the surrounding towers. Then he set out to go into the land of the Philistines; and he went through Marissa. On that day certain priests, desiring to do exploits there, were slain in battle, when they unwisely went out to fight. Then Judas turned aside to Azotus, to the land of the Philistines, and pulled down their altars and burned the carved images of their gods and, taking the spoil of their cities, he returned to the land of Judah. And the hero Judas and his brothers were greatly honored by all Israel and by all the heathen wherever their name was heard.

[Sidenote: I Macc. 6:18-27] Now those who were in the citadel were hindering Israel round about the sanctuary and were always seeking to do them harm and were a support to the heathen. But Judas determined to destroy them and called all the people together to besiege them. And they were gathered together and besieged them in the hundred and fiftieth year, and he made mounds from which to shoot and engines of war. Then some of those who were shut up came out and certain apostate Israelites joined them. And they went to the king and said, When will you finally satisfy justice and avenge our brothers? We were willing to serve your father and to live as he enjoined, and to obey his commands; but because of this our own people besieged us in the citadel and were alienated from us; and as many of us as they could find, they killed and despoiled our inheritances. And not against us only have they stretched out their hand, but also against all that bordered on them. And now they are to-day encamped against the citadel at Jerusalem, to take it, and they have fortified the sanctuary and Bethsura. And if you do not quickly anticipate them, they will do greater things than these, and you will not be able to check them.

[Sidenote: I Macc. 6:28-41] When the king had heard this, he was angry, and gathered together all his Friends, the officers of his army, and those who commanded the cavalry. There came to him also from other kingdoms and from isles of the sea, bands of hired soldiers. So the number of his forces was a hundred thousand footmen and twenty thousand horsemen and thirty-two elephants trained for war. Then they went through Idumea and encamped against Bethsura and carried on the siege a long time and made engines of war. The besieged, however, sallied out and burned them and fought valiantly. And Judas departed from the citadel and encamped at Beth-zacharias, opposite the king's camp. Then the king rose early in the morning and had his army set out at full speed along the road to Beth-zacharias and his forces prepared for battle and the trumpets were sounded. And they showed the elephants the blood of grapes and mulberries, in order to excite them for the battle. Then they distributed the beasts among the phalanxes and stationed by each elephant a thousand men armed with coats of mail and helmets, with brass on their heads; and to each beast five hundred chosen horsemen were appointed. These were already there, wherever the beast was, and wherever the beast went, they went with him and did not separate themselves from him. And upon them were towers of wood, strong, covered, one girded upon each beast. Upon them were engines and two or three men, who fought upon them, besides the Indian who guided the elephant. The rest of the horsemen he stationed on both sides of the two wings of the army to inspire terror and to protect the phalanxes. And when the sun struck the golden and bronze shields, the mountain shone with them and blazed like torches of fire. And a part of the king's army was spread out on the heights, and some on the low ground, and they moved firmly and in good order. And all who heard the noise of their multitude, and the marching of the great numbers, and the rattling of the arms, trembled because the army was very great and strong.

[Sidenote: I Macc. 6:42-47] Then Judas and his army approached for battle, and there fell of the king's army six hundred men. Now when Eleazar, who was called Avaran, saw one of the beasts armed with royal breastplates, which was higher than all the beasts, and it looked as though the king was upon it, he gave himself to save his people and to gain for himself an everlasting fame; and he ran upon him courageously in the midst of the phalanx and slew on the right hand and on the left, and they scattered from before him on either side. Then he crept under the elephant, thrust him from beneath, and slew him. And the elephant fell to the earth upon him, and he died there. But when they saw the strength of the king and the fierce onset of the armies, they turned away from them.

[Sidenote: I Macc. 6:48-54] But those who were in the king's army went up to Jerusalem to meet them, and the king encamped for a struggle with Judea and Mount Zion. And he made peace with those in Bethsura; for they surrendered the city, because they had no food there to endure the siege, because the land had a sabbath. So the king took Bethsura and stationed a garrison there to keep it. Then he encamped against the sanctuary for a long time; and he set there mounds from which to shoot and engines of war and instruments for casting stones and fire, and pieces to cast darts and slings. And they also erected engines against those of the besiegers and fought for a long time. But since there was no food in the sanctuary, because it was the seventh year and those who had fled for safety into Judea from among the heathen had eaten up what remained of the store of provisions, there were but a few left in the sanctuary, because the famine became so severe upon them, and they scattered, each man to his own home.

[Sidenote: I Macc. 6:55-63] Now Lysias heard that Philip, whom Antiochus the king, had appointed during his lifetime to bring up his son Antiochus that he might be king, had returned from Persia and Media and with him the forces that went with the king, and that he was trying to get control of the government, he hastily decided to depart. And he said to the king, and to the officers of the army and to the men, We are growing weaker every day, our supplies are scanty, and the place which we are besieging is strong, and the welfare of the kingdom depends upon us; now therefore let us give the right hand to these men and make peace with them and with all their nation, and covenant with them that they may live according to their own customs as formerly; for because of their laws, which we abolished, they were angered and did all these things. This counsel pleased the king and the princes, and he sent to them to make peace. They accepted it, and when the king and the princes took oath to them, they came out of the stronghold. But when the king entered Mount Zion and saw the strength of the place, he broke the oath which he had sworn and gave orders to pull down the wall round about. Then he set out in haste and returned to Antioch and found Philip master of the city; and he fought against him and took the city by force.

[Sidenote: I Macc. 7:1-4] In the one hundred and fiftieth year, Demetrius the son of Seleucus escaped from Rome and went up with a few men to a city by the sea, and there proclaimed himself king. And when he entered the palace of his fathers, the army seized Antiochus and Lysias, to bring them to him. But when the fact was made known to him, he said, Do not show me their faces. And the army slew them. So Demetrius sat upon the throne of his kingdom.

[Sidenote: I Macc. 7:5-18] And there came to him all the lawless and the apostate men of Israel, with Alcimus, their leader, desiring to be high priest. And they accused the people before the king, saying, Judas and his brothers have destroyed all your Friends, and have scattered us from our own land. Now therefore send a man whom you trust, and let him go and see all the havoc which he has made of us and of the king's country, and how he has punished them and all who helped them. So the king chose Bacchides, one of the king's Friends, who was ruler in the province beyond the River Euphrates, and was a great man in the kingdom, and faithful to the king. He sent him and also that godless Alcimus, and confirmed him in the high priesthood, and commanded him to take vengeance upon the Israelites. So they set out and came with a great army into the land of Judah, and he sent messengers to Judas and his brothers with words of peace, deceitfully. But they paid no attention to their words for they saw that these men had come with a great army. Then there were gathered together to Alcimus and Bacchides a company of scribes, to seek for justice. And the Hasideans were the first among the Israelites who sought peace with them; for they said, One who is a descendant of Aaron has come with the forces and he will do us no wrong. And he spoke words of peace to them, and took oath to them, saying, We will seek the hurt neither of you nor of your friends. And they put confidence in him. But he seized sixty of them, and slew them in one day, as it is written in the Scriptures,

The flesh of thy saints... And their blood they poured out round about Jerusalem; And there was no man to bury them.

And the fear and hatred of them fell upon all the people, for they said, There is neither truth nor justice in them; for they have broken the covenant and the oaths which they made.

[Sidenote: I Macc. 7:13-26] And when Judas saw that Alcimus and his company had done more mischief among the Israelites than the heathen, he went out into the whole territory of Judea round about and took vengeance on the men who had deserted from him, and they were restrained from going forth into the country. But when Alcimus saw that Judas and his company were growing strong and knew that he was not able to withstand them, he returned to the king and brought evil charges against them. So the king sent Nicanor, one of his honored princes, a man who hated Israel and was their enemy, and commanded him to destroy the people.

[Sidenote: I Macc. 7:27-32] When Nicanor came to Jerusalem with a great army, he sent to Judas and his brother a message of peaceful words with deceitful intent, saying, Let there be no battle between us. I will come with a few men, that I may see your faces in peace. And he came to Judas, and they saluted one another peaceably. But the enemies were prepared to take away Judas, by violence. And when the fact was clear to Judas, that he had come to him with deceit, he was very much afraid of him and would see his face no more. So Nicanor knew that his plan was discovered, and he went out to meet Judas in battle near Capharsalama. And there fell of those with Nicanor about five hundred men. Then they fled into the city of David.

[Sidenote: I Macc. 7:33-38] Now after these things Nicanor went to Zion. And when some of the priests came out of the sanctuary, and some the elders of the people, to salute him peaceably and to show him the whole burnt-offering that was being offered for the king, he mocked them, and laughed at them, and abused them, and talked insolently. He also swore in a rage, saying, Unless Judas and his army are now delivered into my hands, if I come again in peace, I will burn up this temple. He went out in a great rage. Then the priests went in and stood before the altar and the temple; and they wept and said, Thou didst choose this temple to be called by thy name, to be a house of prayer and supplication for thy people. Take vengeance on this man and his army, and let him fall by the sword. Remember their blasphemies, and let them live no longer.

[Sidenote: I Macc. 7:39-48] And Nicanor set forth from Jerusalem and encamped in Bethhoron, and there the army of Syria met him. But Judas encamped in Adasa with three thousand men. Then Judas prayed and said, When they who came from the king blasphemed, thine angel went out and smote among them an hundred and sixty-five thousand. Even so destroy thou this army before us to-day, and let all the rest know that he hath spoken wickedly against thy sanctuary, and judge thou him according to his wickedness. So on the thirteenth day of the month Adar the armies joined battle; and Nicanor's army was defeated, and he himself was the first to fall in the battle. And when his army saw that Nicanor had fallen, they threw away their weapons and fled. And [the Jews] pursued them a day's journey from Adasa as far as Gazara when they sounded the trumpet-signal for the return. Then they came out from all the villages of Judea on every hand and outflanked them; and the one turned them back on the other army, and they all fell by the sword, so that none of them was left.

[Sidenote: I Macc. 7:47-50] And they took the spoils and the booty, and they struck off Nicanor's head and his right hand, which he had stretched out so haughtily, and brought them and hung them up in the citadel of Jerusalem. And the people were very glad. They also enacted an ordinance for the celebration of this day year by year, the thirteenth day of Adar. So the land of Judah had rest for a brief period.

[Sidenote: I Macc. 9:1-6] When Demetrius heard that Nicanor had fallen with his forces in battle, he sent Bacchides and Alcimus again into the land of Judah a second time, and the southern wing of his army with them. And they went by that way that leads to Gilgal, and encamped against Masaloth, which is in Arbela, and gained possession of it and destroyed many people. And the first month of the hundred and fifty-second year they encamped against Jerusalem. Then they set out and went to Berea with twenty thousand footmen and two thousand horsemen. And Judas was encamped at Elasa, and three thousand chosen men with him. And when they saw the multitude of the forces, that they were many, they were greatly frightened, and many slipped away from the army, so that there were left of them not more than eight hundred men.

[Sidenote: I Macc. 9:7-10] And when Judas saw that his army had dispersed, he was deeply troubled, because he had no time to gather them together, and he grew discouraged. And he said to those who were left, Let us arise and go up against our adversaries, if perhaps we may be able to fight with them. And they would have dissuaded him, saying, We shall not be able; but let us rather save our lives now; let us return again with our fellow-countrymen and fight against them, for we are few. But Judas said, Far be it from me so to do, that I should flee from them. For if our time has come, let us die manfully for the sake of our fellow-countrymen and not leave a cause of reproach against our honor.

[Sidenote: I Macc. 9:11-18] Then the army set out from the camp and drew up to meet them; and the cavalry drew up into two companies, and the slingers and the archers went before the army, with all the strong, foremost warriors. But Bacchides was in the rear wing. Then the phalanx advanced on both sides, and they sounded their trumpets. And Judas's men also sounded their trumpets, and the earth shook with the shout of the armies; so the battle was begun and continued from morning until evening. And when Judas saw that Bacchides and the strength of his army were on the right side, all who were brave in heart went with him, and the right wing was defeated by them, and he pursued them to the slope of the mountains. And they who were on the left wing, when they saw that the right wing was defeated, turned and followed upon the footsteps of Judas and of those who were with him. And the battle grew fierce, and many on both sides fell mortally wounded. Then Judas fell and the rest fled.

[Sidenote: I Macc. 9:19, 20] And Jonathan and Simon took Judas their brother and buried him in the sepulchre of his fathers at Modein. And they bewailed him, and all Israel made great lamentation for him and mourned many days, and said,

How is the hero fallen, The saviour of Israel!

[Sidenote: I Macc. 9:22] And the rest of the valiant acts of Judas, and his wars and the valiant deeds which he did, and his greatness—they have not been recorded, for they were very many.

[Sidenote: I Macc. 9:23-27] Now after the death of Judas, the apostates showed themselves in all the territory of Israel, and all who practised injustice flourished. About the same time there was a very severe famine, and the whole people sided with them. Then Bacchides selected the godless men and made them rulers of the country. And they conducted a thorough search for the friends of Judas and brought them to Bacchides, and he took vengeance on them and tortured them cruelly. Then great tribulation came upon Israel, such as had not been since the time that prophets had ceased to appear among them.

[Sidenote: I Macc. 9:28-35] Thereupon all the friends of Judas assembled and said to Jonathan, Since your brother Judas has died, we have no one like him to go out against our enemies and Bacchides and against those of our own kin who hate us. Now therefore we have chosen you this day to be our prince and leader in his place that you may fight our battles. So Jonathan assumed the leadership at that time and took the place of his brother Judas.

[Sidenote: I Macc. 10:1-6] Now in the one hundred and sixtieth year, Alexander the son of Antiochus Epiphanes went up and took possession of Ptolemais, and they received him, and he reigned there. When King Demetrius heard of it, he gathered very large forces and went out to meet him in battle. Demetrius also sent letters to Jonathan with words of peace, so as to honor him greatly. For he said, Let us get the start in making peace with them before he makes a compact with Alexander against us. For he will remember all the wrongs that we have done to him, and to his brothers and his nation. And he gave him authority to collect forces and to provide arms and to be his ally. Also he commanded that they should deliver up to him the hostages who were in the citadel.

[Sidenote: I Macc. 10:7-14] Then Jonathan came to Jerusalem, and read the letters in the hearing of all the people, and of those who were in the citadel. And they were greatly afraid when they heard that the king had given him authority to collect an army. And the garrison delivered up the hostages to Jonathan, and he restored them to their parents. And Jonathan took up his residence in Jerusalem and began to rebuild and renew the city. And he commanded those who did the work to build the walls and Mount Zion round about with square stones for defence; and they did so. Then the foreigners, who were in the strongholds which Bacchides had built, fled, and each man left his place and went into his own land. Only some of those who had forsaken the law and the commandments were left at Bethsura, because it was an asylum for them.

[Sidenote: I Macc. 10:15-17] And when King Alexander heard all the promises which Demetrius had made to Jonathan and had been told of the battles which he and his brothers had fought and the valiant deeds that they had done and of the hardships which they had endured, he said, Shall we find such another man? Now therefore let us make him our friend and ally. So he wrote letters and sent them to him with contents like these:

King Alexander to his brother Jonathan, greeting: We have heard of you that you are a valiant man and fit to be our friend. And now we have appointed you to-day to be high priest of your nation and to be called the king's Friend (and he sent to him a purple robe and a crown of gold), and to take our part and to remain on friendly terms with us.

[Sidenote: I Macc. 10:21] And Jonathan put on the holy garments in the seventh month of the hundred and sixtieth year at the feast of tabernacles, and he gathered together forces, and provided arms in abundance.

[Sidenote: I Macc. 10:67-71] Now in the one hundred and sixty-fifth year, Demetrius son of Demetrius, came from Crete into the land of his fathers. Then King Alexander heard of it, and he was exceedingly troubled and returned to Antioch. And Demetrius appointed Apollonius, who was over Coele-Syria, and he collected a great army and encamped in Jamnia, and sent to Jonathan the high priest this message:

You alone are hostile to us, and I have become a laughing-stock and butt of ridicule on account of you. Now why do you flaunt your power against us in the mountains? If, indeed, you trust your forces, come down to us in the plain, and there let us try the matter together, because with me is the power of the cities.

[Sidenote: I Macc. 10:74-76] Now when Jonathan heard the words of Apollonius, he was stirred to anger, and he chose ten thousand men and went forth from Jerusalem, and Simon his brother met him to help him. And he encamped against Joppa. The people of the city, however, shut him out, because Apollonius had a garrison in Joppa. So they fought against it. Then the people of the city were afraid and opened to him, and Jonathan became master of Joppa.

[Sidenote: I Macc. 11:20-27] At that time Jonathan gathered together the people of Judea to take the citadel that was at Jerusalem, and he erected many engines of war against it. Some, however, who hated their own nation, apostates, went to the king, and reported to him that Jonathan was besieging the citadel. And when he heard it, he was angry, and immediately after he heard of it he set out and came to Ptolemais, and wrote to Jonathan that he should not besiege it, and that he should meet him and confer with him at Ptolemais with all speed. But when Jonathan heard this, he gave orders to proceed with the siege, while he chose certain of the elders of Israel and of the priests, and putting himself in peril, and taking silver and gold and garments, and various presents besides, he went to the king at Ptolemais. And he was favorably received; and although some apostates of the nation Made complaints against him, the king treated him just as his predecessors had done and exalted him in the presence of all his Friends, both confirming to him the high priesthood, and all the other honors that he had before, and giving him preeminence among his Chief Friends.

[Sidenote: I Macc. 11:28, 29] And Jonathan requested the king to make Judea free from tribute, together with the three districts of Samaria, and he promised him three hundred talents. And the king consented and wrote letters to Jonathan concerning all these things.

I. The Political Situation. The position of the Jewish patriots was both perilous and tragic. A ring of hostile peoples pressed them closely on every side. The Jews were the victims of centuries of wrong and hatred. Those residing in the neighboring lands also suffered from this widespread and bitter hostility. Among all the peoples of southwestern Asia they had no allies except the Nabateans, an Arabian people that had driven the Edomites from their home on Mount Seir. The only bond that bound them to this ambitious heathen race was the common hatred of the Syrians. It was natural, therefore, that Judas a little later should send an embassy with the object of securing the moral support, if not the direct intervention, of the distant Roman power whose influence was beginning to be felt throughout all the Mediterranean coast lands. For the present, however, Judas was dependent simply upon the sword for defence. He also had no time for permanent conquest, for he must prepare himself for the heavier blow that the court of Antioch was preparing to deliver. All that he could do, therefore, was to make sudden attacks upon his foes on every side and rescue the persecuted Jews by bringing them back with him to Judea.

II. The Jewish Attitude toward the Heathen Reflected in the Book of Esther. In these perilous circumstances it is not strange that the Jews gravitated far from the position of broad tolerance advocated by the II Isaiah and the authors of the prophecy of Malachi and in the stories of Ruth and Jonah. In the stress of conflict they completely lost sight of their mission as Jehovah's witnesses to all the world. The destruction of the heathen seemed to them absolutely necessary if Jehovah's justice was to be vindicated. The spirit of this warlike, blood-thirsty age is most clearly formulated in the book of Esther. The presence of Aramaic and Persian words testify to its late date. It is closely allied to the midrashim or didactic stories that were a characteristic literary product of later Judaism. Like the stories of Daniel, the book of Esther contains many historical inconsistencies. For example, Mordecai, carried as a captive to Babylon in 597 B.C., is made Xerxes's prime-minister in 474 B.C. Its pictures of Persian customs are also characteristic of popular tradition rather than of contemporary history. Its basis is apparently an old Babylonian tradition of a great victory of the Babylonians over their ancient foes, the Elamites. Mordecai is a modification of the name of the Babylonian god Marduk. Estra, which appears in the Hebrew Esther, was the late Babylonian form of the name of the Semitic goddess Ishtar. Vashti and Hamman, the biblical Haman, were names of Elamite deities. Like the story of creation, this tale has been Hebraized and adapted to the story-teller's purpose. His aim is evidently to trace the origin of the late Jewish feast of Purim. It is probable that this feast was an adaptation of the Babylonian New-Year's feast which commemorated the ancient victory. The story in its present form is strongly Jewish. It exalts loyalty to the race, but its morality is far removed from that of Amos and Isaiah. Its exultation over the slaughter of thousands of the heathen is displeasing even in a romance, although it can easily be understood in the light of the Maccabean age in which it was written.

III. Campaigns against the Neighboring Peoples. The first book of Maccabees records in detail the repeated blows that Judas struck against his heathen foes. At Akrabattine, probably identical with the Scorpion Pass at the southwestern end of the Dead Sea, he fought and won a signal victory over his hereditary foes, the Idumeans. His chief enemy on the east was Timotheus, the leader of the Ammonites against whom Judas was successful in the preliminary skirmishes. Angered by these defeats, the heathen east of the Jordan attacked the resident Jews, who fled to one of the towns, where they were besieged. Judas, assembling six thousand of his picked warriors, made a rapid march of three days out into the wilderness. He apparently carried few supplies, but depended rather upon the spoil of the captured towns for support. Bosra, far out on the borders of the desert, was seized and looted. Thence returning westward, he rescued the Jews from the town of Damethah, or, as it appears in the Syriac, Rametha. This is probably identical with the modern town of Remtheh a little south of the Yarmuk on the great pilgrim highway from Damascus to Mecca. After making a detour to the south he crossed the Yarmuk and captured a series of towns lying to the north and northeast of this river. Returning he apparently met his Ammonite foe, who had succeeded in rallying an army, at the point where the pilgrim highway crosses the headwaters of the Yarmuk. Here Judas won a sweeping victory. Then collecting the many Jews of the dispersion who had settled near these upper waters of the Yarmuk, he returned victoriously to Jerusalem. His brother Simon, who had been despatched on a similar mission to Galilee, likewise came back bringing many fellow-Jews and laden with spoils.

Anticipating a renewal of the Syrian attack, Judas next made a rapid campaign into the territory of the Idumeans, capturing the old Hebrew capital of Hebron and carrying his victories as far as Ashdod on the western borders of the Philistine plain. Within a few months he had overrun and partially conquered a territory larger than the kingdom of David. In an incredibly short time this peasant warrior had won more victories against greater odds than any other leader in Israel's history. The results of these victories were necessarily ephemeral. They accomplished, however, three things: (1) Judas intimidated his foes and established his prestige; (2) he was able to rescue thousands of Jews from the hands of the heathen; and (3) by bringing them back to Judea he increased its population and laid the foundations of that kingdom which rose as the result of his patriotic achievements.

IV. The Battle of Beth-zacharias. There was still a Syrian outpost in the heart of Judea: it was the citadel at Jerusalem, which looked down upon the temple area. This Judas attempted to capture, but in so doing incited to action the Syrian king, Antiochus Eupator, who had succeeded to the throne after the death of his father Antiochus Epiphanes. Under the direction of his prime-minister Lysias he collected a huge army of one hundred thousand infantry and twenty thousand cavalry. To this was added thirty-two elephants with full military equipment—the heavy ordinance used in the warfare of the period. The approach from the plain was along the valley of Elah and up past Bethsura, as in the last Syrian campaign. Judas, who was able at this time to rally an army of ten thousand men, met the Syrian host near the town of Beth-zacharias, a little north of Bethsura on the central highway from Hebron to Jerusalem. This time the natural advantages were with the Syrians, one wing of whose army rested upon a declining hill and the other on the level plain. Thus they were able to utilize their entire fighting force and to launch against the valiant Jews their elephants against which the heroism of an Eleazar was fruitless. For the first time during this struggle Judas was defeated and fell back upon Jerusalem, where he was closely besieged. Soon the Jews were obliged to surrender, and the Maccabean cause would have been lost had not complications at Antioch compelled the Syrians to retire.

V. Victories Over Nicanor. In the treaty which followed the surrender of Jerusalem the religious liberty of the Jews was assured. This concession satisfied the majority of the Hasideans, so that henceforth Judas found himself deserted by a great body of his followers. The apostate high priest who was placed in control of the temple was supported by Syrian soldiery and Judas was obliged to resort again to outlaw life. He succeeded, however, in winning two signal victories over Nicanor, the Syrian general. The one at Capharsalama was probably fought near the modern town of Kefr Silwan, across the Kidron Valley from the City of David on the southern slope of Jerusalem. In the latter victory Nicanor was slain, and Judas was left for the moment in control of Judea.

VI. The Death of Judas. Soon another Syrian army invaded the land. The advance was from the northwest up over the pass of Bethhoron. A little east of the road that ascends from Lower to Upper Bethhoron, near where he won his first great battle and in sight of his home at Modein, the intrepid Jewish champion fought his last battle. Terror at the approach of the enemy had thinned his ranks until he was obliged to meet them with only eight hundred men at his back. Even against these great odds he was on the eve of victory when he was slain. At the sight of their fallen leader his followers fled. This disastrous ending of his career as a warrior obscured to a great extent the character and quality of Judas's services for his people. In brief (1) he taught them to fight for their rights; (2) he helped them to save their law and traditions; (3) he secured for them religious freedom; (4) he restored many of the Jews of the dispersion and thus prepared the way for the consolidated kingdom which later rose with Jerusalem as the centre; (5) he inspired his countrymen with ambitions for political independence; and (6) he set them a noble example of courage, patriotism, and practical piety. While measured by the higher standards of a later day Judas is not without his faults, yet he is unquestionably one of the great heroes of Israel's history and an example to all of unselfish and devoted patriotism.

Previous Part     1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9     Next Part
Home - Random Browse