1 In those days Mattathias the son of John, the son of Simeon, a priest of the sons of Joarib, from Jerusalem rose up; and he lived at Modin. 2 And he had five sons:* Gr. Joannes. John, who was surnamed Gaddis; 3 Simon, who was called Thassi; 4 Judas, who was called Maccabaeus; 5 Eleazar, who was called Avaran; and Jonathan, who was called Apphus.
6 He saw the blasphemies that were committed in Judah and in Jerusalem, 7 and he said, “Woe is me! Why was I born to see the destruction of my people and the destruction of the holy city, and to dwell there when it was given into the hand of the enemy, the sanctuary into the hand of foreigners? 8 Her temple has become like a man who was glorious. 9 Her vessels of glory are carried away into captivity. Her infants are slain in her streets. Her young men are slain with the enemy’s sword. 10 What nation has not inherited her palaces and taken possession of her spoils? 11 Her adornment has all been taken away. Instead of a free woman, she has become a slave. 12 Behold, our holy things, our beauty, and our glory are laid waste. The Gentiles have profaned them. 13 Why should we live any longer?”
14 Mattathias and his sons tore their clothes, put on sackcloth, and mourned exceedingly.
15 And the king’s officers who were enforcing the apostasy came into the city Modin to sacrifice. 16 Many of Israel came to them, and Mattathias and his sons were gathered together. 17 The king’s officers answered and spoke to Mattathias, saying, “You are a ruler and an honourable and great man in this city, and strengthened with sons and kindred. 18 Now therefore come first and do the commandment of the king, as all the nations have done, including the men of Judah and those who remain in Jerusalem. You and your house will be numbered amongst the king’s† See 1 Maccabees 3:38; 10:10, etc.; Compare 1 Maccabees 10:65; 11:27; 2 Maccabees 8:9. friends, and you and your sons will be honoured with silver and gold and many gifts.”
19 And Mattathias answered and said with a loud voice, “If all the nations that are in the house of the king’s dominion listen to him, to fall away each one from the worship of his fathers, and have made choice to follow his commandments, 20 yet I and my sons and my kindred will walk in the covenant of our fathers. 21 Far be it from us that we should forsake the law and the ordinances. 22 We will not listen to the king’s words, to turn aside from our worship, to the right hand, or to the left.”
23 When he had finished speaking these words, a Jew came in the sight of all to sacrifice on the altar which was at Modin, according to the king’s commandment. 24 Mattathias saw it, so his zeal was kindled, and his guts trembled, and he vented his wrath according to judgement, and ran and killed him upon the altar. 25 He killed the king’s officer, who compelled men to sacrifice, at the same time, and pulled down the altar. 26 He was zealous for the law, even as Phinehas did to Zimri the son of Salu.
27 Mattathias cried out in the city with a loud voice, saying, “Whoever is zealous for the law and maintains the covenant, let him follow me!” 28 He and his sons fled into the mountains, and left all that they had in the city.
29 Then many who sought justice and judgement went down into the wilderness to live there— 30 they, their children, their wives, and their livestock—because evils were multiplied upon them. 31 It was told the king’s officers and the forces that were in Jerusalem, the city of David, that certain men who had broken the king’s commandment had gone down into the secret places in the wilderness; 32 and many pursued after them, and having overtaken them, they encamped against them and set the battle in array against them on the Sabbath day. 33 They said to them, “Enough of this! Come out and do according to the word of the king, and you will all live!”
34 They said, “We won’t come out. We won’t do the word of the king, to profane the Sabbath day.”
35 Then the enemy hurried to attack them.
36 They didn’t answer them. They didn’t cast a stone at them, or block their secret places, 37 saying, “Let’s all die in our innocence. Heaven and earth testify for us, that you put us to death unjustly.”
38 So they attacked them on the Sabbath, and they died—they, their wives, their children, and their livestock—in number a thousand souls of men.
39 When Mattathias and his friends found out about it, and they mourned over them exceedingly. 40 One said to another, “If we all do as our kindred have done, and don’t fight against the Gentiles for our lives and our ordinances, they will quickly destroy us from off the earth.” 41 So they decided that day, saying, “Whoever comes against us to battle on the Sabbath day, let’s fight against him, and we will in no way all die, as our kindred died in the secret places.”
42 Then a company of the Hasidaeans,‡ That is, Chasidim. mighty men of Israel, everyone who offered himself willingly for the law, were gathered together to them. 43 All those who fled from the evils were added to them, and supported them. 44 They mustered an army, and struck sinners in their anger, and lawless men in their wrath. The rest fled to the Gentiles for safety. 45 And Mattathias and his friends went around and pulled down the altars. 46 They forcibly circumcised the boys who were uncircumcised, as many as they found in the coasts of Israel. 47 They pursued the arrogant, and the work prospered in their hand. 48 They rescued the law out of the hand of the Gentiles and out of the hand of the kings. They never allowed the sinner to triumph.
49 The days of Mattathias drew near that he should die, and he said to his sons, “Now pride and scorn have gained strength. It is a season of overthrow and indignant wrath. 50 Now, my children, be zealous for the law, and give your lives for the covenant of your fathers. 51 Call to remembrance the deeds of our fathers which they did in their generations; and receive great glory and an everlasting name. 52 Wasn’t Abraham found faithful in temptation, and it was reckoned to him for righteousness? 53 Joseph in the time of his distress kept the commandment, and became lord of Egypt. 54 Phinehas our father, because he was exceedingly zealous, obtained the covenant of an everlasting priesthood. 55 Joshua became a judge in Israel for fulfilling the word. 56 Caleb obtained a heritage in the land for testifying in the congregation. 57 David inherited the throne of a kingdom forever and ever for being merciful. 58 Elijah was taken up into heaven because he was exceedingly zealous for the law. 59 Hananiah, Azariah, and Mishael believed, and were saved out of the flame. 60 Daniel was delivered from the mouth of lions for his innocence.
61 “Thus consider from generation to generation that no one who put their trust in him will lack for strength. 62 Don’t be afraid of the words of a sinful man; for his glory will be dung and worms. 63 Today he will be lifted up, and tomorrow he will in no way be found, because he has returned to dust, and his thought has perished. 64 You, my children, be strong, and show yourselves men on behalf of the law; for in it you will obtain glory. 65 Behold, Simon your brother, whom I know to be a man of counsel. Always listen to him. He shall be a father to you. 66 Judas Maccabaeus has been strong and mighty from his youth. He shall be your captain and shall fight§ Some ancient authorities read you shall fight. the battle of the people. 67 Rally around all the doers of the law, and avenge the wrong done to your people. 68 Repay the Gentiles, and obey the commandments of the law.”
69 He blessed them, and was gathered to his ancestors. 70 He died in** circa B.C. 167. the one hundred and forty sixth year, and his sons buried him in the tombs of his ancestors at Modin. All Israel made great lamentation for him.
*2:2: Gr. Joannes.
‡2:42: That is, Chasidim.
§2:66: Some ancient authorities read you shall fight.
**2:70: circa B.C. 167.