1 Three years later, news was brought to Judas and his company that Demetrius the son of Seleucus, having sailed into the harbour of Tripolis with a mighty army and a fleet, 2 had taken possession of the country, having made away with Antiochus and his guardian Lysias.
3 But one Alcimus, who had formerly been high priest, and had wilfully polluted himself in the times when there was no mingling with the Gentiles, considering that there was no deliverance for him in any way, nor any more access to the holy altar, 4 came to King Demetrius in about the one hundred and fifty-first year, presenting to him a crown of gold and a palm, and beside these some of the festal olive boughs of the temple. For that day, he held his peace; 5 but having gotten opportunity to further his own madness, being called by Demetrius into a meeting of his council, and asked how the Jews stood affected and what they intended, he answered:
“Those of the Jews called *
Hasidaeans, whose leader is Judas Maccabaeus, keep up war and are seditious, not allowing the kingdom to find tranquillity. 7
Therefore, having laid aside my ancestral glory—I mean the high priesthood—I have now come †
first for the genuine care I have for the things that concern the king, and secondly because I have regard also to my own fellow citizens. For through the unadvised dealing of those of whom I spoke before, our whole race is in no small misfortune. 9
O king, having informed yourself of these things, take thought both for our country and for our race, which is surrounded by enemies, according to the gracious kindness with which you receive all. 10
For as long as Judas remains alive, it is impossible for the government to find peace. 11
When he had spoken such words as these, at once ‡
the rest of the king’s §
friends, having ill will against Judas, inflamed Demetrius yet more. 12
He immediately appointed Nicanor, who had been master of the elephants, and made him governor of Judea. He sent him out, 13
giving him written instructions to kill Judas himself and to scatter those who were with him, and to set up Alcimus as high priest of the **
great temple. 14
Those in Judea who ††
had driven Judas into exile thronged to Nicanor in flocks, supposing that the misfortunes and calamities of the Jews would be successes to themselves.
But when the Jews heard of Nicanor’s advance and the assault of the heathen, they sprinkled dirt on their heads and made solemn prayers to him who had established his own people for evermore, and who always, making manifest his presence, upholds those who are his own heritage. 16 ‡‡
When the leader had given orders, he immediately set out from there and joined battle with them at a village called Lessau. 17
But Simon, the brother of Judas, had encountered Nicanor, yet not till late, having been delayed by reason of the sudden consternation caused by his adversaries.
Nevertheless Nicanor, hearing of the valour of those who were with Judas, and their courage in fighting for their country, shrank from bringing the matter to the decision of the sword. 19
Therefore he sent Posidonius, Theodotus, and Mattathias to give and receive pledges of friendship. 20
So when these proposals had been long considered, and the leader had made the §§
troops acquainted with them, and it appeared that they were all of like mind, they consented to the covenants. 21
They appointed a day on which to meet together by themselves. A chariot came forward from each army. They set up seats of honour. 22
Judas stationed armed men ready in convenient places, lest perhaps there should suddenly be treachery on the part of the enemy. They held a conference as was appropriate. 23
Nicanor waited in Jerusalem, and did nothing to cause disturbance, but dismissed the flocks of people that had gathered together. 24
He kept Judas always in his presence. He had gained a hearty affection for the man. 25
He urged him to marry and have children. He married, settled quietly, and took part in common life.
But Alcimus, perceiving the good will that was between them, ***
and having taken possession of the covenants that had been made, came to Demetrius and told him that Nicanor was disloyal to the government, for he had appointed that conspirator against his kingdom, Judas, to be his successor. 27
The king, falling into a rage, and being exasperated by the false accusations of that most wicked man, wrote to Nicanor, signifying that he was displeased at the covenants, and commanding him to send Maccabaeus prisoner to Antioch in all haste. 28
When this message came to Nicanor, he was confounded, and was very troubled at the thought of annulling the articles that had been agreed upon, the man having done no wrong; 29
but because there was no opposing the king, he watched his time to execute this purpose by strategy. 30
But Maccabaeus, when he perceived that Nicanor was behaving more harshly in his dealings with him, and that he had become ruler in his customary bearing, understanding that this harshness came not of good, gathered together not a few of his men, and concealed himself from Nicanor.
But the other,†††
when he became aware that he had been bravely defeated by the strategy of Judas,‡‡‡
came to the great§§§
and holy temple, while the priests were offering the usual sacrifices, and commanded them to hand over the man. 32
When they declared with oaths that they had no knowledge where the man was whom he sought, 33
he stretched out his right hand towards the sanctuary, and swore this oath: “If you won’t deliver up to me Judas as a prisoner, I will level this *
temple of God even with the ground, break down the altar, and I will erect here a temple to Dionysus for all to see.
And having said this, he departed. But the priests, stretching forth their hands towards heaven, called upon him who always fights for our nation, in these words: 35
“You, O Lord of the universe, who in yourself have need of nothing, were well pleased that a sanctuary of your habitation†
should be set amongst us. 36
So now, O holy Lord of all holiness, keep undefiled forever this house that has been recently cleansed.”
Now information was given to Nicanor against one Razis, an elder of Jerusalem, who was a lover of his countrymen and a man of very good report, and one called Father of the Jews for his good will. 38
For in the former times when there was no mingling with the Gentiles, he had been accused of following the Jews’ religion, and had risked body and life with all earnestness for the religion of the Jews. 39
Nicanor, wishing to make evident the ill will that he bore against the Jews, sent above five hundred soldiers to seize him; 40
for he thought by seizing him to inflict an injury on them. 41
But when the ‡
troops were at the point of taking the tower, and were forcing the door of the court, and asked for fire to burn the doors, he, being surrounded on every side, fell upon his sword, 42
choosing rather to die nobly than to fall into the hands of the wicked wretches, and suffer outrage unworthy of his own nobleness. 43
But since he missed his stroke through the excitement of the struggle, and the crowds were now rushing within the door, he ran bravely up to the wall and cast himself down bravely amongst the crowds. 44
But as they quickly gave back, a space was made, and he fell on the middle of §
his side. 45
Still having breath within him, and being inflamed with anger, he rose up, and though his blood gushed out in streams and his wounds were grievous, he ran through the crowds, and standing upon a steep rock, 46
when as his blood was now well near spent, he drew forth his bowels through the wound, and taking them in both his hands he shook them at the crowds. Calling upon him who is Lord of life and spirit to restore him **
these again, he died like this.