1 But Nicanor, hearing that Judas and his company were in the region of Samaria, resolved to attack them with complete safety on the day of rest. 2 When the Jews who were compelled to follow him said, “Don’t destroy so savagely and barbarously, but give due glory to the day which he who sees all things has honoured and hallowed above other days.”
3 Then the thrice-accursed wretch asked if there were a Sovereign in heaven who had commanded to keep the Sabbath day.
4 When they declared, “There is the Lord, living himself as Sovereign in heaven, who told us observe the seventh day.”
5 He replied, “I also am a sovereign on the earth, who commands you to take up weapons and execute the king’s business.” Nevertheless he didn’t prevail to execute his cruel plan.
6 And Nicanor, * Gr. carrying his neck high. in his utter boastfulness and arrogance, had determined to set up a monument of complete victory over Judas and all those who were with him. 7 But Maccabaeus still trusted unceasingly, with all hope that he should obtain help from the Lord. 8 He exhorted his company not to be fearful at the assault of the heathen, but keeping in mind the help which in former times they had often received from heaven, so now also to look for the victory which would come to them from the Almighty, 9 and encouraging them out of the law and the prophets, and reminding them of the conflicts that they had won, he made them more eager. 10 And when he had aroused their courage, he gave them orders, at the same time pointing out the faithlessness of the heathen and their breach of their oaths. 11 Arming each one of them, not so much with the sure defence of shields and spears as with the encouragement of good words, and moreover relating to them a dream worthy to be believed, he made them all exceedingly glad.
12 The vision of that dream was this: Onias, he who had been high priest, a noble and good man, modest in bearing, yet gentle in manner and well-spoken, and trained from a child in all points of virtue, with outstretched hands invoking blessings on the whole body of the Jews. 13 Then he saw a man appear, of venerable age and exceeding glory, and the dignity around him was wonderful and most majestic. 14 Onias answered and said, “This is the lover of the kindred, he who prays much for the people and the holy city: Jeremiah the prophet of God. 15 Jeremiah stretched out his right hand and delivered to Judas a gold sword, and in giving it addressed him thus: 16 “Take this holy sword, a gift from God, with which you shall strike down the adversaries.”
17 Being encouraged by the words of Judas, which were noble and effective, and able to incite to virtue and to stir the souls of the young to manly courage, they determined not to carry on a campaign, but nobly to bear down upon the enemy, and fighting hand to hand with all courage bring the matter to a conclusion, because the city, the sanctuary, and the temple were in danger. 18 For their fear for wives and children, and furthermore for family and relatives, was less important to them; but greatest and first was their fear for the consecrated sanctuary. 19 Also those who were shut up in the city were in no light distress, being troubled because of the encounter in the open country.
20 When all were now waiting for the decision of the issue, and the enemy had already joined battle, and the army had been set in array, and the elephants† Gr. animals. brought back to a convenient post,‡ Or, stationed for convenient action and the cavalry deployed on the flanks, 21 Maccabaeus, perceiving the presence of the § Gr. multitudes. troops, and the various weapons with which they were equipped, and the savageness of the ** Gr. animals. elephants, holding up his hands to heaven called upon the Lord who works wonders, knowing that success comes not by weapons, but that, according to how the Lord judges, he gains the victory for those who are worthy. 22 And calling upon God, he said this: “You, O Sovereign Lord, sent your angel in the time of King Hezekiah of Judea, and he killed of the †† Gr. camp. army of Sennacherib as many as one hundred and eighty-five thousand. 23 So now also, O Sovereign of the heavens, send a good angel before us to bring terror and trembling. 24 Through the greatness of your arm let them be stricken with dismay who with blasphemy have come here against your holy people.” As he finished these words, 25 Nicanor and his company advanced with trumpets and victory songs; 26 but Judas and his company joined battle with the enemy with invocation and prayers. 27 Fighting with their hands and praying to God with their hearts, they killed no less than thirty-five thousand men, being made exceedingly glad by the manifestation of God.
28 When the engagement was over and they were returning again with joy, they recognised Nicanor lying dead in full armour. 29 Then there was shouting and noise, and they blessed the Sovereign Lord in the language of their ancestors. 30 He who in all things was in body and soul the foremost champion of his fellow-citizens, he who kept through life the good will of his youth towards his countrymen, ordered that Nicanor’s head be cut off with his hand and arm, and that they be brought to Jerusalem. 31 When he had arrived there and had called his countrymen together and set the priests before the altar, he sent for those who were in the citadel. 32 Showing the head of the vile Nicanor and the hand of that profane man, which with proud brags he had stretched out against the holy house of the Almighty, 33 and cutting out the tongue of the impious Nicanor, he said that he would give it in pieces to the birds, and hang up these rewards of his folly near the sanctuary. 34 They all, looking up to heaven, blessed the Lord who had manifested himself, saying, “Blessed is he who has preserved his own place undefiled!” 35 He hung Nicanor’s head and shoulder from the citadel, a clear sign evident to all of the help of the Lord. 36 They all ordained with a common decree to in no way let this day pass undistinguished, but to mark with honour the thirteenth day of the twelfth month (it is called Adar in the Syrian language), the day before the day of Mordecai.
37 This then having been the account of the attempt of Nicanor, and the city having from those times been held by the Hebrews, I also will here make an end of my book. 38 If I have written well and to the point in my story, this is what I myself desired; but if its poorly done and mediocre, this is the best I could do. 39 For as it is ‡‡ Or, hurtful distasteful to drink wine alone and likewise to drink water alone, §§ Gr. but even as. while the mingling of wine with water at once gives full pleasantness to the flavour; so also the fashioning of the language delights the ears of those who read the story.
Here is the end.
*15:6: Gr. carrying his neck high.
†15:20: Gr. animals.
‡15:20: Or, stationed for convenient action
§15:21: Gr. multitudes.
**15:21: Gr. animals.
††15:22: Gr. camp.
‡‡15:39: Or, hurtful
§§15:39: Gr. but even as.