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Antiquities of the Jews, Vol 3, The

CHAPTER 8. How Judas Subdued The Nations Round About; And How Simon Beat The People Of Tyre And Ptolemais; And How Judas Overcame Timotheus, And Forced Him To Fly Away, And Did Many Other Things After Joseph And Azarias Had Been Beaten.

1. When these things were over, the nations round about the Jews were very uneasy at the revival of their power, and rose up together, and destroyed many of them, as gaining advantage over them by laying snares for them, and making secret conspiracies against them. Judas made perpetual expeditions against these men, and endeavored to restrain them from those incursions, and to prevent the mischiefs they did to the Jews. So he fell upon the Idumeans, the posterity of Esau, at Acrabattene, and slew a great many of them, and took their spoils. He also shut up the sons of Bean, that laid wait for the Jews; and he sat down about them, and besieged them, and burnt their towers, and destroyed the men [that were in them]. After this he went thence in haste against the Ammonites, who had a great and a numerous army, of which Timotheus was the commander. And when he had subdued them, he seized on the city Jazer, and took their wives and their children captives, and burnt the city, and then returned into Judea. But when the neighboring nations understood that he was returned, they got together in great numbers in the land of Gilead, and came against those Jews that were at their borders, who then fled to the garrison of Dathema; and sent to Judas, to inform him that Timotheus was endeavoring to take the place whither they were fled. And as these epistles were reading, there came other messengers out of Galilee, who informed him that the inhabitants of Ptolemais, and of Tyre and Sidon, and strangers of Galilee, were gotten together.

2. Accordingly Judas, upon considering what was fit to be done, with relation to the necessity both these cases required, gave order that Simon his brother should take three thousand chosen men, and go to the assistance of the Jews in Galilee, while he and another of his brothers, Jonathan, made haste into the land of Gilead, with eight thousand soldiers. And he left Joseph, the son of Zacharias, and Azarias, to be over the rest of the forces; and charged them to keep Judea very carefully, and to fight no battles with any persons whomsoever until his return. Accordingly, Simon-went into Galilee, and fought the enemy, and put them to flight, and pursued them to the very gates of Ptolemais, and slew about three thousand of them, and took the spoils of those that were slain, and those Jews whom they had made captives, with their baggage, and then returned home.

3. Now as for Judas Maccabeus, and his brother Jonathan, they passed over the river Jordan; and when they had gone three days journey, they lighted upon the Nabateans, who came to meet them peaceably, and who told them how the affairs of those in the land of Gilead stood; and how many of them were in distress, and driven into garrisons, and into the cities of Galilee; and exhorted him to make haste to go against the foreigners, and to endeavor to save his own countrymen out of their hands. To this exhortation Judas hearkened, and returned to the wilderness; and in the first place fell upon the inhabitants of Bosor, and took the city, and beat the inhabitants, and destroyed all the males, and all that were able to fight, and burnt the city. Nor did he stop even when night came on, but he journeyed in it to the garrison where the Jews happened to be then shut up, and where Timotheus lay round the place with his army. And Judas came upon the city in the morning; and when he found that the enemy were making an assault upon the walls, and that some of them brought ladders, on which they might get upon those walls, and that others brought engines [to batter them], he bid the trumpeter to sound his trumpet, and he encouraged his soldiers cheerfully to undergo dangers for the sake of their brethren and kindred; he also parted his army into three bodies, and fell upon the backs of their enemies. But when Timotheus's men perceived that it was Maccabeus that was upon them, of both whose courage and good success in war they had formerly had sufficient experience, they were put to flight; but Judas followed them with his army, and slew about eight thousand of them. He then turned aside to a city of the foreigners called Malle, and took it, and slew all the males, and burnt the city itself. He then removed from thence, and overthrew Casphom and Bosor, and many other cities of the land of Gilead.

4. But not long after this, Timotheus prepared a great army, and took many others as auxiliaries; and induced some of the Arabians, by the promise of rewards, to go with him in this expedition, and came with his army beyond the brook, over against the city Raphon; and he encouraged his soldiers, if it came to a battle with the Jews, to fight courageously, and to hinder their passing over the brook; for he said to them beforehand, that "if they come over it, we shall be beaten." And when Judas heard that Timotheus prepared himself to fight, he took all his own army, and went in haste against Timotheus his enemy; and when he had passed over the brook, he fell upon his enemies, and some of them met him, whom he slew, and others of them he so terrified, that he compelled them to throw down their arms and fly; and some of them escaped, but some of them fled to what was called the Temple of Camaim, and hoped thereby to preserve themselves; but Judas took the city, and slew them, and burnt the temple, and so used several ways of destroying his enemies.

5. When he had done this, he gathered the Jews together, with their children and wives, and the substance that belonged to them, and was going to bring them back into Judea; but as soon as he was come to a certain city, whose name was Ephron, that lay upon the road, [and it was not possible for him to go any other way, so he was not willing to go back again,] he then sent to the inhabitants, and desired that they would open their gates, and permit them to go on their way through the city; for they had stopped up the gates with stones, and cut off their passage through it. And when the inhabitants of Ephron would not agree to this proposal, he encouraged those that were with him, and encompassed the city round, and besieged it, and, lying round it by day and night, took the city, and slew every male in it, and burnt it all down, and so obtained a way through it; and the multitude of those that were slain was so great, that they went over the dead bodies. So they came over Jordan, and arrived at the great plain, over against which is situate the city Bethshah, which is called by the Greeks Scythopolis. 20 And going away hastily from thence, they came into Judea, singing psalms and hymns as they went, and indulging such tokens of mirth as are usual in triumphs upon victory. They also offered thank-offerings, both for their good success, and for the preservation of their army, for not one of the Jews was slain in these battles.21

6. But as to Joseph, the son of Zacharias, and Azarias, whom Judas left generals [of the rest of his forces] at the same time when Simon was in Galilee, fighting against the people of Ptolemais, and Judas himself, and his brother Jonathan, were in the land of Gilead, did these men also affect the glory of being courageous generals in war, in order whereto they took the army that was under their command, and came to Jamnia. There Gorgias, the general of the forces of Jamnia, met them; and upon joining battle with him, they lost two thousand of their army, 22 and fled away, and were pursued to the very borders of Judea. And this misfortune befell them by their disobedience to what injunctions Judas had given them, not to fight with any one before his return. For besides the rest of Judas's sagacious counsels, one may well wonder at this concerning the misfortune that befell the forces commanded by Joseph and Azarias, which he understood would happen, if they broke any of the injunctions he had given them. But Judas and his brethren did not leave off fighting with the Idumeans, but pressed upon them on all sides, and took from them the city of Hebron, and demolished all its fortifications, and set all its towers on fire, and burnt the country of the foreigners, and the city Marissa. They came also to Ashdod, and took it, and laid it waste, and took away a great deal of the spoils and prey that were in it, and returned to Judea.

CHAPTER 9. Concerning The Death Of Antiochus Epiphane. How Antiochus Eupator Fought Against Juda And Besieged Him In The Temple And Afterwards Made Peace With Him And Departed; Of Alcimus And Onias.

1. About this time it was that king Antiochus, as he was going over the upper countries, heard that there was a very rich city in Persia, called Elymais; and therein a very rich temple of Diana, and that it was full of all sorts of donations dedicated to it; as also weapons and breastplates, which, upon inquiry, he found had been left there by Alexander, the son of Philip, king of Macedonia. And being incited by these motives, he went in haste to Elymais, and assaulted it, and besieged it. But as those that were in it were not terrified at his assault, nor at his siege, but opposed him very courageously, he was beaten off his hopes; for they drove him away from the city, and went out and pursued after him, insomuch that he fled away as far as Babylon, and lost a great many of his army. And when he was grieving for this disappointment, some persons told him of the defeat of his commanders whom he had left behind him to fight against Judea, and what strength the Jews had already gotten. When this concern about these affairs was added to the former, he was confounded, and by the anxiety he was in fell into a distemper, which, as it lasted a great while, and as his pains increased upon him, so he at length perceived he should die in a little time; so he called his friends to him, and told them that his distemper was severe upon him; and confessed withal, that this calamity was sent upon him for the miseries he had brought upon the Jewish nation, while he plundered their temple, and contemned their God; and when he had said this, he gave up the ghost. Whence one may wonder at Polybius of Megalopolis, who, though otherwise a good man, yet saith that "Antiochus died because he had a purpose to plunder the temple of Diana in Persia;" for the purposing to do a thing, 23 but not actually doing it, is not worthy of punishment. But if Polybius could think that Antiochus thus lost his life on that account, it is much more probable that this king died on account of his sacrilegious plundering of the temple at Jerusalem. But we will not contend about this matter with those who may think that the cause assigned by this Polybius of Megalopolis is nearer the truth than that assigned by us.

2. However, Antiochus, before he died, called for Philip, who was one of his companions, and made him the guardian of his kingdom; and gave him his diadem, and his garment, and his ring, and charged him to carry them, and deliver them to his son Antiochus; and desired him to take care of his education, and to preserve the kingdom for him. 24 This Antiochus died in the hundred forty and ninth year; but it was Lysias that declared his death to the multitude, and appointed his son Antiochus to be king, [of whom at present he had the care,] and called him Eupator.

3. At this time it was that the garrison in the citadel of Jerusalem, with the Jewish runagates, did a great deal of harm to the Jews; for the soldiers that were in that garrison rushed out upon the sudden, and destroyed such as were going up to the temple in order to offer their sacrifices, for this citadel adjoined to and overlooked the temple. When these misfortunes had often happened to them, Judas resolved to destroy that garrison; whereupon he got all the people together, and vigorously besieged those that were in the citadel. This was in the hundred and fiftieth year of the dominion of the Seleucidse. So he made engines of war, and erected bulwarks, and very zealously pressed on to take the citadel. But there were not a few of the runagates who were in the place that went out by night into the country, and got together some other wicked men like themselves, and went to Antiochus the king, and desired of him that he would not suffer them to be neglected, under the great hardships that lay upon them from those of their own nation; and this because their sufferings were occasioned on his father's account, while they left the religious worship of their fathers, and preferred that which he had commanded them to follow: that there was danger lest the citadel, and those appointed to garrison it by the king, should be taken by Judas, and those that were with him, unless he would send them succors. When Antiochus, who was but a child, heard this, he was angry, and sent for his captains and his friends, and gave order that they should get an army of mercenaries together, with such men also of his own kingdom as were of an age fit for war. Accordingly, an army was collected of about a hundred thousand footmen, and twenty thousand horsemen, and thirty-two elephants.

4. So the king took this army, and marched hastily out of Antioch, with Lysias, who had the command of the whole, and came to Idumea, and thence went up to the city Bethsnra, a city that was strong, and not to be taken without great difficulty. He set about this city, and besieged it. And while the inhabitants of Bethsura courageously opposed him, and sallied out upon him, and burnt his engines of war, a great deal of time was spent in the siege. But when Judas heard of the king's coming, he raised the siege of the citadel, and met the king, and pitched his camp in certain straits, at a place called Bethzachriah, at the distance of seventy furlongs from the enemy; but the king soon drew his forces from Bethsura, and brought them to those straits. And as soon as it was day, he put his men in battle-array, and made his elephants follow one another through the narrow passes, because they could not be set sideways by one another. Now round about every elephant there were a thousand footmen, and five hundred horsemen. The elephants also had high towers [upon their backs], and archers [in them]. And he also made the rest of his army to go up the mountains, and put his friends before the rest; and gave orders for the army to shout aloud, and so he attacked the enemy. He also exposed to sight their golden and brazen shields, so that a glorious splendor was sent from them; and when they shouted the mountains echoed again. When Judas saw this, he was not terrified, but received the enemy with great courage, and slew about six hundred of the first ranks. But when his brother Eleazar, whom they called Auran, saw the tallest of all the elephants armed with royal breastplates, and supposed that the king was upon him, he attacked him with great quickness and bravery. He also slew many of those that were about the elephant, and scattered the rest, and then went under the belly of the elephant, and smote him, and slew him; so the elephant fell upon Eleazar, and by his weight crushed him to death. And thus did this man come to his end, when he had first courageously destroyed many of his enemies.

5. But Judas, seeing the strength of the enemy, retired to Jerusalem, and prepared to endure a siege. As for Antiochus, he sent part of his army to Bethsura, to besiege it, and with the rest of his army he came against Jerusalem; but the inhabitants of Bethsura were terrified at his strength; and seeing that their provisions grew scarce, they delivered themselves up on the security of oaths that they should suffer no hard treatment from the king. And when Antiochus had thus taken the city, he did them no other harm than sending them out naked. He also placed a garrison of his own in the city. But as for the temple of Jerusalem, he lay at its siege a long time, while they within bravely defended it; for what engines soever the king set against them, they set other engines again to oppose them. But then their provisions failed them; what fruits of the ground they had laid up were spent and the land being not ploughed that year, continued unsowed, because it was the seventh year, on which, by our laws, we are obliged to let it lay uncultivated. And withal, so many of the besieged ran away for want of necessaries, that but a few only were left in the temple.

6. And these happened to be the circumstances of such as were besieged in the temple. But then, because Lysias, the general of the army, and Antiochus the king, were informed that Philip was coming upon them out of Persia, and was endeavoring to get the management of public affairs to himself, they came into these sentiments, to leave the siege, and to make haste to go against Philip; yet did they resolve not to let this be known to the soldiers or to the officers: but the king commanded Lysias to speak openly to the soldiers and the officers, without saying a word about the business of Philip; and to intimate to them that the siege would be very long; that the place was very strong; that they were already in want of provisions; that many affairs of the kingdom wanted regulation; and that it was much better to make a league with the besieged, and to become friends to their whole nation, by permitting them to observe the laws of their fathers, while they broke out into this war only because they were deprived of them, and so to depart home. When Lysias had discoursed thus to them, both the army and the officers were pleased with this resolution.

7. Accordingly the king sent to Judas, and to those that were besieged with them, and promised to give them peace, and to permit them to make use of, and live according to, the laws of their fathers; and they gladly received his proposals; and when they had gained security upon oath for their performance, they went out of the temple. But when Antiochus came into it, and saw how strong the place was, he broke his oaths, and ordered his army that was there to pluck down the walls to the ground; and when he had so done, he returned to Antioch. He also carried with him Onias the high priest, who was also called Menelaus; for Lysias advised the king to slay Menelaus, if he would have the Jews be quiet, and cause him no further disturbance, for that this man was the origin of all the mischief the Jews had done them, by persuading his father to compel the Jews to leave the religion of their fathers. So the king sent Menelaus to Berea, a city of Syria, and there had him put to death, when he had been high priest ten years. He had been a wicked and an impious man; and, in order to get the government to himself, had compelled his nation to transgress their own laws. After the death of Menelaus, Alcimus, who was also called Jacimus, was made high priest. But when king Antiochus found that Philip had already possessed himself of the government, he made war against him, and subdued him, and took him, and slew him. Now as to Onias, the son of the high priest, who, as we before informed you, was left a child when his father died, when he saw that the king had slain his uncle Menelaus, and given the high priesthood to Alcimus, who was not of the high priest stock, but was induced by Lysias to translate that dignity from his family to another house, he fled to Ptolemy, king of Egypt; and when he found he was in great esteem with him, and with his wife Cleopatra, he desired and obtained a place in the Nomus of Heliopolis, wherein he built a temple like to that at Jerusalem; of which therefore we shall hereafter give an account, in a place more proper for it.


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