The Bible – Old Testament
Now Gorgias took five thousand infantry and a thousand picked cavalry, and this detachment set out at night
in order to attack the camp of the Jews and take them by surprise. Some men from the citadel were their guides.
Judas heard of it, and himself set out with his soldiers to attack the king’s army at Emmaus,
while the latter’s forces were still scattered away from the camp.
During the night Gorgias came into the camp of Judas, and found no one there; so he began to hunt for them in the mountains, saying, “They are fleeing from us.”
But at daybreak Judas appeared in the plain with three thousand men, who lacked such armor and swords as they would have wished.
They saw the army of the Gentiles, strong and breastplated, flanked with cavalry, and made up of expert soldiers.
Judas said to the men with him: “Do not be afraid of their numbers or dread their attack.
Remember how our fathers were saved in the Red Sea, when Pharaoh pursued them with an army.
So now let us cry to Heaven in the hope that he will favor us, remember his covenant with our fathers, and destroy this army before us today.
All the Gentiles shall know that there is One who redeems and delivers Israel.”
When the foreigners looked up and saw them marching toward them,
they came out of their camp for battle, and the men with Judas blew the trumpet.
The battle was joined and the Gentiles were defeated and fled toward the plain.
1 Their whole rearguard fell by the sword, and they were pursued as far as Gazara and the plains of Judea, to Azotus and Jamnia. About three thousand of their men fell.
When Judas and the army returned from the pursuit,
he said to the people: “Do not be greedy for the plunder, for there is a fight ahead of us,
and Gorgias and his army are near us on the mountain. But now stand firm against our enemies and overthrow them. Afterward you can freely take the plunder.”
As Judas was finishing this speech, a detachment appeared, looking down from the mountain.
They saw that their army had been put to flight and their camp was being burned. The smoke that could be seen indicated what had happened.
When they realized this, they were terrified; and when they also saw the army of Judas in the plain ready to attack,
2 they all fled to Philistine territory.
Then Judas went back to plunder the camp, and his men collected much gold and silver, violet and crimson cloth, and great treasure.
As they returned, they were singing hymns and glorifying Heaven, “for he is good, for his mercy endures forever.”
Thus Israel had a great deliverance that day.
But those of the foreigners who had escaped went and told Lysias all that had occurred.
When he heard it he was disturbed and discouraged, because things in Israel had not turned out as he intended and as the king had ordered.
So the following year he gathered together sixty thousand picked men and five thousand cavalry, to subdue them.
3 They came into Idumea and camped at Beth-zur, and Judas met them with ten thousand men.
Seeing that the army was strong, he prayed thus: “Blessed are you, O Savior of Israel, who broke the rush of the mighty one by the hand of your servant David and delivered the camp of the Philistines into the hand of Jonathan, the son of Saul, and his armor-bearer.
Give this army into the hands of your people Israel; make them ashamed of their troops and their cavalry.
Strike them with fear, weaken the boldness of their strength, and let them tremble at their own destruction.
Strike them down by the sword of those who love you, that all who know your name may hymn your praise.”
Then they engaged in battle, and about five thousand of Lysias’ men fell in hand-to-hand fighting.
4 When Lysias saw his ranks beginning to give way, and the increased boldness of Judas, whose men were ready either to live or to die bravely, he withdrew to Antioch and began to recruit mercenaries so as to return to Judea with greater numbers.
5 Then Judas and his brothers said, “Now that our enemies have been crushed, let us go up to purify the sanctuary and rededicate it.”
So the whole army assembled, and went up to Mount Zion.
They found the sanctuary desolate, the altar desecrated, the gates burnt, weeds growing in the courts as in a forest or on some mountain, and the priests’ chambers demolished.
Then they tore their clothes and made great lamentation; they sprinkled their heads with ashes
and fell with their faces to the ground. And when the signal was given with trumpets, they cried out to Heaven.
Judas appointed men to attack those in the citadel, while he purified the sanctuary.
He chose blameless priests, devoted to the law;
these purified the sanctuary and carried away the stones of the Abomination to an unclean place.
They deliberated what ought to be done with the altar of holocausts that had been desecrated.
The happy thought came to them to tear it down, lest it be a lasting shame to them that the Gentiles had defiled it; so they tore down the altar.
They stored the stones in a suitable place on the temple hill, until a prophet should come and decide what to do with them.
Then they took uncut stones, according to the law, and built a new altar like the former one.
They also repaired the sanctuary and the interior of the temple and purified the courts.
They made new sacred vessels and brought the lampstand, the altar of incense, and the table into the temple.
Then they burned incense on the altar and lighted the lamps on the lampstand, and these illuminated the temple.
They also put loaves on the table and hung up curtains. Thus they finished all the work they had undertaken.
6 Early in the morning on the twenty-fifth day of the ninth month, that is, the month of Chislev, in the year one hundred and forty-eight,
they arose and offered sacrifice according to the law on the new altar of holocausts that they had made.
On the anniversary of the day on which the Gentiles had defiled it, on that very day it was reconsecrated with songs, harps, flutes, and cymbals.
All the people prostrated themselves and adored and praised Heaven, who had given them success.
For eight days they celebrated the dedication of the altar and joyfully offered holocausts and sacrifices of deliverance and praise.
They ornamented the facade of the temple with gold crowns and shields; they repaired the gates and the priests’ chambers and furnished them with doors.
There was great joy among the people now that the disgrace of the Gentiles was removed.
7 Then Judas and his brothers and the entire congregation of Israel decreed that the days of the dedication of the altar should be observed with joy and gladness on the anniversary every year for eight days, from the twenty-fifth day of the month Chislev.
At that time they built high walls and strong towers around Mount Zion, to prevent the Gentiles from coming and trampling over it as they had done before.
Judas also placed a garrison there to protect it, and likewise fortified Beth-zur, that the people might have a stronghold facing Idumea.
1  Gazara: Gezer of the Hebrew Bible, five miles northwest of Emmaus; Azotus, Hebrew Ashdod, lay to the southwest; and Jamnia, Hebrew Jabneel (⇒ Joshua 15:11) or Jabneh (⇒ 2 Chron 26:6), to the west of Gazara.
2  Philistine territory: the coastal cities of southern Palestine, traditionally hostile to Jerusalem. Jamnia in particular was an important base for the Seleucid power.
3  Beth-zur: an important frontier city in the mountain area, fifteen miles south of Jerusalem. Its inhabitants were sympathetic to the Maccabees and refused to receive Lysias.
4  According to ⇒ 2 Macc 11:13-15 peace negotiations followed between Lysias and Judas.
5  The sanctuary: the whole temple area with its walls, courts and outbuildings, to be distinguished from the temple proper, the oblong edifice with porch, main room and inner shrine.
6  Twenty-fifth day of the ninth month . . . in the year one hundred and forty-eight: December 14, 164 B.C.
7  Days of the dedication . . . Chislev: institution of thefeast of Hannukah, also called the feast of Dedication (⇒ John 10:22). Josephus Flavius calls it the feast of Lights.