The Bible – Old Testament
1 In the year one hundred and fifty-one, Demetrius, son of Seleucus, set out from Rome, arrived with a few men in a city on the seacoast, and began to rule there.
As he was preparing to enter the royal palace of his ancestors, the soldiers seized Antiochus and Lysias to bring them to him.
When he was informed of this, he said, “Do not show me their faces.”
So the soldiers killed them, and Demetrius sat on the royal throne.
2 Then all the lawless and impious men of Israel came to him. They were led by Alcimus, who desired to be high priest.
They made this accusation to the king against the people: “Judas and his brothers have destroyed all your friends and have driven us out of our country.
So now, send a man whom you trust to go and see all the havoc Judas has done to us and to the king’s land, and let him punish them and all their supporters.”
Then the king chose Bacchides, one of the King’s Friends, governor of West-of-Euphrates, a great man in the kingdom, and faithful to the king.
He sent him and the impious Alcimus, to whom he granted the high priesthood, with orders to take revenge on the Israelites.
They set out and, on arriving in the land of Judah with a great army, sent messengers who spoke deceitfully to Judas and his brothers in peaceful terms.
But these paid no attention to their words, seeing that they had come with a great army.
A group of scribes, however, gathered about Alcimus and Bacchides to ask for a just agreement.
The Hasideans were the first among the Israelites to seek peace with them,
for they said, “A priest of the line of Aaron has come with the army, and he will not do us any wrong.”
He spoke with them peacefully and swore to them, “We will not try to injure you or your friends.”
So they trusted him. But he arrested sixty of them and killed them in one day, according to the text of Scripture:
“The flesh of your saints they have strewn, and their blood they have shed round about Jerusalem, and there was no one to bury them.”
Then fear and dread of them came upon all the people, who said: “There is no truth or justice among them; they violated the agreement and the oath that they swore.”
3 Bacchides withdrew from Jerusalem and pitched his camp in Beth-zaith. He had many of the men arrested who deserted to him, throwing them into the great pit.
He handed the province over to Alcimus, leaving troops to help him, while he himself returned to the king.
Alcimus spared no pains to maintain his high priesthood,
and all those who were disturbing their people gathered about him. They took possession of the land of Judah and caused great distress in Israel.
When Judas saw all the evils that Alcimus and his men were bringing upon the Israelites, more than even the Gentiles had done,
he went about all the borders of Judea and took revenge on the men who had deserted, preventing them from going out into the country.
But when Alcimus saw that Judas and his followers were gaining strength and realized that he could not oppose them, he returned to the king and accused them of grave crimes.
Then the king sent Nicanor, one of his famous officers, who was a bitter enemy of Israel, with orders to destroy the people.
4 Nicanor came to Jerusalem with a large force and deceitfully sent to Judas and his brothers this peaceable message:
“Let there be no fight between me and you. I will come with a few men to meet you peaceably.”
So he came to Judas, and they greeted one another peaceably. But Judas’ enemies were prepared to seize him.
When he became aware that Nicanor had come to him with treachery in mind, Judas was afraid and would not meet him again.
5 When Nicanor saw that his plan had been discovered, he went out to fight Judas near Capharsalama.
About five hundred men of Nicanor’s army fell; the rest fled to the City of David.
After this, Nicanor went up to Mount Zion. Some of the priests from the sanctuary and some of the elders of the people came out to greet him peaceably and to show him the holocaust that was being offered for the king.
6 But he mocked and ridiculed them, defiled them, and spoke disdainfully.
In a rage he swore: “If Judas and his army are not delivered to me at once, when I return victorious I will burn this temple down.” He went away in great anger.
The priests, however, went in and stood before the altar and the sanctuary. They wept and said:
“You have chosen this house to bear your name, to be a house of prayer and petition for your people.
Take revenge on this man and his army, and let them fall by the sword. Remember their blasphemies, and do not let them continue.”
Nicanor left Jerusalem and pitched his camp at Beth-horon, where the Syrian army joined him.
7 But Judas camped in Adasa with three thousand men. Here Judas uttered this prayer:
“When they who were sent by the king blasphemed, your angel went out and killed a hundred and eighty-five thousand of them.
In the same way, crush this army before us today, and let the rest know that Nicanor spoke wickedly against your sanctuary; judge him according to his wickedness.”
The armies met in battle on the thirteenth day of the month Adar. Nicanor’s army was crushed, and he himself was the first to fall in the battle.
When his army saw that Nicanor was dead, they threw down their arms and fled.
The Jews pursued them a day’s journey, from Adasa to near Gazara, blowing the trumpets behind them as signals.
From all the surrounding villages of Judea people came out and closed in on them. They hemmed them in, and all the enemies fell by the sword; not a single one escaped.
Then the Jews collected the spoils and the booty; they cut off Nicanor’s head and his right arm, which he had lifted up so arrogantly. These they brought to Jerusalem and displayed there.
The people rejoiced greatly, and observed that day as a great festival.
8 They decreed that it should be observed every year on the thirteenth of Adar.
9 And for a short time the land of Judah was quiet.
1 [1-3] The year one hundred and fifty-one: the spring of 161 B.C. Demetrius, son of Seleucus, was the lawful heir to the kingdom; but when only nine years old, he was taken as a hostage at Rome in place of his uncle, who ruled as Antiochus IV Epiphanes. At the age of twenty-five Demetrius fled secretly from Rome and, with the support of the Syrians, overcame his rival Antiochus V and put him to death. The royal palace: at Antioch.
2 [5-6] Alcimus: a renegade Jew hostile to the Maccabees, who became high priest after the death of Menelaus (⇒ 2 Macc 14:3). He received confirmation in his office from the new King Demetrius (⇒ 2 Macc 7:9), and brought malicious charges against Judas and his brothers and the people (⇒ 2 Macc 7:6). He wrought more evils on the Israelites than the Gentiles had done (⇒ 2 Macc 8:23).
3  Beth-zaith: about three miles north of Beth-zur and twelve miles south of Jerusalem.
4  Nicanor . . . deceitfully sent to Judas: a more favorable picture of Nicanor, as an honest man who became a personal friend of Judas, is given in ⇒ 2 Macc 14:17-25. Their friendship was broken by the intrigues of Alcimus (⇒ 2 Macc 14:26-30).
5  Caphar-salama: a village seven miles north-northwest of Jerusalem, on the road leading to Beth-horon.
6 Defiled them: spitting on the priests caused them to become legally defiled.
7  Adasa: a village southeast of Caphar-salama.
8  The thirteenth of Adar: March 27, 160 B.C. This day in the Jewish calendar was called the “Day of Nicanor” (⇒ 2 Macc 15:36), but it was not long celebrated by the Jews.
9  A short time: about one month following the death of Nicanor. After that began the attack of Bacchides resulting in the death of Judas (⇒ 1 Macc 9:1-18).