The Bible – Old Testament
When Demetrius heard that Nicanor and his army had fallen in battle, he again sent Bacchides and Alcimus into the land of Judah, along with the right wing of his army.
1 They took the road to Galilee, and camping opposite the ascent at Arbela, they captured it and killed many people.
2 In the first month of the year one hundred and fifty-two, they encamped against Jerusalem.
Then they set out for Berea with twenty thousand men and two thousand cavalry.
Judas, with three thousand picked men, had camped at Elasa.
When his men saw the great number of the troops, they were very much afraid, and many slipped away from the camp, until only eight hundred men remained.
As Judas saw that his army was melting away just when the battle was imminent, he was panic-stricken, because he had no time to gather them together.
But in spite of his discouragement, he said to those who remained: “Let us go forward to meet our enemies; perhaps we can put up a good fight against them.”
They tried to dissuade him, saying: “We certainly cannot. Let us save our lives now, and come back with our kinsmen, and then fight against them. Now we are too few.”
But Judas said: “Far be it from me to do such a thing as to flee from them! If our time has come, let us die bravely for our kinsmen and not leave a stain upon our glory!”
Then the army of Bacchides moved out of camp and took its position for combat. The cavalry were divided into two squadrons, and the slingers and the archers came on ahead of the army, and all the valiant men were in the front line.
Bacchides was on the right wing. Flanked by the two squadrons, the phalanx attacked as they blew their trumpets. Those who were on Judas’ side also blew their trumpets.
The earth shook with the noise of the armies, and the battle raged from morning until evening.
Seeing that Bacchides was on the right, with the main force of his army, Judas, with all the most stouthearted rallying to him,
3 drove back the right wing and pursued them as far as the mountain slopes.
But when the men on the left wing saw that the right wing was driven back, they turned and followed Judas and his men, taking them in the rear.
The battle was fought desperately, and many on both sides fell wounded.
Then Judas fell, and the rest fled.
Jonathan and Simon took their brother Judas and buried him in the tomb of their fathers at Modein.
All Israel bewailed him in great grief. They mourned for him many days, and they said,
“How the mighty one has fallen, the savior of Israel!”
The other acts of Judas, his battles, the brave deeds he performed, and his greatness have not been recorded; but they were very many.
After the death of Judas, the transgressors of the law raised their heads in every part of Israel, and all kinds of evildoers appeared.
In those days there was a very great famine, and the country deserted to them.
Bacchides chose impious men and made them masters of the country.
These sought out and hunted down the friends of Judas and brought them to Bacchides, who punished and derided them.
There had not been such great distress in Israel since the time prophets ceased to appear among the people.
Then all the friends of Judas came together and said to Jonathan:
“Since your brother Judas died, there has been no one like him to oppose our enemies, Bacchides and those who are hostile to our nation.
Now therefore we have chosen you today to be our ruler and leader in his place, and to fight our battle.”
From that moment Jonathan accepted the leadership, and took the place of Judas his brother.
When Bacchides learned of it, he sought to kill him.
4 But Jonathan and his brother Simon and all the men with him discovered this, and they fled to the desert of Tekoa and camped by the waters of the pool of Asphar.
6 Jonathan sent his brother as leader of the convoy to ask permission of his friends, the Nabateans, to deposit with them their great quantity of baggage.
7 But the sons of Jambri from Medaba made a raid and seized and carried off John and everything he had.
After this, word was brought to Jonathan and his brother Simon: “The sons of Jambri are celebrating a great wedding, and with a large escort they are bringing the bride, the daughter of one of the great princes of Canaan, from Nadabath.”
Remembering the blood of John their brother, they went up and hid themselves under cover of the mountain.
They watched, and suddenly saw a noisy crowd with baggage; the bridegroom and his friends and kinsmen had come out to meet the bride’s party with tambourines and musicians and much equipment.
The Jews rose up against them from their ambush and killed them. Many fell wounded, and after the survivors fled toward the mountain, all their spoils were taken.
Thus the wedding was turned into mourning, and the sound of music into lamentation.
Having taken their revenge for the blood of their brother, the Jews returned to the marshes of the Jordan.
When Bacchides heard of it, he came on the sabbath to the banks of the Jordan with a large force.
Then Jonathan said to his companions, “Let us get up now and fight for our lives, for today is not like yesterday and the day before.
8 The battle is before us, and behind us are the waters of the Jordan on one side, marsh and thickets on the other, and there is no way of escape.
Cry out now to Heaven for deliverance from our enemies.”
When they joined battle, Jonathan raised his arm to strike Bacchides, but Bacchides backed away from him.
Jonathan and his men jumped into the Jordan and swam across to the other side, but the enemy did not pursue them across the Jordan.
A thousand men on Bacchides’ side fell that day.
9 On returning to Jerusalem, Bacchides built strongholds in Judea: the Jericho fortress, as well as Emmaus, Beth-horon, Bethel, Timnath, Pharathon, and Tephon, with high walls and gates and bars.
In each he put a garrison to oppose Israel.
He fortified the city of Beth-zur, Gazara and the citadel, and put soldiers in them and stores of provisions.
He took as hostages the sons of the leaders of the country and put them in custody in the citadel at Jerusalem.
10 In the year one hundred and fifty-three, in the second month, Alcimus ordered the wall of the inner court of the sanctuary to be torn down, thus destroying the work of the prophets. But he only began to tear it down.
Just at that time he had a stroke, and his work was interrupted; his mouth was closed and he was paralyzed, so that he could no longer utter a word to give orders concerning his house.
Finally he died in great agony.
Seeing that Alcimus was dead, Bacchides returned to the king, and the land of Judah was quiet for two years. Bacchides and Jonathan
Then all the transgressors of the law held a council and said: “Jonathan and his companions are living in peace and security. Now then, let us have Bacchides return, and he will capture all of them in a single night.”
So they went and took counsel with him.
When Bacchides was setting out with a large force, he sent letters secretly to all his allies in Judea, telling them to seize Jonathan and his companions. They were not able to do this, however, because their plot became known.
In fact, Jonathan’s men seized about fifty of the men of the country who were ringleaders in the mischief and put them to death.
11 Then Jonathan and Simon and their companions withdrew to Bethbasi in the desert; they rebuilt and strengthened its fortifications that had been demolished.
When Bacchides learned of this, he gathered together his whole force and sent word to those who were in Judea.
He came and pitched his camp before Bethbasi, and constructing siege-machines, he fought against it for many days.
Leaving his brother Simon in the city, Jonathan, accompanied by a small group of men, went out into the field.
He struck down Odomera and his kinsmen and the sons of Phasiron in their encampment; these men had set out to go up to the siege with their forces.
Simon and his men then sallied forth from the city and set fire to the machines.
They fought against Bacchides, and he was beaten. This caused him great distress. Because the enterprise he had planned came to nought,
he was angry with the lawless men who had advised him to invade the province. He killed many of them and resolved to return to his own country.
Jonathan learned of this and sent ambassadors to make peace with him and to obtain the release of the prisoners.
He agreed to do as Jonathan had asked. He swore an oath to him that he would never try to injure him for the rest of his life;
and he released the prisoners he had previously taken from the land of Judah. He returned to his own country and never came into their territory again.
12 Then the sword ceased in Israel. Jonathan settled in Michmash; he began to judge the people and he destroyed the impious in Israel.
1  They took the road . . . Arbela, they captured it: This passage is restored, in part, by conjectural emendation. The present Greek text could be translated, “They took the road to Gilgal, and camping opposite Mesaloth at Arbela, they captured it.” But Arbela (modern Khirbet Irbid) was in Galilee – on a high hill overlooking the western shore of the Sea of Galilee. Gilgal, on the contrary, was in the Jordan valley near Jericho. “Mesaloth” is probably a corrupt form of a Hebrew word meaning “steps, ascent.”
2  The first month of the year one hundred and fifty-two: April/May 160 B.C., by the temple calendar.
3  As far as the mountain slopes: conjectural emendation. The Greek text has “as far as Mount Azotus”; this is most unlikely. Apparently the Greek translator mistook the Hebrew word ashd’t, “slopes,” for a shd’d, “Azotus.”
4  Tekoa: home of the prophet Amos in the wild country above the Dead Sea, southeast of Jerusalem.
5  Omitted, it is a dittography of ⇒ 1 Macc 9:43.
7  Medaba: northeast of the Dead Sea.
8  Jonathan’s force was apparently trapped in one of the many oxbows of the lower Jordan. Bacchides had crossed and caught them still on the east bank.
9  These sites constitute a ring on the edges of the province of Judea.
10  In the year . . . second month: May, 159 B.C.
11  Bethbasi: two miles east of Bethlehem and six miles north of Tekoa.
12  Began to judge: exercise the governing authority as in the book of Judges. With Jerusalem and the garrison towns (⇒ 1 Macc 9:50) firmly in Seleucid hands, Jonathan’s freedom of action was greatly restricted. Michmash, southeast of Bethel, famous for the exploit of the former Jonathan, son of Saul; cf 1 Sam 14.