The Bible – Old Testament
1 About this time Antiochus sent his second expedition into Egypt.
It then happened that all over the city, for nearly forty days, there appeared horsemen charging in midair, clad in garments interwoven with gold – companies fully armed with lances
and drawn swords; squadrons of cavalry in battle array, charges and countercharges on this side and that, with brandished shields and bristling spears, flights of arrows and flashes of gold ornaments, together with armor of every sort.
Therefore all prayed that this vision might be a good omen.
2 But when a false rumor circulated that Antiochus was dead, Jason gathered fully a thousand men and suddenly attacked the city. As the defenders on the walls were forced back and the city was finally being taken, Menelaus took refuge in the citadel.
Jason then slaughtered his fellow citizens without mercy, not realizing that triumph over one’s own kindred was the greatest failure, but imagining that he was winning a victory over his enemies, not his fellow countrymen.
Even so, he did not gain control of the government, but in the end received only disgrace for his treachery, and once again took refuge in the country of the Ammonites.
3 At length he met a miserable end. Called to account before Aretas, king of the Arabs, he fled from city to city, hunted by all men, hated as a transgressor of the laws, abhorred as the butcher of his country and his countrymen. After being driven into Egypt,
he crossed the sea to the Spartans, among whom he hoped to find protection because of his relations with them. There he who had exiled so many from their country perished in exile;
and he who had cast out so many to lie unburied went unmourned himself with no funeral of any kind or any place in the tomb of his ancestors.
When these happenings were reported to the king, he thought that Judea was in revolt. Raging like a wild animal, he set out from Egypt and took Jerusalem by storm.
He ordered his soldiers to cut down without mercy those whom they met and to slay those who took refuge in their houses.
There was a massacre of young and old, a killing of women and children, a slaughter of virgins and infants.
In the space of three days, eighty thousand were lost, forty thousand meeting a violent death, and the same number being sold into slavery.
Not satisfied with this, the king dared to enter the holiest temple in the world; Menelaus, that traitor both to the laws and to his country, served as guide.
He laid his impure hands on the sacred vessels and gathered up with profane hands the votive offerings made by other kings for the advancement, the glory, and the honor of the Place.
Puffed up in spirit, Antiochus did not realize that it was because of the sins of the city’s inhabitants that the Lord was angry for a little while and hence disregarded the holy Place.
If they had not become entangled in so many sins, this man, like Heliodorus, who was sent by King Seleucus to inspect the treasury, would have been flogged and turned back from his presumptuous action as soon as he approached.
4 The Lord, however, had not chosen the people for the sake of the Place, but the Place for the sake of the people.
Therefore, the Place itself, having shared in the people’s misfortunes, afterward participated in their good fortune; and what the Almighty had forsaken in his anger was restored in all its glory, once the great Sovereign became reconciled.
Antiochus carried off eighteen hundred talents from the temple, and hurried back to Antioch. In his arrogance he planned to make the land navigable and the sea passable on foot, so carried away was he with pride.
5 But he left governors to harass the nation: at Jerusalem, Philip, a Phrygian by birth, and in character more cruel than the man who appointed him;
6 at Mount Gerizim, Andronicus; and besides these, Menelaus, who lorded it over his fellow citizens worse than the others did. Out of hatred for the Jewish citizens,
7 the king sent Appollonius, commander of the Mysians, at the head of an army of twenty-two thousand men, with orders to kill all the grown men and sell the women and young men into slavery.
When this man arrived in Jerusalem, he pretended to be peacefully disposed and waited until the holy day of the sabbath; then, finding the Jews refraining from work, he ordered his men to parade fully armed.
All those who came out to watch, he massacred, and running through the city with armed men, he cut down a large number of people.
But Judas Maccabeus and about nine others withdrew to the wilderness, where he and his companions lived like wild animals in the hills, continuing to eat what grew wild to avoid sharing the defilement.
1  Second expedition: the first invasion of Egypt by Antiochus in 169 B.C. (⇒ 1 Macc 1:16-20) is not mentioned in 2 Macc, unless the coming of the Syrian army to Palestine (⇒ 2 Macc 4:21-22) is regarded as the first invasion. The author of 2 Macc apparently combines the first pillage of Jerusalem in 169 B.C. after Antiochus’ first invasion of Egypt (⇒ 1 Macc 1:20-28; cf ⇒ 2 Macc 5:5-7) with the second pillage of the city two years later (167 B.C.), following the king’s second invasion of Egypt in 168 B.C. (⇒ 1 Macc 1:29-35; cf ⇒ 2 Macc 5:24-26).
3  Aretas: King Aretas I of the Nabateans; cf ⇒ 1 Macc 5:25.
4  Man is more important than even the most sacred institutions; cf ⇒ Mark 2:27.
6  Mount Gerizim: the sacred mountain of the Samaritans at Shechem; cf ⇒ 2 Macc 6:2.