The Bible – Old Testament
1 Very soon afterward, Lysias, guardian and kinsman of the king and head of the government, being greatly displeased at what had happened,
mustered about eighty thousand infantry and all his cavalry and marched against the Jews. His plan was to make Jerusalem a Greek settlement;
to levy tribute on the temple, as he did on the sanctuaries of the other nations; and to put the high priesthood up for sale every year.
He did not take God’s power into account at all, but felt exultant confidence in his myriads of foot soldiers, his thousands of horsemen, and his eighty elephants.
So he invaded Judea, and when he reached Beth-zur, a fortified place about twenty miles from Jerusalem, launched a strong attack against it.
When Maccabeus and his men learned that Lysias was besieging the strongholds, they and all the people begged the Lord with lamentations and tears to send a good angel to save Israel.
Maccabeus himself was the first to take up arms, and he exhorted the others to join him in risking their lives to help their kinsmen. Then they resolutely set out together.
Suddenly, while they were still near Jerusalem, a horseman appeared at their head, clothed in white garments and brandishing gold weapons.
Then all of them together thanked God for his mercy, and their hearts were filled with such courage that they were ready to assault not only men, but the most savage beasts, yes, even walls of iron.
Now that the Lord had shown his mercy toward them, they advanced in battle order with the aid of their heavenly ally.
Hurling themselves upon the enemy like lions, they laid low eleven thousand foot soldiers and sixteen hundred horsemen, and put all the rest to flight.
Most of those who got away were wounded and stripped of their arms, while Lysias himself escaped only by shameful flight.
But Lysias was not a stupid man. He reflected on the defeat he had suffered, and came to realize that the Hebrews were invincible because the mighty God was their ally. He therefore sent a message
persuading them to settle everything on just terms, and promising to persuade the king also, and to induce him to become their friend.
Maccabeus, solicitous for the common good, agreed to all that Lysias proposed; and the king, on his part, granted in behalf of the Jews all the written requests of Maccabeus to Lysias.
These are the terms of the letter which Lysias wrote to the Jews: “Lysias sends greetings to the Jewish people.
John and Absalom, your envoys, have presented your signed communication and asked about the matters contained in it.
Whatever had to be referred to the king I called to his attention, and the things that were acceptable he has granted.
If you maintain your loyalty to the government, I will endeavor to further your interests in the future.
On the details of these matters I have authorized my representatives, as well as your envoys, to confer with you.
2 Farewell.” The year one hundred and forty-eight, the twenty-fourth of Dioscorinthius.
The king’s letter read thus: “King Antiochus sends greetings to his brother Lysias.
Now that our father has taken his place among the gods, we wish the subjects of our kingdom to be undisturbed in conducting their own affairs.
We understand that the Jews do not agree with our father’s policy concerning Greek customs but prefer their own way of life. They are petitioning us to let them retain their own customs.
Since we desire that this people too should be undisturbed, our decision is that their temple be restored to them and that they live in keeping with the customs of their ancestors.
Accordingly, please send them messengers to give them our assurances of friendship, so that, when they learn of our decision, they may have nothing to worry about but may contentedly go about their own business.”
The king’s letter to the people was as follows: “King Antiochus sends greetings to the Jewish senate and to the rest of the Jews.
If you are well, it is what we desire. We too are in good health.
Menelaus has told us of your wish to return home and attend to your own affairs.
Therefore, those who return by the thirtieth of Xanthicus will have our assurance of full permission
to observe their dietary laws and other laws, just as before, and none of the Jews shall be molested in any way for faults committed through ignorance.
I have also sent Menelaus to reassure you.
3 Farewell.” In the year one hundred and forty-eight, the fifteenth of Xanthicus.
The Romans also sent them a letter as follows: “Quintus Memmius and Titus Manius, legates of the Romans, send greetings to the Jewish people.
Whatever Lysias, kinsman of the king, has granted you, we also approve.
But the matters on which he passed judgment should be submitted to the king. As soon as you have considered them, send someone to us with your decisions so that we may present them to your advantage, for we are on our way to Antioch.
Make haste, then, to send us those who can inform us of your intentions.
4 Farewell.” In the year one hundred and forty-eight, the fifteenth of Xanthicus.
1 [1-12] The defeat of Lysias at Beth-zur probably occurred before the purification of the temple; cf ⇒ 1 Macc 4:26-35.
2  The year one hundred and forty-eight: 164 B.C. The reading of the name of the month and its position in the calendar are uncertain.
3  The date, which is the same as the date of the Romans’ letter (v 38), cannot be correct. The king’s letter must be connected with the peace treaty of the year 149 of the Seleucid era, i. e., 163 B.C. Perhaps the mention of the month of Xanthicus in the body of the letter (⇒ 2 Macc 11:30) caused the date of the Romans’ letter to be transferred to this one.
4  The date is March 12, 164 B.C.