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(Isaiah 2:3)

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Please read the Introductory Notes to this commentary.

For a glossary of unfamiliar terms, CLICK HERE. For assistance in
pronouncing Hebrew terms, a pronunciation guide is located HERE.

Introduction to the Maccabees
First Maccabees   Second Maccabees   Third Maccabees   Fourth Maccabees

The First Book of Maccabees: Introductory Notes and Comments
1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8   9   10   11   12   13   14   15   16

The First Book of Maccabees

~ 4 ~

1Gorgias took five thousand infantry, a thousand chosen horses, and the army moved out by night, 2that it might fall upon the army of the Jews and strike them suddenly. The men of the citadel were his guides. Judas heard of this, and moved, he and the valiant men, that he might strike the king’s army which was at Emmaus, 4while the forces were still dispersed from the camp. 5Gorgias came into the camp of Judas by night and found no man. He sought them in the mountains; for he said, “These men are running away from us.”

6As soon as it was day, Judas appeared in the plain with three thousand men. However they didn’t have the armor and swords they desired. 7They saw the camp of the Gentiles strong and fortified, with cavalry all around it; and these were expert in war. 8Judas said to the men who were with him, “Don’t be afraid of their multitude, or when they charge. 9Remember how our fathers were saved in the Red sea, when Pharaoh pursued them with an army. 10Now let’s cry to heaven, if he will have us, and will remember the covenant of our fathers, and destroy this army before our face today. 11Then all the Gentiles will know that there is One who redeems and saves Israel.

12The foreigners lifted up their eyes, and saw them coming near them. 13They went out of the camp to battle. Those who were with Judas sounded their trumpets 14and joined battle. The Gentiles were defeated, and fled into the plain. 15But all the hindmost fell by the sword. They pursued them to Gazara, and to the plains of Idumaea, Azotus, and Jamnia. About three thousand of those men fell.

16Then Judas and his army returned from pursuing after them, 17and he said to the people, “Don’t be greedy for the spoils, because there is a battle before us. 18Gorgias and his army are near us in the mountain. But stand now against our enemies and fight against them, and afterwards take the spoils with boldness.”

19While Judas was finishing this speech, a part of them appeared looking out from the mountain. 20They saw that their army had been put to flight, and that the Jews were burning the camp; for the smoke that was seen declared what was done. 21But when they perceived these things, they were very afraid. Perceiving also the army of Judas in the plain ready for battle, 22they all fled into the land of the Philistines.[22]

23Judas returned to plunder the camp, and they took much gold, silver, blue, sea purple, and great riches. 24Then they returned home, and sang a song of thanksgiving, and gave praise to Heaven,[24] because He is good, because His mercy endures forever. 25Israel had a great deliverance that day.

26The foreigners, as many as had escaped, came and told Lysias all the things that had happened. 27When he heard of it, he was confounded and discouraged, because the things he desired had not been done to Israel, nor had such things as the king commanded him come to pass.

28In the next year, he gathered together sixty thousand chosen infantry and five thousand cavalry, that he might subdue them. 29They came into Idumaea and encamped at Bethsura.

Judas met them with ten thousand men. 30He saw that the army was strong, and he prayed and said, “Blessed are You, O Savior of Israel, Who defeated the attack of the mighty man by the hand of your servant David, and delivered the army of the Philistines[30] into the hands of Jonathan the son of Saul, and of his armor bearer. 31Shut up this army in the hand of Your people Israel, and let them be ashamed for their army and their cavalry. 32Give them faintness of heart. Cause the boldness of their strength to melt away, and let them quake at their destruction. 33Cast them down with the sword of those who love You, and let all who know Your Name praise You with thanksgiving.”

34They joined in battle; and about five thousand men of Lysias’ army fell. They fell down near them.

35But when Lysias saw that his array was put to flight, and the boldness that had come upon those who were with Judas, and how they were ready either to live or to die nobly, he removed to Antioch, and gathered together hired soldiers, that he might come again into Judea with an even greater company.

36But Judas and his kindred said, “Behold, our enemies are defeated. Let’s go up to cleanse the Holy Place, and to rededicate it.”

37All the army was gathered together, and they went up to mount zion. 38They saw the Sanctuary laid desolate, the altar profaned, the gates burned up, shrubs growing in the courts as in a forest or as on one of the mountains, and the priests’ chambers pulled down; 39and they tore their clothes, made great lamentation, put ashes upon their heads, 40fell on their faces to the ground,[40a] blew with the solemn trumpets,[40b] and cried toward heaven.

41Then Judas appointed certain men to fight against those who were in the citadel[41] until he had cleansed the Holy Place. 42He chose blameless priests who had pleasure in the Torah; 43and they cleansed the Holy Place and carried out the defiled stones into an unclean place.

44They took counsel concerning the altar of burnt offerings, which had been profaned, what they should do with it. 45A good plan came into their mind, that they should pull it down, lest it would be a reproach to them, because the Gentiles had defiled it. So they pulled down the altar 46and laid up the stones on the temple hill in a convenient place, until a prophet would come to give an answer concerning them. 47They took whole stones according to the Torah, and built a new altar like the former. 48They built the Holy Place and the inner parts of the House; and they consecrated the courts. 49They made new holy vessels, and they brought the lampstand, the altar of burnt offerings and of incense, and the table into the Temple. 50They burned incense on the altar, and they lit the lamps that were upon the lampstand, and they gave light in the Temple. 51They set loaves upon the table, spread out the veils, and finished all the works which they made.

52And they rose up early in the morning, on the twenty-fifth day of the ninth month, which is the month Chislev, in the one hundred forty eighth year,[52] 53and offered sacrifice according to the TorH on the new altar of burnt offerings which they had made.

54At the time and day the Gentiles had profaned it, even then it was dedicated afresh with songs, harps, lutes, and with cymbals. 55All the people fell upon their faces, worshiped, and gave praise toward Heaven, which had given them good success.

56They kept the dedication of the altar eight days, and offered burnt offerings with gladness, and sacrificed a sacrifice of deliverance and praise. 57They decorated the front of the Temple with crowns of gold and small shields. They dedicated afresh the gates and the priests’ chambers, and made doors for them. 58There was exceedingly great gladness among the people, and the reproach of the Gentiles was turned away.

59Judas and his kindred and the whole congregation of Israel ordained that the days of the dedication of the altar should be kept in their seasons from year to year for eight days, from the twenty-fifth day of the month Chislev, with gladness and joy. 60At that season, they built up mount Zion with high walls and strong towers around it, lest perhaps the Gentiles might come and trample them down, as they had done before. 61Judas stationed a garrison to guard it. They fortified Bethsura to keep it, that the people might have a stronghold near Idumaea.

Chapter 5


15. Gr. Gazera. [RETURN]

22. Gr. foreigners; probably Heb. goyim. [RETURN]

24. Or, looking up to heaven. Probably should be rendered “gave praise to Heaven,” with “Heaven” being a euphamism for “God” as is the Hebrew custom. [RETURN]

30. Gr. foreigners; probably Heb. goyim. [RETURN]

40a. Compare Numbers 31:6. [RETURN]

40b. Gr. trumpets of signals. [RETURN]

41. The Antonia Fortress, which later garrisoned about 600 Roman soldiers. [RETURN]

52. circa 165 BCE. [RETURN]

Page originally posted (without comments) on Wednesday, 23 December 2020

Page last updated on Monday, 18 January 2021 12:14 PM
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