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(167), and he was buried in the grave of his ancestors at Modin, lamented by all Israel.
163. JUDAS MACCABÆUS THE DELIVERER
(167-164). [1 Macc. III. IV.; 2 Macc. VIII. 1.-X. 8.] All the sons of Mattathias did honour to his name, but none of them rivalled Judas in nobility of mind and intrepid heroism. He is one of the grandest figures in all history, and has bequeathed an imperishable glory to the annals of the Jews. He not only revived the best days of ancient valour and patriotism, but he shed around his nation a new lustre by his unequalled self-sacrifice. His life is undimmed by a single stain, and well might the old historian say of him: “He put on a breast-plate as a giant, and girt his warlike harness about him, and he made battles, protecting the hosts with his sword. In his acts he was like a lion, and like a lion's whelp roaring for his prey: for he pursued the wicked, and sought them out, and consumed those that vexed his people. His memory is blessed for ever.'
Many men of valour, inspired by the example of Judas, rallied round him, determined to save their country or to end their bondage by an honourable death. Under his leadership they swept through the land, restoring almost everywhere the ancestral worship. Then the Syrian governor Apollonius attacked Judas with a considerable army, but he was defeated and killed, and Judas took from him his sword, which he thenceforth wore in all his battles. To avenge the death of Apollonius, the Syrian general Seron advanced with a large host, and encamped at Bethhoron. The Jewish soldiers trembled and desponded; but Judas addressed them in these words: “It is no hard matter for many to be shut up in the hands of a
and with the God of heaven it is all one, to deliver with a great multitude or a small company: for the victory of battle stands not in the multitude of a host; but strength comes from heaven. They march against us in much pride and iniquity to destroy us and our wives and children, and to spoil us: but we fight for our lives and our laws. Wherefore the Lord Himself will overthrow them before our face: and as for you, be not afraid of them. Then he rushed on against the enemy, killed 1,800 of them, and put the rest to flight, who for the most part escaped into the land of the Philistines.
The fame of Judas was now established, and he and his brothers were the recognised leaders of the faithful patriots against the foreign oppressors. Such prodigies of valour had not been achieved since the days of the Judges and the great kings of Israel. A noble enthusiasm stirred the people, and the whole country resounded to the din of war. Antiochus, stung by the discomfiture of his armies, determined upon the extirpation of the contemptibly small band which had dared to defy his power. He gathered an immense host, and paid the soldiers their hire for a year in advance. But so lavish and extravagant had he been, that he had exhausted his treasury, and in order to replenish it, he crossed the Euphrates with a well-equipped army to enforce tribute from the subjected nations. He left behind as governor of the land and of his young son Antiochus, Lysias, a man of royal descent, and entrusted to him half of the Syrian forces, with the strict injunction to fight against the rebellious Jews, utterly to destroy them, and to distribute their land among Syrian settlers. Lysias appointed Ptolemy, Nicanor, and Gorgias his generals, and despatched them into Judea with 40,000 infantry and 7,000 cavalry. Reinforcements were sent by the Philistines and other old enemies of the Jews. So confident were the Syrians of victory, that rich slave
merchants accompanied the army with fetters for the captive Jews, ninety of whom were beforehand offered for one talent of silver. They encamped in the plain before Emmaus. But the Jews, hopeful and courageous, prepared for determined resistance. They did not assemble in Jerusalem, because this ‘lay desolate as a wilderness, the Sanctuary was trodden down, and aliens kept the stronghold, but they met for council in Mizpah, a holy place from the earliest time; and there they prayed and fasted and humbled themselves before God. Judas collected his men, about 3,000 in number, chose able captains, and when he arrived with his followers near Emmaus, he addressed them thus : ' Arm yourselves and be valiant men, and see that you be in readiness against the morning, that you may fight with these nations that are assembled together against us to destroy us and our Sanctuary. For it is better for us to die in battle, than to behold the calamities of our people and our Sanctuary. Nevertheless as the will of God is in heaven, so let Him do. The Syrian general Gorgias determined to attack the Jews at once; but these, led by Judas, left their camp secretly at night, surrounded the enemy, and, inspired by their leader, assailed them boldly, and spread among them such consternation that they wildly fled southward to Gaza and the plains of Idumea, to Ashdod and Jamnia. Three thousand of the heathens were killed. The Jewish soldiers were eager to seize and carry away the rich spoil that lay before them; but Judas checked them; for, he said, he knew that more fighting awaited them that very day; and indeed soon afterwards Gorgias appeared with fresh troops; but when he saw the Syrian camp in flames, they also took flight, and escaped into the land of the Philistines. Joy and exultation prevailed among the Jews, and songs of praise rose to heaven. The booty was now taken and divided, and the Jewish army returned to Mizpah with increased self-reliance.
When Lysias heard of this double defeat of the mag. nificent Syrian armies, he feared the just anger of Antiochus; and he determined to undertake in the next year (165) a new expedition against the Jews. He collected 60,000 foot and 5,000 horse, and encamped at Beth-zur in Judah, the border fortress against Idumæa. But Judas contrived to bring together 10,000 men, encouraged them by holding up for their imitation the example of their brave ancestors, and intrepidly marched against the enemy. Again victory followed his banners, and 5,000 Syrians lay slain upon the battle-field. Lysias heard the tidings with pangs of grief, and yet he resolved to make another attempt against Judea in the following spring
Judas and his army were now the masters of the land; they entered Jerusalem, which was deserted and lay partly in ruins. They found the Sanctuary desolate, the Altar profaned, the gates burnt up, shrubs growing in the Courts as on a mountain, whilst the chambers of the priests were pulled down.
But Judas zealously restored the desecrated Temple, purified it from all idols, and put the holy vessels in their appointed places. On the twenty-fifth day of Kislev in the year 164, the brazen Altar was again dedicated, amidst the jubilant shouts of the people, and with numberless joy and praise offerings; and Judas ordained that, in commemoration of this happy event, a festival should for all future time be celebrated during eight days, to begin with the twenty-fifth of Kislev. This is the Feast of Dedication' or • Chanuka,' which is still kept by the Jews with feelings of gratitude and gladness.
The Sanctuary itself was adorned with all possible splendour, and once again, as in the days of David and Solomon, the porch glittered with crowns of gold and burnished shields.
XV. THE JEWS UNDER THE ASMONEANS.
164. JUDAS MACCABÆUS THE RULER (164—161).
[1 Macc. V. 1.-IX. 22; 2 Macc. X. 9.—XV. 39.]
Judas did not remain long inactive; for, anxious to protect the land against its ever watchful enemies, he surrounded Mount Zion with high walls and strong towers, which he amply garrisoned ; and he fortified Beth-zur as a safeguard against Idumea.
Alarmed and mortified by the irresistible progress of the Hebrew arms, the neighbouring nations resolved to massacre all the Jews who lived scattered within their territories. But Judas and his undaunted followers appeared everywhere to protect and deliver them. He first marched against the Idumæans in the province of Acrabattine, routed them, and plundered their country; then he attacked Bajan, on the southern boundaries of Palestine, and burnt the towers in which the people had taken refuge ; and afterwards he defeated the Ammonites in many battles, which they fought under their able general Timotheus, and conquered Jaezer and its colonies. When they had advanced so far, the Jews of Gilead in the east of the Jordan, who had already suffered heavy losses in sanguinary battles, sent messengers to Judas urgently requesting speedy