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of the Syrian rule; and Jerusalem especially, where all disaffected spirits assembled, became the scene of fearful bloodshed. But Judas Maccabæus, filled with wrath against the traitors, traversed the country with his faithful band, expelling everywhere the evil-disposed, and restoring the old order of things. His name and power were dreaded, and no one dared to oppose him. Alcimus, defeated on all points, deemed it prudent to leave Judea; he went to king Demetrius at Antiochia, and accused the Jews of perfidy and every crime. Demetrius, thus appealed to, at once despatched Nicanor, one of his celebrated generals, who bore a deadly hatred to the Jews, and bade him carry on a war of destruction against them. Nicanor came to Jerusalem with a great force, and cunningly allured Judas and his brothers to his camp; but they fortunately became aware that their assassination was planned, and they succeeded in effecting their escape. Both armies met not much later in battle at Caphar Salama, near Jerusalem, and once again the arms of Judas were triumphant. Five thousand Syrians were slain, and Nicanor retreated into the city of Zion. He penetrated into the Temple, and, mocking and insulting the priests, he swore in fierce wrath that he would burn the Temple, unless Judas were delivered into his hands. Cries of anguish and lamentation filled the town. But soon afterwards Nicanor encamped at Beth-horon. Judas collected and reinforced his army, which amounted to 3,000 men; a great battle was fought on the 13th day of Adar, in which the Syrians were completely discomfited; they fled and were pursued as far as Gazera, and Nicanor himself was among the slain. All escape was prevented by the men of Judah, who rushed forth from their towns, and joined in the pursuit of the enemy. Immense spoil was taken. Nicanor's head and proud right hand were cut off and fixed over the gates of Jerusalem. Joy and gladness
now reigned throughout Judea; and it was ordained that the anniversary of this great victory—the 13th of Adarshould in all future times be celebrated. It was kept under the name of the Feast of Nicanor' for many centuries; but it was later abandoned because the • Fast of Esther' falls on the same day.
Judas felt that it would be impossible to maintain the safety of his people without powerful allies; and having heard of the valour of the Romans, of their widely-spread power, their invincible arms, and wise statesmanship, he determined to place his own little commonwealth under the protection of their mighty name. He had heard that they were implacable enemies, but sure and steadfast friends; that they were able and willing to help their allies against formidable foes; and his sympathies were strengthened when he learnt that none of them bore a crown or was clothed in purple, to be exalted above his fellow-citizens.'
He therefore sent two trustworthy men, Eupolemus and Jason, the son of Eleazar, to Rome, to offer a treaty of friendship, and to solicit assistance against the Syrians whenever it should be required. The Roman senate accepted the proposal, and the treaty was concluded and ratified in due form (161). As an earnest of their good faith, the Romans wrote without loss of time to Demetrius in these terms: Wherefore hast thou made the yoke heavy upon our friends and confederates the Jews ? If, therefore, they complain any more against thee, we will do them justice, and fight with them by sea and by land.'
But Demetrius would not leave the death of his general Nicanor unavenged. Before the treaty with Rome could have been proclaimed, he sent Bacchides and Alcimus again into Judea at the head of a large host. They first marched into Galilee, laid siege to Masaloth near Arbela, and slew many Hebrews. Then they passed southward,
and, in the month of Nisan in the year 161, they appeared before Jerusalem. But they soon removed from thence, and pitched their tents at Berea, with 20,000 foot soldiers and 2,000 horsemen ; while Judas encamped at Eleasa with 3,000 chosen men. When these saw the immense superiority of the enemy, many of them fled in fear, and 800 men only remained faithful to Judas. But even with this little band he was determined to fight the unequal battle, and he said, “Let us arise and go up against our enemies; perhaps we may be able to withstand them.' His captains, believing resistance utterly fruitless, dissuaded him with fervour, and replied, “We shall never be able ; let us now rather save our lives, and later we will return with our brethren and fight against them; for we are but few.' Then Judas addressed his men thus: God forbid that I should do this thing to flee away from them: if our time be come, let us die manfully for our brethren, and leave behind no stain upon our honour!' The battle commenced almost immediately, and it was fought with desperate obstinacy on both sides. Judas, rushing onward with his old lion-hearted courage, obtained the mastery over the right wing of the enemy, and pursued them to Mount Azotus; but then the left wing fiercely followed Judas, and closed around him and his men; a fearful struggle ensued; many were killed on either side—and among the slain was the great Judas himself.
When their leader had fallen, the small remnant of his followers fled in despair. His brothers Jonathan and Simon took him from the battle-field, and buried him in the sepulchre of his fathers in Modin. All Israel bewailed him for many days, and a song of lamentation was recited, of which this was the burden: How is the valiant man fallen that delivered Israel!' Indeed it was not easy to condense in an elegy all the wonderful exploits of the noble hero ; and his historian, feeling this
difficulty, takes leave of him with these words : And as for the other things concerning Judas and his wars, and the brave acts which he did, and his greatness, they are not written, for they were very many.'
165. JONATHAN (161–143).
(1 Macc. IX. 23.-XIII. 30.]
Bacchides, after his victory, showed no spirit of moderation. He searched out the adherents of Judas, insulted and persecuted them, and put many to death. So was there a great affliction in Israel, the like whereof was not since the time that a prophet was not seen among them.' But the race of the Asmoneans was not extinct. The spirit of Judas lived in his brothers, and the Jews appointed Jonathan as his successor in the leadership. Bacchides, indignant and alarmed at the election of another chief from the same hated family, determined to kill him. With this object in view he crossed the Jordan, where Jonathan had encamped near the well of Asphar. Not long before, his brother John had been assailed and slain in the southern desert by the children of Jambri, and to avenge his death, Jonathan lay in wait for a great marriage procession of the Jambrites, when he killed many men and women, and then returned to Asphar. Here Bacchides resolved to attack the Jews on a Sabbathday; but Jonathan, too wise to imperil his army by a narrow adherence to the letter of the Law, at once prepared for defence, and said to his men : “Now let us go up and fight for our lives, since it does not stand with us as in time past. For, behold, the battle is before us and behind us, and the water of Jordan on this side and that side, the marsh likewise, nor is there a place for us to tum aside. In the battle that ensued, Jonathan put Bacchides
to flight, and killed a thousand of the enemy; and then he courageously swam with his men over the Jordan, whither the Syrians did not dare to follow him. But Demetrius now strongly garrisoned the principal towns of Judah, as Jericho, Emmaus, and Beth-horon, Beth-el, Timnah, Beth-zur, and Gazara ; he took the most eminent men as hostages, and kept them prisoners in the citadel of Jerusalem. The infamous High-priest Alcimus, emboldened by the example of his Syrian protector, commanded the wall of the inner Court of the Temple to be pulled down; but the work of destruction had scarcely commenced when Alcimus was suddenly smitten with palsy, and he died soon afterwards in great torture (160). Bacchides now returned to Syria, and Judea enjoyed peace for two years. But there were traitors who felt uneasy under Jonathan's watchful supervision, and who went to Demetrius, urging him to send again an army into Judea. Bacchides came with a great host, and insidiously attempted to assassinate Jonathan and Simon. But his designs failed, and the brothers retreated with their followers to Beth-basi, in the desert, and fortified the place. Bacchides approached to attack the stronghold, whilst Jonathan made successful raids into the neighbouring territories. Simon, defending Beth-basi with the utmost vigour, made bold sallies upon the army of Bacchides, and burnt his materials of war.
The Syrian general, sorely pressed, now vented his rage against those who had called him into the land, killed many of them, and prepared for departure. But Jonathan, in order to save the prisoners, offered him peace, which was accepted. Bacchides delivered up the prisoners, returned to Syria, and never appeared again in Judea. Jonathan, who was greatly honoured for his devotion to his country and for his valour, judged the people, and regulated the internal affairs of the land.