Bacchides Returns to Judea

9 When Demetrius heard that Nicanor and his army had fallen in battle, he sent Bacchides and Alcimus into the land of Judea a second time, and with them the right wing of the army. 2 They went by the road that leads to Gilgal and encamped against Mesaloth in Arbela, and they took it and killed many people. 3 In the first month of the one hundred fifty-second year 1 they encamped against Yerushalayim; 4 then they marched off and went to Berea with twenty thousand foot soldiers and two thousand cavalry.

5 Now Yehudah was encamped in Elasa, and with him were three thousand picked men. 6 When they saw the huge number of the enemy forces, they were greatly frightened, and many slipped away from the camp, until no more than eight hundred of them were left.

7 When Yehudah saw that his army had slipped away and the battle was imminent, he was crushed in spirit, for he had no time to assemble them. 8 He became faint, but he said to those who were left, "Let us get up and go against our enemies. We may have the strength to fight them." 9 But they tried to dissuade him, saying, "We do not have the strength. Let us rather save our own lives now, and let us come back with our kindred and fight them; we are too few." 10 But Yehudah said, "Far be it from us to do such a thing as to flee from them. If our time has come, let us die bravely for our kindred, and leave no cause to question our honor."

The Last Battle of Yehuda

11 Then the army of Bacchides 2 marched out from the camp and took its stand for the encounter. The cavalry was divided into two companies, and the slingers and the archers went ahead of the army, as did all the chief warriors. 12 Bacchides was on the right wing. Flanked by the two companies, the phalanx advanced to the sound of the trumpets; and the men with Yehudah also blew their trumpets. 13 The earth was shaken by the noise of the armies, and the battle raged from morning until evening.

14 Yehudah saw that Bacchides and the strength of his army were on the right; then all the stouthearted men went with him, 15 and they crushed the right wing, and he pursued them as far as Mount Azotus. 16 When those on the left wing saw that the right wing was crushed, they turned and followed close behind Yehudah and his men. 17 The battle became desperate, and many on both sides were wounded and fell. 18 Yehudah also fell, and the rest fled.

19 Then Yonatan and Shimon took their brother Yehudah and buried him in the tomb of their ancestors at Modein, 20 and wept for him. All Israel made great lamentation for him; they mourned many days and said,

21 "How is the mighty fallen,
the savior of Israel!"

22 Now the rest of the acts of Yehudah, and his wars and the brave deeds that he did, and his greatness, have not been recorded, but they were very many.

Yonatan Succeeds Yehudah

23 After the death of Yehudah, the renegades emerged in all parts of Israel; all the wrongdoers reappeared. 24 In those days a very great famine occurred, and the country went over to their side. 25 Bacchides chose the godless and put them in charge of the country. 26 They made inquiry and searched for the friends of Yehudah, and brought them to Bacchides, who took vengeance on them and made sport of them. 27 So there was great distress in Israel, such as had not been since the time that prophets ceased to appear among them.

28 Then all the friends of Yehudah assembled and said to Yonatan, 29 "Since the death of your brother Yehudah there has been no one like him to go against our enemies and Bacchides, and to deal with those of our nation who hate us. 30 Now therefore we have chosen you today to take his place as our ruler and leader, to fight our battle." 31 So Yonatan accepted the leadership at that time in place of his brother Yehudah.

The Campaigns of Yonatan

32 When Bacchides learned of this, he tried to kill him. 33 But Yonatan and his brother Shimon and all who were with him heard of it, and they fled into the wilderness of Tekoa and camped by the water of the pool of Asphar. 34 Bacchides found this out on the Sabbath day, and he with all his army crossed the Jordan.

35 So Yonatan 3 sent his brother as leader of the multitude and begged the Nabateans, who were his friends, for permission to store with them the great amount of baggage that they had. 36 But the family of Jambri from Medeba came out and seized Yochanan and all that he had, and left with it.

37 After these things it was reported to Yonatan and his brother Shimon, "The family of Jambri are celebrating a great wedding, and are conducting the bride, a daughter of one of the great nobles of Canaan, from Nadabath with a large escort." 38 Remembering how their brother Yochanan had been killed, they went up and hid under cover of the mountain. 39 They looked out and saw a tumultuous procession with a great amount of baggage; and the bridegroom came out with his friends and his brothers to meet them with tambourines and musicians and many weapons. 40 Then they rushed on them from the ambush and began killing them. Many were wounded and fell, and the rest fled to the mountain; and the Jews 4 took all their goods. 41 So the wedding was turned into mourning and the voice of their musicians into a funeral dirge. 42 After they had fully avenged the blood of their brother, they returned to the marshes of the Jordan.

43 When Bacchides heard of this, he came with a large force on the Sabbath day to the banks of the Jordan. 44 And Yonatan said to those with him, "Let us get up now and fight for our lives, for today things are not as they were before. 45 For look! the battle is in front of us and behind us; the water of the Jordan is on this side and on that, with marsh and thicket; there is no place to turn. 46 Cry out now to Heaven that you may be delivered from the hands of our enemies." 47 So the battle began, and Yonatan stretched out his hand to strike Bacchides, but he eluded him and went to the rear. 48 Then Yonatan and the men with him leaped into the Jordan and swam across to the other side, and the enemy 5 did not cross the Jordan to attack them. 49 And about one thousand of Bacchides' men fell that day.

Bacchides Builds Fortifications

50 Then Bacchides 6 returned to Yerushalayim and built strong cities in Judea: the fortress in Jericho, and Emmaus, and Beit-Horon, and Beit-El, and Timnath, and 7 Pharathon, and Tephon, with high walls and gates and bars. 51 And he placed garrisons in them to harass Israel. 52 He also fortified the town of Beit-Tzur, and Gazara, and the citadel, and in them he put troops and stores of food. 53 And he took the sons of the leading men of the land as hostages and put them under guard in the citadel at Yerushalayim.

54 In the one hundred and fifty-third year, 8 in the second month, Alcimus gave orders to tear down the wall of the inner court of the sanctuary. He tore down the work of the prophets! 55 But he only began to tear it down, for at that time Alcimus was stricken and his work was hindered; his mouth was stopped and he was paralyzed, so that he could no longer say a word or give commands concerning his house. 56 And Alcimus died at that time in great agony. 57 When Bacchides saw that Alcimus was dead, he returned to the king, and the land of Judea had rest for two years.

The End of the War

58 Then all the Torahless plotted and said, "See! Yonatan and his men are living in quiet and confidence. So now let us bring Bacchides back, and he will capture them all in one night." 59 And they went and consulted with him. 60 He started to come with a large force, and secretly sent letters to all his allies in Judea, telling them to seize Yonatan and his men; but they were unable to do it, because their plan became known. 61 And Yonatan's men 9 seized about fifty of the men of the country who were leaders in this treachery, and killed them.

62 Then Yonatan with his men, and Shimon, withdrew to Bethbasi in the wilderness; he rebuilt the parts of it that had been demolished, and they fortified it. 63 When Bacchides learned of this, he assembled all his forces, and sent orders to the men of Judea. 64 Then he came and encamped against Bethbasi; he fought against it for many days and made machines of war.

65 But Yonatan left his brother Shimon in the town, while he went out into the country; and he went with only a few men. 66 He struck down Odomera and his kindred and the people of Phasiron in their tents. 67 Then he 10 began to attack and went into battle with his forces; and Shimon and his men sallied out from the town and set fire to the machines of war. 68 They fought with Bacchides, and he was crushed by them. They pressed him very hard, for his plan and his expedition had been in vain. 69 So he was very angry at the renegades who had counseled him to come into the country, and he killed many of them. Then he decided to go back to his own land.

70 When Yonatan learned of this, he sent ambassadors to him to make peace with him and obtain release of the captives. 71 He agreed, and did as he said; and he swore to Yonatan 11 that he would not try to harm him as long as he lived. 72 He restored to him the captives whom he had taken previously from the land of Judea; then he turned and went back to his own land, and did not come again into their territory. 73 Thus the sword ceased from Israel. Yonatan settled in Michmash and began to judge the people; and he destroyed the godless out of Israel.




1. 160 B.C.E. [back]
2. Greek lacks Bacchides [back]
3. Greek he [back]
4. Greek: they [back]
5. Greek: they [back]
6. Greek: he [back]
7. Some ancient authorities omit and [back]
8. 159 B.C.E. [back]
9. Greek: they [back]
10. Some ancient authorities read they [back]
11. Greek: him [back]

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Yom Rishon, 20 Kislev, 5784

Sunday, December 03, 2023


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