2 Maccabees


Purification of the Temple. 1a When Maccabeus and his companions, under the Lord’s leadership, had recovered the temple and the city, 2they destroyed the altars erected by the foreigners in the marketplace and the sacred shrines. 3After purifying the temple, they made another altar. Then, with fire struck from flint, they offered sacrifice for the first time in two years,* burned incense, and lighted lamps. They also set out the showbread. 4When they had done this, they prostrated themselves and begged the Lord that they might never again fall into such misfortunes, and that if they should sin at any time, he might chastise them with moderation and not hand them over to blasphemous and barbarous Gentiles. 5On the anniversary of the day on which the temple had been profaned by the foreigners, that is, the twenty-fifth of the same month Kislev, the purification of the temple took place. 6The Jews celebrated joyfully for eight days as on the feast of Booths, remembering how, a little while before, they had spent the feast of Booths living like wild animals in the mountains and in caves. 7Carrying rods entwined with leaves,* beautiful branches and palms, they sang hymns of grateful praise to him who had successfully brought about the purification of his own place. 8By public decree and vote they prescribed that the whole Jewish nation should celebrate these days every year. 9Such was the end of Antiochus surnamed Epiphanes.


Accession of Antiochus V. 10Now we shall relate what happened under Antiochus Eupator, the son of that godless man, and shall give a summary of the chief evils caused by the wars. 11When Eupator succeeded to the kingdom, he put a certain Lysias in charge of the government as commander-in-chief of Coelesyria and Phoenicia. 12Ptolemy, called Macron,* had taken the lead in treating the Jews fairly because of the previous injustice that had been done them, and he endeavored to have peaceful relations with them. 13As a result, he was accused before Eupator by the King’s Friends. In fact, on all sides he heard himself called a traitor for having abandoned Cyprus, which Philometor had entrusted to him, and for having gone over to Antiochus Epiphanes. Since he could not command the respect due to his high office, he ended his life by taking poison.

Victory over the Idumeans.* 14b When Gorgias became governor of the region, he employed foreign troops and used every opportunity to attack the Jews. 15At the same time the Idumeans, who held some strategic strongholds, were harassing the Jews; they welcomed fugitives from Jerusalem and endeavored to continue the war. 16Maccabeus and his companions, after public prayers asking God to be their ally, moved quickly against the strongholds of the Idumeans. 17Attacking vigorously, they gained control of the places, drove back all who were fighting on the walls, and cut down those who opposed them, killing no fewer than twenty thousand. 18When at least nine thousand took refuge in two very strong towers, well equipped to sustain a siege, 19Maccabeus left Simon and Joseph, along with Zacchaeus and his forces, in sufficient numbers to besiege them, while he himself went off to places where he was more urgently needed. 20But some of those in Simon’s force who were lovers of money let themselves be bribed by some of those in the towers; on receiving seventy thousand drachmas, they allowed a number of them to escape. 21When Maccabeus was told what had happened, he assembled the rulers of the people and accused those men of having sold their kindred for money by setting their enemies free to fight against them. 22So he put them to death as traitors, and without delay captured the two towers. 23As he was successful at arms in all his undertakings, he destroyed more than twenty thousand in the two strongholds.

Victory over Timothy. 24Timothy, who had previously been defeated by the Jews,* gathered a tremendous force of foreign troops and collected a large number of cavalry from Asia; then he appeared in Judea, ready to conquer it by force. 25At his approach, Maccabeus and his companions made supplication to God, sprinkling earth upon their heads and girding their loins in sackcloth. 26Lying prostrate at the foot of the altar, they begged him to be gracious to them, and to be an enemy to their enemies, and a foe to their foes, as the law declares.c 27After the prayer, they took up their weapons and advanced a considerable distance from the city, halting when they were close to the enemy. 28As soon as dawn broke,* the armies joined battle, the one having as pledge of success and victory not only their valor but also their reliance on the Lord, and the other taking fury as their leader in the fight.

29d In the midst of the fierce battle, there appeared to the enemy five majestic men from the heavens riding on golden-bridled horses, leading the Jews. 30They surrounded Maccabeus, and shielding him with their own armor, kept him from being wounded. They shot arrows and hurled thunderbolts at the enemy, who were bewildered and blinded, routed in utter confusion. 31Twenty thousand five hundred of their foot soldiers and six hundred cavalry were slain.

32Timothy, however, fled to a well-fortified stronghold called Gazara, where Chaereas was in command.e 33For four days Maccabeus and his forces eagerly besieged the fortress. 34Those inside, relying on the strength of the place, kept repeating outrageous blasphemies and uttering abominable words. 35When the fifth day dawned, twenty young men in the army of Maccabeus, angered over such blasphemies, bravely stormed the wall and with savage fury cut down everyone they encountered. 36Similarly, others climbed up and swung around on the defenders; they put the towers to the torch, spread the fire and burned the blasphemers alive. Still others broke down the gates and let in the rest of the troops, who took possession of the city. 37Timothy had hidden in a cistern, but they killed* him, along with his brother Chaereas, and Apollophanes. 38On completing these exploits, they blessed, with hymns of grateful praise, the Lord who shows great kindness to Israel and grants them victory.

* [10:3] Two years: three years according to 1 Mc 1:54 and 4:52.

* [10:7] Rods entwined with leaves: the wreathed wands (thyrsoi) carried in processions honoring Dionysus (6:7) were apparently not regarded as distinctively pagan.

* [10:12] Ptolemy, called Macron: son of Dorymenes (4:45); he supported Antiochus IV in 168 B.C. during his invasion of Cyprus.

* [10:1423] Probably the same campaign of Judas against the Idumeans that is mentioned in 1 Mc 5:13.

* [10:24] Timothy, who had previously been defeated by the Jews: as recounted in 8:3033.

* [10:28] As soon as dawn broke: the same battle at dawn as in 1 Mc 5:3034.

* [10:37] Timothy…they killed: apparently Timothy is still alive in 12:2, 1825. Perhaps there was more than one Timothy. Or the present passage is not in chronological order. Gazara, v. 32 (Gezer), was not captured by the Jews until much later (cf. 1 Mc 9:5052; 13:53). See 1 Mc 5:8 for the capture of Jazer.

a. [10:18] 1 Mc 4:3661.

b. [10:14] 1 Mc 5:35.

c. [10:26] Ex 23:22.

d. [10:2930] 2 Mc 3:2426; 5:23; 11:8.

e. [10:32] 1 Mc 13:4348.

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