Second Maccabees Chapters
1 Now after a space of three years tidings were brought to Judas and his company that Demetrius the son of Seleucus, having sailed into the haven of Tripolis with a mighty army and a fleet,
2 had gotten possession of the country, having made away with Antiochus and Lysias his guardian.
3 But one Alcimus, who had formerly been high priest, and had wilfully polluted himself in the times when there was no mingling with the Gentiles, considering that there was no deliverance for him in any way, nor any more access to the holy altar,
4 came to king Demetrius in about the hundred and one and fifties year, presenting to him a chaplet of gold and a palm, and beside these some of the festal olive boughs of the temple. And for that day he held his peace;
5 but having gotten opportunity to further his own madness, being called by Demetrius into a meeting of his council, and asked how the Jews stood affected and what they purposed, he answered thereto.
6 Those of the Jews that he called Hasidaeans, whose leader is Judas Maccabaeus, keep up war, and are seditious, not suffering the kingdom to find tranquillity.
7 Wherefore, having laid aside my ancestral glory, I mean the high priesthood, I am now come here;
8 first for the unfeigned care I have for the things that concern the king, and secondly because I have regard also to my own fellow-citizens: for, through the unadvised dealing of those of whom I spoke before, our whole race is in no small misfortune.
9 But do you, O king, having informed yourself of these things severally, take thought both for our country and for our race, which is surrounded by foes, according to the gracious kindness with which you receive all.
10 For as long as Judas remains alive, it is impossible that the state should find peace.
11 And when he had spoken such words as these, at once the rest of the king’s Friends, having ill will against Judas, inflamed Demetrius yet more.
12 And forthwith appointing Nicanor, who had been master of the elephants, and making him governor of Judea, he sent him forth,
13 giving him written instructions to make away with Judas himself and to scatter those who were with him, and to set up Alcimus as high priest of the great temple.
14 And those in Judea that had before driven Judas into exile thronged to Nicanor in flocks, supposing that the misfortunes and calamities of the Jews would be successes to themselves.
15 But when the Jews heard of Nicanor’s inroad and the assault of the heathen, they sprinkled earth upon their heads and made solemn supplication to him who had established his own people for evermore, and who always, making manifest his presence, upholds those who are his own portion.
16 And when the leader had given his commands, he immediately sets out from thence, and joins battle with them at a village called Lessau.
17 But Simon, the brother of Judas, had encountered Nicanor, yet not till late, having received a check by reason of the sudden consternation caused by his adversaries.
18 Nevertheless Nicanor, hearing of the manliness of those who were with Judas, and their courage in fighting for their country, shrank from bringing the matter to the decision of the sword.
19 Wherefore he sent Posidonius and Theodotus and Mattathias to give and receive pledges of friendship.
20 So when these proposals had been long considered, and the leader had made the troops acquainted therewith, and it appeared that they were all of like mind, they consented to the covenants.
21 And they appointed a day on which to meet together by themselves. And a litter was borne forward from each army; they set chairs of state;
22 Judas stationed armed men ready in convenient places, lest perhaps there should suddenly be treachery on the part of the enemy; they held such conference as was meet.
23 Nicanor waited in Jerusalem, and did nothing to cause disturbance, but dismissed the flocks of people that had gathered together.
24 And he kept Judas always in his presence; he had gained a hearty affection for the man;
25 he urged him to marry and beget children; he married, settled quietly, took part in common life.
26 But Alcimus, perceiving the good will that was between them, and having got possession of the covenants that had been made, came to Demetrius and told him that Nicanor was ill affected towards the state, for he had appointed that conspirator against his kingdom, Judas, to be his successor.
27 And the king, falling into a rage, and being exasperated by the false accusations of that most wicked man, wrote to Nicanor, signifying that he was displeased at the covenants, and commanding him to send Maccabaeus prisoner to Antioch in all haste.
28 And when this message came to Nicanor, he was confounded, and was sore troubled at the thought of annulling the articles that had been agreed upon, the man having done no wrong;
29 but because there was no dealing against the king, he watched his time to execute this purpose by stratagem.
30 But Maccabaeus, when he perceived that Nicanor was behaving more harshly in his dealings with him, and that he had become ruler in his customary bearing, understanding that this harshness came not of good, gathered together not a few of his men, and concealed himself from Nicanor.
31 But the other, when he became aware that he had been bravely defeated by the stratagem of Judas, came to the great and holy temple, while the priests were offering the usual sacrifices, and commanded them to deliver up the man.
32 And when they declared with oaths that they had no knowledge where the man was whom he sought,
33 he stretched forth his right hand towards the sanctuary, and sware this oath: If you° will not deliver up to me Judas as a prisoner, I will lay this temple of God even with the ground, and will break down the altar, and I will erect here a temple to Bacchus for all to see.
34 And having said this, he departed. But the priests, stretching forth their hands towards heaven, called upon him that ever fights for our nation, in these words:
35 You, O Lord of the universe, who in yourself have need of nothing, was well pleased that a sanctuary of your habitation should be set amongst us;
36 so now, O holy Lord of all hallowing, keep undefiled forever this house that has been lately cleansed.
37 Now information was given to Nicanor against one Razis, an elder of Jerusalem, as being a lover of his countrymen and a man of very good report, and one called Father of the Jews for his good will towards them.
38 For in the former times when there was no mingling with the Gentiles he had been accused of cleaving to the Jews’ religion, and had jeoparded body and life with all earnestness for the religion of the Jews.
39 And Nicanor, wishing to make evident the ill will that he bare to the Jews, sent above five hundred soldiers to take him;
40 for he thought by taking him to inflict a calamity upon them.
41 But when the troops were on the point of taking the tower, and were forcing the door of the court, and bade bring fire and burn the doors, he being surrounded on every side fell upon his sword,
42 choosing rather to die nobly than to fall into the hands of the wicked wretches, and suffer outrage unworthy of his own nobleness:
43 but since he missed his stroke through the excitement of the struggle, and the crowds were now rushing within the door, he ran bravely up to the wall and cast himself down manfully amongst the crowds.
44 But as they quickly gave back, a space was made, and he fell on the middle of his side.
45 And having yet breath within him, and being inflamed with passion, he rose up, and though his blood gushed out in streams and his wounds were grievous, he ran through the crowds, and standing upon a steep rock,
46 when as his blood was now well near spent, he drew forth his bowels through the wound, and taking them in both his hands he shook them at the crowds; and calling upon him who is Lord of the life and the spirit to restore him these again, he thus died.
First Maccabees First Esdras Prayer of Manasses
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