1Macc 1-2

Alexander the Great 1After Alexander son of Philip, the Macedonian, who came from the land of Kittim, had defeated King Darius of the Persians and the Medes, he succeeded him as king. (He had previously become king of Greece.)2He fought many battles, conquered strongholds, and put to death the kings of the earth.3He advanced to the ends of the earth, and plundered many nations. When the earth became quiet before him, he was exalted, and his heart was lifted up.4He gathered a very strong army and ruled over countries, nations, and princes, and they became tributary to him.5After this he fell sick and perceived that he was dying.6So he summoned his most honored officers, who had been brought up with him from youth, and divided his kingdom among them while he was still alive.7And after Alexander had reigned twelve years, he died.8Then his officers began to rule, each in his own place.9They all put on crowns after his death, and so did their descendants after them for many years; and they caused many evils on the earth.Antiochus Epiphanes and Renegade Jews 10From them came forth a sinful root, Antiochus Epiphanes, son of King Antiochus; he had been a hostage in Rome. He began to reign in the one hundred thirty-seventh year of the kingdom of the Greeks.11In those days certain renegades came out from Israel and misled many, saying, “Let us go and make a covenant with the Gentiles around us, for since we separated from them many disasters have come upon us.”12This proposal pleased them,13and some of the people eagerly went to the king, who authorized them to observe the ordinances of the Gentiles.14So they built a gymnasium in Jerusalem, according to Gentile custom,15and removed the marks of circumcision, and abandoned the holy covenant. They joined with the Gentiles and sold themselves to do evil.Antiochus in Egypt 16When Antiochus saw that his kingdom was established, he determined to become king of the land of Egypt, in order that he might reign over both kingdoms.17So he invaded Egypt with a strong force, with chariots and elephants and cavalry and with a large fleet.18He engaged King Ptolemy of Egypt in battle, and Ptolemy turned and fled before him, and many were wounded and fell.19They captured the fortified cities in the land of Egypt, and he plundered the land of Egypt.Persecution of the Jews 20After subduing Egypt, Antiochus returned in the one hundred forty-third year. He went up against Israel and came to Jerusalem with a strong force.21He arrogantly entered the sanctuary and took the golden altar, the lampstand for the light, and all its utensils.22He took also the table for the bread of the Presence, the cups for drink offerings, the bowls, the golden censers, the curtain, the crowns, and the gold decoration on the front of the temple; he stripped it all off.23He took the silver and the gold, and the costly vessels; he took also the hidden treasures that he found.24Taking them all, he went into his own land. He shed much blood, and spoke with great arrogance.25Israel mourned deeply in every community,26rulers and elders groaned, young women and young men became faint, the beauty of the women faded.27Every bridegroom took up the lament; she who sat in the bridal chamber was mourning.28Even the land trembled for its inhabitants, and all the house of Jacob was clothed with shame.The Occupation of Jerusalem 29Two years later the king sent to the cities of Judah a chief collector of tribute, and he came to Jerusalem with a large force.30Deceitfully he spoke peaceable words to them, and they believed him; but he suddenly fell upon the city, dealt it a severe blow, and destroyed many people of Israel.31He plundered the city, burned it with fire, and tore down its houses and its surrounding walls.32They took captive the women and children, and seized the livestock.33Then they fortified the city of David with a great strong wall and strong towers, and it became their citadel.34They stationed there a sinful people, men who were renegades. These strengthened their position;35they stored up arms and food, and collecting the spoils of Jerusalem they stored them there, and became a great menace,36for the citadel became an ambush against the sanctuary, an evil adversary of Israel at all times.37On every side of the sanctuary they shed innocent blood; they even defiled the sanctuary.38Because of them the residents of Jerusalem fled; she became a dwelling of strangers; she became strange to her offspring, and her children forsook her.39Her sanctuary became desolate like a desert; her feasts were turned into mourning, her sabbaths into a reproach, her honor into contempt.40Her dishonor now grew as great as her glory; her exaltation was turned into mourning.Installation of Gentile Cults 41Then the king wrote to his whole kingdom that all should be one people,42and that all should give up their particular customs.43All the Gentiles accepted the command of the king. Many even from Israel gladly adopted his religion; they sacrificed to idols and profaned the sabbath.44And the king sent letters by messengers to Jerusalem and the towns of Judah; he directed them to follow customs strange to the land,45to forbid burnt offerings and sacrifices and drink offerings in the sanctuary, to profane sabbaths and festivals,46to defile the sanctuary and the priests,47to build altars and sacred precincts and shrines for idols, to sacrifice swine and other unclean animals,48and to leave their sons uncircumcised. They were to make themselves abominable by everything unclean and profane,49so that they would forget the law and change all the ordinances.50He added, “And whoever does not obey the command of the king shall die.”51In such words he wrote to his whole kingdom. He appointed inspectors over all the people and commanded the towns of Judah to offer sacrifice, town by town.52Many of the people, everyone who forsook the law, joined them, and they did evil in the land;53they drove Israel into hiding in every place of refuge they had.54Now on the fifteenth day of Chislev, in the one hundred forty-fifth year, they erected a desolating sacrilege on the altar of burnt offering. They also built altars in the surrounding towns of Judah,55and offered incense at the doors of the houses and in the streets.56The books of the law that they found they tore to pieces and burned with fire.57Anyone found possessing the book of the covenant, or anyone who adhered to the law, was condemned to death by decree of the king.58They kept using violence against Israel, against those who were found month after month in the towns.59On the twenty-fifth day of the month they offered sacrifice on the altar that was on top of the altar of burnt offering.60According to the decree, they put to death the women who had their children circumcised,61and their families and those who circumcised them; and they hung the infants from their mothers' necks.62But many in Israel stood firm and were resolved in their hearts not to eat unclean food.63They chose to die rather than to be defiled by food or to profane the holy covenant; and they did die.64Very great wrath came upon Israel.Chapter 2Mattathias and His Sons 1In those days Mattathias son of John son of Simeon, a priest of the family of Joarib, moved from Jerusalem and settled in Modein.2He had five sons, John surnamed Gaddi,3Simon called Thassi,4Judas called Maccabeus,5Eleazar called Avaran, and Jonathan called Apphus.6He saw the blasphemies being committed in Judah and Jerusalem,7and said, “Alas! Why was I born to see this, the ruin of my people, the ruin of the holy city, and to live there when it was given over to the enemy, the sanctuary given over to aliens?8Her temple has become like a person without honor;9her glorious vessels have been carried into exile. Her infants have been killed in her streets, her youths by the sword of the foe.10What nation has not inherited her palaces and has not seized her spoils?11All her adornment has been taken away; no longer free, she has become a slave.12And see, our holy place, our beauty, and our glory have been laid waste; the Gentiles have profaned them.13Why should we live any longer?”14Then Mattathias and his sons tore their clothes, put on sackcloth, and mourned greatly.Pagan Worship Refused 15The king's officers who were enforcing the apostasy came to the town of Modein to make them offer sacrifice.16Many from Israel came to them; and Mattathias and his sons were assembled.17Then the king's officers spoke to Mattathias as follows: “You are a leader, honored and great in this town, and supported by sons and brothers.18Now be the first to come and do what the king commands, as all the Gentiles and the people of Judah and those that are left in Jerusalem have done. Then you and your sons will be numbered among the Friends of the king, and you and your sons will be honored with silver and gold and many gifts.”19But Mattathias answered and said in a loud voice: “Even if all the nations that live under the rule of the king obey him, and have chosen to obey his commandments, everyone of them abandoning the religion of their ancestors,20I and my sons and my brothers will continue to live by the covenant of our ancestors.21Far be it from us to desert the law and the ordinances.22We will not obey the king's words by turning aside from our religion to the right hand or to the left.”23When he had finished speaking these words, a Jew came forward in the sight of all to offer sacrifice on the altar in Modein, according to the king's command.24When Mattathias saw it, he burned with zeal and his heart was stirred. He gave vent to righteous anger; he ran and killed him on the altar.25At the same time he killed the king's officer who was forcing them to sacrifice, and he tore down the altar.26Thus he burned with zeal for the law, just as Phinehas did against Zimri son of Salu.27Then Mattathias cried out in the town with a loud voice, saying: “Let every one who is zealous for the law and supports the covenant come out with me!”28Then he and his sons fled to the hills and left all that they had in the town.29At that time many who were seeking righteousness and justice went down to the wilderness to live there,30they, their sons, their wives, and their livestock, because troubles pressed heavily upon them.31And it was reported to the king's officers, and to the troops in Jerusalem the city of David, that those who had rejected the king's command had gone down to the hiding places in the wilderness.32Many pursued them, and overtook them; they encamped opposite them and prepared for battle against them on the sabbath day.33They said to them, “Enough of this! Come out and do what the king commands, and you will live.”34But they said, “We will not come out, nor will we do what the king commands and so profane the sabbath day.”35Then the enemy quickly attacked them.36But they did not answer them or hurl a stone at them or block up their hiding places,37for they said, “Let us all die in our innocence; heaven and earth testify for us that you are killing us unjustly.”38So they attacked them on the sabbath, and they died, with their wives and children and livestock, to the number of a thousand persons.39When Mattathias and his friends learned of it, they mourned for them deeply.40And all said to their neighbors: “If we all do as our kindred have done and refuse to fight with the Gentiles for our lives and for our ordinances, they will quickly destroy us from the earth.”41So they made this decision that day: “Let us fight against anyone who comes to attack us on the sabbath day; let us not all die as our kindred died in their hiding places.”Counter-Attack 42Then there united with them a company of Hasideans, mighty warriors of Israel, all who offered themselves willingly for the law.43And all who became fugitives to escape their troubles joined them and reinforced them.44They organized an army, and struck down sinners in their anger and renegades in their wrath; the survivors fled to the Gentiles for safety.45And Mattathias and his friends went around and tore down the altars;46they forcibly circumcised all the uncircumcised boys that they found within the borders of Israel.47They hunted down the arrogant, and the work prospered in their hands.48They rescued the law out of the hands of the Gentiles and kings, and they never let the sinner gain the upper hand.The Last Words of Mattathias 49Now the days drew near for Mattathias to die, and he said to his sons: “Arrogance and scorn have now become strong; it is a time of ruin and furious anger.50Now, my children, show zeal for the law, and give your lives for the covenant of our ancestors.51“Remember the deeds of the ancestors, which they did in their generations; and you will receive great honor and an everlasting name.52Was not Abraham found faithful when tested, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness?53Joseph in the time of his distress kept the commandment, and became lord of Egypt.54Phinehas our ancestor, because he was deeply zealous, received the covenant of everlasting priesthood.55Joshua, because he fulfilled the command, became a judge in Israel.56Caleb, because he testified in the assembly, received an inheritance in the land.57David, because he was merciful, inherited the throne of the kingdom forever.58Elijah, because of great zeal for the law, was taken up into heaven.59Hananiah, Azariah, and Mishael believed and were saved from the flame.60Daniel, because of his innocence, was delivered from the mouth of the lions.61“And so observe, from generation to generation, that none of those who put their trust in him will lack strength.62Do not fear the words of sinners, for their splendor will turn into dung and worms.63Today they will be exalted, but tomorrow they will not be found, because they will have returned to the dust, and their plans will have perished.64My children, be courageous and grow strong in the law, for by it you will gain honor.65“Here is your brother Simeon who, I know, is wise in counsel; always listen to him; he shall be your father.66Judas Maccabeus has been a mighty warrior from his youth; he shall command the army for you and fight the battle against the peoples.67You shall rally around you all who observe the law, and avenge the wrong done to your people.68Pay back the Gentiles in full, and obey the commands of the law.”69Then he blessed them, and was gathered to his ancestors.70He died in the one hundred forty-sixth year and was buried in the tomb of his ancestors at Modein. And all Israel mourned for him with great lamentation.