Greeks and Judeans: “Hellenizing” and “Judaizing” in 2 Maccabees (first century BCE)

Citation with stable link: Philip A. Harland, 'Greeks and Judeans: “Hellenizing” and “Judaizing” in 2 Maccabees (first century BCE),' Last modified October 13, 2022,

Ancient author(s): Jason of Kyrene as abridged and reworked by the author of 2 Maccabees, portions of chapters 2-8, 14-15 (link to Greek LXX text; link to full translation)

Comments: The writing known as 2 Maccabees (likely produced between 78 and 63 BCE), which is actually an abrigement of a longer lost work (which likely dated before 87 BCE), provides a clear example of a Judean (Jew) struggling with the question of ethnic relations (particularly between Judeans and Greeks) and the preservation of one’s own ancestral customs under colonial rule in the late Hellenistic era. In relating incidents associated with Greco-Macedonian Seleukid hegemony (especially Antiochos IV Epiphanes, reigned 175-164 BCE) and the Judean family of Maccabees, the author frames the discussion primarily in terms of the preservation or renewal of Judean ancestral customs, expressed with the active concept of “Judaizing” (ioudaismos), in opposition against the incursion of foreign or Greek customs, expressed with the concepts of “foreignizing” (allophylismos) or “Hellenizing” (hellenismos). Judaizing reverses the effects of Hellenizing. In all cases, the nouns capture verbal action, rather than a static system of belief and practice that one might hold to be true, like our modern “-isms” (on which see Mason’s article cited below). While the former concept (ioudaismos) has been often translated “Judaism” and therefore often understood as such a system (reminiscent of a modern concept of “religion” that did not exist in antiquity), this really misses important nuances that align closely with other ancient terms to express (or critique) processes of acculturation or the adoption of foreign customs, such as “Medizing” or “Medism” (medismos), on which go to this link for some background for understanding 2 Maccabees.

Works consulted: Jonathan Goldstein, II Maccabees (New York: Doubleday, 1983) (link); Steve Mason, “Jews, Judaeans, Judaizing, Judaism: Problems of Categorization in Ancient History,” Journal for the Study of Judaism 38 (2007): 457–512 (link).

Source of the translation: An adaptation by Harland of the World English Bible translation (itself based on ASV).


[The letter from the Judeans in Judea to the Judeans in Egypt, in which the authors call for the celebration of the new eight-day Judean festival omitted.]

[Introduction to the abridgement with a focus on the Maccabee family’s actions of Judaizing and restoring Judean laws]

2 . . . (19) Now the things concerning Judas Maccabeus and his brothers, the purification of the greatest temple, the dedication of the altar, (20) and further the wars against Antiochos Epiphanes and Eupator his son, and the manifestations that came from heaven to those who fought with one another in honourable actions for the purpose of Judaizing (Ioudaismos). The result was that, being only a few in number, they seized the whole country, chased the barbarian hordes, recovered the temple renowned all the world over once again, freed the city, and restored the laws which were about to be overthrown, seeing the Lord became gracious to them with all kindness.

These things which have been declared by Jason of Kyrene (or: Cyrene) in five books, we will attempt to abridge in one book. For having in view the confused mass of the numbers, and the difficulty which awaits those who would enter into the narratives of the history, by reason of the abundance of the matter, (25) we were careful that those who choose to read may be attracted, and that those who wish us well may find it easy to recall, and that all readers may benefit. Although to us, who have taken upon ourselves the painful labour of the abridgement, the task is not easy, but a matter of sweat and sleeplessness, even as it is no light thing to someone who prepares a banquet and to someone who seeks the benefit of others. Nevertheless, for the sake of the gratitude of the many we will gladly endure the painful labour, leaving to the historian the exact handling of every particular, and again having no strength to fill in the outlines of our abridgement. For as the masterbuilder of a new house must care for the whole structure, and again he who undertakes to decorate and paint it must seek out the things fit for its decoration, even so I think it is also with us. (30) To occupy the ground, and to indulge in long discussions, and to be curious in particulars, is fitting for the first author of the history, Yet to strive after brevity in expression and to avoid a laboured fullness in the treatment is offered to the person who would bring a writing into a new form. Here then let’s begin the narration, only adding this much to that which has already been said; for it is a foolish thing to make a long prologue to the history, and to abridge the history itself.

[Godly Onias, problematic Simon, and Heliodoros’ actions against Judean custom – temple treasury]

3 When the holy city was inhabited with unbroken peace and the laws were kept very well because of the godliness of Onias [III] the high priest [before 175 BCE] and his hatred of wickedness, it came to pass that even the kings themselves honoured the place and glorified the temple with the noblest presents, so that even king Seleukos of Asia [IV Philopater, reigned 187-175 BCE], bore all the costs belonging to the services of the sacrifices out of his own revenues.

But a man named Simon of the tribe of Benjamin, having been made guardian of the temple, disagreed with the high priest about the ruling of the market in the city. (5) When he couldn’t overcome Onias, he went to Apollonios of Tarsos, who at that time was governor of Coelesyria and Phoenicia. He brought him word about how the treasury in Jerusalem was full of untold sums of money, so that the amount of the funds was innumerable, and that they didn’t pertain to the account of the sacrifices, but that it was possible that these should fall under the king’s [Seleukos’s] power. When Apollonios met the king, he informed him of the money about which he had been told. So the king appointed Heliodoros, who was his chancellor, and sent him with a command to accomplish the removal of the reported money. So Heliodoros set out on his journey at once, ostensibly to visit the cities of Coelesyria and Phoenicia, but in fact to execute the king’s purpose. When he had come to Jerusalem and had been courteously received by the high priest of the city, he told him about the information which had been given, and declared why he had come; and he inquired if in truth these things were so. (10) The high priest explained to him that there were in the treasury deposits belonging to widows and orphans, and moreover some money belonging to Hyrkanos the son of Tobias, a man in very high place, not as that impious Simon falsely alleged. He also explained that in all there were four hundred talents of silver and two hundred of gold, and that it was altogether impossible that wrong should be done to those who had put trust in the holiness of the place, and in the majesty and inviolable sanctity of the temple, honoured over all the world.

But Heliodoros, because of the king’s command given him, said that in any case this money must be confiscated for the king’s treasury. So having appointed a day, he entered in to direct the inquiry concerning these matters. There was considerable distress throughout the whole city. (15) The priests, prostrating themselves before the altar in their priestly garments, and called toward heaven upon him who gave the law concerning deposits, that he should preserve these treasures safe for those who had deposited them. Whoever saw the appearance of the high priest [Onias] was wounded in mind, because his countenance and the change of his colour betrayed the distress of his soul. For a terror and a shuddering of the body had come over the man, by which the pain that was in his heart was plainly shown to those who looked at him. Those who were in the houses rushed out in crowds to make a universal supplication, because the place was about to come into dishonour. The women, wrapped with sackcloth under their breasts, thronged the streets. The virgins who were kept indoors ran together, some to the gates, others to the walls, and some looked out through the windows. (20) All, stretching out their hands toward heaven, made their solemn supplication. Then it was pitiful to see the multitude prostrating themselves all mixed together, and the anxiety of the high priest in his great distress. While therefore they called upon the Almighty Lord to keep the things entrusted to them safe and secure for those who had entrusted them, Heliodoros went on to execute that which had been decreed.

But when Heliodoros was already present there with his guards near the treasury, the sovereign of spirits and of all authority caused a great manifestation, so that all who had presumed to come with him, stricken with dismay at the power of God, fainted in terror. (25) For they saw a horse with a frightening rider, adorned with beautiful trappings, and he rushed fiercely and struck at Heliodoros with his forefeet. It seemed like he who sat on the horse had complete armour of gold. Two others also appeared to him, young men notable in their strength, and beautiful in their glory, and splendid in their apparel, who stood by him on either side, and scourged him unceasingly, inflicting on him many sore striped wounds. When Heliodoros had fallen suddenly to the ground, and great darkness had come over him, his guards picked him up and put him on a stretcher, and carried him—this man who had just now entered with a great retinue and all his guard into the above mentioned treasury, himself now brought to utter helplessness, manifestly made to recognize the sovereignty of God. So, while he, through the working of God, speechless and without any hope and deliverance, lay prostrate, (30) they blessed the Lord who acted marvelously for his own place.

The temple, which a little before was full of terror and alarm, was filled with joy and gladness after the Almighty Lord appeared. But quickly some of Heliodoros’s familiar friends implored Onias to call upon the Most High to grant life to him who lay quite at the last gasp. The high priest, secretly fearing in case the king might come to think that some treachery toward Heliodoros had been perpetrated by the Judeans, brought a sacrifice for the recovery of the man. But as the high priest was making the atoning sacrifice, the same young men appeared again to Heliodoros, arrayed in the same garments. They stood and said, “Give Onias the high priest great thank because for his sake the Lord has granted you life. See that you, since you have been scourged from heaven, proclaim to all men the sovereign majesty of God.” When they had spoken these words, they vanished out of sight.

(35) So Heliodoros, having offered a sacrifice to the Lord and vowed great vows to him who had saved his life, and having bidden Onias farewell, returned with his army to the king [Seleukos]. He testified to all men the works of the greatest God, which he had seen with his eyes. When the king asked Heliodoros what sort of man was fit to be sent yet once again to Jerusalem, he said, “If you have any enemy or conspirator against the state, send him there, and you will receive him back well scourged, if he even escapes with his life; because truly there is some power of God in that place. For he who has his dwelling in heaven himself has his eyes on that place and helps it. Those who come to hurt it, he strikes and destroys.” This was the history of Heliodoros and the keeping of the treasury.

[Antiochos Epiphanes becomes king and Jason becomes high priest with a shift to the Greek style]

4 The previously mentioned Simon, who had given information about the money against his homeland, slandered Onias [III], saying that it was he who had incited Heliodoros and had been the real cause of these evils. Simon dared to call Onias a conspirator. But Onias was actually the benefactor of the city, the guardian of his fellow-people, and an enthusiastic supporter of the laws. Simon’s hatred grew so great that even murders were perpetrated through one of Simon’s approved agents. When Onias saw the danger of the contention and saw that Apollonios the son of Menestheus, the governor of Coelesyria and Phoenicia, was increasing Simon’s malice, (5) Onias appealed to the king. Onias did this not to be an accuser of his fellow-citizens, but looking to the good of all the people, both communally and individually. For he saw that without the king’s involvement it was impossible for the state to obtain peace any more, and he saw that Simon would not cease from his madness.

When Seleukos was deceased, and Antiochos, who was called Epiphanes [IV, 175-164 BCE], succeeded to the kingdom, Jason the brother of Onias supplanted his brother in the high priesthood, having promised to the king at an audience three hundred sixty talents of silver, and out of another fund eighty talents. In addition to this, he undertook to assign one hundred fifty more, if it might be allowed him through the king’s authority to set him up a gymnasium and a body of youths to be trained in it, and to register the inhabitants of Jerusalem as citizens of Antioch.

[Hellenizing and foreignizing along with rejection of ancestral customs – requiring re-Judaizing]

(10) When the king had assented, and Jason had taken possession of the office, he immediately shifted those of his fellow-tribesmen to the Greek style. Jason introduced new unlawful habits (ethismoi) while setting aside the royal ordinances of special favour to the Judeans (granted by the means of John the father of Eupolemos, who went on the mission to the Romans to establish friendship and alliance) and seeking to overthrow the customary communal organization (politeia). For he eagerly established a gymnasium under the citadel itself, and caused the noblest of the young men to wear the Greek hat. Thus there was an extreme Hellenizing (hellenismos) and an advance of foreignizing (allophylismos) because of the exceeding impiety of Jason, who was an ungodly man and not a high priest.

As a result, the priests no longer had enthusiasm for the services of the altar. Instead, despising the sanctuary and neglecting the sacrifices, they rushed to enjoy that which was unlawfully provided in the wrestling arena, after the summons to the discus-throwing. (15) They despised the honours of their ancestors and valued the reputation of the Greeks best of all. For this reason, a severe disaster overtook them. The men whose ways of living they earnestly followed, and to whom they desired to be made like in all things, these became their enemies and punished them. For it is not a light thing to show irreverence to God’s laws, but later events will make this clear. . . [material omitted].

[Menelaos becomes high priest, ca. 172-162 BCE]

(23) Now after a space of three years, Jason sent Menelaos, the previously mentioned Simon’s brother, to carry the money to the king, and to make reports concerning some necessary matters. But being commended to the king and having been glorified by the display of his authority, Menelaos secured the high priesthood for himself, outbidding Jason by three hundred talents of silver. . . [material omitted concenring the rivalry between Menelaos and his brother Jason over the position of high priest, and the death of Jason].

[Antiochos Epiphanes’ actions against Judeans]

5 . . . (11) Now when news came to the king [Antiochos IV Epiphanes] concerning what was happening, he thought that Judea was in revolt. So, setting out from Egypt in a rage, he took the city by force of weapons, and commanded his soldiers to cut down without mercy those who came in their way, and to kill those who went into their houses. Then there was killing of young and old, destruction of boys, women, and children, and slaying of virgins and infants. In a total of three days, eighty thousand were destroyed, of which forty thousand were slain in close combat, and no fewer were sold into slavery than slain.

Not content with this, Antiochos presumed to enter into the most holy temple of all the earth, having Menelaos for his guide (who had proved himself a traitor both to the laws and to his homeland). Antichos even took the sacred vessels with his polluted hands and dragged down with his profane hands the offerings that had been dedicated by other kings to enhance the glory and honour of the place. Antiochos was lifted up in mind, not seeing that because of the faults of those who lived in the city the sovereign Lord had been provoked to anger a little while, and therefore his eye was turned away from the place. But had it not been so that they were already bound by many faults, this man, even as Heliodoros who was sent by king Seleukoss to view the treasury, would, as soon as he came forward, have been scourged and turned back from his daring deed.

However the Lord didn’t choose the people (ethnos) for the place’s sake, but the place for the people’s sake. (20) Therefore also the place itself, having shared in the calamities that happened to the people, did afterward share in its benefits. Furthermore, the place which was forsaken in the wrath of the almighty was, at the reconciliation of the great sovereign, restored again with all glory. As for Antiochos, when he had carried away out of the temple one thousand eight hundred talents, he hurried away to Antioch. In this arrogance, he thought that he could sail on land and walk on the sea, because his heart was lifted up. Moreover he left governors to afflict the descent group (genos): at Jerusalem, Philip, a Phrygian by descent group, and in character more barbarous than him who set him there; and at Gerizim, Andronikos; and, besides these, Menelaos, who worse than all the rest, exalted himself against his fellow-citizens.

[Judas Maccabeus and others intervene]

Having a malicious mind toward the Judeans whom Antiochos had made his citizens, he sent that lord of pollutions Apollonios with an army of twenty two thousand, commanding him to kill all those who were of full age, and to sell the women and the boys as slaves. (25) He came to Jerusalem, and pretending to be a man of peace, waited till the holy day of the Sabbath, and finding the Judeans at rest from work, he commanded his men to parade fully armed. He killed by the sword all those who came out to the spectacle. Running into the city with the armed men, he killed great multitudes. But Judas, who is also called Maccabeus, with about nine others, withdrew himself, and with his company kept himself alive in the mountains like wild animals do. They continued feeding on what grew wild, that they might not be partakers of the defilement.

[Further attempts to have Judeans abandon their ancestral laws]

6 Not long after this, the king sent out an old man of Athens to force the Judeans to depart from the ancestral laws and not to live by the laws of God, and also to pollute the sanctuary in Jerusalem and to call it by the name of Olympian Zeus, and to call the sanctuary on mount Gerizim by the name of Zeus Friend of Foreigners (Xenios), even as the people who lived in that place did. The visitation of this evil was harsh and utterly grievous. For the temple was filled with debauchery and reveling by the peoples (ethnē; i.e. non-Judeans), who dallied with prostitutes, and had intercourse with women within the sacred precincts, and moreover brought inside things that were not appropriate. (5) The altar was filled with those abominable things which had been prohibited by the laws. A man could neither keep the Sabbath, nor observe the feasts of their ancestors, nor so much as confess himself to be a Judean.

[Violence towards Judeans who failed to abandon ancestral customs]

On the day of the king’s birth every month, they were led along with bitter constraint to eat of the sacrifices. When the Dionysia festival came, they were compelled to go in procession in honour of Dionysos, wearing wreaths of ivy. A decree went out to the neighbouring Greek cities, by the suggestion of Ptolemy, that they should observe the same conduct against the Judeans, and should make them eat of the sacrifices, and that they should kill those who didn’t choose to go over to the Greek rites. So the present misery was for all to see. (10) For example, two women were brought in for having circumcised their children. These, when they had led them publicly around the city with the babes hung from their breasts, they threw down headlong from the wall. Others who had run together into the caves nearby to keep the seventh day secretly, were betrayed to Philip and were all burned together, because their piety kept them from defending themselves, in view of the honour of that most solemn day.

[Meaning of events for the abridger regarding God, Judeans, and the other peoples]

I urge those who read this book to not be discouraged because of these disasters, but to recognize that these punishments were not for the destruction but for the instruction of our descent group (genos). For indeed it is a sign of great kindness that those who act impiously are not let alone for a long time, but immediately meet with retribution. For in the case of the other peoples (ethnē), the sovereign Lord waits patiently to punish them until they have attained to the full measure of their sins. But not with us, that he may not take vengeance on us afterward, when we have come to the height of our sins. Therefore he never withdraws his mercy from us. Even though he punishes us with disasters, he doesn’t forsake his own people. However let what we have spoken suffice to remind you. But after a few words, we must come to the narrative.

[Eleazar stands up for ancestral customs: refusal of pig’s meat]

Eleazar, one of the principal scribes, a man already well advanced in years, and of a noble countenance, was compelled to open his mouth to eat pig’s meat. But he, welcoming death with honour rather than life with defilement, advanced of his own accord to the instrument of torture, but first spat out the meat, (20) as men should come who are resolute to repel such things as not even for the natural love of life is it lawful to taste. But those who had the charge of that forbidden sacrificial feast took the man aside, for the acquaintance which of old times they had with him, and privately implored him to bring meat of his own providing, such as was proper for him to use. They wanted him to pretend as though he did eat of the meat from the sacrifice, as had been commanded by the king, so that by so doing he might be delivered from death, and so his ancient friendship with them might be treated kindly. But he, having formed a high resolve, and one that became his years, the dignity of old age, and the gray hairs which he had reached with honour, and his excellent education from a child, or rather the holy laws of God’s ordaining, declared his mind accordingly, bidding them to quickly send him to Hades. “For it doesn’t become our years to dissemble,” he said, “that many of the young should suppose that Eleazar, the man of ninety years, had transitioned to foreignizing (allophylismos). (25) As a result, through my deception and for the sake of this brief and momentary life, they would be led astray because of me, and I defile and disgrace myself in my old age. For even if for the present time I would remove from me the punishment of men, yet whether I live or die, I wouldn’t escape the hands of the almighty. Therefore, by bravely parting with my life now, I will show myself worthy of my old age, and leave behind a noble example to the young to die willingly and nobly a glorious death for the revered and holy laws.” When he had said these words, he went immediately to the instrument of torture. When they changed the good will they bore toward him a little before into ill will because these words of his were, as they thought, sheer madness, (30) and when he was at the point to die with the blows, he groaned aloud and said, “To the Lord, who has the holy knowledge, it is manifest that, while I might have been delivered from death, I endure severe pains in my body by being scourged; but in soul I gladly suffer these things because of my fear of him.” So this man also died like this, leaving his death for an example of nobleness and a memorial of virtue, not only to the young but also to the great body of his people.

[Mother and seven brothers stand up for ancestral customs]

7 It came to pass that seven brothers and their mother were at the king’s command taken and shamefully handled with scourges and cords, to compel them to taste of the abominable pig’s meat. One of them made himself the spokesman and said, “What would you ask and learn from us? For we are ready to die rather than transgress the ancestral laws.” The king fell into a rage, and commanded that pans and cauldrons be heated. When these were immediately heated, he gave orders to cut out the tongue of him who had been their spokesman, and to scalp him, and to cut off his extremities, with the rest of his brothers and his mother looking on. (5) And when he was utterly maimed, the king gave orders to bring him to the fire, being yet alive, and to fry him in the pan. And as the smoke from the pan spread far, they and their mother also exhorted one another to die nobly, saying this: “The Lord God sees, and in truth isentreated for us, as Moses declared in his song, which witnesses against the people to their faces, saying, ‘And he will have compassion on his servants.’ ” And when the first had died like this, they brought the second to the mocking; and they pulled off the skin of his head with the hair and asked him, “Will you eat, before your body is punished in every limb?” But he answered in the language of his ancestors and said to them, “No.” Therefore he also underwent the next torture in succession, as the first had done. When he was at the last gasp, he said, “You, miscreant, release us out of this present life, but the King of the world will raise us who have died for his laws up to an everlasting renewal of life.” After him, the third was made a victim of their mocking. When he was required, he quickly put out his tongue, and stretched out his hands courageously, and nobly said, “I got these from heaven. For his laws’ sake I treat these with contempt. From him, I hope to receive these back again.” As a result, the king himself and those who were with him were astonished at the young man’s soul, for he regarded the pains as nothing. When he too was dead, they shamefully handled and tortured the fourth in the same way. Being near to death he said this: “It is good to die at the hands of men and look for the hope which is given by God, that we will be raised up again by him. For as for you, you will have no resurrection to life.” Next after him, they brought the fifth and shamefully handled him. But he looked toward the king and said, “Because you have authority among men, though you are corruptible, you do what you please. But don’t think that our descent group has been forsaken by God. But hold on to your ways, and see how his sovereign majesty will torture you and your descendants!” After him they brought the sixth. When he was about to die, he said, “Don’t be vainly deceived, for we suffer these things for our own doings, as sinning against our own God. Astounding things have come to pass; but don’t think you that you will be unpunished, having tried to fight against God!” But above all, the mother was marvelous and worthy of honourable memory; for when she watched seven sons perishing within the space of one day, she bore the sight with a good courage because of her hope in the Lord. She exhorted each one of them in the language of their fathers, filled with a noble spirit and stirring up her woman’s thoughts with manly courage, saying to them, “I don’t know how you came into my womb. It wasn’t I who gave you your spirit and your life. It wasn’t I who brought into order the first elements of each one of you. Therefore the Creator of the world, who shaped the first origin of man and devised the first origin of all things, in mercy gives back to you again both your spirit and your life, as you now treat yourselves with contempt for his laws’ sake.” But Antiochos, thinking himself to be despised, and suspecting the reproachful voice, while the youngest was yet alive didn’t only make his appeal to him by words, but also at the same time promised with oaths that he would enrich him and raise him to high honour if he would turn from the ways of his ancestors, and that he would take him for his friend and entrust him with public affairs. (25) But when the young man would in no way listen, the king called to him his mother, and urged her to advise the youth to save himself. When he had urged her with many words, she undertook to persuade her son. But bending toward him, laughing the cruel tyrant to scorn, she spoke this in the language of her fathers: “My son, have pity upon me who carried you nine months in my womb, and nursed you three years, and nourished and brought you up to this age, and sustained you. I beg you, my child, to lift your eyes to the sky and the earth, and to see all things that are in it, and thus to recognize that God made them not of things that were, and that the race of men in this way comes into being. Don’t be afraid of this butcher, but, proving yourself worthy of your brothers, accept your death, that in God’s mercy I may receive you again with your brothers.” But before she had finished speaking, the young man said, “What are you all waiting for? I don’t obey the commandment of the king, but I listen to the commandment of the law that was given to our fathers through Moses. But you, who have devised all kinds of evil against the Hebrews, will in no way escape God’s hands. For we are suffering because of our own sins. If for rebuke and chastening, our living Lord has been angered a little while, yet he will again be reconciled with his own servants. But you, O unholy man and of all most vile, don’t be vainly lifted up in your wild pride with uncertain hopes, raising your hand against the heavenly children. For you have not yet escaped the judgment of the Almighty God who sees all things. For these our brothers, having endured a short pain that brings everlasting life, have now died under God’s covenant. But you, through God’s judgment, will receive in just measure the penalties of your arrogance. But I, as my brothers, give up both body and soul for the laws of our fathers, calling upon God that he may speedily become gracious to the people, and that you, amidst trials and plagues, may confess that he alone is God, and that in me and my brothers you may bring to an end the wrath of the Almighty which has been justly brought upon our whole descent group.” But the king, falling into a rage, handled him worse than all the rest, being exasperated at his mocking. (40) So he also died pure, putting his whole trust in the Lord. Last of all, after her sons, the mother died. So let it suffice to have said this much concerning the sacrificial feasts and the extreme tortures.

[Judas and other Judaizers, i.e. enthusiastic re-introducers of Judean customs to counter Hellenizing]

8 But Judas, who is also called Maccabeus, and those who were with him, making their way secretly into the villages, called to them their kindred. Taking with them those who had brought in the Judaizing (Ioudaismos), they gathered together about six thousand. They called upon the Lord to look at the people (laos) who were oppressed by everyone and to have compassion on the sanctuary that had been profaned by the ungodly men. They prayed for the Lord to have pity on the city that was suffering ruin and ready to be leveled to the ground and to listen to the blood that cried out to him. They prayed for the Lord to remember the lawless destruction of the innocent infants, concerning the blasphemies that had been committed against his name, and to show his hatred of wickedness. When Maccabeus had trained his men for service, the peoples [i.e. non-Judeans] at once found him unconquerable, for the wrath of the Lord was turned into mercy. Coming without warning, he set fire to cities and villages. And in winning back the most important positions, putting to flight a significant number of the enemies, he especially took advantage of the nights for such assaults. His courage was loudly talked about everywhere. . . [details of incidents leading up to Judas’ success omitted].

[Judaizing actions]

. . . 10 (1) Then Maccabeus and those who were with him, the Lord leading them on, recovered the temple and the city. They pulled down the altars that had been built in the marketplace by the foreigners (allophyloi), and also the sacred enclosures. Having cleansed the sanctuary, they made another altar of sacrifice. Striking flint and starting a fire, they offered sacrifices after they had ceased for two years, burned incense, lit lamps, and set out the show bread. When they had done these things, they bowed down and implored the Lord that they might not suffer any more such evils. But that, if they ever did sin, they might be chastened by him with forbearance, and not be delivered to blaspheming and barbarous peoples.

(5) Now on the same day that the sanctuary was profaned by foreigners, upon that very day it came to pass that the sanctuary was cleansed, even on the twentyfifth day of the same month, which is Chislev. They observed eight days with gladness in the manner of the feast of tabernacles, remembering how not long before, during the feast of tabernacles, they were wandering in the mountains and in the caves like wild animals. Therefore carrying wands wreathed with leaves, and beautiful branches, and palm fronds also, they offered up hymns of thanksgiving to him who had successfully brought to pass the cleansing of his own place. They ordained also with a public statute and decree, for all the people of the Judeans, that they should observe these days every year. Such were the events of the end of Antiochos, who was called Epiphanes. . . [incidents under Antiochos Eupator, Epiphanes’ succesor, omitted].

[Alkimos the defiler and Razis the Judaizer]

14 Three years later, news was brought to Judas and his company that Demetrios [I Soter, reigned ca. 162-150 BCE] the son of Seleukos, having sailed into the harbour of Tripolis with a mighty army and a fleet, had taken possession of the country, having made away with Antiochos and his guardian Lysias.

But one Alkimos, who had formerly been high priest and had voluntarily defiled himself in the times when there was no mingling [with other peoples], considering that there was no deliverance for him in any way, nor any more access to the holy altar, came to king Demetrios in about the one hundred fifty-first year [161 BCE], presenting to him a crown of gold and a palm, and beside these some of the festal olive boughs of the temple. For that day, he held his peace. (5) But after he gained an opportunity to further his own madness, being called by Demetrios into a meeting of his council, and asked how the Judeans stood affected and what they intended, he answered: “Those of the Judeans called Hasidaians, whose leader is Judas Maccabeus, keep up war and are seditious, not allowing the kingdom to find peace. Therefore, having laid aside my ancestral glory – I mean the high priesthood – I have now come here, first for the genuine 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 descent group is in no small misfortune. O king, having informed yourself of these things, take thought both for our country and for our descent group, which is surrounded by enemies, according to the gracious kindness with which you receive all. (10) For as long as Judas remains alive, it is impossible for the government to find peace.”

When he had spoken such words as these, at once the rest of the king’s friends, having ill will against Judas, inflamed Demetrios even more. He immediately appointed Nikanor, who had been master of the elephants, and made him governor of Judea. He sent him out, giving him written instructions to kill Judas himself and to scatter those who were with him, and to set up Alkimos as high priest of the great temple. . . . [material omitted].

(37) Now information was given to Nikanor against one Razis, an elder of Jerusalem, who was a lover of his fellow citizens and a man of very good report, and one called “father of the Judeans” for his good will. For in the former times when there was no mingling [with other peoples], he had been accused of Judaizing (Ioudaismos), and had risked body and life with all earnestness for Judaizing. Nikanor, wishing to make evident the ill will that he bore against the Judeans, sent more than five hundred soldiers to seize him (40) because he thought that he could injure them by seizing him. But when the troops were at the point of taking the tower, and were forcing the door of the court, and asked for fire to burn the doors, Razis, being surrounded on every side, fell upon his sword, choosing rather to die nobly than to fall into the hands of the wicked wretches, and suffer outrage unworthy of his own nobleness. 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 bravely among the crowds. But as they quickly gave back, a space was made, and he fell on the middle of his side. (45) Still having breath within him, and being inflamed with anger, Razis 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, when as his blood was now almost gone, he drew forth his bowels through the wound, and taking them in both his hands he shook them at the crowds. Calling upon him who is Lord of life and spirit to restore him these again. He died like that. . . [final episodes omitted].

[Conclusion by the abridger]

15 . . . (39) If I have written well and to the point in my story, this is what I myself desired; but if its poorly done and mediocre, this is the best I could do. For as it is distasteful to drink wine alone and likewise to drink water alone, while the mingling of wine with water at once gives full pleasantness to the flavour, so also the fashioning of the language delights the ears of those who read the story. Here is the end.

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