1 Maccabees 1

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the first book of the

Maccabees

1 Maccabees 1

Alexander the Great

1After Alexander son of Philip, the Macedonian, who came from the land of Kittim, had defeateda Dari'us, king 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 sons 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, Anti'ochus Epiph'anes, son of Anti'ochus the king; he had been a hostage in Rome. He began to reign in the one hundred and thirty-seventh year of the kingdom of the Greeks.b

11In those days lawless men came forth from Israel, and misled many, saying, "Let us go and make a covenant with the Gentiles round about us, for since we separated from them many evils have come upon us." 12This proposal pleased them, 13and some of the people eagerly went to the king. He 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 Anti'ochus saw that his kingdom was established, he determined to become king of the land of Egypt, 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 Ptol'emy king of Egypt in battle, and Ptol'emy turned and fled before him, and many were wounded and fell. 19And they captured the fortified cities in the land of Egypt, and he plundered the land of Egypt.

Persecution of the Jews

20After subduing Egypt, Anti'ochus returned in the one hundred and forty-third year.c 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 which he found. 24Taking them all, he departed to his own land.

He committed deeds of murder,

and spoke with great arrogance.

25Israel mourned deeply in every community,

26rulers and elders groaned,

maidens 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 shook 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. 32And they took captive the women and children, and seized the cattle. 33Then they fortified the city of David with a great strong wall and strong towers, and it became their citadel. 34And they stationed there a sinful people, lawless men. These strengthened their position; 35they stored up arms and food, and collecting the spoils of Jerusalem they stored them there, and became a great snare.

36It became an ambush against the sanctuary,

an evil adversary of Israel continually.

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 as 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 each should give up his 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 cities 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 feasts, 46to defile the sanctuary and the priests, 47to build altars and sacred precincts and shrines for idols, to sacrifice swine and unclean animals, 48and to leave their sons uncircumcised. They were to make themselves abominable by everything unclean and profane, 49so that they should forget the law and change all the ordinances. 50"And whoever does not obey the command of the king shall die."

51In such words he wrote to his whole kingdom. And he appointed inspectors over all the people and commanded the cities of Judah to offer sacrifice, city by city. 52Many of the people, every one 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 and forty-fifth year,d they erected a desolating sacrilege upon the altar of burnt offering. They also built altars in the surrounding cities of Judah, 55and burned incense at the doors of the houses and in the streets. 56The books of the law which they found they tore to pieces and burned with fire. 57Where the book of the covenant was found in the possession of any one, or if any one adhered to the law, the decree of the king condemned him to death. 58They kept using violence against Israel, against those found month after month in the cities. 59And on the twenty-fifth day of the month they offered sacrifice on the altar which was upon 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. 64And very great wrath came upon Israel.