God's New Bible

The First Book of Maccabees

World English Bible Catholic 2020

- Chapter 6 -

The fruitless repentance and death of Antiochus. His son comes against Judas with a formidable army. He besieges Sion: but at last makes peace with the Jews.

King Antiochus was traveling through the upper countries; and he heard that in Elymais in Persia there was a city renowned for riches, for silver and gold,
and that the temple which was in it was exceedingly rich, and that in it were golden shields, breastplates, and weapons which Alexander, son of Philip, the Macedonian king, who reigned first among the Greeks, left behind there.
So he came and tried to take the city and to pillage it; and he was not able, because his plan was known to them of the city,
and they rose up against him in battle. He fled and returned to Babylon with great disappointment.
Then someone came into Persia bringing him news that the armies which went against the land of Judah had been put to flight,
and that Lysias went first with a strong army and was put to shame before them, and that they had grown strong because of weapons, power, and a supply of plunder which they took from the armies that they had cut off,
and that they had pulled down the abomination which he had built upon the altar that was in Jerusalem, and that they had surrounded the sanctuary with high walls, as before, and also Bethsura, his city.
It came to pass, when the king heard these words, he was astonished and moved exceedingly. He laid himself down on his bed, and fell sick for grief, because it had not turned out for him as he had planned.
He was there many days, because great grief continually gripped him, and he realized that he would die.
He called for all his(a) friends, and said to them, “Sleep departs from my eyes, and my heart fails because of worry.
I said in my heart, ‘To what suffering I have come! How great a flood it is that I’m in, now! For I was gracious and loved in my power.’
But now I remember the evils which I did at Jerusalem, and that I took all the vessels of silver and gold that were in it, and sent out to destroy the inhabitants of Judah without a cause.
I perceive that it is because of this that these evils have come upon me. Behold, I am perishing through great grief in a strange land.”
Then he called for Philip, one of his(b) friends, and set him over all his kingdom.
He gave him his crown, his robe, and his signet ring, so that he could guide Antiochus his son, and nourish him up that he might be king.
Then King Antiochus died there in the one hundred forty-ninth year.(c)
When Lysias learned that the king was dead, he set up Antiochus his son to reign, whom he had nourished up being young, and he called his name Eupator.
Those who were in the citadel kept hemming Israel in around the sanctuary, and always sought to harm them and to strengthen the Gentiles.
Judas planned to destroy them, and called all the people together to besiege them.
They were gathered together, and besieged them in(d) the one hundred fiftieth year, and he made mounds to shoot from, and engines of war.
Some of those who were hemmed in came out, and some of the ungodly men of Israel were joined to them.
They went to the king, and said, “How long will you not execute judgment, and avenge our kindred?
We were willing to serve your father and to live by his words, and to follow his commandments.
Because of this, the children of our people besieged the citadel(e) and were alienated from us; but as many of us as they could catch, they killed, and plundered our inheritances.
Not against us only did they stretch out their hand, but also against all their borders.
Behold, they are encamped this day against the citadel at Jerusalem to take it. They have fortified the sanctuary and Bethsura.
If you don’t quickly prevent them, they will do greater things than these, and you won’t be able to control them.
When the king heard this, he was angry, and gathered together all his(f) friends, the rulers of his army, and those who were over the cavalry.
Bands of hired soldiers came to him from other kingdoms and from islands of the sea.
The number of his forces was one hundred thousand infantry, and twenty thousand cavalry, and thirty-two elephants trained for war.
They went through Idumaea, and encamped against Bethsura, and fought against it many days, and made engines of war. The Jews came out and burned them with fire, and fought valiantly.
Judas marched away from the citadel and encamped at Bethzacharias, near the king’s camp.
The king rose early in the morning, and marched his army(g) at full speed along the road to Bethzacharias. His forces made themselves ready to battle and sounded their trumpets.
They offered the elephants the juice of grapes and mulberries, that they might prepare them for the battle.
They distributed the animals among the phalanxes. They set by each elephant a thousand men armed with coats of mail and helmets of brass on their heads. Five hundred chosen cavalry were appointed for each elephant.
These were ready beforehand, wherever the elephant was. Wherever the elephant went, they went with it. They didn’t leave it.
Strong, covered wooden towers were upon them, one upon each elephant, fastened upon it with secure harnesses. Upon each were four valiant men who fought upon them, beside his Indian driver.
The rest of the cavalry he set on this side and that side on the two flanks of the army, striking terror into the enemy, and protected by the phalanxes.
Now when the sun shone upon the shields of gold and brass, the mountains lit up, and blazed like flaming torches.
A part of the king’s army was spread upon the high hills and some on the low ground, and they went on firmly and in order.
All who heard the noise of their multitude, the marching of the multitude, and the rattling of the weapons trembled; for the army was exceedingly great and strong.
Judas and his army drew near for battle, and six hundred men of the king’s army fell.
Eleazar, who was called Avaran, saw one of the animals armed with royal breastplates, and it was taller than all the animals, and the king seemed to be on it.
He gave his life to deliver his people, and to get himself an everlasting name.
He ran upon him courageously into the midst of the phalanx, and killed on the right hand and on the left, and they parted away from him on this side and on that.
He crept under the elephant, and stabbed it from beneath, and killed it. The elephant fell to the earth upon him, and he died there.
They saw the strength of the kingdom and the fierce attack of the army, and turned away from them.
But the soldiers of the king’s army went up to Jerusalem to meet them, and the king encamped toward Judea and toward mount Zion.
He made peace with the people of Bethsura. He came out of the city because they had no food there to endure the siege, because it was a Sabbath to the land.
The king took Bethsura, and appointed a garrison there to keep it.
He encamped against the sanctuary many days; and set there mounds to shoot from, and engines of war, and machines for throwing fire and stones, and weapons to throw darts, and slings.
The Jews also made engines of war against their engines, and fought for many days.
But there was no food in the sanctuary, because it was the seventh year, and those who fled for safety into Judea from among the Gentiles had eaten up the rest of the stores.
There were only a few people left in the sanctuary, because the famine prevailed against them, and they were scattered, each man to his own place.
Lysias heard that Philip, whom Antiochus the king, while he was yet alive, appointed to raise his son Antiochus to be king,
had returned from Persia and Media, and with him the forces that went with the king, and that he was seeking to take control of the government.
He made haste, and gave orders to depart. He said to the king and the leaders of the army and to the men, “We get weaker daily, our food is scant, the place where we encamp is strong, and the affairs of the kingdom lie upon us.
Now therefore let’s negotiate with these men, and make peace with them and with all their nation,
and covenant with them, that they may walk after their own laws, as before; for because of their laws which we abolished they were angered, and did all these things.”
The speech pleased the king and the princes, and he sent to them to make peace; and they accepted it.
The king and the princes swore to them. On these conditions, they came out from the stronghold.
Then the king entered into mount Zion. He saw the strength of the place, and broke the oath which he had sworn, and gave orders to pull down the wall all around.
Then he left in haste and returned to Antioch, and found Philip master of the city. He fought against him, and took the city by force.


(a)6:10 See 1 Maccabees 2:18 .
(b)6:14 See 1 Maccabees 2:18 .
(c)6:16 Circa B.C. 164.
(d)6:20 circa B.C. 163.
(e)6:24 Gr. it.
(f)6:28 See 1 Maccabees 2:18 .
(g)6:33 Or, itself eager for the fight