Alcimus Speaks against Judas
(1 Macc 7.1–21)
1Three years later, Judas and his men learnt that Demetrius son of Seleucus had sailed into the port of Tripolis with a powerful army and a fleet. 2It was reported that he had killed King Antiochus and his guardian Lysias and had taken over the country.
3There was a man by the name of Alcimus, who had formerly been High Priest but who had gladly adopted the Greek way of life during the revolt. Realizing that he could never again be High Priest and fearful of what the Jews might do to him, 4he went to see King Demetrius in the year 151.#14.4 the year 151: This corresponds to 161 bc. On this occasion he presented the king with a gold crown and a palm branch, together with some olive branches traditionally presented to the Temple, but he said nothing about his plans. 5Later, however, he got the chance to put his foolish plans into effect when Demetrius summoned him to a meeting of his advisers and asked him what the Jews were intending to do.
Alcimus said, 6“The followers of Judas Maccabaeus think of themselves as devout and patriotic; they love war and are constantly inciting the people to rebellion and will never leave the nation in peace. 7It is their fault that I no longer hold the glorious position of High Priest, to which I am entitled by birth. And so I have come here, 8primarily out of a genuine concern for your interests as king, but also out of consideration for my own people, for the foolish policies of Judas and his followers have brought terrible suffering on our entire nation. 9When Your Majesty has examined all the details of these matters, please act in your usual kind and generous manner to relieve the oppression of our nation and its people. 10As long as Judas is alive, it will be impossible for our nation to enjoy peace.”
Demetrius Sends Nicanor to Attack Judas
11As soon as Alcimus had finished his speech, the other advisers quickly seized this opportunity to arouse Demetrius' anger against Judas, because they also hated him. 12So King Demetrius immediately appointed Nicanor, who was the commander of his elephant forces, to be governor of Judea, and sent him there 13with orders to kill Judas, scatter his followers, and make Alcimus High Priest of the greatest Temple in all the world. 14All the foreigners in Judea, who had fled from Judas' attacks, now rushed to join forces with Nicanor, because they thought that any defeat or trouble that came to the Jews would be to their own advantage.
15 # 1 Macc 7.27–28 The Jews heard that Nicanor was attacking and that the foreigners in their country were giving him their support. So they threw earth on themselves and prayed to their God, who had chosen their nation as his possession for ever and had never failed to help them in time of need. 16Then Judas, their leader, gave the order, and they immediately marched out to engage the enemy in battle near the village of Adasa.#14.16 Probable text Adasa; Greek Dessau. 17Judas' brother Simon was fighting Nicanor but was gradually losing the battle because of an unexpected move on the part of the enemy. 18However, when Nicanor heard how bravely and courageously Judas and his men were fighting for their country, he decided not to settle the matter in battle. 19Instead, he sent Posidonius, Theodotus, and Mattathias to make a treaty with the Jews.
20After the terms of the treaty had been worked out in detail, Nicanor informed his troops, and they unanimously agreed. 21Then a day was set on which the leaders would meet in private. Ceremonial chairs were brought out from each camp and set up. 22Judas had taken the precaution of placing fully-armed troops in strategic places, in case of sudden treachery on the part of the enemy. But the two leaders had a friendly meeting. 23Nicanor stayed on in Jerusalem for some time after that. He did not ill-treat the Jews in any way, and even sent away the people who had come over to his side. 24The two men became the best of friends, and Judas was Nicanor's constant companion. 25Nicanor urged him to marry and start a family. So Judas did this and settled down to a peaceful life.
Nicanor Turns against Judas
26When Alcimus noticed how well Judas and Nicanor were getting along, he obtained a copy of the treaty and went to see King Demetrius. He told the king that Nicanor was disloyal to the government, because he had appointed the traitor Judas to be his successor. 27These false accusations infuriated the king, and in his anger he wrote to Nicanor, informing him that he was dissatisfied with the treaty and ordering him to arrest Judas Maccabaeus and send him to Antioch at once.
28When this message reached Nicanor, he was hurt and didn't know what to do, because he did not like having to break an agreement with a man who had kept his part of the bargain. 29Yet it was impossible for him to ignore the king's command, so he began looking for a way to trap Judas. 30Judas, however, noticed that Nicanor was becoming hostile and rude towards him, and he knew that this was a bad sign. So he gathered a large number of his followers and went into hiding.
31 # 1 Macc 7.29–30 When Nicanor realized that Judas had been too clever for him, he went to the great and holy Temple at the time when the priests were offering sacrifice and ordered them to surrender Judas to him. 32But the priests declared under oath that they had no idea where Judas was hiding. 33Then Nicanor raised his right arm in the direction of the Temple and made a solemn threat: “If you do not hand Judas over to me as a prisoner, I will level God's Temple to the ground, demolish this altar, and on this spot build a glorious temple to Dionysus.” 34Then he left, and immediately the priests raised their arms towards heaven and prayed to God, the faithful Defender of our nation: 35“Lord, you are in need of nothing, yet it has pleased you to place your Temple here and to live among us. 36You alone are holy, and your Temple has only recently been purified, so now protect its holiness for ever.”
Razis Dies for his Country
37One of the leaders in Jerusalem, a man by the name of Razis, was denounced to Nicanor. It was said that he had helped his people in many ways and was so highly respected by them that he was known as “the Father of the Jews.” 38During the early days of the revolution he had risked his life for Judaism and had been brought to trial because of his loyalty. 39Wishing to show clearly how much he disliked the Jews, Nicanor sent more than 500 soldiers to arrest Razis, 40because he thought his arrest would be a crippling blow to the Jews. 41The soldiers were about to capture the tower where Razis had gone. They were forcing open the gates to the courtyard, and the order had been given to set the door on fire. Razis realized there was no escape, so he tried to commit suicide with his sword, 42preferring to die with honour rather than suffer humiliation at the hands of evil men.
43Under the pressure of the moment, Razis misjudged the thrust of the sword, and it did not kill him. So, while the soldiers were swarming into the room, he rushed to the wall and jumped off like a brave hero into the crowd below. 44The crowd quickly moved back, and he fell in the space they left. 45Still alive, and burning with courage, he got up, and with blood gushing from his wounds, he ran through the crowd and finally climbed a steep rock. 46Now completely drained of blood, he tore out his intestines with both hands and threw them at the crowd, and as he did so, he prayed for the Lord of life and breath to give them back to him. That was how he died.