Nicanor Demands Work on the Sabbath
1But Nica´nor, hearing that Judas and his company were in the strong places about Samaria, resolved without any danger to set upon them on the sabbath day. 2Nevertheless the Jews that were compelled to go with him said, O destroy not so cruelly and barbarously, but give honor to that day, which he, that seeth all things, hath honored with holiness above all other days. 3Then the most ungracious wretch demanded, if there were a Mighty one in heaven, that had commanded the sabbath day to be kept. 4#Exod 20.8-11. And when they said, There is in heaven a living Lord, and mighty, who commanded the seventh day to be kept; 5then said the other, And I also am mighty upon earth, and I command to take arms, and to do the king's business. Yet he obtained not to have his wicked will done. 6So Nica´nor in exceeding pride and haughtiness determined to set up a public monument of his victory over Judas and them that were with him.
Judas Encourages His Men
7But Maccabe´us had ever sure confidence that the Lord would help him: 8wherefore he exhorted his people not to fear the coming of the heathen against them, but to remember the help which in former times they had received from heaven, and now to expect the victory and aid, which should come unto them from the Almighty. 9#Matt 5.17; 7.12; 22.40; Acts 13.15; 26.22. And so comforting them out of the law and the prophets, and withal putting them in mind of the battles that they won afore, he made them more cheerful. 10#2 Macc 11.27-32; 14.20-28. And when he had stirred up their minds, he gave them their charge, showing them therewithal the falsehood of the heathen, and the breach of oaths. 11Thus he armed every one of them, not so much with defense of shields and spears, as with comfortable and good words: and beside that, he told them a dream worthy to be believed, as if it had been so indeed, which did not a little rejoice them.
12 # 2 Macc 3.1-40. And this was his vision: That Oni´as, who had been high priest, a virtuous and a good man, revered in conversation, gentle in condition, well spoken also, and exercised from a child in all points of virtue, holding up his hands prayed for the whole body of the Jews. 13This done, in like manner there appeared a man with gray hairs, and exceeding glorious, who was of a wonderful and excellent majesty. 14Then Oni´as answered, saying, This is a lover of the brethren, who prayeth much for the people, and for the holy city, to wit, Jeremiah the prophet of God. 15Whereupon Jeremiah holding forth his right hand gave to Judas a sword of gold, and in giving it spake thus, 16Take this holy sword, a gift from God, with the which thou shalt wound the adversaries.
The Jews Take Courage
17Thus being well comforted by the words of Judas, which were very good, and able to stir them up to valor, and to encourage the hearts of the young men, they determined not to pitch camp, but courageously to set upon them, and manfully to try the matter by conflict, because the city and the sanctuary and the temple were in danger. 18For the care that they took for their wives, and their children, their brethren, and kinsfolk, was in least account with them: but the greatest and principal fear was for the holy temple. 19Also they that were in the city took not the least care, being troubled for the conflict abroad.
Judas' Prayer Before Battle
(1 Maccabees 7.40-42)
20And now, when as all looked what should be the trial, and the enemies were already come near, and the army was set in array, and the beasts conveniently placed, and the horsemen set in wings, 21Maccabe´us seeing the coming of the multitude, and the divers preparations of armor, and the fierceness of the beasts, stretched out his hands toward heaven, and called upon the Lord that worketh wonders, knowing that victory cometh not by arms, but even as it seemeth good to him, he giveth it to such as are worthy: 22#2 Kgs 19.35; 1 Macc 7.41; 2 Macc 8.19. therefore in his prayer he said after this manner; O Lord, thou didst send thine angel in the time of Hezeki´ah king of Judah, and didst slay in the host of Sennach´erib an hundred fourscore and five thousand: 23#2 Macc 11.6. wherefore now also, O Lord of heaven, send a good angel before us for a fear and dread unto them; 24and through the might of thine arm let those be stricken with terror, that come against thy holy people to blaspheme. And he ended thus.
Nicanor Is Defeated and Killed
(1 Maccabees 7.43-46)
25Then Nica´nor and they that were with him came forward with trumpets and songs. 26But Judas and his company encountered the enemies with invocation and prayer. 27So that fighting with their hands, and praying unto God with their hearts, they slew no less than thirty and five thousand men: for through the appearance of God they were greatly cheered. 28Now when the battle was done, returning again with joy, they knew that Nica´nor lay dead in his harness.
The Jews Celebrate
29Then they made a great shout and a noise, praising the Almighty in their own language. 30And Judas, who was ever the chief defender of the citizens both in body and mind, and who continued his love toward his countrymen all his life, commanded to strike off Nica´nor's head, and his hand with his shoulder, and bring them to Jerusalem. 31#1 Macc 1.33; 6.18. So when he was there, and called them of his nation together, and set the priests before the altar, he sent for them that were of the tower, 32#2 Macc 14.33. and showed them vile Nica´nor's head, and the hand of that blasphemer, which with proud brags he had stretched out against the holy temple of the Almighty. 33And when he had cut out the tongue of that ungodly Nica´nor, he commanded that they should give it by pieces unto the fowls, and hang up the reward of his madness before the temple. 34So every man praised toward the heaven the glorious Lord, saying, Blessed be he that hath kept his own place undefiled. 35#1 Sam 31.9; Jdth 14.1; 1 Macc 7.47. He hanged also Nica´nor's head upon the tower, an evident and manifest sign unto all of the help of the Lord. 36#Esth 9.20-22; 1 Macc 7.49. And they ordained all with a common decree in no case to let that day pass without solemnity, but to celebrate the thirteenth day of the twelfth month, which in the Syrian tongue is called Adar, the day before Mor´decai's day.
The Author's Conclusion
37Thus went it with Nica´nor: and from that time forth the Hebrews had the city in their power. And here will I make an end. 38And if I have done well, and as is fitting the story, it is that which I desired: but if slenderly and meanly, it is that which I could attain unto. 39For as it is hurtful to drink wine or water alone; and as wine mingled with water is pleasant, and delighteth the taste: even so speech finely framed delighteth the ears of them that read the story. And here shall be an end.