2 Maccabees 14:18-15:39
18 Nevertheless, when Nicanor heard of the bravery of Judas and his men and their courage in battle for their country, he pulled back from deciding the matter by bloodshed. 19 So he sent forth Posidonius, Theodotus, and Mattathias to offer and receive pledges of friendship. 20 After an extensive investigation of the terms, the leader communicated the terms to the people, and it appeared they were of one mind; and they agreed to the treaty. 21 So they set aside a day to meet privately. From each army a chariot came forward, and seats of honor were set in place. 22 Judas appointed battle-ready men at strategic places lest the enemy attempt sudden trickery, but the consultation was held in a fitting way.
23 Nicanor remained in Jerusalem and did nothing improper, but he dismissed the crowd of people that had gathered. 24 He also kept Judas in his presence continually, for he was heartily attached to the man. 25 He encouraged him to marry and have children. Thus Judas got married, settled down, and lived a normal life.
A Rekindled Enmity
26 When Alcimus became aware of their goodwill for each other, he took the treaty that was made and went to King Demetrius. He told him Nicanor was disloyal to the government, since he had appointed Judas, the plotter against the kingdom, to be his successor. 27 The king became enraged. Provoked by the false accusations of that depraved man, he wrote to Nicanor that he was most displeased with the treaty and ordered him to send Maccabeus as a prisoner to Antioch at once.
28 When this message reached Nicanor, he was upset and very grieved that he had to break the agreement when the man had not done wrong. 29 But since he could not act in opposition to the king, he watched for a strategic opportunity to carry out the command. 30 Maccabeus noticed that Nicanor was becoming more harsh in his treatment of him and more rude when they met than was customary. Judas decided Nicanor’s sour behavior was not at all propitious, so he gathered up a good number of his men and hid from him.
31 When Nicanor realized he had been boldly outmaneuvered by the man, he went to the great and holy temple and found the priests offering the customary sacrifices. He commanded them to hand him over. 32 They declared under oath they did not know the whereabouts of the man he sought. 33 So Nicanor stretched out his right hand toward the temple and swore this oath: “If you will not hand over Judas to me as a prisoner, I will raze this shrine of God to the ground, destroy the altar, and erect at this place a splendid temple to Dionysus.” 34 After he said this, he departed. Then the priests reached out their hands to heaven, calling upon the everlasting Defender of our nation, saying, 35 “O Lord of all, while You have need of nothing, You were pleased to have a temple for Your dwelling in our midst. 36 Now then, O Holy One, O Lord of all holiness, preserve forever undefiled this house so recently purified.”
Razis the Elder Dies
37 Razis was one of the elders of Jerusalem and was denounced before Nicanor as a man who loved his fellow-citizens, a man held in high esteem and called a father of the Jews because of his goodwill. 38 For in past times when there was isolation from the Gentiles, he was brought to judgment for practicing the Jewish religion. But with all zeal he risked his life, body and soul, for his religion. 39 Nicanor wished to make obvious his ill-will for the Jews. So he sent more than five hundred soldiers to arrest Razis, 40 for he thought that by arresting him he would produce calamity among the Jews. 41 Thus when the soldiers were about to capture the tower and were forcing open the door of the courtyard, they commanded that the doors be set on fire. When Razis was surrounded, he fell upon his own sword, 42 for he preferred to die bravely rather than fall into the hands of sinners and suffer outrages unworthy of his own noble birth.
43 However, in the tension of the confrontation, he did not fall with exactness on his sword. As the crowd rushed through the doors, he took courage and jumped up on the wall, bravely throwing himself down into the throng. 44 But as people quickly stepped back, there was an open space, and he landed in the midst of the empty area. 45 He was still alive. In a blaze of anger, he stood up; and though his blood gushed like a spring and his injuries were severe, he darted through the crowd. He climbed up on a steep rock, 46 and with his blood completely drained out of him, he tore out his intestines, took them in both hands and threw them at the crowd as he called on the Lord of life and spirit to return them to him again. Such was the manner of his death.
Nicanor’s Failed Plan
1 When Nicanor learned that Judas and his men were in the province of Samaria, he decided to attack them in utter safety on their day of rest. 2 But the Jews who were forced to accompany him said, “By no means should you so cruelly and barbarously bring destruction. Show respect for the Sabbath day, which He who sees all things has honored with holiness above other days.” 3 Then the thrice-sinful man asked if there were a Lord in heaven who ordered the keeping of the Sabbath day. 4 When they declared, “It is the living Lord Himself, the Ruler in heaven, who commanded the keeping of the seventh day,” 5 he responded, “I am a ruler on earth. I command you to take up your weapons and complete the king’s business.” Nevertheless, he was unsuccessful in carrying out his heinous plan.
Judas Maccabeus Mobilizes His Men
6 In his utter vanity and arrogance, Nicanor decided to put up a public monument of victory over Judas and his army. 7 But Maccabeus never ceased to trust the Lord and fully hope that He would help him. 8 So he encouraged his men to have no fear of any attack from the Gentiles, but to bear in mind how help had come to them from heaven in times past. Now they should anticipate the victory the Almighty would give to them. 9 He also exhorted them out of the law and the prophets, calling to mind the battles they had won, making them more eager to fight. 10 Then after he revived their courage, he gave his commands and at the same time emphasized the Gentiles’ faithlessness and their failure to keep their oaths. 11 So he issued each of them armor—not so much of the surety of shields and spears as with the encouragement of courageous speech. Then he inspired them all by telling about a dream, a kind of vision, worthy of believing.
12 The vision he saw was this: Onias, who had been high priest, a true gentleman of modest and noble manner, one well-spoken and from childhood formed in all that pertains to virtue, was praying with hands outstretched for the whole nation of the Jews. 13 Then in the same manner another man appeared, distinguished by his gray hair and glory, and having about him a certain astonishing and majestic preeminence. 14 Onias then spoke, saying, “This is Jeremiah, the prophet of God, a man who loves his brothers and prays fervently for the people and the holy city.” 15 Stretching forth his right hand, Jeremiah gave a sword of gold to Judas, and as he presented it to him, he addressed him as follows: 16 “Take this sacred sword, a gift from God, by which you will strike down your enemies.”
17 Encouraged by Judas’ words, a man so good and able in stirring up virtue and courage in the souls of young men, they determined not to plan out a campaign. Instead they would wage war bravely, at once, deciding the matter with hand-to-hand combat with all manliness, because the city, the sanctuary, and the temple were at risk. 18 Their main concern was not first for wives and children, or even for brothers and relatives; their greatest fear was for the consecrated temple. 19 As for those who remained in the city, they were distressed and worried about the conflict in the open country.
20 Everyone was now living in suspense over the outcome of the war. The enemy was nearby; their army was prepared for battle. And their elephants were strategically positioned, and the cavalry was deployed on the flanks. 21 Maccabeus noted carefully the great masses before him, the variety of their armaments, and the savageness of the elephants. So he reached out his hands toward heaven and called on the Lord, the Wonderworker; for he knew it is not by weapons alone, but by the Lord’s decision that victory is won by those worthy of it. 22 Thus he cried out to Him in the following manner: “O Lord, in the time of Hezekiah the king of Judea, You sent Your angel, and he killed as many as one hundred and eighty-five thousand in the camp of Sennacherib. 23 So now, O Ruler of the heavens, send us a noble angel to go before us spreading fear and trembling. 24 By the strength of Your arm, may those who speak blasphemy as they come against Your holy ones be struck down.” With these words he completed his prayer.
25 Nicanor and his men marched ahead with trumpets and battle songs, 26 but Judas and his men joined the enemy in battle with invocations and prayers. 27 They fought with their hands and prayed to God in their hearts, and struck down at least thirty-five thousand men. So they were deeply gladdened by God’s visitation.
28 When the battle was ended and they were marching home with joy, they recognized Nicanor, in full armor, lying dead. 29 With tumultuous shouts, they blessed the Lord in the language of their fathers. 30 Then Judas, who was in body and soul ever the chief defender of his fellow-citizens and who from youth maintained goodwill toward his countrymen, commanded them to sever Nicanor’s head and arm and take them back to Jerusalem. 31 When he arrived there, he called his countrymen together and stationed the priests before the altar. Then he sent for those in the citadel. 32 Before them, he displayed the head of the defiled Nicanor and that slanderous man’s hand, which he had boastfully stretched out against the holy house of the Almighty. 33 He cut out the tongue of the godless Nicanor and announced he would feed it to the birds bit by bit, and hang up the rewards of his folly opposite the sanctuary. 34 Then everyone lifted their eyes to heaven and blessed the Lord who visited them, saying, “Blessed is He who kept His own place undefiled.” 35 Judas then fastened Nicanor’s head to the wall of the citadel, a visible symbol to all present of the Lord’s help. 36 So they all decreed by public vote never to allow this day to be unobserved, but to celebrate it on the thirteenth day of the twelfth month, called Adar in the Syrian language—the day before Mordecai’s day.
37 This is the way things turned out for Nicanor. So from that time on the city has been controlled by the Hebrews. Thus I will end my story here. 38 If I have written well and made my point in the narrative, this is what I myself desired. But if it was done poorly and is just average, this is the best I could do. 39 For as it is disagreeable to drink wine only or water only, whereas wine mingled with water is pleasing and delightful and brings greater joy, so also the written style of the account delights the ears of those who read it. This then shall be the end.
1 Of David.
To You, O Lord, I cry;
O my God, may You not pass over me in silence;
May You never be silent to me,
Else I would become like those who go down into the pit.
2 Hear the voice of my supplication when I pray to You
And when I lift up my hands toward Your holy temple.
3 May You not associate my soul with sinners,
Nor destroy me with the workers of injustice,
Who speak peace with their neighbor,
But evil is in their hearts.
4 Give them according to their works,
According to the wickedness of their pursuits;
Give them according to the works of their hands;
Return to them their due reward.
5 Because they do not understand the works of the Lord,
Nor the deeds of His hands,
You will destroy them, and never rebuild them.
6 Blessed is the Lord,
Because He heard the voice of my supplication.
7 The Lord is my helper and my champion;
In Him my heart hoped, and I was helped,
And my flesh revived;
And I will give thanks to Him willingly.
8 The Lord is the strength of His people,
And the protector of the salvation of His anointed.
9 Save Your people, and bless Your inheritance;
And shepherd them, and raise them up forever.
15 Drink waters from your vessels
And from the fountains of your spring.
16 Do not let the waters from your fountain be spilled by you,
But let your waters pass through your wide places;
17 Let them be only for you,
And let no stranger partake with you;
18 Let the fountain of your water be for you alone,
And rejoice together with the wife of your youth.
19 Let your loving deer and graceful colt keep company with you,
And let her alone go before you and be with you at all times;
For in living with her love, you will be great.
27 And when it was decided that we should sail to Italy, they delivered Paul and some other prisoners to one named Julius, a centurion of the Augustan Regiment. 2 So, entering a ship of Adramyttium, we put to sea, meaning to sail along the coasts of Asia. Aristarchus, a Macedonian of Thessalonica, was with us. 3 And the next day we landed at Sidon. And Julius treated Paul kindly and gave him liberty to go to his friends and receive care. 4 When we had put to sea from there, we sailed under the shelter of Cyprus, because the winds were contrary. 5 And when we had sailed over the sea which is off Cilicia and Pamphylia, we came to Myra, a city of Lycia. 6 There the centurion found an Alexandrian ship sailing to Italy, and he put us on board.
7 When we had sailed slowly many days, and arrived with difficulty off Cnidus, the wind not permitting us to proceed, we sailed under the shelter of Crete off Salmone. 8 Passing it with difficulty, we came to a place called Fair Havens, near the city of Lasea.
9 Now when much time had been spent, and sailing was now dangerous because [a]the Fast was already over, Paul advised them, 10 saying, “Men, I perceive that this voyage will end with disaster and much loss, not only of the cargo and ship, but also our lives.” 11 Nevertheless the centurion was more persuaded by the helmsman and the owner of the ship than by the things spoken by Paul. 12 And because the harbor was not suitable to winter in, the majority advised to set sail from there also, if by any means they could reach Phoenix, a harbor of Crete opening toward the southwest and northwest, and winter there.
13 When the south wind blew softly, supposing that they had obtained their desire, putting out to sea, they sailed close by Crete. 14 But not long after, a tempestuous head wind arose, called [b]Euroclydon. 15 So when the ship was caught, and could not head into the wind, we let her [c]drive. 16 And running under the shelter of an island called [d]Clauda, we secured the skiff with difficulty. 17 When they had taken it on board, they used cables to undergird the ship; and fearing lest they should run aground on the [e]Syrtis Sands, they struck sail and so were driven. 18 And because we were exceedingly tempest-tossed, the next day they lightened the ship. 19 On the third day we threw the ship’s tackle overboard with our own hands. 20 Now when neither sun nor stars appeared for many days, and no small tempest beat on us, all hope that we would be saved was finally given up.