1 Maccabees, 6
1. When King Antiochus was making his way through the upper regions of Persia, he received news about Elymais, a city renowned for its wealth in silver and gold.
2. They kept in the wealthy temple of their city golden armor, breastplates and weapons left there by the Macedonian king, Alexander the son of Philip, the first sovereign of the Greeks.
3. So Antiochus went there but the inhabitants came out armed against him when they learned of his intention, so his attempt to take the city failed.
4. He had to turn back, and he returned much embittered to Babylon.
5. While he was still in Persia, it was reported to him that the armies sent to Judea had been defeated. They told him
6. that although Lysias had gone with a strong army, he had to flee before the Jews who had been strengthened with the weapons and the abundant booty taken from the neighboring armies.
7. He heard too that the Jews had destroyed the abominable idol he had erected on the altar in Jerusalem, and had rebuilt the temple walls to the same height as before, and had also fortified the city of Beth-zur.
8. When he received this news, he was terrified and deeply upset. He fell sick and became greatly depressed because things had not turned out the way he had planned.
9. So he remained overcome by this terrible anguish for many days. He felt that he was dying,
10. so he called his friends and said to them, "Sleep has fled from my eyes and I am greatly crushed by my anxieties.
11. And I keep on asking why such grief has come upon me - I who was generous and well-loved when in power - and now I am so discouraged.
12. Now I remember the evils I did in Jerusalem, the vessels of gold and silver that I stole, the inhabitants of Judea I ordered to be killed for no reason at all.
13. I now know that because of this, these misfortunes have come upon me, and I am dying of grief in a strange land."
14. The king then summoned Philip, one of his friends, and appointed him administrator of his whole kingdom.
15. When he had entrusted him with the crown, robe and signet ring, with the charge of educating his son Antiochus and preparing him for the throne,
16. Antiochus died there in the year one hundred and forty-nine (163 B.C.).
17. As soon as Lysias learned of the king's death, he proclaimed his son Antiochus as his successor, for he himself had trained him from childhood and had named him Eupator.
18. The men from the Citadel were blockading the Israelites around the temple and did not let an opportunity pass of harming them on behalf of the pagans.
19. Judas decided to wipe them out,
20. so he gathered together all the people to besiege them. The troops assembled and laid siege to the Citadel in the year one hundred and fifty, building firing platforms and siege engines.
21. But some of the besieged broke through the blockade and together with renegade Israelites
22. went to tell the king, "How much longer will you wait to do us justice and avenge our brothers?
23. We took the side of your father, we obeyed his orders and observed his laws.
24. The result is that the Citadel is now besieged by our own people and we are treated as foreigners. All of us who were caught have been killed and they have seized our property.
25. And they are fighting not only against us but in the neighboring lands as well.
26. Right now, they are encamped against the Citadel in Jerusalem to capture it, and they have fortified the temple and the city of Beth-zur.
27. If you do not take the lead now, they will do greater things and then you will not be able to control them."
28. The king was enraged when he heard this news, and he summoned all his friends, the generals of the army and the commanders of the cavalry.
29. From other kingdoms and islands of the sea, he recruited mercenary troops.
30. His forces numbered a hundred thousand infantry, twenty thousand horsemen and thirty-two elephants trained for battle.
31. They came through Idumea, besieged Beth-zur and attacked for days, using engines of war. But the besieged made a sortie and burned their engines and bravely kept up the resistance.
32. Then Judas ceased fighting at the Citadel and encamped at Beth-zechariah opposite the camp of the king.
33. Early in the morning the king rose and his army boldly advanced along the road to Beth-zechariah. The troops prepared for battle and sounded the trumpets.
34. They showed juice of grapes and mulberries to the elephants to arouse them for battle,
35. and distributed them among the battalions: one thousand men in coat of mail and bronze helmet lined up at the side of each elephant.
36. A cavalry of five hundred picked horsemen went before each elephant and accompanied it with the order not to separate from it.
37. A strong wooden tower was fixed to each elephant by means of leather straps, and four warriors including the driver were on the tower.
38. The rest of the cavalry were stationed on the right and left flanks of the army to harass the enemy and protect the battalions.
39. When the sun shone on the shields of gold and bronze, the mountains glittered and gleamed like flames of fire.
40. One part of the king's army was deployed up in the mountains and the other on the plain. All advanced confidently and in good order.
41. The Jews trembled when they heard the great noise of this vast multitude, the marching of that mass and the clanking of their weapons. It was indeed an army extremely numerous and powerful.
42. Nevertheless Judas and his army advanced to give battle; and about six hundred men of the king's army fell.
43. Eleazar, called Avaran, saw one of the beasts protected with armor which excelled all the others, so he supposed that it must be the king's.
44. He then sacrificed himself to save his people and win eternal renown for himself.
45. He boldly charged towards the animal right into the midst of the battalion, killing men right and left, scattering the enemy before him on both sides.
46. He reached the elephant, darted in under it, and stabbed it in the belly. The elephant collapsed on top of him and he died on the spot.
47. The Jews, however, aware of the tremendous force of the king's army and their bravery, retreated before them.
48. The king's troops went up to Jerusalem to overtake them, and the king encamped in Judea and around Mount Zion.
49. He made peace with the people of Beth-zur who evacuated the city since they had no food to continue the resistance, for that year was a year of rest for the land.
50. The king seized Beth-zur and stationed a garrison there to guard it.
51. He encamped before the temple for a long time and set up firing platforms, crossbows, engines, fire-throwers, catapults, scorpions to discharge arrows, and slingers.
52. The defenders also constructed engines as their attackers had done and they fought for a long time.
53. But they had no food in storage, as it was the seventh year and because the Israelites who came to Judea from the pagan lands had consumed the last of their reserves.
54. So, few men were left in the temple because of the famine; the others had dispersed.
55. Meanwhile Philip, to whom King Antiochus during his life had entrusted the education of his son Antiochus to prepare him for the throne,
56. had returned from Persia and Media with the army that had accompanied the king to those regions, and was planning to seize power.
57. This is why Lysias hastily gave orders to depart, saying to the king, the generals of the army and the soldiers, "We are losing strength every day, we are short of food and the place we are besieging is well fortified; we are moreover diverting our attention from the affairs of the kingdom.
58. Let us, then, offer the hand of friendship to these men, and make peace with them and with their nation.
59. Let us permit them to live according to their customs as before, since all this came to be because we suppressed their laws, and they have risen in defense of them."
60. These words pleased the king and the generals,
61. so the king sent messengers to make peace with the Jews, and the Jews accepted it. When the king and the generals had committed themselves with an oath, the Jews came out of the fortress.
62. The king went up to Mount Zion and when he saw the defenses, he broke his oath and ordered the surrounding wall to be demolished.
63. Then he hurriedly left and returned to Antioch where he found Philip already in control of the city. So he fought him and took the city by force.