Timothy and the other gentiles (1 Macc 5:37-5:41)

“After these things, Timothy gathered another army and encamped opposite Raphon, on the other side of the stream. Judas sent men to spy out the camp. They reported to him.

‘All the gentiles around us have gathered to him.

It is a very large force.

They also have hired Arabs to help them.

They are encamped across the stream,

They are ready to come and fight against you.’

Judas went to meet them. Now as Judas and his army drew near to the stream of water, Timothy said to the officers of his forces.

‘If he crosses over to us first,

We will not be able to resist him.

He will surely defeat us.

However, if he shows fear,

If he camps on the other side of the river,

We will cross over to him.

We will defeat him.’”

Timothy and his army gathered near a stream of the Yarmouk River, a tributary of the Jordan River called Raphon. Judas Maccabeus sent spies to figure out what he was up to. The spies came back to say that he had a large force. In fact, a number of Arab mercenaries had joined forces with Timothy. Timothy had a plan. If the troops of Judas rested on the other side of the stream in a camp, they would attack him. Otherwise, they might have a bit of a problem.

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The attack on Alema and the other cities (1 Macc 5:35-5:36)

“Next Judas Maccabeus turned aside to Alema. He fought against it and took it. He killed every male in it. He plundered it and burned it with fire. From there he marched on and took Chaspho, Maked, and Bosor, as well as the other towns of Gilead.”

Judas Maccabeus made a clean sweep of all the other towns in the Gilead. First, he attacked Alema. He had a clear pattern to his attacks. First, he killed every male. Then he took all their stuff. Finally he burned the town. He then took the other towns in Gilead in much the same manner.

The attack on Dathema (1 Macc 5:29-5:34)

“They went all the way to the stronghold of Dathema. At dawn, they looked out and saw a large company that could not be counted, carrying ladders and engines of war to capture the stronghold. They were attacking the Jews within it. Judas saw that the battle had begun. The cry of the town went up to heaven with trumpets and loud shouts. Judas said to the men of his forces.

‘Fight today for your kindred’

Then he came up behind them in three companies. They sounded their trumpets. They cried aloud in prayer. When the army of Timothy realized that it was Maccabeus, they fled before him. He had dealt them a heavy blow. As many as eight thousand of them fell that day.”

Next Judas Maccabeus and his men went back to the stronghold of Dathema, where many of the Jews were at as was indicated earlier in this chapter. It must not have been that far from Bozrah since it only took one night to get there. However, when they arrived, the place was under attack by that wicked Timothy and his army. Judas Maccabeus called his troops to fight for their relatives. When Timothy and his group realized that Judas Maccabeus was attacking them, they fled with a loss of about 8,000 men.

The attack on Bozrah (1 Macc 5:28-5:28)

“Then Judas and his army quickly turned back through the wilderness road to Bozrah. He took the town. He killed every male by the edge of the sword. Then he seized all its spoils. He burned it with fire. He left the place at night.”

Judas Maccabeus and his army attacked Bozrah, an ancient Edomite town.   Judas and his army killed every male. Then they took all the things of the people in that town and burned it. Finally, they left at night. This was an easy success.

The meeting with the Nabateans (1 Macc 5:24-5:27)

“Judas Maccabeus and his brother Jonathan crossed the Jordan River. They made a three days journey into the wilderness. They encountered the Nabateans, who met them peaceably. They told them all that had happened to their kindred in Gilead.

‘Many of them have been shut up in Bozrah and Bosor,

In Alema and Chaspho, Maked and Carnaim,

All these cities were strong and large.

Some have been shut up in the other cities of Gilead.

The enemy is getting ready to attack the strongholds tomorrow.

They want to take and destroy all these men in one day.’”

Judas Maccabeus and his brother Jonathan with 5,000 troops crossed the Jordan River and went 3 days into the wilderness before they met the Nabateans, a peaceful group. These Nabateans were an Arab Semitic group that may have its roots in an Ishmaelite tribe. They will become stronger as time goes on. However, here they seem to be with the Jewish people talking about how the Jewish people have held in the major cities of Bozrah, Bosor, Alema, Chaspho, Maked, and Carnaim. Bozrah was a city in Edom, while Bosor, Alema, Chaspho, Maked, and Carnaim are only mentioned here and difficult to identify. The Nabateans said that some unidentified enemy was going to destroy them tomorrow, that is right away.

The campaign in Galilee against the gentiles (1 Macc 5:21-5:23)

“So Simon went to Galilee. He fought many battles against the gentiles. The gentiles were crushed before him. He pursued them to the gate of Ptolemais. As many as three thousand of the gentiles fell. He despoiled them. Then he took the Jews of Galilee and Arbatta, with their wives and children, and all they possessed as he led them to Judea with great rejoicing.”

Simon with his 3,000 men fought against the gentiles in Galilee. He crushed them as he killed about 3,000 gentiles. He pursued them to the coast around Ptolemais. He then took the Jews from Galilee and Arbatta, a town around the Sea of Galilee, and brought all of them with their wives, children, and all their possessions to Judea with great joy.

The dire message from the north (1 Macc 5:14-5:20)

“While the letter was still being read, other messengers, with their garments torn, came from Galilee. They made a similar report. They said that the people of Ptolemais, Tyre, Sidon, and all Galilee of the gentiles had gathered together against them, ‘to annihilate us.’ When Judas and the people heard these messages, a great assembly was called to determine what they should do for their kindred who were in distress. They were being attacked by enemies. Then Judas said to his brother Simon.

‘Choose your men.

Go and rescue your kindred in Galilee.

Jonathan my brother and I will go to Gilead.’

But he left Joseph son of Zechariah, and Azariah, a leader of the people, with the rest of the forces, in Judea to guard it. He gave them this command.

‘Take charge of this people.

But do not engage in battle with the gentiles until we return.’

Then three thousand men were assigned to Simon to go to Galilee, and eight thousand to Judas for Gilead.”

Suddenly, there is a problem to the north and west. Ptolemais, Tyre, and Sidon were seacoast towns that had not been involved in wars with Israel previously. Galilee had mostly Samaritans who were Israelites. Thus it was a surprise that this group should be picking on Israelites, especially to annihilate them. Judas Maccabeus made a decision. His brother Simon would go to Galilee with 3,000 troops, while he and his brother Jonathan would go to Gilead with 8,000 troops. Joseph and Azariah would be in charge in Judea, but they would not fight in any battles.