“Then Judas gathered together all the Israelites in Gilead, the small and the great, with their wives, children, and goods, a very large company, to go to the land of Judah. So they came to Ephron. This was a large and very strong town on the road. They could not go around it to the right or to the left. They had to go through it. But the people of the town shut them out. They blocked up the gates with stones. Judas sent them this friendly message.
‘Let us pass through your land
To get to our land.
No one will do you harm.
We will simply pass by on foot.’
But they refused to open to him.”
Judas Maccabeus was bringing all the Jews with all their families and belongings back to Judea, rather than have them live in foreign territories. This is like a mini-Exodus. Ephron was on the way to Judah, about 8 miles east of the Jordan River. However, the people of the town would not let Judas and his troops with all the new Jewish inhabitants pass through their town. They blocked the gates with stones. Then Judas sent a friendly message that was reminiscent of the Israelites to King Sihon of the Amorites in Numbers, chapter 21. Like then, the people of Ephron also refused to let them pass.