The reversal of fortunes at Jamnia (1 Macc 5:55-5:62)

“Now while Judas and Jonathan were in Gilead and their brother Simon was in Galilee before Ptolemais, Joseph son of Zechariah, and Azariah, the commanders of the forces, heard of their brave deeds. They heard about the heroic wars they had fought. So they said.

‘Let us also make a name for ourselves.

Let us go and make war on the gentiles around us.’

They issued orders to the men of the forces that were with them. They marched against Jamnia. Gorgias and his men came out of the town to meet them in battle. Then Joseph and Azariah were routed. They were pursued to the borders of Judea. As many as two thousand of the people of Israel fell that day. Thus the people suffered a great rout because, thinking to do a brave deed, they did not listen to Judas and his brothers. They did not belong to the family of those men through whom deliverance was given to Israel.”

While all this success of Judas and his brothers were happening, the folks back in Jerusalem got antsy. The leaders there, Joseph and Azariah, despite being told by Judas to stay in Jerusalem, decided to do battle with the people of Jamnia, south of Jerusalem. This was probably not too far from Jerusalem, but it is difficult to locate. Anyway, the reverse of what had happened to Judas and his brother happened. Gorgias came out to do battle and killed 2,000 Israelites as they fled back to Judea. The author once again notes that since they did not belong to the family of Judas, the people who will be called Hasmoneans, they could not deliver Israel from its enemies. Only the relatives of Judas could do that.

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