John defeats Cendebeus (1 Macc 16:4-16:10)

“John chose out of the country twenty thousand warriors and cavalry. They marched against Cendebeus. They camped for the night in Modein. Early in the morning they started out and marched into the plain. There a large force of infantry and cavalry was coming to meet them. A stream lay between them. Then he and his army lined up against them. He saw that the soldiers were afraid to cross the stream, so he crossed over first. When his troops saw him, they crossed over after him. Then he divided the army. He placed the cavalry in the center of the infantry. The cavalry of the enemy were very numerous. They sounded the trumpets. Cendebeus and his army were put to flight. Many of them were falling wounded. The rest fled into the stronghold. At that time Judas the brother of John was wounded. However, John pursued them until Cendebeus reached Kedron that he had built. They also fled into the towers that were in the fields of Azotus. John burned it with fire. About two thousand of them fell. He then returned to Judea safely.”

John, the son of Simon, had 20,000 warriors and cavalry. This is the first mention of cavalry on the Israelite side. They stopped at Modein one night on their march to meet Cendebeus. The next day on the plain they saw a large army coming at them. There was a stream between the 2 armies. John led his troops across the stream because they seemed afraid. He put the cavalry in the middle of his foot soldiers. They sounded the trumpets. Suddenly the army of Cendebeus fled. Judas, the brother of John, was wounded. John took after the fleeing army chasing them to the fields of Azotus where he burned the fields. About 2,000 of the enemy fell. Then John returned to Judea.

King Ptolemy VI sees the destruction at Azotus (1 Macc 11:4-11:7)

“When King Ptolemy approached Azotus, they showed him the burnt out temple of Dagon, Azotus, and its suburbs destroyed. The corpses were lying about. The charred bodies of those whom Jonathan had burned in the war had been piled in heaps along his route. They also told the king what Jonathan had done, to throw blame on him. However, the king kept silent. Jonathan met the king at Joppa with pomp. They greeted one another and spent the night there. Jonathan went with the king as far as the river called Eleutherus. Then he returned to Jerusalem.”

It was hard to tell what King Ptolemy of Egypt thought about the destruction at Azotus. There were dead bodies piled up all over the place. The temple of Dagon had been destroyed. They told the king that Jonathan had done all this. Jonathan then met the king at Joppa. They greeted each other and stayed 1 night together. The next day, Jonathan left the king at the River Eleutherus, which is north of Tripolis, to return to Jerusalem.

The further adventures of Judas Maccabeus (1 Macc 5:65-5:68)

“Then Judas and his brothers went out and fought the descendents of Esau in the land to the south. He struck Hebron and its villages. He tore down its strongholds and burned its towers on all sides. Then he marched off to go into the land of the Philistines. He passed through Marisa. On that day some priests, who wished to do a brave deed, fell in battle, for they went out to battle unwisely. But Judas turned aside to Azotus in the land of the Philistines. He tore down their altars. He burned with fire the carved images of their gods. He plundered the towns. Finally, he returned to the land of Judah.”

Judas and his brothers decided to attack south in Edom, the land of the descendents of Esau. It is not clear why they struck down Hebron, which had been a capital of Israel at the time of David. Perhaps, more gentiles had taken over there. Hebron was only about 20 miles south of Jerusalem. Then he went west to the land of the Philistines. I guess that those Philistine just never die out. For some reason, a few unwise priests went out to do battle and were killed. Then Judas attacked Azotus in the Philistine territory. Once again, he tore down their altars and burned their idols. There is no mention of killing the males, but he did plunder the Philistine towns, before he returned to Judea. He never really got to Edom since he went southwest instead of southeast.

The battle of Emmaus (1 Macc 4:12-4:15)

“When the foreigners looked up, they saw them coming against them. They went out from their camp to battle. Then the men with Judas blew their trumpets. They engaged in the battle. The gentiles were crushed. They fled into the plain. All those in the rear fell by the sword. They pursued them to Gazara, and to the plains of Idumea, as well as to Azotus and Jamnia. Three thousand of them fell.”

When Judas and his men attacked, the foreign gentiles saw them coming as they went out to do battle. Then Judas and his men sounded the trumpet. This trumpet blowing was a sign of encouragement that seemed to have worked. They crushed the gentiles. Somehow they had enough swords to kill 3,000 of the 6,000 soldiers against them. They pursued them in four different directions. Gazara was 5 miles northwest of Emmaus. Idumea was to the south, while Azotus was in the west and Jamnia was southwest.

The exploits of Holofernes (Jdt 2:21-2:28)

“They marched for three days from Nineveh to the plain of Bectileth. There they camped opposite Bectileth, near the mountain that is to the north of Upper Cilicia. From there Holofernes took his whole army, his infantry, cavalry, and chariots, and went up into the hill country. He ravaged Put and Lud. He plundered all the Rassisites and the Ishmaelites on the border of the desert, south of the country of the Chelleans. Then he followed the Euphrates River and passed through Mesopotamia. He destroyed all the hilltop cities along the brook Abron, as far as the sea. He also seized the territory of Cilicia. He killed every one who resisted him. Then he came to the southern borders of Japheth, fronting toward Arabia. He surrounded all the Midianites. He burned their tents and plundered their sheepfolds. Then he went down into the plain of Damascus during the wheat harvest. He burned all their fields. He destroyed their flocks and herds. He sacked their towns. He ravaged their lands. He put to death all their young men with the edge of the sword. Fear and dread of him fell upon all the people who lived along the seacoast. This included those at Sidon and Tyre, as well as those who lived in Sur, Ocina, and all who lived in Jamnia. Those who lived in Azotus and Ascalon feared him greatly.”

The geography here is a little muddled. It is about 600 miles from Nineveh to Damascus, but here it seems like just a few days. No one seems to know where this Bectileth was. Cilicia was on the Mediterranean Sea in Asia Minor, part of modern day Turkey. It, too, was about 500-600 miles from Nineveh, a difficult trip in 3 days, even in our modern times. Lud maybe the Syrian Lydia, but it is difficult to find Put. It is also difficult to know much about the Rassisites, the Ishmaelites, or the Chelleans. Generally, Ishmaelites usually referred to Arabs.   It is also difficult to pinpoint the Abron brook. Obviously, he traveled south along the Euphrates River, which is about 300 miles east of the seacoast. Japheth was near Arabia, which would be south of where he was. He also attacked the Midianites, on his way to Damascus. Holofernes burned down the wheat fields, destroyed the flocks and herds, sacked and ravaged the land. He killed their young men. He then turned further south towards the coast. Thus there was great fear in Sidon and Tyre, as well as all along the coastal towns of   Sur, Ocina, Jamnia, Azotus, and Ascalon near Tyre, in the Asher tribe territory.