The attack of Judas Maccabeus on Caspin (2 Macc 12:13-12:16)

“Judas Maccabeus also attacked a certain city that was strongly fortified with earthworks and walls. Inhabited by all sorts of gentiles, its name was Caspin. Those who were within, relying on the strength of the walls and on their supply of provisions, behaved most insolently toward Judas Maccabeus and his men. They railed at them, even blaspheming and saying unholy things. But Judas Maccabeus and his men, calling upon the great Sovereign of the world, who without battering-rams or engines of war overthrew Jericho in the days of Joshua, rushed furiously upon the walls. They took the town by the will of God. They slaughtered untold numbers, so that the adjoining lake, a quarter of a mile wide, appeared to be running over with blood.”

This Caspin may be the same as Chaspho in 1 Maccabees, chapter 5. The only apparent reason for attacking this strongly fortified town was because they had some gentiles there. However, for some reason, the people in this town were insolent to Judas Maccabeus and his men. They blasphemed and said unholy things. Judas Maccabeus, after calling on the sovereign Lord, rushed the walls of this town named Caspin. Once again, by the will of God, they took this town like in the days of Joshua at Jericho. Here they killed so many people that a lake a quarter of a mile wide looked like it was running over with blood.

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King Antiochus VII and the dispute with Simon (1 Macc 15:25-15:31)

“King Antiochus besieged Dor for the second time. He continued to throw his forces against it. He was making engines of war. He shut Trypho up and kept him from going out or in. Simon sent to King Antiochus two thousand picked troops, to fight for him, with silver and gold and much military equipment. However, King Antiochus refused to receive them. He broke all the agreements he formerly had made with Simon. He became estranged from him. He sent to him Athenobius, one of his friends, to confer with him, saying.

‘You hold control of Joppa and Gazara

And the citadel in Jerusalem.

They are cities of my kingdom.

You have devastated their territory.

You have done great damage in the land.

You have taken possession of many places in my kingdom.

Now then, hand over the cities which you have seized.

Pay the tribute money of the places

That you have conquered outside the borders of Judea.

Or else pay me five hundred talents of silver,

For the destruction that you have caused.

Pay me five hundred talents more

For the tribute money of the cities.

Otherwise we will come and make war on you.’”

Now we are back to the situation at Dor. When Simon heard about the siege there, he sent 2,000 troops with gold and silver as well as military equipment to help King Antiochus VII. However, King Antiochus VII took offense at this. He broke all his agreements with Simon that he had made in writing earlier in this chapter. He sent his friend Athenobius with a message for Simon. He complained that Simon have taken over Joppa, Gaza, and the citadel in Jerusalem. He contended that they were not in Judea. Simon had done a lot of damage. He either wanted those places back or money since Simon had left the borders of Judea and taken parts of his kingdom. However, King Antiochus VII was still not technically in charge since King Demetrius II was in prison and King Trypho was in Dor. He also wanted the tribute from those 3 places. Otherwise he was going to make war on Simon. What a change of heart!

King Demetrius II and Jonathan disagree (1 Macc 11:20-11:22)

“In those days, Jonathan assembled the Judeans to attack the citadel in Jerusalem. He built many engines of war to use against it. However, certain renegades, who hated their nation, went to the king. They reported to him that Jonathan was besieging the citadel. When the king heard this, he was angry. As soon as he heard it, he set out and came to Ptolemais. He wrote Jonathan not to continue the siege, but to meet him for a conference at Ptolemais as quickly as possible.”

You may wonder, while was the Syrian citadel still in Jerusalem. King Demetrius I had promised to hand it over in the preceding chapter. Apparently, it never happened. In fact, this was another attempt to get independence for Judea. Jonathan besieged the citadel with war machines, or catapults to hurl at the citadel. However, those nasty Jewish renegades showed up again and ran to the new king to tell him what Jonathan was doing. King Demetrius II then sent a letter to Jonathan that he wanted to talk to him in Ptolemais, the former home of the dead King Alexander I. He wanted this matter solved as quickly as possible.

The taking of Bethzur and siege of Jerusalem (1 Macc 6:48-6:54)

“The soldiers of the king’s army went up to Jerusalem against them. The king encamped in Judea and at Mount Zion. He made peace with the men of Beth-zur. They evacuated the town because they had no provisions there to withstand a siege, since it was a sabbatical year for the land. So the king took Beth-zur. He stationed a guard there to hold it. Then he encamped before the sanctuary for many days. He set up siege towers, engines of war to throw fire and stones, machines to shoot arrows, and catapults. The Jews also made engines of war to match theirs. They fought for many days. But they had no food in storage, because it was the seventh year. Those who found safety in Judea from the gentiles had consumed the last of the stores. Only a few men were left in the sanctuary. The rest of the men had scattered to their own homes. The famine proved too much for them.”

The king’s soldiers moved on to Jerusalem. They camped near Mount Zion. They had already made peace with the people of Beth-zur because they had no provisions due to the fact that it was a sabbatical year. No one worked the fields. The king set up a guard there. Then he camped near the sanctuary in Jerusalem. Then the king’s men set up towers to create engines of war. These engines of war were like battering rams or catapults to shot fire, stones, and arrows. The Jews tried to match these engines of war as the war dragged on. However, the men in Jerusalem, like the people in Beth-zur had little supplies since this was sabbatical jubilee year when no work was done. Eventually, a lot of the Jews left for their own homes as the famine continued.

The expedition of Antiochus V (1 Macc 6:28-6:31)

“King Antiochus was enraged when he heard this. He assembled all his friends, the commanders of his forces and those in authority. Mercenary forces also came to him from other kingdoms and from the islands of the seas. The number of his forces was one hundred thousand foot soldiers, twenty thousand cavalry, and thirty-two elephants accustomed to war. They came through Idumea. They encamped against Beth-zur. For many days they fought and built engines of war. However, the Jews sallied out and burned these with fire. They fought courageously.”

The 10 year old King Antiochus V was mad when he heard this. He called all his friends and the commanders of the army. Probably Lysias was in command of the army since he had fought and lost to Judas Maccabeus. They also had mercenary forces from other kingdoms and islands. The total force for King Antiochus V and Lysias was 100,000 foot soldiers, 20,000 horsemen, and 32 elephants. That is something new. They came from the south via Idumea. They camped at Beth-zur, 18 miles south of Jerusalem, where Judas had defeated Lysias 3 years earlier in 165 BCE in chapter 4 of this book. However, the Jews fought courageously here.

The siege of the citadel in Jerusalem (1 Macc 6:18-6:27)

“Meanwhile, the garrison in the citadel kept hemming Israel in around the sanctuary. They were trying in every way to harm the Israelites and strengthen the gentiles. Judas, therefore, resolved to destroy them. He assembled all the people to besiege them. They gathered together and besieged the citadel in the one hundred fiftieth year. Judas built siege towers and other engines of war. But some of the garrison escaped from the siege. Even some of the ungodly Israelites joined them. They went to the king and said.

‘How long will you fail to do justice?

How long will you fail to avenge our kindred?

We were happy to serve your father.

We were happy to live by what he said.

We were happy to follow his commands.

For this reason the sons of our people besieged the citadel.

They became hostile to us.

Moreover, they have put to death

As many of us as they have caught.

They have seized our inheritances.

It is not against us alone that they have stretched out their hands.

They have also attacked all the lands on their borders.

See, today they have encamped

Against the citadel in Jerusalem to take it.

They have fortified both the sanctuary and Beth-zur.

Unless you quickly prevent them,

They will do still greater things.

You will not be able to stop them.’”

The citadel was the high point in Jerusalem. The small garrison of Syrian soldiers there kept the Jews hemmed in around the Temple. This took place 1 year after the death of King Antiochus IV, in 162 so that the new young King Antiochus V was only 10 years old. Judas Maccabeus gathered the people together and set up siege towers against the citadel. However, the gentiles and even some of the ungodly Israelites went to the young king to complain. They were willing to follow his father’s commands, which is why they took the citadel. Now these Jews have seized their inheritance. They have attacked the people on their borders. Now they are attacking the citadel in the city itself. Unless something was done quickly, they would not be able to stop these people.

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.