“Timothy himself fled to a stronghold called Gazara, especially well garrisoned, where Chaereas was the commander. Then Judas Maccabeus and his men were glad. They besieged the fort for four days. The men within the town, relying on the strength of the place, kept blaspheming terribly. They uttered wicked words. But at dawn on the fifth day, twenty young men in the army of Judas Maccabeus, filled with anger because of the blasphemies, bravely stormed the wall. With savage fury, they cut down every one they met. Others who came up in the same way wheeled around against the defenders. They set fire to the towers. They kindled fires and burned the blasphemers alive. Others broke open the gates. They let in the rest of the force as they occupied the city. They killed Timothy, who was hiding in a cistern, and his brother Chaereas and Apollophanes. When they had accomplished these things, with hymns and thanksgivings they blessed the Lord who shows great kindness to Israel. He gave them the victory.”
In 1 Maccabees, chapter 13, the attack on Gazara was led by Simon, much later after the death of Judas Maccabeus. Here it takes place under the leadership of Judas Maccabeus. There Simon just deported the citizens, not killed them as here. Chaereas, the brother of Timothy, was the commander at Gazara, where Timothy had fled. They besieged the fort for 4 days. During that time, the men inside blasphemed against the Jewish God. On the fifth day, 20 young men from the army of Judas Maccabeus stormed the wall, killing everyone they men. They set fire to the towers and opened the gates. After they occupied the city, then they killed Timothy and his 2 brothers, Chaereas and Apollophanes. Finally they blessed the Lord with hymns and thanksgivings for the victory. So ends the story of Timothy, the enemy of the Jews. Notice that they praise God before and after they kill their enemy.
“Then Ptolemy wrote a report about these things that he sent to King Antiochus. He wanted the king to send him troops in order to turn over to him the cities and the country. He sent other men to Gazara to do away with John. He sent letters to the captains asking them to come to him so that he might give them silver, gold, and gifts. He sent other troops to take possession of Jerusalem and the temple hill. But someone ran ahead and reported to John at Gazara that his father and brothers had perished. He told him.
‘He has sent men to kill you also.’
When John heard this, he was greatly shocked. He seized the men who came to destroy him. Then he killed them. He had found out that they were seeking to destroy him.”
Ptolemy wrote a report to King Antiochus VII telling him what had happened. He wanted some help from the king. Ptolemy then sent men to kill his brother-in-law John. He told the captains that he had gold, silver, and gifts for them. He sent other troops to take over Jerusalem. However, the plot to kill John failed as someone told him what was happening. Instead, he killed the men coming to get him. The story ends here without any resolution. However, it seems that John won out, but it is not clear what happened to Ptolemy.
“The men who were in the citadel at Jerusalem were prevented from going in and out to the country to buy and sell things. So they were very hungry. Many of them perished from famine. Then they cried to Simon to make peace with them. So he did. He expelled them from there. He cleansed the citadel from its pollutions. On the twenty-third day of the second month, in the one hundred seventy-first year, the Jews entered it with praise and palm branches. They had harps, cymbals, and stringed instruments. They sang hymns and songs because a great enemy had been crushed and removed from Israel. Simon decreed that every year they should celebrate this day with rejoicing. He strengthened the fortifications of the temple hill alongside the citadel. He and his men lived there. Simon saw that his son John had reached manhood, so he made him commander of all the forces. He lived at Gazara.”
The Syrian men who were in the Jerusalem citadel could not go in or out to buy or sell anything. Thus they became hungry like a famine. Finally, they wanted to make peace with Simon. He decided to expel them from the citadel. There was a big celebration with praise and palm branches as the Jews entered the citadel in 141 BCE, about a year after their independence. Before they went in with harps, cymbals, and stringed instruments singing hymns and songs, they had the citadel cleansed from the foreign pollutions. They were going to celebrate this every year on the 23rd day of the 2nd month, that is sometime in May. Simon and his men decided to live in the citadel. He sent his son John to be the commander of the armed forces and live in Gaza. This apparently was his son John Hyrcanus who was the high priest from 134-104 BCE.
“Then Bacchides returned to Jerusalem. He built strong cities in Judea. He built the fortress in Jericho, Emmaus, Beth-horon, Bethel, Timnath, Pharathon, and Tephon, with high walls, gates, and bars. He placed garrisons in them to harass Israel. He also fortified the city of Beth-zur, Gazara, and the citadel. He put troops and stores of food in them. He took the sons of the leading men of the land as hostages. He put them under guard in the citadel at Jerusalem.”
General Bacchides returned to Jerusalem. Then he built strong cities around Jerusalem with high walls and gates in Jericho, Emmaus, Beth-horon, Bethel, Timnath, Pharathon, and Tephon. He also put garrisons in them to harass and keep the Jewish guerrillas from attacking. He put troops and food storage in Beth-zur, Gazara, and the Jerusalem citadel. Then he took the sons of the leading men as hostages as he guarded them in Jerusalem.
“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.