“Timothy, who had been defeated by the Jews before, gathered a tremendous force of mercenaries. He collected the cavalry from Asia in no small number. He came on, intending to take Judea by storm. As he drew near, Judas Maccabeus and his men sprinkled dust on their heads. They girded their loins with sackcloth, in supplication to God. Falling upon the steps before the altar, they implored God to be gracious to them. They wanted him to be an enemy to their enemies and an adversary to their adversaries, as the law declares.”
Timothy, the head of the Ammonites, had been defeated before in chapter 8 of this work and in 1 Maccabees, chapter 5. This time he had a large cavalry from Asia and a tremendous mercenary force. However, Judas Maccabeus and his troops put dust on their heads and sackcloth on their loins. They prayed to God before his altar in Jerusalem. They asked God to be gracious to them. He wanted God to be the enemy of his enemies and the adversary of his adversaries. This he proclaimed what the law said. God was with his people and against the others. This is the great cry of all wars. “God is on our side.”
“People also hurried out of their houses in crowds to make a general supplication because the holy place was about to be brought into dishonor. Women, girded with sackcloth under their breasts, thronged the streets. Some of the young women who were kept indoors ran together to the gates, and some to the walls, while others peered out of the windows. Holding up their hands to heaven, they all made supplication. There was something pitiable in the prostration of the whole populace and the anxiety of the high priest in his great anguish. While they were calling upon the Almighty Lord that he would keep what had been entrusted safe and secure for those who had entrusted it, Heliodorus went on with what had been decided.”
Not only the priests were upset, the whole town was in turmoil. They gathered in small crowds as they worried about the dishonor to their holy Temple. The women wore sackcloth under their breasts. This was the common clothing of those in mourning. Here it seems only the women were wearing these goat hair robes. They young unmarried women were kept indoors. However, they were trying to find out what was going on, as they ran to the gates and walls, and peeked out the windows. They all prayed to heaven. The biblical author called them pitiable, since even the high priest was in anguish. This anxiety was about honor and money. They called upon the Almighty Lord to keep their treasures safe. Nevertheless, Heliodorus was determined to do what he had decided to do, to inspect the Temple finances.