“After the rout at Carnaim and the destruction of these, he marched also against Ephron, a fortified town where Lysias lived with multitudes of people of all nationalities. Stalwart young men took their stand before the walls. They made a vigorous defense. Great stores of war engines and missiles were there. However, the Jews called upon the sovereign who with power shatters the might of his enemies. They got the town into their hands. They killed as many as twenty-five thousand of those who were within it.”
After killing 25,000 at Carnaim, they went and killed another 25,000 at Ephron, 8 miles east of the Jordan River. Ephron was the home town of Lysias, who lived there with many different nationalities. Although they had stalwart young men defending it, with war engines and many missiles, the Jews called upon their powerful sovereign God who shattered their enemies. They took the town and killed another 25,000 people here. That seems to be a favorite number.
“Then Judas Maccabeus marched against Carnaim and the temple of Atargatis. He slaughtered twenty-five thousand people.”
Atargatis was a sacred fish fertility goddess of the Syrians. Apparently there was an Atargatis temple at Carnaim in the Gilead, since there might have been a lot of Syrians there. Judas and his men killed 25,000 here, a large number of people to be in one place.
“When they had gone ninety-five miles from there, they came to Charax, to the Jews who are called Toubiani. They did not find Timothy in that region, for he had by then left there without accomplishing anything. Although in one place, he had left a very strong garrison. Dositheus and Sosipater, who were the captains under Judas Maccabeus, marched out. They destroyed those whom Timothy had left in the stronghold, more than ten thousand men. However, Judas Maccabeus arranged his army in divisions as he set men in command of these divisions. He hastened after Timothy, who had with him one hundred twenty thousand infantry and two thousand five hundred cavalry. When Timothy learned of the approach of Judas Maccabeus, he sent off the women and the children with the baggage to a place called Carnaim that was hard to besiege. It was difficult to access because of the narrowness of all its approaches. But when Judas Maccabeus’ first division appeared, terror and fear came over the enemy at the manifestation to them of him, who sees all things. They rushed headlong in every direction, so that often they were injured by their own men and pierced by the points of their own swords. Judas Maccabeus pressed the pursuit with the utmost vigor. He put the sinners to the sword. He destroyed as many as thirty thousand men.”
Once again, this is similar to the battles in Gilead in 1 Maccabees, chapter 5. Charax might be present day Kuwait. Apparently they were looking for the elusive Timothy, who had already died in chapter 10 of this book. Dositheus and Sosipater were the captains of Judas Maccabeus on the east side of the Jordan River. They had already destroyed 10,000 of Timothy’s men. However, he had an enormous amount of troops, 125,000 infantry and 2,500 cavalry. Yet he was afraid of Judas Maccabeus. He sent all the women and children with the baggage to Carnaim, because it would be difficult to besiege that place due to its narrow approaches. As usual, the men of Judas Maccabeus pressed after the men of Timothy. Those men were so afraid of the God of Judas Maccabeus and his men that they ran in every which way so that they injured their own troops with their own swords. Nevertheless, Judas Maccabeus and his troops killed 30,000 men. These numbers are enormous here.
“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.
“In the one hundred seventy-second year, King Demetrius assembled his forces. He marched into Media to secure help, so that he could make war against Trypho. When King Arsaces of Persia and Media heard that King Demetrius had invaded his territory, he sent one of his commanders to take him alive. The general went and defeated the army of King Demetrius. They seized him and took him to King Arsaces, who put him under guard.”
About 139 BCE, King Demetrius II wanted to go to war against King Trypho. He went into Media, which was west of Teheran, and supposedly a part of the Seleucid Empire. However, when King Arsaces IV (171-138 BCE), the king of Persia and Media heard about King Demetrius in his territory, he defeated his army and captured King Demetrius II.
“After this, Trypho came to invade the country. He wanted to destroy it. He circled around by the way to Adora. But Simon and his army kept marching along opposite him to every place he went. Now the men in the citadel kept sending envoys to Trypho urging him to come to them by way of the wilderness and to send them food. So Trypho got all his cavalry ready to go, but that night a very heavy snow fell. He did not go because of the snow. He marched off and went into the land of Gilead. When he approached Baskama, he killed Jonathan. He was buried there. Then Trypho turned back. He went back to his own land.”
Trypho came to invade and destroy Judah by way of Adora, about 5 miles southwest of Hebron. However, Simon and his army were marching opposite him. This seems strange. Who was following who? The Syrian men in the Jerusalem citadel sent messengers to Trypho to go through the wilderness. They needed food. This plan was cancelled when a strange snow storm hit. This is the first mention of snow, since it obviously was not that common. Trypho decided to head north to Gilead where he killed and buried Jonathan at Baskama, which is northeast of the Sea of Galilee. Then he went home without fighting any battle.
“Simon also went out and marched through the country as far as Askalon and the neighboring strongholds. He turned aside to Joppa and took it by surprise. He had heard that they were ready to hand over the stronghold to those whom King Demetrius had sent. He stationed a garrison there to guard it.”
Simon was also busy. He set out for the old Philistine towns of Askalon and Joppa. He had heard that commanders of the deposed King Demetrius II were coming there. Thus he set up a garrison there.
“Jonathan heard that the commanders of Demetrius had returned with a larger force than before, to wage war against him. So he marched away from Jerusalem. He met them in the region of Hamath, so that he gave them no opportunity to invade his own country. He sent spies to their camp. They returned and reported to him that the enemy was being drawn up in formation to fall upon the Jews by night. So when the sun set, Jonathan commanded his troops to be alert. He commanded them to keep their arms at hand so as to be ready all night for battle. He stationed outposts around the camp. When the enemy heard that Jonathan and his men were prepared for battle, they were afraid. They were terrified at heart. So they kindled fires in their camp and withdrew. But Jonathan and his troops did not know it until morning, for they saw the fires burning. Then Jonathan pursued them, but he did not overtake them. They had crossed the Eleutherus River. So Jonathan turned aside against the Arabs who are called Zabadeans. He crushed them and plundered them. Then he broke camp and went to Damascus. He marched throughout that region.”
The old commanders of the deposed King Demetrius II returned with a larger force to wage war against Jonathan. However, Jonathan wanted to fight them not in his own country so he went out to Hamath, a city in Syria. Then he sent spies, who returned to tell him that they were going to attack him at night. Jonathan had all his men ready that night. When the commanders of the deposed King Demetrius II saw that Jonathan was waiting for them, they were afraid and left. When morning came, Jonathan realized that they were gone. He tried to overtake them, but it was impossible. Instead, he decided to fight against the Zabadean Arabs. He crushed them and took their spoils. Then he headed out of the region towards Damascus.
“Jonathan and his army encamped by the waters of Gennesaret. Early in the morning they marched to the plain of Hazor. There in the plain, the army of the foreigners met him. They had set an ambush against him in the mountains, but they themselves met him face to face. Then the men in ambush emerged from their places and joined battle. All the men with Jonathan fled. Not one of them was left except Mattathias son of Absalom and Judas son of Chalphi, commanders of the forces of the army. Jonathan tore his clothes. He put dust on his head, and prayed. Then he turned back to the battle against the enemy and routed them. They fled. When his men who were fleeing saw this, they returned to him. They joined him in the pursuit as far as Kadesh, to their camp. There they encamped. As many as three thousand of the foreigners fell that day. Jonathan returned to Jerusalem.”
Jonathan and his army rested at the Sea of Galilee, Gennesaret. They went out into the plains of Hazor where they met the foreign troops who were the followers of the deposed King Demetrius II. Another set of these troops ambushed them from the hills. However, Jonathan’s troops all fled. Only two officers were left, Mattathias and Judas, not his dead father or dead brother, but people with the same name. Then Jonathan went into mourning by ripping his clothes, putting ashes on his head, and praying. Suddenly he returned to battle and defeated the foreign troops as they fled. When his own army saw the others fleeing, they rejoined the battle. They chased them as far as Kadesh as they killed 3,000 foreigners that day. Then Jonathan returned to Jerusalem.
“In the one hundred and sixtieth year Alexander Epiphanes, son of Antiochus, landed and occupied Ptolemais. They welcomed him. He then began to reign there. When King Demetrius heard of it, he assembled a very large army. He marched out to meet him in battle. King Demetrius sent Jonathan a letter in peaceable words to honor him. He said to himself.
‘Let us act first to make peace with him
Before he makes peace with Alexander against us.
He will remember all the wrongs which we did to him
And to his brothers and his nation.’
So Demetrius gave Jonathan authority to recruit troops, to equip them with arms, and to become his ally. He commanded that the hostages in the citadel should be released to him.”
About 7 years later, in 152 BCE, we see the struggle of the son of King Antiochus IV, Alexander versus Demetrius I, the son of King Seleucus IV. Alexander was also the brother of King Antiochus V, who died in battle at a young age. Alexander occupied Ptolemais, which is the modern day 5,000 year old city of Acre, near Haifa, in northern Israel on the Mediterranean Sea. When King Demetrius I heard about this, he wanted to get Jonathan on his side against Alexander. He knew that he had done wrong to his family and nation. He gave Jonathan the authority to recruit troops and arm them as his ally. Somehow there was still some captives in the Jerusalem citadel that he released.