“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.
“Then Jonathan and Simon took their brother Judas and buried him in the tomb of their ancestors at Modein. They wept for him. All Israel made great lamentation for him. They mourned many days and said.
‘How the mighty have fallen,
The savior of Israel!’
Now the rest of the acts of Judas, his wars, the brave deeds that he did, and his greatness have not been recorded, but they were very many.”
The 2 brothers of Judas Maccabeus, Jonathan and Simon took his body and buried him in the tomb of their father at Modein. They wept for their brother, while all of Israel lamented and mourned. This Israelite lamentation is almost the same as when David found out about the death of King Saul in 2 Samuel, chapter 1. On the other hand the phrase about the life of Judas “How the mighty have fallen” is reminiscent of the style of 1 Kings, chapter 11, which began with the death of King Solomon. Everything was written in the acts or annals of the individual kings. However, Judas was not king. Besides, his acts were too many to be written down in one place.
“Then he blessed them. He was then gathered to his ancestors. He died in the one hundred and forty-sixth year. He was buried in the tomb of his ancestors at Modein. All Israel mourned for him with great lamentation.”
Mattathias blessed his children. Then he died in 166 BCE, 146th year since the beginning of the Greek empire, which was only 1 year after the King Antiochus IV sent out his decree of uniformity in 167 BCE. Mattathias was buried in the tomb of his ancestors, but he had moved from Jerusalem to Modein. How could his ancestors be here and not in Jerusalem? Obviously, not all Israel mourned him. Some might have been mad at him for his attacks on other non-observant Jews.
“When Mattathias had finished speaking these words, a Jew came forward in the sight of all to offer sacrifice upon the altar in Modein, according to the king’s command. When Mattathias saw it, he burned with zeal. His heart was stirred. He gave vent to righteous anger. He ran and killed him on the altar. At the same time he killed the king’s officer who was forcing them to sacrifice. He tore down the altar. Thus he burned with zeal for the law, as Phinehas did against Zimri the son of Salu.”
I guess that I did not see this coming. This is real dramatic. This Jew, Israelite, or Judean was willing to offer the sacrifice to the idol. Mattathias was filled with righteous anger. Wow! What would unrighteous anger be like? He killed the man offering the sacrifice and the Syrian inspector official. Then he tore up the whole altar. The reference to Phinehas is to Numbers, chapter 25. In Numbers, Moses said that God wanted them to kill anyone who had sex with the women of Peor who were Baal worshippers. Phinehas saw an Israelite with a Median woman, so he killed both of them. Somehow that killing stopped a plague. Maybe he thought that this killing would stop the Syrians.
“In those days, Mattathias son of John, son of Simeon, a priest of the family of Joarib, moved from Jerusalem. He settled in Modein. He had five sons, John surnamed Gaddi, Simon called Thassi, Judas called Maccabeus, Eleazar called Avaran, and Jonathan called Apphus. He saw the blasphemies being committed in Judah and Jerusalem.”
This Mattathias was the son of John and grandson of Simeon, the Hasmonean, from a priestly family. He moved his family from Jerusalem to Modein, about 17 miles northwest of Jerusalem, but there is no date for this migration except the vague ‘in those days.’ His 5 sons were 1) John, 2) Simon, 3) Judas, 4) Eleazar, and 5) Jonathan. He had seen the blasphemies committed against Judah and Jerusalem. This is the introduction to the Maccabees family, although only 1 in the family used the name of Maccabeus.