The dire message from the north (1 Macc 5:14-5:20)

“While the letter was still being read, other messengers, with their garments torn, came from Galilee. They made a similar report. They said that the people of Ptolemais, Tyre, Sidon, and all Galilee of the gentiles had gathered together against them, ‘to annihilate us.’ When Judas and the people heard these messages, a great assembly was called to determine what they should do for their kindred who were in distress. They were being attacked by enemies. Then Judas said to his brother Simon.

‘Choose your men.

Go and rescue your kindred in Galilee.

Jonathan my brother and I will go to Gilead.’

But he left Joseph son of Zechariah, and Azariah, a leader of the people, with the rest of the forces, in Judea to guard it. He gave them this command.

‘Take charge of this people.

But do not engage in battle with the gentiles until we return.’

Then three thousand men were assigned to Simon to go to Galilee, and eight thousand to Judas for Gilead.”

Suddenly, there is a problem to the north and west. Ptolemais, Tyre, and Sidon were seacoast towns that had not been involved in wars with Israel previously. Galilee had mostly Samaritans who were Israelites. Thus it was a surprise that this group should be picking on Israelites, especially to annihilate them. Judas Maccabeus made a decision. His brother Simon would go to Galilee with 3,000 troops, while he and his brother Jonathan would go to Gilead with 8,000 troops. Joseph and Azariah would be in charge in Judea, but they would not fight in any battles.