“The people of Joppa did an ungodly deed. They invited the Jews who lived among them to embark, with their wives and children, on boats that they had provided, as though there were no ill will towards the Jews. This was done by public vote of the city. When they accepted, because they wished to live peaceably and suspected nothing, the people of Joppa took them out to sea. They then drowned them, at least two hundred.”
This is a strange incident. Joppa was an ancient seaport on the Mediterranean seacoast, about thirty miles south of Caesarea and thirty-five miles north-west of Jerusalem, being the principal port of Judea. It was mentioned in 1 Maccabees, chapters 11-14, where Simon, Judas’ brother, was active. It had been part of the original territory of Dan. However, it is not clear who these inhabitants were. However, they somehow voted to drown all the Jewish people living there. Nevertheless, there were only a couple of hundred Jews, and that included their families.
“In his malice toward the Jewish citizens, King Antiochus sent Apollonius, the captain of the Mysians, with an army of twenty-two thousand. The king commanded him to kill all the grown men. They were to sell the women and boys as slaves. When this man arrived in Jerusalem, he pretended to be peaceably disposed. He waited until the holy Sabbath day. Then, finding the Jews not at work, he ordered his men to parade under arms. He put to the sword all those who came out to see them. Then he rushed into the city with his armed warriors. He killed great numbers of people.”
As in 1 Maccabees, chapter 1, King Antiochus IV sent a “chief collector” to Jerusalem. There it was 2 years later, but here there is no exact time period. There he was unnamed tax collector, but here it is Apollonius, who was a Mysian of Asia Minor with a huge army. However, in both stories there is the idea that he came peacefully, but then struck the people of the city. Here there is the added dimension that he did this destruction on the Sabbath when the Jews were not working. In both cases, he killed many people and took others into slavery.
“Nicanor came to Judas. They greeted one another peaceably. However, the enemy was preparing to seize Judas. It became known to Judas that Nicanor had come to him with a treacherous intent. Judas was afraid of him and would not meet him again. When Nicanor learned that his plan had been disclosed, he went out to meet Judas in battle near Caphar-salama. About five hundred men of the army of Nicanor fell. The rest fled into the city of David.”
Nicanor met Judas peacefully. They were about to seize Judas at a second meeting, when Judas found out about it. Once there was no second peaceful meeting, a battle broke out near Caphar-salama, about 5 miles northeast of Jerusalem. Judas and his men killed 500 of the army of Nicanor. The rest fled to the city of David, Jerusalem, since Judas and his group controlled the countryside.
“Judas Maccabeus and his brother Jonathan crossed the Jordan River. They made a three days journey into the wilderness. They encountered the Nabateans, who met them peaceably. They told them all that had happened to their kindred in Gilead.
‘Many of them have been shut up in Bozrah and Bosor,
In Alema and Chaspho, Maked and Carnaim,
All these cities were strong and large.
Some have been shut up in the other cities of Gilead.
The enemy is getting ready to attack the strongholds tomorrow.
They want to take and destroy all these men in one day.’”
Judas Maccabeus and his brother Jonathan with 5,000 troops crossed the Jordan River and went 3 days into the wilderness before they met the Nabateans, a peaceful group. These Nabateans were an Arab Semitic group that may have its roots in an Ishmaelite tribe. They will become stronger as time goes on. However, here they seem to be with the Jewish people talking about how the Jewish people have held in the major cities of Bozrah, Bosor, Alema, Chaspho, Maked, and Carnaim. Bozrah was a city in Edom, while Bosor, Alema, Chaspho, Maked, and Carnaim are only mentioned here and difficult to identify. The Nabateans said that some unidentified enemy was going to destroy them tomorrow, that is right away.