Jonathan and the battle at Hazor (1 Macc 11:67-11:74)

“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.

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King Antiochus got the bad news about Judah (1 Macc 6:5-6:7)

“Then someone came to King Antiochus in Persia. He reported that the armies which had gone into the land of Judah had been routed. Lysias had gone out with a strong force, but had been turned away. He fled before the Jews. The Jews had grown strong from the arms, supplies, and abundant spoils which they had taken from the armies they had cut down. They had torn down the abomination that he had erected upon the altar in Jerusalem. They had surrounded the sanctuary with high walls as before, and also Beth-zur, his town.”

King Antiochus IV was in Persia, probably Ecbatana the former capital when he got word about the failure of Lysias in Judah. The Jews had taken the spoils from his army and grew stronger. They had taken down his statue of a god in Jerusalem. The biblical author calls it an abomination. They had taken back the town of Jerusalem.

The reversal of fortunes at Jamnia (1 Macc 5:55-5:62)

“Now while Judas and Jonathan were in Gilead and their brother Simon was in Galilee before Ptolemais, Joseph son of Zechariah, and Azariah, the commanders of the forces, heard of their brave deeds. They heard about the heroic wars they had fought. So they said.

‘Let us also make a name for ourselves.

Let us go and make war on the gentiles around us.’

They issued orders to the men of the forces that were with them. They marched against Jamnia. Gorgias and his men came out of the town to meet them in battle. Then Joseph and Azariah were routed. They were pursued to the borders of Judea. As many as two thousand of the people of Israel fell that day. Thus the people suffered a great rout because, thinking to do a brave deed, they did not listen to Judas and his brothers. They did not belong to the family of those men through whom deliverance was given to Israel.”

While all this success of Judas and his brothers were happening, the folks back in Jerusalem got antsy. The leaders there, Joseph and Azariah, despite being told by Judas to stay in Jerusalem, decided to do battle with the people of Jamnia, south of Jerusalem. This was probably not too far from Jerusalem, but it is difficult to locate. Anyway, the reverse of what had happened to Judas and his brother happened. Gorgias came out to do battle and killed 2,000 Israelites as they fled back to Judea. The author once again notes that since they did not belong to the family of Judas, the people who will be called Hasmoneans, they could not deliver Israel from its enemies. Only the relatives of Judas could do that.