“He shall stir up
Against the king of the south,
With a great army.
The king of the south
Shall wage war
With a much greater,
But he shall not stand.
Plots shall be devised
By those who eat
Of the royal rations.
They shall break him.
His army shall be swept away.
Many shall fall slain.
The two kings,
Their minds bent
At one table.
They shall exchange lies.
But it shall not succeed.
There remains an end
At the time appointed.
He shall return
To his land
With great wealth.
But his heart shall be set
Against the holy covenant.
He shall work his will.
He shall return
To his own land.
King Antiochus IV determined to fight against the king of the south, in Egypt with a great army around 169 BCE. However, the king of the south, King Ptolemy VI (186-145 BCE), had a better stronger army. Nevertheless, King Antiochus IV prevailed, because there was some failure among the troops of King Ptolemy VI, as plots were devised by those who ate his royal rations. Many were killed. They seem to have come to some sort of agreement, but each was too devious to make it work. King Antiochus IV returned with great wealth. He apparently stopped off in Jerusalem and sacked it in 169 BCE, since his heart was against the holy covenant. There he worked his will before he returned to his own land.
“In the one hundred seventy-fourth year, Antiochus set out and invaded the land of his ancestors. All the troops rallied to him, so that there were only a few with Trypho. Antiochus pursued him. He came in his flight to Dor, which is by the sea. He knew that troubles had converged upon him, since his troops had deserted him. So Antiochus encamped against Dor, and with him were one hundred twenty thousand warriors and eight thousand cavalry. He surrounded the town since the ships had joined battle from the sea. He pressed the town hard from land and sea. He permitted no one to leave or enter it.”
In 138 BCE, or the 167th year of the Greek Empire, King Antiochus VII invaded the land of his ancestors. That sounds strange to invade your own country. He was trying to take back the throne from King Trypho. King Trypho fled to Dor, a sea port south of Carmel, miles north of Caesarea. Most of the troops of King Trypho had abandoned him. King Antiochus VII followed him to Dor with 120,000 warriors and 8,000 cavalry. Once again, these numbers seem high. He then surrounded the city since he had ships in the port so that no one could leave or enter the city.
“Jonathan trusted Trypho. He did as he said. He sent away the troops as they returned to the land of Judah. He kept with himself three thousand men, two thousand of whom he left in Galilee, while one thousand accompanied him. However, when Jonathan entered Ptolemais, the men of Ptolemais closed the gates and seized him. They killed with the sword everyone who had entered with him.”
Jonathan trusted Trypho, which was a big mistake. He did exactly what Trypho told him to do. He sent his troops home to Judah. He took 3,000 troops but left 2,000 in Galilee, so that he was traveling with about 1,000 men. When they got to Ptolemais, the men of Ptolemais closed the gate behind them. Then the seized him and killed the other 1,000 men with him.
“After this happened, Trypho returned. He had with him the young boy Antiochus who began to reign and put on the crown. All the troops that Demetrius had discharged gathered around him. They fought against Demetrius until he fled and was routed. Trypho captured the elephants. He gained control of Antioch.”
Trypho showed up earlier in this chapter. He was a supporter and friend of King Alexander I, who King Demetrius II had defeated. He had with him the son of King Alexander I, Antiochus, who he then made King Antiochus VI. All the troops that King Demetrius II had let go, now went and fought with Trypho so that King Demetrius II fled. Never leave the troops sit idle. Trypho took his elephants and control of Antioch, the capital of the Syrian empire with the new young king. This King Antiochus VI may have been only 3 or 4 years old. His mother would have been Cleopatra III, the wife of deposed King Demetrius II also.
“When Judas saw that his army had slipped away and the battle was imminent, he was crushed in spirit. He had no time to assemble them. He became faint, but he said to those who were left.
Let us march against our enemies!
May we have the strength to fight them!’
However, they tried to dissuade him, saying.
‘We do not have the strength.
Let us rather save our own lives now.
Let us come back with our kindred and fight them.
We are too few.’
But Judas said.
‘Far be it from us
To do such a thing
As to flee from them.
If our hour has come,
Let us die bravely for our kindred.
Leave nothing to question our honor.’”
Judas Maccabeus and his troop were down to 800 men. He was crushed and faint of heart, but he had no time to gather his troops together. He still wanted to fight. However, the troops warned him that they did not have the strength or manpower to fight because they were too few. Why not wait until another day? Judas was determined. He would not flee. If it is their time, so be it. They will die bravely for their brothers. No one would question their honor.
Be ready early in the morning to fight with these gentiles.
They have assembled against us to destroy us and our sanctuary.
It is better for us to die in battle
Than to see the misfortunes of our nation and of the sanctuary.
But as his will in heaven may be,
So he will do.’”
The pep talk of Judas Maccabeus told the troops to arm themselves and be courageous. They had to be ready in the morning to fight the gentiles who were out to destroy them and their sanctuary. They had already sacked the Temple in Jerusalem. Judas reminded them that it was better to die in battle than to see the misfortunes of their country and Temple. However, he would abide by the will of the God in heaven.
“At that time, many who were seeking righteousness and justice went down to the wilderness to live there. They, their sons, their wives, and their livestock, went into the wilderness because troubles pressed heavily upon them. It was reported to the king’s officers, and to the troops in Jerusalem the city of David, that men who had rejected the king’s command had gone down to the hiding places in the wilderness. Many pursued them. They overtook them. They encamped opposite them. They prepared for battle against them on the Sabbath day. They said to them.
‘Enough of this!
Come out and do what the king commands,
Then you will live.’
However they said.
‘We will not come out,
Nor will we do what the king commands.
We will not profane the Sabbath day.’
Then the enemy quickly attacked them. But they did not answer them or hurl a stone at them or block up their hiding places. They said.
‘Let us all die in our innocence.
Heaven and earth testify for us that you are killing us unjustly.’
So they attacked them on the Sabbath. They died, with their wives and children and cattle, to the number of a thousand persons.”
Here there is a movement to the wilderness instead of away from it. More and more people were going out to the wilderness. The Syrian officials found out about this and began to pursue them. They caught a group of about 1,000 people with wives, children, and livestock. Since it was the Sabbath, the Jewish group would not fight. Thus 1,000 people were wiped out because they wanted to die in their innocence. They believed that they died unjustly so that we have 1,000 Jewish martyrs.