Judas Maccabeus and the nomads (2 Macc 12:10-12:12)

“When they had gone more than a mile from there, on their march against Timothy, at least five thousand Arabs with five hundred cavalry attacked them. After a hard fight Judas Maccabeus and his companions, with God’s help, were victorious. The defeated nomads begged Judas Maccabeus to grant them pledges of friendship, promising to give livestock. They promised to help his people in all other ways. Judas Maccabeus, realizing that they might indeed be useful in many ways, agreed to make peace with them. After receiving his pledges, they went back to their tents.”

This episode is not linked with the preceding episodes on the coast because this takes place on the east side of the Jordan River. This is more about the battles with Timothy, even though it says that they were only a mile away. In fact, it is fairly similar to 1 Maccabees, chapter 5.   5,000 Arabs and 500 cavalry attacked Judas Maccabeus and his troops. With God’s help he was victorious. However, the defeated nomads wanted to make friends with Judas Maccabeus. They promised to give him livestock and be helpful in other ways. Judas Maccabeus realized that they might be useful. Thus he made peace with them. This is one of the few stories where the defeated people begged for peace and Judas Maccabeus agreed to it. Otherwise, he normally just wiped them out.

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Other problems for the Jews (2 Macc 12:1-12:2)

“When this agreement had been reached, Lysias returned to the king. The Jews went about their farming. But some of the governors in various places, Timothy and Apollonius son of Gennaeus, as well as Hieronymus and Demophon, and in addition to these Nicanor the governor of Cyprus, would not let them live quietly and in peace.”

Everything was settled with Antioch and the Seleucid Empire. However, there were others who would not leave the Jewish people live in peace. Timothy had already arrived on the scene, and had already been killed off earlier in chapter 10 of this book. This appears to be a different Apollonius, who was the brother of Timothy. Nicanor had already fought with the Jews. Here he was called the governor of Cyprus. The others are even more difficult to identify.

The anger of King Antiochus IV (2 Macc 9:1-9:4)

“About that time, as it happened, King Antiochus had retreated in disorder from the region of Persia. He had entered the city called Persepolis. He attempted to rob the temples and control the city. Therefore the people rushed to the rescue with arms. King Antiochus and his army were defeated. The result was that he was put to flight by the inhabitants as he beat a shameful retreat. While he was in Ecbatana, news came to him of what had happened to Nicanor and the forces of Timothy. Transported with rage, he conceived the idea of turning upon the Jews the injury done by those who had put him to flight. He ordered his charioteer to drive without stopping until he completed the journey. But the judgment of heaven rode with him! In his arrogance he said.

‘When I get there,

I will make Jerusalem a cemetery of Jews.’”

A similar story can be found in 1 Maccabees, chapter 6, where the beginning of the story is the same. Some of the details are different. The town with the temple was called Elymais in 1 Maccabees, but magnificent former capital Persepolis here. Instead of returning to Babylon in 1 Maccabees, here it is the summer capital of Persia, Ecbatana. In 1 Maccabees, it is Lysias who seemed to be in charge, while here it appears to be Nicanor and Timothy. However, there is a major difference in the reaction of King Antiochus IV. In 1 Maccabees, when King Antiochus IV heard the news about the Jewish victory, he was depressed and fell sick. He then had deathbed repentance for all that he had done to the Jews. Here instead of that, he got angry and wanted to make Jerusalem a Jewish cemetery. However, it is later in this chapter that he has his deathbed repentance. On top of that, there are more details about his illness here.

The attack on Dathema (1 Macc 5:29-5:34)

“They went all the way to the stronghold of Dathema. At dawn, they looked out and saw a large company that could not be counted, carrying ladders and engines of war to capture the stronghold. They were attacking the Jews within it. Judas saw that the battle had begun. The cry of the town went up to heaven with trumpets and loud shouts. Judas said to the men of his forces.

‘Fight today for your kindred’

Then he came up behind them in three companies. They sounded their trumpets. They cried aloud in prayer. When the army of Timothy realized that it was Maccabeus, they fled before him. He had dealt them a heavy blow. As many as eight thousand of them fell that day.”

Next Judas Maccabeus and his men went back to the stronghold of Dathema, where many of the Jews were at as was indicated earlier in this chapter. It must not have been that far from Bozrah since it only took one night to get there. However, when they arrived, the place was under attack by that wicked Timothy and his army. Judas Maccabeus called his troops to fight for their relatives. When Timothy and his group realized that Judas Maccabeus was attacking them, they fled with a loss of about 8,000 men.

The letter from Gilead (1 Macc 5:9-5:13)

“The gentiles in Gilead gathered together against the Israelites who lived in their territory. They planned to destroy them. However, they fled to the stronghold of Dathema. They sent to Judas and his brothers a letter which said.

‘The gentiles around us have gathered together against us

To destroy us.

They are preparing to come

And capture the stronghold

To which we have fled.

Timothy is leading their forces.

Now then come and rescue us from their hands.

Many of us have fallen.

All our kindred who were in the land of Tob have been killed.

The enemy has captured their wives, children, and goods.

They have destroyed about a thousand persons there.’”

The Jews who were in Gilead, which is on the east side of the border in the old Gad territory, were having troubles with the gentiles also. The gentiles there were planning to destroy them. They fled to a stronghold in Dathema in Gilead where they sent a letter to Judas and his brothers. They said that the gentiles had gathered around them to destroy them. They mentioned that the leader of the group against them was Timothy, which is the same name as the guy in charge of the Ammonites. We might assume that this group is also Ammonites. Nearby, about 13 miles southeast of Sea of Galilee was the land of Tob, where 1,000 Jewish people had been killed there. This was near the land of Ammon

Judas Maccabeus battles with the Ammonites (1 Macc 5:6-5:8)

“Then Judas crossed over to attack the Ammonites, where he found a strong band and many people with Timothy as their leader. He engaged in many battles with them.   Finally, they were crushed before him as he struck them down. He also took Jazer and its villages. Then he returned to Judea.”

Judas Maccabeus went across the Jordan River. He then attacked the Ammonites, another Semitic group, which had a man named Timothy as their leader. He then crushed them, destroying the village of Jazer, which was near Gilead and Ammon, before he returned to Judea.