“At least nine thousand people took refuge in two very strong towers well equipped to withstand a siege. Judas Maccabeus left Simon and Joseph, as well as Zacchaeus and his troops, a force sufficient to besiege them. He himself set off for places where he was more urgently needed. But those with Simon, who were money-hungry, were bribed by some of those who were in the towers. On receiving seventy thousand drachmas, they let some of people slip away. When word of what had happened came to Judas Maccabeus, he gathered the leaders of the people. He accused these men of having sold their kindred for money by setting their enemies free to fight against them. Then he killed these men who had turned traitor. He then immediately captured the two towers. Having success at arms in everything he undertook, he destroyed more than twenty thousand in the two strongholds.”
This incident was not found in 1 Maccabees. Judas Maccabeus set up a siege around 2 towers. He left his brothers Simon and Joseph in charge with Zacchaeus and his troops to keep up the siege. However, some money-hungry men with Simon, his brother, were bribed by people in the tower. A drachma was a Greek coin probably worth about $25.00 USA. 70,000 of these would be about a little less than 2 million ($2,000,000.00) dollars, a handsome sum. I do not know what they were going to do with this money. Anyway, Judas Maccabeus found out that many had escaped by paying this bribe. Apparently there were only a few people under Simon who were doing this so he had them killed. Then they captured the strongholds and killed the rest of them, some 20,000 people.
“Then Judas detailed men to fight against those in the citadel until he had cleansed the sanctuary. He chose blameless priests devoted to the law. They cleansed the sanctuary. They removed the defiled stones to an unclean place.”
Apparently there was still a garrison of Syrian troops in the Jerusalem citadel. Judas sent some troops to keep them occupied while he cleaned up the sanctuary. It is not clear why he did not wipe them out, but they seem to be a persistent problem. Anyway, he chose some blameless priests who were devoted to the law to clean up the sanctuary. They removed all the defiled stones and brought them to some unclean place, probably outside the city.
“When Seron approached the ascent of Beth-horon, Judas went out to meet him with a small company. But when they saw the army coming to meet them, they said to Judas.
‘How can we?
Few as we are,
How can we fight against so great and so strong a multitude?
We are faint,
We have eaten nothing today.’
‘It is easy for many to be hemmed in by a few,
In the sight of heaven,
There is no difference between saving by many or by few.
It is not on the size of the army that victory in battle depends,
But strength comes from heaven.
They come against us in great insolence and lawlessness.
They want to destroy us, our wives, and our children.
They want to despoil us.
However, we fight for our lives and our laws.
He himself will crush them before us.
As for you,
Do not be afraid of them.’”
This is like a pep talk before the battle. Beth-horon was in the northwest corner of the Benjamin territory that might have close to the town of Modein since it was about 12 miles northwest of Jerusalem. Judas’ men said that they were too few to fight a battle against so many Syrian troops. They said that they were hungry and faint. Judas Maccabeus responded that there was no difference between a big army and a small army because strength comes from heaven. They were insolent and lawless. They wanted to destroy us, our wives, and our children. They wanted to get rid of us. However, we fight for our lives and our laws. They should not be afraid because the God of heaven in on their side.