Nicanor plans to attack Judas Maccabeus (2 Macc 15:1-15:5)

“When Nicanor heard that Judas and his troops were in the region of Samaria, he made plans to attack them with complete safety on the day of rest. The Jews who were compelled to follow him said.

‘Do not destroy so savagely and barbarously,

But show respect for the day

That he who sees all things

Has honored and hallowed above other days.’

The thrice-accursed wretch asked if there were a sovereign in heaven who had commanded the keeping of the Sabbath day. They declared.

‘It is the living Lord himself,

The Sovereign in heaven,

Who ordered us to observe the seventh day.’

He replied.

‘I am a sovereign also, on earth,

I command you to take up arms.

I command you to finish the king’s business.’

Nevertheless, he did not succeed in carrying out his abominable design.”

Nicanor found out that Judas Maccabeus and his troops were in Samaria. He wanted to attack them on the Sabbath day, the day of rest. However, his Jewish followers, the renegades, told him that this was not a good idea. It would not be a good idea to kill Judas on the Sabbath because the living God had told them to observe the Sabbath. However, Nicanor responded that he was a sovereign also. He was commanding them to take up arms and finish the king’s business. However, this wretched fellow’s plans were not successful. Now this biblical author has an extremely negative view of Nicanor.

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The defeat of the army of Nicanor (2 Macc 8:24-8:29)

“With the Almighty as their ally, Judas Maccabeus killed more than nine thousand of the enemy. They wounded and disabled most of Nicanor’s army. They forced them all to flee. They captured the money of those who had come to buy them as slaves. After pursuing them for some distance, they were obliged to return because the hour was late. It was the day before the Sabbath. For that reason they did not continue their pursuit. When they had collected the arms of the enemy and stripped them of their spoils, they kept the Sabbath. They gave great praise and thanks to the Lord, who had preserved them for that day. He allotted it to them as the beginning of mercy. After the Sabbath, they gave some of the spoils to those who had been tortured, the widows, and the orphans. They distributed the rest among themselves and their children. When they had done this, they made common supplication. They implored the merciful Lord to be wholly reconciled with his servants.”

This section is a little like the battles in 1 Maccabees, chapter 4, but not quite the same. The leader of the army is Nicanor and Gorgias. As God Almighty was on their side, Judas and his men killed more than 9,000 of the 20,000 enemy soldiers. They also wounded and disabled most of Nicanor’s army, as those who were able, fled the scene. They even got the money that was going to be used to buy Jewish slaves. They had to stop pursuing them since it was the eve of the Sabbath. They then celebrated the Sabbath with great praise and thanksgiving for the Lord’s mercy to them. Then on the day after the Sabbath, they gave some, but not all, of the spoils to those who had been tortured, as well as the widows and orphans. The rest of the money they distributed it among themselves and their children. They once again prayed to the Lord so that he might be reconciled with his servants. There is no longer any mention of religious sacrifices of any kind.