1 Maccabees chapter 3

Now that his father Mattathias the priest has passed away, Judas Maccabees takes over the rebellion. He gains the victory over Apollonius and Seron.





VERSE 1. And his son Judas, who was called Maccabaeus, rose up in his stead.

Judas, who was called Maccabaeus. He is usually referred to as Judas Maccabees.

rose up in his stead. Now that his father Mattathias the priest has passed away, Judas Maccabees takes over the rebellion.


VERSE 2. And all his kindred helped him, and so did all those who clave to his father, and they fought with gladness the battle of Israel.

they fought with gladness the battle of Israel. The NAB translation puts it this way: “they carried on Israel’s war joyfully.”


VERSE 3. And he got his people great glory, and put on a breastplate as a giant, and girded his warlike harness about him, and set battles in array, protecting the army with his sword.


VERSE 4. And he was like a lion in his deeds, and as a lion’s whelp roaring for prey.


VERSE 5. And he pursued the lawless, seeking them out, and he burned up those that troubled his people.


VERSE 6. And the lawless shrunk for fear of him, and all the workers of lawlessness were sore troubled, and salvation prospered in his hand.


VERSE 7. And he angered many kings, and made Jacob glad with his acts, and his memorial is blessed forever.


VERSE 8. And he went about among the cities of Judah, and destroyed the ungodly out of the land, and turned away wrath from Israel:


VERSE 9. and he was renowned to the utmost part of the earth, and he gathered together such as were ready to perish.




VERSE 10. And Apollonius gathered the Gentiles together, and a great army from Samaria, to fight against Israel.


VERSE 11. And Judas perceived it, and he went forth to meet him, and struck him, and killed him: and many fell wounded to death, and the rest fled.


VERSE 12. And they took their spoils, and Judas took the sword of Apollonius, and therewith he fought all his days.


VERSE 13. And Seron, the commander of the army of Syria, heard say that Judas had gathered a gathering and a congregation of faithful men with him, and of such as went out to war;


VERSE 14. And he said, I will make myself a name and get me glory in the kingdom; and I will fight against Judas and those who are with him, that set at nothing the word of the king.


VERSE 15. And there went up with him also a mighty army of the ungodly to help him, to take vengeance on the children of Israel.


VERSE 16. And he came near to the going up of Bethhoron, and Judas went forth to meet him with a small company.


VERSE 17. But when they saw the army coming to meet them, they said to Judas, What? shall we be able, being a small company, to fight against so great and strong a multitude? and we for our part are faint, having tasted no food this day.

they said to Judas. It was clear that they were outnumbered and out-gunned. They were too weak. They were right to ask those hard questions. They were facts.


VERSE 18. And Judas said, It is an easy thing for many to be shut up in the hands of a few; and with heaven it is all one, to save by many or by few:

This verse is fantastic! Would you consider memorizing it? More great verses to memorize from the First Book of Maccabees and from the entire Bible.

with heaven it is all one, to save by many or by few. God can grant the victory, even when the odds seem against it. Ultimately, the victory is not by might nor by power, but by God’s spirit. The LORD spoke to the prophet Zechariah about this:

Zechariah 4:6. Then he answered and spoke to me, saying, “This is the LORD’s word to Zerubbabel, saying, ‘Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit,’ says the LORD of Hosts.


VERSE 19. for victory in battle stands not in the multitude of an army; but strength is from heaven.

This verse is fantastic! Would you consider memorizing it? More great verses to memorize from the First Book of Maccabees and from the entire Bible.

victory in battle. What does God give us strength from heaven? Is it so we can feel confident? Is it so we can trust for the victory? God gives us strength for those things and more. God gives us strength so we can fight the enemy! We’re meant to engage. We’re meant to win.

strength is from heaven. Judas Maccabees has great faith and confidence in God. His is the type of faith that could cast a mountain into the sea!

Matthew 21:21. Jesus answered them, “Most certainly I tell you, if you have faith, and don’t doubt, you will not only do what was done to the fig tree, but even if you told this mountain, ‘Be taken up and cast into the sea,’ it would be done.


VERSE 20. They come to us in fulness of insolence and lawlessness, to destroy us and our wives and our children, for to plunder us:

to destroy us and our wives and our children. Judas Maccabees recognized the severity of the threat. The enemy was out to destroy them. The enemy attack would not be restricted to the warriors only. The enemy would also assault women and children. The enemy is like a terrorist. Nobody is exempt from a car bomb. Nobody is exempt from an enemy.

John 10:10.The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. (NIV translation)


VERSE 21. but we fight for our lives and our laws.

for our lives and our laws. Judas Maccabees states the severity of the battle. The issue is grave. They are fighting for their very lives. And they are fighting for their religious freedom. This is a battle they will fight to the death.


VERSE 22. And he himself will discomfit them before our face: but as for you, be you not afraid of them.

he himself will discomfit them. That is, “He himself will crush them” (NAB translation).  Judas Maccabees states this by faith. He had no evidence to support it. As far as we know from the text, Judas was not given a mystical vision of the future. Instead, he states by faith that God will grant them the victory.

be you not afraid. The victory is so certain that they should not even be afraid.


VERSE 23. Now when he had left off speaking, he leapt suddenly upon them, and Seron and his army were discomfited before him.

he leapt suddenly upon them. Here is how the victory is found! Judah initiates the battle. He rushes suddenly upon the enemy and crushes him. Judah acted without “mercy.” He acted to defeat the enemy. He was ruthless. It was a surprise attack.


VERSE 24. And they pursued them in the going down of Bethhoron to the plain, and there fell of them about eight hundred men; but the residue fled into the land of the Philistines.


VERSE 25. And the fear of Judas and his kindred, and the dread of them, began to fall upon the nations round about them:

the dread of them, began to fall upon the nations. One great result of the victory was that the other enemies were too frightened to attack them any more.


VERSE 26. and his name came near even to the king, and every nation told of the battles of Judas.




VERSE 27. But when king Antiochus heard these words, he was full of indignation: and he sent and gathered together all the forces of his realm, an exceedingly strong army.


VERSE 28. And he opened his treasury, and gave his forces pay for a year, and commanded them to be ready for every need.


VERSE 29. And he saw that the money failed from his treasures, and that the tributes of the country were small, because of the dissension and plague which he had brought upon the land, to the end that he might take away the laws which had been from the first days;

the tributes of the country were small. When a leader of God’s people stirs up too many controversies, his income from them will drop off.


VERSE 30. and he feared that he should not have enough as at other times for the charges and the gifts which he gave aforetime with a liberal hand, and he abounded above the kings that were before him.


VERSE 31. And he was exceedingly perplexed in his mind, and he determined to go into Persia, and to take the tributes of the countries, and to gather much money.


VERSE 32. And he left Lysias, an honorable man, and one of the seed royal, to be over the affairs of the king from the river Euphrates to the borders of Egypt,


VERSE 33. and to bring up his son Antiochus, until he came again.


VERSE 34. And he delivered to him the half of his forces, and the elephants, and gave him charge of all the things that he would have done, and concerning those who lived in Judea and in Jerusalem,


VERSE 35. that he should send an army against them, to root out and destroy the strength of Israel, and the remnant of Jerusalem, and to take away their memorial from the place;

a remnant. The Bible describes a uniquely faithful group of believers called “the remnant.” Are they Jewish or Christians? Now or in the future? Who are they really? Read more »


VERSE 36. And that he should make strangers to dwell on all their coasts, and should divide their land to them by lot.


VERSE 37. And the king took the half that remained of the forces, and removed from Antioch, from his royal city, the hundred and forty and seventh year; and he passed over the river Euphrates, and went through the upper countries.


VERSE 38. And Lysias chose Ptolemy the son of Dorymenes, and Nicanor, and Gorgias, mighty men of the king’s Friends;


VERSE 39. and with them he sent forty thousand footmen, and seven thousand horse, to go into the land of Judah, and to destroy it, according to the word of the king.


VERSE 40. And they removed with all their army, and came and pitched near to Emmaus in the plain country.


VERSE 41. And the merchants of the country heard the fame of them, and took silver and gold exceedingly much, with fetters, and came into the camp to take the children of Israel for servants: and there were added to them the forces of Syria and of the land of the Philistines.


VERSE 42. And Judas and his kindred saw that evils were multiplied, and that the forces were encamping in their borders; and they took knowledge of the king’s words which he had commanded, to destroy the people and make an end of them;


VERSE 43. and they said each man to his neighbor, Let’s raise up the ruin of our people, and let’s fight for our people and the holy place.


VERSE 44. And the congregation was gathered together, that they might be ready for battle, and that they might pray, and ask for mercy and compassion.


VERSE 45. And Jerusalem was without inhabitant as a wilderness, there was none of her offspring that went in or went out; and the sanctuary was trodden down, and the sons of strangers were in the citadel, the Gentiles lodged therein; and joy was taken away from Jacob, and the pipe and the harp ceased.

joy was taken away from Jacob. A corrupt spiritual leader drains the joy out of his people.


VERSE 46. And they gathered themselves together, and came to Mizpeh, near Jerusalem; for in Mizpeh was there a place of prayer aforetime for Israel.


VERSE 47. And they fasted that day, and put on sackcloth, and put ashes upon their heads, and tore their clothes,


VERSE 48. and laid open the book of the law, concerning which the Gentiles were wont to inquire, seeking the likenesses of their idols.


VERSE 49. And they brought the priests’ garments, and the first fruits, and the tithes: and they stirred up the Nazarites, who had accomplished their days.


VERSE 50. And they cried aloud toward heaven, saying, What shall we do with these men, and whither shall we carry them away?


VERSE 51. And your holy place is trodden down and profaned, and your priests are in heaviness and brought low.


VERSE 52. And, behold, the Gentiles are assembled together against us to destroy us: you know what things they imagine against us.


VERSE 53. How shall we be able to stand before them, except you be our help?


VERSE 54. And they sounded with the trumpets, and cried with a loud voice.


VERSE 55. And after this Judas appointed leaders of the people, captains of thousands, and captains of hundreds, and captains of fifties, and captains of tens.


VERSE 56. And he said to those who were building houses, and were betrothing wives, and were planting vineyards, and were fearful, that they should return, each man to his own house, according to the law.

were betrothing wives. Once again we see the central importance of marriage. A recent marriage trumps even this bold venture of Judas Maccabees to save the nation and the People of God.


VERSE 57. And the army removed, and encamped upon the south side of Emmaus.


VERSE 58. And Judas said, Gird yourselves, and be valiant men, and be in readiness against the morning, that you may fight with these Gentiles, that are assembled together against us to destroy us, and our holy place:


VERSE 59. for it is better for us to die in battle, than to look upon the evils of our nation and the holy place.


VERSE 60. Nevertheless, as may be the will in heaven, so shall he do.


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Unless otherwise noted, all Bible quotations on this page are from the World English Bible and the World Messianic Edition. These translations have no copyright restrictions. They are in the Public Domain.


Author: todd

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