Nicanor’s blasphemy. Judas Maccabaeus stirs up hope. They defeat Nicanor. Epilogue.
VERSE 1. But Nicanor, hearing that Judas and his company were in the region of Samaria, resolved to attack them with complete safety on the day of rest.
Nicanor. He had been master of the elephants. Then he was appointed governor of Judea.
resolved to attack them … on the day of rest. Nicanor resolves to attack Jewish people … on the Sabbath.
That is a cowardly thing to do.
VERSE 2. When the Jews who were compelled to follow him said, “Don’t destroy so savagely and barbarously, but give due glory to the day which he who sees all things has honored and hallowed above other days.”
he who sees all things. Or “the all-seeing” (NAB translation).
VERSE 3. Then the thrice-accursed wretch asked if there were a Sovereign in heaven who had commanded to keep the Sabbath day.
the thrice-accursed wretch. The NAB translation says “the thrice-sinful wretch.”
VERSE 4. When they declared, “There is the Lord, living himself as Sovereign in heaven, who told us observe the seventh day.”
VERSE 5. He replied, “I also am a sovereign on the earth, who commands you to take up weapons and execute the king’s business.” Nevertheless he didn’t prevail to execute his cruel plan.
I also am a sovereign. Foolish Nicanor equates himself with the LORD God.
VERSE 6. And Nicanor, in his utter boastfulness and arrogance, had determined to set up a monument of complete victory over Judas and all those who were with him.
in his utter boastfulness. In Greek, “carrying his neck high.”
VERSE 7. But Maccabaeus still trusted unceasingly, with all hope that he should obtain help from the Lord.
NAB translation. But Maccabeus remained confident, fully convinced that he would receive help from the LORD.
trusted unceasingly. Judas Maccabeus was confident the LORD God would grant the victory.
VERSE 8. He exhorted his company not to be fearful at the assault of the heathen, but keeping in mind the help which in former times they had often received from heaven, so now also to look for the victory which would come to them from the Almighty,
NAB translation. He urged his men not to fear the enemy, but mindful of the help they had received from Heaven in the past, to expect that now, too, victory would be given them by the Almighty.
Judas Maccabeus stirs up the faith of his soldiers. He fans it into a flame.
VERSE 9. and encouraging them out of the law and the prophets, and reminding them of the conflicts that they had won, he made them more eager.
NAB translation. By encouraging them with words from the law and the prophets, and by reminding them of the battles they had already won, he filled them with fresh enthusiasm.”
words from the law and the prophets. Judas Maccabeus encourages his soldiers by preaching from the Bible.
VERSE 10. And when he had aroused their courage, he gave them orders, at the same time pointing out the faithlessness of the heathen and their breach of their oaths.
NAB translation. Having stirred up their courage, he gave his orders and pointed out at the same time the perfidy of the Gentiles and their violation of oaths.
Judas Maccabeus launches out on a daring plan.
VERSE 11. Arming each one of them, not so much with the sure defense of shields and spears as with the encouragement of good words, and moreover relating to them a dream worthy to be believed, he made them all exceedingly glad.
NAB translation. When he had armed each of them, not so much with the safety of shield and spear so much as with the encouragement of noble words, he cheered them all by relating a dream, a kind of vision, worthy of belief.
the encouragement of good words. Noble words have power. Noble words can build up and encourage. Judas’ words “armed” the spirits of his hearers.
Let’s speak words of faith, words that need to be heard, words that upbuild and uplift, words that foster faith and hope and love, words that spread the fragrance of Jesus.
relating to them a dream worthy to be believed. Judas Maccabeus shares with his soldiers a mystical vision from the Most High God.
VERSE 12. The vision of that dream was this: Onias, he who had been high priest, a noble and good man, modest in bearing, yet gentle in manner and well-spoken, and trained from a child in all points of virtue, with outstretched hands invoking blessings on the whole body of the Jews.
VERSE 13. Then he saw a man appear, of venerable age and exceeding glory, and the dignity around him was wonderful and most majestic.
VERSE 14. Onias answered and said, “This is the lover of the kindred, he who prays much for the people and the holy city: Jeremiah the prophet of God.
Jeremiah the prophet of God. Judas Maccabaeus is given a mystical vision of the prophet Jeremiah.
VERSE 15. Jeremiah stretched out his right hand and delivered to Judas a gold sword, and in giving it addressed him thus:
VERSE 16. “Take this holy sword, a gift from God, with which you shall strike down the adversaries.”
VERSE 17. Being encouraged by the words of Judas, which were noble and effective, and able to incite to virtue and to stir the souls of the young to manly courage, they determined not to carry on a campaign, but nobly to bear down upon the enemy, and fighting hand to hand with all courage bring the matter to a conclusion, because the city, the sanctuary, and the temple were in danger.
VERSE 18. For their fear for wives and children, and furthermore for family and relatives, was less important to them; but greatest and first was their fear for the consecrated sanctuary.
greatest and first was their fear for the consecrated sanctuary. The temple was their treasure.
Matthew 6:21. for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
VERSE 19. Also those who were shut up in the city were in no light distress, being troubled because of the encounter in the open country.
VERSE 20. When all were now waiting for the decision of the issue, and the enemy had already joined battle, and the army had been set in array, and the elephants brought back to a convenient post, and the cavalry deployed on the flanks,
elephants. In Greek, “animals.”
a convenient post. Or “stationed for convenient action.”
VERSE 21. Maccabaeus, perceiving the presence of the troops, and the various weapons with which they were equipped, and the savageness of the elephants, holding up his hands to heaven called upon the Lord who works wonders, knowing that success comes not by weapons, but that, according to how the Lord judges, he gains the victory for those who are worthy.
troops. In Greek, “multitudes.”
elephants. In Greek, “animals.”
holding up his hands to heaven. This reminds us of Joshua son of Nun.
success comes not by weapons. Most people trust in their own strength. But not lovers of God:
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 22. And calling upon God, he said this: “You, O Sovereign Lord, sent your angel in the time of King Hezekiah of Judea, and he killed of the army of Sennacherib as many as one hundred eighty-five thousand.
army. In Greek, “camp.”
VERSE 23. So now also, O Sovereign of the heavens, send a good angel before us to bring terror and trembling.
NAB translation. Sovereign of the heavens, send a good angel now to spread fear and dread before us.
a good angel. At this point in the biblical narrative, it seems most Jewish people believed in angels.
They ask for a “good” angel. The existence of “good” angels implies the existence of “bad” angels.
VERSE 24. Through the greatness of your arm let them be stricken with dismay who with blasphemy have come here against your holy people.” As he finished these words,
VERSE 25. Nicanor and his company advanced with trumpets and victory songs;
VERSE 26. but Judas and his company joined battle with the enemy with invocation and prayers.
VERSE 27. Fighting with their hands and praying to God with their hearts, they killed no less than thirty-five thousand men, being made exceedingly glad by the manifestation of God.
This is an auspicious accomplishment! They are “Fighting with their hands” PLUS “praying to God with their hearts”!
VERSE 28. When the engagement was over and they were returning again with joy, they recognized Nicanor lying dead in full armor.
VERSE 29. Then there was shouting and noise, and they blessed the Sovereign Lord in the language of their ancestors.
in the language of their ancestors. That is, in Hebrew.
VERSE 30. He who in all things was in body and soul the foremost champion of his fellow-citizens, he who kept through life the good will of his youth toward his countrymen, ordered that Nicanor’s head be cut off with his hand and arm, and that they be brought to Jerusalem.
VERSE 31. When he had arrived there and had called his countrymen together and set the priests before the altar, he sent for those who were in the citadel.
VERSE 32. Showing the head of the vile Nicanor and the hand of that profane man, which with proud brags he had stretched out against the holy house of the Almighty,
VERSE 33. and cutting out the tongue of the impious Nicanor, he said that he would give it in pieces to the birds, and hang up these rewards of his folly near the sanctuary.
VERSE 34. They all, looking up to heaven, blessed the Lord who had manifested himself, saying, “Blessed is he who has preserved his own place undefiled!”
VERSE 35. He hung Nicanor’s head and shoulder from the citadel, a clear sign evident to all of the help of the Lord.
VERSE 36. They all ordained with a common decree to in no way let this day pass undistinguished, but to mark with honor the thirteenth day of the twelfth month (it is called Adar in the Syrian language), the day before the day of Mordecai.
VERSE 37. This then having been the account of the attempt of Nicanor, and the city having from those times been held by the Hebrews, I also will here make an end of my book.
VERSE 38. If I have written well and to the point in my story, this is what I myself desired; but if its poorly done and mediocre, this is the best I could do.
NAB translation. If it is well written and to the point, that is what I wanted; if it is poorly done and mediocre, that is the best I could do.
VERSE 39. For as it is distasteful to drink wine alone and likewise to drink water alone, while the mingling of wine with water at once gives full pleasantness to the flavor; so also the fashioning of the language delights the ears of those who read the story. Here is the end.
NAB translation. Just as it is harmful to drink wine alone or water alone, whereas mixing wine with water makes a more pleasant drink that increases delight, so a skillfully composed story delights the ears of those who read the work. Let this, then, be the end.
distasteful. Or “hurtful.”
while. In Greek, “but even as.”
Here is the end. What a great way to end the Book!
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.