2 Maccabees chapter 8

Judas Maccabaeus builds an army. Victory over Nicanor. Victory over Timotheus and Bacchides. Another victory over Nicanor.





VERSE 1. But Judas, who is also called Maccabaeus, and those who were with him, making their way secretly into the villages, called to them their kindred. Taking to them those who had continued in the Jews’ religion, gathered together about six thousand.

Judas … Maccabaeus. He is the hero of this book.


VERSE 2. They called upon the Lord to look at the people who were oppressed by all, and to have compassion on the sanctuary that had been profaned by the ungodly men,


VERSE 3. and to have pity on the city that was suffering ruin and ready to be leveled to the ground, and to listen to the blood that cried out to him,

ready to be leveled to the ground. The consequences were dire. Either Judas Maccabaeus rescues Jerusalem, or it will be annihilated.


VERSE 4. and to remember the lawless destruction of the innocent infants, and concerning the blasphemies that had been committed against his name, and to show his hatred of wickedness.


VERSE 5. When Maccabaeus had trained his men for service, the heathen at once found him irresistible, for the wrath of the Lord was turned into mercy.

the wrath of the Lord was turned into mercy. This is a great change!


VERSE 6. Coming without warning, he set fire to cities and villages. And in winning back the most important positions, putting to flight no small number of the enemies,

The Greek text of this verse is uncertain.


VERSE 7. he especially took advantage of the nights for such assaults. His courage was loudly talked of everywhere.

The Greek text of this verse is uncertain.




VERSE 8. But when Philip saw the man gaining ground little by little, and increasing more and more in his success, he wrote to Ptolemy, the governor of Coelesyria and Phoenicia, that he should support the king’s cause.


VERSE 9. Ptolemy quickly appointed Nicanor the son of Patroclus, one of the king’s chief friends, and sent him, in command of no fewer than twenty thousand of all nations, to destroy the whole race of Judea. With him he joined Gorgias also, a captain and one who had experience in matters of war.

NAB translation. Ptolemy promptly selected Nicanor, son of Patroclus, one of the Chief Friends, and sent him at the head of at least twenty thousand armed men of various nations to wipe out the entire Jewish race.

to wipe out the entire Jewish race. The forces of evil gather. They escalate their ambitions. They are no longer content to “merely” torture individual Jewish people to force them to abandon the Most High God.

Now they wish to exterminate the Jewish people from the face of the earth.

This chapter’s graphic narrative shows the contempt and intolerance they have for the Jewish people.

In the course of world history, an evil antisemitic agenda repeats over and over again. In our day, professing Christians are often the worst of the worst when it comes to Antisemitism. Read more »


VERSE 10. Nicanor resolved by the sale of the captive Jews to make up for the king the tribute of two thousand talents which he was to pay to the Romans.


VERSE 11. Immediately he sent to the cities upon the sea coast, inviting them to buy Jewish slaves, promising to deliver seventy slaves for a talent, not expecting the judgment that was to overtake him from the Almighty.

Jewish slaves. In Greek, “bodies.”

seventy slaves. In Greek, “bodies.”

not expecting the judgment that was to overtake him from the Almighty. Nicanor and his 20,000-man army are doomed.


VERSE 12. News came to Judas concerning Nicanor’s invasion. When he communicated to those who were with him the presence of the army,


VERSE 13. those who were cowardly and distrustful of God’s judgment ran away and left the country.

The Greek text of this verse is uncertain.

NAB translation. the cowardly and those who lacked faith in God’s justice deserted and got away.

Eventually, cowardly people and those who lack faith will desert the cutting-edge projects of the LORD God.


VERSE 14. Others sold all that they had left, and at the same time implored the Lord to deliver those who had been sold as slaves by the impious Nicanor before he ever met them,


VERSE 15. if not for their own sakes, then for the covenants made with their ancestors, and because he had called them by his holy and glorious name.


VERSE 16. So Maccabaeus gathered his men together, six thousand in number, and exhorted them not to be frightened by the enemy, nor to fear the great multitude of the heathen who came wrongfully against them, but to fight nobly,


VERSE 17. setting before their eyes the outrage that had been lawlessly perpetrated upon the holy place, and the torture of the city that had been turned to mockery, and further the overthrow of the way of life received from their ancestors.


VERSE 18. “For they,” he said, “trust their weapons and daring deeds, but we trust in the almighty God, since he is able at a nod to cast down those who are coming against us, and even the whole world.”

NAB translation. They trust in weapons and acts of daring,” he said, “but we trust in almighty God, who can by a mere nod destroy not only those who attack us, but the whole world.”

This verse is fantastic! Would you consider memorizing it? More great verses to memorize from the Book of 2 Maccabees and from the entire Bible.



VERSE 19. Moreover, he recounted to them the help given from time to time in the days of their ancestors, both in the days of Sennacherib, when one hundred eighty-five thousand perished,


VERSE 20. and in the land of Babylon, in the battle that was fought against the Gauls, how they came to the battle with eight thousand in all, with four thousand Macedonians, and how, the Macedonians being hard pressed, the ‡six thousand destroyed the hundred and twenty thousand because of the help which they had from heaven, and took a great deal of plunder.

the Gauls. In Greek, “the Galatians.”

six thousand. Some authorities read “eight.”


VERSE 21. And when he had with these words filled them with courage and made them ready to die for the laws and their country, he divided his army into four parts.


VERSE 22. He appointed his brothers, Simon, Joseph, and Jonathan, to be leaders of the divisions with him, giving each the command of one thousand five hundred men.


VERSE 23. Moreover Eleazer also, having read aloud the sacred book, and having given as watchword, “THE HELP OF GOD”, leading the first band himself, joined battle with Nicanor.

Eleazer also, having read aloud the sacred book. Before the army advances, Eleazer reads the Bible to them.


VERSE 24. Since the Almighty fought on their side, they killed more than nine thousand of the enemy, and wounded and disabled most of Nicanor’s army, and compelled them all to flee.

disabled. In Greek, “disabled in their limbs.”


VERSE 25. They took the money of those who had come there to buy them as slaves. After they had pursued them for some *distance, they returned, being constrained by the time of the day;

for some distance. Or “for some while.”


VERSE 26. for it was the day before the Sabbath, and for this reason they made no effort to chase them far.


VERSE 27. When they had gathered the weapons of the enemy together, and had stripped off their spoils, they kept the Sabbath, greatly blessing and thanking the Lord who had saved them to this day, because he had begun to show mercy to them.

When they had gathered. The exact meaning of this clause is uncertain.

the weapons of the enemy. In Greek, “their weapons.”

their spoils. In Greek, “the spoils of the enemy.”


VERSE 28. After the Sabbath, when they had given some of the spoils to the maimed, and to the widows and orphans, they distributed the rest among themselves and their children.

the maimed. Or “wounded.”


VERSE 29. When they had accomplished these things and had made a common supplication, they implored the merciful Lord to be wholly reconciled with his servants.




VERSE 30. Having had an encounter with the forces of Timotheus and Bacchides, they killed more than twenty thousand of them, and made themselves masters of exceedingly high strongholds, and divided very much plunder, giving the maimed, orphans, widows, and the aged an equal share with themselves.

the maimed. Or “wounded.”


VERSE 31. When they had gathered the weapons of the enemy together, they stored them all up carefully in the most strategic positions, and they carried the rest of the spoils to Jerusalem.

When they had gathered the weapons. The exact meaning of this clause is uncertain.

of the enemy. In Greek, “of them.”


VERSE 32. They killed the phylarch of Timotheus’s forces, a most unholy man, and one who had done the Jews much harm.

the phylarch of Timotheus’s forces. That is, probably, the captain of an irregular auxiliary force. Some write Phylarches, as a proper name.


VERSE 33. As they celebrated the feast of victory in the city of their fathers, they burned those who had set the sacred gates on fire, including Callisthenes, who had fled into a little house. So they received the proper reward for their impiety.

As they celebrated the feast of victory. The Greek text here is perhaps corrupt.

the city. Or “country.”

the sacred gates. Or “porches.”

a little house. Or “a solitary hut.”




VERSE 34. The thrice-accursed Nicanor, who had brought the thousand merchants to buy the Jews as slaves,


VERSE 35. being through the help of the Lord humbled by them who in his eyes were held to be of least account, took off his glorious apparel, and passing through the country, shunning all company like a fugitive slave, arrived at Antioch, having, as he thought, had the greatest possible good fortune, though his army was destroyed.

shunning all company. In Greek, “having made himself solitary.”

having, as he thought, had the greatest possible good fortune, though his army was destroyed. Or “having won the greatest possible favor by reason of the destruction of his army.”

The NAB translation says:

He was eminently successful in destroying his own army.


VERSE 36. He who had taken upon himself to make tribute sure for the Romans by the captivity of the men of Jerusalem published abroad that the Jews had One who fought for them, and that because this was so, the Jews were invulnerable, because they followed the laws ordained by him.

because this was so. Or “because of this their way of life.

In Greek, “because of this manner.”


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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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