3 Maccabees Chapter 15


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P. 212 – 217 Book 3 B.C. 164 [PDF: 262/267 of P.524]

CHAPTER 15

(i) The defeat of Nicanor. His death.

1 But Nicanor, hearing that Judas and his company were in the strong places about Samaria, devised without any danger to set upon them on the sabbath-day. Nevertheless, the Jews who were 2 compelled to go with him, said ; O destroy not so cruelly and barbarously, but give honour to that day, which He who seeth all things hath honoured with holiness above other days. Then the most 3 abandoned wretch demanded, If there existed a Mighty One in heaven, who had commanded the sabbath-day to be kept. And when they said, 4 There is, the living Lord : he is the mighty One p. 213 in heaven, who commanded the seventh day to be 5 kept : then said the other, And I also am mighty upon earth, and I command to take arms, and to do the king’s business : yet he obtained not to 6 have his wicked will done. So Nicanor, lifting up his neck in all haughtiness, determined to set up a public trophy of his victory over Judas and them which were with him.

7 But Maccabaeus had ever sure confidence that 8 he should obtain help from the Lord : wherefore he exhorted his people not to fear the coming of the heathen against them, but to remember the help which in former times they had received from heaven ; and now to expect the victory and aid which should come unto them from the 9 Almighty. And so comforting them out of the law and the prophets, and withal putting them in mind of the battles which they had won afore, 10 he made them more cheerful. And when he had stirred up their minds, he gave them their charge; shewing them there withal the perfidy of the 11 heathen, and the breach of oaths. Thus he armed every one of them, not so much with defence of shields and spears, as with the comfort of good words : and besides that, telling them a dream worthy to be believed for a true vision[1]P. 213 Foot Note a. details here Gr. [ click on image to enlarge] There is a various reading, Gr. [ click on image to enlarge] which is respectably supported by MSS., he rejoiced 12 them all [not a little]. And this was his vision : That Onias, who had been high priest, a virtuous and a good man, reverend in deportment, gentle in manners, well spoken also, and exercised from a child in all points of virtue, holding up p. 214 his hands, prayed over the whole body of the Jews. This done, that in like manner there 13 appeared a man with grey hairs, and exceeding glorious, and that about him there was a certain wonderful and most excellent majesty. Then 14 Onias answered, saying, This is a lover of thy brethren, who prayeth much for the people, and for the holy city, to wit, Jeremias the prophet of God. Whereupon Jeremias holding forth his right 15 hand, gave to Judas a sword of gold, and in giving it, spake thus ; Take this holy sword, a gift 16 from God, with which thou shalt defeat[2]P. 214 Foot Note b. Gr. [ click on image to enlarge] :a word used in this sense by Polybius. the adversaries.

17 Thus being well comforted by the words of Judas, which were very good, and able to stir them up to valour, and to encourage the hearts of the young men, they determined not to pitch camp ; but courageously to set upon them, and manfully to try the matter by conflict ; because both the city, and the sanctuary, and the temple, were in danger. For their anxiety for their wives 18 and their children, their brethren and kinsfolks, was in less account with them : but the greatest and principal fear was for the holy temple. Also 19 there was no slight anxiety among those who were collected together in the city, being troubled for the conflict abroad. And now, when as all 20 looked forward to the approaching trial, and the enemies were already come near, and the army was set in array, and the beasts placed in a convenient position, and the horsemen drawn up on the wings ; Maccabæus, seeing the coining of the 21 p. 215 multitude, and the divers preparations of armour, and the fierceness of the beasts, stretched out his hands towards heaven, and called upon the Lord who worketh wonders[3]P. 215 Foot Note c. The Vatican manuscript adds here Gr. [ click on image to enlarge] ” the beholdor of all things.” ; knowing that victory cometh not by arms, but even as it seemeth good to him, he giveth the victory to such as are 22 worthy. Therefore in his prayer he said after this manner; ” O Lord, thou didst send thine angel in the time of Ezekias king of Judaea, and didst slay in the host of Sennacherib an hundred 23 fourscore and five thousand. Wherefore now also, O Lord of heaven, send a good angel 24 before us, for a fear and a dread unto them ; and through the might of thine arm, let those be stricken with terror who come against thy holy people to blaspheme.” And he ended thus. 

25 Then Nicanor, and they which were with him, 26 came forward with trumpets and songs. But Judas and his company encountered the enemies 27 with invocation and prayer. So that fighting with their hands, and praying unto God with their hearts, they slew no less than thirty and five thousand men : for through the appearance of God they were greatly cheered.

28 Now when the battle was done, returning again with joy, they discovered that Nicanor lay dead 29 in all his armour. Then making a great shout, and a noise, they praised the Mighty One in their 30 own language. And Judas, who was ever the chief defender of the citizens, both in body and mind, and who continued his love[4]P. 215 Foot Note d. Gr. [https://fourcornerministries.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/P.215-3.Macca_.15-FN-d-01-00-20mm-h.fw_-300x16.png 300w" sizes="(max-width: 368px) 100vw, 368px" /> click on image to enlarge] towards his p. 216 countrymen all his life, commanded to strike off Nicanor’s head, and his hand, with his shoulder, and bring them to Jerusalem. So when he had 31 arrived there, and had called them of his nation together, and set the priests before the altar, he sent for them which were of the tower ; and 32 shewed them vile Nicanor’s head, and the hand of that blasphemer, which with proud brags he had stretched out against the holy temple of the Almighty. And when he had cut out the tongue of 33 that ungodly Nicanor, he commanded that they should give it by pieces unto the fowls, and hangup the reward[5]P. 216 Foot Note e. Gr. [ click on image to enlarge] a word used by Polybius in this sense, Schleusner contends that it ought to be translated arm ; but I think his arguments will not bear … Continue reading of his madness before the temple. So every man praised toward the heaven the 34 glorious Lord, saying, Blessed be He who hath kept his own place undefiled. He hanged also 35 Nicanor’s head upon the tower, an evident and manifest sign unto all of the help of the Lord.

36 And they all ordained with a common decree, in no case to let that day pass without solemnity, but to celebrate the thirteenth day of the twelfth month, which in the Syrian tongue is called Adar, the day before Mardocheus’ day[6]P. 216 Foot Note f. Namely, the feast of Purim, mentioned at Esther ix. 28, 59.. It having gone 37 thus with Nicanor, and from that time forth the city continuing in the power of the Hebrews, I also here will end my discourse.

38 And if I have done well, and appropriately[7]P. 216 Foot Note g. Gr. [ click on image to enlarge] an expression used by Polybius. to my arrangement of the story, it is that which I desired : but if slenderly and meanly, it is that p. 217 39 which I could attain unto. For, as to drink wine alone, or in like manner again water, is hurtful ; and as wine mingled with water is pleasant, and affords an agreeable delight : even so the fit framing of a discourse delighteth the ears of them which read the story. And here shall be the end.

It deserves remark, that in Coverdale’s translation of the Bible, first printed in 1535, likewise in Matthew’s, 1537, in Cranmer’s, 1539, also in the various reprints of these editions, the last two verses of this book are wanting: nor have I found them in any English Bible earlier than the Genevan of 1560, and the Bishops’ of 1568.

END OF BOOK III.

 


Original Source: Transcribed from PDF copy of Book "The Five Books of Maccabees in English. With Notes and Illustrations", by HENRY COTTON, D.C.L.(Sir) Archdeacon of Cashel, and Late Student of Christ Church, Oxford. Publication date 1832 | PDF


References

1 P. 213 Foot Note a. details here Gr. [ click on image to enlarge] There is a various reading, Gr. [ click on image to enlarge] which is respectably supported by MSS.
2 P. 214 Foot Note b. Gr. [ click on image to enlarge] :a word used in this sense by Polybius.
3 P. 215 Foot Note c. The Vatican manuscript adds here Gr. [ click on image to enlarge] ” the beholdor of all things.”
4 P. 215 Foot Note d. Gr. [https://fourcornerministries.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/P.215-3.Macca_.15-FN-d-01-00-20mm-h.fw_-300x16.png 300w" sizes="(max-width: 368px) 100vw, 368px" /> click on image to enlarge]
5 P. 216 Foot Note e. Gr. [ click on image to enlarge] a word used by Polybius in this sense, Schleusner contends that it ought to be translated arm ; but I think his arguments will not bear examination.
6 P. 216 Foot Note f. Namely, the feast of Purim, mentioned at Esther ix. 28, 59.
7 P. 216 Foot Note g. Gr. [ click on image to enlarge] an expression used by Polybius.

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