2 Maccabees Chapter 15
Victory for Judas and death of Nicanor

1 Nicanor was informed that the men of Judas were in the neighboring villages of Samaria, so he prepared to safely attack them on the day of the sabbath.

2 The Jews, who were forced to accompany him, said to him, ¡°Do not destroy them so savagely and barbarously, but show respect for the day of the sabbath, for He who sees all has honored this day and sanctified it.¡±

3 But the wretch asked if there was indeed a sovereign in heaven who had commanded that the sabbath be holy.

4 They answered, ¡°It is the living God himself, the Sovereign in heaven, who has commanded us to celebrate the seventh day.¡±

5 ¡°So I, as sovereign on earth, command you to take up arms and carry out the decrees of the king.¡± But he could not bring to completion his evil designs.

6 Nicanor was so sure of victory, that he planned to build a monument with the mortal remains of Judas and his men.

7 But Maccabeus, for his part, felt confident and put his trust in God¡¯s help.

8 He encouraged his men not to fear the attack of the pagans, and not to forget the times God had come to their help, confident that even now God would give them victory.

9 He roused their spirit with the words of the Law and the Prophets, reminding them of previous triumphs.

10 Encouraging his men more and more, he finished by showing them the evil of the pagans and how they had betrayed their oath.

11 So he armed them not with the sword or shield but with the certainty that comes from noble words. Then he made them all full of joy by telling them what he saw in a true dream.

12 He had seen Onias, the former High Priest, a courteous, good man, hum ble in his ways, distinguished in his words and exemplary in his irreproachable conduct since child hood. With arms outstretched, Onias prayed for the whole Jewish community.

13 Then, a gray-haired and honorable man appeared, praying in the same way, and characterized by dignity and majesty.

14 Then Onias, the High Priest, said to Judas, ¡°This is he who loves his compatriots, he who prays without ceasing for the peo ple and for the Holy City. He is Jeremiah, the prophet of God.¡±

15 And Jeremiah had stretched out his right hand giving a golden sword to Judas, as he said,

16 ¡°Receive this sword as a gift from God, with which you shall destroy your enemies.¡±

17 Encouraged by these beautiful words of Judas, which were able to en courage righteous people and strengthen young souls, they determined not to set up camp with defenses. They decided instead to rush out bravely and take the offensive to settle the matter by fighting bravely, for the Holy City Jerusalem, their religion and the Temple were in danger.

18 They considered of sec ond ary importance any concern for their wives, children and friends; because they feared above all for the Temple consecrated to God.

19 Regarding those who had stayed in the city, their anxiety was by no means little, since they were worried about the battle that was about to begin in the camp.

20 Everyone waited for the imminent outcome as the enemies attacked. They had set their troops in place, led the elephants to strategic positions and had the cavalry in the wings.

21 Then Maccabeus could see this multitude with their weapons of every kind and the ferocious elephants. He stretched forth his hands to heaven and called on the Lord who works marvels, for he knew that God gives victory to those who deserve it, and this does not depend on weapons, but on the will of God.

22 So Judas said in prayer, ¡°O Lord, you sent your angel in the days of Hezekiah, the king of Judah, and he wiped out one hundred and eighty-five thousand men of the army of Sen nacherib.

23 So now, O Lord of Heaven, send your good angel, before us too, to fill our ene mies with fear and terror.

24 Show your power and let your arm strike those who insult you and who come to destroy your holy people.¡± With this, he ended his prayer.

25 Meanwhile, Nicanor and his men advanced amid blasts of trumpets and shouts of war.

26 Judas and his men, for their part, entered into battle with supplication and prayer.

27 As they fought with their hands, their hearts prayed to God. And being so magnificently strengthened by the manifest presence of God, they killed no less than thirty-five thousand enemies.

28 When the battle ended, and they returned rejoicing, they found Nicanor dead, lying on the ground with all his armor.

29 Then they blessed God in their ancestral language amidst shouts and clamors.

30 Judas, who had once fully consecrated himself to the welfare of his fellow residents and had never wavered in his affection for them, ordered that Nicanor¡¯s head and arms up to the shoulders be cut off and brought to Jerusalem.

31 There he summoned his compatriots and priests. He stood before the altar and ordered them to send for those in the Citadel.

32 He showed them the head of that wretched, Nicanor, and the hand which that wicked man had raised in pride above the house of God.

33 He or dered that Nicanor¡¯s tongue be cut into pieces and given to the birds, and the hand be hung in front of the sanctuary as punishment for his arro gance.

34 Then they blessed Heaven saying, ¡°Blessed be he who did not let his Sacred House be defiled!¡±

35 Finally, Judas ordered that Nica nor¡¯s head be hung in the Citadel as a sign of God¡¯s help.

36 By popular agreement, they decided that on the thirteenth day of the twelfth month called Adar in Aramaic, the vespers of the day of Mor decai would be commemorated as a festival day.

Author¡¯s conclusion

37 These were the events during the time of Nicanor. As from those days the city remained under the power of the Hebrews, I end my account here.

38 If the narration has been good and well composed, that is indeed what I desired; but if it has been ordinary and indifferent, it is what I was able to do.

39 The readers¡¯ pleasure depends on how the account was arranged, just as it is with one who drinks. It does not do any good when one drinks only pure wine or water but wine mixed with water is tasty and delightful. Let this, then, be my last word.


Comments 2 Maccabees, Chapter 15

• 15.12 The faithful begin to discover the solidarity binding the living and dead members of God¡¯s people. Here, the men of God of the past intercede for their descendants: Jeremiah, the prophet of previous centuries as well as Onias, the High Priest murdered a few years before.