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unequal to the contest, retired hastily to Demetrius at Antioch, whom he still farther irritated against Judas, setting forth the great mischief he had already done, and the farther danger to be apprehended from him, unless a proper force was sent to check his proceedings. He farther told him that so long as Judas and his brothers were permitted to live, they would never suffer his authority to take place, nor could any lasting peace be ever established in that part of the country.
In consequence of this representation, Demetrius sent another army against the Jews, under the command of Nicanor, one of the principal men of his court, with strict orders to destroy Judas, disperse his followers, and thoroughly establish Alcimus in the office of high-priest. Nicanor, in abedience to these commands, left Antioch, but with no real intent of strictly executing the commission on which he was sent. He was sensible of the courage and conduct of Judas, and, therefore, on his arrival in Judea, being unwilling to come to an engagement with him, he endeavored to compromise matters by treaty, and, therefore, sent deputies to Judas with this message: "Wherefore (said he) should we risque all on the un"certain chance of war, when we may better adjust mat"ters by negociation? I pledge my most solemn oath for 66 your security. Peace alone is my object, which you 66 may imagine by the number of friends I have brought "with me, to testify our master's good will and affection "to all the Jewish nation." Judas, imagining Nicanor to be sincere, readily agreed to the terms he offered, and accordingly articles of peace were drawn up between them. But, Alcimus the high-priest, disapproving of Nicanor's conduct, from a supposition that his own interest was not sufficiently secured in it, resolved to overthrow all that Nicanor had done, and, if possible, still farther irritate Demetrius against the Jews. To this purpose he repaired to Antioch, and so possessed the king against the peace made by Nicanor, that he not only refused to ratify what had been agreed on, but sent his positive commands to him to go on with the war, and not to cease prosecuting it till he had either slain Judas, or taken him prisoner, and sent him bound to Antioch.
VOL. iii. B
In consequence of these instructions, Nicanor being obliged, though much against his inclination, to alter his conduct, marched his army up to Jerusalem, and designing (in order to fulfil the king's commands) to get Judas into his power by craft and treachery, he invited him to a conference, which the other, upon presumption of the depending peace, readily complied with, and set out for the place appointed. But Judas, by some means or other, happening to discover the plot on his way, stopped short, and retreated in time to his own people, who were so incensed at the treachery of Nicanor, that they vowed, if possible, to be amply revenged on him.
As soon as Nicanor found that his plot was discovered, and his designs frustrated, he marched with his army towards Jerusalem, with a resolution of obtaining by force what he could not accomplish by treachery. Judas hearing of his approach, led out his army against him, and a battle took place near a village, called Capharsaloma, in which Judas was worsted, and obliged to save himself by precipitately retreating to Jerusalem.
Animated with this success, Nicanor hastened with all expedition after Judas. On his arrival at Mount Sion, he was met by a number of priests, who, having sacrifices with them, shewed them to Nicanor, telling him that they were going to offer them up for the safety of king Demetrius. Nicanor, in a rage, threatened, that if they did not immediately deliver up Judas to him, he would raze the temple to the ground, and destroy the city; but this they could neither comply with, nor was he able to put his threats in execution.
Finding himself thus disappointed, Nicanor, in revenge, executed many severe cruelties on the poor Jews, who fell into his hands, and such as were wealthy he first plundered of their possessions, and then put them to death. Being informed that there lived at some distance a very rich man, named Razis, who was also eminent for his steady constancy in the religion of his country, he sent a guard of five hundred men to seize him, thinking the loss of so considerable a person would be a great affliction to the Jews. This company accordingly went, and attacked the good old man, in his castle,
which he defended for some time with great bravery; but being at length overpowered, and finding himself just ready to fall into the hands of the enemy, rather than be a reproach to his nation by submitting to the infidels, he fell upon his own sword, and put a period to his existence.
Nicanor, finding it unlikely to reduce Jerusalem, left it in a great rage, and encamped his army near a village called Betheron, where he was joined by several Syrian parties, so that the whole of his forces amounted to about thirty-five thousand. This, however, did not in the least dismay Judas, who, though his army was greatly inferior in number, marched from Jerusalem, and encamped at a place called Adasus, within thirty furlongs of the enemy. In order to encourage his troops, he told them, that though the number of the enemy was great, they need not to fear, for they fought in the cause of God, whose power could crush multitudes; and advised them rather to think on their own valor than the numbers they were to encounter." Attack them courageously (said he) and "leave the rest to heaven."
The Jews, being thus encouraged by their leader, attacked the enemy with the most intrepid resolution, and the battle was exceeding desperate on both sides for some time, till at length victory declared in favor of Judas, for Nicanor being slain, with a great number of his troops, the rest were so intimidated that they immediately threw down their arms and fled. Judas availed himself of this advantage by pursuing the fugitives, to whom he gave no quarter. In his pursuit he proclaimed his victory by sound of trumpet in all the cities and towns through which he passed; the consequence of which was, that the country people gathered together from all parts, and such of the Syrians that fell in their way, in endeavoring to escape, they put to death; so that by means of them, and the close pursuit of Judas and his troops, not a single person of the Syrian army was left to carry home the tidings of their melancholy overthrow.
Judas and his victorious army returning to the field of battle, after the pursuit of the enemy, possessed themselves of the spoils of the slain; and having found Ni
canor's body among the dead, they carried it to Jerusalem, where they cut off his head, and placed it upon one of the towers of the city. An universal joy prevailed throughout Jerusalem, on this occasion, and, in commemoration of so great a deliverance, it was ordained that the thirteenth day of the month Adar (which answers to part of our February) the day when this victory was obtained, should be ever after observed as an anniversary day of solemn thanksgiving.
After this victory, the Jews had a short respite from war, during which, Judas, in order, if possible, to obtain a lasting peace, bethought himself of making a league with the Romans. He had heard of their great fame in conquering the Gauls, Carthaginians, Grecians, &c. and was, therefore, desirous of making an alliance with them, in hopes of thereby obtaining some protection and relief against the oppressions of the Syrians. Judas accordingly dispatched two of his most intimate friends and counsellors (namely, Jason and Eupolemus, whom he knew to be sufficiently capable of executing such an embassy) to Rome, to request of the Senate that the Jews might be admitted as their allies, and that a letter might be sent to Demetrius, requiring him to desist from giving the Jews any further molestation. This proposal proved agreeable to the Senate, who immediately drew up articles of treaty, the original of which they kept, and sent a copy of them to Jerusalem, which were highly approved of by Judas. The purport of these articles was, "that no peo"ple subject to the Romans should make war on the "Jews, or supply their enemies with money, shipping, 66 corn, &c. and that the Jews should be held to the same "terms in case the Romans should be attacked. That if "the Jews demanded any future alteration of their "agreement, the consent of the whole people should be "necessary to ratify it." This was the first alliance ever formed between the Jews and the Romans; and the copy of the treaty was carefully preserved in one of the most secure apartments of the temple.
In the mean time, Demetrius, having received an account of the defeat and death of Nicanor, sent Bacchides again into Judea, at the head of a very numerous army,
in order to give battle to Judas, and with orders, if possible, to bring him to Antioch dead or alive. Bacchides immediately set out to execute the king's commands, and the first place he encamped at was Arbela, a town in Galilee, where he forced many Jews from the caves to which they had retreated, and cruelly put them to death. From hence he marched towards Jerusalem, in his way to which, he learnt that Judas and his army were encamped at a place called Bethseth. In consequence of this intelligence he immediately marched his forces thither, the whole number consisting of 22,000 foot and 2000 horse; while Judas had no more than 3000 to oppose them, and these were so terrified at the strength and number of the enemy, that the greatest part deserted, so that Judas had not above 800 left.
But, notwithstanding Judas was thus distressed for want of men, and had not any opportunity of recruiting his forces, yet he was fully bent on hazarding a battle, and, therefore, used the most powerful arguments he was master of, to prevail on the few he had to stand by him to the utmost extremity. They, however, expostulated with him on the impropriety of attempting to engage so very superior a number, and advised him rather to retreat with caution, and put off his design till he could augment his forces. To this Judas replied, "It shall "never be said of me that I turned my back to an ene66 my. If it be the will of God that we now fall, let his "will be done; but let us not, by an ignominious flight, "destroy all the credit of a life of glory." This speech so animated Judas's soldiers, that they unanimously resolved to stand the combat, and every necessary preparation was made for opposing the enemy.
The army of Bacchides was disposed in the following manner. The front was composed of light armed men, and archers, supported by a body of Macedonians, while there were two wings of horse, the right being commanded by Bacchides himself. In this disposition they advanced towards the army of Judas, which they no sooner approached than they sounded a charge, gave a loud shout, and began the attack. The forces of Judas sustained the shock with great intrepidity, and the battle