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- they were not only zealous for the law, but of many other constitutions, traditions, and forms of mortification, beyond what the law required. Those who contented themselves with what was written in the law were called Zadichin, or the righteous.
Mattathias and his friends went round about the towns and villages, pulled down the altars, circumcised the children, put their enemies to flight, and recovered several copies of the Jewish law. · Antiochus being informed that his decrees were not so implicitly obeyed in Judea as in other nations, went thither in person to see them put in execution. He then exercised the most horrid cruelties over all such Jews as refused to abjure their religion, in order to force the rest, by the dread of the like inhuman treatment, to comply with what was required of them. There is a very affecting account of some of these mare tyrdoms in the book of Maccabees *.
Shortly after died the good Mattathias t. “And when the time drew near that he should die, he said unto his sons, Now hath pride and rebuke gotten strength, and the time of destruction, and the wrath of indignation. Now therefore, my sons, be ye zealous for the law, and give your lives for the covenant of our fathers. Call to remembrance what acts our fathers did in their time, so shall ye receive great honour, and an everlasting name. Was not Abraham found faithful in temptation, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness ? Joseph in the time of his distress kept the command. ment, and was made lord of Egypt. Phineas, our father, being zealous and fervent, obtained the covenant of an everlasting priesthood. Joshua for fulfilling the word was made a judge in Israel. Caleb, for bearing witness before the congregation, received the heritage * 2 Macc. vi. vii.
† 1 Macc. ii. 49. · VOL. IV.
the of the land. David, for being merciful, possessed the throne of an everlasting kingdom. Elias, for being zealous and fervent for the law, was taken up into heaven. Ananias, Azarias, and Misael, by believing, were saved out of the flame. Daniel, for his innocency, was delivered from the mouth of the lions, And thus consider ye throughout all ages, that none that put their trust in him shall be overcome. Fear not then the words of a sinful man ; for his glory shall be dung and worms. To-day he shall be lifted up, and to-morrow he shall not be found, because he is returned into his dust, and his thought is come to nothing. Wherefore ye my sons, be valiant, and shew yourselves men in the behalf of the law, for by it you shall obtain glory. And behold, I know that your brother Simon is a man of counsel ; give ear unto him alway: he shall be a father unto you. As for Judas Maccabeus, he hath been mighty, and strong, even from his youth up: let him be your captain, and fight the battle of the people. Take also unto you all those that observe the law, and avenge ye the wrong of your people. Recompence fully the hea. then, and take heed to the commandments of the law. So he blessed them, and was gathered to his fathers. And he died in the hundred forty and sixth year, and his sons buried him in the sepulchre of his fathers, at Modin, and all Israel made great lamentation for him.”
From this pious exhortation we may learn the true use of SCRIPTURE History. We find, that Mattathias formed his own character by studying the examples of holy men which are , recorded in the sacred volume. Let us imitate him in this particular, and our life will, like his, be honourable, and our death happy.
Well might Israel lament for the loss of such à protector! but Judas, whom he appointed general, inherited his father's magnanimous spirit, and performed
many hany noble exploits, some of which we shall relate ; but must first observe, that Antiochus went to a place called Daphne, in order to be present at the celebration of some games which he had instituted; during the whole time he behaved agreeably to the character given of him by Daniel, of a vile or contemptible person ; and did so many mad actions, before an infinite number of spectators, that he became the laughing-stock of them all.
THE HISTORY OF JUDAS MACCABEUS AND MIS
The books of the Maccabees inform us, that as soon as Mattathias was buried, Judas, his son (called Mac. cabeus), rose up in his stead. “ And * all his brethren helped him, and so did all they that held with his fa. ther; and they fought with cheerfulness the battle of Israel. So he gat his people great honour, and put on a breast-plate as a giant, and girt his warlike harness about him, and he made battles, protecting the host with his sword. In his acts he was like a lion, and like a lion's whelp roaring for his prey. For he pursued the wicked, and sought them out, and burnt up those that vexed his people. Wherefore the wicked shrunk for fear of him, and all the workers of iniquity were troui. bled, because salvation prospered in his hand. He grieved also many kings, and made Jacob glad with his acts, and his memorial is blessed for ever. Moreover, he went through the cities of Judah destroying the ungodly out of them, and turning away wrath from Israel. So that he was renowned unto the utmost part
* 1 Macc. iii.
of the earth, and he received unto him such as were ready to perish.”
Antiochus being exceedingly enraged at the success of Judas against his generals, assembled all the forces of the kingdom, conimanding them to be in constant readiness, and promised each of them a year's pay in advance; but this he could not perform, though he had acquired great wealth, for he had exhausted his treasures by foolish expences and profuse presents to particular persons; in which he verified the prophet's prediction, that he should scatter the prey und spoil of riches. Besides the difficulties to which the want of money reduced him, others arose, according to Daniel's prophecy, from the tidings which came to him out of the east and north: for northward the king of Armenia rebelled against him; and Persia, which lay eastward, discontinued to pay him tribute. In every part of his dominions all was confusion, owing to his new edict; by which the ancient customs of so many nations were abolished, and those of the Greeks established in their room.
In + this emergency, Antiochus resolved to go him. self into Persia; and leave the care of his kingdom and infant son to Lysias, a nobleman of the royal family; to whom he gave particular orders to root the Jews out of their land, and settle strangers in every quarter. As soon as Antiochus was gone, Lysias, with cruel diligence, endeavoured to execute the king's orders: he called to his assistance Ptolemy Macron, Nicanor, and Gorgias, three mighty generals, whose forces, united to his own, composed an army of forty thousand foot and seven thousand horse, besides one thousand mer. chants, who attended with the expectation of buying * 1 Macc. ii. 27. . + 1 Macc. ii. 31.
Jewish prisoners for slaves. Judas and his brethren resolved to make a vigorous defence, but their first care, was to secure the aid of the Lord; they therefore assembled the whole congregation, and devoted the day to fasting and prayer. After this solemnity was ended, Judas marshalled them for battle, saying, “ * Arm yourselves, and be valiant men, and see that ye be in readiness against the morning, that ye may fight with these nations that are assembled together against us, to destroy us and our sanctuary. For it is better for us to die in battle than to behold the calamities of our peo , ple, and our sanctuary. Nevertheless, as the will of God is in heaven, so let him do." On which they re.' solved to keep themselves in readiness. Judas hearing that Gorgias intended to attack them in the night, removed, and came with three thousand men, poorly armed, to the camp of the enemy, which was strong and well guarded. Then said Judas to his men, “ Fear, + ye not the multitude, neither be ye afraid of their assault. Remember how our fathers were delivered in the Red Sea when Pharaoh pursued them with an army. Now therefore let us cry unto heaven, if peradventure the LORD will have mercy upon us, and remember the covenant of our fathers, and destroy this host before our face this day; that so all the heathen may know that there is one who delivereth and saveth Israel.” Animated by this pious speech, the men of Israel followed their valiant leader; and, falling upon the heathens, made a great slaughter : and threw the camp into the utmost confusion ; they afterwards put Gorgias and his party to flight, and then plundered the camp, and returned laden with rich spoil. The next day, which was the sabbath, they poured forth their gratitude to the Lord in humble praises and thanksgivings. * 1 Macc. iii. 58, to the end, t 1 Macc. iv. 8-11.