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Alerme destrond his heim
-against Demetrius. They both bid for Jonathan's support. He throws in lot with
Alexander, and his help decides the issue. 146. (Rome destroys Carthage.) 145. Alexander murdered, Demetrius II. becomes
king. He courts Jonathan. Tryphon, an adventurer sets up a son of Alexander as a rival king. He also seeks friendship of Jonathan, who is beginning to subdue the old inheritance of Judah and Israel. With his success Hellenism decidedly on the
wana. 144. Renews alliance with Rome, Demetrius
turns against him and is defeated. Tryphon, still professing friendship, treacher
ously captures and murders him. 143. Simon, the last brother, succeeds to his
power, and establishes complete independence. The office of High Priest is made hereditary in his family. Writings are now dated in the year of Simon, and Hellenism
is finally ended. 39. And we are now at a period when nothing is to stay Hellenism in the full flood of its triumph. It is irresistible: it is all-conquering. In thought and mind it is alike invincible. But stay !-a trifle demands the attention of the king. In the little village of Modin, no great distance from Jerusalem, is one Mattathias, whom it would be as well for him to have seen. He is not quite of the right way of thinking, and as he is of some little importance others may be inclined to follow his lead. The royal officers interview him. They are far from overbearing. In most friendly talk they would have him join the king's party, be one of the king's friends, and they accompany their proposal with proffer of great gifts. He really is somewhat unreasonable. These differences are so undesirable, and he alone blocks the way to a general unification.
And the fate of a great world issue is in his decision. There are supreme moments when words cease to have a meaning or reason its power. The life that is past—the man in himself— the man as he is—alone determine the issue. Such our glorious first million volunteers, who saved themselves and saved the world. Hardly one could give an intelligible reason for his devotion. The fine sentiments and grand talk were in the mouths of those turning about for reasons to shirk their duty. The determination to skulk was first, the justification was sought afterwards. But of none such Mattathias. Now at any rate is no moment to be faithless to his past and faithless to his God. All unwitting of the tremendous issue at stake, he is protagonist of a great movement which is to challenge and in the end to triumph over the mighty forces in such proud array against it.
And now an incident brings matters to a rapid crisis. One of his people would sacrifice in that land to a strange god, “and which thing, when Mattathias saw, he was inflamed with zeal, and his reins trembled, neither could he forbear to show his anger according to judgment : wherefore he ran, and slew him upon the altar. Also the king's commissioner who compelled men to sacrifice he killed at that time, and the altar he pulled down." *
Henceforth accommodation is out of the question, “so he and his sons fled into the mountains, and left all that ever they had in the city.” And from now on hunted and proscribed, their only hope is in their own prowess and vigilance. And they made a younger son, Judas, a veritable giant and of tremendous personal prowess, their captain. As a master of guerilla warfare he was to prove unmatched. His exploits are one long romance. Little by little he improved his position. Soon he gathered under him a small band of elect spirits like himself, and they made terrible soldiers. Until this war we find their counterpart only in our Cromwell's Ironsides or Havelock's Saints. Probably they were even fiercer, for with
*1 Maccabees ii. 24.
ided to his plats som he desert
them victory was the only alternative to death, and death in torment.
At first he and his band were underestimated, and failures to capture him added to his reputation and the number of his followers. His exploits so increased that noise of them reached Antiochus, and he determined to smoke out these wasps and destroy them utterly. Nor did he now under-rate them. He gave to his deputy, Lysias, half of his forces, with instructions to make an end of the matter. Lysias at once commenced the campaign, and sent Georgias and two other generals, with an army of forty thousand footmen and seven thousand horsemen to immediately attack them. And so certain seemed success that "the merchants of the country, hearing the fame of them, took silver and gold very much, with servants, and came into the camp to buy the children of Israel for slaves; a power also of Syria and of the land of the Philistines joined themselves unto them.” * Then, detaching 5,000 men, Gorgias thought to entrap Judas; but, out-manceuvred, his force was cut to pieces. And Judas, pressing his advantage, then attacked the main army and utterly defeated it as well. Following up his victory he then made himself master of Jerusalem, and though the tower defied his efforts, yet the city itself was so strong that it meant his faction had now become a definite power in the land, and that it would be no easy task for even a large army to retake it.
And above all, the Temple, the climax of their sorrow and rejoicing, was once more theirs. Loud were the lamentations over its pollution; as exuberant the delight that once more it was in the hands of the faithful. Eight days were given to the festival of its purification, a festival celebrated to this day. It is a glorious page in the history of any nation, but far from the final one, as nobody knows better than does Judas. The enemy is far too powerful for the war thus to end, and meantime the neighbouring nations are also in conspiracy to destroy them. Against these Judas wages war with matchless energy and, alas, with unspeakable ferocity. A city captured, all the males he slew with the edge of the sword; the walls he razed; the spoils he took, and he passed through on his way over them that were slain. But war was very horrible in those days. We would have seen him more merciful, but when had he or his known mercy? Cruelty begets cruelty; reprisal, reprisal; in devrilry each goes one better; and ferocity never knows limit. Even our wars of the Roses are in point. What more relentless than the growing lust for blood as victors destroyed vanquished till scarce a noble family was left. And cruelty is to mark the coming pages of their history and ever to their bane. I do not know that they are a cruel race, but they had terribly suffered. Under the considerate Persian we see them a contented, genial, and cheerful people. I do not even know that they are an ungrateful race. Their history is that of fidelity to those fair and faithful to them. We have ever found them our true countrymen, and they have ever been loyal to an empire of which they are proud to be part. But at bay, hunted, proscribed—well, they are like that wicked little animal which bites when it is attacked.
*1 Maccabees iii. 41.
40. News of these reverses reaching Antiochus seem to have so enraged him as to have materially accelerated his death. But this caused no change of policy on the part of Lysias. Having made his young son king by the name of Antiochus Eupator, he again set out against Judas with a yet greater army than before, and with, in addition, two and twenty elephants. And the people of the land also conspired with him to destroy them utterly. And Judas, no man to wait to be attacked, went out to meet him, and making a midnight sally, entered the very camp of the enemy and slew about four thousand men and the chiefest of the elephants. He had proved what a terrible antagonist he could be, but for all that he could not stay the invading army. Soon he was shut up in the city, where famine and divided counsels, more deadly, threatened the dreaded end. The Hellenists and they were many-hating him more intensely than the enemy, hastened to make their peace with the invaders. But for him there was but one conclusiondeath, and he knew it, but it should be sword in hand.
And salvation? Whence cometh salvation? hemmed in with that wall of steel and terror? “Salvation cometh from the Lord.”
And ... Lysias receives disquieting news from Antioch. Philip, another general of Antiochus, and who was with him at his death, has declared that dying, the king had given him the kingdom to govern for his young son. And he is prepared to establish his right by arms, and the local army is with him. Obviously, this is no time to have another war on his hands, and Lysias hastens to come to terms with Judas. He waives all conditions. He will make him governor, and he and his people shall live after their own customs. He has now more important business on hand than stamping out a local rising, however serious. Was ever change so amazing and sudden? A veritable gallows reprieve. It was a great triumph for Judas. Well might he proudly look back to the day when, hardly five years before, proscribed and hunted like vermin, he had fled to the mountains; and now he dictates peace to the oppressors of his people. The policy of Antiochus Epiphanes is repudiated, his wickedness acknowledged, and in their own temple, honoured of all men, they are to worship their God as in the days of old. Yes, a magnificent triumph, and in it they see the hand of their God acting through His chosen servant Judas.
“ Thus the land of Juda was in rest a little while.” * And Judas, having heard of the Romans, that they also were valiant men, and had also waged war successfully against the Greeks in Galatia, as well as having been successful over Antiochus the Great in previous days, decided to send ambassadors to them
*1 Maccabees vii. 50.