12:27. And after he had put to flight and destroyed these, he removed his army to Ephron, a strong city, wherein there dwelt a multitude of divers nations: and stout young men standing upon the walls, made a vigorous resistance: and in this place there were many engines of war, and a provision of darts.
12:28. But when they had invocated the Almighty, who with his power breaketh the strength of the enemies, they took the city: and slew five and twenty thousand of them that were within.
12:29. From thence they departed to Scythopolis, which lieth six hundred furlongs from Jerusalem.
Scythopolis... Formerly called Bethsan.
12:30. But the Jews that were among the Scythopolitans testifying that they were used kindly by them, and that even in the times of their adversity they had treated them with humanity:
12:31. They gave them thanks, exhorting them to be still friendly to their nation, and so they came to Jerusalem, the feast of the weeks being at hand.
12:32. And after Pentecost they marched against Gorgias, the governor of Idumea.
12:33. And he came out with three thousand footmen and four hundred horsemen.
12:34. And when they had joined battle, it happened that a few of the Jews were slain.
12:35. But Dositheus, a horseman, one of Bacenor's band, a valiant man, took hold of Gorgias: and when he would have taken him alive, a certain horseman of the Thracians came upon him, and cut off his shoulder: and so Gorgias escaped to Maresa.
12:36. But when they that were with Esdrin had fought long, and were weary, Judas called upon the Lord to be their helper, and leader of the battle:
12:37. Then beginning in his own language, and singing hymns with a loud voice, he put Gorgias's soldiers to flight.
12:38. So Judas having gathered together his army, came into the city Odollam: and when the seventh day came, they purified themselves according to the custom, and kept the sabbath in the same place.
12:39. And the day following Judas came with his company, to take away the bodies of them that were slain, and to bury them with their kinsmen, in the sepulchres of their fathers.
12:40. And they found under the coats of the slain, some of the donaries of the idols of Jamnia, which the law forbiddeth to the Jews: so that all plainly saw, that for this cause they were slain.
Of the donaries, etc... That is, of the votive offerings, which had been hung up in the temples of the idols, which they had taken away when they burnt the port of Jamnia, ver. 9., contrary to the prohibition of the law, Deut. 7.25.
12:41. Then they all blessed the just judgment of the Lord, who had discovered the things that were hidden.
12:42. And so betaking themselves to prayers, they besought him, that the sin which had been committed might be forgotten. But the most valiant Judas exhorted the people to keep themselves from sin, forasmuch as they saw before their eyes what had happened, because of the sins of those that were slain.
12:43. And making a gathering, he sent twelve thousand drachms of silver to Jerusalem for sacrifice to be offered for the sins of the dead, thinking well and religiously concerning the resurrection.
12:44. (For if he had not hoped that they that were slain should rise again, it would have seemed superfluous and vain to pray for the dead,)
12:45. And because he considered that they who had fallen asleep with godliness, had great grace laid up for them.
With godliness... Judas hoped that these men who died fighting for the cause of God and religion, might find mercy: either because they might be excused from mortal sin by ignorance; or might have repented of their sin, at least at their death.
12:46. It is therefore a holy and wholesome thought to pray for the dead, that they may be loosed from sins.
It is therefore a holy and wholesome thought to pray for the dead...
Here is an evident and undeniable proof of the practice of praying for the dead under the old law, which was then strictly observed by the Jews, and consequently could not be introduced at that time by Judas, their chief and high priest, if it had not been always their custom.
2 Machabees Chapter 13
Antiochus and Lysias again invade Judea. Menelaus is put to death. The king's great army is worsted twice. The peace is renewed.
13:1. In the year one hundred and forty-nine, Judas understood that Antiochus Eupator was coming with a multitude against Judea,
13:2. And with him Lysias, the regent, who had charge over the affairs of the realm, having with him a hundred and ten thousand footmen, five thousand horsemen, twenty-two elephants, and three hundred chariots.
A hundred and ten thousand, etc... The difference between the numbers here set down, and those recorded, 1 Mac. 4, is easily accounted for; if we consider that such armies as these are liable to be at one time more numerous than at another; either by sending away large detachments, or being diminished by sickness; or increased by receiving fresh supplies of troops, according to different exigencies or occurrences.
13:3. Menelaus also joined himself with them: and with great deceitfulness besought Antiochus, not for the welfare of his country, but in hopes that he should be appointed chief ruler.
13:4. But the King of kings stirred up the mind of Antiochus against the sinner, and upon Lysias suggesting that he was the cause of all the evils, he commanded (as the custom is with them) that he should be apprehended and put to death in the same place.
13:5. Now there was in that place a tower fifty cubits high, having a heap of ashes on every side: this had a prospect steep down.
13:6. From thence he commanded the sacrilegious wretch to be thrown down into the ashes, all men thrusting him forward unto death.
13:7. And by such a law it happened that Menelaus the transgressor of the law, was put to death: not having so much as burial in the earth.
13:8. And indeed very justly, for insomuch as he had committed many sins against the altar of God, the fire and ashes of which were holy: he was condemned to die in ashes.
13:9. But the king, with his mind full of rage, came on to shew himself worse to the Jews than his father was.
13:10. Which when Judas understood, he commanded the people to call upon the Lord day and night, that as he had always done, so now also he would help them:
13:11. Because they were afraid to be deprived of the law, and of their country, and of the holy temple: and that he would not suffer the people, that had of late taken breath for a little while, to be again in subjection to blasphemous nations.
13:12. So when they had all done this together, and had craved mercy of the Lord with weeping and fasting, lying prostrate on the ground for three days continually, Judas exhorted them to make themselves ready.
13:13. But he, with the ancients, determined before the king should bring his army into Judea, and make himself master of the city, to go out, and to commit the event of the thing to the judgment of the Lord.
13:14. So committing all to God, the Creator of the world, and having exhorted his people to fight manfully, and to stand up even to death for the laws, the temple, the city, their country, and citizens: he placed his army about Modin.
13:15. And having given his company for a watchword, The victory of God, with most valiant chosen young men, he set upon the king's quarter by night, and slew four thousand men in the camp, and the greatest of the elephants, with them that had been upon him,
13:16. And having filled the camp of the enemies with exceeding great fear and tumult, they went off with good success.
13:17. Now this was done at the break of day, by the protection and help of the Lord.
13:18. But the king having taken a taste of the hardiness of the Jews, attempted to take the strong places by policy:
13:19. And he marched with his army to Bethsura, which was a strong hold of the Jews: but he was repulsed, he failed, he lost his men.
13:20. Now Judas sent necessaries to them that were within
13:21. But Rhodocus, one of the Jews' army, disclosed the secrets to the enemies, so he was sought out, and taken up, and put in prison.
13:22. Again the king treated with them that were in Bethsura: gave his right hand: took theirs: and went away.
13:23. He fought with Judas: and was overcome. And when he understood that Philip, who had been left over the affairs, had rebelled at Antioch, he was in a consternation of mind, and intreating the Jews, and yielding to them, he swore to all things that seemed reasonable, and, being reconciled, offered sacrifice, honoured the temple, and left gifts.