« SebelumnyaLanjutkan »
Macron conveyed these letters to Lysias, who, upon receiving them, resolved immediately to send an army into Judea, of which Ptolemy Macron was made generalissimo. He appointed his intimate friend Nicanor lieutenant-general, and sent him forward at the head of twenty thousand men, accompanied with Gorgias, a veteran officer of consummate experience. They were soon followed by Macron himself, with the rest of the forces. The whole army, consisting of forty thousand foot, and seven thousand horse, came and encamped at Emmaus, near Jerusalem. With such a force, they considered victory as certain, and thought they might dispose of the vanquished as they pleased.
Accordingly, the king being in want of two thousand talents, which he owed the Romans, the general published a proclamation in the neighbouring countries, declaring that all the prisoners taken in that war should be sold, at the rate of ninety for a talent, which, computing they should take a hundred and eighty thousand, would amount exactly to the sum they wanted. The merchants, finding this would be a profitable traffic, it being a very low price, flocked in crowds, and brought considerable sums with them. We are told that a thousand merchants arrived in the Syrian camp, besides their domestics, and the persons they should want to take charge of the slaves they intended to purchase.
Judas and his brethren, perceiving the danger to which they were exposed, and knowing the orders Antiochus had given to extirpate the whole Jewish nation, resolved either to conquer, or die sword in hand, fighting for themselves, their law, and their
liberty. Judas divided his small army, composed of only six thousand men, into four equal parts; he took the command of the first himself, and gave the three others to his brethren. But previous to the engagement, they all assembled by his orders at Mizpeh, to present their united supplications to God, for his protection and assistance in their present critical situation.
Judas then caused proclamation to be made, according to the law, that any one who had built a house that year, or married a wife, or planted a vine, or whose heart failed him through fear, was at liberty to depart. By adopting this method, the army
of Judas was reduced one half; yet this valiant man was not intimidated; but exhorting his men to trust in Divine Providence, he advanced with his few remaining forces, and encamped very near the enemy. After having animated his soldiers by all the motives which the present juncture supplied, he informed them that he intended to give battle to the Syrians on the morrow, and therefore they must prepare for it.
Perhaps, George, you will be ready to conclude it was a rash determination of Judas, with only three thousand men, to encounter an army of forty thousand foot, besides horse; but his sole confidence was placed in the God of armies, who, he knew, was able to make one man chase a thousand: whereas the Syrians trusted entirely to their numbers and discipline, being commanded by brave experienced generals. In this situation the two armies stood, when Judas had advice in the evening, that Gorgias had been detached with five thousand foot and one thousand horse, all chosen troops; and that he was marching a by-way, conducted by apostate Jews, in order to come upon him by surprise in the night. What use, George, should you suppose Judas made of this intelligence ? He employed the very same stratagein which the enemy intended to use against him, and was successful in it; for he immediately raised his camp, carrying off all the baggage, marched, and attacked that of the enemy, and spread such terror and confusion into every part of it, that, after three thousand Syrians had been cut to pieces, the rest fled, and left him in possession of their whole camp.
Gorgias being still at the head of this formidable detachment, Judas, like a wise captain, kept his troops together, and would not let them straggle after plunder, till they should have defeated that body also. He succeeded without coming to an engagement; for Gorgias · having in vain sought for Judas among the mountains, whither he supposed him to have retired, returned to his camp; when, to his great astonishment, he beheld it in fames, and the soldiers flying in all directions. It was impossible after this to keep his troops in order ; for, seeing their comrades thus dispersed, they threw down their arms and fed also. Judas and his men pursued them vigorously, and cut to pieces a greater number on this occasion than they had done before in the camp. Nine thousand Syrians were left dead in the field; and of those that escaped, the greater part were disabled by wounds. After this, Judas marched back his soldiers to plunder the camp, where they found a rich booty; and great numbers, who were come, as to a fair, with money to buy the captive Jews, were themselves taken prisoners, stripped of their property, and sold.
Thus, George, were these proud boasters of vietory caught in their own trap. It may truly be said of them, The pit which they dug for others they fell into themselves. But I think you will scarcely commiserate the fate of those, who, for the sake of paltry gain, came with an intention to buy and sell their fellow creatures. May you ever, my dear boy, entertain a just abhorrence of all such iniquitous practices, and study to regulate the whole of your conduct by that excellent rule, Do unto others as you would have others do unto you.
This signal deliverance, which Divine Providence had wrought in behalf of the Jews, was not passed over without notice. The next day, being the sabbath, was solemnized in the most religious manner by the whole army, who were cheerfully employed in the sacred exercises of devotion, returning thanks to God for the peculiar favour which had been granted them.
Judas, encouraged by the important victory he had just obtained, and reinforced by a great number of troops, whom his success brought to him, employed the advantage which this gave him to weaken the rest of his enemies. Knowing that Timotheus and Bacchides, two of Antiochus' lieutenants, were raising troops to oppose him, he immediately marched against them, and defeated them in a set
battle, in which he killed upwards of twenty thou. sand of their men.
Lysias, hearing of the ill success which attended the arms of Antiochus in Judea, was greatly embarrassed : but, knowing that the king had a strong desire to extirpate that nation, he made mighty preparations for a new expedition against the Jews. Accordingly, he raised an army of sixty thousand foot and five thousand horse, all chosen troops; at the head of which, he marched into Judea, firmly resolving to lay waste the whole country, and destroy all the inhabitants.
He encamped at Bethsura, a city standing to the south of Jerusalem. Judas advanced towards him at the head of only ten thousand men. Being fully persuaded that the Lord would assist him, he engaged the enemy, and, notwithstanding his inferiority in numbers, was completely successful. He killed five thousand on the spot, and put the rest to Aight. Lysias, fearing to risk another engagement, led back his conquered troops to Antioch, intending the next year to return with a more powerful army. Judas, being left master of the field by the retreat of Lysias, took this opportunity to march to Jerut salem, where he recovered the sanctuary from the heathen, purified' it, and dedicated it again to the
service of God. This solemn dedieation the World. continued a week, all which time was
· spent in thanksgivings for the deliverance that God had vouchsafed them. An annual feast was appointed to be kept, called The Feast of Dedication, to perpetuate the remembrance of this joyful event.