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Notwithstanding the Jews had thus regained the possession of their temple, they were still greatly annoyed by the garrison, which Apollonius had placed in the fortress opposite to it. To remedy this inconvenience as much as possible, Judas, finding he was not strong enough to drive out the enemy, built up high walls and strong towers, which he garrisoned, to secure the people from injury, and repel any hostile attacks. He also fortified the suburbs of Jerusalem.
The re-establishment of the Jews excited the envy and jealousy of the surrounding nations, who coinbined with Antiochus to effect their destruction. In order to check the progress of Judas, and diminish his forces, they made frequent incursions into Judea, where they surprised and slew many of the Jews. Judas, to put a stop to these depredations, marched first into the country of the Idumeans, or Edomites, with whom he had several encounters, in all of which he was victorious. He next made war on the Ammonites, in which he met with equal success, defeating a large army which they brought against him.
The neighbouring nations, hearing of these things, assembled together against the Jews who inhabited the frontiers of Gilead; upon which, they wrote to Judas, informing him of the critical situation they were in, and requesting immediate succour, as Timotheus was marching towards them.
While he was reading this letter, a messenger arrived from Galilee, with intelligence that the people there were invaded by the inhabitants of Ptole maïs, Tyre, and Sidon. Judas, that he might dem fend each party, commanded his brother Simon to march with three thousand chosen men to the relief of Galilee, whilst himself, with his brother Jonathan, at the head of eight thousand, repaired to Gilead, leaving the rest of the forces with Azarias and Joseph the son of Zachary, charging them to keep a watchful eye on Judea, but not to fight with any one till his return.
Simon, on his arrival in Galilee, immediately encountered the enemy, whom he routed and pursued as far as the gates of Ptolemạīs. He slew about three thousand men in this engagement. He also set many Jews' at liberty, who had been imprisoned, and restored to them their effects: then, gathering the spoils together, he returned to his own country.
Judas and Jonathan, in the mean time, advanced with all speed to succour their brethren in Gilead. They took the city of Bosra, and burnt it with fire, killing all the men that were able to bear arms. On the approach of night, they marched towards a castle, where the Jews were besieged by Timotheus and his army. They came up to it by break of day, and surprised the enemy just as they were raising their ladders to scale the walls, and making ready their engines for battery. Judas exhorted his soldiers to fight valiantly for their kindred and friends, and divided his forces into three battalions: then, sounding the trumpets, he set upon the enemy's rear.
Timotheus' soldiers, perceiving that it was Judas, whose valour they had already experienced to their cost, were so intimidated, that they instantly fled. Judas with his army followed them closely, and slew eight thousand of them.
Shortly after, Timotheus levied another army, and was joined by some allies, and a number of Arabians whom he had hired. With this army he passed the river, and encamped near a town called Rapha. He exhorted his soldiers to fight courageously against the Jews, and hinder their passage over the river, as victory depended on this pass being secured.
Judas, hearing of the situation of the enemy, immediately marched with all his forces, passed the river, and fell suddenly upon them, killing all that made resistance, the rest were so terrified, that they cast away their arms and fled.
After this victory, Judąs took all the Jews who had resided in Gilead, with their wives, children, and substance, into Judea, which they entered with joy and gladness, singing and praising God. Judas and his soldiers then offered sacrifices with thanksgivings for their success. The two captains that had been left in the charge of Judea, being anxious to gain renown, marched the troops under their command to Jamnia, a sea-port town between Joppa and Ashdod; but, upon their arrival, they were attacked so furiously by Gorgias, who was governor of that place, that they lost two thousand men : the remainder Aled and returned in disgrace to Jerusalem. This disaster was occasioned by their disregarding the orders of Judas, who had strictly enjoined them on no account to act on the offensive till his return. Disobedience to superiors is generally attended with bad consequences.
Antiochus was at this time in Persia, when news was brought him of the defeat of Nicanor and Ti. motheus in Judea. In the violence of his rage, he immediately set out and advanced with all possible speed towards Jerusalemi, breathing out ruin and destruction to the Jews. In the way, he was met by fresh expresses,
which brought him advice of the defeat of Lysias, and also that the Jews had retaken the temple, thrown down the altars and idols which he had set up, and re-established their ancient worship.
At this news his fury increased : he commanded his charioteer to drive with the utmost speed, threat. ening to make Jerusalem the burying-place of the whole Jewish nation, and not to leave one inhabitant in it. But he forgot that he was mortal; for he had scarcely uttered these expressions, when he was struck by the hand of God, with most violent pains in bis bowels: yet this did not stop him in his mad career, for he gave orders to proceed with all possible expedition ; but, as his horses were running impetuously, he fell from his chariot, and was bruised in every part of his body, so that his attendants were forced to put him in a litter, where he suffered inexpressible torments: his flesh fell away piecemeal, worms crawling from every part of his body; and the stench was so great, that it became intolerable to the whole army.
In this condition, he was forced to acknowledge that it was the hand of the God of Israel which had smitten him, because of the calamities he had brought on Jerusalem, owning, that man, who is mortal, should not think of himself as if he were a god. Perhaps he might recollect the dying sayings of those heroes whom he had so cruelly tormented, now their words were literally fulfilled upon him.
When you read this history, George, you will find that he was a compound of deceit and flattery ; and this disposition he retained to the last; for in his extremity, he thought to deceive the Almighty himself with fair prétences; promising to exert his utmost liberality towards his chosen people; to enrich with precious gifts, the holy temple at Jerusalemn, which he had plundered; to furnish from his revenues the sums necessary for defraying the expense of the sacrifices; and even to turn Jew himself, and travel to every part of the world, in order to publish the power of the Almighty. But God knew the inmost recesses of the heart of this murderer and blasphemer, falsely called, Illustrious ; and meted to him as he had meted to others, making him feel what excruciating torinent was. Thus he finished an impious life by a miserable death.
As it is not my design in these letters to treat on the prophecies, I shall refer you to Bishop Newton's Dissertations; where you will see, that some of the principal persons, whose history we have touched upon, such as Alexander the Great, Antiochus the Great, and especially Antiochus Epiplianes, are particularly described, with the most remarkable transactions of their lives, in prophetic language, by Daniel.
The description given of Antiochus Epiphanes exactly corresponds with his history. See Daniel xi. 21 to the end. We have there a striking representation of the vileness of his character, and the deceitfulness of his disposition, his hatred to all re. ligion, his cruel persecution of the people of God,