صور الصفحة
PDF
النشر الإلكتروني

old man, followed by his five sons, Johanan, Simon, Judas, Jonathan, and Eleazar. The Greek priest told him that Menelaus had forsaken the Jewish religion ; that the temple was in ruins, and that resistance was vain. He exhorted Mattathias to obtain gratitude and honor for himself by leading his people in thus adoring the gods of the king's choice, promising gold and treasures if he would comply.

7. With clear and fearless voice the old man spoke out: “Though all the nations that are under the king's dominion obey him, and fall away every one from the religion of their fathers, yet will I and my sons and my brethren walk in the covenant of our fathers. We will not hearken to the king's words, to go from our religion.”

8. While he was speaking, there came an apostate Jew to offer sacrifice at a heathen altar. Mattathias trembled with rage at the sight, and his zeal broke forth. He slew the offender and, gathering his brave sons about him, attacked the Syrian soldiers, and threw down the altar. Then, as he knew that he and his sons alone could not hold out against the king's power, Mattathias proclaimed throughout the city, “Whosoever is zealous of the law, and maintaineth the covenant, let him follow me.”

9. Thereupon he and his sons, with their families, left their houses and lands, and drove their cattle up into the wild hills and caves where David had once

made his home; and all the Jews who wished to be faithful gathered about them to worship God and keep His commandments. There they lived, a handful of brave men, in the mountains, with enemies all about them and false brethren against thein. They used to come down, from time to time, to remind the people of the law, to break down the idol altars, and to promise help when they could be of service, and their enemies were never able to follow them into their rocky strongholds.

10. But old Mattathias could not long bear the rude, wild life in the cold mountains, and he soon died. He called his five sons, and bade them to be zealous for the law and to give their lives for the covenant of their fathers. He reminded them of the many brave men who had served God and been aided in their time of need. He appointed Judas, as the mightiest of his sons, to lead his brethren to battle, and Simon, as the wisest, to be their counselor; then he blessed them, and died, and was buried in the tomb of his fathers at Modin.

1. Prophecies, captivity, tribute, deities, revolting, exhorted, adoring, dominion, covenant, hearken, apostate, zealous, counselor. 2. What is meant by “Judah ”? Explain“ leave their

an altar was set up,” “set up idol worship.” What was the first Jewish government? What became of the Jewish națion? In David's time where did they live?

faith,” “

120

READER

FOURTH READER.

XXIII. THE BRAVE BRETHREN OF JUDAH.

PART II.

1. Judas was one of the bravest men that ever lived. He was surnamed Maccabeus, which is thought by some to stand, in the Hebrew language, for the first letters of the words on his banner: “Who is like unto Thee among the gods, O Lord ?"

2. When the Greek governor, Apollonius, came out to fight against them, he had six thousand men. Judas gained his first victory, killed Apollonius, took his sword, and fought all his later battles with it. Next came a captain called Seron, who went to the hills to lay hold of the rebels who had dared to rise against the king of Syria. The place where Judas met him was one to make the Jews' hearts leap with hope and trust. It was on the steep, stony, broken hillside of Beth-horon, the place where Joshua had conquered the five kings of the Amorites when first the children of Israel came into Palestine, their promised land.

3. By this time the king of Syria began to think the rising of the Jews a serious matter; but he could not go himself to subdue them, because his provinces in Armenia and Persia had refused their tribute, and he had to go in person to these. He appointed a general named Lysias to chastise the Jews, giving him an army of forty thousand foot and seven thousand horse. Half of these Lysias

sent on with two captains, thinking they would be more than enough to hunt down and crush the handful that were lurking in the hills. And with them came a great company of slave merchants, who had bargained with the captain, Nicanor, that they should have ninety Jews for a talent, to sell to the Greeks and Romans, by whom Jewish slaves were much prized.

4. There was great terror in Palestine at the tidings, and many of the weaker minded fell away from Judas. He called the faithful ones together at Maspha,—the place Mizpeh where Samuel, a thousand years before, had collected the Israelites and sent them forth to free their country from the Philistines. Shiloh, their sanctuary then, was lying desolate as Jerusalem was at this time; yet better times had come after. Still it was a very mournful day at Maspha, and the army of enemies was ever coming nearer. The whole assembly wept and, putting on sackcloth, prayed aloud for help; then there was a loud sounding of trumpets, and Judas stood among them. .

5. He made new proclamation of the old decree of Moses, that no one should go out to battle who was building a house, or planting a vineyard, or who had just betrothed a wife, or was fearful or fainthearted. All these were to go home again. When Judas made this proclamation he had six thousand

followers; at the end of the day he had only three
thousand, and these were but poorly armed. He
told them of the aid that had come to their fathers
in extremity of need, and made them bold with
noble words. Then he gave them for a watchword,
“The help of God," and divided the leadership be-
tween himself and his brothers, appointing Eleazar,
the youngest, to read the Holy Book.
6. With these valiant men Judas set

up
his

camp. Tidings soon came that one of the hostile captains, with five thousand foot and one thousand horse, had left the main body to fall upon his camp by night. He left the place secretly in the twilight; and the enemy, supposing the Jews to be still hidden in the mountains, proceeded thither in pursuit of them. But in the early morning Judas and his men were in the plains, marching upon the Syrians' camp with trumpet sound, taking them by surprise in the absence of their best troops, and utterly defeating them.

7. While Judas was reminding his men of the five thousand troops in the mountains, they were seen looking down upon their camps in smoke and flames. They had been wandering in the mountains all night, and now they turned and fled, leaving the whole camp, full of arms and treasures, in the hands of Judas, who then rested for a Sabbath of glad thanksgiving. On the next day he set apart

« السابقةمتابعة »