1 Maccabees 1
Contemporary English Version

Alexander the Great

1Alexander the Great led his army from Macedonia to attack Darius, the king of Persia and Media. He conquered Darius and became the first Greek to rule that part of the world. 2Alexander fought a lot of wars; he captured strong fortresses and put kings to death. 3In fact, he went across the whole earth and took the treasures of many countries.

Every nation on earth surrendered to Alexander, and he became very famous, but also very arrogant. 4He gathered a powerful army and conquered lands, nations, and rulers, forcing them all to pay taxes to him.

5-7Alexander had ruled for twelve years, when he became sick and knew he was going to die. So he called together some of the men who had grown up with him. They were now his most famous generals, and he gave each one a part of his kingdom.

8The generals each took control of their countries. 9Then after Alexander's death, they crowned themselves kings. Their descendants also ruled as kings for many years and caused trouble all over the world.

Antiochus Epiphanes and the Jewish Nation

10 Antiochus Epiphanes, the evil son of King Antiochus the Third of Syria, was a descendant of one of these generals and had been a hostage in Rome. Then in the year 137 of the Syrian Kingdom, he became its ruler.

11About this time, some worthless Jews rejected God's Law and talked many others into following them by saying, "Let's make an agreement with the Gentiles around here. We've had nothing but trouble ever since we stopped cooperating with them."

12Many of the people thought this was a good idea, 13and with great enthusiasm they went to King Antiochus, who gave them permission to live like Gentiles.

14So these Jews built a place in Jerusalem just like those in Gentile cities where young men exercise in the nude. 15 Some of them even had surgery to keep anyone from knowing they had ever been circumcised. And so, they broke their agreement with God by cooperating with Gentiles and doing other evil things.

Antiochus Attacks Egypt

16 When Antiochus had everything under control, he decided to attack Egypt and make it part of his kingdom. 17So he got together a powerful army, including chariots and elephants, and he also gathered a large navy. Then he invaded Egypt 18and attacked the army of King Ptolemy the Sixth, who turned and ran, losing many of his troops. 19Antiochus captured the Egyptian towns and fortresses and took everything of value.

Antiochus Robs the Temple in Jerusalem

20 In the year 143 of the Syrian Kingdom, as Antiochus was leading his powerful army home, he attacked Jerusalem. 21He walked arrogantly right into the Jerusalem temple and took the gold altar, the lampstand, and everything that went with it. 22He took the table for the sacred loaves of bread as well as the special bowls, the cups for wine offerings, the curtain, the crowns, and the gold pots for burning incense. Antiochus even stripped off every piece of the gold decoration from the front of the temple. 23He also took the silver, the gold, the fine dishes, and the other treasures that he found hidden in the temple. 24Then he returned to his own country with the things he had stolen.

Antiochus had murdered many people and boasted about what he had done.

* 25And so, all of Israel's leaders

and everyone else

cried and moaned.

26 Young people became sick,

and women

lost their beauty.

27Newlyweds sang about death

and mourned

on their wedding day.

28The land itself felt sorrow,

and everyone in Israel

was terribly ashamed.

Antiochus Punishes the Jews

29Two years later, Antiochus sent an officer to collect taxes from the towns in Judea. The officer led a strong army to Jerusalem, 30and he lied to the people by promising peace. They believed him, but suddenly he attacked Jerusalem, damaging the city and killing many of its people. 31After taking everything he wanted, he set fire to the city, destroying its houses and walls. 32His soldiers even dragged away women, children, and livestock.

33Antiochus ordered his army to build a fortress in Jerusalem and put up high, thick walls and strong towers. 34There they stationed some Jewish troops who had rejected God's Law. 35They stored in the fortress the weapons, the food, and everything they had stolen from Jerusalem. And they became a great threat.

36The soldiers in the fortress

attacked the temple

and never stopped doing

horrible things to Israel.

37They killed innocent people

all around the temple,

and they made it unfit

as a place of worship.

38Everyone ran from Jerusalem.

Their own city became

a foreign country to them,

and strangers moved in.

39The temple was barren

just like a desert,

and its festivals and Sabbaths

became times of sorrow

and of shame.

Jerusalem had lost all respect.

40Shame and sorrow replaced

its former glory and pride.

Antiochus Attacks the Jewish Religion

41-42Antiochus wanted everyone in his kingdom to follow the same customs. So he made a law that said, "You must give up the traditions of your ancestors."

43The Gentiles obeyed the king, and many Jews gladly accepted his religion. They offered sacrifices to idols and broke the laws of the Sabbath.

44Messengers from Antiochus brought letters, telling everyone in Jerusalem and in all the towns of Judea about this law. They said:

You must obey the king's law and accept these new customs. 45Don't offer sacrifices in the temple or celebrate the Sabbath and your other festivals. 46Make the temple and everything in it unfit for the worship of your God. 47Build altars and other special places for worshiping our gods and for sacrificing pigs and other animals that your laws forbid.

48Don't circumcise your sons. Forget about what your religion teaches is right or wrong. 49Change your laws and forget about those teachings.

50Anyone who doesn't obey the king will be put to death.

51After Antiochus had sent this law to everyone in his kingdom, his officials went to every town of Judea and tried to make sure the Jews offered sacrifices to foreign gods. 52Many of the people obeyed the king and gave up God's Law. They did evil things everywhere 53and forced the faithful Jews to go into hiding.

The Horrible Thing

54 On the fifteenth day of the month of Chislev in the year 145 of the Syrian Kingdom, Antiochus set up a "Horrible Thing" on the temple altar. His followers built altars in towns all around Judea, 55and they burned incense in front of their houses and in the streets.

56Antiochus' soldiers tore up and burned any copies of the Jewish Scriptures that they found. 57They obeyed Antiochus and murdered everyone they caught obeying God's Law. These troops also killed any Jew who owned a copy of the Scriptures. 58Month after month and in town after town, his soldiers tortured every faithful Jew they captured.

59On the twenty-fifth day of each month, the king's followers offered sacrifices on the altar they had put on top of the temple altar. 60 They followed orders and murdered any Jewish mother who let her son be circumcised. 61Antiochus even told these troops, "Hang the baby around his mother's neck, and kill the whole family, as well as the man who circumcised the baby."

Many Jews Stay Faithful to Their Religion

62Many Jews firmly made up their minds never to eat what their religion said was unclean. 63They chose to die rather than to eat forbidden food and break the agreement God had made with them. Many of them died, 64and the nation suffered terribly.

Contemporary English Version, Second Edition (CEV®)

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