Mattathias and His Sons. 1In those days Mattathias, son of John, son of Simeon, a priest of the family of Joarib, left Jerusalem and settled in Modein.* 2He had five sons: John, who was called Gaddi; r 1 Chr 24, 7 . 3Simon, who was called Thassi; 4Judas, who was called Maccabeus; 5Eleazar, who was called Avaran; and Jonathan, who was called Apphus. 6When he saw the sacrileges that were being committed in Judah and in Jerusalem, 7he said: “Woe is me! Why was I born to see the ruin of my people and the ruin of the holy city, and to sit idle while it is given into the hands of enemies, and the sanctuary into the hands of strangers?
8“Her temple has become like a man disgraced, 9her glorious ornaments have been carried off as spoils, Her infants have been murdered in her streets, her young men by the sword of the enemy. s Lam 2, 11, 21 . 10What nation has not taken its share of her realm, and laid its hand on her possessions? 11All her adornment has been taken away. From being free, she has become a slave. 12We see our sanctuary and our beauty and our glory laid waste, And the Gentiles have defiled them! 13Why are we still alive?”
14Then Mattathias and his sons tore their garments, put on sackcloth, and mourned bitterly.
Pagan Worship Refused. 15The officers of the king in charge of enforcing the apostasy came to the city of Modein to organize the sacrifices. 16Many of Israel joined them, but Mattathias and his sons gathered in a group apart. 17Then the officers of the king addressed Mattathias: “You are a leader, an honorable and great man in this city, supported by sons and kinsmen. 18Come now, be the first to obey the king's command, as all the Gentiles and the men of Judah and those who are left in Jerusalem have done. Then you and your sons shall be numbered among the king's Friends,* and shall be enriched with silver and gold and many gifts.” 19But Mattathias answered in a loud voice: “Although all the Gentiles in the king's realm obey him, so that each forsakes the religion of his fathers and consents to the king's orders, 20yet I and my sons and my kinsmen will keep to the covenant of our fathers. 21God forbid that we should forsake the law and the commandments. 22We will not obey the words of the king nor depart from our religion in the slightest degree.”
23As he finished saying these words, a certain Jew came forward in the sight of all to offer sacrifice on the altar in Modein according to the king's order. 24When Mattathias saw him, he was filled with zeal; his heart was moved and his just fury was aroused; he sprang forward and killed him upon the altar. 25At the same time, he also killed the messenger of the king who was forcing them to sacrifice, and he tore down the altar. 26Thus he showed his zeal for the law, just as Phinehas did with Zimri, son of Salu. t 1 Mc 2, 54; Nm 25, 6–14 .
27Then Mattathias went through the city shouting, “Let everyone who is zealous for the law and who stands by the covenant follow after me!” 28Thereupon he fled to the mountains with his sons, leaving behind in the city all their possessions. u 2 Mc 5, 27 . 29Many who sought to live according to righteousness and religious custom went out into the desert*to settle there, 30they and their sons, their wives and their cattle, because misfortunes pressed so hard on them.
31It was reported to the officers and soldiers of the king who were in the City of David, in Jerusalem, that certain men who had flouted the king's order had gone out to the hiding places in the desert. 32 v 32–38: 2 Mc 6, 11 . Many hurried out after them, and having caught up with them, camped opposite and prepared to attack them on the sabbath. 33“Enough of this!” the pursuers said to them. “Come out and obey the king's command, and your lives will be spared.” 34But they replied, “We will not come out, nor will we obey the king's command to profane the sabbath.” 35Then the enemy attacked them at once; 36but they did not retaliate; they neither threw stones, nor blocked up their own hiding places. 37They said, “Let us all die without reproach; heaven and earth are our witnesses that you destroy us unjustly.” 38So the officers and soldiers attacked them on the sabbath, and they died with their wives, their children and their cattle, to the number of a thousand persons.
39When Mattathias and his friends heard of it, they mourned deeply for them. 40“If we all do as our kinsmen have done,” they said to one another, “and do not fight against the Gentiles for our lives and our traditions, they will soon destroy us from the earth.” 41On that day they came to this decision: “Let us fight against anyone who attacks us on the sabbath, so that we may not all die as our kinsmen died in the hiding places.”
42Then they were joined by a group of Hasideans,* valiant Israelites, all of them devout followers of the law. 43And all those who were fleeing from the disaster joined them and supported them. 44They gathered an army and struck down sinners in their anger and lawbreakers in their wrath, and the survivors fled to the Gentiles for safety. w Is 63, 3 . 45Mattathias and his friends went about and tore down the pagan altars; 46they also forcibly circumcised any uncircumcised boys whom they found in the territory of Israel. 47They put to flight the arrogant, and the work prospered in their hands. 48They saved the law from the hands of the Gentiles and of the kings and did not let the sinner triumph.
Death of Mattathias. 49When the time came for Mattathias to die, he said to his sons: “Arrogance and scorn have now grown strong; it is a time of disaster and violent anger. 50Therefore, my sons, be zealous for the law and give your lives for the covenant of our fathers.
51“Remember the deeds that our fathers did in their times, and you shall win great glory and an everlasting name. 52Was not Abraham found faithful in trial, and it was reputed to him as uprightness? x Gn 15, 6; 22, 1ff . 53Joseph, when in distress, kept the commandment, and he became master of Egypt. y Gn 39, 7–10; 41, 39–43 . 54Phinehas our father, for his burning zeal, received the covenant of an everlasting priesthood. z Nm 25, 10–13; Sir 45, 28ff . 55Joshua, for executing his commission, became a judge in Israel. a Jos 1, 2, 5 . 56Caleb, for bearing witness before the assembly, received an inheritance in the land. b Nm 13, 30; 14, 6–9. 24; Jos 14, 14 . 57David, for his piety, received as a heritage a throne of everlasting royalty. c 2 Sm 2, 4; 7, 16 . 58Elijah, for his burning zeal for the law, was taken up to heaven. d 1 Kgs 19, 10. 14; 2 Kgs 2, 11 . 59Hananiah, Azariah and Mishael, for their faith, were saved from the fire. e Dn 3, 50 . 60Daniel, for his innocence, was delivered from the jaws of lions. f Dn 6, 23; 14, 31–42 . 61And so, consider this from generation to generation, that none who hope in him shall fail in strength. 62Do not fear the words of a sinful man, for his glory ends in corruption and worms. 63Today he is exalted, and tomorrow he is not to be found, because he has returned to his dust, and his schemes have perished. 64Children! be courageous and strong in keeping the law, for by it you shall be glorified.
65“Here is your brother Simeon who I know is a wise man; listen to him always, and he will be a father to you. 66And Judas Maccabeus, a warrior from his youth, shall be the leader of your army and direct the war against the nations. 67You shall also gather about you all who observe the law, and you shall avenge the wrongs of your people. 68Pay back the Gentiles what they deserve, and observe the precepts of the law.”
69Then he blessed them, and he was united with his fathers. 70He died in the year one hundred and forty‐six,* and was buried in the tombs of his fathers in Modein, and all Israel mourned him greatly.