In those days there did stand up one Mathathiah*, the son of Simeon the priest ( out of the kindred of *Joaris ), from Jerusalem, and dwelt upon the mount of Modin, and had five sons: Jhon called Goddis: Simon, called Thasi: Judas, other wise called Maccabeus: Eleazer, other wise called Abaron: and Jonathas, whose surname was Apphus. These saw the evil, that was done among the people of Juda and Jerusalem. And Mathathiah said woe is me, alas that ever I was born, to see this misery of my people, and the piteous destruction of the holy city: And thus to sit so still, it being delivered into the hands of the enemies. Her Sanctuary is come in to the power of strangers her temple is, as it were a man that hath lost his good name. Her precious ornaments are carried away captive, her *old men are slain in the streets, her young men are fallen through the sword of the enemies.
What people is it, that hath not some possession in her kingdom ? Or who hath not gotten some of her spoils ? All her glory is taken away. She was a Queen, and now she is become a handmade. Behold our Sanctuary, our beauty and honor is wasted away, and defiled by the Gentiles. What helpeth it us then to live ? And Mathathiah rent his clothes, and his sons, and put on sackcloth upon them, and mourned very sore.
Then came the men thither which were sent of king Antiochus, to compel such as were fled in to the city of Modin, for to do sacrifice and to burn incense unto Idols, and to forsake the law of God. So, many of the people of Israel consented and inclined unto them, but Mathathiah and his sons remained steadfast. Then spake the commissioners of king Antiochus, and said unto Mathathiah: Thou art a noble man, of high reputation and great in this city, having fair children and brethren. Come now therefore first, and fulfil the kings commandment, like as all the Heathen have done, yea, and the men of Juda, and such as remain at Jerusalem: so shalt thou and thy children be in the kings favor, and enriched with gold, silver and great rewards.
Mathathiah answered, and spake with a loud voice: Though all nations obey the king Antiochus, and fall away every man from keeping the **law of their fathers: though they consent to his commandments, yet will I and my sons and my brethren, not fall from the law of our fathers. God forbid we should forsake the law and the ordinances of God, and agree unto the commandment of king Antiochus. Therefore we will do no such sacrifice, neither break the statutes of our law, to go another way. And when he had spoken these words, there came one of the Jews, which openly in the sight of all, did sacrifice unto the Idols upon the altar in the city of Modin, according to the kings commandment.
When Mathathiah saw this, it grieved him at the heart, so that his reins shook withal, and his wrath kindled for very zeal of the law. With that he gave a skip forth, and killed the Jew beside the altar: Yee and slew the kings commissioner, that compelled him to do sacrifice, and destroyed the altar at the same time: such a zeal had he unto the law of God, like as Phynehes did unto Zambri the son of Salomi. And Mathathiah cried with a loud voice throughout the city, saying: Whoso is fervent in the law, and will keep the covenant, let him follow me. So he and his sons fled in to the mountains, and left all that ever they had in the city. Many other godly men also departed into the wilderness with their children, their wives, and their cattle, and remained there: for the tyranny increased so sore upon them.
Now when the kings servants, and the host, which was at Jerusalem in the city of David heard, that certain men had broken the kings commandment and were gone their way to the wilderness into secret places, and that there were many departed after them: they followed upon them to fight against them in the Sabbath day and said: Well ye yet rebel ? Get you hence and do the commandment of king Antiochus and ye shall live. They answered: we will not go forth, neither will we do the kings commandment, to defile the Sabbath day. Then began they to fight against them nevertheless they gave them none other answer, nether cast they one stone at them ner made fast their privy places, but said. We will die all in our own innocency, heaven and earth shall testify with us, that ye put us to death wrongfully. Thus they fought against them upon the Sabbath, and slew both men and cattle, their wives and their children, to the number of a thousand people.
When Mathathiah and his friends heard this, they mourned for them right sore, and said one to another: If so be that we all do as our brethren have done, and fight not for our lives and for our laws against the Heathen: then shall they the sooner root us out of the earth. So they concluded among themselves at the same time, saying: Whatsoever he be that cometh to make battle with us upon the Sabbath day, we will fight against him, and not die all, as our brethren that were murdered so heinously. Upon this came the Synagog of the Jews unto them *strong men of Israel, all such as were fervent in the law. And all they that were fled for persecution, came to help them, and to stand by them: Insomuch that they gathered an host of men, and slew the wicked doers in their jealousy, and the ungodly men in their wrath. Some of the wicked fled unto the Heathen, and escaped.
Thus Mathathiah and his friends went about, and destroyed the altars, and circumcised the children, that had not yet received circumcision: as many as they found in the coasts of Israel: and followed mightily upon the children of pride, and this act prospered in their hands: Insomuch, that they kept the law against the power of the Gentiles and the kings, and gave not over their dominion unto wicked doers.
After this when the time drew on fast, that Mathathiah should die, he said unto his sons: Now is pride and persecution increased, now is the time of destruction and wrathful displeasure: wherefore ( O' my sons ) be ye fervent in the law, and jeopardize your lives for the Testament of the fathers: call to remembrance what acts our fathers did in their time, so shall ye receive great honor and an everlasting name.
Remember Abraham, was not he found faithful in *tentacion, and it was reckoned unto him for righteousness ? Joseph in the time of his trouble kept the commandment, and was made lord of Egypt. Phinches our father was so fervent for the honor of God, that he obtained the covenant of an everlasting priesthood. Josue for fulfilling the word of God, was made captain of Israel. Caleb bear record before the congregation, and received an heritage. David also in his merciful kindness, obtained the throne of an everlasting kingdom. Eliah being jealous and fervent in the law, was taken up into heaven. Hananias, Asarias and Misael remained steadfast in faith, and were delivered out of the fire. In like manner Daniel being unguilty, was saved from the mouth of the Lions.
And thus ye may consider throughout all ages since the world began, that whosoever put their trust in *God, were not overcome. Fear not ye then the words of the ungodly man, for his glory is but dung and worthless. Today is he set up, and tomorrow he is gone: for he is turned into earth, and his memorial is come to naught. Wherefore (O' my sons ) take good hearts unto you, and quit yourselves like men in the law: for if ye do the things that are commanded you in the law of the Lord your God, ye shall obtain great honor therein.
And behold, I know that your brother Simon is a man of wisdom: see that you give ear unto him alway, he shall be a father unto you. As for Judas Maccabeus, he hath ever been mighty and strong from his youth up: let him be your captain, and order the battle of the people: thus ye shall bring unto you all that favor the law, and see that ye avenge the wrong of your people, and recompense the Heathen again, and apply yourselves whole to the commandment of the law. So he gave them his blessing, and was layed by his fathers: and died in the hundred forty sixth year at Modin, where his sons buried him in his fathers sepulchre, and all Israel made great lamentation for him.