Destruction of Nicanor

To better understand this feast day, we recommend that you read the Feast of Dedication report. Which explains the battles that our forefathers endured to recover the temple, the city of Jerusalem, and to maintain their freedom. 1st Maccabees 3:38 “Then Lysias chose Ptolemee the son of Dorymenes, Nicanor, and Gorgias, mighty men of the king’s friends:” At that time Lysias was appointed by the king (Antiochus Epiphanes) to root out and destroy all of Israel; he chose Nicanor and Gorgias as his generals.

As it was mentioned in the Feast of Dedication report, merchants hearing the news planned to buy the children of Israel for slaves. See, 1st Maccabees 3:41. The person who made the news public and advertised a sale of captive Jews was Nicanor, thinking they would be easily defeated. 2nd Maccabees 8:10 “So Nicanor undertook to make so much money of the captive [slave] Jews, as should defray the tribute [tax] of two thousand talents, which the king was to pay to the Romans.” Verse 11: “Wherefore immediately he sent to the cities upon the sea coast, proclaiming a sale of the captive Jews, and promising that they should have fourscore and ten [90] bodies for one talent, not expecting the vengeance that was to follow upon him from the Almighty God.”

Our forefathers met Nicanor in combat in the encampment of the Greeks; while Gorgias sought for them in the mountains. By the power of the Almighty a great number of Nicanor’s army was slain, being defeated he fled with his host. 2nd Maccabees 8:34 “As for that most ungracious Nicanor, who had brought a thousand merchants to buy the Jews,” Verse 35: “He was through the help of the Lord brought down by them, of whom he made least account; and putting off his glorious apparel, and discharging his company, he came like a fugitive servant through the midland unto Antioch having very great dishonour, for that his host was destroyed.” As Judas Maccabeus stated to his troop, by their victory all the heathens “know that there is one who delivereth and saveth Israel”. 2nd Maccabees 8:36 “Thus he, that took upon him to make good to the Romans their tribute by means of captives in Jerusalem, told abroad, that the Jews had God to fight for them, and therefore they could not be hurt, because they followed the laws that he gave them.”

As for king Antiochus Epiphanes who heard that his army had been defeated, thought to return and make Jerusalem a burial place. While our forefathers made preparations and celebrated the feast of Dedication he was plagued with an incurable disease. 2nd Maccabees 9:9 “So that the worms rose up out of the body of this wicked man, and whiles he lived in sorrow and pain, his flesh fell away, and the filthiness of his smell was noisome to all his army.” This was the end of Antiochus, called Epiphanes. 2nd Maccabees 10:10 “Now will we declare the acts of Antiochus Eupator, who was the son of this wicked man, gathering briefly the calamities of the wars.”

2nd Maccabees 14:1 “After three years was Judas informed, that Demetrius the son of Seleucus, having entered by the haven of Tripolis with a great power and navy,” Verse 2: “Had taken the country, and killed Antiochus, and Lysias his protector.” The rule of Antiochus Eupator was short lived, the true heir of the throne whom his father (Epiphanes) usurped, killed him and the regent Lysias. As it seemed that all the troubles have ended for the nation of Israel because the authors of their misery were dead; one of their own nation stirred up the new king. 1st Maccabees 7:5 “There came unto him all the wicked and ungodly men of Israel, having Alcimus, who was desirous to be high priest, for their captain:” Verse 6: “And they accused the people to the king, saying, Judas and his brethren have slain all thy friends, and driven us out of our own land.”

In ancient Israel, our people had understanding of judgment; therefore wicked elders or leaders were not allowed to continue in their positions. 2nd Maccabees 14:3 “Now one Alcimus, who had been high priest, and had defiled himself wilfully in the times of their mingling with the Gentiles, seeing that by no means he could save himself, nor have any more access to the holy altar,” In the past, our people witnessed Alcimus among those that defiled the sanctuary with their uncleanness and idolatry. 2nd Maccabees 6:4 “For the temple was filled with riot and revelling [partying, bacchanal] by the Gentiles, who dallied with harlots [whores], and had to do with women within the circuit of the holy places, and besides that brought in things that were not lawful.” Verse 5: “The altar also was filled with profane things, which the law forbiddeth.” Rightfully so, he was not allowed to continue as high priest, he who is committed to that office could not be worse than the people and must be worthy of the title.

2nd Maccabees 14:4 “Came to king Demetrius in the hundred and one and fiftieth year, presenting unto him a crown of gold, and a palm, and also of the boughs which were used solemnly in the temple: and so that day he held his peace.” Even still Alcimus continued in wickedness, by presenting as a gift things dedicated to God.

2nd Maccabees 14:5 “Howbeit having gotten opportunity to further his foolish enterprize, and being called into counsel by Demetrius, and asked how the Jews stood affected, and what they intended, he answered thereunto:” Before being crowned, Demetrius was a hostage in Rome and was completely unaware of the affairs in the land. Alcimus taking advantage of how misinformed king Demetrius was slandered his own people.

2nd Maccabees 14:6 “Those of the Jews that he called Assideans, whose captain is Judas Maccabeus, nourish war and are seditious, and will not let the rest be in peace.” The Assideans were a sect of Israelites whose name meant to be merciful, faithful, kind, and godly. The Assideans joined themselves to Mattathias (the father of Judas Maccabeus) when he revolted against the Greeks, because of their desire to continue in the laws. 1st Maccabees 2:42 “Then came there unto him a company of Assideans who were mighty men of Israel, even all such as were voluntarily devoted unto the law.” Nonetheless Alcimus who was seeking the high priesthood and should have been for the keeping of the laws, maligned the peaceable multitude.

2nd Maccabees 14:7 “Therefore I, being deprived of mine ancestors’ honour, I mean the high priesthood, am now come hither:” Verse 8: “First, verily for the unfeigned care I have of things pertaining to the king; and secondly, even for that I intend the good of mine own countrymen: for all our nation is in no small misery through the unadvised dealing of them aforesaid.” Verse 9: “Wherefore, O king, seeing thou knowest all these things, be careful for the country, and our nation, which is pressed on every side, according to the clemency that thou readily shewest unto all.” Verse 10: “For as long as Judas liveth, it is not possible that the state should be quiet.” He broke the ninth commandment by bearing false witness, he was seeking the bloodshed of the innocent.

The king was influenced by what he said, but what truly convinced him, were those that in the past were of Antiochus’ part. 2nd Maccabees 14:11 “This was no sooner spoken of him, but others of the king’s friends, being maliciously set against Judas, did more incense Demetrius.” By the suggestion of Alcimus, the king chose a trusted friend to investigate his claims and appoint him the high priest. 1st Maccabees 7:8 “Then the king chose Bacchides, a friend of the king, who ruled beyond the flood, and was a great man in the kingdom, and faithful to the king,” Verse 9: “And him he sent with that wicked Alcimus, whom he made high priest, and commanded that he should take vengeance of the children of Israel.”

Once his petition was granted, immediately he attempted to kill Judas and his brethren. 1st Maccabees 7:10 “So they departed, and came with a great power [army] into the land of Judea, where they sent messengers to Judas and his brethren with peaceable words deceitfully.” Verse 11: “But they gave no heed to their words; for they saw that they were come with a great power.” Judas and his company easily saw through the deceit, if they were really come in peace there would be no need of an army.

1st Maccabees 7:12 “Then did there assemble unto Alcimus and Bacchides a company of scribes, to require justice.” Verse 13: “Now the Assideans were the first among the children of Israel that sought peace of them:” The same Assideans who Alcimus made it seem like they were seditious and warmongers were the first to seek peace. That alone should have convinced Bacchides that Alcimus was not seeking the welfare of the king or the good of his countrymen, but rather his ambition.

1st Maccabees 7:14 “For said they, One that is a priest of the seed of Aaron is come with this army, and he will do us no wrong.” Often our people have been deceived and led astray by those that would betray the trust of their own nation. Christ taught us that we shall know them by their fruits (works, doings, past actions), in the case of Alcimus his past revealed that he was of the wicked and ungodly men. We should never be quick to accept anyone just because their skin color matches ours or because of some carnal affinity. Traitors for political power and wealth pretend to share the interest of the people while they represent the oppressors.

1st Maccabees 7:15 “So he spake unto them, peaceably, and sware unto them, saying, we will procure the harm neither of you nor your friends.” Verse 16: “Whereupon they believed him: howbeit he took of them threescore [60] men, and slew them in one day, according to the words which he wrote,” Verse 17: “The flesh of thy saints have they cast out, and their blood have they shed round about Jerusalem, and there was none to bury them.” Verse 18: “Wherefore the fear and dread of them fell upon all the people, who said, There is neither truth nor righteousness in them; for they have broken the covenant and oath that they made.” When the wicked speak peace they are contemplating to do mischief in their hearts. The Assideans unsuspecting harm were killed as the Psalm that was quoted. See, Psalms 79:1-7.

1st Maccabees 7:19 “After this, removed Bacchides from Jerusalem, and pitched his tents in Bezeth, where he sent and took many of the men that had forsaken him, and certain of the people also, and when he had slain them, he cast them into the great pit.” Instead of peace, the petition to the king caused many to suffer wrath by the hands of the Greeks. 1st Maccabees 7:20 Then committed he the country to Alcimus, and left with him a power to aid him: so Bacchides went to the king.” Although the king appointed Alcimus as the high priest, it was through the power [army] left with him to impose his authority.

1st Maccabees 7:21 “But Alcimus contended for the high priesthood.” He struggled for the high priesthood, as the people would not allow themselves to be underlings to this wicked wretch. 1st Maccabees 7:22 “And unto him resorted all such as troubled the people, who, after they had gotten the land of Juda into their power, did much hurt in Israel.” The miseries of our people did not end when Bacchides returned to the king. 1st Maccabees 7:23 “Now when Judas saw all the mischief that Alcimus and his company had done among the Israelites, even above the heathen,” Those that were wicked among our people and preferred the customs of the Greeks, caused more trouble than the Greeks.

1st Maccabees 7:24 “He went out into all the coasts of Judea round about, and took vengeance of them that had revolted from him, so that they durst no more go forth into the country.” Judas Maccabeus always being a defender of his people, went after the wicked and restored peace. 1st Maccabees 7:25 “On the other side, when Alcimus saw that Judas and his company had gotten the upper hand, and knew that he was not able to abide their force, he went again to the king, and said all the worst of them that he could.” Alcimus was not able to achieve his goal even though he used force; the army provided by the king was not sufficient to contest Judas. Nicanor was among those left behind to assist Alcimus and was appointed by the king as governor over Judea.

2nd Maccabees 14:12 “And forthwith calling Nicanor, who had been master of the elephants, and making him governor over Judea, he sent him forth,” Verse 13: “Commanding him to slay Judas, and to scatter them that were with him, and to make Alcimus high priest of the great temple.” This took place at the initial meeting with king Demetrius, but the purpose was not accomplished. Why? Remember that Nicanor had already experienced defeat by the Maccabean army. 2nd Maccabees 14:18 “Nevertheless Nicanor, hearing of the manliness of them that were with Judas, and the courageousness that they had to fight for their country, durst not try the matter by the sword.” Verse 19: “Wherefore he sent Posidonius, and Theodotus, and Mattathias, to make peace.” The reason Judas had the upper hand over Alcimus, was due to the reluctance of Nicanor.

They came together for an agreement to achieve peace. 2nd Maccabees 14:20 “So when they had taken long advisement thereupon, and the captain had made the multitude acquainted therewith, and it appeared that they were all of one mind, they consented to the covenants [agreements],” Verse 21: “And appointed a day to meet in together by themselves: and when the day came, and stools were set for either of them,” Verse 22: “Judas placed armed men ready in convenient places, lest some treachery should be suddenly practised by the enemies: so they made a peaceable conference.” This proved that Alcimus was slandering Judas and his company since they were able to achieve peace with their enemies by diplomacy.

2nd Maccabees 14:23 “Now Nicanor abode in Jerusalem, and did no hurt, but sent away the people that came flocking unto him.” This means those of Alcimus’ part when they went to incite Nicanor, he wouldn’t assist them. Nicanor was able to see that our fathers did not nourish war, but wanted to keep the laws of God peaceably. 2nd Maccabees 14:24 And he [Nicanor] would not willingly have Judas out of his sight: for he loved the man from his heart.” Verse 25: “He prayed him also to take a wife, and to beget children: so he married, was quiet, and took part of this life.” This proves the proverb true, if a man please God he will make even his enemies to be at peace with him (Proverbs 16:7). Being helpless, Alcimus resorted to saying all the worst of them that he could to the king.

2nd Maccabees 14:26 “But Alcimus, perceiving the love that was betwixt them, and considering the covenants that were made, came to Demetrius, and told him that Nicanor was not well affected toward the state; for that he had ordained Judas, a traitor to his realm, to be the king’s successor.” Not only did he accuse Nicanor of betraying the trust of the king, but also made the ridiculous claim that Judas was to replace him as king.

2nd Maccabees 14:27 “Then the king being in a rage, and provoked with the accusations of the most wicked man, wrote to Nicanor, signifying that he was much displeased with the covenants, and commanding him that he should send Maccabeus prisoner in all haste unto Antioch.” Verse 28: “When this came to Nicanor’s hearing, he was much confounded in himself, and took it grievously that he should make void the articles which were agreed upon, the man being in no fault.” Verse 29: “But because there was no dealing against the king, he watched his time to accomplish this thing by policy.” Our people have often made the mistake in trusting their enemies, therefore they have suffered from broken treaties. Nicanor deceitfully looked for an opportunity to accuse Judas of some fault in policy, in order to break the covenant.

At this point is when Nicanor is introduced in, 1st Maccabees 7:26 “Then the king sent Nicanor, one of his honourable princes, a man that bare deadly hate unto Israel, with commandment to destroy the people.” In examining the past history of Nicanor, we have learned of his hatred towards Israel and also how he understood that God fought for our people. This deadly hate has been hidden now for sometime, however it has resurged like rust that never really goes away.

Therefore Judas Maccabeus was able to sense the concealed animosity and evil intent towards him. 2nd Maccabees 14:30 “Notwithstanding, when Maccabeus saw that Nicanor began to be churlish unto him, and that he entreated him more roughly than he was wont, perceiving that such sour behaviour came not of good, he gathered together not a few of his men, and withdrew himself from Nicanor.” The plan Nicanor had failed and his deceit was discovered.

1st Maccabees 7:27 “So Nicanor came to Jerusalem with a great force; and sent unto Judas and his brethren deceitfully with friendly words, saying,” Verse 28: “Let there be no battle between me and you; I will come with a few men, that I may see you in peace.” Verse 29: “He came therefore to Judas, and they saluted one another peaceably. Howbeit the enemies were prepared to take away Judas by violence.” Verse 30: “Which thing after it was known to Judas, to wit, that he came unto him with deceit, he was sore afraid of him, and would see his face no more.” Obviously no fault in policy was to be found against Judas to apprehend him, therefore he attempted to capture him by an ambush.

Seeing that he failed to capture Judas, there was no option but to try the matter by the sword. 1st Maccabees 7:31 “Nicanor also, when he saw that his counsel was discovered, went out to fight against Judas beside Capharsalama:” Verse 32: “Where there were slain of Nicanor’s side about five thousand men, and the rest fled into the city of David.” He was defeated significantly yet determined to fulfill the kings commandment. Therefore with rage and pride, he sought for Judas among the people and their cooperation in capturing him.

1st Maccabees 7:33 “After this went Nicanor up to mount Sion, and there came out of the sanctuary certain of the priests and certain of the elders of the people, to salute him peaceably, and to shew him the burnt sacrifice that was offered for the king.” Verse 34: “But he mocked them, and laughed at them, and abused them shamefully, and spake proudly,” Verse 35: “And sware in his wrath, saying, Unless Judas and his host be now delivered into my hands, if ever I come again in safety, I will burn up this house: and with that he went out in a great rage.” The priests met Nicanor with hospitality but he mistreated them and demanded that they surrender Judas. Then he proudly threatened to destroy the temple of the most High God with fire and to build in its place one for a false god of the Greeks.

2nd Maccabees 14:31 “But the other, knowing that he was notably prevented by Judas’ policy, came into the great and holy temple, and commanded the priests, that were offering their usual sacrifices, to deliver him the man.” Verse 32: “And when they sware that they could not tell where the man was whom he sought,” Verse 33: “He stretched out his right hand toward the temple, and made an oath in this manner: If ye will not deliver me Judas as a prisoner, I will lay this temple of God even with the ground, and I will break down the altar, and erect a notable temple unto Bacchus.” Again the temple and people were threatened by a proud Greek. Bacchus was worshiped by the Greeks as the god of wine, reveling (partying), and orgies. See, 2nd Maccabees 6:1-9. To this very day Bacchus is revered among our people, their idolatrous celebration is named after him such as the famous Trinidadian and Jamaican carnival (reveling) of Bacchanal.

Immediately the priests turned to the most High God to pray that they might be defended against Nicanor. 1st Maccabees 7:36 “Then the priests entered in, and stood before the altar and the temple, weeping, and saying,” Verse 37: “Thou, O Lord, didst choose this house to be called by thy name, and to be a house of prayer and petition for thy people:” Verse 38: “Be avenged of this man and his host, and let them fall by the sword: remember their blasphemies, and suffer them not to continue any longer.” Verse 39: “So Nicanor went out of Jerusalem, and pitched his tents in Bethhoron, where an host out of Syria met him.” Verse 40: “But Judas pitched in Adasa with three thousand men, and there he prayed, saying,”

While Nicanor gathered a great army to accomplish his prideful ambition, Judas resorted to prayer and exhorting his men. By reminding them of their prior achievements, comforting his soldiers with the scriptures, and with a worthy dream to be believed. In his prayer he petitioned the most High to defend his temple by sending an angel as he did against the Assyrians when they blasphemed. Also he encouraged them to have confidence in their cause, since it was just to protect the temple and people of Israel, while the heathens came against them with falsehoods and breached oaths. Please read, 1st Maccabees 7:40-42 and 2nd Maccabees 15:6-16.

2nd Maccabees 15:17 “Thus being well comforted by the words of Judas, which were very good, and able to stir them up to valour, and to encourage the hearts of the young men, they determined not to pitch camp, but courageously to set upon them, and manfully to try the matter by conflict, because the city and the sanctuary and the temple were in danger.” The encouraging words of Judas armed every one of them better than armaments, in so much that they were prepared to face their enemies. Also they kept in mind the danger that the city and sanctuary was presently in, as well as the protection of their nation.

2nd Maccabees 15:18 “For the care that they took for their wives, and their children, their brethren, and folks, was in least account with them: but the greatest and principal fear was for the holy temple.” Verse 19: “Also they that were in the city took not the least care, being troubled for the conflict abroad.” Amazingly the people were less concerned about their own safety than the loss of the temple.

Due to his past experience, Nicanor returned with a greater army in comparison to the 3000 men of Israel. 2nd Maccabees 15:20 “And now, when as all looked what should be the trial, and the enemies were already come near, and the army was set in array, and the beasts conveniently placed, and the horsemen set in wings,” Verse 21: “Maccabeus seeing the coming of the multitude, and the divers preparations of armour, and the fierceness of the beasts, stretched out his hands toward heaven, and called upon the Lord that worketh wonders, knowing that victory cometh not by arms, but even as it seemeth good to him, he giveth it to such as are worthy:” Unlike the other nations it was always understood by our fathers that victory is not in the size of the army or how well they are prepared.

2nd Maccabees 15:22 “Therefore in his prayer he said after this manner; O Lord, thou didst send thine angel in the time of Ezekias king of Judea, and didst slay in the host of Sennacherib an hundred fourscore and five thousand:” Verse 23: “Wherefore now also, O Lord of heaven, send a good angel before us for a fear and dread unto them;” Verse 24: “And through the might of thine arm let those be stricken with terror, that come against thy holy people to blaspheme. And he ended thus.” The men of Israel were taught by this prayer to rely on the most High God for their victory, and to not fear the well organized army of Nicanor. Reminding them of when the city was in danger during the Assyrian siege in the days of their forefathers. They were defeated without the involvement of men, by an angel that killed 185,000 in one night.

2nd Maccabees 15:25 “Then Nicanor and they that were with him came forward with trumpets and songs.” Verse 26: “But Judas and his company encountered the enemies with invocation and prayer.” Two contrasting emotions were in the battlefield which defined the methods of combat. The heathens with their wicked pride made rage leader of their battle. While Judas and his men, fought for virtue, the lives of their people, and sanctity of the holy place; they faced their enemies with faith that victory comes from the Almighty.

2nd Maccabees 15:27 “So that fighting with their hands, and praying unto God with their hearts, they slew no less than thirty and five thousand men: for through the appearance of God they were greatly cheered.” The men of Israel were taught to war by their prayer in a way that it transcends concentration and the skill is enhanced. During the battle the Heavenly Father answered their prayers and an angel appeared who fought alongside with them. They killed an amount of 35,000 which is ten times greater than them, could you imagine the great joy they had to receive help from heaven.

1st Maccabees 7:43 “So the thirteenth day of the month Adar the hosts joined battle: but Nicanor’s host was discomfited, and he himself was first slain in the battle.” Verse 44: “Now when Nicanor’s host saw that he was slain, they cast away their weapons, and fled.” On the other side of the battlefield, the enemies of Israel were perplexed, Nicanor being among the first to die in his pride. Then his army deserted the battle, throwing their weapons away knowing their was no hope in fighting a smaller opponent that was helped from heaven.

1st Maccabees 7:45 “Then they pursued after them a day’s journey, from Adasa unto Gazera, sounding an alarm after them with their trumpets.” Verse 46: “Whereupon they came forth out of all the towns of Judea round about, and closed them in; so that they, turning back upon them that pursued them, were all slain with the sword, and not one of them was left.” As the people of Israel witnessed the decisive battle from within their cities, when the enemies fled, they responded to the call to participate. Closing their enemies in from all sides, gave them no escape route thus none were spared. 1st Maccabees 7:47 “Afterwards they took the spoils, and the prey, and smote off Nicanors head, and his right hand, which he stretched out so proudly, and brought them away, and hanged them up toward Jerusalem.” Further details expressed how Nicanor’s body was used to teach all not to blaspheme against God.

2nd Maccabees 15:28 “Now when the battle was done, returning again with joy, they knew that Nicanor lay dead in his harness.” Verse 29: “Then they made a great shout and a noise, praising the Almighty in their own [Hebrew] language.” Verse 30: “And Judas, who was ever the chief defender of the citizens both in body and mind, and who continued his love toward his countrymen all his life, commanded to strike off Nicanor’s head, and his hand with his shoulder, and bring them to Jerusalem.” Verse 31: “So when he was there, and called them of his nation together, and set the priests before the altar, he sent for them that were of the tower,” Verse 32: “And shewed them vile Nicanor’s head, and the hand of that blasphemer, which with proud brags he had stretched out against the holy temple of the Almighty.” Verse 33: “And when he had cut out the tongue of that ungodly Nicanor, he commanded that they should give it by pieces unto the fowls, and hang up the reward of his madness before the temple.” Verse 34: “So every man praised toward the heaven the glorious Lord, saying, Blessed be he that hath kept his own place undefiled.” Verse 35: “He hanged also Nicanor’s head upon the tower, an evident and manifest sign unto all of the help of the Lord.”

1st Maccabees 7:48 “For this cause the people rejoiced greatly, and they kept that day a day of great gladness.” The people witnessed a miraculous event, as it was written in prophecy they were holpen with a little help. See, Daniel 11:34. The heavenly Father once again defended his holy temple and removed an enemy that had deadly hatred towards our nation.

2nd Maccabees 15:36 “And they ordained all with a common decree in no case to let that day pass without solemnity, but to celebrate the thirteenth day of the twelfth month, which in the Syrian tongue is called Adar, the day before Mardocheus’ day.” This great joy among them was to continue yearly, by keeping this day with solemnity meaning as a holy day. Therefore this feast is celebrated by the nation of Israel in the thirteenth day of the twelfth month as a Sabbath. Which is a day before Mardocheus’ Purim, to be remembered and kept consecutively.

As in all the solemn sabbaths, we are not to do any work, it is a day of rest. No business of any kind is to be conducted, including buying or selling. See, Nehemiah 10:31. The only way it differs from the weekly Sabbath is that we are allowed to cook. Cooking on the weekly Sabbath, the seventh day of the week is not allowed. See, Exodus 35:2-3. This means that if Destruction of Nicanor coincides with the weekly Sabbath you must prepare the meal before the Sabbath; since you will not be able to cook. Please refer to the Sabbath report for more information.

2nd Maccabees 15:37 “Thus went it with Nicanor: and from that time forth the Hebrews had the city in their power. And here will I make an end.” Shalam (Peace)!