THE BURIAL OF MATTATHIAS
 JUDAS and his brothers sat late into the night consulting
about a daring scheme which the new captain of the
"It would be an unseemly thing," he said, "that
Mattathias, the son of Asmon, should be thrust into a
among the rocks as if he were an outcast or a robber.
Verily we will bury him with his fathers in the
" 'Twill be no easy matter to contrive," said Jonathan,
the man of many devices. "The sepulchre is hard by the
town, and we can scarcely avoid the eyes of the people
in coming and going."
"Nay, Jonathan, I have no purpose of doing the thing in
secret. It would not be well to bury my father by
stealth in his own sepulchre. It shall be done openly,
and before the eyes of men."
The brothers, bold men as they were, were
aston-  ished at the hardihood of the plan. But their respect for the
genius of Judas silenced any opposition. And then he
had never failed in any enterprise. John was the first
" 'Tis well thought of, Judas. Lead the way, and I
follow;" and he clasped his brother's hand.
The captain then developed his plan, which, when
examined, seemed less audacious than it had appeared at
sight. It was to be a surprise, and the very
unlikelihood of the attempt made its success more
was not occupied by a garrison, and the townsfolk, even
if their goodwill could not be counted on, would
scarcely venture to resist. Only it would be necessary
to act before any rumour of their intention could get
about, and, the funeral march once begun, to hasten it
to a completion as much as possible.
The body was at once preserved against decay as far as
the scanty means at the command of the patriots would
allow. Then word was sent through the encampment that
all who wished to take their last look at the dead hero
must come at once. For three hours a constant stream of
awestruck and weeping visitors passed through the tent
in which he lay, attired in his priestly garb, the long
white beard reaching almost to his waist, his wasted
features settled into the majestic repose of death.
Every visitor as he entered loosed his sandals from his
feet, feeling that the place which he was entering was
 holy ground. Every one, as he took his last look on the
hero's face, prayed to the God of his fathers that his
last end might be like his. Women brought their
children that they might kiss the hem of his garment.
be a distinction to them in their old age that they had
been privileged to pay this honour to Mattathias, the
son of Asmon.
Before dawn the procession started. The body, in its
rude coffin of wood, was placed upon a bier, thirty
bearers taking it in turns to carry it. The thirty were
divided into five relays of six, one of the sons of the
dead being always among those who performed the duty.
With the exception of a small force which was left for
the protection of the women and children, all the
fighting men of the settlement accompanied the body. In
of the efforts which had been made to procure or
manufacture arms, they were still but poorly equipped.
military display, of the "pomp and circumstance of
glorious war," there was absolutely nothing. But the
qualities of endurance and courage could be seen in
their sinewy forms and resolute faces. To an observer
could look below the surface that squalid array had in
it the capacity for achieving an heroic success.
Judas had been quite right in predicting that the
expedition would meet with little or no opposition. Its
march, indeed, was absolutely unmolested by the enemy.
The movement was wholly unexpected, and
 consequently no force had been collected to hinder it;
while the garrisons of the two or three fortified
which the army passed on its route did not feel
themselves strong enough to attempt any attack.
as yet no pitched battle had been fought, these Jewish
"Ironsides" had inspired their enemies with a wholesome
dread of their prowess. Both Greeks and renegades knew
that these ragged, ill-armed mountaineers stood as
stoutly and plied their swords as fiercely as any
soldiers in the world.
No incident occurred in the course of the march save
one, which, though little thought of at the time, was
destined to lead to events of considerable importance.
When the first halt was called, Benjamin, who was a
well-known personage in the neighbourhood, and who in
spite, perhaps in consequence, of his antecedents
not a little popularity, found entertainment in the
house of an old acquaintance. The man was a farmer, who
been accustomed to make a handsome profit by supplying
the bandits with useful information. Recognizing his
accomplice in the ranks of the patriot army, he invited
him into his house, and entertained him with his best.
Unfortunately this best happened to be some salted
swine's flesh. Benjamin had some scruple about eating
but it was not strong enough to resist the claims of a
ravenous hunger, supported as they were by his
 The meal was washed down by the contents of two or
three flasks of potent wine, and the friends were so
occupied with discussing these, and with talking over
old times, that the signal for assembly passed
Then followed a search for stragglers, and Benjamin was
discovered with the fragments of his meal before him;
and though his hunger had stripped the bones bare
enough, no one could doubt what was the animal to which
The offender had been caught, so to speak, red-handed,
and some voices were raised to demand his instant
execution. But the officer in command of the detachment
interposed. In any case he would have objected to a
proceeding of which Judas would certainly have
disapproved, and he had besides a certain kindness for
of whose courage and dexterity he had been more than
once a witness. Accordingly the offender was put under
close arrest, and the army resumed its march.
Benjamin had no need to be told that he was in very
serious danger. The Chasidim, at least, would be more
to overlook fifty thefts than one transgression in the
matter of unclean food; and he felt sure that if he
could not contrive to escape before the army returned
to the encampment, possibly before they reached Modin,
his days were numbered. While he was meditating on the
chances of escape, one of the escort, an associate of
former days, was
 thinking how he could help him. Happening to be in
front of the prisoner, he purposely stumbled and fell.
prisoner fell over him, and in the confusion the
soldier cut the cords that bound Benjamin's hands. The
prisoner was not a man to lose such an opportunity.
Waiting till he reached a convenient spot on the march,
shook off his bonds, sprang to the side of the road,
and, before his keepers could recover from their
astonishment, was lost to sight in the woods which
When the army reached Modin no attempt was made to
interfere with its proceedings. Our old acquaintance,
had been sent to replace the commissioner killed when
Mattathias raised the standard of revolt, and Cleon was
far too careful of himself to risk his safety in any
foolhardy struggle against superior strength. When the
body of armed men was first seen approaching the town,
he had supposed that its object was to possess itself
any money, arms, or provisions that might be found in
the place. A nearer view showed the funeral procession,
and one of the townspeople was acute enough to guess
the real purpose of the expedition. Cleon's resolve was
once taken. He would make the best of circumstances
which he could not control. Accordingly he went out of
town with a flag of truce in his hand, and meeting the
vanguard of the approaching array, demanded an
with its leader.
 He was brought into the presence of Judas.
"May I ask," he said, "the purpose of your coming?"
"We are come to bury Mattathias, son of Asmon, in the
sepulchre of his fathers," was the brief reply.
"And you, sir," continued the Greek, with elaborate
courtesy, "may I ask to whom I am speaking?"
"I am Judas, son of Mattathias."
"Allow me, then," answered Cleon, "to express my
sympathy with you in the loss of so renowned a father,
believe, a distinguished citizen of this place, and to
assure you that you will meet with no molestation in
whatever honours you may see fit to render to his
memory. I would myself willingly attend the obsequies,
suppose that my presence would be welcome."
"We thank you, sir," said Judas, who was inwardly
chafing at this hypocritical politeness, but disdained
show his feelings; "we would sooner be alone."
Cleon saluted and withdrew.
The funeral ceremonies were performed with an
impressive solemnity. The stone which closed the
entrance to the
family tomb of the house of Asmon had been rolled away,
and the dead body was placed in the niche which had
been long ago prepared for its reception. Only the sons
of Mattathias and a few
 of their best trusted counsellors and lieutenants
entered the cave; the rest of the multitude stood
waiting in profound silence till they should be told
that the old warrior had been laid in his last
When the cave had been closed again John, as the eldest
son of the deceased, spoke a few words to the army.
"We have buried our dead," he said, "out of our sight;
but his memory lives and will live among us. Let us be
true and faithful as he was, that we may be with him
when he shall rise again at the last day, and sit down
with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob at the supper of the
people of God. Meanwhile let us follow and obey him
with his last breath he named as his successor. Long
live Judas, son of Mattathias, son of Asmon, the
of the host of the Lord!"
And all the army shouted their approval.
Cleon had followed up his courtesies by an invitation
addressed to Judas and his principal officers, in which
he begged the honour of their company at a meal. Judas
declined the invitation, but intimated that he would
gladly purchase a supply of corn. The commissioner,
well aware that his guests could take by force anything
that was refused to them, at once acceded to the
request, and Micah was selected, on account of his
with the Greek language, to conduct the transaction.
 The details of the business arranged with the
commissioner's secretary, Micah received a message from
man himself, begging for the pleasure of an interview.
"What!" cried Cleon, affecting a surprise which he did
not really feel, "is this my old friend Menander whom I
"My name is Micah," said the Jew, not without a feeling
of disgust and shame as his mind reverted to the past.
"As you please," said Cleon. "By whatever name you may
please to call yourself, I hope that we shall always be
good friends. But tell me, what is the meaning of this
"I know not what you mean by disguise."
"I mean these rags, which a scarecrow would hardly
condescend to wear; that battered helmet, which looks
the boys had been kicking it for a month about the
market-place; that deplorably shabby sword, which even
rag-and-bone man would be ashamed to hang up in his
shop. Is this the elegant Menander—I beg your
elegant Micah, who was once the very pink of neatness
"As for my past follies, you may laugh at them as you
will, nor can I deny that you are in the right. But of
these rags, as you are pleased to call them, of these
shabby arms, I am not ashamed. I have come to myself.
things that I once prized I
 count as dung, and for that which I once despised I
would gladly die."
"Why, what madness is this? What have you got to live
for? How can you support existence among this
crew of beggars and outlaws, with not a man among them,
I will warrant, who has the least taste of culture, or
the faintest tincture of art?"
"These 'beggars and outlaws,' as you call them, are the
soldiers of the Lord; and you will find that they are
enemies not to be despised, that these battered helmets
can turn a blow, and these jagged swords can deal one
that will make its way through all your finery."
"But, my dear friend—I may call you so, I
suppose, in spite of any little difference of opinion
there may be
The Jew made no motion of assent.
"Well, you cannot be deceiving yourself as to the utter
hopelessness of your attempt. Why, when you come to
meet our troops in regular battle, you will disappear
like chaff before the wind. You may take a few places
surprise, but you have no more chance of winning a
regular victory than a dove has of killing a kite. Come
be reasonable; give up this silly affair, and be my
guest, till we can find something suitable for you to
will set you up with some new clothes, to which you are
perfectly welcome. And I will warrant that in a few
 you will be wondering that you were ever foolish enough
to undertake such a wildgoose business as this."
"Your gifts be to yourself. Nay, Cleon," he soon went
on to say, in a softer tone, "I would not speak harshly
to you for the sake of old kindnesses which I doubt not
you meant well in showing me. But be sure that I am in
earnest. The old things are hateful to me. I have other
desires, other hopes; and if they are not satisfied,
not fulfilled, I can at least die for them."
"Die for them, indeed! That, my dear Micah, is only too
likely, and die, I am afraid, in an exceedingly
unpleasant way. It is simple madness to suppose that a
crowd of ragamuffins, under a general—Apollo save
mark!—who has never seen a battle, can stand
against the troops of the King. You used to be a very
Menander or Micah, or whatever you call yourself, but,
as sure as you are sitting there, if you go on in this
mad fashion, I shall have the pain of seeing you some
day hanging on a cross."
At the sound of the word the young Jew started as if he
had been stabbed. It opened the way for a flood of
memories which, for a while, carried him out of
himself. When he could command himself sufficiently to
he burst out—
"Yes—hanging on a cross! Nothing more likely if
only you and your friends get their way. You talk
 of taste, and art, and beauty: you have always plenty
of fine words on your tongues, but when it comes to
practice you are as brutal as the fiercest of the
savages whom you profess to despise—nay, you are
worse, for you know what you are doing. Now, listen to
me, Cleon. Some six months ago I was walking through
Jerusalem after your teachers of culture and art had
been busy giving their lessons. What think you I saw? I
saw a woman hanging on a cross, and her little son, a
babe of a few days old, fastened about her neck. Thank
God they were dead. Some one of your people had in
mercy—for you are not altogether without
before they fastened her to the cross. And what was her
offence? Was she unchaste, a thief, a murderer? Not so;
no purer, gentler soul ever lived on the earth. No, she
had done for her son as her fathers for a thousand
years and more had done for their sons. And this was
how your prophets of refinement and beauty dealt with
Cleon, that woman was my sister. Do you think that such
deeds as that will go unpunished? Surely not; whether
your faith—if you have a faith—or mine be
true, there is a vengeance that follows—slow, it
may be, but sure of
foot—the men who work such wickedness. And, for
my part, I doubt not who the first minister of that
will be. You sneer at our general; he is no general at
all, you think; a mere leader of
 vagabonds, who has never seen a battle. He will see
many a battle, yea, and the back of many a foe, before
work is done. He is a very Hammer of God, and he will
break his enemies to pieces. And now, Cleon, hearken
again to me. You and I have broken bread together as
friends. That is past for ever. May the God of my
send down upon me all the plagues that He holds in the
vials of His wrath, if I have any truce with the
of His people! But with you, as I would not join hands
in friendship, so I would not cross them in anger.
Pray, therefore, to your gods, as I will certainly
pray to Him whom I worship, that we may never see each
other again. And now farewell!"
The expedition returned to the mountains without
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