THE SWORD OF APOLLONIUS
 THE daring action of Judas at Modin was a defiance to the
rulers at Jerusalem, and felt to be so, not only by
them, but by the whole country. It was followed up by
active operations on the part of the patriots against
smaller towns of south-eastern Palestine. The
population began to feel that it was safer to be on the
the patriots than against them. Thanks to this feeling,
to the genuine favour with which the movement was
regarded, and to the perfect system of scouts which he
had organized, Judas had early and trustworthy
information of all the movements of the enemy.
Apollonius had made up his mind that he must act if he
to lose entirely his hold upon the country, and set
about organizing a force so overwhelmingly strong that
must, he thought, sweep the insurgents before it. This
intention, and indeed, it may almost be said, every
detail of his preparations, was communicated to Judas.
He, on his part, was determined that a
 heathen army should never again invade the mountain
sanctuary. He would not await attack. His military
instincts, which, indeed, were extraordinarily fine and
true, warned him that boldness was now his best policy,
and that he should go down and give battle to the
It was on the eve of the departure of the patriot army,
when Seraiah might have been seen making his way back
from a conference of the chiefs to the cave which
served him as a dwelling. He was now recovering from
wound, but he was still too weak to support the
fatigues of a march. Accordingly Judas had left him in
of the little garrison, scarcely, indeed, containing
one able-bodied man, which was to protect the
When he reached his home he found his nieces, Miriam
and Judith, sitting with his wife, and watching the
that was slumbering by her side.
"See," said Judith, as the child smiled in his sleep,
"his angel is whispering to him. Oh, uncle, have you
seen the angel?"
She prattled on without waiting for an answer. "Father
sees angels, and they bring him words from mother,
she is in Paradise. And, do you know, uncle, last night
he had a wonderful dream about a sword? He told it to
us this morning. He often tells us his dreams.
Sometimes he seems as if he were talking to mother; and
that Miriam is so like her."
 "Well, Judith, and what was the dream?" said Ruth.
"Father saw a mighty angel—one of the cherubim,
you know, that father says God sends abroad to do His
errands—come flying down, and the angel had in
his hand a great sword. And he stood by father's bed,
him a name graven on the blade—it was the name
which we may not speak, though it is part of father's
— and when he had done this he put the hilt in his
hand and departed. Then father awoke, and found only
old sword in his hand; and this, you know, is so hacked
that it is not of much use, and is very weak, too, in
the handle. Father never sleeps without it, and he must
have drawn it out in his sleep, without knowing it,
from under the pillow where he keeps it. But he says
the dream will certainly come true. And now, Miriam,"
went on, turning to her sister, for the little maiden
was of the true housewife temper, "we must be going
to get father's dinner ready for him."
When they were left alone Seraiah said to Ruth, "It is
as I feared—I am to stay behind."
Ruth felt a thrill of joy go through her, but was too
wise a woman to show it.
"Old Reuben will not hear of my going. He says that I
should be more hindrance than help, and perhaps he is
right. The Lord's will be done,
 though I would fain have struck a blow in the battle
that is to decide; for I am sure that as this battle
so will the end be. But I am to be in command of the
"And you will not mind taking care of the women and
children, dear husband?" said Ruth.
"I should be ungrateful indeed if I did," said Seraiah,
as he kissed her.
Meanwhile the excitement in the camp had risen to fever
heat. Scouts had come racing in at head-long speed with
tidings that the enemy's army had started from
Jerusalem, and that it numbered not less than twelve
regular troops, well-equipped, and furnished with a
formidable supply of the engines of war. The patriots
in that state of exaltation in which men make little of
the numbers opposed to them, and the disparity of
forces roused no apprehensions. If any such were felt
they gave way to rage when the messengers added that
hated Apollonius himself was in command of the hostile
Azariah and Micah were among a small company of chiefs
who were standing outside the tent of Judas, and were
discussing the prospects of the war.
"The curse of God light upon him!" cried Azariah.
"Surely He will so order it that I may smite him down
field of battle, and avenge the innocent blood! Surely
the blood of my wife and my child cries against him
 "Nay, brother," broke in Micah, "the task of the
avenger of blood lies upon me, for I am next-of-kin to
"Surely," replied Azariah, with some heat, "there is no
kinship so close as the tie which binds husband to
wife! 'Tis I that should be Hannah's avenger of blood."
"My brothers," broke in the voice of Judas, who
appeared in the door of his tent, "you think too much
private wrongs. Great they are, I know—none
greater. But is there one soldier in this army
that has not lost wife, or child, or father, or brother
the hand of this evil man? We will go, one and all, as
avengers of blood, and the Lord will deliver him into
the hands of him whom He shall choose."
Next day the army set out. On the evening of the second
day they came in sight of the forces of Apollonius.
Some of the more fiery spirits were for an instant
attack, but the prudence of Judas, which was not less
conspicuous than his daring, restrained them. His men
were wearied with a long day's march, and they wanted
food. And he himself had not had time to reconnoitre
the enemy's position or receive any intelligence from
Early next day the battle began. In one sense Judas was
greatly overmatched. The enemy were superior in
numbers—almost in the proportion of four to
one—and in equipment. But, on the other hand,
 the Hebrew leader could rely implicitly on his
soldiers. Anything that mortal man, inspired by zeal
burning sense of wrong, could achieve, they might be
trusted to do. To such a temper, of course, the policy
attack is best suited. Judas massed his best troops on
his right wing, which happened to be opposed to what
eagle eye discerned to be the weakest part of the
enemy's line. Apollonius saw his intention, and
movement of troops which was designed to strengthen the
weak point in his array. But such a movement in the
face of a hostile force cannot be carried out without
confusion. Judas saw his opportunity, ordered his men
advance at the double, and closed fiercely with the
The Greek line broke almost at once, and the chief
danger now was that the conquerors might press on too
eagerly. The Greeks were not an undisciplined mob which
could be treated with contempt. Some of them, at least,
were veteran soldiers, in whom the sense of discipline
was an instinct, and who, if not very enthusiastic in
the cause for which they were fighting, were perfectly
well aware that their best chance of personal safety
to be found in keeping together and holding their
ground. Judas, in whom native genius seemed to supply
want of experience, appreciated the enemy with whom he
had to deal, and kept his own men well in hand, though
he was careful not unduly to check their courage.
 The fortune of the day continued to declare in favour
of the patriots; but Apollonius himself, surrounded by
picked force of mercenaries, still held his ground.
Shortly after noon Azariah and Micah, who had kept
together during the battle, and had both performed
prodigies of valour, gathering a company of their
followers, made a determined rush in his direction. The
bodyguard, terrified by the fierceness of this onset,
wavered and fled, leaving but three or four faithful
attendants, who refused to leave their commander.
The Greek recognized Azariah, and called to him by his
name. "Azariah, if you think that I have wronged you, I
do not refuse you the opportunity of revenge. Come out
from your companions, and I will meet you alone. You
a brave man, and would not take a soldier at unfair
Azariah did not deign to answer; but one of his
comrades replied, "Dog of a heathen! you forget where
We are not contending in your foolish games: we are
the avengers of blood—the innocent blood which
shed; and we will slay you as men slay a venomous
snake. Such equity as you have dealt to others, we will
to you. Was it in fair fight that you slew women and
Apollonius looked on the ring of scowling faces that
surrounded him, and saw that there was no mercy or even
what he would have called the
 courtesy of war to be hoped from them. "I only wish,"
he said, "that I had rooted out the whole cursed brood
from the earth, and burnt the den of thieves which you
call your city, and laid the shrine of the demon whom
you call your God level with the ground!"
"Silence, blasphemer!" cried Azariah, as he whirled his
sword over his head.
It was not the almost worthless weapon, with its dented
edge and broken hilt, that he had carried into the
battle. Early in the day he had cut down a Greek
officer, and taken the sword of the dead man in
As he spoke he beckoned to his countrymen. They stood
back, even Micah recognizing the right of the husband
strike the first blow at the murderer of his wife.
Apollonius raised his sword to parry the stroke which
he expected to be aimed at his head. With a rapid
of movement his adversary changed the blow into a
thrust, and drove the point of his weapon through the
Azariah was drawing out his weapon from the corpse,
when Judas, who had been hastening to the spot not
some hope of himself crossing swords with the hated
Apollonius, came up.
"A mighty weapon that!" he exclaimed, as the conqueror
wiped the blade on the dead man's tunic. "Let me take
in my hands."
 He poised it and judged its balance, tried the edge,
and then narrowly scanned the markings on the blade.
"Ah!" said he, "how came you by this sword? I had
observed"—and indeed his eagle eye noted every
yours was but a poor weapon, unworthy of your strength,
and I wished to find something better for you."
Azariah told him how he had taken it from a Greek on
the field of battle.
"And saw you this?" he went on, pointing to the Holy
Name which had been engraved on the blade. "Doubtless
belonged to some Hebrew warrior in time past, for the
fashion of the letters is somewhat antique; the heathen
whom you slew had taken it, and now the Lord has given
it back into the hands of the faithful."
Azariah then related his dream.
"The angel whom you saw," said Judas, "was, doubtless,
the angel of battle, and the Lord has been faithful, as
ever, to His promise."
He gave back the consecrated sword to Azariah, and took
the weapon which was still grasped in the right hand of
the dead Apollonius. "With this," he said, "I will
fight as long as I live." And he broke out into the
triumphal chant of the Psalmist—"The ungodly have
drawn out the sword, and have bent the bow to cast down
poor and needy. Their sword shall go through their own
heart and their bow shall be broken."