WARS AND RUMOURS OF WARS
 THE Feast of Dedication having been kept and made an
ordinance in Israel for ever,
Judas's next act was to fortify the restored Temple. It
was exposed, even more than the rest of the city, to a
sudden attack from the garrison of the fort, which
might work irreparable mischief could it gain, even for
hour, possession of the sacred building. Accordingly a
high wall, strengthened at intervals by towers, was now
erected round it, and a force was told off from the
army to watch it. This done, the patriot leader could
attend without anxiety to other cares. At Beth-zur a
fortress was erected and strongly garrisoned to guard
Eastern frontier especially against the attacks of the
Idumeans, who, under their new name, inherited all the
old Edomite jealousy of Israel. After personally
 the erection of this stronghold, Judas marched against
other tribes on the east and south, who had been taking
advantage of the troublous times to plunder their
Jewish neighbours. The Arabs of the Negeb, or South
were defeated at a pass near the Dead Sea, which bore
the appropriate name of the Pass of the Scorpions; the
Ammonites, another tribe whose kinship with the chosen
people seems to have embittered their hereditary
were defeated under their Greek leader, Timotheus.
Meanwhile life at Jerusalem had been settling down into
a peaceful order. The younger of the two priests whom
Eglah had befriended had found scope for his energies
by joining the army; Shemaiah, the elder, was again an
inmate in the house which had sheltered him, where
Eglah, who had never forgotten the charity with which
spoken of her husband, tended him with all the care of
a daughter. The old man was never tired of hearing the
story of the two dismal years during which he had been
"Ah, father!" she said to him one day, "you were not so
ill off in your poor prison after all. Had you had your
liberty you would have seen altars to the false gods in
every street. And it was not safe to pass them without
showing some sign of reverence."
"And how did you fare, my daughter?" asked the old man.
 "I could avoid them, knowing where they were, by
passing by on the other side, and my good
have mercy on him!—was always kind and helpful.
He would fetch the water regularly from the fountain,
there was an altar to the Naiad, as they called the
demon of the spring, which I could not have avoided.
people used to laugh at him for doing a woman's work,
but he did not heed them. O why was he taken away
he could learn the truth? I think that he would have
known it if he could have lived a little longer."
And the poor woman burst into a passion of tears. She
was always haunted with this fear of her husband's
and reproached herself with not having been earnest
enough in speaking of the truth to her husband.
"Peace, my daughter," said the old man, gently; "the
mercies of the Lord are without end, and His ways past
finding out. Be sure that He will not forget the
kindness that was showed to a daughter of Abraham. But
me," he went on, anxious to change the
subject—"tell me how we came to find the courts
of the Temple desolate
and overgrown as though no one had entered them for
months? Did you not say that there were sacrifices
and feasts to the demons whom the Greeks worship?"
"Yes, father; it was so for a time. But soon there were
few or none to make sacrifices, for the
 city was utterly impoverished. So the priests, whom
Philip the Phrygian and Apollonius—the curse of
the Lord be
upon him!—brought in to serve at the altars, went
elsewhere, for, of a truth, they would have died of
had they stayed here. O father, it was a mournful
existence; of a truth we were fed with the bread of
affliction and the water of affliction."
As they talked Ruth came in with a troubled face.
"O Eglah!" she cried, "I did hope that we should have
peace and quiet, but there are wars and rumours of wars
on every side. This morning letters came to the captain
from our brethren in Gilead. That evil
to God he had not escaped out of the hand of
Judas!—has gathered together a host of the
Ammonites and slain
some—a thousand, 'tis said, with their wives and
children, and shut up the rest in the fortress of
now my husband and my brother are in council with the
captain, and I fear me much that they will be sent to
wars, for indeed," she added, with a touch of a woman's
pride in those that are dear to her, "Judas esteems
them highly, and will always have them in places of
trust. Nor would I keep them back from helping the
people. But hark! I hear his step."
As she spoke Seraiah came in from the council.
"How is it?" cried Ruth, with trembling voice,
 her fears again getting the upper hand. "Do you go? and
"Yes, my dearest, I go, and next in command to the
captain and his brothers."
Ruth flung her arms round her husband's neck. "Oh! I am
proud of you; but yet if you could have stayed, for our
little Daniel is so young——"
And she could say no more.
"Nay, wife, be of good cheer, and do not grudge us to
the Lord's service, for indeed there is need of us all.
Even while the letters from Gilead were being read
there came messengers from Galilee with their clothes
From them we heard that the men of Ptolemais and of
Tyre and Sidon and all Galilee of the Gentiles were
gathered together. Then it was determined that Simon
should go to Galilee with three thousand men, and Judas
and Jonathan to Gilead.
"And what of Azariah?"
"He and Joseph, the son of Zachariah, are to be left in
the city with the remnant of the army as captains of
the people. They are to have the Governor's house, and
you, with our little Daniel, will live there while I am
away. This will be well for you, and for Miriam and
Judith also, for there will be many coming and going,
Miriam is a fair maiden, as she should be, being kin to
Ruth smiled through her tears at the lover-like
 "Come now," Seraiah went on, "and get ready what I shall
want for my journey, for we set out at sunset."
The two women kissed each other, and the old priest
blessed Seraiah. "The Lord give thee strength in the
battle, and deliver thee out of the hand of the enemy,
and bring thee back to the house of thy fathers."
At sunset exactly—for Judas was one of the
commanders who are exactly and punctually
obeyed—the two expeditions
Their departure was, of course, observed by the
garrison of the fort, who were encouraged by it to
fierce sallies on the diminished forces of the
patriots. These were as fiercely repelled, and in a
things settled down again into the virtual truce which
had existed for some time between besiegers and
Eight days after the departure of the expeditions
tidings of victory came from the main army under Judas.
captain of the host had taken Borzah, in Edom. The
place lay at least a hundred miles to the east; but the
patriots had covered the distance with unexpected
rapidity, and, reaching the place before there had
any notion of their approach, had taken it almost
without resistance. The messenger had left, he said,
as the place was taken, but Judas had marched the same
night to Dametha, which was in urgent need of relief.
 The next day came in tidings of further success.
Dametha and its garrison, with the crowd of helpless
which had sought shelter within its walls, was safe.
The night march from Bozrah had been made just in time.
Had it been delayed till morning it might well have
been too late. The Ammonites had chosen that very day
fierce assault upon the place. Just as the day was
dawning and the assailants were close under the walls
had appeared. His approach had been observed by the
besieged, who had watched it from the citadel, but the
assailants were taken by surprise. Hemmed in between
two attacking forces, the garrison who made a sortie
the town and the army of the patriots in the rear, they
had been utterly routed. Timotheus had barely escaped
with his life, and had fled northward, followed by
Judas in hot pursuit. A few days afterwards came the
that the campaign was at an end—begun and
finished within the space of two weeks. This time the
found time to write a despatch. It ran thus:
"Judas, Captain of the Lord's host, to Azariah,
greeting. Know that the Lord has delivered the enemy
hands. Timotheus, having suffered defeat at Dametha,
fled northward to a temple where the heathen worship
'Two-horned Ashtaroth,' a strong place by nature and
skilfully fortified. I judged it better that I should
spill the blood of
 the people of the Lord in assaulting it, and so, having
cleared the walls of defenders by help of my slingers,
I surrounded it with great quantities of faggots. To
these I caused fire to be set, nor did my slingers
the Ammonites to approach to put out the flames. In the
end the whole was consumed, and Timotheus perished in
the fire. The Lord has rewarded him according to his
deeds. So much for what has been done: now for what
remains to do. This country is not as yet a safe
dwelling-place, and will not be till the heathen shall
thoroughly subdued. It is my purpose, therefore, to
bring the people of this land to Jerusalem. Provide, to
the best of your ability, for their food and lodging.
The exultation felt by the people at Jerusalem when the
tidings of their final victory reached them passes
description. The times of David, they were sure, were
about to return. The promise was once again to be
fulfilled—"He shall reign from the flood [the
Euphrates], unto the world's end." In the Temple chant
of the day
the words went—"I will not be afraid of ten
thousands of the people that have set themselves
against me round
about. Up, Lord, and help me, O my God, for Thou
smitest all Thine enemies upon the cheek-bone. Thou
broken the teeth of the ungodly."
But when tidings of still further victories, won by
Simon in Galilee, came in to swell the popular
 enthusiasm, there was a certain change of feeling,
something of the jealousy that almost inevitably
when great deeds are done. Joseph and Azariah chafed at
the life of inaction which they were forced to live at
Jerusalem, and what they thought in their hearts the
soldiers did not hesitate to express openly. "Let us
also," so ran the common talk—"let us also get
for ourselves a name, and go and fight against the
On the day after the tidings of Simon's victories came
in the two captains were waited upon by a deputation of
soldiers, who came to urge that they might be relieved
from the inaction to which they were condemned, an
inaction made all the more hard to bear by the glories
that were being won elsewhere. Azariah and Joseph
listened with attention, and, indeed, were at no pains
to hide their sympathy.
"The men are right," said Joseph, when the deputation
had withdrawn. "They will lose all heart if we keep
"In my heart I am inclined to agree with you," answered
his colleague; "but what did the captain
the garrison of the heathen that they do no hurt to the
city and the Holy Place while we are away.' But he said
nothing of going elsewhere, and I should be unwilling
to disobey him, for, beyond all doubt, the Lord is with
"Nay, brother, you are too narrow in your
 thoughts of obeying. We obey him best if we do the best
that we can for the cause of the Lord. And though I
honour Judas greatly, yet he is but a captain in the
Lord's host, even as we are. Why should we not do as he
has done? And tell me, Azariah," he went on, "do you
think that the vision which you saw when the angel of
Lord brought you a sword with the Name written on it
has been altogether fulfilled? Shall this sword which
bade you use for the Lord always abide in the scabbard?
Is this the life to which you are called?"
"You speak truly," said Azariah. "I can scarcely be
faithful to my trust if I suffer the sword of the Lord
rust. But tell me, what think you we had best do?"
"Gorgias," said Joseph, "is encamped at Jamnia, and
does great mischief to the land and the people; if we
drive him out we shall earn great thanks both from the
captain and from our brethren."
The resolution of the commanders was heard with
unmingled delight by their men, and with almost equal
by the inhabitants of the city. Some of the more
cautious disapproved, and Shemaiah even made his way to
Governor's house—no easy task for his scanty
strength—and remonstrated with Azariah. "My son,"
said he, "your
strength is to sit still. Make not too much speed, and
be not over-bold." He was listened to with respect, and
 even with some compunction on Azariah's part. But it
seemed too late to retreat. To hold back now would
infallibly give rise to the charge of cowardice, and
Azariah, brave as a lion against all outward danger,
not the rare moral courage which would have enabled him
to face such an accusation.
At sunrise on the day after the resolution had been
taken, the expedition set out with confident
victory, and watched from the walls by an eager
multitude. At sunset a miserable remnant came
into the city. They had fared, as their fathers had
fared many centuries before, when, with the like
unauthorized daring, they had assaulted the hill
fortress of Ai, and had returned, bringing
them. Gorgias had sallied out from his hill fortress,
had charged the Jewish force with full advantage of the
ground, and had driven them in headlong flight before
them. Azariah and Joseph had done all that leaders
do to turn the tide of battle, but their efforts had
been in vain. Two thousand men had fallen, the wounded
being, perforce, left to the mercy or cruelty of the
The city was filled with mourning for the dead; and, of
course, there was a rapid revulsion of feeling against
the leaders whose rash action had ended in such
disaster. "Who are these men," was the general cry,
caused the people of the Lord to perish? They are not
of the seed of those by whose hand deliverance is given
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