So we, being many, are one body in Christ,
and every one members one of another.
The Destruction of Nicanor is the commemoration of the downfall of one of the greatest enemies of the children of Israel. When the Greek prince Nicanor vowed to destroy the temple of the Lord the priests of the “Most High” lifted their voices in prayer. The Heavenly Father hearing the prayer of his saints and the blasphemy of Nicanor destroyed and disgraced the Grecian prince by the hands of Judas Maccabeus and his brethren. Every year in the 12th month of the lunar calendar on the 13th day we celebrate this victory with feasting and gladness. It is a day to honor those who fought to keep the commandments of the Lord and the deliverance that followed. We observe the day humbly in Christ remembering the words of our forefathers. “For the victory of battle standeth not in the multitude of an host; but strength cometh from heaven.” (I Maccabees 3:19).
II 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.”
Scriptures Concerning the Destruction of Nicanor
From the Apocrypha I Maccabees 7, II Maccabees 14 and 15
II Maccabees 14:1- 2 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, 2 Had taken the country, and killed Antiochus, and Lysias his protector.
I Maccabees 7:1- 5 In the hundred and one and fiftieth year Demetrius the son of Seleucus departed from Rome, and came up with a few men unto a city of the sea coast, and reigned there. 2 And as he entered into the palace of his ancestors, so it was, that his forces had taken Antiochus and Lysias, to bring them unto him. 3 Wherefore, when he knew it, he said, Let me not see their faces. 4 So his host slew them. Now when Demetrius was set upon the throne of his kingdom, 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:
II Maccabees 14:3- 4 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, 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.
I Maccabees 7:6- 25 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. 7 Now therefore send some man whom thou trustest, and let him go and see what havock he hath made among us, and in the king’s land, and let him punish them with all them that aid them. 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, 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. 10 So they departed, and came with a great power into the land of Judea, where they sent messengers to Judas and his brethren with peaceable words deceitfully. 11 But they gave no heed to their words; for they saw that they were come with a great power. 12 Then did there assemble unto Alcimus and Bacchides a company of scribes, to require justice. 13 Now the Assideans were the first among the children of Israel that sought peace of them: 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. 15 So he spake unto them, peaceably, and sware unto them, saying, we will procure the harm neither of you nor your friends. 16 Whereupon they believed him: howbeit he took of them threescore men, and slew them in one day, according to the words which he wrote, 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. 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. 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. 20 Then committed he the country to Alcimus, and left with him a power to aid him: so Bacchides went to the king. 21 But Alcimus contended for the high priesthood. 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. 23 Now when Judas saw all the mischief that Alcimus and his company had done among the Israelites, even above the heathen, 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. 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.
II Maccabees 14:5- 29 Howbeit having gotten opportunity to further his foolish enterprise, and being called into counsel by Demetrius, and asked how the Jews stood affected, and what they intended, he answered thereunto: 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. 7 Therefore I, being deprived of mine ancestors’ honour, I mean the high priesthood, am now come hither: 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. 9 Wherefore, O king, seeing 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. 10 For as long as Judas liveth, it is not possible that the state should be quiet. 11 This was no sooner spoken of him, but others of the king’s friends, being maliciously set against Judas, did more incense Demetrius. 12 And forthwith calling Nicanor, who had been master of the elephants, and making him governor over Judea, he sent him forth, 13 Commanding him to slay Judas, and to scatter them that were with him, and to make Alcimus high priest of the great temple. 14 Then the heathen, that had fled out of Judea from Judas, came to Nicanor by flocks, thinking the harm and calamities of the Jews to be their welfare. 15 Now when the Jews heard of Nicanor’s coming, and that the heathen were up against them, they cast earth upon their heads, and made supplication to him that had established his people for ever, and who always helpeth his portion with manifestation of his presence. 16 So at the commandment of the captain they removed straightways from thence, and came near unto them at the town of Dessau. 17 Now Simon, Judas’ brother, had joined battle with Nicanor, but was somewhat discomfited through the sudden silence of his enemies. 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. 19 Wherefore he sent Posidonius, and Theodotus, and Mattathias, to make peace. 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, 21 And appointed a day to meet in together by themselves: and when the day came, and stools were set for either of them, 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. 23 Now Nicanor abode in Jerusalem, and did no hurt, but sent away the people that came flocking unto him. 24 And he would not willingly have Judas out of his sight: for he love the man from his heart 25 He prayed him also to take a wife, and to beget children: so he married, was quiet, and took part of this life. 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. 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. 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. 29 But because there was no dealing against the king, he watched his time to accomplish this thing by policy.
I Maccabees 7:26- 30 Then the king sent Nicanor, one of his honourable princes, a man that bare deadly hate unto Israel, with commandment to destroy the people. 27 So Nicanor came to Jerusalem with a great force; and sent unto Judas and his brethren deceitfully with friendly words, saying, 28 Let there be no battle between me and you; I will come with a few men, that I may see you in peace. 29 He came therefore to Judas, and they saluted one another peaceably. Howbeit the enemies were prepared to take away Judas by violence. 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.
II 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.
I Maccabees 7:31- 35 Nicanor also, when he saw that his counsel was discovered, went out to fight against Judas beside Capharsalama: 32 Where there were slain of Nicanor’s side about five thousand men, and the rest fled into the city of David. 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. 34 But he mocked them, and laughed at them, and abused them shamefully, and spake proudly, 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.
II Maccabees 14:31- 36 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. 32 And when they sware that they could not tell where the man was whom he sought, 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. 34 After these words he departed. Then the priests lifted up their hands toward heaven, and besought him that was ever a defender of their nation, saying in this manner; 35 Thou, O Lord of all things, who hast need of nothing, wast pleased that the temple of thine habitation should be among us: 36 Therefore now, O holy Lord of all holiness, keep this house ever undefiled, which lately was cleansed, and stop every unrighteous mouth.
I Maccabees 7:36- 38 Then the priests entered in, and stood before the altar and the temple, weeping, and saying, 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: 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.
II Maccabees 14:37- 46 Now was there accused unto Nicanor one Razis, one of the elders of Jerusalem, a lover of his countrymen, and a man of very good report, who for his kindness was called a father of the Jews. 38 For in the former times, when they mingled not themselves with the Gentiles, he had been accused of Judaism, and did boldly jeopard his body and life with all vehemency for the religion of the Jews. 39 So Nicanor, willing to declare the hate that he bare unto the Jews, sent above five hundred men of war to take him: 40 For he thought by taking him to do the Jews much hurt. 41 Now when the multitude would have taken the tower, and violently broken into the outer door, and bade that fire should be brought to burn it, he being ready to be taken on every side fell upon his sword; 42 Choosing rather to die manfully, than to come into the hands of the wicked, to be abused otherwise than beseemed his noble birth: 43 But missing his stroke through haste, the multitude also rushing within the doors, he ran boldly up to the wall, and cast himself down manfully among the thickest of them. 44 But they quickly giving back, and a space being made, he fell down into the midst of the void place. 45 Nevertheless, while there was yet breath within him, being inflamed with anger, he rose up; and though his blood gushed out like spouts of water, and his wounds were grievous, yet he ran through the midst of the throng; and standing upon a steep rock, 46 When as his blood was now quite gone, he plucked out his bowels, and taking them in both his hands, he cast them upon the throng, and calling upon the Lord of life and spirit to restore him those again, he thus died.
I Maccabees 7:39- 42 So Nicanor went out of Jerusalem, and pitched his tents in Bethhoron, where an host out of Syria met him. 40 But Judas pitched in Adasa with three thousand men, and there he prayed, saying, 41 O Lord, when they that were sent from the king of the Assyrians blasphemed, thine angel went out, and smote an hundred fourscore and five thousand of them. 42 Even so destroy thou this host before us this day, that the rest may know that he hath spoken blasphemously against thy sanctuary, and judge thou him according to his wickedness.
II Maccabees 15:1- 35 But Nicanor, hearing that Judas and his company were in the strong places about Samaria, resolved without any danger to set upon them on the sabbath day. 2 Nevertheless the Jews that were compelled to go with him said, O destroy not so cruelly and barbarously, but give honour to that day, which he, that seeth all things, hath honoured with holiness above all other days. 3 Then the most ungracious wretch demanded, if there were a Mighty one in heaven, that had commanded the sabbath day to be kept. 4 And when they said, There is in heaven a living Lord, and mighty, who commanded the seventh day to be kept: 5 Then said the other, And I also am mighty upon earth, and I command to take arms, and to do the king’s business. Yet he obtained not to have his wicked will done. 6 So Nicanor in exceeding pride and haughtiness determined to set up a publick monument of his victory over Judas and them that were with him. 7 But Maccabeus had ever sure confidence that the Lord would help him: 8 Wherefore he exhorted his people not to fear the coming of the heathen against them, but to remember the help which in former times they had received from heaven, and now to expect the victory and aid, which should come unto them from the Almighty. 9 And so comforting them out of the law and the prophets, and withal putting them in mind of the battles that they won afore, he made them more cheerful. 10 And when he had stirred up their minds, he gave them their charge, shewing them therewithal the falsehood of the heathen, and the breach of oaths. 11 Thus he armed every one of them, not so much with defence of shields and spears, as with comfortable and good words: and beside that, he told them a dream worthy to be believed, as if it had been so indeed, which did not a little rejoice them. 12 And this was his vision: That Onias, who had been high priest, a virtuous and a good man, reverend in conversation, gentle in condition, well spoken also, and exercised from a child in all points of virtue, holding up his hands prayed for the whole body of the Jews. 13 This done, in like manner there appeared a man with gray hairs, and exceeding glorious, who was of a wonderful and excellent majesty. 14 Then Onias answered, saying, This is a lover of the brethren, who prayeth much for the people, and for the holy city, to wit, Jeremias the prophet of God. 15 Whereupon Jeremias holding forth his right hand gave to Judas a sword of gold, and in giving it spake thus, 16 Take this holy sword, a gift from God, with the which thou shalt wound the adversaries. 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. 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. 19 Also they that were in the city took not the least care, being troubled for the conflict abroad. 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, 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: 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: 23 Wherefore now also, O Lord of heaven, send a good angel before us for a fear and dread unto them; 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. 25 Then Nicanor and they that were with him came forward with trumpets and songs. 26 But Judas and his company encountered the enemies with invocation and prayer. 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. 28 Now when the battle was done, returning again with joy, they knew that Nicanor lay dead in his harness. 29 Then they made a great shout and a noise, praising the Almighty in their own language. 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. 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, 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. 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. 34 So every man praised toward the heaven the glorious Lord, saying, Blessed be he that hath kept his own place undefiled. 35 He hanged also Nicanor’s head upon the tower, an evident and manifest sign unto all of the help of the Lord.
I Maccabees 7:43- 49 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. 44 Now when Nicanor’s host saw that he was slain, they cast away their weapons, and fled. 45 Then they pursued after them a day’s journey, from Adasa unto Gazera, sounding an alarm after them with their trumpets. 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. 47 Afterwards they took the spoils, and the prey, and smote off Nicanor’s head, and his right hand, which he stretched out so proudly, and brought them away, and hanged them up toward Jerusalem. 48 For this cause the people rejoiced greatly, and they kept that day a day of great gladness. 49 Moreover they ordained to keep yearly this day, being the thirteenth of Adar.
II Maccabees 15:36- 37 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. 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.
I Maccabees 7:50 Thus the land of Juda was in rest a little while.