Battle of Emmaus

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Battle of Emmaus
Part of the Maccabean Revolt
Date166 BC[1]
Location
near Emmaus
Result Judean/Maccabean rebel victory
Belligerents
Maccabees Seleucid Empire
Commanders and leaders
Judah Maccabee Gorgias, Nicanor and Ptolemy the son of Dorymenes
Strength
c. 3,000 At least 5,000
Casualties and losses
Minimal 3,000

The Battle of Emmaus took place in 166 BC[2] between the Maccabee forces of Judea, led by Judah Maccabee, also called Judas Maccabeus which is also spelled Machabeus, or Maccabaeus, known to history as Judah the Hammer, and the third expedition of the Seleucid Empire forces given by Antiochus IV Epiphanes to Lysias. The generals for the expedition were Gorgias, Ptolemy the son of Dorymenes, and Nicanor.[3]

Battle[edit]

Gorgias established his base camp at the town of Emmaus, along the western border of Judea, while Judah Maccabee's camp was located in the town of Mitzpah, north of Jerusalem. Word reached Maccabee that Gorgias was leading 5,000 troops on a march against his camp and was planning to surprise the Jewish rebels in a night-time attack. Judah abandoned his camp and led his forces to Emmaus, to attack the expedition base camp that remained there. Gorgias found the camp at Mizpah empty and deserted, and believing Judah and his army had fled, began a search for them in the surrounding area.

The forces led by Judah lacked swords and armor for many of its soldiers[citation needed]. Arriving at the camp at Emmaus Judah saw that the enemy had no such problem. The camp was heavily fortified and was surrounded by well trained heavy cavalry. Judah Maccabee organized his men into units resembling a regular army, with units of 10, 50, 100, and 1,000[citation needed]. They set up a fortified camp on the south side of Emmaus. Judah addressed his men, urging them to fight valiantly, "for it is better for us to die in battle than to see the evils of our nation, and of the holy places. Nevertheless, as it shall be the will of God in heaven, so be it done."[citation needed] Though he spoke these words, Judah Maccabee was seeking victory, not death and glory through martyrdom[citation needed].

With the Seleucid forces defeated, Judah's army pursued them in their flight, harrying the rear until almost 3,000 were left dead[citation needed].

Gorgias returned to Emmaus, only to find his camp destroyed with the rebel army in possession of the camp and in position against his troops. Gorgias did not give battle after the destruction of his base but fled to the coastal plains with Judah pursuing his army. It was considered one of Judah Maccabee's most important victories in the war for Judean independence.

See also[edit]

Emmaus Nicopolis

Footnotes[edit]

  1. ^ This date is wrong since the Maccabee rebellion was not until 140 BCE according to Jewish reckoning and information with Jewish sources (Talmud). [Mattis Kantor, "The Jewish Timeline Encyclopedia," (1989: Jason Aronson, Inc., NJ), p.83]
  2. ^ This date is wrong since the Maccabee rebellion was not until 140 BCE according to Jewish reckoning and information with Jewish sources (Talmud). [Mattis Kantor, "The Jewish Timeline Encyclopedia," (1989: Jason Aronson, Inc., NJ), p.83]
  3. ^ Machabeus 1 ch 3 verse 38

Bibliography[edit]

  • Weir, William. 50 Battles That Changed the World: The Conflicts That Most Influenced the Course of History. Savage, Md: Barnes and Noble Books. ISBN 0-7607-6609-6.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 31°50′21.48″N 34°59′22.05″E / 31.8393000°N 34.9894583°E / 31.8393000; 34.9894583