Judas and Jonathan crossed the Jordan, met friendly Arabs who told them that many of their relatives had been imprisoned in several towns in Gilead by the Gentiles and that further attack was imminent.
In response, Judas led his army to Bozrah (one of the cities in Gilead), took the town, killed every male, seized all its spoils, and burned it with fire. He then went to the stronghold of Dathema. When he got there, the battle had already begun. Judas called out to his army, "Fight today for your kindred!" When the army commander, Timothy, realized that they were being attacked by Judas Maccabeus, they fled but didn't escape. Eight thousand of them fell that day. (the same number as the total army being led by Judas that day, 5:20)
Judah then took other cities, killed other men, plundered, and destroyed. He sent spies to the place where Timothy had encamped by a stream of water. When he saw Judas approaching, Timothy told his army, "If he crosses over the stream first, we won't be able to resist him; but, if he shows fear and camps on the other side of the stream, we will cross over and defeat him."
When Judas got to the stream, he ordered no encampment. Rather, he and his whole army crossed over first and defeated the Gentiles. Again when they took the town, they destroyed it and all its inhabitants.
What is the intended reaction to this passage? Is it to encourage our acceptance of violence? to warn us of the consequences of evil? to remind us the Lord is with us in our tough times?
Tangent: As I read this passage, I kept thinking about the lyric, balm of Gilead. Using Oremus.org, I found over a hundred references to Gilead. Among them, Camels carried balm into Gilead in the days of Laban and Jacob, Gen 31, 37); Jeremiah 8:22 asked, "Is there no balm in Gilead?" Gilead is considered negatively in Hosea 6:8, 12:11, and Amos 1:3, 13. On the other hand, return to Gilead is mentioned in Obadiah 1:19, Micah 7:14, and Zechariah 10:10.