Judas and his brothers and their father's followers happily fight a battle in Israel. Judas himself carries a great big sword that he uses to fight sinners, which makes lots of kings nervous.
Someone named Apollonius, presumably one of those kings, gathers an army to fight Judas, who meets him on the battlefield and kills him along with some of his followers. The rest run away. And now, just like the hated Alexander and his progeny, you know, the guys who took all the riches out of the temple, Judas robs his enemies.
Next a certain Seron, a Syrian general, decides to make his name by fighting Judas. Judas meets him with a small army, who immediately start bitching that they can't win since they've been fasting all day. Judas reassures them that god is on their side. So they ride out to meet Seron, who gets his ass handed to him. His army ends up going to the land of the Philistines.
Now all the neighbouring countries are afraid of Judas and even Antiochus hears about him, and he's pissed. He sends out all his armies and bribes the soldiers with a year's pay. Unfortunately, when he opens up the treasury to get the money out, he discovers there isn't much there because god has sent rebellions and plague as punishment for breaking the laws. So he decides to invade Persia to restock and leaves a nobleman named Lysias in charge. He leaves behind his son, also called Antiochus, and some elephants and asks him to take care of the Jewish problem.
Lysias sends a general called Ptolomee with 47 000 people to conquer Judas once and for all. The army camps in Emmaus, where they are promptly set upon by silver and gold merchants and people wanting to buy the Israelites as slaves. A couple of companies from Syria and Philistine also join in. Judas and his army are not intimidated, but they do pray.
All this time, Jerusalem is a ghost town and the temple is destroyed. The Israelites are forced to pray in another place called Maspha, wearing sackcloth and ashes. When they finish, Judas appoints new captains and dismisses the people who are building houses, engaged, busy with the planting, or just shit-scared. He moves the rest south of Emmaus, where they prepare to attack int he morning.