During a lull in the fighting, the king sends an old man from Athens to convince the Jews to stop being Jews. His method for doing this is to rename the temple after Jupiter and to let the gentiles hold wild sex parties inside. He also outlaws the sabbath and public declarations of Judaism and forces them to celebrate Bacchus. Anyone who refuses will be put to death, starting with two women who have circumcised their sons, who get thrown off the wall. Other people are found worshiping in caves and burnt to death. The book urges us to see these as punishments befitting a wayward people.
Next Eleazar, a scribe, is forced to eat pork, but spits it out, preferring death to bacon. Some of his friends have succumbed, and they urge him to just bring his own meat to the feast so as to avoid the death penalty, but he'd rather die with his principles intact, so he gets killed.
The Greeks aren't done trying to force the Jews to eat pork, and now they want to force seven brothers and their mother to try it. But they say they're prepared to die, which enrages the king, who tortures them quite graphically. He starts killing them, and as each is led up to die, he insults the king and tells him he's going to hell. Antiochus starts to believe it a bit, and exhorts the last brother with the promise of riches to convert to Greek paganism. He even gets the mother in on the act. But the mother leans in to whisper in his ear that not even roast suckling pig is worth it (wrong). When the son speaks aloud, he also insults the king, who kills him and his mother.
Judas Maccabeus goes around looking for the remaining Jews and finds about 6000 of them. They pray to god to remember them, then start attacking the heathen by night. The king puts a man named Nicanor in charge, who attempts to defray the costs of the war by selling Jewish captives as slaves. But Judas reminds them of all the times god helped their forefathers. They defeat the Greeks handily and have a sabbath, then distribute all their war booty to poor women and children.
Antiochus, who is a king, let's remember, goes on a little temple-robbing tour. While he's looting, he gets word of the defeats in Israel, which makes him angry because he'd bragged that he was going to murder all the Jews.
As he's hopping around and screaming, god suddenly strikes him with irritable bowel syndrome, which is fitting because disemboweling is one of his favourite forms of torture. Still he keeps bragging about how he's going to slay all the Jews, so god makes him fall of his chariot, which hurts a lot. Then he gets worms and starts to smell, and eventually he realises it's god doing all this and becomes a Jew.
God isn't satisfied and says he won't give him mercy until he sets Jerusalem free and makes the Jews citizens of Athens and restores the temple at his own expense and goes around proselytising. Even after he agrees, though, he's still stinky and in pain, so he writes a letter to the Jews asking for forgiveness. But even that isn't enough and so he dies in the mountains.
The Maccabees clean the temple up and pray to god that nothing like that ever happens again. And of course it does the very same day, but they clean up again. Then they hold an 8-day feast. Next we get a recap of 1 Maccabees again, except that this time in one of the battles, 5 handsome horsemen arrive from the sky and lift Judas up with them and kill all his enemies. Other than that, it's even less interesting than the first version.