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1 Maccabees Chapters

1 In the year 160, Alexander, son of Antiochus Epiphanes, raised an army and occupied Ptolemais. He was well received, and there inaugurated his reign.

2 On hearing this, King Demetrius assembled a very large army and marched off to do battle with him.

3 Demetrius furthermore sent Jonathan a most conciliatory letter, promising to promote him in rank,

4 for, as he said, 'We had better move first to come to terms with these people before he makes common cause with Alexander against us;

5 he will not have forgotten all the wrongs we inflicted on him and his brothers, and on his nation.'

6 He even authorised him to raise an army, to manufacture arms, and to describe himself as his ally, and ordered the hostages in the Citadel to be surrendered to him.

7 Jonathan went straight to Jerusalem and read the letter in the hearing of the whole people and of the men in the Citadel.

8 They were terrified when they heard that the king had given him authority to raise an army.

9 The men in the Citadel surrendered the hostages to Jonathan, who handed them back to their parents.

10 Jonathan then took up residence in Jerusalem and began the rebuilding and restoration of the city.

11 He ordered those responsible for the work to build the walls and the defences round Mount Zion of squared stone blocks to make them stronger, and this was done.

12 The foreigners in the fortresses built by Bacchides abandoned them,

13 one after another leaving his post to go back to his own country.

14 Only at Beth-Zur were a few left of those who had forsaken the Law and the precepts, since this was their refuge.

15 King Alexander heard of all the promises Demetrius had sent to Jonathan, and he was also given an account of the battles and exploits of this man and his brothers and of the hardships they had endured.

16 'Shall we ever find another man like him?' he exclaimed. 'We must make him our friend and ally!'

17 He therefore wrote him a letter, addressing him in these terms:

18 'King Alexander to his brother Jonathan, greetings.

19 'You have been brought to our notice as a strong man of action and as someone who deserves to be our friend.

20 Accordingly, we have today appointed you high priest of your nation, with the title of "Friend of the King" ' -- he also sent him a purple robe and a golden crown-'and you are to study our interests and maintain friendly relations with us.'

21 Jonathan put on the sacred vestments in the seventh month of the year 160, on the feast of Shelters; he then set about raising troops and manufacturing arms in quantity.

22 Demetrius was displeased when he heard what had happened.

23 'What have we been doing,' he said, 'for Alexander to forestall us in winning the friendship of the Jews and so improving his own position?

24 I too shall address an appeal to them, offering them advancement and riches as an inducement to support me.'

25 And he wrote to them as follows: 'King Demetrius to the Jewish nation, greetings.

26 'We have heard how you have kept your agreement with us and have maintained friendly relations with us and have not gone over to our enemies, and it has given us great satisfaction.

27 If you now continue to keep faith with us, we shall make you a handsome return for what you do on our behalf.

28 We shall accord you many exemptions and grant you privileges.

29 'Henceforth I release you and exempt all the Jews from the tribute, the salt dues and the crown levies,

30 and whereas I am entitled to one-third of the grain and one-half of the fruit of the trees, I release from this levy, from today and for the future, Judaea and the three districts annexed to it from Samaria-Galilee, from this day henceforth in perpetuity.

31 Jerusalem will be sacred and exempt, with its territory, from tithes and dues.

32 I relinquish control of the Citadel in Jerusalem and make it over to the high priest, so that he may man it with a garrison of his own choosing.

33 Every Jewish person taken from Judaea into captivity in any part of my kingdom I set free without ransom, and decree that all will be exempt from taxes, even on their livestock.

34 All festivals, Sabbaths, New Moons and days of special observance, and the three days before and three days after a festival, will be days of exemption and quittance for all the Jews in my kingdom,

35 and no one will have the right to exact payment from, or to molest, any of them for any matter whatsoever.

36 'Jews will be enrolled in the king's forces to the number of thirty thousand men and receive maintenance on the same scale as the rest of the king's forces.

37 Some of them will be stationed in the king's major fortresses, and from among others appointments will be made to positions of trust in the kingdom. Their officers and commanders will be appointed from their own number and will live under their own laws, as the king has prescribed for Judaea.

38 'As regards the three districts annexed to Judaea from the province of Samaria, these will be integrated into Judaea and considered as coming under one governor, obeying the high priest's authority and no other.

39 Ptolemais and the land thereto pertaining I present to the sanctuary in Jerusalem, to meet the necessary expenses of public worship.

40 And I make a personal grant of fifteen thousand silver shekels annually chargeable to the royal revenue from appropriate places.

41 And the entire surplus, which has not been paid in by the officials as in previous years, will henceforth be paid over by them for work on the Temple.

42 In addition, the sum of five thousand silver shekels, levied annually on the profits of the sanctuary, as shown in the annual accounts, is also relinquished as the perquisite of the priests who perform the liturgy.

43 Anyone who takes refuge in the Temple in Jerusalem or any of its precincts, when in debt to the royal exchequer or otherwise, will be discharged in full possession of all the goods he owns in my kingdom.

44 As regards the building and restoration of the sanctuary, the expense of the work will be met from the royal exchequer.

45 The reconstruction of the walls of Jerusalem and the fortification of the perimeter will also be a charge on the royal exchequer, as also the reconstruction of other city walls in Judaea.'

46 When Jonathan and the people heard these proposals, they put no faith in them and refused to accept them, remembering what great wrongs Demetrius had done to Israel and how cruelly he had oppressed them.

47 They decided in favour of Alexander, since he seemed to offer the better inducements of the two, and they became his constant allies.

48 King Alexander now mustered large forces and advanced against Demetrius.

49 The two kings met in battle. Alexander's army was routed, and Demetrius pursued him and defeated his troops.

50 He continued the battle with vigour until sunset. Demetrius himself, however, was killed the same day.

51 Alexander sent ambassadors to Ptolemy king of Egypt, with this message:

52 'Since I have returned to my kingdom, have ascended the throne of my ancestors, have gained control by crushing Demetrius, and so recovered our country-

53 for I fought him and we crushed both him and his army, and I now occupy his royal throne-

54 let us now make a treaty of friendship. Give me your daughter in marriage: as your son-in-law, I shall give you, and her, presents which are worthy of you.'

55 King Ptolemy replied as follows: 'Happy the day when you returned to the land of your ancestors and ascended their royal throne!

56 I shall at once do for you what your letter proposes; but meet me at Ptolemais, so that we can see one another, and I shall become your father-in-law, as you have asked.'

57 Ptolemy left Egypt with his daughter Cleopatra and reached Ptolemais in the year 162.

58 King Alexander went to meet him, and Ptolemy gave him the hand of his daughter Cleopatra and celebrated her wedding in Ptolemais with great magnificence, as kings do.

59 King Alexander then wrote to Jonathan to come and meet him.

60 Jonathan made his way in state to Ptolemais and met the two kings; he gave them and their friends silver and gold, and many gifts, and made a favourable impression on them.

61 A number of scoundrels, the pest of Israel, combined to denounce him, but the king paid no attention to them.

62 In fact, the king commanded that Jonathan should be divested of his own garments and clothed in the purple, which was done.

63 The king then seated him by his side and said to his officers, 'Escort him into the centre of the city and proclaim that no one is to bring charges against him on any count; no one is to molest him for any reason.'

64 And so, when his accusers saw the honour done him by this proclamation, and Jonathan himself invested in the purple, they all fled.

65 The king did him the honour of enrolling him among the First Friends, and appointed him commander-in-chief and governor-general.

66 Jonathan then returned to Jerusalem in peace and gladness.

67 In the year 165, Demetrius son of Demetrius came from Crete to the land of his ancestors.

68 When King Alexander heard of it he was plunged into gloom, and retired to Antioch.

69 Demetrius confirmed Apollonius as governor of Coele-Syria; the latter assembled a large force, encamped at Jamnia and sent the following message to Jonathan the high priest:

70 'You are entirely alone in rising against us, and now I find myself ridiculed and reproached on your account. Why do you use your authority to our disadvantage in the mountains?

71 If you are so confident in your forces, come down now to meet us on the plain and let us take each other's measure there; on my side I have the strength of the towns.

72 Ask and learn who I am and who the others supporting us are. You will hear that you cannot stand up to us, since your ancestors were twice routed on their own ground,

73 nor will you now be able to withstand the cavalry or so great an army on the plain, where there is neither rock, nor stone, nor refuge of any kind.'

74 On hearing Apollonius' words, Jonathan's spirit was roused; he picked ten thousand men and left Jerusalem, and his brother Simon joined him with reinforcements.

75 He drew up his forces outside Joppa, the citizens having shut him out, since Apollonius had a garrison in Joppa. When they began the attack,

76 the citizens took fright and opened the gates, and Jonathan occupied Joppa.

77 Hearing this, Apollonius marshalled three thousand cavalry and a large army and made his way to Azotus as though intending to march through, while in fact pressing on into the plain, since he had a great number of cavalry on which he was relying.

78 Jonathan pursued him as far as Azotus, where the armies joined battle.

79 Now, Apollonius had left a thousand horsemen in concealment behind them.

80 Jonathan knew of this enemy position behind him; the horsemen surrounded his army, firing their arrows into his men from morning till evening.

81 But the troops stood firm, as Jonathan had ordered. Once the cavalry was exhausted,

82 Simon sent his own troops into attack against the phalanx, which he cut to pieces and routed.

83 The cavalry scattered over the plain and fled to Azotus, where they took sanctuary in Beth-Dagon, the temple of their idol.

84 Jonathan, however, set fire to Azotus and the surrounding towns, plundered them, and burned down the temple of Dagon, with all the fugitives who had crowded into it.

85 The enemy losses, counting those who fell by the sword and those burnt to death, totalled about eight thousand men.

86 Jonathan then left and pitched camp outside Ascalon, where the citizens came out to meet him with great ceremony.

87 Jonathan then returned to Jerusalem with his followers, laden with booty.

88 In the event, when King Alexander heard what had happened, he awarded Jonathan further honours:

89 he sent him the golden brooch, of the kind customarily presented to the King's Cousins, and gave him proprietary rights over Ekron and the land adjoining it.


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