Alexander Epiphanes Makes Jonathan High Priest
1 In the year 160, Alexander Epiphanes, son of Antiochus the Fourth, landed at Ptolemais and captured it. The people welcomed him as their king. 2 When King Demetrius heard of it, he gathered a large army and went out to meet him in battle. 3 At that time Demetrius sent Jonathan a friendly letter full of flattery, 4 in the hope of winning Jonathan over to his side and making peace with the Jews before Alexander made a treaty with them against him. 5 Demetrius thought that Jonathan would certainly remember all the wrongs he had done to him, his brothers, and the entire Jewish nation. 6 And so Demetrius made Jonathan his ally and gave him authority to raise an army and equip it. He also ordered that the hostages held in the fort at Jerusalem should be handed over to Jonathan. 7 So Jonathan went to Jerusalem and read the letter to all the people and to the men in the fort. 8 These men were terrified when they learned that the king had given Jonathan authority to raise an army. 9 They handed the hostages over to him, and he returned them to their parents.
10 Jonathan set up headquarters in Jerusalem and began to rebuild and restore the city. 11 He ordered the builders to use squared stones for the city walls and for the protecting wall around Mount Zion. This was done. 12 The foreigners deserted the fortresses that Bacchides had built; 13 each man left his post and returned to his own country. 14 But some of the Jews who had abandoned the Law of Moses and its commands were still left in Bethzur, which served as their last place of refuge.
15 King Alexander learned of the promises Demetrius had made to Jonathan and he also learned about Jonathan himself, about the battles he had fought, his courageous deeds, and the troubles he and his brothers had endured. 16 He was certain that he would never find another man like Jonathan and so decided to make him his friend and ally. 17 He wrote Jonathan a letter:
18 “King Alexander to his friend Jonathan, greetings.
19 I have heard that you are a brave man who has earned the right to be a friend of the king. 20 I have this day appointed you as High Priest of your nation and conferred upon you the title of ‘Friend of the King.’ You are to be our ally and give us your support.”
He also sent him a royal robe and a gold crown. 21 Jonathan put on the robes of the High Priest in the seventh month of the year 160 at the Festival of Shelters. He raised an army and stored up a large supply of weapons.
Jonathan Supports Alexander Epiphanes
22 When Demetrius heard this, he was distressed and said, 23 “How did we manage to let Alexander get ahead of us? He has strengthened his position by making an alliance with the Jews. 24 I also will write them a friendly letter offering high positions and gifts, so that they will support me.”
25 He wrote:
“King Demetrius to the nation of the Jews, greetings. 26 We are delighted to learn that you have kept your obligations under our treaty, remained loyal to us, and have not gone over to the side of our enemies. 27 Now if you continue to remain loyal to us, we will reward you well. 28 We will grant you exemptions from many taxes and allow you other privileges. 29 I hereby grant all the Jewish people release and exemption from payment of regular taxes, salt taxes, and other special taxes. 30 Furthermore, from this day I release you from your obligation to pay me one third of the grain harvest and one half of the fruit harvest. From now on I will not demand these payments from Judea or from the three districts that have been added to Judea from Samaria and Galilee. 31 Jerusalem and its surrounding territory is to be recognized as a holy city and to be exempt from the payment of all taxes. 32 I also give up my authority over the fort in Jerusalem and place it under the High Priest, who may station there anyone he wishes to guard it. 33 I freely grant release to all Jews who are prisoners of war anywhere in my kingdom. All of them will be exempt from taxes, even on their cattle. 34 No taxes shall be collected from any Jew anywhere in my kingdom on Sabbaths, New Moon Festivals, and other holy days. Furthermore, no taxes shall be collected three days before or after the major holy days. 35 No one has the right on any of these days to demand payment or to trouble you in any way.
36 “Jews may be enlisted in the royal army up to a total of 30,000 men, and they will receive the same pay as other royal troops. 37 Some of them may be stationed in the great royal fortresses, and others assigned to responsible positions in the government. They shall have Jews as their leaders and officers, and they shall be allowed to follow their own laws and customs, just as the king has permitted for the people of Judea.
38 “The three districts added to Judea from the territory of Samaria will be completely incorporated into Judea and placed under the authority of the High Priest alone. 39 I give to the Temple in Jerusalem for its operating expenses the revenues from the city of Ptolemais and the lands belonging to it. 40 I also promise to make an annual gift of 15,000 silver coins from appropriate accounts within the royal treasury. 41 The total accumulated state subsidy, which we have failed to pay in recent years, shall be paid, and the payments continued from now on for the work of the Temple. 42 In addition to this, we will no longer require the 5,000 silver coins annually from the Temple income. This money belongs to the priests serving in the Temple. 43 Whoever owes a debt to the king or any other debt and takes refuge in the Temple in Jerusalem or in any area that belongs to it may not be arrested nor may his property anywhere in my kingdom be confiscated. 44 The expenses for rebuilding and renovating the Temple shall be provided from the royal treasury. 45 Likewise, the expenses for rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem and its surrounding fortifications, as well as the walls of designated towns in Judea, shall be provided from the royal treasury.”
46 When Jonathan and the people heard the proposals made by King Demetrius, they refused to believe them or accept them, because they remembered how harshly he had treated them and what terrible troubles he had caused them. 47 They preferred to give their allegiance to Alexander because he had been the first to open peace negotiations, and they remained his allies as long as he lived.
48 King Alexander raised a large army and took up battle positions facing Demetrius. 49 But when the armies of the two kings met in battle, the army of Alexander turned and ran. Demetrius pursued them and won the battle. 50 Alexander fought bitterly until sundown, but Demetrius was killed that day.
51 Then Alexander sent ambassadors to King Ptolemy the Sixth of Egypt with this message:
52 “I have returned to my kingdom and taken my seat on the throne of my ancestors. I have taken over the government, and I am now in control of the country. 53 I made war on Demetrius, defeated him and his army, and I have taken over his kingdom. 54 Now I am ready to make an alliance. Give me your daughter in marriage, and I will give both of you such gifts as you deserve.”
55 King Ptolemy replied, “It was a great day when you returned to your country and took the throne of your ancestors. 56 I agree to your proposals, but first meet me at Ptolemais. We can get acquainted there, and I will give you my daughter in marriage.”
57 So in the year 162 Ptolemy and his daughter Cleopatra left Egypt and arrived at Ptolemais. 58 King Alexander met them, and Ptolemy gave him his daughter in marriage. The wedding was celebrated there in Ptolemais with royal splendor.
59 King Alexander wrote asking Jonathan to come to meet him. 60 So Jonathan, in a show of splendor, went to Ptolemais and met the two kings. He presented them with gifts of silver and gold, and he also gave many gifts to the high officials who had accompanied them. Everyone was favorably impressed with him. 61 At the same time some traitorous Jews who wanted to make trouble for Jonathan made accusations against him, but King Alexander paid no attention to them. 62 He gave orders that Jonathan should be given royal robes to wear, 63 and he honored him by letting him sit at his side. Alexander told his officers to take Jonathan into the center of the city and to announce that no one was to bring charges against him for any reason and no one was to cause him any kind of trouble. 64 When his accusers saw the honors given to him, heard the announcement, and saw him clothed in royal robes, they all fled. 65 The king further honored Jonathan by enrolling him in the First Order of the “Friends of the King” and by making him general and governor of his province. 66 Jonathan returned to Jerusalem pleased and successful.
Jonathan's Victory over Apollonius
67 In the year 165 Demetrius the Second, the son of Demetrius the First, left Crete and arrived in Syria, the land of his ancestors. 68 When King Alexander heard about this, he was worried and returned to Antioch, the capital of Syria. 69 Demetrius reappointed Apollonius governor of Greater Syria. Apollonius raised a large army, set up camp near Jamnia, and sent the following message to Jonathan the High Priest:
70 “Because of you I am being ridiculed, but why do you, there in your mountains, continue this rebellion when no one supports you? 71 If you really have any confidence in your army, come down here on the plain and fight, where we can test each other's strength. Study the situation, and you will find that I have the support of the forces from the cities. 72 You will learn who I am and who our allies are, and you will discover that you have no chance of standing against us. Your predecessors have already been beaten twice on their own ground; 73 so how do you expect to defeat my cavalry and the kind of army I have here on the plain? Down here there is not so much as a pebble to hide behind and no way to escape.”
74 When Jonathan received this message from Apollonius, he became angry. He took 10,000 elite troops from Jerusalem; his brother Simon also brought troops, and their two forces 75 set up camp outside of Joppa. The men of the city refused to let them in because there was a detachment of Apollonius' troops there, but Jonathan attacked, 76 and the men in the city became so frightened that they opened the gates, allowing Jonathan to capture Joppa. 77 When Apollonius heard what had happened, he took 3,000 cavalry and a large army of infantry and pretended to retreat south toward Azotus. However, relying upon the strength of his cavalry, he marched into the plain with his main force, 78-79 positioning 1,000 cavalry where they could attack Jonathan's forces from the rear. Jonathan continued his pursuit as far as Azotus, where the two armies met in battle. 80 Not until then did Jonathan realize that he was caught in an ambush. His army was surrounded, and enemy arrows rained down on them from morning until evening. 81 But Jonathan's men stood firm, as he had ordered, and the attacking cavalry grew tired. 82 Then, when the cavalry was exhausted, Simon appeared on the scene with his forces and attacked and overwhelmed the enemy infantry, who broke ranks and fled. 83 The cavalry, which by now was scattered all over the battlefield, fled to Azotus, where they took refuge in the temple of Dagon, their god. 84 But Jonathan set fire to the city and to the temple of Dagon, burning to death all those who had taken refuge there. Then he set fire to the surrounding towns and looted them. 85 That day about 8,000 were either killed in the battle or burned to death. 86 Jonathan left and set up camp at Ascalon, where the people of the city came out to welcome him with great honors. 87 Jonathan and his men returned to Jerusalem with large quantities of loot.
88 When King Alexander heard what Jonathan had done, he gave him even greater honors. 89 He sent him a gold shoulder buckle, which is given only to those honored with the title “Relative of the King.” He also gave him the city of Ekron and its surrounding territory.