Alliances with Rome and Sparta
1 When Jonathan saw that things were working out to his advantage, he chose ambassadors and sent them to Rome to confirm and renew friendship with the Romans. 2 He also sent letters with a similar message to Sparta and other places. 3 The ambassadors went to Rome, where they were admitted to the Senate chamber, and reported that the High Priest Jonathan and the Jewish nation had sent them to renew the earlier ties of friendship and alliance with Rome. 4 The Romans provided them with letters to the authorities in each country through which they would pass, guaranteeing them safe conduct in their return to the land of Judea.
5 Here is a copy of the letter Jonathan wrote to the Spartans:
6 “Jonathan the High Priest, the national council of leaders, the priests, and the rest of the people of Judea, to our brothers in Sparta, greetings. 7 At an earlier time, your King Arius sent a letter to our High Priest Onias, stating that our two nations are related, as the attached copy shows. 8 Onias received your ambassador with full honors and acknowledged receipt of your letter, which declared our alliance and friendship. 9 And now, although we are not in need of such alliances, since we find our source of strength in the holy books we possess, 10 we have written to renew our ties of brotherhood and friendship with you. We do not wish to become total strangers, and it has now been many years since your last communication. 11 Throughout the years we have taken every opportunity, on our festival days and other suitable days, to remember you when we have offered our sacrifices and made our prayers, as it is fitting and proper for brothers to do. 12 We also are pleased that fame has come to you. 13 But we have had one series of troubles after another and have had to fight many wars, because we have been under constant attack by surrounding nations. 14 During this time of war, we did not wish to trouble you or our other allies and friends, 15 since we do have the help of the Lord, who has defeated our enemies and rescued us from them. 16 So we have chosen Numenius son of Antiochus together with Antipater son of Jason and sent them as ambassadors to Rome to renew our ties of friendship and alliance with the Romans. 17 We have also ordered them to go to you with our greetings and deliver this letter about the renewal of our ties of brotherhood. 18 And now we request an answer to this letter.
19 “The following is a copy of the earlier letter:
20 “‘King Arius of Sparta to Onias the High Priest, greetings. 21 We have found a document about the Spartans and the Jews indicating that we are related and that both of our nations are descended from Abraham. 22 Now that we have discovered this, please send us a report about your situation. 23 In reply, we will send you a letter indicating that we are willing to share our possessions, including cattle and property, if you will do the same. We have given orders to our ambassadors to give you a full report about these matters.’”
Campaigns of Jonathan and Simon
24 Jonathan learned that the officers of Demetrius had returned to attack him with an even larger army than before. 25 Jonathan did not want to give them an opportunity to penetrate his own territory, so he left Jerusalem and went to meet them in the region of Hamath. 26 Jonathan sent spies into the enemy camp, who reported to him that the enemy forces were making plans to attack the Jews by night. 27 At sunset Jonathan ordered all his soldiers to be on the alert and to have their weapons ready for a surprise attack any time during the night. He also stationed guards all around the camp. 28 When the enemy soldiers learned that Jonathan and his men were ready for battle, they were panic-stricken and fled, leaving their campfires burning. 29 Jonathan and his men saw the campfires but did not realize what had happened until the next morning. 30 Jonathan then set out after them, but he could not overtake them because they had already crossed the Eleutherus River. 31 Then Jonathan turned aside and attacked a tribe of Arabs called Zabadeans. He defeated them and plundered their possessions. 32 Then he broke camp and went to Damascus, inspecting the entire area along the way.
33 Meanwhile, Simon had also set out on a campaign and had advanced as far as Ascalon and the neighboring fortresses. Then he turned aside to Joppa 34 and stationed a detachment of soldiers there because he had heard that the people were planning to hand over the fortress of Joppa to the soldiers of Demetrius.
35 When Jonathan returned, he called the council of the leaders together and made plans with them to build fortresses in Judea, 36 to increase the height of the walls of Jerusalem, and to build a high wall to separate the fort from the city. This would isolate the fort, making it impossible for the enemy to buy or sell anything. 37 The people worked together to strengthen the city's defenses because a part of the east wall along the Kidron Valley had collapsed and the Chaphenatha section was in need of repair. 38 Simon also rebuilt the town of Adida in the foothills. He fortified it and constructed barred gates for it.
Trypho Captures Jonathan
39 Then Trypho plotted a rebellion against King Antiochus so that he could make himself king of Syria. 40 He was afraid, however, that Jonathan would not agree to this and would go to war against him to prevent it. So Trypho got his army ready and went to Beth Shan in the hope of capturing Jonathan and putting him to death. 41 But Jonathan also came to Beth Shan with 40,000 well-trained soldiers. 42 When Trypho saw how large an army Jonathan had brought with him, he was afraid to take action. 43 So he received Jonathan with all honors, presented him to all his advisers, gave him gifts, and ordered his advisers and soldiers to obey Jonathan as they would him. 44 He asked Jonathan, “Why have you put these soldiers to so much trouble when we are not at war? 45 Why don't you send them home? Choose a few men to stay with you, and then accompany me to Ptolemais. I will hand the city over to you, as well as the rest of the fortresses, the troops, and all the officials. Then I will turn around and leave. In fact, that's why I am here.” 46 Jonathan believed him, and following his advice, sent his soldiers back to Judea. 47 He took 3,000 men with him, but left 2,000 of them in Galilee, while only 1,000 accompanied him the rest of the way. 48 But when Jonathan entered Ptolemais, the people of the city locked the gates, arrested him, and killed everyone who had come with him.
49 Trypho sent infantry and cavalry units to Galilee and Jezreel Valley to kill the rest of Jonathan's soldiers. 50 The Jewish troops thought that Jonathan had been captured and killed, along with all those who had accompanied him, so they encouraged one another and marched out in battle formation. 51 When the approaching enemy forces saw that the Jews were ready to fight for their lives, they turned back. 52 Then the Jewish soldiers returned to Judea safely, but terribly afraid. The whole nation was in deep mourning, assuming that Jonathan and all his men had been killed. 53 All the surrounding nations now tried to destroy them. They thought that the Jews had no leaders or allies and that the time was ripe to annihilate them and put an end to their history.