Simon Leads the Jews
1 Simon learned that Trypho had assembled a large army and that he had plans to invade Judea and devastate it. 2 He realized that this news had brought panic and fear to the people, so he went to Jerusalem, called the people together, 3 and tried to encourage them by saying, “You know how much my father's family, my brothers, and I have done for the sake of the Law of Moses and the Temple. You also know about the wars we have fought and the troubles we have had. 4 All my brothers have been killed fighting for our Law, our Temple, and our nation, and I am the only one left. 5 But never let it be said that I tried to save my own life in a time of danger; I do not consider myself better than my brothers. 6 Not in the least! It is true that in their hatred all the Gentile nations have gathered together to destroy us, but I will fight to defend my nation, the Temple, and your loved ones.”
7 These words immediately revived the morale of the people, 8 and they answered with a loud shout, “You are now our leader in place of your brothers Judas and Jonathan. 9 Fight our wars, and we will do whatever you ask.” 10 So Simon gathered together all the soldiers and hurried to complete the walls of Jerusalem and to strengthen all its defenses. 11 He sent Jonathan son of Absalom to Joppa with a large army. This Jonathan drove out the people who were there and occupied the town.
12 Trypho left Ptolemais with a large army to invade Judea, taking Simon's brother Jonathan along with him as a prisoner. 13 Simon set up camp at Adida at the edge of the plain. 14 When Trypho learned that Simon had succeeded his brother Jonathan and that he was ready to meet him in battle, he sent this message to him: 15 “I am holding your brother Jonathan under arrest because while he was in office he did not pay his debts to the royal treasury. 16 However, I will release him if you will pay me 6,000 pounds of silver and send two of his sons as hostages to guarantee that he will not revolt against us when he is released.”
17 Although Simon knew that they were deceiving him, he sent for the money and the two sons because he did not want to arouse the hostility of the Jews. 18 He was afraid that they might later say that Jonathan was put to death because Simon would not send the money and the boys. 19 So he did as Trypho had demanded, but Trypho broke his promise and did not release Jonathan.
20 Then Trypho made his move to invade the land and destroy it, circling around by the road to Adora. But Simon and his army moved along facing him wherever he went. 21 The enemy soldiers in the fort in Jerusalem kept sending messengers to Trypho urging him to come to them quickly by way of the desert and to send them supplies. 22 Trypho got all his cavalry ready for the invasion, but that night there was a heavy snowstorm, and he was not able to move up into the hills. So he withdrew and went into Gilead. 23 When he was near Baskama, he had Jonathan put to death and his body buried there. 24 Then Trypho turned and went back to his own country.
25 Simon had the body of his brother Jonathan brought to Modein, to be buried in the town of their ancestors. 26 Everyone in Israel was in deep sorrow at the loss of Jonathan, and they mourned for him a long time. 27 Over the tomb of his father and his brothers Simon built a high monument that could be seen from a great distance. It was covered front and back with polished stone. 28 He constructed seven pyramids side by side for his father, his mother, and his four brothers. 29 For the pyramids he created a setting of tall columns on which there were carvings. Some of these carvings were of suits of armor and some were of ships. It was a monument to their victories, which travelers from overseas could visit. 30 The tomb which he built in Modein is still there today.
31 Meanwhile, Trypho assassinated the young king, Antiochus the Sixth, 32 and took over his kingdom in Syria. He brought that country great troubles.
33 Simon rebuilt the fortresses of Judea with high towers, strong walls, and barred gates; then he placed stores of supplies there. 34 He sent ambassadors to King Demetrius the Second to ask for tax relief for the land, since Trypho was doing nothing but robbing them. 35 King Demetrius sent the following letter in reply:
36 “King Demetrius to the High Priest Simon, the friend of kings, to the Jewish nation, and to their leaders, greetings. 37 I have received the gold crown and the gold palm branch which you sent, and I am prepared to make a peace treaty with you and to instruct our tax officials to grant you exemptions. 38 Our previous agreements with you are confirmed, and the fortresses which you have built are to remain yours. 39 I grant you pardon for treaty violations committed up to the present date, and I release you from payment of the special tax still due and any other taxes that have been collected up to this time in Jerusalem. 40 All Jews who are qualified may enroll in the royal service. Let us have peace.”
41 So in the year 170 the yoke of the Gentile oppressors was removed from the Jews. 42 People began to date their documents and contracts with these words: “In the first year of Simon, the great High Priest, commander and leader of the Jews.”
43 At that time Simon laid siege to Gezer and surrounded it with his army. He built a movable siege platform, brought it up to the town wall, attacked one of the towers, and captured it. 44 The men who had been on the siege platform then moved rapidly into the town, and this created great confusion. 45 The men of the town, their wives, and their children tore their clothes in distress and climbed up on the top of the town wall. They pleaded loudly with Simon for a truce. 46 “Have mercy on us,” they begged. “Don't punish us as we deserve!”
47 So Simon came to terms with them and ended the fighting. He made the people leave the town; then he purified the houses in which there had been idols. When that was done, he and his men entered the town singing hymns and songs of praise. 48 He eliminated everything that would make the town ritually unclean and settled it with people who would obey every command contained in the Law of Moses. He strengthened the defenses of the town and built himself a palace there.
49 Those in the fort in Jerusalem were now prevented from leaving to buy or sell anything. They were suffering from severe hunger and many of them had died of starvation. 50 Finally they appealed to Simon for a truce. He agreed, removed them from the fort, and purified it. 51 On the twenty-third day of the second month, in the year 171, there was a great celebration in the city because this terrible threat to the security of Israel had come to an end. Simon and his men entered the fort singing hymns of praise and thanksgiving, while carrying palm branches and playing harps, cymbals, and lyres. 52 Simon issued a decree that the day should be joyfully celebrated every year. He strengthened the defenses of the Temple hill on the side facing the fort, and he and his men made their headquarters there. 53 Simon's son John was now a grown man, so Simon made him commander of the whole army, and John set up headquarters at Gezer.