In Praise of Simon
1 In the year 172 King Demetrius the Second gathered his army and went to Media to seek additional help for his war against Trypho. 2 When King Arsaces the Sixth of Persia and Media heard that Demetrius had entered his territory, he sent one of his commanders with some troops to capture Demetrius alive. 3 They attacked and defeated the army of Demetrius, took him captive, and brought him back to King Arsaces, who threw him in prison.
4 The land of Judea was at peace as long as Simon lived. During his entire reign, he used his position of power and influence to do what was good for his people, and they were always pleased with him as their ruler. 5 He added to his reputation when he captured the port of Joppa and opened up the route to the Greek islands. 6 He not only enlarged the territory of his nation and gained control of the whole country, 7 but he brought back many prisoners of war and captured Gezer, Bethzur, and the fort in Jerusalem. He purified the fort, and there was no one to oppose him.
8 The Jews farmed their land in peace; the land produced its crops and the trees bore fruit. 9 The young men showed off their splendid military uniforms, while the old men sat around the city squares and talked about the great things that had happened. 10 Simon supplied the cities with food and provided them with weapons of defense. His fame spread everywhere. 11 He brought peace to the country, and Israel's joy knew no bounds. 12 Everyone lived in peace among his own grapevines and fig trees, and no one made them afraid. 13 In those days all the enemy kings had been defeated, and there was no one left in the land to fight the Jews. 14 Simon provided help for all the poor among his people, and guided by the Law of Moses, he eliminated all wicked and lawless men. 15 He provided the Temple with splendid furnishings and added a large number of utensils for use in worship.
16 When the news that Jonathan had died reached Rome and Sparta, it brought great sorrow. 17 But when the Spartans heard that Simon had succeeded his brother as High Priest and that he was in control of the country and its towns, 18 they engraved on bronze tablets a renewal of the treaty of friendship which they had made with his brothers Judas and Jonathan and sent the tablets to him. 19 These were read to the assembly in Jerusalem. 20 What follows is a copy of the letter sent by the Spartans:
“The people of Sparta and their rulers to Simon the High Priest, to the leaders and the priests of the Jews, and to all our Jewish brothers, greetings. 21 The delegation that you sent to our people has told us how respected and renowned you are. Their visit has been a source of joy for us, 22 and a report of their visit has been written down in our public records, as follows: ‘Numenius son of Antiochus and Antipater son of Jason, honored representatives of the Jews, appeared before us to renew their treaty of friendship. 23 The assembly of the people was pleased to receive these men with all honors and to place a copy of their report in the public archives, so that the people of Sparta may have it on record. A copy of this document has been made for the High Priest Simon.’”
24 Later, Simon sent Numenius to Rome with the gift of a large gold shield weighing half a ton, to confirm the Jews' alliance with the Romans.
25 When the people of Israel heard about all this, they asked themselves, “How can we express our thanks to Simon and his sons? 26 He, his brothers, and his father's whole family have been towers of strength for our nation. They have fought off our enemies and set the nation free.”
So they recorded this on bronze tablets and set them up on columns on Mount Zion. 27 The inscription read as follows:
“On the eighteenth day of the month of Elul in the year 172, that is, in the third year of Simon, the High Priest, 28 at a great assembly of priests, people, officials, and national leaders the following facts were made known to us: 29 Often when wars broke out in the country, Simon son of Mattathias, a priest of the Jehoiarib family, and his brothers risked their lives in protecting our nation, our Temple, and our Law against our enemies. They have brought great glory to our nation. 30 Jonathan united our people and became the High Priest before he died. 31 The enemies of the Jews plotted to invade the land and defile the Temple. 32 Then Simon assumed command and fought for his country. He spent a large amount of his own money to provide weapons and wages for his nation's armed forces. 33 He fortified the towns of Judea, and especially Bethzur on the border, where enemy weapons had previously been stored. He stationed a detachment of soldiers there. 34 He fortified the seaport of Joppa and the city of Gezer on the border of Azotus, which was previously occupied by enemy soldiers. He settled Jews there and provided the towns with everything that the people needed. 35 When the people saw Simon's patriotism and how he wanted to bring glory to his nation, they made him their leader and High Priest. They did this because of all that he had accomplished through his loyalty and because he had brought about justice and had tried in every way to bring glory to his nation.
36 “Under his leadership the Gentiles were driven out of the land. Enemy soldiers were forced out of the area north of the Temple, where they had built the fort, from which the soldiers used to go out and defile the holy Temple. 37 Simon settled Jews in the fort, strengthened it for the security of the country and the city of Jerusalem, and increased the height of the city walls. 38 As a result, King Demetrius confirmed him as High Priest, 39 gave him the title of “Friend of the King,” and treated him with great honor. 40 Demetrius did this because he had heard that the Romans were calling the Jews their friends, allies, and brothers and that they had received Simon's delegation with full honors.
41 “Therefore, the Jews and their priests are happy to have Simon and his descendants as their leaders and High Priests, until a true prophet appears. 42 Simon shall govern their country, have charge of the Temple, and shall be their military commander. He shall be in charge of military supplies, fortifications, and public works. 43 The people must obey him in everything. All government contracts shall be drawn up in his name. He shall have the right to wear royal robes with the gold shoulder buckle.
44 “No one, priest or people, shall have the legal right to annul any of these decisions, to alter or change any of Simon's orders, to convene any assembly in the country without his permission, or to wear royal robes with the gold shoulder buckle. 45 Anyone who disobeys or disregards these regulations shall be subject to punishment.
46 “The people gave their unanimous approval to grant Simon the right to act in accordance with these regulations. 47 Simon consented and agreed to be supreme leader: High Priest, commander of the armies, and governor of the Jews and the priests.”
48 It was decided that this declaration should be engraved on bronze tablets and set up in a prominent place within the Temple area 49 and that copies should be placed in the Temple treasury, where Simon and his sons would have access to them.