Antiochus the Seventh Asks for Simon's Support
1 From the Greek islands Antiochus son of King Demetrius wrote the following letter to Simon the High Priest and governor of the Jews and to the whole nation:
2 “King Antiochus to Simon, the High Priest and governor, and to the Jewish nation, greetings. 3 As you know, the kingdom of my ancestors has been seized by traitors. I have decided to reclaim it and restore its former greatness. I have raised a large army of mercenary troops and have fitted out warships. 4 I plan to invade the land and to attack those who have destroyed many of the towns and ruined the country.
5 “Now therefore, I confirm all exemptions from taxes and payments granted you by former kings. 6 I authorize you to mint your own coins as legal currency in your own country. 7 Jerusalem and the Temple shall be free of taxation. All the weapons that you have manufactured and the defenses you have built and now occupy shall remain yours. 8 In addition, all debts now owed to the royal treasury, or which may in the future fall due, are permanently canceled. 9 As soon as I have regained control of my kingdom, I will confer upon you, your nation, and the Temple such great honors that the glory of your country will be evident to the whole world.”
10 In the year 174 Antiochus invaded the land of his ancestors. Most of the soldiers came over to his side, so that there were very few left with Trypho. 11 Trypho, pursued by Antiochus, fled to the coastal city of Dor, 12 realizing that he was in a desperate situation, now that all his troops had deserted him. 13 Then Antiochus laid siege to Dor with 120,000 well-trained soldiers and 8,000 cavalry. 14 With his ships joining the attack, he completely surrounded the town and brought such pressure on it that no one was able to enter or leave.
Rome Supports the Jews
15 Meanwhile, Numenius and those with him arrived in Jerusalem from Rome with the following letter addressed to various kings and countries:
16 “From Lucius, consul of the Romans, to King Ptolemy, greetings. 17 A delegation from our friends and allies the Jews has come to us to renew the earlier treaty of friendship and alliance. They were sent by the High Priest Simon and the Jewish people, 18 and they have brought as a gift a gold shield weighing half a ton. 19 So we have decided to write to various kings and countries urging them not to harm the Jews, their towns, or their country in any way. They must not make war against the Jews or give support to those who attack them. 20 We have decided to accept the shield and grant them protection. 21 Therefore if any traitors escape from Judea and seek refuge in your land, hand them over to Simon the High Priest, so that he may punish them according to Jewish law.”
22 Lucius wrote the same letter to King Demetrius, to Attalus, Ariarathes, and Arsaces, 23 and to all the following countries: Sampsames, Sparta, Delos, Myndos, Sicyon, Caria, Samos, Pamphylia, Lycia, Halicarnassus, Rhodes, Phaselis, Cos, Side, Aradus, Gortyna, Cnidus, Cyprus, and Cyrene. 24 A copy of the letter was also sent to Simon the High Priest.
Antiochus the Seventh Breaks with Simon
25 King Antiochus laid siege to Dor for a second time, keeping it under constant attack. He built siege platforms, and his blockade kept Trypho and his men from going in or out. 26 Simon sent 2,000 well-trained soldiers to help Antiochus, as well as silver and gold and a great deal of equipment. 27 But Antiochus refused to accept them, canceled all the previous agreements that he had made with Simon, and became his enemy. 28 Then Antiochus sent his trusted official Athenobius to negotiate with Simon. He told Simon, “You are occupying Joppa, Gezer, and the fort in Jerusalem, cities that belong to my kingdom. 29 You have devastated those regions and brought great trouble to the country. You have seized control of many places in my kingdom. 30 Now you must hand back these cities that you have captured, and you must give me the tax money that you have taken from places that you occupied outside the territory of Judea. 31 If you are unwilling to do this, then you must pay me 30,000 pounds of silver, and 30,000 additional pounds of silver to compensate me for damages and for lost taxes. If you refuse to do either of these, we will go to war against you.”
32 When Athenobius came to Jerusalem and saw the splendor of Simon's court, the gold and silver tableware in his banquet hall, and the rest of the display of great wealth, he was amazed. He delivered the king's message to Simon, 33 and Simon answered, “We have never taken land away from other nations or confiscated anything that belonged to other people. On the contrary, we have simply taken back property that we inherited from our ancestors, land that had been unjustly taken away from us by our enemies at one time or another. 34 We are now only making use of this opportunity to recover our ancestral heritage. 35 As for Joppa and Gezer, which you claim, we will give you 6,000 pounds of silver, in spite of the fact that the people of those cities have done great harm to our nation.”
Athenobius made no reply, 36 but he returned to the king in a rage. When he told the king what Simon had said, and reported on the splendor of Simon's court and all that he had seen, the king became violently angry.
John's Victory over Cendebeus
37 In the meantime, Trypho had boarded a ship and escaped to the town of Orthosia. 38 King Antiochus appointed Cendebeus as commander of the coastal area, provided him with infantry and cavalry, 39 and gave him orders to move against Judea. He also ordered him to rebuild the town of Kedron and fortify its gates, so that he could fight against the Jewish people. The king himself continued to pursue Trypho.
40 Cendebeus then came to Jamnia and began to harass the Jews by invading Judea, capturing people, and murdering them. 41 He rebuilt Kedron and stationed some cavalry and infantry units there, so that they could make attacks and patrol the roads of Judea, as the king had ordered.