Good News Translation (GNB)

The Fall of Alexander Epiphanes

111King Ptolemy the Sixth of Egypt assembled an army of soldiers more numerous than the grains of sand along the seashore, and he also gathered a great fleet of ships. He intended to trap Alexander, take his kingdom, and add it to his own, 2so he went to Syria with promises of peace, and the citizens opened their gates to him and welcomed him. King Alexander had ordered them to do this because Ptolemy was his father-in-law. 3But as Ptolemy moved north, he stationed a detachment of troops in each town. 4When he reached Azotus, the people there showed him the burnt ruins of the temple of Dagon and all the destruction in the city and the surrounding towns. There were corpses everywhere. The bodies of the men Jonathan had burnt to death during the battle were now stacked up along Ptolemy's route. 5The people told him what Jonathan had done, hoping that he would hold him responsible, but Ptolemy said nothing. 6Jonathan, with all the proper ceremony, went to Joppa to meet him. They exchanged greetings and spent the night there. 7Jonathan accompanied him as far as the River Eleutherus before returning to Jerusalem. 8In this way King Ptolemy, in his plot against Alexander, took control of the towns along the coast as far north as Seleucia-by-the-sea.

9From there Ptolemy sent this message to King Demetrius: “Let's make a treaty. My daughter is now Alexander's wife, but I will take her back and give her to you and let you rule over your father's kingdom. 10I regret that I ever gave her to Alexander, because he has tried to kill me.” 11Ptolemy made this accusation against Alexander because he wanted to take over his kingdom. 12So he took his daughter away from Alexander and gave her to Demetrius; he broke off all relations with Alexander, and they became open enemies. 13Then Ptolemy entered Antioch and assumed the crown of Syria; so he wore both the crown of Egypt and the crown of Syria.

14King Alexander was in Cilicia at the time because the people of that region were in a state of rebellion. 15But when he heard what Ptolemy had done, he moved to attack him. Ptolemy met him with a large force and won a decisive victory. 16While Ptolemy reached the peak of his power, Alexander fled to Arabia to find protection, 17but an Arab named Zabdiel cut off his head and sent it to Ptolemy. 18Two days later Ptolemy himself died, and the troops he had left in the fortresses were then killed by the local citizens. 19So in the year 16711.19 the year 167: This corresponds to 145 bc. Demetrius the Second became king.

Jonathan Wins the Favour of Demetrius the Second

20About that time Jonathan gathered the men of Judea to attack the fort in Jerusalem. They built many siege-platforms to use in the attack. 21But some traitorous Jews who hated their own nation went to King Demetrius the Second and told him that Jonathan was laying siege to the fort in Jerusalem. 22When Demetrius heard this, he was furious and immediately moved his headquarters to Ptolemais. He wrote to Jonathan and ordered him to lift the siege and to meet him for a conference in Ptolemais without a moment's delay.

23When Jonathan received the message, he gave orders for the siege to continue, and then chose some Jewish leaders and some priests to go with him. At the risk of his life, 24he went to the king in Ptolemais, taking along robes, silver and gold, and many other gifts. He made a good impression on the king. 25Although some lawless traitors of his own nation had made accusations against Jonathan, 26the king still treated him just as his predecessors had done. He honoured him in the presence of all his advisers, 27and confirmed him as High Priest, restoring all his former honours and appointing him to the highest rank among the “Friends of the King.”

28Jonathan asked the king to release the territory of Judea and the three regions of Samaria11.28 Probable text three regions of Samaria; Greek three regions and Samaria. from the payment of taxes, promising that if Demetrius would do that, he would pay him a lump sum of ten tonnes of silver. 29The king agreed and wrote a letter to Jonathan to confirm all this:

30“King Demetrius to King Jonathan and to the Jewish nation, greetings.

31“For your information I am sending a copy of the letter I have written to the noble Lasthenes about you:

32“ ‘King Demetrius to the noble Lasthenes, greetings. 33I have decided to grant the Jewish nation certain benefits because they are our loyal allies and keep their treaty obligations. 34

1 Macc 10.30
I confirm their rights to the land of Judea and the three regions of Ephraim, Lydda, and Arimathea, which are hereby annexed to Judea from Samaria with all the lands belonging to them. This will be of benefit to everyone who goes to Jerusalem to offer sacrifice, since payments of the annual tax on produce and fruit from these lands will no longer be made to the king, but to the Temple. 35And I also grant them relief from the payment of revenues now due to me from tithes, tolls, salt taxes, and special taxes. 36None of the provisions mentioned in this letter shall ever be cancelled in the future.

37“ ‘You are required to see that a complete copy of this decree is made and given to Jonathan, to be posted in a prominent place on the Temple hill.’ ”

Jonathan Helps Demetrius the Second

38When King Demetrius saw that the land was peaceful under his rule and there was no further resistance, he disbanded his whole army and sent everyone home, except the soldiers he had hired from the Greek islands. This made all the soldiers who had served under his predecessors hate him because they had lost their source of income. 39One of Alexander's former supporters, Trypho, saw that all the soldiers were complaining about Demetrius, so he went to Imalkue, the Arab who was responsible for bringing up Alexander's young son Antiochus. 40Trypho stayed there for a long time and kept urging Imalkue to hand the boy over to him, so that he could make him king in place of his father. He also told Imalkue about the decrees of Demetrius and how the soldiers hated him.

41Jonathan sent a message to King Demetrius asking him to remove his troops from the fort in Jerusalem and from the fortresses in Judea, since they kept harassing the Jews. 42Demetrius replied: “I will do what you request, and when the opportunity presents itself, I will bestow upon you and your nation the highest honours. 43But now you can help me by sending soldiers to fight for me, because all my troops have revolted.”

44So Jonathan sent 3,000 trained soldiers to Antioch. The king was delighted when they arrived, 45because a mob of 120,000 had gathered in the city determined to kill him. 46But he escaped to the palace while the mob took control of the streets and began to riot. 47Then the king called on the Jewish soldiers for help, and they all rushed to his aid. They went through the whole city and killed at least 100,000 people. 48They saved the king's life, but they plundered and burnt the city. 49When the people saw that the Jews had complete control of the city, they lost courage and appealed to the king, requesting 50him to arrange a truce and stop the Jewish attack. 51The rebels threw down their arms and surrendered. The king and everyone in his kingdom now had great respect for the Jews, who returned to Jerusalem with a great deal of loot. 52Demetrius was firmly established as king, and the country was at peace under his rule, 53but he broke all his promises and turned against Jonathan. He did not reward him for his loyal service, but instead continued to harass him.

Jonathan Supports Antiochus the Sixth

54Some time later, Trypho returned with the young boy Antiochus and crowned him king. 55All the soldiers that Demetrius had dismissed then came to the support of the young king. They defeated Demetrius and he fled. 56Trypho captured the elephants and took control of Antioch. 57The young King Antiochus wrote to Jonathan and confirmed him as High Priest and as ruler over the four regions and gave him the title “Friend of the King.” 58He sent him a gold dinner-service and authorized him to drink from gold cups, to wear a royal robe, and to wear the gold shoulder buckle awarded to “Relatives of the King.” 59He also appointed Jonathan's brother Simon as governor of the territory from the Phoenician coast to the Egyptian border.

60Jonathan then marched with his army through the towns of Greater Syria, and all the Syrian forces joined him as allies. He went to Ashkelon, where the people welcomed him with great honours. 61Then he went to Gaza, but the people there barred their gates against him. So he laid siege to the city and burnt and looted the surrounding area. 62The people of Gaza then asked for peace, and Jonathan arranged a truce. He took the sons of the leaders and sent them to Jerusalem as hostages. After that he marched on as far as Damascus.

63Jonathan learnt that the officers of Demetrius had come to Kedesh in Galilee with a large army, intending to keep him from carrying out his plan. 64So he left his brother Simon in Judea and set out to meet them in battle. 65Then Simon laid siege to Bethzur and fought against it for a long time. 66The people asked for peace terms, and Simon agreed. He then took over the town, drove the people out, and stationed a detachment of troops there.

67Jonathan and his army set up camp by Lake Galilee. Early the next morning he marched his troops to the plain of Hazor, 68where the main force of the foreign army was advancing to meet him. Unknown to Jonathan, they had left a detachment of troops in ambush in the mountains, 69and when the men in ambush came out and attacked, 70Jonathan's entire army turned and ran. No one was left, except two officers, Mattathias son of Absalom and Judas son of Chalphi. 71Jonathan was humiliated, so he tore his clothes, threw dust on his head and prayed. 72Then he turned back to the battle, crushed the enemy, and put them to flight. 73When his own fleeing soldiers saw this, they turned back and joined him in pursuit. They chased the enemy all the way back to their camp at Kedesh and then took over the camp. 74At least 3,000 enemy soldiers were killed that day. Jonathan then returned to Jerusalem.