Good News Translation (GNB)
12

Alliances with Rome and Sparta

121When 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. 2He also sent letters with a similar message to Sparta and other places. 3The 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. 4The 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.

5This 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. 7At 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. 8Onias received your ambassador with full honours and acknowledged receipt of your letter, which declared our alliance and friendship. 9And now, although we are not in need of such alliances, since we find our source of strength in the holy books we possess, 10we 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. 11Throughout 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. 12We are also pleased that fame has come to you. 13But 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. 14During this time of war, we did not wish to trouble you or our other allies and friends, 15since we do have the help of the Lord, who has defeated our enemies and rescued us from them. 16So 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. 17We have also ordered them to go to you with our greetings and deliver this letter about the renewal of our ties of brotherhood. 18And 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. 21We have found a document about the Spartans and the Jews indicating that we are related and that both our nations are descended from Abraham. 22Now that we have discovered this, please send us a report about your situation. 23In reply, we will send you a letter indicating that we are willing to share our possessions, including livestock 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

24Jonathan learnt that the officers of Demetrius had returned to attack him with an even larger army than before. 25Jonathan 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. 26Jonathan sent spies into the enemy camp, who reported to him that the enemy forces were making plans to attack the Jews by night. 27At 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 round the camp. 28When the enemy soldiers learnt that Jonathan and his men were ready for battle, they were panic-stricken and fled, leaving their campfires burning. 29Jonathan and his men saw the campfires but did not realize what had happened until the next morning. 30Jonathan then set out after them, but he could not overtake them because they had already crossed the River Eleutherus. 31Then Jonathan turned aside and attacked a tribe of Arabs called Zabadeans. He defeated them and plundered their possessions. 32Then he broke camp and went to Damascus, inspecting the entire area along the way.

33Meanwhile, Simon had also set out on a campaign and had advanced as far as Ashkelon and the neighbouring fortresses. Then he turned aside to Joppa 34and stationed a detachment of soldiers there because he heard that the people were planning to hand over the fortress of Joppa to the soldiers of Demetrius.

35When Jonathan returned, he called the council of the leaders together and made plans with them to build fortresses in Judea, 36to 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. 37The people worked together to strengthen the city's defences because a part of the east wall along the valley of the Kidron had collapsed and the Chaphenatha section was in need of repair. 38Simon also rebuilt the town of Adida in the foothills. He fortified it and constructed barred gates for it.

Trypho Captures Jonathan

39Then Trypho plotted a rebellion against King Antiochus so that he could make himself king of Syria. 40He 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. 41But Jonathan also came to Beth Shan with 40,000 well-trained soldiers. 42When Trypho saw how large an army Jonathan had brought with him, he was afraid to take action. 43So he received Jonathan with all honours, presented him to all his advisers, gave him gifts, and ordered his advisers and soldiers to obey Jonathan as they would obey him. 44He asked Jonathan, “Why have you put these soldiers to so much trouble when we are not at war? 45Why 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 round and leave. In fact, that's why I am here.” 46Jonathan believed him, and following his advice, sent his soldiers back to Judea. 47He took 3,000 men with him, but left 2,000 of them in Galilee, while only a thousand accompanied him the rest of the way. 48But when Jonathan entered Ptolemais, the people of the city locked the gates, arrested him, and killed everyone who had come with him.

49Trypho sent infantry and cavalry units to Galilee and the Valley of Jezreel to kill the rest of Jonathan's soldiers. 50The 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. 51When the approaching enemy forces saw that the Jews were ready to fight for their lives, they turned back. 52Then 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. 53All 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.

13

Simon Leads the Jews

131Simon learnt that Trypho had assembled a large army and that he had plans to invade Judea and devastate it. 2He realized that this news had brought panic and fear to the people, so he went to Jerusalem, called the people together, 3and 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. 4All my brothers have been killed fighting for our Law, our Temple, and our nation, and I am the only one left. 5But 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. 6Not 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.”

7These words immediately revived the morale of the people, 8and they answered with a loud shout, “You are now our leader in place of your brothers Judas and Jonathan. 9Fight our wars, and we will do whatever you ask.” 10So Simon gathered together all the soldiers and hurried to complete the walls of Jerusalem and to strengthen all its defences. 11He sent Jonathan son of Absalom to Joppa with a large army. This Jonathan drove out the people who were there and occupied the town.

12Trypho left Ptolemais with a large army to invade Judea, taking Simon's brother Jonathan along with him as a prisoner. 13Simon set up camp at Adida at the edge of the plain. 14When Trypho learnt 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. 16However, I will release him if you will pay me three tonnes of silver and send two of his sons as hostages to guarantee that he will not revolt against us when he is released.”

17Although 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. 18He was afraid that they might later say that Jonathan was put to death because Simon would not send the money and the boys. 19So he did as Trypho had demanded, but Trypho broke his promise and did not release Jonathan.

20Then Trypho made a move to invade the land and destroy it, circling round by the road to Adora. But Simon and his army moved along facing him wherever he went. 21The 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. 22Trypho 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. 23When he was near Baskama, he had Jonathan put to death and his body was buried there. 24Then Trypho turned and went back to his own country.

25Simon had the body of his brother Jonathan brought to Modein, to be buried in the town of their ancestors. 26Everyone in Israel was in deep sorrow at the loss of Jonathan, and they mourned for him a long time. 27Over the tomb of his father and his brothers Simon built a high monument that could be seen from a great distance. It was covered on the front and the back with polished stone. 28He constructed seven pyramids side by side for his father, his mother, and his four brothers. 29For the pyramids he created a setting of tall columns on which there were carvings. Some of these carvings were of suits of armour and some were of ships. It was a monument to their victories, which travellers from overseas could visit.13.29 Verses 28–29 in Greek are unclear. 30The tomb which he built in Modein is still there today.

31Meanwhile, Trypho assassinated the young king, Antiochus the Sixth, 32and took over his kingdom in Syria. He brought great troubles on that country.

33Simon rebuilt the fortresses of Judea with high towers, strong walls, and barred gates; then he placed stores of supplies there. 34He sent ambassadors to King Demetrius the Second to ask for tax relief for the land, since Trypho was doing nothing but rob them. 35Demetrius 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. 37I 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. 38Our previous agreements with you are confirmed, and the fortresses which you have built are to remain yours. 39I 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. 40All Jews who are qualified may enrol in the royal service. Let us have peace.”

41So in the year 17013.41 the year 170: This corresponds to 142 bc. the yoke of the Gentile oppressors was removed from the Jews. 42People 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

13.43:
2 Macc 10.32–38
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. 44The men who had been on the siege-platform then moved rapidly into the town, and this created great confusion. 45The 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!”

47So 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. 48He got rid of 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 defences of the town and built himself a palace there.

49Those 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. 50Finally they appealed to Simon for a truce. He agreed, removed them from the fort, and purified it. 51On the 23rd day of the second month, in the year 171,13.51 the year 171: This corresponds to 141 bc. there was a great celebration in the city because this terrible threat to the security of Israel had been ended. Simon and his men entered the fort singing hymns of praise and thanksgiving, while carrying palm branches and playing harps, cymbals, and lyres. 52Simon issued a decree that the day should be joyfully celebrated every year. He strengthened the defences of the Temple hill on the side facing the fort, and he and his men made their headquarters there. 53Simon's son John was now a grown man, so Simon made him commander of the whole army, and John set up his headquarters at Gezer.

14

In Praise of Simon

141In the year 17214.1 the year 172: This corresponds to 140 bc. King Demetrius the Second gathered his army and went to Media to seek additional help for his war against Trypho. 2When 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. 3They attacked and defeated the army of Demetrius, took him captive, and brought him back to King Arsaces, who threw him in prison.

4The 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. 5He added to his reputation when he captured the port of Joppa and opened up the route to the Greek islands. 6He not only enlarged the territory of his nation and gained control of the whole country, 7but 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.

8The Jews farmed their land in peace; the land produced its crops and the trees bore fruit. 9The young men showed off their splendid military uniforms, while the old men sat round the city squares and talked about the great things that had happened. 10Simon supplied the cities with food and provided them with weapons of defence. His fame spread everywhere. 11He brought peace to the country, and Israel's joy knew no bounds. 12Everyone lived in peace among his own vineyards and fig-trees, and no one made them afraid. 13In those days all the enemy kings had been defeated, and there was no one left in the land to fight the Jews. 14Simon provided help for all the poor among his people, and guided by the Law of Moses, he got rid of all wicked and lawless men. 15He provided the Temple with splendid furnishings and added a large number of utensils for use in worship.

16When the news that Jonathan had died reached Rome and Sparta, it brought great sorrow. 17But 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

14.18:
1 Macc 8.22
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. 19These were read to the assembly in Jerusalem. 20What 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. 21The delegation that you sent to our people has told us how respected and renowned you are. Their visit had been a source of joy for us, 22and a report of their visit has been written down in our public records, as follows: ‘Numenius son of Antiochus and Antipater son of Jason, honoured representatives of the Jews, appeared before us to renew their treaty of friendship. 23The assembly of the people was pleased to receive these men with all honours 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.’ ”

24Later, Simon sent Numenius to Rome with the gift of a large gold shield weighing 500 kilogrammes, to confirm the Jews' alliance with the Romans.

25When the people of Israel heard about all this, they asked themselves, “How can we express our thanks to Simon and his sons? 26He, 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. 27The inscription read as follows:

“On the eighteenth day of the month of Elul in the year 172,14.27 the year 172: This corresponds to 140 bc. that is, in the third year of Simon, the High Priest,14.27 Greek has an additional word, the meaning of which is unclear. 28at a great assembly of priests, people, officials, and national leaders the following facts were made known to us: 29Often 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. 30Jonathan united our people and became the High Priest before he died. 31The enemies of the Jews plotted to invade the land and defile the Temple. 32Then Simon assumed command and fought for his country. He spent a large amount of his own money to provide weapons and pay for his nation's armed forces. 33He 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. 34He fortified the seaport of Joppa as well as 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.14.34 that the people needed; or that was needed to keep them in repair. 35When 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. 37Simon 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. 38As a result, King Demetrius confirmed him as High Priest, 39gave him the title of ‘Friend of the King,’ and treated him with great honour. 40Demetrius 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 honours.

41“Therefore,14.41 Therefore, some manuscripts have and that. the Jews and their priests are happy to have Simon and his descendants as their leaders and High Priests, until a true prophet appears. 42Simon 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. 43The 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. 45Anyone 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. 47Simon consented and agreed to be supreme leader: High Priest, commander of the armies, and governor of the Jews and the priests.”

48It was decided that this declaration should be engraved on bronze tablets and set up in a prominent place within the Temple area 49and that copies should be placed in the Temple treasury, where Simon and his sons would have access to them.