Good News Translation (GNB)

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.”


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.


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

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.


Antiochus the Seventh Asks for Simon's Support

151From 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. 3As 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. 4I 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 to you by former kings. 6I authorize you to mint your own coins as legal currency in your own country. 7Jerusalem and the Temple shall be free of taxation. All the weapons that you have manufactured and the defences you have built and now occupy shall remain yours. 8In addition, all debts now owed to the royal treasury, or which may in the future fall due, are permanently cancelled. 9As soon as I have regained control of my kingdom, I will confer upon you, your nation, and the Temple such great honours that the glory of your country will be evident to the whole world.”

10In the year 17415.10 the year 174: This corresponds to 138 bc. 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. 11Trypho, pursued by Antiochus, fled to the coastal city of Dor, 12realizing that he was in a desperate situation, now that all his troops had deserted him. 13Then Antiochus laid siege to Dor with 120,000 well-trained soldiers and 8,000 cavalry. 14With 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


1 Macc 12.16
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. 17A 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, 18and they have brought as a gift a gold shield weighing 500 kilogrammes. 19So 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. 20We have decided to accept the shield and grant them protection. 21Therefore 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.”

22Lucius wrote the same letter to King Demetrius, to Attalus, Ariarathes, and Arsaces, 23and 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. 24A copy of the letter was also sent to Simon the High Priest.

Antiochus the Seventh Breaks with Simon

25King Antiochus laid siege to Dor for the second time, keeping it under constant attack. He built siege-platforms, and his blockade kept Trypho and his men from going in or out. 26Simon sent 2,000 well-trained soldiers to help Antiochus, as well as silver and gold and a great deal of equipment. 27But Antiochus refused to accept them, cancelled all the previous arrangements that he had made with Simon, and became his enemy. 28Then Antiochus sent his trusted official Athenobius to negotiate with Simon. He said to Simon, “You are occupying Joppa, Gezer, and the fort in Jerusalem, cities that belong to my kingdom. 29You have devastated those regions and brought great trouble to the country. You have seized control of many places in my kingdom. 30Now you must hand back the 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. 31If you are unwilling to do this, then you must pay me seventeen tonnes of silver, and seventeen additional tonnes 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.”

32When Athenobius came to Jerusalem and saw the splendour of Simon's court, the gold and silver dishes in his banqueting-hall, and the rest of the display of great wealth, he was amazed. He delivered the king's message to Simon, 33and 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. 34We are now only making use of this opportunity to recover our ancestral heritage. 35As for Joppa and Gezer, which you claim, we will give you 3.4 tonnes of silver, in spite of the fact that the people of those cities have done great harm to our nation.”

Athenobius made no reply, 36but he returned to the king in a rage. When he told the king what Simon had said, and reported on the splendour of Simon's court and all that he had seen, the king became violently angry.

John's Victory over Cendebeus

37In the meantime, Trypho had boarded a ship and escaped to the town of Orthosia. 38King Antiochus appointed Cendebeus as commander of the coastal area, provided him with infantry and cavalry, 39and 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.

40Cendebeus then came to Jamnia and began to harass the Jews by invading Judea, capturing people, and murdering them. 41He 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.