Good News Translation (GNB)

The Treaty with the Romans

81Judas had heard about the Romans and their reputation as a military power. He knew that they welcomed all those who joined them as allies and that those who came to them could be sure of the friendship of Rome. 2People had told him about the wars the Romans had fought and their heroic acts among the Gauls, whom they had conquered and forced to pay taxes. 3He had been told what they had done in Spain when they captured the silver-mines and the gold-mines there. 4By careful planning and persistence, they had conquered the whole country, even though it was far from Rome. They had overcome the kings from distant lands who had fought against them; they had defeated them so badly that the survivors had to pay annual taxes. 5They had fought and conquered Philip and Perseus, kings of Macedonia, and all who had joined them against Rome. 6They had even defeated Antiochus the Great, king of Syria, who had attacked them with 120 elephants, cavalry, chariots, and a powerful army. 7They had taken him alive and forced him and his successors to pay heavy taxes, to give hostages, and to surrender 8India, Media, Lydia, and some of their best lands. They took these and gave them to King Eumenes.8.8 king eumenes: This is King Eumenes II, king of Pergamum from 197–158 bc.

9When the Greeks made plans to attack and destroy them, 10the Romans learnt of the plans and sent a general to fight against them. The Romans killed many of the Greeks, took their wives and children captive, plundered their possessions, occupied their land, tore down their fortresses, and made them slaves, as they are today. 11They also destroyed or made slaves of other kingdoms, the islands, and everyone who had ever fought against them. 12But they maintained their friendship with their allies and those who relied on them for protection. They conquered kings near and far, and everyone who heard of their reputation was afraid of them. 13They helped some men to become kings, while they deposed others; they had become a world power. 14In spite of all this, no Roman ever tried to advance his own position by wearing a crown or putting on royal robes. 15They created a senate, and each day 320 senators came together to deliberate about the affairs of the people and their well-being. 16Each year they entrusted to one man the responsibility of governing them and controlling their whole territory. Everyone obeyed this one man, and there was no envy or jealousy among them.


2 Macc 4.11
Judas chose Eupolemus, the son of John and grandson of Accos, and Jason son of Eleazar and sent them to Rome to make a treaty of friendship and alliance with the Romans. 18He did this to get rid of Syrian oppression, since the Jews clearly saw that they were being reduced to slavery. 19After a long and difficult journey, Eupolemus and Jason reached Rome and entered the Senate. They addressed the assembly in these terms: 20“Judas Maccabaeus, his brothers, and the Jewish people have sent us here to make a mutual defence treaty with you, so that we may be officially recorded as your friends and allies.”

21The Romans accepted the proposal, 22

1 Macc 14.18
and what follows is a copy of the letter which was engraved on bronze tablets and sent to Jerusalem to remain there as a record of the treaty:

23“May things go well for ever for the Romans and for the Jewish nation on land and sea! May they never have enemies, and may they never go to war! 24But if war is declared first against Rome or any of her allies anywhere, 25the Jewish nation will come to her aid with wholehearted support, as the situation may require. 26And to those at war with her, the Jews shall not give or supply food, arms, money, or ships, as was agreed in Rome. The Jews must carry out their obligations without receiving anything in return.

27“In the same way, if war is declared first against the Jewish nation, the Romans will come to their aid with hearty support, as the situation may require. 28And to their enemies there shall not be given or supplied food, arms, money, or ships, as was agreed in Rome. The Romans must carry out their obligations without deception.

29“These are the terms of the treaty that the Romans have made with the Jewish people. 30But if, in the future, both parties shall agree to add or remove anything, they shall act on their decision, and whatever they add or remove shall be valid.

31“Furthermore, concerning the wrongs which King Demetrius is doing against the Jews, we have written to him as follows, ‘Why have you treated our friends and allies, the Jews, so harshly? 32If they complain to us about you once more, we will support their cause and go to war against you on land and sea.’ ”


The Death of Judas

91When Demetrius heard that Nicanor and his army had been annihilated, he again sent Bacchides and Alcimus to the land of Judea, this time with the Syrian wing of the army. 2They moved along the Gilgal road, laid siege to Mesaloth in Arbela, captured it, and killed many people. 3In the first month of the year 152,9.3 the year 152: This corresponds to 160 bc. they set up camp opposite Jerusalem. 4From there they marched to Berea with 20,000 infantry and 2,000 cavalry.

5Judas had camped at Elasa, with 3,000 experienced soldiers. 6But when they saw the enormous size of the enemy army, they were terrified. So many men deserted that only 800 Jewish soldiers were left. 7When Judas saw that his army was dwindling away and that the battle was about to begin, he was worried because there was not enough time to bring his army together. 8He was discouraged, but he said to those who were still with him, “Let us prepare for the attack; maybe we can still defeat them.”

9His men tried to talk him out of it. “We are not strong enough,” they said. “Let's retreat now and save our lives. Then we can return with reinforcements and fight the enemy. We haven't enough men now.”

10Judas replied, “Never let it be said that I ran from a battle. If our time has come, let's die bravely for our fellow-Jews and not leave any stain on our honour.”

11The Syrian army came out of the camp and took up battle positions against the Jews. The cavalry was divided into two parts. The shock troops were in the front lines, but the archers and those who used slings went ahead of the main formation. 12Bacchides took his position on the right. The infantry advanced, protected on both sides by the cavalry, and the war trumpets were blown. The soldiers of Judas also sounded their trumpets. 13The ground shook from the noise when the two armies met, and they fought from morning until evening.

14When Judas saw that Bacchides and the main force of the Syrian army was on the right, all his bravest men joined him, 15and they crushed the Syrians' right wing. They pursued them as far as the foothills.9.15 Probable text the foothills; Greek Mount Azotus. 16But when the Syrians on the left wing saw that their right wing had been crushed, they turned to attack Judas and his men from the rear. 17The fighting became very fierce, and many on both sides were killed. 18Finally Judas himself was killed. Then all his family fled. 19Jonathan and Simon took their brother's body and buried it in the family tomb at Modein, 20and there at the tomb they wept for him. All Israel mourned for him in great sorrow for many days. They said, 21“It can't be true! The mighty hero and saviour of Israel has been killed!”

22The other deeds of Judas, his battles, his courageous acts, and his great achievements, were too many to write down.

Jonathan Succeeds Judas

23After the death of Judas, the lawless traitors began to reappear everywhere in Judea, and all the wicked people returned. 24Also at that time, there was a severe famine, and the whole country went over to the side of the renegades. 25Bacchides deliberately appointed some renegade Jews as rulers over the country. 26These men hunted down the friends of Judas and brought them all before Bacchides, and he subjected them to torture and humiliation. 27It was a time of great trouble for Israel, worse than anything that had happened to them since the time prophets ceased to appear among them.

28Then all the friends of Judas came together and said to Jonathan, 29“Since your brother Judas died, there has been no one like him to lead us against our enemies, against Bacchides and those of our own nation who oppose us. 30So today we choose you to succeed him as our ruler and commander to carry on our war.” 31Jonathan accepted the leadership that day and took the place of his brother Judas.

The Campaigns of Jonathan

32When Bacchides learnt of this, he made up his mind to kill Jonathan. 33But when this news reached Jonathan, he fled, with his brother Simon and their men, to the wilderness of Tekoa and set up camp at the pool of Asphar. 34(Bacchides learnt about this on the Sabbath and crossed the Jordan with his whole army.)9.34 Verse 34 is probably misplaced and belongs with verse 43. 35Jonathan sent his brother John, who was responsible for the soldiers' families, to ask the Nabateans, with whom he was on friendly terms, for permission to store with them the large amount of baggage they had. 36But the Jambrites from Medeba attacked John, took him captive, and carried off all the baggage. 37Some time later Jonathan and his brother Simon learnt that the Jambrites were about to celebrate an important wedding and that there would be a bridal procession from the town of Nadabath. The bride was the daughter of one of the great princes of Canaan. 38Jonathan and Simon had wanted revenge for the death of their brother John, so they and their men went up one of the mountains and hid. 39They kept watch and saw a noisy crowd loaded down with baggage. The bridegroom, his friends, and his relatives were on their way to meet the bride's party. They were heavily armed and were playing musical instruments and drums. 40The Jews attacked from their ambush and killed many of them; the rest escaped into the mountains, while the Jews carried off all their possessions. 41So the wedding was turned into a time of mourning and their joyful music into funeral songs. 42Jonathan and Simon had taken full revenge for the death of their brother, and they returned to the marshes along the Jordan.

43Bacchides heard about this and arrived on the Sabbath at the banks of the Jordan with a large army. 44Jonathan said to his men, “Now we must fight for our lives. We are in a worse situation than we have ever been in before. 45The enemy is in front of us, the river is behind us, and marshes and thickets are on both sides of us; there is no way out. 46So pray now for the Lord to save us from our enemies.”

47The battle began and Jonathan and his men were just about to kill Bacchides, when he escaped to the rear of the army. 48So Jonathan and his men jumped into the Jordan and swam to the other side to escape, and the Syrian army did not cross the river to follow them. 49That day Bacchides lost about a thousand men.

50After Bacchides returned to Jerusalem, the Syrians built fortifications with high walls and barred gates for a number of towns in Judea: Emmaus, Beth Horon, Bethel, Timnath, Pirathon, Tephon, and the fortress in Jericho. 51In all of these Bacchides placed troops to harass the Jews. 52He also strengthened the fortifications of the towns of Bethzur and Gezer and of the fort in Jerusalem. He placed army units in them and stored up supplies there. 53Then he took the sons of the leading men of the country as hostages and imprisoned them in the fort.

54In the second month of the year 153,9.54 the year 153: This corresponds to 159 bc. the High Priest Alcimus ordered that the wall of the inner court of the Temple must be torn down. This would have destroyed what the prophets had accomplished; but just as the work began, 55he had a stroke, and work was stopped. Paralysed and unable to open his mouth, he could not speak or even make a will for his family. 56He died in great torment. 57When Bacchides learnt that Alcimus was dead, he returned to King Demetrius, and the land of Judea had peace for two years.

58Then all the renegades got together and said, “Look, Jonathan and his men are living in peace and security. If we bring Bacchides here now, he can capture them all in a single night.” 59They went to discuss the matter with Bacchides, 60and he set out with a large army. He sent secret letters to all his allies in Judea, asking them to seize Jonathan and his men. But they were not able to do so, because the plot was discovered. 61Jonathan and his men captured fifty of the traitorous leaders who had been involved in the plot and put them to death. 62Then Jonathan, Simon, and their forces withdrew to Bethbasi in the wilderness. They rebuilt the ruined fortifications and strengthened the defences of the town. 63When Bacchides learnt about all this, he got his whole army together and alerted his supporters in Judea. 64He attacked Bethbasi from all sides and built siege-platforms. After the battle had gone on for a long time, 65Jonathan slipped out into the country with a small body of men and left his brother Simon in charge of the town. 66Jonathan defeated Odomera and his people, and then attacked and destroyed the Phasirite camp. Once defeated, they joined Jonathan and advanced with him in his attack against Bacchides. 67At the same time, Simon and his men rushed from the town and burnt the siege-platforms. 68In the battle Bacchides was pressed so hard that all his plans came to nothing, and he was defeated. 69He was so furious with the traitorous Jews who had urged him to come to Judea that he put many of them to death.

Then Bacchides decided to return to his own country, 70but when Jonathan learnt of this, he sent ambassadors to Bacchides to arrange for peace terms and the return of Jewish prisoners. 71Bacchides agreed to do as Jonathan asked and gave him his solemn promise that he would let him live in peace for the rest of his life. 72Bacchides handed over the prisoners and returned to his own country. Never again did he come into Jewish territory. 73War came to an end in Israel. Jonathan settled in Michmash and began to govern the people and to eliminate the renegade Jews from Israel.


Alexander Epiphanes Makes Jonathan High Priest

101In the year 160,10.1 the year 160: This corresponds to 152 bc. Alexander Epiphanes,10.1 alexander epiphanes: Alexander Epiphanes is more widely known as Alexander Balas. son of Antiochus the Fourth, landed at Ptolemais and captured it. The people welcomed him as their king. 2When King Demetrius heard of it, he gathered a large army and went out to meet him in battle. 3At that time Demetrius sent Jonathan a friendly letter full of flattery, 4in the hope of winning Jonathan over to his side and making peace with the Jews before Alexander made a treaty with them against him. 5Demetrius thought that Jonathan would certainly remember all the wrongs he had done to him, his brothers, and the entire Jewish nation. 6And so Demetrius made Jonathan his ally and gave him authority to raise an army and equip it. He also ordered that the hostages held in the fort at Jerusalem should be handed over to Jonathan. 7So Jonathan went to Jerusalem and read the letter to all the people and to the men in the fort. 8These men were terrified when they learnt that the king had given Jonathan authority to raise an army. 9They handed the hostages over to him, and he returned them to their parents.

10Jonathan set up his headquarters in Jerusalem and began to rebuild and restore the city. 11He ordered the builders to use squared stones for the city walls and for the protecting wall round Mount Zion. This was done. 12The foreigners deserted the fortresses that Bacchides had built; 13each man left his post and returned to his own country. 14But some of the Jews who had abandoned the Law of Moses and its commands were still left in Bethzur, which served as their last place of refuge.

15King Alexander learnt of the promises Demetrius had made to Jonathan and he also learnt about Jonathan himself, about the battles he had fought, his courageous deeds, and the troubles he and his brothers had endured. 16He was certain that he would never find another man like Jonathan and so decided to make him his friend and ally. 17He wrote Jonathan a letter:

18“King Alexander to his friend Jonathan, greetings. 19I have heard that you are a brave man who has earned the right to be a friend of the king. 20I have this day appointed you as High Priest of your nation and conferred upon you the title of ‘Friend of the King.’ You are to be our ally and give us your support.”

He also sent him a royal robe and a gold crown. 21Jonathan put on the robes of the High Priest in the seventh month of the year 16010.21 the year 160: This corresponds to 152 bc. at the Festival of Shelters. He raised an army and stored up a large supply of weapons.

Jonathan Supports Alexander Epiphanes

22When Demetrius heard this, he was distressed and said, 23“How did we manage to let Alexander get ahead of us? He has strengthened his position by making an alliance with the Jews. 24I also will write them a friendly letter offering high positions and gifts, so that they will support me.”

25He wrote:

“King Demetrius to the nation of the Jews, greetings. 26We are delighted to learn that you have kept your obligations under our treaty, remained loyal to us, and have not gone over to the side of our enemies. 27Now if you continue to remain loyal to us, we will reward you well. 28We will grant you exemptions from many taxes and allow you other privileges. 29I hereby grant all the Jewish people release and exemption from payment of regular taxes, salt taxes, and other special taxes. 30

1 Macc 11.34
Furthermore, from this day I release you from your obligation to pay me one-third of the grain-harvest and half of the fruit-harvest. From now on I will not demand these payments from Judea or from the three districts that have been added to Judea from Samaria and Galilee. 31Jerusalem and its surrounding territory is to be recognized as a holy city and to be exempt from the payment of all taxes. 32I also give up my authority over the fort in Jerusalem and place it under the High Priest, who may station there anyone he wishes to guard it. 33I freely grant release to all Jews who are prisoners of war anywhere in my kingdom. All of them will be exempt from taxes, even on their livestock.10.33 This sentence in Greek is unclear. 34No taxes shall be collected from any Jew anywhere in my kingdom on Sabbaths, New Moon Festivals, and other holy days. Furthermore, no taxes shall be collected three days before or after the major holy days. 35No one has the right on any of these days to demand payment or to trouble you in any way.

36“Jews may be enlisted in the royal army up to a total of 30,000 men, and they will receive the same pay as other royal troops. 37Some of them may be stationed in the great royal fortresses, and others assigned to responsible positions in the government. They shall have Jews as their leaders and officers, and they shall be allowed to follow their own laws and customs, just as the king has permitted for the people of Judea.

38“The three districts added to Judea from the territory of Samaria will be completely incorporated into Judea and placed under the authority of the High Priest alone. 39I give to the Temple in Jerusalem for its operating expenses the revenues from the city of Ptolemais and the lands belonging to it. 40I also promise to make an annual gift of 15,000 silver coins from appropriate accounts within the royal treasury. 41The total accumulated state subsidy, which we have failed to pay in recent years, shall be paid, and the payments continued from now on for the work of the Temple. 42In addition to this, we will no longer require the 5,000 silver coins annually from the Temple income. This money belongs to the priests serving in the Temple. 43Whoever owes a debt to the king or any other debt and takes refuge in the Temple in Jerusalem or in any area that belongs to it may not be arrested, nor may his property anywhere in my kingdom be confiscated. 44The expenses for rebuilding and renovating the Temple shall be provided from the royal treasury. 45Likewise, the expenses for rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem and its surrounding fortifications, as well as the walls of designated towns in Judea, shall be provided from the royal treasury.”

46When Jonathan and the people heard the proposals made by King Demetrius, they refused to believe them or accept them, because they remembered how harshly he had treated them and what terrible troubles he had caused them. 47They preferred to give their allegiance to Alexander because he had been the first to open peace negotiations, and they remained his allies as long as he lived.

48King Alexander raised a large army and took up battle positions facing Demetrius. 49But when the armies of the two kings met in battle, the army of Alexander10.49; 10.50 Alexander; some manuscripts have Demetrius. turned and ran. Demetrius10.49 Demetrius; some manuscripts have Alexander. pursued them and won the battle. 50Alexander10.50; 10.49 Alexander; some manuscripts have Demetrius. fought bitterly until sundown, but Demetrius was killed that day.

51Then Alexander sent ambassadors to King Ptolemy the Sixth of Egypt with this message:

52“I have returned to my kingdom and taken my seat on the throne of my ancestors. I have taken over the government, and I am now in control of the country. 53I made war on Demetrius, defeated him and his army, and I have taken over his kingdom. 54Now I am ready to make an alliance. Give me your daughter in marriage, and I will give both of you such gifts as you deserve.”

55King Ptolemy replied, “It was a great day when you returned to your country and took the throne of your ancestors. 56I agree to your proposals, but first meet me at Ptolemais. We can get acquainted there, and I will give you my daughter in marriage.”

57So in the year 16210.57 the year 162: This corresponds to 150 bc. Ptolemy and his daughter Cleopatra10.57 Cleopatra: this was Cleopatra Thea, also known as Cleopatra the Third, and not to be confused with Cleopatra the Seventh (69–30 bc), who was involved in the history of Caesar and Mark Antony. left Egypt and arrived at Ptolemais. 58King Alexander met them, and Ptolemy gave him his daughter in marriage. The wedding was celebrated there in Ptolemais with royal splendour.

59King Alexander wrote asking Jonathan to come to meet him. 60So Jonathan, in a show of splendour, went to Ptolemais and met the two kings. He presented them with gifts of silver and gold, and he also gave many gifts to the high officials who had accompanied them. Everyone was favourably impressed with him. 61At the same time some traitorous Jews who wanted to make trouble for Jonathan made accusations against him, but King Alexander paid no attention to them. 62He gave orders that Jonathan should be given royal robes to wear, 63and he honoured him by letting him sit at his side. Alexander told his officers to take Jonathan into the centre of the city and to announce that no one was to bring charges against him for any reason and no one was to cause him any kind of trouble. 64When his accusers saw the honours given to him, heard the announcement, and saw him clothed in royal robes, they all fled. 65The king further honoured Jonathan by enrolling him in the First Order of the “Friends of the King” and by making him a general and governor of his province. 66Jonathan returned to Jerusalem pleased and successful.

Jonathan's Victory over Apollonius

67In the year 16510.67 the year 165: This corresponds to 147 bc. Demetrius the Second, the son of Demetrius the First, left Crete and arrived in Syria, the land of his ancestors. 68When King Alexander heard about this, he was worried and returned to Antioch, the capital of Syria. 69Demetrius reappointed Apollonius governor of Greater Syria. Apollonius raised a large army, set up camp near Jamnia, and sent the following message to Jonathan the High Priest:

70“Because of you I am being ridiculed, but why do you, there in your mountains, continue this rebellion when no one supports you? 71If you really have any confidence in your army, come down here on the plain and fight, where we can test each other's strength. Study the situation, and you will find that I have the support of the forces from the cities. 72You will learn who I am and who our allies are, and you will discover that you have no chance of standing against us. Your predecessors have already been beaten twice on their own ground; 73so how do you expect to defeat my cavalry and the kind of army I have here on the plain? Down here there is not so much as a pebble to hide behind and no way to escape.”

74When Jonathan received this message from Apollonius, he became angry. He took 10,000 picked troops from Jerusalem; his brother Simon also brought troops, and their two forces 75set up camp outside Joppa. The men of the city refused to let them in because there was a detachment of Apollonius' troops there, but Jonathan attacked, 76and the men in the city became so frightened that they opened the gates, allowing Jonathan to capture Joppa. 77When Apollonius heard what had happened, he took 3,000 cavalry and a large army of infantry and pretended to retreat south towards Azotus. However, relying upon the strength of his cavalry, he marched into the plain with his main force, 78-79positioning a thousand cavalry where they could attack Jonathan's forces from the rear. Jonathan continued his pursuit as far as Azotus, where the two armies met in battle. 80Not until then did Jonathan realize that he was caught in an ambush. His army was surrounded, and enemy arrows rained down on them from morning until evening. 81But Jonathan's men stood firm, as he had ordered, and the attacking cavalry grew tired. 82Then, when the cavalry was exhausted, Simon appeared on the scene with his forces and attacked and overwhelmed the enemy infantry, who broke ranks and fled. 83The cavalry, which by now was scattered all over the battlefield, fled to Azotus, where they took refuge in the temple of Dagon, their god. 84But Jonathan set fire to the city and to the temple of Dagon, burning to death all those who had taken refuge there. Then he set fire to the surrounding towns and looted them. 85That day about 8,000 were either killed in the battle or burnt to death. 86Jonathan left and set up camp at Ashkelon, where the people of the city came out to welcome him with great honours. 87Jonathan and his men returned to Jerusalem with large quantities of loot.

88When King Alexander heard what Jonathan had done, he gave him even greater honours. 89He sent him a gold shoulder buckle, which is given only to those honoured with the title “Relative of the King.” He also gave him the city of Ekron and its surrounding territory.