The Holy Bible – Knox Translation
The First Book of Machabees
And what did Simon, when he heard that Tryphon had levied a strong force, for Juda’s invasion and overthrow?
Here was all the people in a great taking of fear; so he made his way to Jerusalem and there gathered them to meet him.
And thus, to put heart into them, he spoke: Need is none to tell you what battles we have fought, what dangers endured, I and my brethren and all my father’s kin, law and sanctuary to defend.
In that cause, and for the love of Israel, my brothers have died, one and all, till I only am left;
never be it said of me, in the hour of peril I held life dear, more precious than theirs!
Nay, come the whole world against us, to glut its malice with our ruin, race and sanctuary, wives and children of ours shall find me their champion yet.
At these words, the spirit of the whole people revived;
loud came their answer, Brother of Judas and Jonathan, thine to lead us now!
Thine to sustain our cause; and never word of thine shall go unheeded!
Thereupon, he summoned all the fighting men together, and pressed on to have the walls of Jerusalem finished, till it was fortified all about;
and he sent Jonathan, son of Absalom, to Joppe, at the head of a force newly raised; the garrison was disbanded, and a new captain held it now.
Meanwhile, Tryphon had left Ptolemais, with a great army at his heels, marching on Juda; and with him went Jonathan, his prisoner.
He found Simon encamped at Addus, that looks out over the plain;
here was Jonathan’s brother Simon taking his place, and offering battle. Envoys were sent out to make his excuses:
Hold we the person of thy brother Jonathan, it is because he is in default to the royal treasury over his dealings with it.
Thou hast but to send a hundred talents of silver, and his two sons, to be surety he will not play us false when we release him, and he is a free man.
Well Simon knew it was treacherously spoken; yet he gave orders, both money and hostages should be surrendered. A bitter grudge Israel’s people would bear him, if they had cause to say,
For want of money paid over and surety given, Jonathan must die!
Sent they were, the boys and the money both, but all was treachery; Jonathan never came back.
And now Tryphon invaded Juda, bent on its undoing; his troops must fetch a compass by the road that leads round to Ador, and, march they where they would, Simon and his army were at their heels.
Word came to Tryphon from the defenders of Jerusalem citadel, he should make his way across the desert without more ado, and bring them supplies;
and that same night he had all his cavalry in readiness for the march, but there was a great fall of snow, and come he might not … into the country of Galaad.✻
When he reached Bascaman, then and there he put Jonathan and his sons to death;
and with that, he turned about, and went back to his own country.
There lay the bones of Simon’s brother Jonathan, till he sent to fetch them, and gave them burial at Modin, the city of his fathers.
Loud lament all Israel made for him, and long they bemoaned him.
Over the graves of his father and his brethren Simon raised a towering monument, of dressed stone behind and before;
then, with father and mother and his four brethren in mind, he built seven pyramids, in rows;
and all about were great columns, carved with armour and ships; an abiding memorial, and a land mark to mariners at sea.
Such was the tomb he raised at Modin, and it may be seen to this day.
Meanwhile, as they were journeying together, Tryphon murdered the young king Antiochus by artifice,
and succeeded to his throne, wearing the crown of all Asia; great mischief it was he did to his country.
All the fortresses of Judaea Simon repaired, building them up with high tower and stout wall, with bolt and bar; and never a garrison but had provisions laid up in store.
Then he chose out envoys and sent them to king Demetrius, praying that the land might enjoy immunity after the tyrannous actions of Tryphon.✻
When king Demetrius answered the request, he wrote in these terms following.
King Demetrius to the high priest Simon, the friend of kings, and to all the elders and people of the Jews, greeting.
Crown of gold and robe of scarlet you sent us were faithfully delivered. Great favour we mean to shew you, by sending word to the king’s officers to respect the remissions granted you.
The decrees we made concerning you are yet in force; and, for the strongholds you have built, they shall be yours.
Fault of yours in the past, witting or unwitting, is condoned; coronation tax you owed, and all other tribute that was due from Jerusalem, is due no longer.
Fit be they for such enrolment, Jews shall be enrolled in our armies, and ever between us and you let there be peace!
Thus, in the hundred and seventieth year, Israel was free of the Gentile yoke at last;
and this style the people began to use, were it private bond or public instrument they indited, In the first year of Simon’s high priesthood, chief paramount and governor of the Jews.
Then it was that Simon marched on Gaza,✻ and beleaguered it with his army; built engines, and forced an entry into one of the towers.
Out into the streets they sallied, that manned the engine, and there was a fine commotion in the city;
here were the townsfolk, with their wives and children, mounting the walls with their garments rent about them, and crying aloud, Simon should give them quarter;
great were their fault, greater still his clemency!
At that, Simon relented; harry them to the death he would not, but he drove them out of the city, and cleansed all the houses where idols had stood; then, with singing of psalms and giving of thanks, he made his entry;
and now all defilement must be put away, and such citizens it must have as did what the law commanded. After that, he fortified it, and made his own dwelling there.
And what of the Gentiles that were left in Jerusalem citadel? Enter Jewish territory or leave it they might not, buy or sell they might not, so that they were hard put to it for food, and many died of famine.
At last they cried out to Simon, he should give them quarter, and give them quarter he did, but drove them out, and cleansed the citadel of its pollution.
On the twenty-third day of the second month, in the hundred and seventy-first year, in came the Jewish folk singing praise and bearing palm-branches, with music of harp, and cymbals, and zither, and chanting of psalms; of such ill neighbours Israel was now rid.
Every year, Simon proclaimed, holiday should be kept at this time;
and he fortified that part of the temple mountain which was close by the citadel; here he dwelt, and his followers with him.
And now here was his son John grown into a brave warrior; him Simon put at the head of the whole army, with his quarters at Gazara.
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