The Holy Bible – Knox Translation
The First Book of Machabees
The year following, what must Demetrius do but muster his army and betake himself to Media, where he would raise levies for the war against Tryphon?
When Arsaces, king of the Medes and Persians, had news of it, he gave orders to one of his chieftains, the invader must be taken alive and brought into his presence.
The order was obeyed; the Syrian king, routed and captured, was brought before Arsaces, who put him safely in prison.
Thus, during Simon’s days, the whole land of Juda was at peace. Ever his people’s good sought he, and ever by willing hearts was obeyed and honoured.
With great state he took possession of Joppe as a harbour,✻ and so found access to the islands out at sea.
How wide spread he the frontiers of Israel, how firmly held its possessions,
captured how many of its foes! Gazara and Bethsura he won, ay, and the Citadel itself, ridding it of all defilement; there was no resisting his power.
In his day, every man farmed his own lands in security, soil of Juda yielded its crops, and the trees their fruit;
sat old men in the market-place, busy over the common weal, and young men wore the livery of their glorious campaigning.
Never a city but he furnished it with store of provisions; a bulwark each of them should be of sturdy defence. What wonder if the story of his renown was noised to the world’s end?
Such peaceful times brought he to his country, when all Israel kept high holiday,
every man with his own vine and fig-tree for shade, and enemy was none to daunt them;
domestic malice undone, foreign tyranny shattered all around!
Among his own folk, what comfort he gave the friendless, how scrutinized the law, what short work made of traitor and malcontent;
how adorned the sanctuary, how increased the number of its treasures!
To Rome, to Sparta itself, came tidings of Jonathan’s death, and was heard right sorrowfully.
When they learned that his brother Simon had been made high priest instead, master now of the land and all its cities,
they wrote to him on tablets made of bronze, to renew the treaty of friendship they had with his brethren, Judas and Jonathan, before him;✻
and their letters were read out before the whole assembly at Jerusalem. The Spartans wrote in these words following:
The rulers and commonalty of Sparta, to the high priest Simon, the elders and priests and all the people of the Jews, greeting.
Welcome news your ambassadors have brought us, of fame and credit and prosperity you enjoy.
And their errand stands recorded in our public annals; how Numenius son of Antiochus and Antipater son of Jason came on the Jews’ part to renew our old treaty of friendship with you;
how the people resolved to give them fair greeting, and to lay up a copy of their report in the public archives, that should preserve the memory of it among the Spartan people; and how an account of all this was sent to the high priest Simon.
Numenius was sent on a further mission to Rome, bearing a great target of gold, a thousand minas in weight, to renew the alliance there. And when all this reached the ears of the people …✻
… Men began to ask, how they could shew their gratitude to Simon, and to his sons?
Here was one that had restored the fortunes of his race, and rid Israel of its foes. So they gave him exemption from public burdens, and inscribed their decree on tablets of bronze, fastened to pillars which were set up on mount Sion.
And thus the inscription ran: On this eighteenth day of Elul, in the hundred and seventy-second year of the Greek empire, the third of Simon’s high priesthood,
there was a high assembly held at Saramel✻ of priests and people, clan-chiefs and elders of the whole nation, that had before them these considerations following. All through the long wars of our country,
Simon and his brethren, sons of Mattathias, of Jarib’s clan, put their lives in peril, and fought for law and sanctuary against the common enemy, much glory winning for their own nation.
When Jonathan, that had rallied the people and been their high priest, became a part of his race,
enemies thought to invade the country and crush the power of it, violate its holy places;
and Simon it was withstood them. Champion of his people’s cause, much he spent to arm its warriors, and furnish them with pay.
Juda’s cities he fortified, and others besides; Bethsura on the frontiers, once a stronghold of the enemy, garrisoned now by Jews,
Joppe on the sea-coast, and Gazara in the Azotus region; Gazara, too, once hostile, with Jewish troops manned he, and in each town made provision for repairs to be done.
The people, seeing him so loyal a lover of his country’s renown, made him their ruler and high priest; no less was due to such exploits, public service so faithfully done, such constant ambition for his people’s honour.
In his days it was, and by his means, the land was rid at last of Gentile intruders; not least the garrison of David’s own Keep at Jerusalem, that by their sallying out profaned the sacred precincts, and much defiled their purity;
a Jewish garrison he set there, to guard both city and country-side, and built Jerusalem walls yet higher.
High priesthood of his, king Demetrius must needs acknowledge,
bestowing on him the title of king’s friend, and loading him with honours. What could he do else?
Here was Rome itself greeting the Jewish folk as allies, good friends, and kinsmen, welcoming the envoys of Simon with civic state.
Here were the Jews, priests and people both, agreed that he should rule them, granting him the high priesthood✻ by right inalienable, until true prophet they should have once more.
Their ruler he should be, and guardian of their temple; appoint officer and magistrate, master of ordnance and captain of garrison,
and have charge of the sanctuary besides. Him all must obey, in his name deeds be drawn up, all the country through; of purple and gold should be his vesture.
Of the rest, both priests and people, none should retrench these privileges, nor gainsay Simon’s will, nor convoke assembly in the country without him; garment of purple, buckle of gold none should wear;
nor any man defy or void this edict, but at his peril.
The people’s pleasure it was to ennoble Simon after this sort;
and Simon, he would not say them nay; high priest, and of priests and people leader, governor and champion, he would be henceforward.
So they had the decree inscribed on tablets of bronze, and set up plain to view in the temple precincts;
and a copy of it they put by in the treasury, in the safe keeping of Simon and his heirs.✻
The Holy Bible