The Holy Bible – Knox Translation
The First Book of Machabees
And now, in the hundred and sixtieth year, came Alexander, a son of Antiochus the Illustrious, and took possession of Ptolemais, where he was received with royal honours.
A great force king Demetrius levied, when he heard of it, and went out to give him battle;
at the same time, he wrote to Jonathan, in such loving terms as should flatter his dignity.
No time to be lost, thought he, in making friends with this man, before he takes to comforting Alexander against us;
for wrong done to himself, and his brother, and all his race, he bears us a grudge yet.
So he empowered Jonathan to muster an army, and to make weapons of war, as the ally of Syria; the hostages, too, in the citadel were to be given back to him.
When Jonathan came to Jerusalem, and read this letter aloud, not to the townsfolk only, but to the citadel garrison,
great was the fear fell on all who listened; here was Jonathan commissioned to levy troops by the king’s own order!
The hostages were surrendered without more ado, and given back to their parents;
and he himself took up his quarters in Jerusalem, where he set about building up the city and repairing it.
It was the walls needed rebuilding, so he told his workmen; on every side, the hill of Sion must be defended with hewn stone; and punctually they obeyed him.
As for the alien folk that guarded the strongholds Bacchides had left, they fled incontinently;
what matter if their posts were abandoned? They were for home.
Only Bethsura was garrisoned now, and that by traitors to God’s law and commandment; it was all the refuge they had.
King Alexander heard of these overtures made by Demetrius; heard, too, the story of Jonathan and his brethren, battles fought, and deeds done, and labours endured.
Why, said he, this man has not his match anywhere; time it is we should court his friendship and alliance.
With that, he wrote him a letter, and these were the terms of it:
King Alexander, to Jonathan his brother-prince, greeting!
We have heard tell of thee, a man so valiant, and so well worthy of our friendship;
in token whereof, we appoint thee high priest of thy own race henceforward, and to have the title of the King’s Friend. With that, he sent him a purple robe and a gold crown; Take ever our part, said he, and hold fast the bond of friendship.
So, when the seventh month came round, in the hundred and sixtieth year, Jonathan clad himself with the sacred vesture at the feast of Tent-dwelling; an army he levied besides, and made weapons of war in great abundance.
Sick and sorry Demetrius was when he heard of these doings;
Here is an ill day’s work, said he, to let Alexander forestall us in making alliance with the Jews, to his great comfort!
From me, too, they shall have a message of entreaty, they shall have honours and gifts; the Jews shall be my good friends yet.
And thus he wrote: King Demetrius, to the people of the Jews, greeting!
Here is welcome news we have of you; right well you have kept troth with us, honouring the treaty when you might have taken part with our enemies.
In that loyal mind continue, and your good offices shall not go unrewarded;
much immunity you shall enjoy, much largesse receive.
By these presents, I exempt both you and all Jews from the poll-tax; salt-tax and coronation dues I remit and forgo, with my right to a third part of your seed-corn,
and half your fruit-crop. From this day forward, now and for ever, I resign all this; from Juda and from the three cantons of Samaria and Galilee✻ lately added to it, there shall be no toll taken.
For Jerusalem, it shall be a place set apart, a free city with its own confines, mistress of its own tithe and tribute;
nor claim I any rights over the citadel there, I make it over to the high priest, to garrison it as he will.
All persons of Jewish blood in all my realm that were taken away as prisoners from Juda shall now be set free gratuitously, and no distraint made on their revenues or cattle.
Feast-day and new moon and sabbath, and all other such solemnities as are appointed to be observed, with the three days before and after the feast itself, shall be days of immunity and respite for all the Jews in my realm;
nor any business done or debate moved to their detriment at such times.
In the king’s army, Jews may be enrolled up to the number of thirty thousand, paid according to the common rate of the royal troops; and the same shall be free to serve in all the fortified towns of our empire.
Jews may be employed besides in all positions of trust, and appointed governors,✻ yet live still by their own laws, that have royal sanction in the land of Juda.
The three cantons taken from Samaria and added to Judaea shall be accounted part of Juda, under a single government, with no allegiance but to the high priest.
Ptolemais, with all the country that lies about it, I hereby convey as a free gift to the temple precincts at Jerusalem, to defray the temple expenses.✻
To this gift I add a sum of fifteen thousand silver sicles yearly, out of the royal dues that belong to me.
With this sum, arrears shall be made good in payments for the temple building, withheld till now by such as had charge of the matter;
and restitution made, to the priests now in office, for the five thousand sicles that were confiscated year by year from the temple treasury.✻
Debtor to the king, whatever be the charge against him, that takes sanctuary in the temple or its precincts, shall be left at liberty, and no distraint made upon goods of his within these dominions.
Payment shall be made besides from the royal treasury for the finishing and repairing of the temple fabric;
as also for building up and making strong the walls of Jerusalem, and restoring the fortresses of Judaea.
But in vain were such promises made to Jonathan and the Jewish folk, nor credence found they any nor assent. Could they forget all the mischief Demetrius had done in Israel, all the tyranny they had endured?
Alexander it was had all their good wishes; his was the first offer of terms that reached them, and all the while it was his cause they cherished.
By this, Alexander had mustered a great force, and marched against Demetrius.
When the two kings met, it was Demetrius’ men took to their heels, and Alexander gave chase, pressing them hard;
fiercely the battle raged till sun-down, and before the day was over, Demetrius fell.
Hereupon Alexander sent an embassy to Ptolemy, king of Egypt, addressing him in these terms following.
Take notice I have returned to my kingdom, and sit now on the throne of my fathers, in full possession of my princely rights. Would I regain Syria, needs must I should overthrow Demetrius;
overthrow him I did, on field of battle, with all his army, and here I sit in his place.
And should we not be upon terms of friendship, thou and I? Let me have thy daughter to wife; a niggardly wooer thou shalt not find me, nor she either.
And what answer made king Ptolemy? An auspicious day, said he, this day of thy return to the land and throne of thy fathers!
Boon thy letter asks of me thou shalt have; but first meet we together, face to face, yonder at Ptolemais; there will I pledge my word to the articles thou namest.
So here was king Ptolemy come from Egypt, with his daughter Cleopatra, all the way to Ptolemais, in the hundred and sixty-second year;
and there king Alexander met him and took his daughter Cleopatra to wife, and they held the wedding with great magnificence, as kings will.
King Alexander had sent word to Jonathan, he should come and keep tryst with him;
so to Ptolemais Jonathan went with great state, and met the two kings there. Gifts a many he made them, of silver and gold and much else, and was high in favour with them.
It chanced that certain Israelites, pestilent fellows of the traitorous party, came there to bring charges against him. But to these the king would not listen;
he would have Jonathan change his garments, and go clad in purple, and when this was done, a seat he must have beside the king himself.
Take him out into the heart of the city, Alexander said to his vassals, and there make proclamation, none may bring charge against him on any pretext, or in any fashion molest him.
No thought had his accusers, when they heard such proclamation made, and saw Jonathan there dressed in purple, but to escape, one and all, as best they could;
he himself was loaded with honours, enrolled among the king’s chief friends, and made a prince, with a share in the governance of the kingdom.
So Jonathan made his way back to Jerusalem undisturbed, and well content.
Then, in the hundred and sixty-fifth year, came Demetrius, son of that other Demetrius, from the island of Crete, and landed in his native country;
ill hearing indeed for Alexander, who returned at once to Antioch.
Demetrius✻ gave command of his army to Apollonius, that was governor of Coelesyria, and a great array it was he levied. From Jamnia, where he took up his quarters, this Apollonius sent word to the high priest Jonathan:
What, wilt thou defy us, and all alone? Here am I mocked and flouted by the resistance offered me, up yonder in the hills!
Nay, if such confidence thou hast in thy own resources, come down and meet us in the plain; try we conclusions there! Trust me, I am master of the field;
what I am, what my troops are, thou shalt learn upon a little enquiry; stand thou canst not, they will tell thee, before onslaught of ours. Twice, on their native soil, thy fathers fled in disorder,
and wilt thou make head against such an array of horse and foot, here in the plain, where rock is none, nor gravel-bed, to aid thy flight?
Roused by this challenge, Jonathan marched out from Jerusalem with a muster of ten thousand men; his brother Simon joined hands with him;
and together they appeared before the gates of Joppe. Enter they might not, for Apollonius had a garrison there, but must needs attack it;
whereupon the citizens took alarm, and themselves opened the gates. Thus came Joppe into the power of Jonathan;
the news reached Apollonius, and he brought up three thousand horse, with a great array of men besides.
To Azotus he marched, as if he meant to pass them by, but all the while he was luring them on into the plain;✻ in horse lay his strength and his confidence. To Azotus Jonathan followed him, and battle was joined.
Apollonius, by a secret feint, had left a thousand horsemen encamped in their rear;
so all at once Jonathan found himself cut off by an ambush. Round his army they rode, casting javelins into the ranks, from morning till night-fall;
but ever it stood firm, at Jonathan’s bidding, till the horses were tired out at last.
Then, the force of the cavalry once spent, out came Simon with his troops to attack the main body, which thereupon broke and fled.
Scattered over the open country, in vain they rallied at Azotus, and took refuge in the precincts of their god Dagon;
both Azotus and all the neighbouring cities Jonathan burnt and plundered, and Dagon’s temple, with all that took shelter there, was burnt with the rest.
So perished, by sword and fire, some eight thousand men;
as for Jonathan, he had no sooner encamped before Ascalon, than the townsfolk opened the gates to him, and gave him honourable welcome.
So Jonathan came back to Jerusalem, and the army behind him, laden with spoils.
More than ever, when he heard of it, did king Alexander heap honours upon him;
a buckle of gold he sent him, ever the gift kings make to men of blood royal, and Accaron, with all the countryside about it, granted him for his domain.
The Holy Bible