The Holy Bible – Knox Translation
The First Book of Machabees
And now Ptolemy, king of Egypt, levied a great army, countless as sand on the beach, and a fleet besides; to win Alexander’s realm his treacherous design was, and add it to his own.
To Syria he came, full of fair speeches, and all the towns opened their gates to welcome him; such welcome Alexander himself had prescribed; was not the king of Egypt his father-in-law?
And never a town king Ptolemy entered, but he left a guard of soldiers there.
When he reached Azotus, here was Dagon’s temple burnt, here was the town itself and all its neighbourhood in ruins; the dead lay unburied, where they fell in battle, or in heaps by the road-side. All this they shewed him,
and told him, with malicious intent, how it was Jonathan’s doing; but no word said king Ptolemy.
As for Jonathan, he went to meet the king at Joppe, with a deal of pomp; there they greeted one another, and passed the night,
nor would Jonathan return to Jerusalem till he had escorted the king as far as the river called Eleutherus.
All the cities of the sea-coast, as far as maritime Seleucia, king Ptolemy occupied, and with no friendly purpose towards Alexander;
it was to Demetrius he sent envoys instead. Come, said he, a pact between us! My daughter thou shalt have in Alexander’s place, and therewithal the throne of thy fathers;
here is an ill son-in-law I have chosen, that went about but now to kill me!
Thus, to find pretext for dethroning his rival, king Ptolemy defamed him;
took his daughter away, and gave her to Demetrius. His estrangement from Alexander now come to an open breach,
what must he do next but enter the city of Antioch, and there assume the double crown, as ruler of Egypt and Asia both?
As for Alexander, that was then in Cilicia, quelling a revolt in those parts,
he came out to do battle when the news reached him; but Ptolemy brought up his army, met him with a superior force, and routed him.
Thus Egypt had the mastery; and when Alexander fled to Arabia for refuge,
Zabdiel, an Arabian, cut off his head and sent it to the conqueror.
Three days later, Ptolemy himself lay dead; whereupon the garrisons he had left in the towns were massacred by the citizens,
and the royal power passed to Demetrius in this, the hundred and sixty-seventh year.
Now it was that Jonathan mustered the men of Judaea to deliver an attack on the Gentile citadel in Jerusalem; engines a many they brought against it.
Nor wanted there Jews of the godless party, traitors to their own race, that went off and told Demetrius it was being attacked;
the news greatly angered him, and he hastened to Ptolemais, bidding Jonathan raise the siege and come to meet him in conference without more ado.
This message notwithstanding, Jonathan would have the siege go forward; certain elders of Israel, and certain of the priests, he chose out to bear him company, and so put his own life in peril,
going off to meet the king at Ptolemais, with gold and silver and garments and other gifts in great number. He was received graciously enough;
let his own traitorous fellow-countrymen bring what accusations they would,
the king would not be behind his predecessors in making much of Jonathan, for all his courtiers to see.
He was confirmed in the high priesthood, and what other high dignities he held aforetime, and declared besides the chief of the king’s friends.
And now Jonathan had a favour to ask; exemption from tribute for Judaea, and the three cantons, and Samaria with its neighbouring townships;✻ he promised in return a payment of three hundred talents.
To this the king agreed, writing thus to Jonathan upon the matter raised:
King Demetrius, to his brother prince Jonathan, and to the people of the Jews, greeting.
We send you herewith, for your better information, a copy of the instructions we have given to our cousin Lasthenes in your regard.
King Demetrius, to Lasthenes, his good father, greeting.
Whereas the people of the Jews have ever been trusty friends to us, our pleasure it is to reward them for the loyalty they have shewn us.
We therefore confirm them in the possession of all Judaea, the three cities of Ephraim, Lydda and Ramathan, that formerly belonged to Samaria, and all their neighbouring townships … to all those who do sacrifice at Jerusalem; instead of the yearly revenues hitherto set apart for the king from harvest and fruit-gathering.✻
Tithe and tribute that was ours we also remit to them; nor lay any claim to the salt-pits, or the crowns which from time to time were bestowed upon us.
Of all this we give them a full discharge, that shall be valid in perpetuity.
See to it that a copy of this decree shall be made, and handed over to Jonathan, who shall set it up in a public place on the holy mountain.
Here, then, was the whole realm at peace under Demetrius’ rule, nor any rival had he; what must he do but disband all his soldiers and send them home, except the foreign troops he had levied from the islands out at sea? Bitterly they hated him for it, the men who had served under his fathers;
and there was one Tryphon that took good note of these discontents in the army. This Tryphon was formerly of Alexander’s faction, and now he had recourse to Emalchuel, the Arabian, that had care of Alexander’s son Antiochus.
Much persuasion he used with him, to let Antiochus return to his father’s throne; much told him of Demetrius, and how the soldiers were disaffected against him.
Time passed, and Tryphon was in Arabia still.
Time passed, and Tryphon was in Arabia still.
Meanwhile, Jonathan was urgent with king Demetrius to withdraw the garrisons from Jerusalem citadel and the other strongholds, where they bore arms yet, and against Israel.
Nay answered Demetrius, that I will do and more; great honours I have in store, for thee and for thy people both, when the time is ripe for it.
For this present, it were well done to send troops for my own protection; here is all my army revolted from me!
Three thousand picked men Jonathan dispatched to Antioch, to the king’s side, and right glad he was at their coming.
What though the citizens, a hundred and twenty thousand strong, were banded together against his royal person,
driving him to take refuge within the court, and occupying the city streets in warlike fashion?
He had but to call the Jews to his aid, and they rallied at his summons; posted themselves here and there about the streets,
and in one day slew a hundred thousand men, setting fire to the town besides. There was spoil enough for the winning, that day when they saved the king’s life.
The townsfolk, when they saw how easily the Jews got the mastery of them, had no more stomach for fighting; they were loud in their entreaties:
A truce! A truce! Havoc enough yonder Jews have made of us and of the city!
And so, flinging away their weapons, they came to terms. Prince and people both had good proof, by now, of the Jews’ valour; back they went to Jerusalem high in repute among the Syrians, and laden with spoils.
Demetrius, now firmly established on the throne, his dominions all at peace,
recked little enough of his promises; from Jonathan he was estranged altogether, left his services unrecompensed, and much mischief did him besides.
It was now that Tryphon came back, and with him the young prince Antiochus, that took the style of king and had himself crowned;
all the disbanded armies of Demetrius rallied to them, and turned upon their former master, who fled routed before them;
Tryphon, meanwhile, got possession of the elephants, and Antioch fell into his hands.
Thereupon came a letter from the young Antiochus to Jonathan, confirming him in the high priesthood, and in possession both of Judaea and of the three cantons; he was acclaimed as the king’s friend,
and a present of golden cups sent for his use, with the right to drink out of gold ware, to dress in purple, and to carry the golden buckle.
His brother Simon, too, was made lord of the sea-coast, from Tyre to the frontiers of Egypt.
And now Jonathan was on the march, across the river, patrolling the cities everywhere, with all the armies of Syria gathered to aid him. … He came to Ascalon, where the townsfolk welcomed him with all honour;✻
came to Gaza, where they shut the gates on him, and he must needs undertake the siege of it. But when he had spread fire and rapine through the country-side,
the men of Gaza asked for terms, which he gave them, carrying off their sons as hostages to Jerusalem. Then he went on patrolling the country, all the way to Damascus.
News reached him that the chiefs of Demetrius’ faction were making head at Cades, in Galilee, with a whole army to support them, and their design was to remove him from office.
So he went to meet them, leaving his brother Simon in charge of Judaea.
As for Simon, he made an assault upon Bethsura, and kept it for a long while besieged,
till at last it obtained terms of surrender; he rid the place of its defenders and took over the command of it, putting in a garrison of his own.
Meanwhile, Jonathan was encamped by the waters of Genesar; here, on the plain of Asor, they were on the watch before day-break,
when they saw the enemy’s force coming to meet them over the level plain. These had an ambush ready for him on the hill-side, and as he advanced to meet the main body,
the men in ambush sprang up, and engaged him.
At this, all Jonathan’s supporters took to their heels; none stood their ground but Mathathias son of Absalom and Judas son of Calphi, that had the marshalling of his men.
What marvel if Jonathan tore his garments about him, and strewed earth on his head, and betook himself to prayer?
Afterwards, he offered battle afresh, and routed his enemies; as the fight went on,
his own men that had deserted their ranks rallied to him, and joined in the pursuit all the way to Cades, where they encamped once more.
In that day’s fighting, three thousand of the Gentiles fell; and so Jonathan made his way back to Jerusalem.
The Holy Bible