The Holy Bible – Knox Translation
The First Book of Machabees
Here was a posture of affairs suited Jonathan well enough; yet would he send delegates to confirm and renew his alliance with the Romans;
Lacedaemon, too, and other countries should have letters of the same tenour.
To Rome, then, his messengers went, gained audience of the senate, and told how the high priest Jonathan and the Jewish people had sent them to renew their old treaty of friendship;
and the Romans gave them such letters of recommendation to this country or that, as should bring them home to Juda under safe conduct.
The message Jonathan sent to the men of Sparta was in these terms following.
The high priest Jonathan, with the elders and priests and all the people of the Jews, to their brethren the Spartans, greeting.
Long since, your king Arius wrote to our own high priest, Onias, claiming kinship between us, as witness the copy here subjoined;
an honourable welcome Onias gave to this messenger of yours, and accepted the proposal of friendly alliance.
For ourselves, we have little need of such friendship; seek we comfort, it is in the sacred books committed to our charge.
Yet we thought it best to treat with you for the renewal of this brotherly compact, before any estrangement should arise between us; your embassy to us is of long ago.
Never feast-day passes, nor day apt for remembrance, but you are remembered, as brothers should be, in sacrifice and prayer we offer;
renown of yours is pride of ours still.
In wars and calamities much involved of late, powerful kings for our neighbours and our enemies,
we would not embroil you, nor other allies of ours, in these quarrels.
Now, by the grace of heaven, we are delivered; our enemies lie crushed;
delegates of ours, Numenius son of Antiochus and Antipater son of Jason, are on their way to Rome, friendship and alliance of former days to confirm afresh;
and should we send them with no errand to you, no greeting, no word from us of brotherhood revived?
Pray you, send us fair answer in your turn.
And, for Arius’ letter to Onias, thus the copy of it ran,
Arius, king of the Spartans, to the high priest Onias, greeting.
Spartan and Jew, written record shews it, come of one blood, Abraham’s.
Apprised of this, we would fain know how you do; pray tell us.
And take this message in return, Cattle and whatever else is ours, is yours, and yours ours; of that, the bearer of this letter brings you assurance.
Then came news to Jonathan that the chiefs of Demetrius’ faction were returning to the attack, and in greater force than ever;
so out he marched, and met them in the Amathite country; respite he would not give them, to invade his own.
Spies of his went out into the enemy’s camp, and reported, all was ready for a night attack;
so, when the sun was down, Jonathan would have his men keep watch, ready armed all night for battle, and posted sentries round his lines.
The enemy, hearing of such preparedness on their part, took alarm and let cowardly counsels prevail;✻ they were at pains to leave watchfires burning in their camp,
so that Jonathan and his men, deceived by the glow of light, knew nothing of their plans till morning;
and when he gave chase, it was too late to catch them; already they had crossed the river Eleutherus.
Thereupon he turned his attack against the Zabadeans, an Arabian tribe, defeating them and taking spoils from them;
and so, harnessing his waggons, pressed on to Damascus, patrolling all the country round about.
Meanwhile, Simon had marched out to Ascalon and the neighbouring strongholds; thence he turned aside to Joppe, and took possession of it;
rumour had reached him, the townsfolk would yield the citadel to Demetrius’ party, and he must have a garrison there of his own.
When Jonathan returned, he summoned the elders of the people, and took counsel with them, how best to raise strongholds in Judaea,
and build up walls in Jerusalem itself. Height these must have, above all, between the Citadel and the rest of the town; he would have it cut off from the rest, standing by itself, with no opportunity to buy and sell.
A great muster there was for the city’s rebuilding; and where the wall had tumbled down, over the ravine on the east, he made it good; it is the part called Caphetetha.
Meanwhile, Simon rebuilt Adiada in the Sephela and fortified it; bolt and bar it should have thenceforward.
And what of Tryphon? Lordship of all Asia he coveted, and a royal crown; it should be Antiochus’ turn next.
The danger was, Jonathan would refuse his assent, and resort to arms; Jonathan first he must seize and put to death. So he moved his quarters to Bethsan,
where Jonathan came out to meet him with forty thousand men, picked warriors all of them, at his back.
Here was a great retinue; and Tryphon, daunted by this show of force,
was fain to give him an honourable welcome. He would admit Jonathan among his closest friends, and bestow gifts on him; let Jonathan give orders, and Tryphon’s soldiers would obey.
Then he asked, What needs it, such a host of men should go campaigning, when threat of war is none?
It were better to disband them, and choose out a few for thy own retinue. That done, bear me company to Ptolemais; city and strongholds and troops and officers I will hand over into thy charge and so get me gone home; it was on that errand I came.
What did Jonathan? He fell into the trap, sent his men back to Juda,
and kept but three thousand under arms; of these, he left two thousand in Galilee, and took but a thousand in his company.
No sooner had he entered Ptolemais than the townsfolk shut the gates behind him, secured his person, and put his retinue to the sword.
Horse and foot Tryphon sent out to Galilee, to find the rest of his followers in the Great Plain, and make an end of them;
but these, hearing that Jonathan and his men had been caught and murdered, resolved to put a bold front on it, and marched in battle array.
Finding them ready to sell their lives dearly, their pursuers abandoned the chase,
and all reached Juda safe and sound. For Jonathan and his companions they made great dole, and loudly all Israel echoed their lament.
Neighbouring people was none but went about to overthrow them, and no wonder;
their chieftain, their champion gone, now was the time to fall upon them, and rid earth of their memory.
The Holy Bible