Chapter 12 (I. Maccabees)

When Jonathan saw that circumstances were working in his favour, he sent a select mission to Rome to confirm and renew his treaty of friendship with the Romans. 2 He also sent letters to the same effect to the Spartans and to other places. 3 The envoys made their way to Rome, entered the Senate and said, 'Jonathan the high priest and the Jewish nation have sent us to renew your treaty of friendship and alliance with them as before.' 4 The Senate gave them letters to the authorities of each place, to procure their safe conduct to Judaea. 5 The following is the copy of the letter Jonathan wrote to the Spartans:

6 'Jonathan the high priest, the senate of the nation, the priests and the rest of the Jewish people to the Spartans their brothers, greetings. 7 'In the past, a letter was sent to Onias, the high priest, from Areios, one of your kings, stating that you are indeed our brothers, as the copy subjoined attests. 8 Onias received the envoy with honour, and accepted the letter, in which a clear declaration was made of friendship and alliance. 9 For our part, though we have no need of these, having the consolation of the holy books in our possession, 10 we venture to send to renew our fraternal friendship with you, so that we may not become strangers to you, a long time having elapsed since you last wrote to us.

11 We, for our part, on every occasion, at our festivals and on other appointed days, unfailingly remember you in the sacrifices we offer and in our prayers, as it is right and fitting to remember brothers. 12 We rejoice in your renown. 13 'We ourselves, however, have had many trials and many wars, the neighbouring kings making war on us. 14 We were unwilling to trouble you or our other allies and friends during these wars, 15 since we have the support of Heaven to help us, thanks to which we have been delivered from our enemies, and they are the ones who have been brought low.

16 We have therefore chosen Numenius son of Antiochus, and Antipater son of Jason, and sent them to the Romans to renew our former treaty of friendship and alliance, 17 and we have ordered them also to visit you, to greet you and deliver you this letter of ours concerning the renewal of our brotherhood; 18 we shall be grateful for an answer to it.' 19 The following is the copy of the letter sent to Onias: 20 'Areios king of the Spartans, to Onias the high priest, greetings.

21 'It has been discovered in records regarding the Spartans and Jews that they are brothers, and of the race of Abraham. 22 Now that this has come to our knowledge, we shall be obliged if you will send us news of your welfare. 23 Our own message to you is this: your flocks and your possessions are ours, and ours are yours, and we are instructing our envoys to give you a message to this effect.' 24 Jonathan learned that Demetrius' generals had returned with a larger army than before to make war on him. 25 He therefore left Jerusalem and went to engage them in the area of Hamath, not giving them the time to invade his own territory.

26 He sent spies into their camp, who told him on their return that the enemy were taking up positions for a night attack on the Jews. 27 At sunset, Jonathan ordered his men to keep watch with their weapons at hand, in readiness to fight at any time during the night, and posted advance guards all round the camp. 28 On learning that Jonathan and his men were ready to fight, the enemy took fright and, with quaking hearts, lit fires in their bivouac and decamped. 29 Jonathan and his men, watching the glow of the fires, were unaware of their withdrawal until morning, 30 and although Jonathan pursued them, he failed to overtake them, for they had already crossed the river Eleutherus.

31 So Jonathan wheeled round on the Arabs called Zabadaeans, beat them and plundered them; 32 then, breaking camp, he went to Damascus, thus crossing the whole province. 33 Simon, meanwhile, had also set out and had penetrated as far as Ascalon and the neighbouring towns. He then turned on Joppa and moved quickly to occupy it, 34 for he had heard of their intention to hand over this strong point to the supporters of Demetrius; he stationed a garrison there to hold it. 35 Jonathan, on his return, called a meeting of the elders of the people and decided with them to build fortresses in Judaea

36 and to heighten the walls of Jerusalem and erect a high barrier between the Citadel and the city, to cut the former off from the city and isolate it, to prevent the occupants from buying or selling. 37 Rebuilding the city was a co-operative effort: part of the wall over the eastern ravine had fallen down; he restored the quarter called Chaphenatha. 38 Simon, meanwhile, rebuilt Adida in the lowlands, fortifying it, and erecting gates with bolts. 39 Trypho's ambition was to become king of Asia, assume the crown, and overpower King Antiochus. 40 He was apprehensive that Jonathan might not allow him to do this, and might even make war on him, so he set out and came to Beth-Shean, in the hopes of finding some pretext for having him arrested and put to death.

41 Jonathan went out to intercept him, with forty thousand picked men in battle order, and arrived at Beth-Shean. 42 When Trypho saw him there with a large force, he hesitated to make any move against him. 43 He even received him with honour, commended him to all his friends, gave him presents and ordered his friends and his troops to obey him as they would himself. 44 He said to Jonathan, 'Why have you given all these people so much trouble, when there is no threat of war between us? 45 Send them back home; pick yourself a few men as your bodyguard, and come with me to Ptolemais, which I am going to hand over to you, with the other fortresses and the remaining troops and all the officials; after which, I shall take the road for home. This was my purpose in coming here.'

46 Jonathan trusted him and did as he said; he dismissed his forces, who went back to Judaea. 47 With him he retained three thousand men, of whom he left two thousand in Galilee, while a thousand accompanied him. 48 But as soon as Jonathan had entered Ptolemais, the people of Ptolemais closed the gates, seized him, and put all those who had entered with him to the sword. 49 Trypho sent troops and cavalry into Galilee and the Great Plain to destroy all Jonathan's supporters. 50 These, concluding that he had been taken and had perished with his companions, encouraged one another, marching with closed ranks and ready to give battle,

51 and when their pursuers saw that they would fight for their lives, they turned back. 52 All reached Judaea safe and sound, and there they lamented Jonathan and his companions, being very frightened indeed; all Israel was plunged into mourning. 53 The surrounding nations were all now looking for ways of destroying them: 'They have no leader,' they said, 'no ally; we have only to attack them now, and we shall blot out their very memory from all peoples.'

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