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Chapter 15


1 Antiochus, son of King Demetrius, sent a letter from the islands of the sea to Simon, the priest and ethnarch of the Jews, and to all the nation,


which read as follows: "King Antiochus sends greetings to Simon, the priest and ethnarch, and to the Jewish nation.


Whereas certain villains have gained control of the kingdom of my ancestors, I intend to reclaim it, that I may restore it to its former state. I have recruited a large number of mercenary troops and equipped warships


to make a landing in my country and take revenge on those who have ruined it and laid waste many cities in my realm.


"Now, therefore, I confirm to you all the tax exemptions that the kings before me granted you and whatever other privileges they conferred on you.


I authorize you to coin your own money, as legal tender in your country.


Jerusalem and its temple shall be free. All the weapons you have prepared and all the strongholds you have built and now occupy shall remain in your possession.


All debts, present or future, due to the royal treasury shall be canceled for you, now and for all time.


When we recover our kingdom, we will greatly honor you and your nation and the temple, so that your glory will be manifest in all the earth."


2 In the year one hundred and seventy-four Antiochus invaded the land of his ancestors, and all the troops rallied to him, so that few were left with Trypho.


3 Pursued by Antiochus, Trypho fled to Dor, by the sea,


realizing what a mass of troubles had come upon him now that his soldiers had deserted him.


Antiochus encamped before Dor with a hundred and twenty thousand infantry and eight thousand horsemen.


While he invested the city, his ships closed in along the coast, so that he blockaded it by land and sea and let no one go in or out.


Meanwhile, Numenius and his companions left Rome with letters such as this addressed to various kings and countries:


4 "Lucius, Consul of the Romans, sends greetings to King Ptolemy.


Certain envoys of the Jews, our friends and allies, have come to us to renew their earlier alliance of friendship. They had been sent by Simon the high priest and the Jewish people,


and they brought with them a gold shield worth a thousand minas.


Therefore we have decided to write to various kings and countries, that they are not to harm them, or wage war against them or their cities or their country, and are not to assist those who fight against them.


We have also decided to accept the shield from them.


If, then, any troublemakers from their country take refuge with you, hand them over to Simon the high priest, so that he may punish them according to their law."


5 The consul sent similar letters to Kings Demetrius, Attalus, Ariarthes and Arsaces;


to all the countries - Sampsames, Sparta, Delos, Myndos, Sicyon, Caria, Samos, Pamphylia, Lycia, Halicarnassus, Rhodes, Phaselis, Cos, Side, Aradus, Gortyna, Cnidus, Cyprus, and Cyrene.


A copy of the letter was also sent to Simon the high priest.


When King Antiochus was encamped before Dor, he assaulted it continuously both with troops and with the siege machines he had made. He blockaded Trypho by preventing anyone from going in or out.


Simon sent to Antiochus' support two thousand elite troops, together with gold and silver and much equipment.


But he refused to accept the aid; in fact, he broke all the agreements he had previously made with Simon and became hostile toward him.


He sent Athenobius, one of his Friends, to confer with Simon and say: "You are occupying Joppa and Gazara and the citadel of Jerusalem; these are cities of my kingdom.


You have laid waste their territories, done great harm to the land, and taken possession of many districts in my realm.


Therefore, give up the cities you have seized and the tribute money of the districts outside the territory of Judea of which you have taken possession;


or instead, pay me five hundred talents of silver for the devastation you have caused and five hundred talents more for the tribute money of the cities. If you do not do this, we will come and make war on you."


So Athenobius, the king's Friend, came to Jerusalem and on seeing the splendor of Simon's court, the gold and silver plate on the sideboard, and the rest of his rich display, he was amazed. When he gave him the king's message,


Simon said to him in reply: "We have not seized any foreign land; what we took is not the property of others, but our ancestral heritage which for a time had been unjustly held by our enemies.


Now that we have the opportunity, we are holding on to the heritage of our ancestors.


As for Joppa and Gazara, which you demand, the men of these cities were doing great harm to our people and laying waste our country; however, we are willing to pay you a hundred talents for these cities."


Athenobius made no reply, but returned to the king in anger. When he told him of Simon's words, of his splendor, and of all he had seen, the king fell into a violent rage.


6 Trypho had gotten aboard a ship and escaped to Orthosia.


Then the king appointed Cendebeus commander-in-chief of the seacoast, and gave him infantry and cavalry forces.


7 He ordered him to move his troops against Judea and to fortify Kedron and strengthen its gates, so that he could launch attacks against the Jewish people. Meanwhile the king went in pursuit of Trypho.


When Cendebeus came to Jamnia, he began to harass the people and to make incursions into Judea, where he took people captive or massacred them.


As the king ordered, he fortified Kedron and stationed horsemen and infantry there, so that they could go out and patrol the roads of Judea.



1 [1] Antiochus: Antiochus VII Sidetes, son of Demetrius I, and younger brother of Demetrius II, now a prisoner of the Parthians. At the age of twenty he set out from the island of Rhodes to take his brother's place and drive out the usurper Trypho.

2 [10] The year one hundred and seventy-four: 138 B.C.

3 [11] Dor, by the sea: a fortress on the Palestinian coast, fifteen miles south of Carmel.

4 [16] Lucius: Perhaps Lucius Caecilius Metellus, consul in 142 B.C., or Lucius Calpurnicus Piso, consul in 140-139 B.C. This document pertains to Simon's first years as leader.

5 [22] Attalus: Attalus II of Pergamum, reigned 159-138 B.C. Ariarthes: Ariarthes V of Cappadocia, reigned 162-130 B.C. Arsaces: see note on 1 Macc 14:2.

6 [37] Orthosia: a port between Tripoli and the Eleutherus River.

7 [39] Kedron: a few miles southeast of Jamnia and facing the fortress of Gazara held by John Hyrcanus.

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