Containing The Interval Of A Hundred And Seventy Years.
From The Death Of Judas Maccabeus To The Death Of Queen Alexandra.
How Alexander [Bala] In His War With Demetrius, Granted Jonathan Many Advantages And Appointed Him To Be High Priest And Persuaded Him To Assist Him Although Demetrius Promised Him Greater Advantages On The Other Side. Concerning The Death Of Demetrius.
1. NOW in the hundred and sixtieth year, it fell out that Alexander, the son of Antiochus Epiphanes, (1) came up into Syria, and took Ptolemais the soldiers within having betrayed it to him; for they were at enmity with Demetrius, on account of his insolence and difficulty of access; for he shut himself up in a palace of his that had four towers which he had built himself, not far from Antioch and admitted nobody. He was withal slothful and negligent about the public affairs, whereby the hatred of his subjects was the more kindled against him, as we have elsewhere already related. When therefore Demetrius heard that Alexander was in Ptolemais, he took his whole army, and led it against him; he also sent ambassadors to Jonathan about a league of mutual assistance and friendship, for he resolved to be beforehand with Alexander, lest the other should treat with him first, and gain assistance from him; and this he did out of the fear he had lest Jonathan should remember how ill Demetrius had formerly treated him, and should join with him in this war against him. He therefore gave orders that Jonathan should be allowed to raise an army, and should get armor made, and should receive back those hostages of the Jewish nation whom Baechides had shut up in the citadel of Jerusalem.
When this good fortune had befallen Jonathan, by the concession of Demetrius, he came to Jerusalem, and read the king's letter in the audience of the people, and of those that kept the citadel. When these were read, these wicked men and deserters, who were in the citadel, were greatly afraid, upon the king's permission to Jonathan to raise an army, and to receive back the hostages. So he delivered every one of them to his own parents. And thus did Jonathan make his abode at Jerusalem, renewing the city to a better state, and reforming the buildings as he pleased; for he gave orders that the walls of the city should be rebuilt with square stones, that it might be more secure from their enemies. And when those that kept the garrisons that were in Judea saw this, they all left them, and fled to Antioch, excepting those that were in the city Bethsura, and those that were in the citadel of Jerusalem, for the greater part of these was of the wicked Jews and deserters, and on that account these did not deliver up their garrisons.
2. When Alexander knew what promises Demetrius had made Jonathan, and withal knew his courage, and what great things he had done when he fought the Macedonians, and besides what hardships he had undergone by the means of Demetrius, and of Bacchides, the general of Demetrius's army, he told his friends that he could not at present find any one else that might afford him better assistance than Jonathan, who was both courageous against his enemies, and had a particular hatred against Demetrius, as having both suffered many hard things from him, and acted many hard things against him. If therefore they were of opinion that they should make him their friend against Demetrius, it was more for their advantage to invite him to assist them now than at another time. It being therefore determined by him and his friends to send to Jonathan, he wrote to him this epistle:
"King Alexander to his brother Jonathan, sendeth greeting. We have long ago heard of thy courage and thy fidelity, and for that reason have sent to thee, to make with thee a league of friendship and mutual assistance. We therefore do ordain thee this day the high priest of the Jews, and that thou beest called my friend. I have also sent thee, as presents, a purple robe and a golden crown, and desire that, now thou art by us honored, thou wilt in like manner respect us also."
3. When Jonathan had received this letter, he put on the pontifical robe at the time of the feast of tabernacles, (2) four years after the death of his brother Judas, for at that time no high priest had been made. So he raised great forces, and had abundance of armor got ready. This greatly grieved Demetrius when he heard of it, and made him blame himself for his slowness, that he had not prevented Alexander, and got the good-will of Jonathan, but had given him time so to do. However, he also himself wrote a letter to Jonathan, and to the people, the contents whereof are these:
"King Demetrius to Jonathan, and to the nation of the Jews, sendeth greeting. Since you have preserved your friendship for us, and when you have been tempted by our enemies, you have not joined yourselves to them, I both commend you for this your fidelity, and exhort you to continue in the same disposition, for which you shall be repaid, and receive rewards from us; for I will free you from the greatest part of the tributes and taxes which you formerly paid to the kings my predecessors, and to myself; and I do now set you free from those tributes which you have ever paid; and besides, I forgive you the tax upon salt, and the value of the crowns which you used to offer to me (3) and instead of the third part of the fruits [of the field], and the half of the fruits of the trees, I relinquish my part of them from this day: and as to the poll-money, which ought to be given me for every head of the inhabitants of Judea, and of the three toparchies that adjoin to Judea, Samaria, and Galilee, and Peres, that I relinquish to you for this time, and for all time to come. I will also that the city of Jerusalem be holy and inviolable, and free from the tithe, and from the taxes, unto its utmost bounds. And I so far recede from my title to the citadel, as to permit Jonathan your high priest to possess it, that he may place such a garrison in it as he approves of for fidelity and good-will to himself, that they may keep it for us. I also make free all those Jews who have been made captives and slaves in my kingdom.
4. This was what Demetrius promised and granted to the Jews by this letter. But king Alexander raised a great army of mercenary soldiers, and of those that deserted to him out of Syria, and made an expedition against Demetrius. And when it was come to a battle, the left wing of Demetrius put those who opposed them to flight, and pursued them a great way, and slew many of them, and spoiled their camp; but the right wing, where Demetrius happened to be, was beaten; and as for all the rest, they ran away. But Demetrius fought courageously, and slew a great many of the enemy; but as he was in the pursuit of the rest, his horse carried him into a deep bog, where it was hard to get out, and there it happened, that upon his horse's falling down, he could not escape being killed; for when his enemies saw what had befallen him, they returned back, and encompassed Demetrius round, and they all threw their darts at him; but he, being now on foot, fought bravely. But at length he received so many wounds, that he was not able to bear up any longer, but fell. And this is the end that Demetrius came to, when he had reigned eleven years, (4) as we have elsewhere related.
(1) This Alexander Bala, who certainly pretended to be the son of Antiochus Epiphanes, and was owned for such by the Jews and Romans, and many others, and yet is by several historians deemed to be a counterfeit, and of no family at all, is, however, by Josephus believed to have been the real son of that Antiochus, and by him always spoken of accordingly. And truly, since the original contemporary and authentic author of the First Book of Maccabees (10:1) calls him by his father's name, Epiphanes, and says he was the son of Antiochus, I suppose the other writers, who are all much later, are not to be followed against such evidence, though perhaps Epiphanes might have him by a woman of no family. The king of Egypt also, Philometor, soon gave him his daughter in marriage, which he would hardly have done, had he believed him to be a counterfeit, and of so very mean a birth as the later historians pretend.
(2) Since Jonathan plainly did not put on the pontifical robes till seven or eight years after the death of his brother Judas, or not till the feast of tabernacles, in the 160th of the Seleucidm, 1 Macc. 10;21, Petitus's emendation seems here to deserve consideration, who, instead of
"after four years since the death of his brother Judas,"
would have us read,
"and therefore after eight years since the death of his brother Judas."
This would tolerably well agree with the date of the Maccabees, and with Josephus's own exact chronology at the end of the twentieth book of these Antiquities, which the present text cannot be made to do.
(3) Take Grotius's note here:
"The Jews," says he, "were wont to present crowns to the kings [of Syria]; afterwards that gold which was paid instead of those crowns, or which was expended in making them, was called the crown gold and crown tax." On 1Macc. 10:29.
(4) Since the rest of the historians now extant give this Demetrius thirteen years, and Josephus only eleven years, Dean Prideaux does not amiss in ascribing to him the mean number twelve.