Containing The Interval Of A Hundred And Seventy Years.
From The Death Of Judas Maccabeus To The Death Of Queen Alexandra.
How Jonathan Was Slain By Treachery; And How Thereupon The Jews Made Simon Their General And High Priest; What Courageous Actions He Also Performed Especially Against Typho.
1. NOW when Trypho knew what had befallen Demetrius, he was no longer firm to Antiochus, but contrived by subtlety to kill him, and then take possession of his kingdom; but the fear that he was in of Jonathan was an obstacle to this his design, for Jonathan was a friend to Antiochus, for which cause he resolved first to take Jonathan out of the way, and then to set about his design relating to Antiochus; but he judging it best to take him off by deceit and treachery, came from Antioch to Bethshan, which by the Greeks is called Scythopolis, at which place Jonathan met him with forty thousand chosen men, for he thought that he came to fight him; but when he perceived that Jonathan was ready to fight, he attempted to gain him by presents and kind treatment, and gave order to his captains to obey him, and by these means was desirous to give assurance of his good-will, and to take away all suspicions out of his mind, that so he might make him careless and inconsiderate, and might take him when he was unguarded. He also advised him to dismiss his army, because there was no occasion for bringing it with him when there was no war, but all was in peace. However, he desired him to retain a few about him, and go with him to Ptolemais, for that he would deliver the city up to him, and would bring all the fortresses that were in the country under his dominion; and he told him that he came with those very designs.
2. Yet did not Jonathan suspect any thing at all by this his management, but believed that Trypho gave him this advice out of kindness, and with a sincere design. Accordingly, he dismissed his army, and retained no more than three thousand of them with him, and left two thousand in Galilee; and he himself, with one thousand, came with Trypho to Ptolemais. But when the people of Ptolemais had shut their gates, as it had been commanded by Trypho to do, he took Jonathan alive, and slew all that were with him. He also sent soldiers against those two thousand that were left in Galilee, in order to destroy them; but those men having heard the report of what had happened to Jonathan, they prevented the execution; and before those that were sent by Trypho came, they covered themselves with their armor, and went away out of the country. Now when those that were sent against them saw that they were ready to fight for their lives, they gave them no disturbance, but returned back to Trypho.
3. But when the people of Jerusalem heard that Jonathan was taken, and that the soldiers who were with him were destroyed, they deplored his sad fate; and there was earnest inquiry made about him by every body, and a great and just fear fell upon them, and made them sad, lest, now they were deprived of the courage and conduct of Jonathan, the nations about them should bear them ill-will; and as they were before quiet on account of Jonathan they should now rise up against them, and by making war with them, should force them into the utmost dangers. And indeed what they suspected really befell them; for when those nations heard of the death of Jonathan, they began to make war with the Jews as now destitute of a governor and Trypho himself got an army together, and had intention to go up to Judea, and make war against its inhabitants. But when Simon saw that the people of Jerusalem were terrified at the circumstances they were in, he desired to make a speech to them, and thereby to render them more resolute in opposing Trypho when he should come against them. He then called the people together into the temple, and thence began thus to encourage them:
"O my countrymen, you are not ignorant that our father, myself, and my brethren, have ventured to hazard our lives, and that willingly, for the recovery of your liberty; since I have therefore such plenty of examples before me, and we of our family have determined with ourselves to die for our laws, and our Divine worship, there shall no terror be so great as to banish this resolution from our souls, nor to introduce in its place a love of life, and a contempt of glory. Do you therefore follow me with alacrity whithersoever I shall lead you, as not destitute of such a captain as is willing to suffer, and to do the greatest things for you; for neither am I better than my brethren that I should be sparing of my own life, nor so far worse than they as to avoid and refuse what they thought the most honorable of all things, - I mean, to undergo death for your laws, and for that worship of God which is peculiar to you; I will therefore give such proper demonstrations as will show that I am their own brother; and I am so bold as to expect that I shall avenge their blood upon our enemies, and deliver you all with your wives and children from the injuries they intend against you, and, with God's assistance, to preserve your temple from destruction by them; for I see that these nations have you in contempt, as being without a governor, and that they thence are encouraged to make war against you."
4. By this speech of Simon he inspired the multitude with courage; and as they had been before dispirited through fear, they were now raised to a good hope of better things, insomuch that the whole multitude of the people cried out all at once that Simon should be their leader; and that instead of Judas and Jonathan his brethren, he should have the government over them; and they promised that they would readily obey him in whatsoever he should command them. So he got together immediately all his own soldiers that were fit for war, and made haste in rebuilding the walls of the city, and strengthening them by very high and strong towers, and sent a friend of his, one Jonathan, the son of Absalom, to Joppa, and gave him order to eject the inhabitants out of the city, for he was afraid lest they should deliver up the city to Trypho; but he himself staid to secure Jerusalem.
5. But Trypho removed from Ptoeinais with a great army, and came into Judea, and brought Jonathan with him in bonds. Simon also met him with his army at the city Adida, which is upon a hill, and beneath it lie the plains of Judea. And when Trypho knew that Simon was by the Jews made their governor, he sent to him, and would have imposed upon him by deceit and trencher, and desired, if he would have his brother Jonathan released, that he would send him a hundred talents of silver, and two of Jonathan's sons as hostages, that when he shall be released, he may not make Judea revolt from the king; for that at present he was kept in bonds on account of the money he had borrowed of the king, and now owed it to him.
But Simon was aware of the craft of Trypho; and although he knew that if he gave him the money he should lose it, and that Trypho would not set his brother free and withal should deliver the sons of Jonathan to the enemy, yet because he was afraid that he should have a calumny raised against him among the multitude as the cause of his brother's death, if he neither gave the money, nor sent Jonathan's sons, he gathered his army together, and told them what offers Trypho had made; and added this, that the offers were ensnaring and treacherous, and yet that it was more eligible to send the money and Jonathan's sons, than to be liable to the imputation of not complying with Trypho's offers, and thereby refusing to save his brother. Accordingly, Simon sent the sons of Jonathan and the money; but when Trypho had received them, he did not keep his promise, nor set Jonathan free, but took his army, and went about all the country, and resolved to go afterward to Jerusalem by the way of Idumea, while Simon went over against him with his army, and all along pitched his own camp over against his.
6. But when those that were in the citadel had sent to Trypho, and besought him to make haste and come to them, and to send them provisions, he prepared his cavalry as though he would be at Jerusalem that very night; but so great a quantity of snow fell in the night, that it covered the roads, and made them so deep, that there was no passing, especially for the cavalry. This hindered him from coming to Jerusalem; whereupon Trypho removed thence, and came into Celesyria, and falling vehemently upon the land of Gilead, he slew Jonathan there; and when he had given order for his burial, he returned himself to Antioch.
However, Simon sent some to the city Basca to bring away his brother's bones, and buried them in their own city Modin; and all the people made great lamentation over him. Simon also erected a very large monument for his father and his brethren, of white and polished stone, and raised it a great height, and so as to be seen a long way off, and made cloisters about it, and set up pillars, which were of one stone apiece; a work it was wonderful to see. Moreover, he built seven pyramids also for his parents and his brethren, one for each of them, which were made very surprising, both for their largeness and beauty, and which have been preserved to this day; and we know that it was Simon who bestowed so much zeal about the burial of Jonathan, and the building of these monuments for his relations. Now Jonathan died when he had been high priest four years (13) and had been also the governor of his nation. And these were the circumstances that concerned his death.
7. But Simon, who was made high priest by the multitude, on the very first year of his high priesthood set his people free from their slavery under the Macedonians, and permitted them to pay tribute to them no longer; which liberty and freedom from tribute they obtained after a hundred and seventy years (14) of the kingdom of the Assyrians, which was after Seleucus, who was called Nicator, got the dominion over Syria. Now the affection of the multitude towards Simon was so great, that in their contracts one with another, and in their public records, they wrote,
"in the first year of Simon the benefactor and ethnarch of the Jews;"
for under him they were very happy, and overcame the enemies that were round about them; for Simon overthrew the city Gazara, and Joppa, and Jamhis. He also took the citadel of Jerusalem by siege, and cast it down to the ground, that it might not be any more a place of refuge to their enemies when they took it, to do them a mischief, as it had been till now. And when he had done this, he thought it their best way, and most for their advantage, to level the very mountain itself upon which the citadel happened to stand, that so the temple might be higher than it. And indeed, when he had called the multitude to an assembly, he persuaded them to have it so demolished, and this by putting them in mind what miseries they had suffered by its garrison and the Jewish deserters, and what miseries they might hereafter suffer in case any foreigner should obtain the kingdom, and put a garrison into that citadel. This speech induced the multitude to a compliance, because he exhorted them to do nothing but what was for their own good: so they all set themselves to the work, and leveled the mountain, and in that work spent both day and night without any intermission, which cost them three whole years before it was removed, and brought to an entire level with the plain of the rest of the city. After which the temple was the highest of all the buildings, now the citadel, as well as the mountain whereon it stood, were demolished. And these actions were thus performed under Simon.
(13) There is some error in the copies here, when no more than four years are ascribed to the high priesthood of Jonathan. We know by Josephus's last Jewish chronology, Antiq. B. XX. Ch. 10., that there was an interval of seven years between the death of Alcimus, or Jacimus, the last high priest, and the real high priesthood of Jonathan, to whom yet those seven years seem here to be ascribed, as a part of them were to Judas before, Antiq. B. XII. Ch. 10. Sect. 6. Now since, besides these seven years interregnum in the pontificate, we are told, Antiq. B. XX. Ch. 10., that Jonathan's real high priesthood lasted seven years more, these two seven years will make up fourteen years, which I suppose was Josephus's own number in this place, instead of the four in our present copies.
(14) These one hundred and seventy years of the Assyrians mean no more, as Josephus explains himself here, than from the sara of Seleucus, which as it is known to have began on the 312th year before the Christian sara, from its spring in the First Book of Maccabees, and from its autumn in the Second Book of Maccabees, so did it not begin at Babylon till the next spring, on the 311th year. See Prid. at the year 312. And it is truly observed by Dr. Hudson on this place, that the Syrians and Assyrians are sometimes confounded in ancient authors, according to the words of Justin, the epitomiser of Trogus -pompeius, who says that
"the Assyrians were afterward called Syrian." (Book 1. Ch. 11).
See Of the War, Book 5. Ch. 9. Sect. 4, where the Philistines themselves, at the very south limit of Syria, in its utmost extent, are called Assyrians by Josephus as Spanheim observes.