Containing The Interval Of A Hundred And Seventy Years.
From The Death Of Judas Maccabeus To The Death Of Queen Alexandra.
How Trypho After He Had Beaten Demetrius Delivered The Kingdom To Antiochus The Son Of Alexander, And Gained Jonathan For His Assistant; And Concerning The Actions And Embassies Of Jonathan.
1. NOW there was a certain commander of Alexander's forces, an Apanemian by birth, whose name was Diodotus, and was also called Trypho, took notice the ill-will of the soldiers bare to Demetrius, and went to Malchus the Arabian, who brought up Antiochus, the son of Alexander, and told him what ill-will the army bare Demetrius, and persuaded him to give him Antiochus, because he would make him king, and recover to him the kingdom of his father. Malchus at the first opposed him in this attempt, because he could not believe him; but when Trypho lay hard at him for a long time, he over-persuaded him to comply with Trypho's intentions and entreaties. And this was the state Trypho was now in.
2. But Jonathan the high priest, being desirous to get clear of those that were in the citadel of Jerusalem, and of the Jewish deserters, and wicked men, as well as of those in all the garrisons in the country, sent presents and ambassadors to Demetrius, and entreated him to take away his soldiers out of the strong holds of Judea. Demetrius made answer, that after the war, which he was now deeply engaged in, was over, he would not only grant him that, but greater things than that also; and he desired he would send him some assistance, and informed him that his army had deserted him. So Jonathan chose out three thousand of his soldiers, and sent them to Demetrius.
3. Now the people of Antioch hated Demetrius, both on account of what mischief he had himself done them, and because they were his enemies also on account of his father Demetrius, who had greatly abused them; so they watched some opportunity which they might lay hold on to fall upon him. And when they were informed of the assistance that was coming to Demetrius from Jonathan, and considered at the same time that he would raise a numerous army, unless they prevented him, and seized upon him, they took their weapons immediately, and encompassed his palace in the way of a siege, and seizing upon all the ways of getting out, they sought to subdue their king. And when he saw that the people of Antioch were become his bitter enemies and that they were thus in arms, he took the mercenary soldiers which he had with them, and those Jews who were sent by Jonathan, and assaulted the Antiochians; but he was overpowered by them, for they were many ten thousands, and was beaten.
But when the Jews saw that the Antiochians were superior, they went up to the top of the palace, and shot at them from thence; and because they were so remote from them by their height, that they suffered nothing on their side, but did great execution on the others, as fighting from such an elevation, they drove them out of the adjoining houses, and immediately set them on fire, whereupon the flame spread itself over the whole city, and burnt it all down. This happened by reason of the closeness of the houses, and because they were generally built of wood. So the Antioehians, when they were not able to help themselves, nor to stop the fire, were put to flight. And as the Jews leaped from the top of one house to the top of another, and pursued them after that manner, it thence happened that the pursuit was so very surprising. But when the king saw that the Antiochians were were busy in saving their children and their wives, and so did not fight any longer, he fell upon them in the narrow passages, and fought them, and slew a great many of them, till at last they were forced to throw down their arms, and to deliver themselves up to Demetrius.
So he forgave them this their insolent behavior, and put an end to the sedition; and when he had given rewards to the Jews out of the rich spoils he had gotten, and had returned them thanks, as the cause of his victory, he sent them away to Jerusalem to Jonathan, with an ample testimony of the assistance they had afforded him. Yet did he prove an ill man to Jonathan afterward, and broke the promises he had made; and he threatened that he would make war upon him, unless he would pay all that tribute which the Jewish nation owed to the first kings [of Syria]. And this he had done, if Trypho had not hindered him, and diverted his preparations against Jonathan to a concern for his own preservation; for he now returned out of Arabia into Syria, with the child Antiochus, for he was yet in age but a youth, and put the diadem on his head; and as the whole forces that had left Demetrius, because they had no pay, came to his assistance, he made war upon Demetrius, and joining battle with him, overcame him in the fight, and took from him both his elephants and the city Antioch.
4. Demetrius, upon this defeat, retired into Cilicia; but the child Antiochus sent ambassadors and an epistle to Jonathan, and made him his friend and confederate, and confirmed to him the high priesthood, and yielded up to him the four prefectures which had been added to Judea. Moreover, he sent him vessels and cups of gold, and a purple garment, and gave him leave to use them. He also presented him with a golden button, and styled him one of his principal friends, and appointed his brother Simon to be the general over the forces, from the Ladder of Tyre unto Egypt. So Jonathan was so pleased with these grants made him by Antiochus, that he sent ambassadors to him and to Trypho, and professed himself to be their friend and confederate, and said he would join with him in a war against Demetrius, informing him that he had made no proper returns for the kindness he had done him; for that when he had received many marks of kindness from him, when he stood in great need of them, he, for such good turns, had requited him with further injuries.
5. So Antiochus gave Jonathan leave to raise himself a numerous army out of Syria and Phoenicia and to make war against Demetrius's generals; whereupon he went in haste to the several cities which received him splendidly indeed, but put no forces into his hands. And when he was come from thence to Askelon, the inhabitants of Askelon came and brought him presents, and met him in a splendid manner. He exhorted them, and every one of the cities of Celesyria, to forsake Demetrius, and to join with Antiochus; and, in assisting him, to endeavor to punish Demetrius for what offenses he had been guilty of against themselves; and told them there were many reasons for that their procedure, if they had a mind so to do. And when he had persuaded those cities to promise their assistance to Antiochus, he came to Gaza, in order to induce them also to be friends to Antiochus; but he found the inhabitants of Gaza much more alienated from him than he expected, for they had shut their gates against him; and although they had deserted Demetrius, they had not resolved to join themselves to Antiochus.
This provoked Jonathan to besiege them, and to harass their country; for as he set a part of his army round about Gaza itself, so with the rest he overran their land, and spoiled it, and burnt what was in it. When the of Gaza saw themselves in this state of affliction, and that no assistance came to them from Demetrius, that what distressed them was at hand, but what should profit them was still at a great distance, and it was uncertain whether it would come at all or not, they thought it would he prudent conduct to leave off any longer continuance with them, and to cultivate friendship with the other; so they sent to Jonathan, and professed they would be his friends, and afford him assistance: for such is the temper of men, that before they have had the trial of great afflictions, they do not understand what is for their advantage; but when they find themselves under such afflictions, they then change their minds, and what it had been better for them to have done before they had been at all damaged, they choose to do, but not till after they have suffered such damages. However, he made a league of friendship with them, and took from them hostages for their performance of it, and sent these hostages to Jerusalem, while he went himself over all the country, as far as Damascus.
6. But when he heard that the generals of Demetrius's forces were come to the city Cadesh with a numerous army, (the place lies between the land of the Tyrians and Galilee,)for they supposed they should hereby draw him out of Syria, in order to preserve Galilee, and that he would not overlook the Galileans, who were his own people, when war was made upon them, he went to meet them, having left Simon in Judea, who raised as great an army as he was able out of the country, and then sat down before Bethsura, and besieged it, that being the strongest place in all Judea; and a garrison of Demetrius's kept it, as we have already related. But as Simon was raising banks, and bringing his engines of war against Bethsura, and was very earnest about the siege of it, the garrison was afraid lest the place should be taken of Simon by force, and they put to the sword; so they sent to Simon, and desired the security of his oath, that they should come to no harm from him, and that they would leave the place, and go away to Demetrius. Accordingly he gave them his oath, and ejected them out of the city, and he put therein a garrison of his own.
7. But Jonathan removed out of Galilee, and from the waters which are called Gennesar, for there he was before encamped, and came into the plain that is called Asor, without knowing that the enemy was there. When therefore Demetrius's men knew a day beforehand that Jonathan was coming against them, they laid an ambush in the mountain, who were to assault him on the sudden, while they themselves met him with an army in the plain; which army, when Jonathan saw ready to engage him, he also got ready his own soldiers for the battle as well as he was able; but those that were laid in ambush by Demetrius's generals being behind them, the Jews were afraid lest they should be caught in the midst between two bodies, and perish; so they ran away in haste, and indeed all the rest left Jonathan; but a few there were, in number about fifty, who staid with him, and with them Mattathias, the son of Absalom, and Judas, the son of Chapseus, who were commanders of the whole army. These marched boldly, and like men desperate, against the enemy, and so pushed them, that by their courage they daunted them, and with their weapons in their hands they put them to flight. And when those soldiers of Jonathan that had retired saw the enemy giving way, they got together after their flight, and pursued them with great violence; and this did they as far as Cadesh, where the camp of the enemy lay.
8. Jonathan having thus gotten a glorious victory, and slain two thousand of the enemy, returned to Jerusalem. So when he saw that all his affairs prospered according to his mind, by the providence of God, he sent ambassadors to the Romans, being desirous of renewing that friendship which their nation had with them formerly. He enjoined the same ambassadors, that, as they came back, they should go to the Spartans, and put them in mind of their friendship and kindred. So when the ambassadors came to Rome, they went into their senate, and said what they were commanded by Jonathan the high priest to say, how he had sent them to confirm their friendship. The senate then confirmed what had been formerly decreed concerning their friendship with the Jews, and gave them letters to carry to all the kings of Asia and Europe, and to the governors of the cities, that they might safely conduct them to their own country. Accordingly, as they returned, they came to Sparta, and delivered the epistle which they had received of Jonathan to them; a copy of which here follows:
"Jonathan the high priest of the Jewish nation, and the senate, and body of the people of the Jews, to the ephori, and senate, and people of the Lacedemonians, send greeting. If you be well, and both your public and private affairs be agreeable to your mind, it is according to our wishes. We are well also. When in former times an epistle was brought to Onias, who was then our high priest, from Areus, who at that time was your king, by Demoteles, concerning the kindred that was between us and you, a copy of which is here subjoined, we both joyfully received the epistle, and were well pleased with Demoteles and Areus, although we did not need such a demonstration, because we were satisfied about it from the sacred writings (10) yet did not we think fit first to begin the claim of this relation to you, lest we should seem too early in taking to ourselves the glory which is now given us by you. It is a long time since this relation of ours to you hath been renewed; and when we, upon holy and festival days, offer sacrifices to God, we pray to him for your preservation and victory. As to ourselves, although we have had many wars that have compassed us around, by reason of the covetousness of our neighbors, yet did not we determine to be troublesome either to you, or to others that were related to us; but since we have now overcome our enemies, and have occasion to send Numenius the son of Antiochus, and Antipater the son of Jason, who are both honorable men belonging to our senate, to the Romans, we gave them this epistle to you also, that they might renew that friendship which is between us. You will therefore do well yourselves to write to us, and send us an account of what you stand in need of from us, since we are in all things disposed to act according to your desires."
So the Lacedemonians received the ambassadors kindly, and made a decree for friendship and mutual assistance, and sent it to them.
9. At this time there were three sects among the Jews, who had different opinions concerning human actions; the one was called the sect of the Pharisees, another the sect of the Sadducees, and the other the sect of the Essens. Now for the Pharisees, (11) they say that some actions, but not all, are the work of fate, and some of them are in our own power, and that they are liable to fate, but are not caused by fate. But the sect of the Essens affirm, that fate governs all things, and that nothing befalls men but what is according to its determination. And for the Sadducees, they take away fate, and say there is no such thing, and that the events of human affairs are not at its disposal; but they suppose that all our actions are in our own power, so that we are ourselves the causes of what is good, and receive what is evil from our own folly. However, I have given a more exact account of these opinions in the second book of the Jewish War.
10. But now the generals of Demetrius being willing to recover the defeat they had had, gathered a greater army together than they had before, and came against Jonathan; but as soon as he was informed of their coming, he went suddenly to meet them, to the country of Hamoth, for he resolved to give them no opportunity of coming into Judea; so he pitched his camp at fifty furlongs' distance from the enemy, and sent out spies to take a view of their camp, and after what manner they were encamped. When his spies had given him full information, and had seized upon some of them by night, who told him the enemy would soon attack him, he, thus apprized beforehand, provided for his security, and placed watchmen beyond his camp, and kept all his forces armed all night; and he gave them a charge to be of good courage, and to have their minds prepared to fight in the night time, if they should be obliged so to do, lest their enemy's designs should seem concealed from them.
But when Demetrius's commanders were informed that Jonathan knew what they intended, their counsels were disordered, and it alarmed them to find that the enemy had discovered those their intentions; nor did they expect to overcome them any other way, now they had failed in the snares they had laid for them; for should they hazard an open battle, they did not think they should be a match for Jonathan's army, so they resolved to fly; and having lighted many fires, that when the enemy saw them they might suppose they were there still, they retired. When Jonathan came to give them battle in the morning in their camp, and found it deserted, and understood they were fled, he pursued them; yet he could not overtake them, for they had already passed over the river Eleutherus, and were out of danger. So when Jonathan was returned thence, he went into Arabia, and fought against the Nabateans, and drove away a great deal of their prey, and took [many] captives, and came to Damascus, and there sold off what he had taken. About the same time it was that Simon his brother went over all Judea and Palestine, as far as Askelon, and fortified the strong holds; and when he had made them very strong, both in the edifices erected, and in the garrisons placed in them, he came to Joppa; and when he had taken it, he brought a great garrison into it, for he heard that the people of Joppa were disposed to deliver up the city to Demetrius's generals.
11. When Simon and Jonathan had finished these affairs, they returned to Jerusalem, where Jonathan gathered all the people together, and took counsel to restore the walls of Jerusalem, and to rebuild the wall that encompassed the temple, which had been thrown down, and to make the places adjoining stronger by very high towers; and besides that, to build another wall in the midst of the city, in order to exclude the market-place from the garrison, which was in the citadel, and by that means to hinder them from any plenty of provisions; and moreover, to make the fortresses that were in the country much stronger and more defensible than they were before. And when these things were approved of by the multitude, as rightly proposed, Jonathan himself took care of the building that belonged to the city, and sent Simon away to make the fortresses in the country more secure than formerly.
But Demetrius passed over [Euphrates], and came into Mesopotamia, as desirous to retain that country still, as well as Babylon; and when he should have obtained the dominion of the upper provinces, to lay a foundation for recovering his entire kingdom; for those Greeks and Macedonians who dwelt there frequently sent ambassadors to him, and promised, that if he would come to them, they would deliver themselves up to him, and assist him in fighting against Arsaces, (12) the king of the Parthians. So he was elevated with these hopes, and came hastily to them, as having resolved, that if he had once overthrown the Parthians, and gotten an army of his own, he would make war against Trypho, and eject him out of Syria; and the people of that country received him with great alacrity. So he raised forces, with which he fought against Arsaces, and lost all his army, and was himself taken alive, as we have elsewhere related.
(10) This clause is otherwise rendered in the First Book of Maccabees, 12:9,
"For that we have the holy books of Scripture in our bands to comfort us. "
The Hebrew original being lost, we cannot certainly judge which was the truest version only the coherence favors Josephus. But if this were the Jews' meaning, that they were satisfied out of their Bible that the Jews and Lacedemonians were of kin, that part of their Bible is now lost, for we find no such assertion in our present copies.
(11) Those that suppose Josephus to contradict himself in his three several accounts of the notions of the Pharisees, this here, and that earlier one, which is the largest, Of the War B. II. Ch. 8. Sect. 14, and that later, Antiq. B. XVIII. Ch. 1. Sect. 3, as if he sometimes said they introduced an absolute fatality, and denied all freedom of human actions, is almost wholly groundless if he ever, as the very learned Casaubon here truly observes, asserting, that the Pharisees were between the Essens and Sadducees, and did so far ascribe all to fate or Divine Providence as was consistent with the freedom of human actions. However, their perplexed way of talking about fate, or Providence, as overruling all things, made it commonly thought they were willing to excuse their sins by ascribing them to fate, as in the Apostolical Constitutions, B. VI. Ch. 6. Perhaps under the same general name some difference of opinions in this point might be propagated, as is very common in all parties, especially in points of metaphysical subtlety. However, our Josephus, who in his heart was a great admirer of the piety of the Essens, was yet in practice a Pharisee, as he himself informs us, in his own Life, Sect. 2. And his account of this doctrine of the Pharisees is for certain agreeable to his own opinion, who ever both fully allowed the freedom of human actions, and yet strongly believed the powerful interposition of Divine Providence.
(12) This king, who was of the famous race of Arsaces, is both here and 1 Macc. 14:2, called by the family name Arsaces; but Appion says his proper name was Phraates. He is also called by Josephus the king of the Parthians, as the Greeks used to call them; but by the elder author of the First Maccabees, was, the king of the Persians and Medes, according to the language of the Eastern nations. See Authent. Rec., Part 2, p. 1108.