2 Maccabees Chapter 12 (from Five Books of Maccabees)


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P. 119 – 125 Book 2 B.C. 144 [PDF: 169/175 of p.524]

CHAPTER XII

(i) Jonathan renews the league with the Romans and Lacedaemonians. He is made prisoner by Tryphon.

1 Now when Jonathan saw that the time served him, he chose certain men, and sent them to Rome, to confirm and renew the friendship which they 2 had with them. He sent letters also to the Lacedaemonians[1]P. 119 Foot Note a. The Greek text here and in other passages has Gr. [  click on image to enlarge] but there is no ground for supposing that only the inhabitants of Sparta itself are intended., and to other places for the same purpose. 3 So they went unto Rome, and entered into the senate-house, and said, ” Jonathan the high priest, and the people of the Jews, sent us unto you, to the end ye should renew the friendship which ye had with them, and league, as in 4 former time.” Upon this the Romans gave them letters unto the governors of every place, that they should bring them into the land of Judah in peace. 5 And this is the copy of the letters which Jonathan 6 wrote unto the Lacedaemonians : ” Jonathan the high priest, and the elders of the nation, and the priests, and the other people of the Jews, unto the Lacedaemonians their brethren, send greeting 7 : There were letters sent in times past unto p. 120 Onias[2]P. 120 Foot Note b. Probably he was the second of that name, the son of Simon the Just. the high priest from Darins[3]P. 120 Foot Note c. Josephus (Antiq. XIII. 8.) contends and justly, that the word ought to be Arius, not Darius, a name unknown among the Lacedaemonians, In the Greek, as in the English, there … Continue reading, who reigned then among you, to signify that ye are our brethren, as the copy here underwritten doth specify. At which time Onias entreated 8 honourably the ambassador who was sent, and received the letters, wherein declaration was made of the league and friendship. Therefore 9 we also, albeit we need none of these things, for that we have the holy books of Scripture in our hands to comfort us, have nevertheless attempted 10 to send unto you, for the renewing of brotherhood and friendship, lest we should become strangers unto you altogether : for there is a long time passed since ye sent unto us. We 11 therefore, at all times, without ceasing, both in our feasts and other convenient days, do remember you in the sacrifices which we offer, and in our prayers ; as is right, and as it becometh us to think upon our brethren : and we are right 12 glad of your glory. But as for us, many troubles 13 and many wars have environed us ; for so much as the kings who are round about us, have fought p. 121 14 against us. Howbeit, we would not be troublesome unto you, nor to others of our confederates 15 and friends in these wars: for we have help from heaven which succoureth us, so that we are delivered from our enemies, and our enemies are 16 humbled. For this cause we have chosen Numenius the son of Antiochus, and Antipater the son of Jason, and sent them unto the Romans, to renew the amity which we had with them, 17 and the former league. We commanded them also to go unto you, and to salute you, and to deliver you our letters concerning the renewing 18 of our brotherhood. Wherefore now ye shall 19 do well to give us an answer thereto.” And this is the copy of the letters which Arius sent[4]P. 121 Foot Note d. Theold translation, “which Oniares sent,” was unintelligible, and had arisen from a faulty reading, Gr. [ click on image to enlarge] instead of Gr. [  click on … Continue reading 20 to Onias. ” Arius king of the Lacedaemonians, 21 to Onias the high priest, greeting : It is found in writing, that the Lacedaemonians and Jews are brethren[5]P. 121 Foot Note e. See Shuckford’s Connection of Sacred and Profane History, book X. The Lacedæmonians were Dorians, derived from the Pelasgi, who sprung from the descendants of Abraham … Continue reading, and that they are of the stock of 22 Abraham : now therefore, since this is come to our knowledge, ye shall do well to write unto us 23 of your welfare. We do write back again to you, that your cattle and goods are ours, and ours are yours. We do command therefore our p. 122 ambassadors to make report unto you on this wise.”

24 Now when Jonathan heard that Demetrius’ princes were come to fight against him with a greater host than afore, he removed from Jerusalem, 25 and met them in the land of Amathis[6]P. 122 Foot Note f. Or, Hamath, on the northern border of the Holy Land, called in Scripture ” the entering into Hamath.” : for he gave them no respite to invade his country. He sent spies also unto their tents,who came again, 26 and told him, that they had appointed to come upon them in the night-season. Wherefore so 27 soon as the sun was down, Jonathan commanded his men to watch, and to be in arms, that all the night long they might be ready to fight : also he sent forth sentinels round about the host. But 28 when the adversaries heard that Jonathan and his men were ready for battle, they feared and trembled in their hearts, and they kindled fires in their camp[7]P. 122 Foot Note g. Add, ” and fled.” See in Xenophon’s Anabasis, and other instances of this stratagem recorded in Grecian and Roman history. Compare Joseph. Antiq. XIII. 9.. Howbeit, Jonathan and his company 29 knew it not till the morning: for they saw the lights burning. Then Jonathan pursued after 30 them, but overtook them not : for they were gone over the river Eleutherus. Wherefore Jonathan 31 turned aside to the Arabians, who were called Zabadaeans[8]P. 122 Foot Note h. Probably the word ought to be Nabathaeans, as Josephus writes it. See ch. v. 25., and smote them, and took their spoils. And removing thence, he came to Damascus, and 32 so passed through all the country. Simon also 33 went forth, and passed through the country unto Ascalon, and the strong holds there adjoining ; p. 123 from whence he turned aside to Joppe, and won 34 it. For he had heard that they would deliver the fortress unto them which took Demetrius’ part wherefore he set a garrison there to keep it.

35 After this came Jonathan home again, and calling the elders of the people together, he consulted with them about building strong holds in Judaea ; 36 and making the walls of Jerusalem higher, and raising a great mount between the tower and the city, to separate it from the city, that so it might be alone, that men might neither sell nor buy[9]P. 123 Foot Note i. And thus might be compelled to surrender the obnoxious tower through want of provisions. See the result of this manoeuvre at ch. xiii. 49, 50, 51. in 37 it. Upon this they came together, to build up the city; and part of the wall toward the brook on the east side was fallen down[10]P. 123 Foot Note k. There is a variety of reading on this passage ; Gr. [  click on image to enlarge] and Gr. [  click on image to enlarge] If the former be adopted, we must translate it, … Continue reading; and they repaired that 38 which was called Caphenatha. Simon also set up Adida, in Sephela[11]P. 123 Foot Note l. This word appears to mean generally, ” a plain.” Here it seems to be taken for the southern part of the great plain of Esdraelon mentioned at Judith i. 8, … Continue reading, and made it strong with gates and bars.

39 Now Tryphon sought to get the kingdom of Asia, to put the crown on himself, and to stretch forth his hand against Antiochus[12]P. 123 Foot Note m. See the successful issue of this treachery at ch. xiii. 31. the king. 40 Howbeit he was afraid that Jonathan would not suffer him, and that he would fight against him wherefore he sought a way how to take Jonathan, p. 124 that he might kill him. So he removed, and came to Bethsan. Then Jonathan went out to meet 41 him with forty thousand men chosen for the battle, and came to Bethsan. Now when Tryphon saw 42 that Jonathan came with so great a force, he durst not stretch his hand against him : but received 43 him honourably, and commended him unto all his friends, and gave him gifts, and commanded his armies to be as obedient unto him as to himself. Unto Jonathan also he said, Why hast thou put 44 all this people to so great trouble, seeing there is no war betwixt us ? therefore send them now 45 home again, and choose a few men to wait on thee, and come thou with me to Ptolemais, and I will give it thee, and the rest of the strong holds and forces, and all who have any charge : as for me, I will return and depart : for this is the cause of my coming. So Jonathan believing him, did 46 as he bade him, and sent away his host, who went into the land of Judah. And with himself he 47 retained but three thousand men, of whom he left two thousand in Galilee, and one thousand went with him.

48 Now as soon as Jonathan entered into Ptolemais, they of Ptolemais shut the gates, and took him, and all them which came with him they slew with the sword. Then sent Tryphon an host of 49 footmen and horsemen into Galilee, and into the great plain, to destroy all Jonathan’s company. But when they knew that Jonathan and they 50 which were with him were taken and slain, they encouraged one another, and went close together prepared to fight. They therefore which followed 51 upon them, perceiving that they were ready to p. 125 52 fight for their lives, turned back again. Whereupon they all came into the land of Judah peaceably, and there they bewailed Jonathan, and them which were with him, and they were sore afraid ; 53 wherefore all Israel made great lamentation. Then all the heathen who were round about them sought to destroy them : for, said they, They have no captain, nor any to help them : now therefore let us make war upon them, and take away their memorial from amongst men. 


Original Source: Transcribed from PDF copy of Book "The Five Books of Maccabees in English. With Notes and Illustrations", by HENRY COTTON, D.C.L.(Sir) Archdeacon of Cashel, and Late Student of Christ Church, Oxford. Publication date 1832 | PDF


References

1 P. 119 Foot Note a. The Greek text here and in other passages has Gr. [  click on image to enlarge] but there is no ground for supposing that only the inhabitants of Sparta itself are intended.
2 P. 120 Foot Note b. Probably he was the second of that name, the son of Simon the Just.
3 P. 120 Foot Note c. Josephus (Antiq. XIII. 8.) contends and justly, that the word ought to be Arius, not Darius, a name unknown among the Lacedaemonians, In the Greek, as in the English, there is merely the difference of a single letter ; and the mistake may have arisen from the similarity of form between Δ and A. Grotius decides Arius to be the true reading. A Spartan king of that name is mentioned by Pausanias and Livy : and the chronologers make Arius contemporary with the high priest Onias; namely, the second of that name ; for, although some writers have attributed the transaction to Onias III, the son of Simon, we must remember that Jonathan’s letter speaks of it as of a thing long past ; and also, that before Onias III. succeeded to the high-priesthood, the regal government had ceased to exist at Sparta.
4 P. 121 Foot Note d. Theold translation, “which Oniares sent,” was unintelligible, and had arisen from a faulty reading, Gr. [ click on image to enlarge] instead of Gr. [  click on image to enlarge] Josephus recites this epistle, with some slight difference, (more in words than matter,) in his Antiquities, XII. 5.
5 P. 121 Foot Note e. See Shuckford’s Connection of Sacred and Profane History, book X. The Lacedæmonians were Dorians, derived from the Pelasgi, who sprung from the descendants of Abraham and Keturah, mentioned in Genesis xxv. The Cretans have been supposed to form the connecting link. See Tacit. Hist. V. 2: and consult a long dissertation on the subject by Calmet, in his ” Literal Comment on the ” Bible.”
6 P. 122 Foot Note f. Or, Hamath, on the northern border of the Holy Land, called in Scripture ” the entering into Hamath.”
7 P. 122 Foot Note g. Add, ” and fled.” See in Xenophon’s Anabasis, and other instances of this stratagem recorded in Grecian and Roman history. Compare Joseph. Antiq. XIII. 9.
8 P. 122 Foot Note h. Probably the word ought to be Nabathaeans, as Josephus writes it. See ch. v. 25.
9 P. 123 Foot Note i. And thus might be compelled to surrender the obnoxious tower through want of provisions. See the result of this manoeuvre at ch. xiii. 49, 50, 51.
10 P. 123 Foot Note k. There is a variety of reading on this passage ; Gr. [  click on image to enlarge] and Gr. [  click on image to enlarge] If the former be adopted, we must translate it, ” and their  work approached to the wall toward the brook.”
11 P. 123 Foot Note l. This word appears to mean generally, ” a plain.” Here it seems to be taken for the southern part of the great plain of Esdraelon mentioned at Judith i. 8, and particularly to denote the open country round Eleutheropolis, a city of eminence in later times, situate to the west of Jerusalem.
12 P. 123 Foot Note m. See the successful issue of this treachery at ch. xiii. 31.

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