2 Maccabees Chapter 13 (from Five Books of Maccabees)

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P. 125 – 132  Book 2 B.C. 144 [PDF: 175/182 of p.524]


(i) Simon made captain. His acts. Jonathan’s death, burial, and monument. Tryphon seizes the kingdom.

1 Now when Simon[1]P. 125 Foot Note a. The second son of Mattathias, and elder brother of Judas. heard that Tryphon had gathered together a great host, to invade the land 2 of Judah and destroy it; and saw that the people was in great trembling and fear, he went up to 3 Jerusalem, and gathered the people together; and gave them exhortation, saying, Ye yourselves know what great things I and my brethren, and my father’s house, have done for the laws and the sanctuary, the battles also and troubles which we 4 have seen. By reason whereof all my brethren are slain for Israel’s sake, and I am left alone. 5 Now therefore be it far from me that I should spare mine own life in any time of trouble : for I 6 am no better than my brethren. Doubtless I will avenge my nation and the sanctuary, and our wives and our children : for all the heathen 7 are gathered to destroy us of very malice. And he rekindled the spirit of the people, as soon as p. 126 they heard these words. And they answered with 8 a loud voice, saying, Thou art our leader instead of Judas and Jonathan thy brother. Fight thou 9 our battles, and whatsoever thou commandest us, that will we do. So then he gathered together 10 all the men of war, and made haste to finish the walls of Jerusalem, and he fortified it round about. Also he sent Jonathan the son of Absalom, and 11 with him a great power, to Joppe : who casting out them which were therein, remained there in it.

12 So Tryphon removed from Ptolemais with a great power to invade the land of Judah, and Jonathan was with him in ward. But Simon 13 pitched his tents at Adida, over against the plain[2]P. 126 Foot Note b. Namely, of Sephela, mentioned above at ch. xii. 38.. Now when Tryphon knew that Simon was risen 14 up instead of his brother Jonathan, and meant to join battle with him, he sent messengers unto him, saying, Whereas we have Jonathan thy brother 15 in hold, it is for money which Jonathan thy brother owed to the king’s treasure from the office which he held, that we detain him. Wherefore 16 now send an hundred talents of silver, and two of his sons for hostages, that when he is at liberty he may not revolt from us, and we will let him go. Hereupon Simon, albeit he perceived that 17 they spake deceitfully unto him, yet sent he the money and the children, lest peradventure he should procure to himself great hatred of the people : who might have said, Because I sent him 18 not the money and the children, therefore is Jonathan dead. So he sent the children and the 19 hundred talents : howbeit Tryphon dissembled, p. 127 20 neither would he let Jonathan go. And after this came Tryphon to invade the land, and destroy it, going round about by the way which leadeth unto Adora[3]P. 127 Foot Note c. Or Dorah, a town lying in the southern part of Judaea, near the borders of Idumaea : but Simon and his host marched against 21 him in every place wheresoever he went. Now they which were in the tower, sent messengers unto Tryphon, to the end that he should hasten his coming unto them by the wilderness, and send 22 them victuals. Wherefore Tryphon made ready all his horsemen to come that night : but there fell a very great snow, by reason whereof he came not. So he departed, and came into the country 23 of Galaad. And when he came near to Bascama[4]P. 127 Foot Note d. Calmet judges this to be Bezek, a town not far from Bethsan.24 he slew Jonathan, who was buried there. Afterward Tryphon returned, and went into his own land.

25 Then sent Simon, and took the bones of Jonathan his brother, [B.C. 143.] and buried them in Modin 26 the city of his fathers. And all Israel made great lamentation for him, and bewailed him many days.

27 Simon also built a monument upon the sepulchre of his father and his brethren, and raised it aloft to the sight, with polished stone behind and 28 before. Moreover, he set up seven pyramids one against another, for his father and his mother, 29 and his four brethren. And on these he made cunning devices, about the which he set great pillars, and upon the pillars he made all their armour for a perpetual memory, and by the armour p. 128 ships carved, that they might be seen by all who sail on the sea. This is the sepulchre which he 30 made at Modin, and it standeth yet[5]P. 128 Foot Note e. So said Josephus : an so reported Eusebius, in the fourth century after Christ, See Eusebius Gr. [ click on image to enlarge] published (together with a Latin version of … Continue reading unto this day.

31 Now Tryphon dealt deceitfully with the young king Antiochus, and slew him((P. 128 Foot Note f. In what manner the death of this young prince was effected, may be seen in Josephus, and in the Epitome of book LV. of Livy.)). And he reigned 32 in his stead, and crowned himself king of Asia, and brought a great calamity upon the land. Then Simon built up the strong holds in 33 Judaea; and fenced them about with high towers, and great walls, and gates, and bars; and laid up victuals in the strong holds. Moreover, Simon 34 chose men, and sent to king Demetrius, to the end he should give the land an immunity, because all which Tryphon did was to spoil((P. 128 Foot Note g. Literally, ” all Tryphon’s doings were robberies.”)). And king 35 Demetrius sent to him according to these words : and answered him, and wrote him a letter, to this effect : ” King Demetrius unto Simon the high 36 priest, and friend of kings, as also unto the elders and nation of the Jews, sendeth greeting 37 : The golden crown and the golden palm branch((P. 129 Foot Note h. Gr. [ click on image to enlarge] But some interpreters think this word signifies ” a robe embroidered with palms.” Compare 3 Mace. xiv. 4.)), which ye sent unto us, we have received; and we are ready to make a steadfast peace with you ; yea, and to write unto our 38 officers, to grant you immunities. And whatsoever covenants we have made with you, still stand ; and the strong holds which ye have 39 builded, let them be your own. As for any oversights or faults committed unto this day, we forgive them, and the crown-tax also which ye owe us ; and if there were any other tribute 40 paid in Jerusalem, let it be paid no more. And if there be any among you meet to be enrolled in our court, let them be enrolled, and let there 41 be peace betwixt us.” Thus the yoke of the heathen was taken away from Israel, in the 42 hundred and seventieth year. Then the people of Israel began to write in their instruments and contracts, ” In the first year of Simon the great high priest, the governor and leader of the Jews.”

43 In those days Simon camped against Gaza[6]P. 129 Foot Note i. Probably we ought to read ” Gazara.” Compare verses 48 and 53 ; also ch. xiv. 7., and besieged it round about ; he made also engines of war[7]P. 129 Foot Note j. Gr. [ click on image to enlarge] The helepolis appears to have been a machine of vast size and most formidable power: it was a great favourite with Demetrius, the son of … Continue reading, and set them by the city, and battered p. 130 a certain tower, and took it. And they 44 which were in the engines leapt into the city; whereupon there was a great uproar in the city : insomuch that the people of the city rent their 45 clothes, and climbed upon the walls with their wives and children, and cried with a loud voice, 46 beseeching Simon to grant them peace. And they said, Deal not with us according to our wickednesses, 47 but according to thy mercy. So Simon was appeased towards them, and fought no more against them ; but put them out of the city, and cleansed the houses wherein the idols were : and so entered into it with songs and thanksgivings. 48 Yea, he put all uncleanness out of it, and placed such men there, as would keep the law; and made it stronger than it was before, and built therein a dwelling-place for himself.

49 They also of the tower in Jerusalem were kept so strait, that they could neither come forth, nor go into the country, nor buy, nor sell : [B.C. 142.] wherefore they were in great distress for want of victuals, and a great number of them perished 50 through famine. Then cried they to Simon, beseeching him that they might have peace : which thing he granted them ; and when he had put them out from thence, he cleansed the tower from 51 pollutions : and entered into it the three and twentieth day of the second month, in the hundred seventy and first year, with thanksgiving and branches of palm-trees, and with harps, and cymbals, and with viols, and hymns, and songs : because there was destroyed a great enemy((P. 131 Foot Note k. From the time when this tower was erected and garrisoned by Antiochus Epiphanes, (see ch. i. 33—36,) it had been ever ” a sore snare” and ” an evil adversary to Israel.”)) out 52 of Israel. He ordained also, that they should keep that clay every year with gladness. Moreover, the hill of the temple, which was by the tower, he p. 132 made stronger((P. 132 Foot Note l. Namely, by lowering the adjoining hill, on which the obnoxious tower had stood. This great undertaking he accomplished by the unceasing labour of his people by day and night during three years, (Josephus.).)) than it was, and there he dwelt himself with his company. And when Simon saw 53 that John his son was a valiant man, he made him captain of all the hosts; and he dwelt in Gazara. 

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


1 P. 125 Foot Note a. The second son of Mattathias, and elder brother of Judas.
2 P. 126 Foot Note b. Namely, of Sephela, mentioned above at ch. xii. 38.
3 P. 127 Foot Note c. Or Dorah, a town lying in the southern part of Judaea, near the borders of Idumaea
4 P. 127 Foot Note d. Calmet judges this to be Bezek, a town not far from Bethsan.
5 P. 128 Foot Note e. So said Josephus : an so reported Eusebius, in the fourth century after Christ, See Eusebius Gr. [https://fourcornerministries.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/P.128-2.Macca_.13-FN-e–01-00-20mm-h.fw_-300x15.png 300w" sizes="(max-width: 404px) 100vw, 404px" /> click on image to enlarge] published (together with a Latin version of it, by St. Jerome) by Vallarsius, from a Greek MS. of the tenth century in the Vatican Library, in vol. III. of the works of  St. Jerome, p. 248. Gr. [https://fourcornerministries.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/P.128-2.Macca_.13-FN-e–02-00-20mm-h.fw_-300x8.png 300w, https://fourcornerministries.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/P.128-2.Macca_.13-FN-e–02-00-20mm-h.fw_-768x20.png 768w, https://fourcornerministries.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/P.128-2.Macca_.13-FN-e–02-00-20mm-h.fw_-500x13.png 500w" sizes="(max-width: 784px) 100vw, 784px" /> click on image to enlarge] On which Jerome observes ; LATINSatis itaque miror quomodo Antiochiae corum reliquias ostendant, aut quo hoc certo autore sit creditum. [English Translation Google: at Antioch of them, even the remnant of the atis, therefore, I am surprised that they show, how, or where it is certain to be the author should be believed.]” But his editor rightly corrects this slip of the author’s memory, by remarking that the brothers, whose sepulchres were at Modin, were the true Maccabees, the sons of Mattathias : but that the martyrs, whose relics were exhibited at Antioch, were the seven brethren tortured to death by Antiochus, to whom the name of Maccabees was commonly, though improperly, attributed.
6 P. 129 Foot Note i. Probably we ought to read ” Gazara.” Compare verses 48 and 53 ; also ch. xiv. 7.
7 P. 129 Foot Note j. Gr. [ click on image to enlarge] The helepolis appears to have been a machine of vast size and most formidable power: it was a great favourite with Demetrius, the son of Antigonus ; who from its frequent and successful use in sieges took the name of Potiorcetes. It is mentioned by several Greek and Latin writers : but the most minute account of its construction is furnished to us by Ammianus Marcellinus, XXIII. 5, in the following terms: p. 130 

LATINPro his arietum meditamentis jam crebritate despectis, conditur machina scriptoribus historicis nota, quam helepolim Graeci cognominamus : cujus opera diuturna Demetrius Antigoni filius regis, Rhodo aliisque urbibus oppugnatis, Poliorcetes est appellatus. AEdificatur autem hoc modoTestudo compaginatur immanis, axibus roborata longissimis, ferre isque clavis aptata : et contegitur coriis bubulis virga rumque recenti textura, atque limo asperguntur ejus suprema, ut flammeos detrectet et missiles casusConseruntur autem ejus frontalibus trisulcae cuspides praeacutae, ponderibus ferreis graves, qualia nobis pictores ostendunt fulmina vel fictores, ut quidquid petierit aculeis exertis abrumpatHanc ita validam molem rotis et funibus regens numerosus intrinsecus miles, languidiori murorum parti viribus admovet concitis : et nisi de propugnantium valuerint vires, collisis parietibus aditus patefacit ingentes.” [English Translation Google: For those already dyed exercises frequently despised, writers, historians stored in a machine known as Helepolis Greeks is named Demetrius, which works daily ofAntigonus Prince, Rhodes and other cities demolish Poliorcetes Pass. Build it this way. The tortoise body are joined together the monstrous, the hubs should confirm and and very long, and he is the key of the bear were framed by the rod of Abijah, and covered with hides adorned with the recent good texture, and sprinkled of it, and the slime of the most important, as the fall of missiles, and shall refuse to make it flame. Frontalibus were sown for a brand with a very sharp pointed ends relative weights of iron deep, such as bolts or our painters and sculptors show that no matter what exertis sharp break. A strong force, guiding the mass of rings, they were so numerous, more ropes on the inside of this a soldier, cordial, and a part of the forces in close proximity to the walls, he had: and, had not the strength of the defenders have benefited from, utters such an approach made it clear to the walls of the vast force of the.] 

Vitruvius, at book X. chap. 22, It describes, somewhat differently, the one used by Demetrius at Rhodes, which he says was 125 feet high, and 60 in width. It was so strongly secured by hair-cloths and raw hides, as to withstand the blow of a stone of 360 pounds weight hurled from a balista. This formidable engine having been rendered useless by the besieged, through a stratagem, was subsequently captured by them and drawn into their city in triumph. Diodorus Siculus, lib. XX. (p. 785, edit. 1607,) mentions another constructed by Demetrius, which was in height 90 cubits, and 45 cubits in width, [nearly the same admeasurements as those given by Vitruvius.] It consisted of nine stories ; stood upon four wheels of eight cubits in height : in the several stories were balistae, catapeltae, and all sorts of instruments of annoyance, with more than two hundred men to make use of these. This machine was burnt by the besieged, at Salamis. Plutarch, in the Life of Demetrius, (torn. V. p. 26, ed. Bryan,) states its height at 66 cubits, and its breadth at 48. The immense weight of the helepolis is also mentioned by Athenaeus, X. 3. (p. 415, ed. Casaub.) where he speaks of one being gotten out of a slough, through the powerful music of a piper!

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