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1 Maccabees - Chapter 14

1 In the year 172, King Demetrius assembled his forces and marched into Media to raise help for the fight against Trypho.

2 When Arsaces king of Persia and Media heard that Demetrius had entered his territory, he sent one of his generals to capture him alive.

3 The general defeated the army of Demetrius, seized him and brought him to Arsaces, who imprisoned him.

4 The country was at peace throughout the days of Simon. He sought the good of his nation and they were well pleased with his authority, as with his magnificence, throughout his life.

5 To crown his titles to glory, he took Joppa and made it a harbour, gaining access to the Mediterranean Isles.

6 He enlarged the frontiers of his nation, keeping his mastery over the homeland,

7 resettling a host of captives. He conquered Gezer, Beth-Zur and the Citadel, ridding them of every impurity, and no one could resist him.

8 The people farmed their land in peace; the land gave its produce, the trees of the plain their fruit.

9 The elders sat at ease in the squares, all their talk was of their prosperity; the young men wore splendid armour.

10 He kept the towns supplied with provisions and furnished with fortifications, until his fame resounded to the ends of the earth.

11 He established peace in the land, and Israel knew great joy.

12 Each man sat under his own vine and his own fig tree, and there was no one to make them afraid.

13 No enemy was left in the land to fight them, the very kings of those times had been crushed.

14 He encouraged the afflicted members of his people, suppressing every wicked man and renegade. He strove to observe the Law,

15 and gave new splendour to the Temple, enriching it with many sacred vessels.

16 When it became known in Rome and as far as Sparta that Jonathan was dead, people were deeply grieved.

17 But as soon as they heard that his brother Simon had succeeded him as high priest and was master of the country and the cities in it,

18 they wrote to him on bronze tablets to renew the treaty of friendship and alliance which they had made with his brothers, Judas and Jonathan,

19 and the document was read out before the assembly in Jerusalem.

20 This is the copy of the letter sent by the Spartans: 'The rulers and the city of Sparta, to Simon the high priest and to the elders and priests and the rest of the people of the Jews, greetings.

21 'The ambassadors whom you sent to our people have informed us of your glory and prosperity, and we are delighted with their visit.

22 We have recorded their declarations in the minutes of our public assemblies, as follows, "Numenius son of Antiochus, and Antipater son of Jason, ambassadors of the Jews, came to us to renew their friendship with us.

23 And it was the people's pleasure to receive these personages with honour and to deposit a copy of their statements in the public archives, so that the people of Sparta might preserve a record of them. A copy was also made for Simon the high priest." '

24 After this, Simon sent Numenius to Rome as the bearer of a large golden shield weighing a thousand mina, to confirm the alliance with them.

25 When these events were reported to our people, they said, 'What mark of appreciation shall we give to Simon and his sons?

26 He stood firm, he and his brothers and his father's house: he fought off the enemies of Israel and secured its freedom.' So they recorded an inscription on bronze tablets and set it up on pillars on Mount Zion.

27 This is a copy of the text: 'The eighteenth of Elul, in the year 172, being the third year of Simon, eminent high priest:

28 'In Asaramel, in the Grand Assembly of priests and people, of princes of the nation and of elders of the country: 'We are acquainted with the matters following:

29 'When there was almost incessant fighting in the country Simon, son of Mattathias, a priest of the line of Joarib, and his brothers courted danger and withstood their nation's enemies to safeguard the integrity of their sanctuary and of the Law, and so brought their nation great glory;

30 'For when, Jonathan having rallied his nation and become its high priest and having then been gathered to his ancestors,

31 the enemy planned to invade the country, intending to devastate their territory and to lay hands on their sanctuary,

32 Simon next came forward to fight for his nation: spending much of his personal wealth on arming his nation's fighting men and on providing their pay;

33 fortifying the towns of Judaea, as well as Beth-Zur on the Judaean frontier where the enemy arsenal had formerly been, and stationing in it a garrison of Jewish soldiers;

34 fortifying Joppa on the coast, and Gezer on the borders of Azotus, a place formerly inhabited by the enemy, founding a Jewish colony there, and providing the settlers with everything they needed to set them on their feet;

35 'In consequence of which, the people, aware of Simon's loyalty and of the glory which he was determined to win for his nation, have made him their ethnarch and high priest, for all his services and for the integrity and loyalty which he has shown towards his nation, and for having by every means sought to enhance his people's power;

36 'It has fallen to him in his time to expel the foreigners from his country, including those in the City of David in Jerusalem, who had converted it into a citadel for their own use, from which they would sally out to defile the surroundings of the sanctuary and to violate its sacred character;

37 to station Jewish soldiers there instead for the security of the country and the city; and to heighten the walls of Jerusalem;

38 'And since King Demetrius has heard that the Romans call the Jews their friends, allies and brothers,

39 and that they have given an honourable reception to Simon's ambassadors, and, furthermore,

40 that the Jews and priests are happy that Simon should, pending the advent of a genuine prophet, be their ethnarch and high priest for life

41 therefore he has confirmed him in the high-priestly office, has raised him to the rank of Friend and has showered great honours on him, also confirming him as their commander-in-chief,

42 with the right to appoint officials to oversee the fabric of the sanctuary and to administer the country, munitions and fortresses;

43 he is to have personal charge of the sanctuary, and to be obeyed by all; all official documents in the country must be drawn up in his name; and he may assume the purple and may wear golden ornaments;

44 'Furthermore, it is against the law for any member of the public or of the priesthood to contravene any of these enactments or to contest his decisions, or to convene a meeting anywhere in the country without his permission, or to assume the purple or wear the golden brooch;

45 and anyone acting contrary to, or rejecting any article of, these enactments is liable to punishment;

46 'And since the people have unanimously agreed to grant Simon the right to act as aforesaid, and

47 since Simon, for his part, has given his assent, and has consented to assume the high-priestly office and to be commander-in-chief and ethnarch of the Jews and their priests, and to preside over all:

48 'So, be it now enacted: that this record be inscribed on bronze tablets and be erected at some conspicuous place within the precincts of the Temple,

49 and that copies be deposited in the Treasury for Simon and his descendants.'

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