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1 Maccabees - Chapter 15

1 Antiochus son of King Demetrius addressed a letter from the Mediterranean Isles to Simon, priest and ethnarch of the Jews, and to the whole nation;

2 this was how it read: 'King Antiochus to Simon, high priest and ethnarch, and to the Jewish nation, greetings.

3 'Whereas certain scoundrels have seized control of the kingdom of our fathers, and I propose to claim back the kingdom so that I may re-establish it as it was before, and whereas I have accordingly recruited very large forces and fitted out warships,

4 intending to make a landing in the country and to hunt down the men who have ruined it and laid waste many towns in my kingdom;

5 'I now, therefore, confirm in your favour all remissions of taxes granted to you by the kings my predecessors, as well as the waiving of whatever presents they may have conceded.

6 I hereby authorise you to mint your own coinage as legal tender for your own country.

7 I declare Jerusalem and the sanctuary to be free; all the arms you have manufactured and the fortresses you have built and now occupy may remain yours.

8 All debts to the royal treasury, present or future, are cancelled henceforth in perpetuity.

9 Furthermore, when we have won back our kingdom, we shall bestow such great honour on yourself, your nation and the sanctuary as will make your glory known throughout the world.'

10 Antiochus invaded the land of his ancestors in the year 174 and, since the troops all rallied to him, Trypho was left with few supporters.

11 Antiochus pursued the usurper, who took refuge in Dora on the coast,

12 knowing that misfortunes were piling up on him and that his troops had deserted him.

13 Antiochus pitched camp outside Dora with a hundred and twenty thousand fighting men and eight thousand cavalry.

14 He laid siege to the city while the ships closed in from the sea, so that he had the city under attack from land and sea, and allowed no one to go in or come out.

15 Numenius and his companions, meanwhile, arrived from Rome, bringing letters addressed to various kings and states, in the following terms:

16 'Lucius, consul of the Romans, to King Ptolemy, greetings.

17 'The Jewish ambassadors have come to us as our friends and allies to renew our original friendship and alliance in the name of the high priest Simon and the Jewish people.

18 They have brought a golden shield worth a thousand mina.

19 Accordingly, we have seen fit to write to various kings and states, warning them neither to molest the Jewish people nor to attack either them or their towns or their country, nor to ally themselves with any such aggressors.

20 We have seen fit to accept the shield from them.

21 If, therefore, any scoundrels have fled their country to take refuge with you, hand them over to Simon the high priest, to be punished by him according to their law.'

22 The consul sent the same letter to King Demetrius, to Attalus, Ariarathes and Arsaces,

23 and to all states, including Sampsames, the Spartans, Delos, Myndos, Sicyon, Caria, Samos, Pamphylia, Lycia, Halicarnassus, Rhodes, Phaselis, Cos, Side, Arados, Gortyn, Cyprus and Cyrene.

24 They also drew up a copy for Simon the high priest.

25 Antiochus, meanwhile, from his positions on the outskirts of Dora, was continually throwing detachments against the town. He constructed siege-engines, and blockaded Trypho, preventing movement in or out.

26 Simon sent him two thousand picked men to support him in the fight, with silver and gold and plenty of equipment.

27 But Antiochus would not accept them; instead, he repudiated all his previous agreements with Simon and completely changed his attitude to him.

28 He sent him Athenobius, one of his Friends, to confer with him and say, 'You are now occupying Joppa and Gezer and the Citadel in Jerusalem, which are towns in my kingdom.

29 You have laid waste their territory and done immense harm to the country; and you have seized control of many places properly in my kingdom.

30 Either now surrender the towns you have taken and the taxes from the places you have seized outside the frontiers of Judaea,

31 or else pay me five hundred talents of silver in compensation for them and for the destruction you have done, and another five hundred talents for the taxes from the towns; otherwise we shall come and make war on you.'

32 When the King's Friend, Athenobius, reached Jerusalem and saw Simon's magnificence, his cabinet of gold and silver plate and the state he kept, he was dumbfounded. He delivered the king's message,

33 but Simon gave him this answer, 'We have not taken foreign territory or any alien property but have occupied our ancestral heritage, for some time unjustly wrested from us by our enemies;

34 now that we have a favourable opportunity, we are merely recovering our ancestral heritage.

35 As regards Joppa and Gezer, which you claim, these were towns that did great harm to our people and laid waste our country; we are prepared to give a hundred talents for them.' Without so much as a word in answer,

36 the envoy went back to the king in a rage and reported on Simon's answer and his magnificence, and on everything he had seen, at which the king fell into a fury.

37 Trypho now boarded a ship and escaped to Orthosia.

38 The king appointed Cendebaeus military governor of the coastal region and allotted him a force of infantry and cavalry.

39 He ordered him to deploy his men facing Judaea, and instructed him to rebuild Kedron and fortify its gates, and to make war on our people, while the king himself went in pursuit of Trypho.

40 Cendebaeus arrived at Jamnia and began to provoke our people forthwith, invading Judaea, taking prisoners, and massacring.

41 Having rebuilt Kedron, he stationed cavalry and troops there to make sorties and patrol the roads of Judaea, as the king had ordered.

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