Alliances with Rome and Sparta 12 1When Jonathan saw that things were working out to his advantage, he chose ambassadors and sent them to Rome to confirm and renew friendship with the Romans. 2He also sent letters with a similar message to Sparta and other places. 3The ambassadors went to Rome, where they were admitted to the Senate chamber, and reported that the High Priest Jonathan and the Jewish nation had sent them to renew the earlier ties of friendship and alliance with Rome. 4The Romans provided them with letters to the authorities in each country through which they would pass, guaranteeing them safe conduct in their return to the land of Judea. 5Here is a copy of the letter Jonathan wrote to the Spartans: 6“Jonathan the High Priest, the national council of leaders, the priests, and the rest of the people of Judea, to our brothers in Sparta, greetings. 7At an earlier time, your King Arius sent a letter to our High Priest Onias, stating that our two nations are related, as the attached copy shows. 8Onias received your ambassador with full honors and acknowledged receipt of your letter, which declared our alliance and friendship. 9And now, although we are not in need of such alliances, since we find our source of strength in the holy books we possess, 10we have written to renew our ties of brotherhood and friendship with you. We do not wish to become total strangers, and it has now been many years since your last communication. 11Throughout the years we have taken every opportunity, on our festival days and other suitable days, to remember you when we have offered our sacrifices and made our prayers, as it is fitting and proper for brothers to do. 12We also are pleased that fame has come to you. 13But we have had one series of troubles after another and have had to fight many wars, because we have been under constant attack by surrounding nations. 14During this time of war, we did not wish to trouble you or our other allies and friends, 15since we do have the help of the Lord, who has defeated our enemies and rescued us from them. 16So we have chosen Numenius son of Antiochus together with Antipater son of Jason and sent them as ambassadors to Rome to renew our ties of friendship and alliance with the Romans. 17We have also ordered them to go to you with our greetings and deliver this letter about the renewal of our ties of brotherhood. 18And now we request an answer to this letter. 19“The following is a copy of the earlier letter: 20“‘King Arius of Sparta to Onias the High Priest, greetings. 21We have found a document about the Spartans and the Jews indicating that we are related and that both of our nations are descended from Abraham. 22Now that we have discovered this, please send us a report about your situation. 23In reply, we will send you a letter indicating that we are willing to share our possessions, including cattle and property, if you will do the same. We have given orders to our ambassadors to give you a full report about these matters.’” Campaigns of Jonathan and Simon 24Jonathan learned that the officers of Demetrius had returned to attack him with an even larger army than before. 25Jonathan did not want to give them an opportunity to penetrate his own territory, so he left Jerusalem and went to meet them in the region of Hamath. 26Jonathan sent spies into the enemy camp, who reported to him that the enemy forces were making plans to attack the Jews by night. 27At sunset Jonathan ordered all his soldiers to be on the alert and to have their weapons ready for a surprise attack any time during the night. He also stationed guards all around the camp. 28When the enemy soldiers learned that Jonathan and his men were ready for battle, they were panic-stricken and fled, leaving their campfires burning. 29Jonathan and his men saw the campfires but did not realize what had happened until the next morning. 30Jonathan then set out after them, but he could not overtake them because they had already crossed the Eleutherus River. 31Then Jonathan turned aside and attacked a tribe of Arabs called Zabadeans. He defeated them and plundered their possessions. 32Then he broke camp and went to Damascus, inspecting the entire area along the way. 33Meanwhile, Simon had also set out on a campaign and had advanced as far as Ascalon and the neighboring fortresses. Then he turned aside to Joppa 34and stationed a detachment of soldiers there because he had heard that the people were planning to hand over the fortress of Joppa to the soldiers of Demetrius. 35When Jonathan returned, he called the council of the leaders together and made plans with them to build fortresses in Judea, 36to increase the height of the walls of Jerusalem, and to build a high wall to separate the fort from the city. This would isolate the fort, making it impossible for the enemy to buy or sell anything. 37The people worked together to strengthen the city's defenses because a part of the east wall along the Kidron Valley had collapsed and the Chaphenatha section was in need of repair. 38Simon also rebuilt the town of Adida in the foothills. He fortified it and constructed barred gates for it. Trypho Captures Jonathan 39Then Trypho plotted a rebellion against King Antiochus so that he could make himself king of Syria. 40He was afraid, however, that Jonathan would not agree to this and would go to war against him to prevent it. So Trypho got his army ready and went to Beth Shan in the hope of capturing Jonathan and putting him to death. 41But Jonathan also came to Beth Shan with 40,000 well-trained soldiers. 42When Trypho saw how large an army Jonathan had brought with him, he was afraid to take action. 43So he received Jonathan with all honors, presented him to all his advisers, gave him gifts, and ordered his advisers and soldiers to obey Jonathan as they would him. 44He asked Jonathan, “Why have you put these soldiers to so much trouble when we are not at war? 45Why don't you send them home? Choose a few men to stay with you, and then accompany me to Ptolemais. I will hand the city over to you, as well as the rest of the fortresses, the troops, and all the officials. Then I will turn around and leave. In fact, that's why I am here.” 46Jonathan believed him, and following his advice, sent his soldiers back to Judea. 47He took 3,000 men with him, but left 2,000 of them in Galilee, while only 1,000 accompanied him the rest of the way. 48But when Jonathan entered Ptolemais, the people of the city locked the gates, arrested him, and killed everyone who had come with him. 49Trypho sent infantry and cavalry units to Galilee and Jezreel Valley to kill the rest of Jonathan's soldiers. 50The Jewish troops thought that Jonathan had been captured and killed, along with all those who had accompanied him, so they encouraged one another and marched out in battle formation. 51When the approaching enemy forces saw that the Jews were ready to fight for their lives, they turned back. 52Then the Jewish soldiers returned to Judea safely, but terribly afraid. The whole nation was in deep mourning, assuming that Jonathan and all his men had been killed. 53All the surrounding nations now tried to destroy them. They thought that the Jews had no leaders or allies and that the time was ripe to annihilate them and put an end to their history.
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