In Praise of Simon 14 1In the year 172[N] King Demetrius the Second gathered his army and went to Media to seek additional help for his war against Trypho. 2When King Arsaces the Sixth of Persia and Media heard that Demetrius had entered his territory, he sent one of his commanders with some troops to capture Demetrius alive. 3They attacked and defeated the army of Demetrius, took him captive, and brought him back to King Arsaces, who threw him in prison. 4The land of Judea was at peace as long as Simon lived. During his entire reign, he used his position of power and influence to do what was good for his people, and they were always pleased with him as their ruler. 5He added to his reputation when he captured the port of Joppa and opened up the route to the Greek islands. 6He not only enlarged the territory of his nation and gained control of the whole country, 7but he brought back many prisoners of war and captured Gezer, Bethzur, and the fort in Jerusalem. He purified the fort, and there was no one to oppose him. 8The Jews farmed their land in peace; the land produced its crops and the trees bore fruit. 9The young men showed off their splendid military uniforms, while the old men sat around the city squares and talked about the great things that had happened. 10Simon supplied the cities with food and provided them with weapons of defense. His fame spread everywhere. 11He brought peace to the country, and Israel's joy knew no bounds. 12Everyone lived in peace among his own grapevines and fig trees, and no one made them afraid. 13In those days all the enemy kings had been defeated, and there was no one left in the land to fight the Jews. 14Simon provided help for all the poor among his people, and guided by the Law of Moses, he eliminated all wicked and lawless men. 15He provided the Temple with splendid furnishings and added a large number of utensils for use in worship. 16When the news that Jonathan had died reached Rome and Sparta, it brought great sorrow. 17But when the Spartans heard that Simon had succeeded his brother as High Priest and that he was in control of the country and its towns, 18 they engraved on bronze tablets a renewal of the treaty of friendship which they had made with his brothers Judas and Jonathan and sent the tablets to him. 19These were read to the assembly in Jerusalem. 20What follows is a copy of the letter sent by the Spartans: “The people of Sparta and their rulers to Simon the High Priest, to the leaders and the priests of the Jews, and to all our Jewish brothers, greetings. 21The delegation that you sent to our people has told us how respected and renowned you are. Their visit has been a source of joy for us, 22and a report of their visit has been written down in our public records, as follows: ‘Numenius son of Antiochus and Antipater son of Jason, honored representatives of the Jews, appeared before us to renew their treaty of friendship. 23The assembly of the people was pleased to receive these men with all honors and to place a copy of their report in the public archives, so that the people of Sparta may have it on record. A copy of this document has been made for the High Priest Simon.’” 24Later, Simon sent Numenius to Rome with the gift of a large gold shield weighing half a ton, to confirm the Jews' alliance with the Romans. 25When the people of Israel heard about all this, they asked themselves, “How can we express our thanks to Simon and his sons? 26He, his brothers, and his father's whole family have been towers of strength for our nation. They have fought off our enemies and set the nation free.” So they recorded this on bronze tablets and set them up on columns on Mount Zion. 27The inscription read as follows: “On the eighteenth day of the month of Elul in the year 172,[O] that is, in the third year of Simon, the High Priest,[P] 28at a great assembly of priests, people, officials, and national leaders the following facts were made known to us: 29Often when wars broke out in the country, Simon son of Mattathias, a priest of the Jehoiarib family, and his brothers risked their lives in protecting our nation, our Temple, and our Law against our enemies. They have brought great glory to our nation. 30Jonathan united our people and became the High Priest before he died. 31The enemies of the Jews plotted to invade the land and defile the Temple. 32Then Simon assumed command and fought for his country. He spent a large amount of his own money to provide weapons and wages for his nation's armed forces. 33He fortified the towns of Judea, and especially Bethzur on the border, where enemy weapons had previously been stored. He stationed a detachment of soldiers there. 34He fortified the seaport of Joppa and the city of Gezer on the border of Azotus, which was previously occupied by enemy soldiers. He settled Jews there and provided the towns with everything that the people needed.[Q] 35When the people saw Simon's patriotism and how he wanted to bring glory to his nation, they made him their leader and High Priest. They did this because of all that he had accomplished through his loyalty and because he had brought about justice and had tried in every way to bring glory to his nation. 36“Under his leadership the Gentiles were driven out of the land. Enemy soldiers were forced out of the area north of the Temple, where they had built the fort, from which the soldiers used to go out and defile the holy Temple. 37Simon settled Jews in the fort, strengthened it for the security of the country and the city of Jerusalem, and increased the height of the city walls. 38As a result, King Demetrius confirmed him as High Priest, 39gave him the title of “Friend of the King,” and treated him with great honor. 40Demetrius did this because he had heard that the Romans were calling the Jews their friends, allies, and brothers and that they had received Simon's delegation with full honors. 41“Therefore,[R] the Jews and their priests are happy to have Simon and his descendants as their leaders and High Priests, until a true prophet appears. 42Simon shall govern their country, have charge of the Temple, and shall be their military commander. He shall be in charge of military supplies, fortifications, and public works. 43The people must obey him in everything. All government contracts shall be drawn up in his name. He shall have the right to wear royal robes with the gold shoulder buckle. 44“No one, priest or people, shall have the legal right to annul any of these decisions, to alter or change any of Simon's orders, to convene any assembly in the country without his permission, or to wear royal robes with the gold shoulder buckle. 45Anyone who disobeys or disregards these regulations shall be subject to punishment. 46“The people gave their unanimous approval to grant Simon the right to act in accordance with these regulations. 47Simon consented and agreed to be supreme leader: High Priest, commander of the armies, and governor of the Jews and the priests.” 48It was decided that this declaration should be engraved on bronze tablets and set up in a prominent place within the Temple area 49and that copies should be placed in the Temple treasury, where Simon and his sons would have access to them.
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