Revolt of Alexander Epiphanes

In the year 160,[a] Alexander Epiphanes, Antiochus’ son, landed and occupied Ptolemais. They welcomed him there, and he began to rule.

When King Demetrius heard about it, he assembled a very large army. He marched out to meet Alexander in battle. Demetrius sent a friendly letter to Jonathan to honor him. Demetrius thought to himself, We should make peace with Jonathan before he aligns with Alexander against us. If we don’t do so, he will recall all the wrongs that we did to him, his brothers, and his nation.

So Demetrius gave Jonathan authority to recruit troops, to arm them, and to become his ally. He ordered that the hostages in the elevated fortress be released to Jonathan.

Then Jonathan came to Jerusalem and read the letter in front of all the people and those inside the elevated fortress. These people were very concerned when they heard that the king had given him authority to recruit troops. The inhabitants in the elevated fortress released the hostages to Jonathan, and he returned them to their parents.

10 Jonathan took up residence in Jerusalem and began to rebuild and restore the city. 11 He directed the workers to build the walls and encircle Mount Zion with squared stones for better reinforcement, which they did.

12 Then from the fortress that Bacchides had built, the foreigners fled. 13 All of them left their places and returned to their own lands. 14 Only in Beth-zur did some Jews remain who had neglected the Law and the commandments, because Beth-zur was a place of refuge.

Jonathan becomes high priest

15 Now King Alexander heard about all the promises that Demetrius made to Jonathan. He also heard about the battles that Jonathan and his brothers had fought, the brave deeds they had done, and the troubles they had endured. 16 He said to himself, Will we find another man like this? We should make him our friend and ally. 17 So he wrote a letter to Jonathan:
18 King Alexander to his brother Jonathan. Greetings!

19 We have heard about you—that you are a mighty warrior and worthy to be our friend. 20 So we have appointed you today to be the high priest of your nation. You are to be named the king’s political advisor.[b] You should take our side and keep friendship with us.

He sent also a purple robe and a gold crown.

21 So Jonathan put on the sacred garments in the seventh month of the year 160[c] at the Festival of Booths. He recruited troops and equipped them with abundant weapons.

Demetrius’ letter to Jonathan

22 When Demetrius heard about these things he was distressed. He said, 23 “What have we done? Alexander has moved more quickly in forming a friendship with the Jews to strengthen himself. 24 I’ll also write them words of encouragement and promise them honor and gifts so that I may gain their help.” 25 So he sent a message to them:
King Demetrius to the nation of the Jews. Greetings!

26 We have heard and rejoice that you have kept your agreement and have continued your friendship with us, and have not sided with our enemies. 27 Now continue to keep faith with us, and we will repay you in kind according to the good you do for us. 28 We will grant you many exemptions and give you gifts.

29 I now free you and excuse all the Jews from payment of tribute as well as salt and royal taxes. 30 Instead of collecting a third of the grain and half of the fruit of the trees as I should, I release you from payment from now on. I will not collect them from the land of Judah or from the three districts added to it from Samaria and Galilee, from this day on and for all time. 31 Jerusalem and its surroundings, its tenth-part gifts and its revenues, will be holy and free from tax.

32 I will also give up my control of the elevated fortress in Jerusalem and give it to the high priest. He may station people of his own choice to guard it. 33 I set free, without payment, all of the Jews who have been taken captive from Judah into any part of my kingdom. Furthermore, let all officials also cancel taxes on their livestock.

34 All the festivals will be days of immunity and release for all the Jews who are in my kingdom, including sabbaths, new moons, appointed days, and the three days before and after a festival. 35 No one will have authority to demand anything from them or annoy any of them about anything.

36 Let Jews be enrolled in the king’s forces to the number of thirty thousand. And let the privileges be given them that are due to all the forces of the king. 37 Let some of them be stationed in the king’s great fortress. Let some of them be placed in trustworthy positions in the kingdom. Let their officers and leaders come from their own people, and let them live by their own laws, just as the king has commanded in the land of Judah.

38 As for the three districts that have been added to Judea from the country of Samaria, let them be annexed to Judea so that they may be considered under one ruler and obey no other authority than the high priest. 39 I give Ptolemais as a gift and the land adjoining it to the sanctuary in Jerusalem, to provide the necessary expenses of the sanctuary. 40 I also grant fifteen thousand silver shekels annually out of the king’s revenues from appropriate places. 41 All the additional funds that the government officials haven’t paid as they used to, they will give from now on for the service of the temple. 42 Moreover, the five thousand silver shekels that my officials have received annually from the income of the services of the temple, this too is canceled, because it belongs to the priests who minister there. 43 As for all who have taken refuge on the grounds of the temple in Jerusalem because they owe money to the king or are in debt, they are released from debt and I will restore all their property in my kingdom.

44 Let the cost of rebuilding and restoring the structures of the sanctuary be paid from the king’s revenues. 45 And let the cost of rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem and revitalizing it all round, and the cost of rebuilding the walls in Judea, also be paid from the king’s revenues.

Death of Demetrius

46 When Jonathan and the people heard these words, they didn’t believe or accept them. They remembered vividly the great wrongs Demetrius had done in Israel and how much he had oppressed them. 47 They preferred Alexander because he had been the first to speak peaceful words to them. So they remained his allies all of his days.

48 Now King Alexander assembled large forces and camped opposite Demetrius. 49 The two kings met in battle, and the army of Demetrius fled. Alexander pursued him and outmaneuvered them. 50 He pressed the battle hard until sunset, and on that day Demetrius died.

Treaty of Ptolemy and Alexander

51 Then Alexander sent ambassadors to Egypt’s King Ptolemy, and they delivered the following message:
52 I have returned to my kingdom and taken my seat on the throne of my ancestors. I have established my rule by crushing Demetrius to gain control of our country. 53 I met him in battle, and we crushed him and his army. I have taken my seat on the throne of his kingdom. 54 Therefore, let us establish friendship with each other. Give me your daughter to be my wife, and I will become your son-in-law. I will give gifts to you and to her in keeping with your position.

55 Ptolemy the king replied,

Happy was the day on which you returned to the land of your ancestors and took your seat on the throne of their kingdom. 56 Now I will do for you as you wrote, but meet me at Ptolemais so that we may see each other, and I will become your father-in-law, as you have said.

57 So Ptolemy set out from Egypt—he and his daughter Cleopatra—and came to Ptolemais in the year 162.[d] 58 King Alexander met Ptolemy, who gave him his daughter Cleopatra in marriage. He celebrated her wedding at Ptolemais with much ceremony, as kings do.

59 King Alexander then wrote to Jonathan to come and meet him. 60 So he went with majestic apparel to Ptolemais and met the two kings. He gave silver and gold and many other gifts to them and their chief political advisors,[e] and he found favor with them. 61 A group of troublemakers from Israel gathered together to slander him, but the king paid no attention to them. 62 Instead, he gave orders to take off Jonathan’s garments and to clothe him in purple. And they did so. 63 The king also seated him at his side, and he spoke to his officers: “Go with him into the middle of the city and announce that no one should bring charges against him about any matter. Furthermore, let no one annoy him for any reason.” 64 His accusers saw the honor that was paid Jonathan in keeping with the proclamation. They saw him clothed in purple, so they all fled. 65 In this way, the king honored him and enrolled him among his chief political advisors, and made him general and governor of the province. 66 And Jonathan returned to Jerusalem in peace and gladness.

Apollonius is defeated by Jonathan

67 In the year 165,[f] Demetrius the son of Demetrius came from Crete to the land of his ancestors. 68 When King Alexander heard, he was greatly distressed and returned to Antioch. 69 Demetrius appointed Apollonius the governor of Coele-Syria, who assembled a large force and camped against Jamnia. Then Apollonius sent the following message to the high priest Jonathan:
70 You are the only one to oppose us. I have fallen into ridicule and disgrace because of you. Why do you assume authority against us in the highlands? 71 Now if you have confidence in your military forces, come down to the plain to meet us. Let’s match strength against strength there, because I have with me the forces of the cities. 72 Discover who I am and who the others are that are helping us, and you will learn that you cannot stand before us. Twice before, your ancestors were forced to flee in their own land. 73 Now you will not be able to stand up against my cavalry and my army in the plain, where there is no stone or pebble, or place to escape.

74 When Jonathan heard Apollonius’ words, a fire was lit under him. He chose ten thousand men and set out from Jerusalem. His brother Simon met him to assist. 75 He camped in front of Joppa. But the people of the city closed its gates because Apollonius had a defense force there. So they fought against it. 76 And the people of the city became frightened and opened the gates. So Jonathan gained possession of Joppa.

77 When Apollonius heard the news, he assembled three thousand cavalry and a large army. He went to Azotus and acted as if he were going farther. At the same time, he advanced into the plain, because he had a large troop of cavalry and had confidence in it. 78 Jonathan pursued him to Azotus, and their armies engaged in battle. 79 Apollonius had secretly left one thousand cavalry to the rear. 80 Jonathan found out that there was an ambush behind him. They surrounded his army and shot arrows at his soldiers from early in the morning until late in the afternoon. 81 But his soldiers stood steady, as he had commanded. Eventually, the horses of the enemy got tired.

82 Simon led his force forward and engaged the foreign enemy in battle since the cavalry was exhausted. He overwhelmed them, and they fled. 83 The cavalry was dispersed in the plain. They fled to Azotus and entered Beth-dagon, the temple of their idol, to seek safety. 84 But Jonathan burned Azotus and the surrounding towns and plundered them. He burned down the temple of Dagon and those who had taken refuge in it. 85 The number of those who died, either by the sword or by fire, came to eight thousand.

86 Then Jonathan left there and camped against Ashkelon, and the people of the city came out to meet him with great ceremony.

87 He and his companions returned to Jerusalem with a large treasure. 88 When King Alexander heard about all this, he honored Jonathan even more. 89 He sent to him a gold buckle, such as is the custom to give to the king’s kindred. He also gave him Ekron and all its surroundings as his possession.


  1. 1 Maccabees 10:1 152 BCE
  2. 1 Maccabees 10:20 Or Friend
  3. 1 Maccabees 10:21 September–October, Tishrei, 152 BCE
  4. 1 Maccabees 10:57 150 BCE
  5. 1 Maccabees 10:60 Or Friends
  6. 1 Maccabees 10:67 147 BCE