Ptolemy invades Syria

Then King Ptolemy of Egypt gathered a great army, numbering like the sand by the seashore, and many ships. He tried to gain possession of Alexander’s kingdom by trickery to add it to his own kingdom. Ptolemy set out for Syria, speaking peaceful words. The people of the towns opened their gates to him. They went to meet him because King Alexander had commanded them to do so, since Ptolemy was his father-in-law. But when Ptolemy entered the towns, he stationed forces as a garrison in each one.

When he approached Azotus, they showed him that Dagon’s temple had been burned. Azotus and its suburbs had been destroyed. Corpses were lying about, the charred bodies of those whom Jonathan had burned in the war. They had piled them in heaps along his route. They also told the king what Jonathan had done, throwing blame on him. But the king kept silent. Jonathan met the king at Joppa with great ceremony. They greeted each other and spent the night there. Jonathan went with the king as far as the Eleutherus River, and then he returned to Jerusalem.

So King Ptolemy gained control of the coastal cities as far as Seleucia by the sea. He kept devising evil plans against Alexander. He sent envoys to King Demetrius to say, “Come, let’s make an agreement with each other. I’ll give you my daughter to marry, Alexander’s wife. Then you will rule over your father’s kingdom. 10 I now regret having given him my daughter since he tried to kill me.” 11 He cast blame on Alexander because he desired to take his kingdom. 12 So he took his daughter away from Alexander and gave her to Demetrius. Ptolemy was estranged from Alexander, and their hostility was obvious to all.

13 Then Ptolemy entered Antioch and put on the crown of Asia. Thus he claimed two crowns for his head, those of Asia and Egypt. 14 King Alexander was in Cilicia at the time, because the people of that region were in revolt.

15 When Alexander heard about it, he came against Ptolemy in battle. Ptolemy marched out and met him with a strong force and caused him to retreat. 16 So Alexander fled into Arabia to seek protection there. King Ptolemy was triumphant. 17 Zabdiel the Arab cut off Alexander’s head and sent it to Ptolemy. 18 But King Ptolemy died three days later, and his troops in the fortress were killed by the inhabitants of the towns. 19 So Demetrius became king in the year 167.[a]

Jonathan’s diplomacy

20 In those days, Jonathan assembled the Judeans to attack the elevated fortress in Jerusalem. They built many engines of war to use against it. 21 Certain renegades who hated their nation went to King Demetrius and told him that Jonathan was attacking the elevated fortress. 22 When he heard this, he was angry and set out immediately to go to Ptolemais. He sent an order to Jonathan not to continue the attack but to meet him instead for a conference at Ptolemais as soon as possible.

23 When Jonathan heard this, he gave orders to continue the siege. He chose some of the elders of Israel and some of the priests and put himself in danger 24 because he went to the king at Ptolemais. He took silver and gold as well as clothing and numerous other gifts. Fortunately, he won his favor. 25 Certain renegades from Israel kept making complaints against Jonathan. 26 But the king treated him as those before him had done. He praised Jonathan in the presence of all his chief political advisors.[b] 27 He confirmed him in the high priesthood and in as many other honors as he formerly had. He made him one of his leading political advisors.

Demetrius’ letter to Jonathan

28 So Jonathan asked the king to free Judea and the three Samaritan districts from the payment of taxes. And he promised him 17,100 pounds of silver. 29 The king agreed. He wrote a letter to Jonathan about all these things:
30 King Demetrius to his brother Jonathan and to the nation of the Jews. Greetings!

31 This is a copy of the letter that we wrote about you to our advisor Lasthenes. We’re sending it to you also so that you may know what it says.

32 Greetings from King Demetrius to his father Lasthenes. 33 We have decided to treat the nation of the Jews well. They are our friends and keep their obligations to us. They show goodwill toward us. 34 We have confirmed, as their possession, the territory of Judea and the three districts of Aphairema, Lydda, and Rathamin. The latter districts, with the entire region bordering them, were added to Judea from Samaria. To all those who offer sacrifice in Jerusalem, we have granted release from the royal taxes the king formerly received from them each year, from the crops of the land and the fruit of the trees. 35 Furthermore, we grant them release from all other payments due to us from the tenth-part gifts, the taxes, the salt pits, and the crown taxes from now on. 36 These exemptions are never to be canceled. 37 Therefore, be sure to make a copy of this letter. Give it to Jonathan and display it in a prominent place on the holy mountain.

Intrigue of Trypho

38 King Demetrius saw that the land was quiet and that there was no opposition to him. So he dismissed his troops and sent them back to their homes. He kept only the foreign troops that he had recruited from the island nations. All the troops who had served under his predecessors hated him.

39 Now Trypho had formerly been one of Alexander’s supporters. He realized that the troops were grumbling against Demetrius. So he went to Imalkue the Arab, who was bringing up Antiochus the young son of Alexander. 40 Imalkue watched over Antiochus carefully until he might hand him over to become king in place of his father. Trypho also reported to Imalkue what Demetrius had done and told him about the hatred of the troops toward Demetrius. He remained there many days.

41 Now Jonathan sent to King Demetrius the request that he remove the troops in the elevated fortress from Jerusalem, as well as the troops in the fortress, because they continued fighting against Israel. 42 Demetrius sent this message back to Jonathan: “Not only will I do these things for you and your nation, but I will confer great honor on you and your nation if I get an opportunity. 43 In return, you would do well to send me some soldiers to help me, because my troops are in revolt.” 44 Jonathan sent three thousand strong men to him at Antioch. When they came to the king, he rejoiced at their arrival.

45 At that time, the people of the city assembled, one hundred twenty thousand in number, and they wanted to kill the king. 46 But he fled into the palace. Then the people took control of the main streets of the city and began to fight. 47 So the king called the Jews to his aid. They rallied around him and spread out through the city. They killed about one hundred thousand people that day. 48 They set fire to the city, ravaged many goods, and saved the king. 49 When the people saw that the Jews had gained control of the city as they pleased, their courage failed. They made a request of the king: 50 “Give us peace, and make the Jews stop fighting against us.” 51 They threw down their weapons and made peace. So the Jews received honor from the king and all the people in his kingdom. They returned to Jerusalem with a large amount of treasure.

52 So King Demetrius sat on the throne of his kingdom, and the land was peaceful before him. 53 But he broke his word about all that he had said. He became estranged from Jonathan and didn’t repay the favors that Jonathan had done him. Instead, he treated him harshly.

Trypho seizes power

54 After this, Trypho returned, accompanied by the young boy Antiochus, who put on the crown and began to rule. 55 The troops that Demetrius had dismissed gathered to fight against Demetrius and routed him, so he fled. 56 Trypho captured the elephants and gained control of Antioch. 57 Then the young Antiochus wrote to Jonathan, “I confirm you in the high priesthood, set you over the four districts, and make you one of the king’s chief political advisors.”[c]

58 He also sent him gold plates and table utensils, and granted him the right to drink from gold cups, dress in purple, and wear a gold buckle. 59 He appointed Jonathan’s brother Simon governor from the peaks of Tyre to the borders of Egypt.

Campaigns of Jonathan and Simon

60 Jonathan traveled through Beyond the River and among the towns. All the Syrian army gathered to him as allies. When he came to Ashkelon, the people of the city met him and honored him. 61 From there, he went to Gaza, but the people shut him out. So he attacked Gaza and burned and plundered the areas surrounding the city. 62 Then the people of Gaza pleaded with Jonathan, and he made peace with them. He took the sons of their rulers as hostages and sent them to Jerusalem. And he passed through the country as far as Damascus.

63 Then Jonathan heard that Demetrius’ officers had come to Kadesh in Galilee with a large army, intending to remove him from office. 64 He went to meet them but left his brother Simon in the country. 65 Simon camped before Beth-zur and fought against it for many days, hemming it in. 66 Then they asked Simon to grant them terms of peace, and he did so. He removed them from there and took possession of the town. He appointed troops to guard it.

67 Jonathan and his army camped by the waters of Gennesaret. Early in the morning they marched to the plain of Hazor, 68 where the foreign army met him. They had set an ambush against him in the mountains, but they themselves met him face-to-face. 69 Then the men waiting to ambush emerged from their places and joined the battle. All the men with Jonathan fled. 70 Not one of them was left except Mattathias, Absalom’s son, and Judas, Chalphi’s son, commanders of the army forces. 71 Jonathan tore his clothes, put dust on his head, and prayed. 72 Then he turned back to the battle against the enemy, routed them, and they fled. 73 When his men who were running away saw this, they returned to him. They joined him in the pursuit as far as Kadesh, where they camped. 74 As many as three thousand foreigners died that day. Finally, Jonathan returned to Jerusalem.


  1. 1 Maccabees 11:19 145 BCE
  2. 1 Maccabees 11:26 Or Friends
  3. 1 Maccabees 11:57 Or Friends