Letter of Antiochus VII

Antiochus the son of King Demetrius sent a letter from the sea islands to Simon, the priest and ruler of the Jews, and to all the nation:
King Antiochus to Simon the high priest and ruler, and to the nation of the Jews. Greetings!
Some troublemakers have gained control of our ancestors’ kingdom. I intend to take command of the kingdom so that I may restore it to the way it used to be. I have recruited a large number of foreign troops and have equipped warships. I am going to come to the country so that I can move against the people who have destroyed our country and devastated many cities in my kingdom. Therefore, I confirm all of the favorable tax exemptions that previous kings have given you. Also, I consent to any agreements you had with them to release you from other payments. You have my permission to mint your own coins to use in your country. Furthermore, I give freedom to Jerusalem and the sanctuary. All the weapons you made and the fortress you built will remain in your possession. I cancel any debts you owe to the royal treasury now or in the future. When I gain control of the kingdom, I will give you great rewards. I will honor you, your nation, and the temple. Your reputation will become evident in all the earth.

10 In the year 174,[a] Antiochus invaded the land of his ancestors. All the troops went over to his side. Trypho had only a few remaining. 11 Antiochus pursued him, and Trypho fled to Dor, which is by the sea. 12 He knew that things looked bad for him and that his troops had deserted him. 13 Antiochus camped against Dor with one hundred twenty thousand warriors and eight thousand cavalry. 14 He surrounded the town, and ships joined the battle from the sea. He pressured the town from land and sea, and he didn’t let anyone leave or enter it.

Rome supports the Jews

15 Then Numenius and his companions arrived from Rome with letters to the kings and countries:
16 Lucius, consul of the Romans. To King Ptolemy. Greetings!

17 Jewish messengers came to us as our friends and allies to renew our ancient friendship and alliance. The high priest Simon and the Jewish people sent them. 18 They have brought us a gold shield weighing one thousand manehs. 19 Because of this, we have decided to write to the kings and countries to tell them that they should not seek their harm or make war against them, their cities, or their country, or make alliance with those who war against them. 20 We are pleased to accept the shield. 21 Therefore, if any troublemakers have run away to your lands from their country, hand them over to the high priest Simon. Then he can punish them according to Jewish law.

22 The consul wrote the same thing to King Demetrius and to Attalus, Ariarathes, and Arsaces. 23 He also wrote it to all the countries—to Sampsames, the Spartans, Delos, Myndos, Sicyon, Caria, Samos, Pamphylia, Lycia, Halicarnassus, Rhodes, Phaselis, Cos, Side, Aradus, Gortyna, Cnidus, Cyprus, and Cyrene. 24 They also sent a copy of these things to Simon the high priest.

Antiochus VII threatens Simon

25 King Antiochus besieged Dor for a second time, continually making war engines and throwing his forces against it. He forced Trypho to stay inside and restricted his movement. 26 Simon sent two thousand select troops to fight for Antiochus. He also sent silver, gold, and a large amount of military equipment. 27 But Antiochus wouldn’t accept them. He broke all the agreements that he had made with Simon in the past and became like a stranger to him. 28 He sent Athenobius, one of his leading political advisors,[b] to talk with Simon: “You hold control of Joppa and Gazara and the elevated fortress in Jerusalem. They are cities of my kingdom. 29 You have devastated their territory. You have done great damage in the land. You have taken possession of many places in my kingdom. 30 Now hand over the cities that you have captured and the money you have received from the places you have conquered beyond Judea’s borders. 31 Or you can pay me 28,500 pounds of silver for the destruction you have caused and another 28,500 pounds for the tribute money of the cities. Otherwise, I will come and make war on you.”

32 So the king’s advisor Athenobius came to Jerusalem. When he saw the magnificence of Simon, including his special cupboard that had gold and silver on it, all representing his considerable position, he was amazed. But he delivered the king’s message. 33 Simon replied, “We haven’t taken foreign land or property. We’ve taken only our ancestors’ inheritance, which was unjustly stolen by our enemies. 34 Now that we have the opportunity, we will hold on firmly to their inheritance. 35 As for Joppa and Gazara, which you demand, they were causing a lot of problems for our people and land. But we’ll give you 5,700 pounds of silver for them.” Athenobius didn’t say a word. 36 Instead, he returned with great anger and told the king what Simon had said. He also reported on Simon’s wealth and all that he had seen, and the king was enraged.

Victory over Cendebeus

37 Meanwhile, Trypho escaped on a ship and went to Orthosia. 38 The king made Cendebeus supreme commander of the coastal lands, and he gave him infantry and cavalry. 39 He commanded him to camp against Judea, to secure Kedron and its gates, and to wage war against the people. Then the king went to hunt down Trypho. 40 Cendebeus came to Jamnia and bothered the people. He invaded Judea and killed the prisoners of war. 41 Following the king’s orders, he fortified Kedron. He stationed cavalry and troops there so that they could go out and raid along the roads of Judea.


  1. 1 Maccabees 15:10 138 BCE
  2. 1 Maccabees 15:28 Or Friends