Hasmonean Rule from Jonathan
to the Death of Simon (160-134 BCE)

1. Brief Account of Events Said to Have Occurred
2. Primary Sources
   2.1. Reading: 1 Maccabees 9:23-16:17
   2.2. Reading: Josephus, Antiquities 13.1.1-7.4; 1- 229
   2.3. Reading: Josephus, War 1.2.1-5.4; 48-119
   2.4. Dead Sea Scrolls
3. More Detailed Account of Events Said to Have Occurred with Citation of Sources

4. Questions

1. Brief Account of Events Said to Have Occurred

After Judas' death, there followed a period when the Maccabean movement was out of power (160-53 BCE). In 153 BCE, Jonathan, Judas' brother and replacement, regained popular support. Jonathan took advantage of internal weakness within the Seleucid kingdom to take political control of Jerusalem and Judea. In Syria, in 153-52 BCE, a rival to the throne, Alexander Balas, forced Demetrius I Soter to offer an alliance to Jonathan, which he accepted, but Alexander Balas then made an even better offer to Jonathan, which he also accepted, rejecting the former offer. In 150 BCE, Demetrius I was defeated in battle by Alexander Balas. Thus, Jonathan became both political ruler and High Priest. Jonathan comes into conflict with the Essene community led by a man known as "the Teacher of Righteousness.".

Obverse: Diadem bust of Alexander Balas right and fillet border.
Reverse: Zeus seated left holding Nike and scepter with inscription: BASILEÔS ALEXANDROU THEOPATOROU EUERGETOU (Of King Alexander Divine Father and Benefactor)

In 148/47 or 147/46 BCE, Alexander Balas was ousted by Demetrius II, the son of Demetrius I; Jonathan then laid siege to the Akra in Jerusalem, still occupied by Seleucid troops, and some of his own countrymen—his Jewish opponents—drew this to the attention of Demetrius II. Demetrius II called Jonanthan to Antioch to explain his action.  Jonathan asked for freedom from taxation for Judea and parts of Samaria to be ceded to Judea (implicitly) as a condition for lifting the siege, to which Demetrius II agreed.

Demetrius II was challenged by Tryphon, who was allied with Alexander Balas' young son, Antiochus VI; in exchange for his help, Jonathan was promised by Demetrius II control of the Akra in Jerusalem and other fortifications in Judea. Jonathan gave him the help he needed, but Demetrius II did not keep his word. Jonanthan then allied himself with Antiochus and Tryphon, who eventually prevailed over Demetrius II; Jonanthan was able to expand his territory and gain control of military fortifications in Judea during this time. Jonathan died in 143/42 BCE at the hands of Tryphon, who had betrayed him.

Simon, Judas and Jonathan's brother, took over as High Priest in 143/42 BCE; because of Tryphon's treachery, he allied himself with Demetrius II, and made him agree to give the Jews total political independence. This was granted, so that after Tryphon’s defeat in 143/42 BCE the Jews were a sovereign state for the first time since the fall of Jerusalem in the sixth century BCE. During Simon's reign, Demetrius II was replaced by his brother Antiochus VII Sidetes, with whom Simon had an alliance. But Antiochus VII then unsuccessfully tried to take back some of the territory expropriated by Simon. In 135/34 BCE, Simon was murdered by his son-in-law, Ptolemy, as were two of his sons; succeeding him was his third surviving son, John (Hyrcanus).

2. Primary Sources

2.1. Reading: 1 Maccabees 9:23-16:17 (ending with Simon's death)

2.2. Reading: Josephus, Antiquities 13.1.1-7.4; 1- 229 (Translated by W. Whiston)

2.3. Reading: Josephus, War 1.2.1-5.4; 48-119 (Translated by W. Whiston)

2.4. Dead Sea Scrolls

2.4.1. Reading: Cairo Damascus Document (CD) 1-2, 6

2.4.2. Reading: Psalms Peshera (4QpPsa) (4Q171) 4.7-9

2.4.3. Reading: Habakkuk Pesher (1QpHab) 8, 11

2.4.4. Reading: Some of the Works of the Torah (Miqsat Ma'ase Ha-Torah) (4QMMT)

2.4.5. Reading: 4Q448 (4QApocryphal Psalm and Prayer)



Dating from the first century BCE to the first century CE, this pot excavated at the settlement at Khirbet Qumran is 37.25 cm high (14 1/2 in.) and 18.7 cm in diameter (7 1/4 in.). It was probably used for the storage of provisions.


3. More Detailed Account of Events Said to Have Occurred with Citation of Sources

                                                                            (*=significant apparent disagreement in sources)

Date BCE
160 A general persecution breaks out against the Hasmoneans and their supporters with the support of the "lawless" (the rival, pro-Seleucid, Hellenistic party). Jonathan, Judas' brother, is appointed to replace Judas, but must flee from Bacchides. He asks the Nabateans to care for the belongings of him and his supporters, but they steal what Jonathan leaves with them, and murder John, his brother. Bacchides unsuccessfully attacks Jonathan and his men, who escape by swimming across the Jordan. Bacchides fortifies many cities in Judea. Jonathan and Simon, his brother, take vengeance against the Nabateans by ambushing members of the family of Jambri during a wedding celebration.  1 Macc 9:23-53; Ant. 13.1.1-4; 1-21
*Ant. 13.1.3; 14 says that Bacchides loses 2,000 men, but most MSS of 1 Macc say that the number is 1,000 (9:49).
160-59 Alcimus threatens to tear down the walls of the Temple, but dies before he can carry out his threat, which is interpreted as divine retribution for planning to tear down "the work of the prophets."  1 Macc 9:54-56; Ant. 12.10.6; 413
158-57 After Alcimus' death, Bacchides returns to the king (Demetrius I Soter), and the land of Judea had rest for two years. The "lawless," the pro-Seleucid and Hellenistic party, ask Demetrius I Soter, son of Seleucus IV, to seize Jonathan. He sends Bacchides back to Judea to do so, and he lays siege to the city where Jonathan has taken refuge; but he is unable to capture Jonathan and is forced to come to terms with him. Jonathan and his supporters take up residence in Machmas (Michmash) and exercise political authority over the surrounding region. 1 Macc 9:57-73; Ant. 13.1.5-6; 22-34
*I Macc identifies the city to which Bacchides laid siege as Bethbasi, whereas in Ant. 13.1.5; 26 it is Bethalaga.
153-50 Alexander Balas, claiming to be the son of Antiochus V, lands in Ptolemais and claims the throne for himself. He has public support, because Demetrius I Soter is unpopular. Demetrius I assembles his army to attack Alexander, and he attempts to make Jonathan his ally. Jonathan accepts and is thereby able to take control of Jerusalem, and his opponents flee the city and other fortified places in Judea. He gives Jonathan control of Samaria and Galilee. Alexander makes a counter offer to Jonathan, making him not only a "Friend of the King" but also High Priest. Jonathan accepts this second offer. Demetrius responds by making even greater but ultimately unbelievable promises. Alexander Balas defeats Demetrius I, and requests the daughter of Ptolemy VI Philometor as wife in order to form an alliance. 

1 Macc 10:1-58; Ant. 13.2.1-4; 4.1; 35-61, 80-82; see Diod. 31-32; Appian, Syr. 47, 67; Polyb. 33.15 (14). 1-2; 18 (16); Justin 35.1.6-11; Strabo, 13.4.2 (624); Livy, Epit. 50
*Ant. 13.2.1; 42 says that Jonathan's opponents retain control of Beth-zur and the Akra in Jerusalem, whereas 1 Macc 10:10-12 mentions only Beth-zur.
*Ant. 13.2.1; 46 says that there was not a High Priest in Jersualem before Jonathan's appointment.

Early in Jonathan's High Priesthood The "Teacher of Righteous," who assumed control of the Essene movement in 176 BCE, initially supports Jonathan as High Priest (4Q448; 1QpHab 8.9-10). The Teacher seeks to dictate religious and political policy to him, sending him a letter recommending certain halakic and theological viewpoints (4Q171 4.8-9; 4QMMT?). Jonanthan resists and, as a result, receives the epithet "the Wicked Priest." He tries to kill the "Teacher of Righteousness" (4Q171 4.8-9). The Essene community withdraws to "the land of Damascus," a place of exile, and no longer makes use of the Temple cult (CD 6). Jonanthan attacks the Essene community on the day that it is celebrating the Day of Atonement, according to its solar calendar (1QpHab 11.1-9).

CD 1-2. 6
4Q171 4.8-9
1QpHab 8, 11

Reign of Ptolemy VI Philometor (180-145) Sometime in the reign of Ptolemy VI Philometor, Onias IV, son of the former High Priest Onias III, builds a substitute temple in Leontopolis in Egypt. In Antiquities, Josephus includes a copy of the letter that Onias IV is supposed to have written to the Ptolemaic king in order to obtain permission to build the temple and a copy of the letter containing a favorable reply.

Ant. 13.3.1-3; 62-73; War. 7.10.2; 423-32
*The building of the temple at Leontopolis is not mentioned in 1 Macc.

Reign of Ptolemy VI Philometor (180-45) Ptolemy VI Philometor hears a dispute between Samaritans and Jews concerning which Temple has been built in accordance with the Law of Moses, that in Jerusalem or that on Mt. Gerizim. Ptolemy decides in the favor of the Jews. Ant. 13.3.4; 74-79
150 Jonathan is honored by Alexander Balas at his wedding celebration in Ptolemais: he is enrolled as one of the First Friends of the King and given the position of general (strategos) and governor (meridarche) of the province (Judea), in addition to being High Priest. A delegation of the "lawless" (Jewish opponents of Jonathan and his supporters) are ignored when they protest Jonathan's newly-acquired standing. 1 Macc 10:59-66; Ant. 13.4.2; 83-85
147 Demetrius II Nicator, son of Demetrius I, sets himself as a rival king to Alexander Balas. Demetrius II is supported by Apollonius, governor of Coele-Syria, while Jonathan still supports Alexander Balas. Jonathan defeats Apollonius in battle and takes possession of Joppa. The two do battle again near Azotus, and Jonathan is victorious with the help of his brother Simon. He takes Azotus and Askalon; he also burns and plunders a  temple to Dagon at Azotus, where some have taken refuge from him. 

1 Macc 10:67-89; Ant. 13.4.3-4; 86-102; see Justin 35.2.
*Josephus says that Demetrius sails from Crete to Cilicia (Ant. 13.4.3; 86), whereas 1 Macc 10:67 has "land of his ancestors."
*Josephus says that Alexander appointed Apollonius as governor (Ant. 13.4.3; 88), whereas 1 Macc 10:69 says that he is appointed by Demetrius II. So Apollonius fights Jonathan on behalf of Alexander (Ant. 13.4.4; 102).
*Ant. 13.4.4; 94 contains details not found in 1 Macc.

146-45 Ptolemy VI Philometor, son-in-law of Alexander Balas, comes against Alexander Balas, in order to remove him from power in favor of Demetrius II. The Antiochians attempt to make Ptolemy VI Philometor king of both kingdoms, but he declines and persuades them to accept Demetrius II as king. Ptolemy VI Philometor forces Alexander Balas to flee to Arabia, where he is killed. According to Josephus, Alexander Balas has become unpopular with the Antiochians because of a certain Ammonius (Ant.13.4.6; 108; 13.4.7; 112). Ptolemy VI, however, dies from wounds shortly thereafter, so that Demetrius II is left in control of the Seleucid Kingdom. 1 Macc 11:1-19; Ant. 13.4.5-9; 103-21 see Diod. 32; Livy, Epit. 52; Strabo 16.2.8.
*1 Macc and Ant. differ with regard to Ptolemy' s motives. The former claims that he has designs on Alexander's kingdom, whereas the latter (in agreement with Diod. 32.9) says that he turns against Alexander only when it is discovered that he is conspiring to kill him and that he never intended to annex the Seleucid Kingdom.
145 Jonathan, having no ally in the Seleucid Kingdom, attempts to gain independence. He besieges the Akra, still occupied by Syrian troops, and is called to Ptolemais to explain. In exchange for lifting the siege he demands control of three Samaritan toparchies and exemption from taxation, to which Demetrius II agrees. Demetrius II also confirms Jonathan in all the titles, honors and privileges that he had under Alexander Balas. Jonathan pays the king 300 talents. Jonathan has many Jewish opponents who complain about him to the king, but he ignores them. 1 Maccabees quotes a letter from Demetrius II to Jonathan confirming their arrangement (11:30-37). 1 Macc 11:20-37; Ant. 13.4.9; 121-30
*Josephus says that Jonathan also asked for control of Joppa and Galilee (Ant. 13.4.9; 125).
*In 1 Macc 13:48, the reduction of pay and Crete are not mentioned as they are in Ant. 13.4.9; 129.
143 A certain Diodotus known more popularly as Tryphon, exploiting the discontent among the troops of Demetrius II, declares Antiochus VI, son of Alexander Balas, to be king, who was raised by Imalkue, an Arab. Demetrius II promises Jonathan control of the Akra in exchange for sending troops to Antioch to help suppress the revolt against his rule. Jonathan sends troops, who prevent the Antiochians from removing Demetrius II from power.  1 Macc 11:38-52; Ant. 13.5.1-3; 131-41; Diod. 33.4a; Strabo 16.752; Livy, Epit. 52; Appian, Syr. 68
*Unlike 1 Macc, Josephus identifies Tryphon as Diodotus of Apamea and calls Imalkue Malkus (Ant. 13.5.1-3; 131).
143 Demetrius II reneges on his promises to Jonathan, but is removed from power in Antioch by Antiochus VI and Tryphon, who then seek Jonathan's support. They promise to confirm Jonathan in power, and make his brother Simon the commander of the army between Tyre and Egypt. Ostensibly, in support of Antiochus VI and Tryphon, Jonathan and Simon conquer territory still held by supporters of Demetrius II: Askalon, Gazara and Beth-zur (where a garrison loyal to Demetrius II resided). Jonathan is forced to lay siege to Gazara before it would submit to him and agrees to support Antiochus VI. Demetrius II sends an army against Jonathan in Galilee, but is defeated. 1 Macc 11:53-74; Ant. 13.5.3-8; 142-62
*Absent in 1 Macc, Ant. 13.5.3; 143 says that Demetrius II insists that the Jews pay tribute.
*Unlike 1 Macc 11:60, Ant. 13.4.5; 148 says that Jonathan traveled through Phoenicia.
*Ant. 13.4.5; 148 says that Jonathan gathers no Syrian troops in support of Antiochus VI and Tryphon beyond the Jordan, whereas 1 Macc says that he does (11:60).
*Josephus indicates that the reason that his soldiers turned against him is that Demetrius II has not paid them (Ant. 13.5.3; 144) (but see 1 Macc 11:55).
 143 Jonathan renews the treaty with Rome and forms an alliance with Sparta. 1 Macc cites the letter sent to the Spartans and to Rome (1 Macc 12:19-23). Josephus inserts a paragraph about the three Jewish "sects" (haireseis) and how they differ over the issue of free will and God's sovereignty ("fate"): Pharisees, Sadducees and Essenes (Ant. 13.4.9; 171-73). The implication may be that these "sects" came into existence around this time. 1 Macc 12:1-23; Ant. 13.5.8; 163-70
*1 Macc makes no mention of the motive of covetousness to explain attacks on the Jews (Ant. 13.4.8; 169).
 143 Troops loyal to Demetrius II march on Jonathan in Judea but retreat from fear of Jonathan's strength. Jonathan pursues the fleeing army as far as Damascus, and then makes war on the Nabateans. At the same time, Simon marches through the land as far as Askalon, and takes Joppa. 1 Macc 12:24-32; Ant. 13.5.10; 174-80
*Josephus says that Jonathan, taking the Nabateans prisoners and plundering their cattle, sells both in Damascus (Ant. 13.5.10; 179).
143  Jonathan and Simon fortify Jerusalem and other places. A wall is built between the Akra and the rest of the city to isolate the former. Simon fortifies Adida in the Shephelah.  1 Macc 12:35-39; Ant. 13.5.11; 181-83
*Unlike 1 Macc, Josephus says that Jonathan convenes the Jewish elders in the Temple and fortifies the Temple precincts with high towers (Ant. 13.5.11; 182). Ant. omits reference to events in 1 Macc 12:27-38.
143-42 Tryphon intends to kill Antiochus VI and become king, but Jonathan is an obstacle to his plans since he is an ally of Antiochus VI. Tryphon betrays Jonathan. He convinces Jonathan to come to Ptolemais with only a few troops ostensibly to be given control of the city. But he deceives Jonathan, capturing him and killing his troops. Simon is chosen as Jonathan's replacement. Tryphon claims that he is holding Jonathan ransom because he has not paid what he owes to the royal treasury; he asks for 100 talents of silver and two of Jonathan's sons as hostages. Simon provides what is demanded, but Tryphon does not free Jonathan. Tryphon marches against Simon, because the men of the Akra request his assistance. He does not engage the Jews in battle; rather he retreats to the land of Gilead (Galaaditis) where he kills Jonathan, and then returns to Coele-Syria.

1 Macc 12:40-13:24; Ant. 13.6.1-6; 187-209; Appian, Syr.. 67-68; Justinus 36.1
*Josephus adds that the people of Ptolemais closed the city gates on orders from Tryphon (Ant. 13.6.2; 192).
*Josephus says that Simon assembles the people in the Temple (Ant. 13.6.3; 197). He also embellishes Simon's speech (Ant. 13.6.3; 198-200; cf. 1 Macc 13:3-6).
*Unlike 1 Macc, Josephus has Simon inform his army of Tryphon's plot (Ant. 13.6.5; 205-206).
Possibly 1QpHab 9 and 4Q171 (4.10) refers to the death of Jonanthan, whom they name the "Wicked Priest."

143-42 Simon collects Jonathan's remains, brings them to Modein, and buries it with the rest of his family. He builds a monument over the tomb of his father and brothers. 1 Macc 13:25-30; Ant. 13.6.6; 209-12
*Josephus says that the monument had porticos, but says nothing about the suits of armor and ships carved on the columns.
142 Tryphon kills Antiochus VI and makes himself king. (Demetrius II, however, still has control of part of the Seleucid kingdom.) Simon allies himself with Demetrius II, who grants him exemption from all tribute, in effect declaring Judea and the three Samaritan toparchies to be politically independent. This marks the beginnning of Jewish independence. 1 Macc 13:31-42; Ant. 13.6.1; 187; 13.6.7-7.1; 213-22; see Diod. 33.28; Livy, Epit. 55; Appian, Syr. 67-8; Justin 36.1, 7.
*Josephus says that Tryphon usurps power and kills Antiochus after Demetrius' defeat and capture by the Parthians, whereas 1 Macc reverses the order (see 1 Macc 13:31, 41).  (Appian, Syr. 67-8 agrees with Josephus). 
142-40 Simon captures Gazara, Joppa, Jamnia and Beth-Zur, and fortifies these. He also captures the Akra in Jerusalem, and removes the Seleucid garrison and those Jews who oppose Hasmonean rule. Simon renews alliances with Rome and Sparta. It is officially decided that Simon should be leader (hêgoumenos) and High Priest forever (1 Macc 14:41-43). 1 Macc 13:43-53; 14:4-49; Ant. 13.7; 213-17;  War. 1.2.2; 50
*Josephus says that Simon razes the Akra, and levels the hill on which it stands, so that its elevation will be lower than the Temple mount, whereas 1 Macc 14:37 says that he fortifies the Akra (see War. 5.139).

Josephus explains that Demetrius II retreats to the eastern satrapies, where he still has support; he hopes to consolidate his power base by defeating the Parthians, and then challenge Tryphon for power. He fails to defeat the Parthians, however, and is captured, thereby bringing his hope of restoration to an end.

1 Macc 14:1-3; Ant. 13.5.11; 184-86, 13.7.1; 218; see Appian, Syr. 67; Justin 36.1-1-6; 38.9; Eusebius, Chron.
139-38 Antiochus VII Euergetes (Sidetes), the brother of Demetrius II, allies himself with Simon against Tryphon; he promises to recognize Simon's position and to grant him and the Jews even more honors. Antiochus VII besieges Tryphon at Dor, but when Simon sends them to him, Antiochus VII refuses to accept troops, military equipment as well as silver and gold. Rather he reneges on his previous promises, insisting that the Jews forfeit possession of Joppa, Gazara and the Akra in Jerusalem or pay 1,000 talents of silver as indemnity. Tryphon eventually escapes to Orthosia. 1 Macc 15:1-31, 37; Ant. 13.7.1-3; 218-25; War. 1.2.2; 50-51
138 Antiochus VII sends Athenobius, a Friend of the King, to Jerusalem. Simon refuses the demands of Antiochus VII, and offers a mere 100 talents as indemnity for Joppa and Gazara. Antiochus VII appoints Cendebeus as commander of the coastal region, and gives him orders to invade Judea. Simon sends his two sons, Judas and John against Cendebeus, who is defeated by the Jews. 1 Macc 15:32-16:10; Ant. 13.7.3; 225-27; War. 1.2.2; 51-53
135-34 Ptolemy, son-in-law of Simon and governor (stratêgos) of the plain of Jericho has Simon and his two sons Mattathias and Judas killed when they are drunk at a banquet in Dok. 1 Macc 16:11-17; Ant. 13.7.4; 228-29

Obverse: Diademed Head of Antiochus VII Euergetes (Sidetes)

Reverse: Athena holding Nike, spear and shield with inscription: BASILEÔS ANTIOCHOU EUERGETOU (Of King Antiochus Benefactor)

4. Questions

4.1.  Are there factual discrepancies between the three accounts of Jewish history from Jonathan to the death of Simon?  If so, are these discrepancies merely "apparent," and can be reconciled with one another, or are there genuine contradictions among the three accounts? If there are genuine contradictions, are these significant enough to question the general reliability of one or more of these sources?

4.2.  Are there any indications of the sources used in the three accounts of this period of Jewish history?  As indicated, 1 Macc 16:23-24 cites a source called the "annals of his [John Hyrcanus'] high priesthood," which may imply that there are similar "annals" for Jonathan and Simon. Does Josephus give any indication that he is using 1 Maccabees as a source?  If so, how do you account for discrepancies between Josephus' accounts and 1 Maccabees? Does Josephus give any indication that he is using a source other than 1 Maccabees? (Compare Ant. 13.2.1; 35-37; 4.1; 58-61 and 1 Macc 10:1-58; Ant. 13.4.7-9; 109-21 and 1 Macc 11:10-20; Ant. 13.5.1-3; 131 and 1 Macc 11:38; Ant. 13.5.11-6.1; 184-87 and 1 Macc 12:35-38; Ant. 13.6.7-7.4; 215-29 and 1 Macc 13:43-16:24.) If so, does he identify this other source? It should be noted that on three occasions, Josephus concludes a section with the phrase "as we have related elsewhere" (kathos [kai] en allois dedelkomen) (Ant. 13.2.4; 61; 13.4.6; 108; 13.4.8; 119), but no such passage occurs in his writings. What might this indicate about Josephus' use of sources?

4.3. Why is nothing said in 1 Maccabees and Josephus' writings of the probable controversy between Jonathan and the Teacher of Righteousness and the incipient Essene movement? What might this imply for the reliability of 1 Maccabees as a historical source?

4.4.  Does the pro-Jewish or pro-Hasmonean biases in each of these sources affect the historical value of the events that they purport to describe?  Do the religious views underlying 1 Maccabees affect the historicity of the accounts of the events? Do Josephus' biases or presuppositions affect the historical value of his account?

4.5.  In general, do you think that from the three accounts a historically reliable account of this period of Jewish history can be compiled?  If not, what are the deficiencies of the sources?  Do you agree that is it justifiable to proceed methodologically by harmonizing the accounts or should preference be given to one or more of the three accounts?  Should 1 Maccabees be given priority over Josephus' account? Are any of the accounts to be disqualified as generally unreliable?

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