Account of Events Said to Have Occurred
2. Primary Sources
Reading: 1 Maccabees 9:23-16:17
Reading: Josephus, Antiquities 13.1.1-7.4; 1-
Reading: Josephus, War 1.2.1-5.4; 48-119
Dead Sea Scrolls
3. More Detailed
Account of Events Said to Have Occurred with Citation of Sources
Brief Account of Events Said to Have Occurred
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.".
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 countrymenhis Jewish opponentsdrew 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).
1 Maccabees 9:23-16:17 (ending with Simon's
Josephus, Antiquities 13.1.1-7.4; 1-
229 (Translated by W. Whiston)
Josephus, War 1.2.1-5.4; 48-119
(Translated by W. Whiston)
2.4.1. Reading: Cairo Damascus
Document (CD) 1-2, 6
2.4.2. Reading: Psalms
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)
2.4.5. Reading: 4Q448
(4QApocryphal Psalm and
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.
More Detailed Account of Events Said to Have Occurred with Citation of
(*=significant apparent disagreement in sources)
||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).
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
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.
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
*Ant. 13.2.1; 46 says that there was not a High Priest in
Jersualem before Jonathan's appointment.
in Jonathan's High Priesthood
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).
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
1QpHab 8, 11
Ptolemy VI Philometor (180-145)
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.
War. 7.10.2; 423-32
building of the temple at Leontopolis is not mentioned in 1 Macc.
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.
||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
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.
*Ant. 13.4.4; 94 contains details not found in 1 Macc.
||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.
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.
||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).
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
*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).
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).
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
||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).
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.
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
*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."
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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
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)
holding Nike, spear and shield with inscription: BASILEÔS
ANTIOCHOU EUERGETOU (Of King Antiochus Benefactor)
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
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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