A copy of the letter of the Romans to the Jews (1 Macc 8:22-8:30)

“This is a copy of the letter that the Romans wrote in reply on bronze tablets. They sent these bronze tablets to Jerusalem to remain with them there as a memorial of peace and alliance.

‘May all go well with the Romans!

May all go well with the nation of the Jews

At sea and on land forever.

May sword and enemy be far from them.

If war comes first to Rome

Or to any of their allies in all their dominion,

The nation of the Jews shall act

As their allies wholeheartedly,

As the occasion may indicate to them.

To the enemy who makes war

They shall not give or supply grain, arms, money, or ships,

Just as Rome has decided.

They shall keep their obligations without receiving any return.

In the same way,

If war comes first to the nation of the Jews,

The Romans shall willingly act as their allies,

As the occasion may indicate to them.

To their enemies,

There shall not be given grain, arms, money, or ships,

Just as Rome has decided.

They shall keep these obligations.

They shall do so without deceit.

Thus on these terms

The Romans make a treaty with the Jewish people.

If after these terms are in effect

Both parties shall determine to add or delete anything,

They shall do so at their discretion.

Any addition or deletion that they may make shall be valid.’”

The treaty was written on bronze tablets because it was important since bronze was used for all important documents. This continues the trend of the post-exilic Jews dependence on written documents from kings and other groups. It almost treats Rome and the Nation of the Jews on equal terms as sovereign states, which they were not. After the friendly greetings, the treaty calls for each party to protect the other as they see fit. They cannot offer any grain, arms, money, or ships to the enemy of the other. Why would the Romans enter such a treaty? They wanted to start rebellions in the various eastern areas without being involved and this was a way to have a rebellious group in the Seleucid Empire.

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