The letter of King Antiochus VII to Simon (1 Macc 15:2-15:9)

“The contents of the letter of King Antiochus were as follows.

‘King Antiochus

To Simon the high priest and the ethnarch

And to the nation of the Jews,

Greetings!

Whereas certain scoundrels

Have gained control of the kingdom of our fathers,

I intend to lay claim to the kingdom

So that I may restore it as it formerly was.

I have recruited a host of mercenary troops.

I have equipped warships.

I intend to make a landing in the country

So that I may proceed

Against those who have destroyed our country

Against those who have devastated many cities in my kingdom.

Now therefore I confirm to you

All the tax remissions that the kings before me have granted you.

I release you from all the other payments

From which they have released you.

I permit you to mint your own coinage as money for your country.

I grant freedom to Jerusalem and the sanctuary.

All the weapons which you have prepared

All the strongholds which you have built

All the strongholds that you now hold

Shall remain yours.

Every debt you owe to the royal treasury

Any such future debts shall be canceled for you

From henceforth and for all time.

When we gain control of our kingdom,

We will bestow great honor upon you,

Your nation and the temple,

So that your glory will become manifest in all the earth.’”

King Antiochus VII was about to take over for his brother because he was complaining about the scoundrels who had taken over his country, probably King Trypho. He sent his greetings to Simon and the whole Jewish nation. He talked about how he was going to land and take his country back, so that it is clear he is not there yet. However, he granted to Simon and Jews all the tax exemptions that his brother and father had granted them. He went one step further when he said that they could mint their own coins. This was a strong sign of an independent nation. He allowed them to keep all their weapons and strongholds. All future debts would be cancelled. That is unique and seems to be saying take my money, you do not have to pay it back. Once again, there is the hypothetical “when” he gained control then he was going to honor Simon. He wanted the Jewish glory manifested on the whole earth. He was offering a lot before he had anything.

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