The people honor Simon and his brothers (1 Macc 14:25-14:27)

“When the people heard these things they said.

‘How shall we thank Simon and his sons?

He and his brothers and the house of his father have stood firm.

They have fought and repulsed Israel’s enemies.

They have established its freedom.’

So they made a record on bronze tablets. They put it on the pillars on Mount Zion.”

They wondered how they could thank Simon and his family. His father and brothers stood firm against the enemies of Israel. They actually established the freedom of Israel. They decided to make a record of this so that they put it on bronze tablets like the Romans did. They then put the tablets on the pillars on Mount Zion. Important documents at this time were usually inscribed in bronze.

The response of Sparta and Rome (1 Macc 14:16-14:19)

“When it was heard in Rome, and as far away as Sparta, that Jonathan had died, they were deeply grieved. Then they heard that his brother Simon had become high priest in his place, and was ruling over the country and the towns in it. Thus they wrote to him on bronze tablets to renew with him the friendship and alliance which they had established with his brothers Judas and Jonathan. These were read before the assembly in Jerusalem.”

The people or leaders in Rome and Sparta were upset when they heard that Jonathan had died since they had an alliance with him. However, when they found out that his brother Simon had taken his place, they were relieved. Simon had become the high priest and the ruler of the country and the towns. The Romans and Spartans wrote on bronze tablets to renew their friendship and alliance. Remember that important documents at this time were usually inscribed in bronze. Rome had a good relationship with Jonathan, but it was not clear that Judas had good relations with the Romans. Nevertheless, these new bronze tablets were read before the assembly in Jerusalem.

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.