The letter of King Demetrius II to Simon (1 Macc 13:35-13:40)

King Demetrius sent him a favorable reply to this request. He wrote him a letter as follows.

‘King Demetrius

To Simon, the high priest and friend of kings,

And to the elders and nation of the Jews,


We have received the gold crown

And the palm branch that you sent.

We are ready to make a general peace with you.

We are ready to write to our officials

To grant you release from tribute.

All the grants that we have made to you remain valid.

Let the strongholds that you have built be your possession.

We pardon any errors and offenses committed to this day.

We cancel the crown tax that you owe.

Whatever other tax has been collected in Jerusalem

Shall be collected no longer.

If any of you are qualified to be enrolled in our bodyguard,

Let them be enrolled.

Let there be peace between us.’”

In a strong letter to Simon, the deposed King Demetrius II granted sovereignty to Judah. The letter was addressed to Simon, the elders, and the whole Jewish nation. King Demetrius II still considered himself the King of Syria. He accepted the gifts that Simon had sent him, the gold crown and the palm branch. He wanted to have peace with Simon. He said that the Jews no longer had to pay tribute or the crown tax to him. He also stated that all the grants that he had given before still stand. He pardoned all offenses committed to that day. There were to be no more taxes in Jerusalem. Anyone qualified could become part of his bodyguard. He just wanted peace between the two of them.

King Demetrius I says no more taxes (1 Macc 10:29-10:33)

“I now free you.

I exempt all the Jews from payment of tribute

And salt tax and crown levies.

Instead of collecting the third of the grain

And the half of the fruit of the trees that I should receive,

I release them from this day and henceforth.

I will not collect them from the land of Judah

Or from the three districts added to it from Samaria and Galilee,

From this day and for all time.

Let Jerusalem and her environs,

Her tithes and her revenues,

Shall be holy and free from tax.

I release also my control of the citadel in Jerusalem.

I give it to the high priest,

So that he may station in it men of his own choice to guard it.

Every one of the Jews taken as a captive

From the land of Judah into any part of my kingdom,

I set free without payment.

Let all officials cancel also the taxes on their livestock.”

The no taxes people would love this. All the Jews would not have to pay any more taxes. King Demetrius I was very specific. There was no more wealth tax (tribute), salt tax, or crown taxes. This applied not only to Judea but the 3 areas annexed to Judea under Alexander the Great, in Samaria and Galilee. These areas would also be tax free. They did not have to give 1/3 of their grain or half of the fruits from the trees. There would be no more taxes on the livestock either. Jerusalem would be tax free city. The citadel or prison in Jerusalem would be handed over to the high priest in Jerusalem.