The letter to the Spartans about the past (1 Macc 12:5-12:8)

“This is a copy of the letter that Jonathan wrote to the Spartans.

‘The high priest Jonathan,

The senate of the nation,

The priests,

And the rest of the Jewish people,

To their brothers, the Spartans,

Greetings!

Already in time past

A letter was sent

To the high priest Onias from Arius,

He was king among you,

Stating that you are our brothers,

As the appended copy shows.

Onias welcomed the envoy with honor.

He received the letter

That contained a clear declaration of alliance and friendship.’”

This letter came from Jonathan, the Jewish senate of what later was known as the Sanhedrin, the priests, and all the Jewish people. He was sending it to his brothers in Sparta, which was a Greek city state. This is strange since he was so opposed to any Hellenism coming into Jewish society. Here he calls them brothers. The high priest Onias was high priest from 320-290 BCE, over 100 years before the writing to this letter. Arius was king of Sparta from 309-265 BCE. Onias accepted the Spartan envoy with honor and a clear declaration of alliance and friendship.