“Rabshakeh returned to his king.
He found the king of Assyria
Fighting against Libnah.
He had heard
That the king had left Lachish.
Now the king of Assyria heard
Concerning King Tirhakah of Ethiopia.
‘He has set out to fight against you.’”
Once again, this is almost word for word from 2 Kings, chapter 19. Rabshakeh wanted to return to his king to let him know what was happening in Jerusalem. However, the king of Assyria had left Lachish to fight against the town of Libnah since Lachish and Libnah were about 10 miles apart in the Judah territory, about 25 miles west of Jerusalem. The Assyrian king also got word that the Ethiopian King Tirhakah was setting out to fight against him. This King Tirhakah is sometimes known as Taharqa. As a young 20 year old general, he fought with King Sennacherib in Palestine. He then served as king of Egypt and Ethiopia from 690-664 BCE. So he would not have been king when this occurred about 10-15 years earlier. Nevertheless, there was a constant war between these two great Mideast powers, Egypt and Assyria.
“Then King Alexander wrote to Jonathan to come to meet him. So he went with pomp to Ptolemais. He met the two kings. He gave them, and their friends, silver, gold, and many gifts as he found favor with them. A group of malcontents from Israel, the renegades, gathered together against him to accuse him. However, the king paid no attention to them. The king gave orders to take off Jonathan’s garments and to clothe him in purple. They did so. The king also seated him at his side. He said to his officers.
‘Go out with him into the middle of the city.
Proclaim that no one
Is to bring charges against him about any matter.
Let no one annoy him for any reason.’
When his accusers saw the honor that was paid him, in accord with the proclamation, and saw him clothed in purple, they all fled. Thus the king honored him. He enrolled him among his chief friends. He made him general and governor of the province. Jonathan returned to Jerusalem in peace and gladness.”
The Seleucid King Alexander I was very kind to Jonathan. He invited him to meet with the Egyptian King Ptolemy. Jonathan gave them many gifts, including gold and silver. However, there were those nasty renegades, who have been around for 30-40 years, the Hellenistic leaning Jews, that accused Jonathan of many things, although it is not clear what these things were. Nevertheless, the king of Syria, King Alexander I, gave Jonathan royal robes and paraded him around the city saying that no accusations could be placed against Jonathan. He also made Jonathan a general and the governor of the province of Judea. With this, the renegades fled for their lives. Jonathan now had both religious, military, and civil authority. There was no sense in fighting city hall.
“Judas heard of the fame of the Romans since they were very strong. They were well-disposed toward all who made an alliance with them. They pledged friendship to those who came to them since they were very strong. He had been told of their wars and of the brave deeds which they were doing among the Gauls. They had defeated them and forced them to pay tribute. He learned what they had done in the land of Spain to get control of the silver and gold mines there. They had gained control of the whole region by their planning and patience, even though the place was far distant from them. They also subdued the kings who came against them from the ends of the earth, until they crushed them. They inflicted great disaster upon them. The rest paid them tribute every year. They had crushed in battle and conquered Philip, King Perseus of the Macedonians, and the others who rose up against them. They also had defeated King Antiochus the Great, king of Asia, who went to fight against them with one hundred twenty elephants, cavalry, chariots, and a very large army. He was crushed by them. They took him alive. They decreed that he and those who should rule after him should pay a heavy tribute, give hostages, and surrender some of their best provinces, the countries of India, Media, and Lydia. These they took from him and gave to King Eumenes. The Greeks planned to come and destroy them. However, this became known to them. Then they sent a general against the Greeks who attacked them. Many of them were wounded and fell. The Romans took captive their wives and children. They plundered them, conquered the land, tore down their strongholds, and enslaved them to this day. The remaining kingdoms and islands, as many as ever opposed them, they destroyed and enslaved.”
For some reason, the Romans made a big impression on Judas Maccabeus as they were beginning their ascendancy in the Mediterranean world. He knew that the Romans were strong and faithful in their alliances. Then this biblical author presented the great feats of the Romans. First they had conquered the Gauls and the Spaniards, these western territories around 190 BCE and the Punic wars with Carthage in North Africa from the 3rd century BCE. Prior to this time the only thing west was Egypt and Greece. Now Rome and the west made an impression. These Romans had gone and subdued kings from the ends of the earth. The Romans had defeated the last of the Macedonian kings, King Perseus in 168 BCE, the son of King Philip who had had been defeated in 179 BCE. Obviously this author had some sense of history. As noted, King Antiochus V was not killed, but had to give hostages to Rome, one of which was this King Demetrius I. However, he kept Medes, but did give up Lydia and other parts of Asia Minor. King Eumenes was a Cappadocian ruler. The Romans also defeated the Greeks. Although the Roman Empire did not come to its full height for a few centuries, it was well on its way in the 2nd century BCE.