Jonah runs away to Tarshish (Jon 1:3-1:3)

“But Jonah set out

To flee

To Tarshish,

From the presence

Of Yahweh.

He went down

To Joppa.

There he found a ship

Going to Tarshish.

He paid the fare.

He went on board,

To go with them

To Tarshish.

He wanted to get away

From the presence

Of Yahweh.”

Unlike all the other prophets, Jonah refused his mission.  He decided to run away to Tarshish, probably in Spain, as far away as he could get from Yahweh and Israel at that time.  Most of the ancient people considered it to be the end of the world.  Tarshish was often mentioned in the biblical literature as a rich ship building area, as in Isaiah, chapter 23 and Ezekiel, chapter 27.  Jonah went to Joppa, a seacoast town on the Mediterranean Sea.  There, he had enough money to purchase a fare to board a ship headed for Tarshish.  He really wanted to get away from the presence of Yahweh, as far as he could go.

King Antiochus IV is welcomed at Jerusalem (2 Macc 4:21-4:22)

“When Apollonius son of Menestheus was sent to Egypt for the coronation of Philometor as king, King Antiochus learned that Philometor had become hostile to his government. The king took measures for his own security. Therefore upon arriving at Joppa, he proceeded to Jerusalem. He was welcomed magnificently by Jason and the city. He was ushered in with a blaze of torches and with shouts. Then he marched his army into Phoenicia.”

Apollonius, the governor, was sent to Egypt for the coronation of the new King Ptolemy VI the Philometor about 175 BCE. The mother of King Ptolemy VI, Cleopatra I, had died when he was only 10 years old. His father King Ptolemy V had died in 180 BCE so that he technically was king when he was 5 years old. However, he ruled with his mother until she died. In 174 BCE, at the age of 11, he married his sister Cleopatra II. He ruled in Egypt until 146 BCE. However, Apollonius learned that King Ptolemy VI and his advisors had turned anti-Syrian rather than pro-Syrian like his mother and father. Then King Antiochus IV (175-164 BCE) decided to make a trip to Joppa and Jerusalem. Jason and the people of Jerusalem warmly welcomed him, before he went to Phoenicia.

Athenobius goes to Jerusalem to meet Simon (1 Macc 15:32-15:36)

“Athenobius, the king’s friend, came to Jerusalem. When he saw the splendor of Simon, and the sideboard with its gold and silver plate, and his great magnificence, he was amazed. He reported to him the words of the king, but Simon said to him in reply.

‘We have neither taken foreign land.

We have never seized foreign property.

We have only the inheritance of our ancestors.

This at one time had been unjustly taken by our enemies.

Now that we have the opportunity,

We are firmly holding the inheritance of our ancestors.

As for Joppa and Gazara,

Which you demand,

They were causing great damage among the people

And to our land.

For them,

We will give you a hundred talents.’

Athenobius did not answer him a word. He returned in wrath to the king. He reported to him these words, the splendor of Simon, and all that he had seen. The king was very angry.”

Athenobius, King Antiochus VII’s friend and envoy, was amazed at the splendor in Jerusalem with all the silver and gold. Then he went to Simon and repeated the words of the king in the preceding paragraph. Simon then responded that he had not taken any foreign land or property. All that he took was the inheritance of his ancestors that had been taken unjustly by their enemies. He was going to hold firm to the inheritance of his ancestors. As for Joppa and Gaza, they had caused great hardship on the Jewish people and the land. However, he was willing to pay 100 talents of silver, not the 500 or 1,000 that King Antiochus VII wanted. Athenobius did not say a word. He just returned to the king in an angry mood. When he reported this to the king, he too became very angry. I can see a problem brewing here.

King Antiochus VII and the dispute with Simon (1 Macc 15:25-15:31)

“King Antiochus besieged Dor for the second time. He continued to throw his forces against it. He was making engines of war. He shut Trypho up and kept him from going out or in. Simon sent to King Antiochus two thousand picked troops, to fight for him, with silver and gold and much military equipment. However, King Antiochus refused to receive them. He broke all the agreements he formerly had made with Simon. He became estranged from him. He sent to him Athenobius, one of his friends, to confer with him, saying.

‘You hold control of Joppa and Gazara

And the citadel in Jerusalem.

They are cities of my kingdom.

You have devastated their territory.

You have done great damage in the land.

You have taken possession of many places in my kingdom.

Now then, hand over the cities which you have seized.

Pay the tribute money of the places

That you have conquered outside the borders of Judea.

Or else pay me five hundred talents of silver,

For the destruction that you have caused.

Pay me five hundred talents more

For the tribute money of the cities.

Otherwise we will come and make war on you.’”

Now we are back to the situation at Dor. When Simon heard about the siege there, he sent 2,000 troops with gold and silver as well as military equipment to help King Antiochus VII. However, King Antiochus VII took offense at this. He broke all his agreements with Simon that he had made in writing earlier in this chapter. He sent his friend Athenobius with a message for Simon. He complained that Simon have taken over Joppa, Gaza, and the citadel in Jerusalem. He contended that they were not in Judea. Simon had done a lot of damage. He either wanted those places back or money since Simon had left the borders of Judea and taken parts of his kingdom. However, King Antiochus VII was still not technically in charge since King Demetrius II was in prison and King Trypho was in Dor. He also wanted the tribute from those 3 places. Otherwise he was going to make war on Simon. What a change of heart!

The proclamation about Simon and Jonathan (1 Macc 14:29-14:34)

“Since wars often occurred in the country,

Simon son of Mattathias,

A priest of the sons of Joarib,

And his brothers

Exposed themselves to danger.

They resisted the enemies of their nation,

In order that their sanctuary

And the law might be preserved.

They brought great glory to their nation.

Jonathan rallied the nation.

He became their high priest.

He was gathered to his people.

When their enemies

Decided to invade their country

And lay hands on their sanctuary,

Then Simon rose up and fought for his nation.

He spent great sums of his own money.

He armed the soldiers of his nation.

He paid them wages.

He fortified the towns of Judea,

And Beth-zur on the borders of Judea,

There formerly the arms of the enemy had been stored.

He placed there a garrison of Jews.

He also fortified Joppa, which is by the sea

He fortified Gazara, which is on the borders of Azotus.

There the enemy formerly dwelt.

He settled Jews there.

He provided in those towns

Whatever was necessary for their restoration.”

Ever since there were wars in Judah, Simon and his brothers risked danger to fight the enemies of their nation. They wanted to protect the sanctuary and the law. They brought great glory to their nation. Jonathan was the high priest who rallied the people when the invasions took place. Simon, on the other hand, spent his own money to build up the military. There is no indication where he got this money. He also fortified the towns of Beth-zur and the borders of Judea. He set up Jewish garrisons to protect the arms that they had. He also fortified the sea ports of Joppa and Gaza, where he put Jewish settlers there. Interesting, there is no mention of Judas Maccabeus in this decree.

Simon takes command (1 Macc 13:7-13:11)

“The spirit of the people was rekindled when they heard these words. They answered in a loud voice.

‘You are our leader

In place of Judas

And Jonathan your brother.

Fight our battles.

All that you say to us we will do.’

So he assembled all the warriors. He hurried to complete the walls of Jerusalem. He fortified it on every side. He sent Jonathan son of Absalom to Joppa. He had a considerable army. He drove out its occupants and remained there.”

The people were excited to hear the voice of Simon. Their spirits were rekindled. They proclaimed that Simon was their leader in the place of his brother Judas and Jonathan. He was going to fight their battles. They were willing to do whatever he asked them to do. Simon sent Jonathan, who may have been his uncle, to take over the seacoast town of Joppa, which he did.

Simeon goes to Askalon (1 Macc 12:33-12:34)

“Simon also went out and marched through the country as far as Askalon and the neighboring strongholds. He turned aside to Joppa and took it by surprise. He had heard that they were ready to hand over the stronghold to those whom King Demetrius had sent. He stationed a garrison there to guard it.”

Simon was also busy. He set out for the old Philistine towns of Askalon and Joppa. He had heard that commanders of the deposed King Demetrius II were coming there. Thus he set up a garrison there.