Alcimus claims that Nicanor is disloyal (2 Macc 14:26-14:27)

“When Alcimus noticed their good will for one another, he took the covenant that had been made and went to King Demetrius. He told him that Nicanor was disloyal to the government. He had appointed that conspirator against the kingdom, Judas Maccabeus, to be his successor. The king became excited. Provoked by the false accusations of that depraved man, he wrote to Nicanor. He stated that he was displeased with the covenant. He commanded him to send Judas Maccabeus to Antioch as a prisoner without delay.”

Alcimus, the high priest in Jerusalem, was not pleased at the turn of events. He took the treaty that Nicanor and Judas Maccabeus had agreed on to King Demetrius I. He pointed out that Nicanor had been disloyal to king since his instructions were to kill Judas Maccabeus. Instead, Judas Maccabeus was to become the new high priest as the successor to Alcimus. King Demetrius I was very upset by these accusations. He wrote to Nicanor that he did not like the treaty. He commanded him to send Judas Maccabeus in chains as a prisoner to Antioch without any delay. None of this was in 1 Maccabees.

King Demetrius I (2 Macc 14:1-14:2)

“Three years later, word came to Judas Maccabeus and his men that Demetrius, the son of Seleucus, had sailed into the harbor of Tripolis with a strong army and a fleet. He had taken possession of the country, having made away with Antiochus and his guardian Lysias.”

This is similar to 1 Maccabees, chapter 7. About 161 BCE, King Demetrius I, who ruled the Seleucid Empire from 162-150 BCE, came with a strong army and navy fleet into the sea town of Tripolis. He was the son of King Seleucus IV and brother to King Antiochus IV. He had killed King Antiochus V, his nephew, and his guardian Lysias, who had run the government.

King Demetrius II’s letter to Jonathan (1 Macc 11:29-11:37)

“The king wrote a letter to Jonathan about all these things. It contents were as follows.

‘King Demetrius to his brother Jonathan

And to the nation of the Jews,

Greetings!

This copy of the letter that we wrote concerning you

To our kinsman Lasthenes,

We have written to you also,

So that you may know what it says.

‘King Demetrius to his father Lasthenes,

Greetings!

We have determined to do good to the nation of the Jews.

They are our friends.

They fulfill their obligations to us.

They have shown us good will.

We have confirmed as their possession

Both the territory of Judea,

And the three districts of Aphairema, Lydda, and Rathamin.

The latter with the region bordering them.

They were added to Judea from Samaria.

To all those who offer sacrifice in Jerusalem,

We have granted release from the royal taxes

That the king formerly received from them each year,

From the crops of the land

And the fruit of the trees.

The other payments henceforth due to us of the tithes,

And the other taxes due to us,

And the salt pits

And the crown taxes due to us.

From all these we shall grant them release.

Not one of these grants shall be canceled

From this time on forever.

Now therefore take care to make a copy of this.

Let it be given to Jonathan.

Let it be put up in a conspicuous place on the holy mountain.’”

King Demetrius II sent a copy of a letter that he had sent to Lasthenes, who was probably the governor of Coele-syria. He granted to Jonathan and the Jewish nation most of things that his father, King Demetrius I had promised them in the fight against King Alexander I in preceding chapter. He was very particular about taxes and the annexation of the 3 territories of Samaria that were within 20 miles of Judea. Everything seemed in good shape.

The letter of King Alexander to Jonathan (1 Macc 10:17-10:21)

King Alexander wrote a letter and sent it to Jonathan, in the following words.

‘King Alexander to his brother Jonathan,

Greetings!

We have heard about you.

You are a mighty warrior.

You are worthy to be our friend.

So we have appointed you today

To be the high priest of your nation.

You are to be called the king’s friend.

You are to take our side.

You are to keep friendship with us.’

He sent him a purple robe and a golden crown. So Jonathan put on the sacred vestments in the seventh month of the one hundred sixtieth year, at the festival of booths. He recruited troops and equipped them with arms in abundance.”

King Alexander at Ptolemais wrote a letter to Jonathan. He went ever further than King Demetrius I at Antioch. He appointed Jonathan the high priest. I am not sure how or why he had this authority. However, the position of high priest might have been vacant since the death of Alcimus in 159 BCE. Obviously King Alexander had the power to appoint anyone he wanted to be the king’s friend, a special status. In fact, he sent a purple robe and crown, which Jonathan accepted in 152 BCE, during the festival of booths. Then Jonathan went to recruit and arm troops.

The renegades led by Alcimus (1 Macc 7:5-7:7)

“Then there came to King Demetrius I all the renegade and godless men of Israel. They were led by Alcimus, who wanted to be high priest. They brought to the king this accusation against the people.

‘Judas and his brothers have destroyed all your friends.

They have driven us out of our land.

Now then send a man whom you trust.

Let him go and see all the ruin

That Judas has brought on us

And on the land of the king.

Let him punish them and all who help them.’”

Now we have another character, Alcimus, who is the leader of the Jewish renegades, the ungodly Jews. Alcimus was a descendant of Aaron and Moses. Practically speaking, weren’t nearly all of the Jews also descendents? It is strange that he went to a Syrian leader to make him the high priest. However, he and his friends accused Judas Maccabeus and his brothers of destroying all the king’s friends and driving them out of the land. He told King Demetrius I to send a trusted man to see all the ruin in Judah and the king’s land. He thought that Judas should be punished. Clearly they were not big fans of Judas and his brothers.