“Simon heard that Trypho had assembled a large army to invade the land of Judah and destroy it. He saw that the people were trembling and fearful. So he went up to Jerusalem. He gathered the people together. He encouraged them, saying to them.
‘You yourselves know
What great things
My brothers and I
And the house of my father
Have done for the laws and the sanctuary.
You know also the wars
And the difficulties
That my brothers and I have seen.
By reason of this,
All my brothers have perished for the sake of Israel.
I alone am left.
Now, far be it from me
To spare my life
In any time of distress.
I am not better than my brothers.
But I will avenge my nation
And the sanctuary
And your wives and children.
All the nations have gathered together out of hatred to destroy us.’”
Simon, who was the governor of the coastal states, saw how afraid the Israelites were. He knew that Trypho had a large army that was attempting to destroy the people of Judah. He went to Jerusalem to gather the people there in a great assembly. He spoke to the people to encourage them to keep going. He reminded them of what his family had done. His father and all his brothers had died fighting for Judah and the law. He was the only one left, even though he was not better than his brothers. Simon had assumed that Jonathan was dead and not captured. He wanted to avenge all the nations that had attacked the Jewish people. He was going to defend the sanctuary, their wives, and their children.
“When Apollonius heard of Joppa, he mustered three thousand cavalry and a large army. He went to Azotus as though he were going farther. At the same time he advanced into the plain. He had a large troop of cavalry and put confidence in it. Jonathan pursued him to Azotus. There the armies engaged in battle. Now Apollonius had secretly left a thousand cavalry behind them. Jonathan learned that there was an ambush behind him. They surrounded his army. They shot arrows at his men from early morning until late afternoon. His men stood fast, as Jonathan had commanded, but the enemy’s horses grew tired.”
Apollonius heard about what was going on at Joppa. He took his 3,000 cavalry and his large army to Azotus, which apparently is the old Philistine city of Ashdod between Gaza and Joppa. However, when Jonathan followed Apollonius, Apollonius had 1,000 cavalry behind him that put Jonathan into an ambush. However, Jonathan and his group fought all day as the horses got tired.
“In the one hundred and sixtieth year Alexander Epiphanes, son of Antiochus, landed and occupied Ptolemais. They welcomed him. He then began to reign there. When King Demetrius heard of it, he assembled a very large army. He marched out to meet him in battle. King Demetrius sent Jonathan a letter in peaceable words to honor him. He said to himself.
‘Let us act first to make peace with him
Before he makes peace with Alexander against us.
He will remember all the wrongs which we did to him
And to his brothers and his nation.’
So Demetrius gave Jonathan authority to recruit troops, to equip them with arms, and to become his ally. He commanded that the hostages in the citadel should be released to him.”
About 7 years later, in 152 BCE, we see the struggle of the son of King Antiochus IV, Alexander versus Demetrius I, the son of King Seleucus IV. Alexander was also the brother of King Antiochus V, who died in battle at a young age. Alexander occupied Ptolemais, which is the modern day 5,000 year old city of Acre, near Haifa, in northern Israel on the Mediterranean Sea. When King Demetrius I heard about this, he wanted to get Jonathan on his side against Alexander. He knew that he had done wrong to his family and nation. He gave Jonathan the authority to recruit troops and arm them as his ally. Somehow there was still some captives in the Jerusalem citadel that he released.
“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.
“But when the Arameans saw that they had been defeated by Israel, they sent messengers and brought out the Arameans who were beyond the Euphrates. Shobach was the commander of the army of King Hadadezer at their head. When King David was informed, he gathered all Israel together. He crossed the Jordan and came to them. He drew up his forces against them. When King David set the battle in array against the Arameans, they fought with him. The Arameans fled before Israel. King David killed seven thousand Arameans charioteers and forty thousand horsemen. He killed Shobach the commander of their army. When the servants of King Hadadezer saw that they had been defeated by Israel, they made peace with King David. They became subject to them. So the Arameans were not willing to help the Ammonites anymore.”
Once again, this biblical chronicler followed 2 Samuel, chapter 10. This seems like the same battle as was in chapter 18 of this work with a slightly different twist. In other words, here they will no longer help the Ammonites because of this defeat. Here there is a leader of Hadadezer’s army named Shobach. There is no mention of Helam here, which was mentioned in 2 Samuel. The results are the same, a great victory for King David. The numbers are staggering. Here King David kills 7,000 charioteers and not merely 700 chariot teams. He also killed 40,000 horsemen, while in chapter 18 it was 1,700 chariot men and 20,000 foot soldiers. No matter which number you take, it was a crushing defeat. He killed Shobach. Thus there was peace with the people of the north, the Arameans from Syria, as they became subject to King David.