King Ptolemy VI of Egypt visits Syria (1 Macc 11:1-11:3)

“Then the king of Egypt gathered great forces, like the sand by the seashore, and many ships. He tried to get possession of Alexander’s kingdom by trickery. He wanted to add it to his own kingdom. He set out for Syria with peaceable words. The people of the towns opened their gates to him. They went to meet him, because King Alexander had commanded them to meet him, since he was King Alexander’s father-in-law. However, when King Ptolemy entered the towns he stationed forces as a garrison in each town.”

King Ptolemy VI of Egypt, father-in-law to King Alexander I of Syria, went to visit Syria. He had a great army like the sand by the sea. He wanted to add Syria to his own kingdom, although he seemed to come in peace. His daughter was the wife of King Alexander I. Every town opened their gates to King Ptolemy VI because the Syrian king told them to do that. However, then the Egyptian king would leave a garrison of troops in each town.

Jonathan favors King Alexander (1 Macc 10:46-10:47)

When Jonathan and the people heard these words of Demetrius, they did not believe or accept them. They remembered the great wrongs that Demetrius had done in Israel. He had greatly oppressed them. They favored Alexander because he had been the first to speak peaceable words to them. They remained his allies all his days.”

Jonathan was not impressed with the many promises of King Demetrius I.  The king had done a lot of evil things to Israel. Jonathan, instead, favored King Alexander over King Demetrius I. He formed an alliance with King Alexander and not with King Demetrius, despite all his great promises of friendship and money.

King Demetrius I seeks peace with Jonathan (1 Macc 10:1-10:6)

“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.

King Antiochus attacks Jerusalem (1 Macc 1:29-1:35)

“Two years later, the king sent to the cities of Judah a chief collector of tribute. He came to Jerusalem with a large force. Deceitfully, he spoke peaceable words to them so that they believed him. However, he suddenly fell upon the city as he dealt it a severe blow. He destroyed many people of Israel. He plundered the city as he burned it with fire. He tore down its houses and its surrounding walls. They took captive the women and children. They seized the cattle. Then they fortified the city of David with a great strong wall and strong towers as it became their citadel. They stationed there a sinful people, men who were renegades. These strengthened their position. They stored up arms and food. They collected the spoils of Jerusalem and stored them there. They became a great menace.”

Around 167 BCE, King Antiochus IV again attacked Jerusalem. This time he sent mercenaries with a leader who was to collect tribute for the king. Instead of just collecting the tribute, he and his men attacked the city of Jerusalem. They killed people and plundered the city. They destroyed the houses and walls. They took the women, children, and cattle. Somehow, then they rebuilt the wall around the city of David and made it a citadel or fortress.   Here they put those renegades, those terrible Jews who sided with Syria. They collected the spoils of Jerusalem and stored them there. This citadel will become the home of the army garrison for controlling Judea.