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.

Jonathan releases the men at the citadel in Jerusalem (1 Macc 10:7-10:9)

“Then Jonathan came to Jerusalem. He read the letter in the hearing of all the people, including the men in the citadel. They were greatly alarmed when they heard that the king had given Jonathan authority to recruit troops. However, the men in the citadel released the hostages to Jonathan as he returned them to their parents.”

The first thing that Jonathan did was to go to Jerusalem to get the release of all the prisoners from the citadel there, which was still held by the Syrians. The guards were astonished and alarmed that the king had given Jonathan the authority to recruit troops. Nevertheless, the people in the prison were released to Jonathan and their families.