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!

King Antiochus VII invades Dor (1 Macc 15:10-15:14)

“In the one hundred seventy-fourth year, Antiochus set out and invaded the land of his ancestors. All the troops rallied to him, so that there were only a few with Trypho. Antiochus pursued him. He came in his flight to Dor, which is by the sea. He knew that troubles had converged upon him, since his troops had deserted him. So Antiochus encamped against Dor, and with him were one hundred twenty thousand warriors and eight thousand cavalry. He surrounded the town since the ships had joined battle from the sea. He pressed the town hard from land and sea. He permitted no one to leave or enter it.”

In 138 BCE, or the 167th year of the Greek Empire, King Antiochus VII invaded the land of his ancestors. That sounds strange to invade your own country. He was trying to take back the throne from King Trypho. King Trypho fled to Dor, a sea port south of Carmel, miles north of Caesarea. Most of the troops of King Trypho had abandoned him. King Antiochus VII followed him to Dor with 120,000 warriors and 8,000 cavalry. Once again, these numbers seem high. He then surrounded the city since he had ships in the port so that no one could leave or enter the city.

King Demetrius II rises up again (1 Macc 14:1-14:3)

“In the one hundred seventy-second year, King Demetrius assembled his forces. He marched into Media to secure help, so that he could make war against Trypho. When King Arsaces of Persia and Media heard that King Demetrius had invaded his territory, he sent one of his commanders to take him alive. The general went and defeated the army of King Demetrius. They seized him and took him to King Arsaces, who put him under guard.”

About 139 BCE, King Demetrius II wanted to go to war against King Trypho. He went into Media, which was west of Teheran, and supposedly a part of the Seleucid Empire. However, when King Arsaces IV (171-138 BCE), the king of Persia and Media heard about King Demetrius in his territory, he defeated his army and captured King Demetrius II.

Simon wants to contact the deposed King Demetrius II (1 Macc 13:33-13:35)

“Simon built up the strongholds of Judea. He walled them all around, with high towers and great walls, gates, and bolts. He stored food in the strongholds. Simon also chose emissaries and sent them to King Demetrius the king with a request to grant relief to the country. All that Trypho did was to plunder.”

Simon decided to build up the strongholds of Judea. He built walls around them with towers and gates. He stored food in them. He also sent messengers to the deposed King Demetrius II because he said that all King Trypho did was plunder the country. I guess that he was pushing for King Demetrius II to regain the kingship of Syria now that the pretence of the young King Antiochus VI was gone.

The death of Jonathan (1 Macc 13:20-13:24)

“After this, Trypho came to invade the country. He wanted to destroy it. He circled around by the way to Adora. But Simon and his army kept marching along opposite him to every place he went. Now the men in the citadel kept sending envoys to Trypho urging him to come to them by way of the wilderness and to send them food. So Trypho got all his cavalry ready to go, but that night a very heavy snow fell. He did not go because of the snow. He marched off and went into the land of Gilead. When he approached Baskama, he killed Jonathan. He was buried there. Then Trypho turned back. He went back to his own land.”

Trypho came to invade and destroy Judah by way of Adora, about 5 miles southwest of Hebron. However, Simon and his army were marching opposite him. This seems strange. Who was following who? The Syrian men in the Jerusalem citadel sent messengers to Trypho to go through the wilderness. They needed food. This plan was cancelled when a strange snow storm hit. This is the first mention of snow, since it obviously was not that common. Trypho decided to head north to Gilead where he killed and buried Jonathan at Baskama, which is northeast of the Sea of Galilee. Then he went home without fighting any battle.

Simon’s speech in Jerusalem (1 Macc 13:1-13:6)

“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.

The capture of Jonathan (1 Macc 12:46-12:48)

“Jonathan trusted Trypho. He did as he said. He sent away the troops as they returned to the land of Judah. He kept with himself three thousand men, two thousand of whom he left in Galilee, while one thousand accompanied him. However, when Jonathan entered Ptolemais, the men of Ptolemais closed the gates and seized him. They killed with the sword everyone who had entered with him.”

Jonathan trusted Trypho, which was a big mistake. He did exactly what Trypho told him to do. He sent his troops home to Judah. He took 3,000 troops but left 2,000 in Galilee, so that he was traveling with about 1,000 men. When they got to Ptolemais, the men of Ptolemais closed the gate behind them. Then the seized him and killed the other 1,000 men with him.