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IV. Leadership of Simon

Chapter 13

Simon as Leader. When Simon heard that Trypho was gathering a large army to invade and ravage the land of Judah, and saw that the people were trembling with terror, he went up to Jerusalem. There he assembled the people and exhorted them in these words: “You know what I, my brothers, and my father’s house have done for the laws and the sanctuary; what battles and hardships we have seen. For the sake of this, for the sake of Israel, all my brothers have perished, and I alone am left. Far be it from me, then, to save my own life in any time of distress, for I am not better than my brothers. But I will avenge my nation and the sanctuary, as well as your wives and children, for out of hatred all the Gentiles have united to crush us.”(A)

As the people heard these words, their spirit was rekindled. They shouted in reply: “You are our leader in place of your brothers Judas and Jonathan. Fight our battles, and we will do everything that you tell us.” 10 So Simon mustered all the men able to fight, and hastening to complete the walls of Jerusalem, fortified it on every side. 11 He sent Jonathan, son of Absalom, to Joppa with a strong force; Jonathan drove out the occupants and remained there.

Trypho’s Deceit. 12 Then Trypho moved from Ptolemais with a large army to invade the land of Judah, bringing Jonathan with him as a prisoner. 13 Simon encamped at Adida, facing the plain. 14 When Trypho learned that Simon had succeeded his brother Jonathan, and that he intended to fight him, he sent ambassadors to him with this message: 15 “It was on account of the money your brother Jonathan owed the royal treasury in connection with the offices that he held, that we have detained him. 16 Now send a hundred talents of silver, and two of his sons as hostages to guarantee that when he is set free he will not revolt against us, and we will release him.”

17 Simon knew that they were speaking deceitfully to him. Nevertheless, for fear of provoking much hostility among the people, he sent for the money and the boys, 18 lest the people say “Jonathan perished because I would not send Trypho the money and the boys.” 19 So he sent the boys and the hundred talents; but Trypho broke his promise and would not release Jonathan.

20 [a]Next Trypho moved to invade and ravage the country. His troops went around by the road that leads to Adora, but Simon and his army moved along opposite him everywhere he went. 21 The people in the citadel kept sending emissaries to Trypho, pressing him to come to them by way of the wilderness, and to send them provisions. 22 Although Trypho got all his cavalry ready to go, there was a very heavy snowfall that night, and he could not go on account of the snow. So he left for Gilead. 23 When he was approaching Baskama,[b] he had Jonathan killed and buried him there. 24 Then Trypho returned to his own land.

Jonathan’s Tomb. 25 Simon sent for the remains of his brother Jonathan, and buried him in Modein, the city of his ancestors. 26 All Israel bewailed him with solemn lamentation, mourning over him for many days. 27 Then Simon erected over the tomb of his father and his brothers a monument of stones, polished front and back, and raised high enough to be seen at a distance. 28 He set up seven pyramids facing one another for his father and his mother and his four brothers.(B) 29 For the pyramids he devised a setting of massive columns, which he adorned with suits of armor as a perpetual memorial, and next to the armor carved ships, which could be seen by all who sailed the sea. 30 This tomb which he built at Modein is there to the present day.

Alliance of Simon and Demetrius II. 31 Trypho dealt treacherously with the young King Antiochus. He killed him 32 and became king in his place, putting on the crown of Asia. Thus he brought much evil on the land.(C) 33 Simon, for his part, built up the strongholds of Judea, fortifying them all around with high towers, thick walls, and gates with bars, and he stored up provisions in the strongholds. 34 Simon also chose men and sent them to King Demetrius to obtain for the land an exemption from taxation, since Trypho did nothing but plunder. 35 King Demetrius replied favorably and sent him the following letter:

36 “King Demetrius sends greetings to Simon, high priest and friend of kings, and to the elders and the Jewish people. 37 We have received the gold crown and the palm branch that you sent. We are ready to make a lasting peace with you and to write to our officials to grant you exemption. 38 Whatever decrees we have made in your regard remain in force, and the strongholds that you have built you may keep. 39 We pardon any oversights and offenses committed up to now, as well as the crown tax that you owe. Any other tax that used to be collected in Jerusalem shall no longer be collected there. 40 Any of you qualified for enrollment in our service may be enrolled. Let there be peace between us.”

41 Thus in the one hundred and seventieth year,[c] the yoke of the Gentiles was removed from Israel, 42 and the people began to write in their records and contracts, “In the first year of Simon, great high priest, governor, and leader of the Jews.”

Simon Captures Gazara. 43 (D)In those days Simon besieged Gazara[d] and surrounded it with troops. He made a siege machine, brought it up against the city, and attacked and captured one of the towers. 44 Those in the siege machine leaped down into the city and a great tumult arose there. 45 Those in the city, together with their wives and children, went up on the wall, with their garments rent, and cried out in loud voices, begging Simon to grant them terms of peace. 46 They said, “Treat us not according to our evil deeds but according to your mercy.” 47 So Simon came to terms with them and did not attack them. He expelled them from the city, however, and he purified the houses in which there were idols. Then he entered the city with hymns and songs of praise. 48 After removing from it everything that was impure, he settled there people who observed the law. He improved its fortifications and built himself a residence.

Simon Captures the Citadel. 49 The people in the citadel in Jerusalem were prevented from going out into the country and back to buy or sell; they suffered greatly from hunger, and many of them died of starvation. 50 They finally cried out to Simon, and he gave them terms of peace. He expelled them from the citadel and cleansed it of impurities. 51 On the twenty-third day of the second month,[e] in the one hundred and seventy-first year, the Jews entered the citadel with shouts of praise, the waving of palm branches, the playing of harps and cymbals and lyres, and the singing of hymns and canticles, because a great enemy of Israel had been crushed.(E) 52 Simon decreed that this day should be celebrated every year with rejoicing. He also strengthened the fortifications of the temple mount alongside the citadel, and he and his people dwelt there. 53 Seeing that his son John[f] was now a grown man, Simon made him commander of all his soldiers, and he dwelt in Gazara.


  1. 13:20–21 The invaders made a wide flanking movement to invade Judea from the south (see 4:29; 6:31). Adora was a few miles southwest of Beth-zur. They would avoid Beth-zur itself and other strongholds of the Maccabees by following the way of the wilderness.
  2. 13:23 Baskama: perhaps northeast of the Sea of Galilee.
  3. 13:41 The one hundred and seventieth year: March, 142, to April, 141 B.C., by the Temple calendar.
  4. 13:43 Gazara: ancient Gezer, a key position in the Shephelah, fortified by Bacchides in 160 B.C.; cf. 9:52.
  5. 13:51 The twenty-third day of the second month: June 3, 141 B.C.
  6. 13:53 John: John Hyrcanus, who was to succeed his father as ruler and high priest; cf. 16:23–24.

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