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continued desperate for some time, when Judas seeing Bacchides with his right wing pressing hard on his men, relieved them with a band of courageous youths, who broke Bacchides's right wing, and pursued them as far as the mountains of Azotus; but not having sufficient forces to keep the left wing in play during his absence, he was followed and closely surrounded by the enemy. The action was very hot and obstinate: the Jews sold their lives at a dear rate: their general did all that a valiant man could do, till at length, being overpowered with numbers, he was, with the greater part of his men, slain, and the rest intimidated at the loss of their leader, betook themselves to flight.
Thus fell the great Judas Maccabeus, the restorer and preserver of the true worship of God, and protector of his distressed countrymen. His two brothers Simon and Jonathan, having obtained permission of Bacchides to remove his body, they conveyed it to Modin, and there interred it in the sepulchre of his ancestors, with all the funeral honor that was due to the memory of so brave and excellent a commander.
After the death of Judas, Bacchides made himself master of the country, and, assisted by the apostate Jews, used all the friends and adherents of the Maccabees, wherever they found them, with the utmost barbarity. At this time, likewise, there happened to be a general famine throughout the land of Judea; so that through distress for want of bread on the one hand, and the dif ficulty of defending themselves against their enemies on the other, many of the Jews were, in a manner, compelled to adhere to the faction of the Macedonians. In short, the Jews were never so deplorably miserable, since the Babylonish captivity, as at this period; so that the late adherents of Judas entreated Jonathan to follow his brother's example in risquing his life for the liberties of his country, and besought him to take upon him the office of general, saying, that without a leader to assist them in opposing their enemies, they must all be inevitably lost. Jonathan told them he was willing to do or suffer any thing for the public welfare; on which he was elected general by the unanimous voice of the people,
Bacchides, hearing of this election, and considering that Jonathan was not less likely to give trouble to the Syrians than his brother Judas, set about concerting measures for destroying him; but Jonathan, having intelligence of his design, collected what force he could, and, accompanied by his brother Simon, retired into the wilderness of Tekoa, where he encamped, with a morass on one side, and the river Jordan on the other, so that it was not an easy matter for the enemy to attack them.
Intelligence being given to Bacchides of the place where Jonathan and his forces were encamped, he immediately marched after them, and, having made himself master of the pass that led to their encampment, he fixed on the Sabbath to attack them, presuming from thence that he should not meet with the least resistance. In this, however, he found himself mistaken, for Jonathan, after reminding his men of the determination that was made in this case in the time of his father Mattathias, encouraged them to dispute it bravely; which accordingly they did, even till they had slain about a thousand of the assailants, when, finding themselves likely to be overpowered by numbers, they took to the river, and, by swimming over to the opposite side, made their escape, not a single man of them meeting with the least accident.
The Syrian general, instead of making any attempt to pursue them, thought it more advisable to return back to Jerusalem, where, having fortified Mount Acra and the neighboring towns, and put garrisons in them, he took hostages for the fidelity of the inhabitants, and then returned to Antioch.*
After the departure of Bacchides, Jonathan and his party, as well as all those Jews who were advocates for preserving their ancient religion, lived peaceably for
* It is highly probable that Demetrius had, by this time, received letters from the Romans in behalf of the Jews, in consequence of the treaty of friendship formed between them and Judas, and that therefore the king had sent orders to Bacchides to cease persecuting those people, in obedience to which he at this time left the country.-Just before the departure of Bacchides, Alcimus the high-priest was suddenly struck with a fit of the palsy, which, in a very short time, deprived him of life.
about two years, at the expiration of which the adverse party, envying their happiness, sent to Bacchides, and prevailed on him to return with his army into Judea, proposing to sieze Jonathan and all his adherents, as soon as he should arrive with his forces to support the enterprize.
As soon as Jonathan understood that Bacchides was again on his march into Judea, he was greatly alarmed, and knowing himself unable to stand against the great force he had brought with him, he retired into the wilderness, and raised walls round the village of Bethbasi, intending to make that his place of retreat on all emergent occasions.
Bacchides, having received information of Jonathan's retreat, marched with his forces against him. On his approach near Bethbasi, Jonathan left Simon his brother with one part of the forces to defend the place, whilst himself with the other part took the field to harrass the enemy. In these capacities the two brothers acted so well, Jonathan by cutting off several of the enemy's parties, and now and then falling on the outskirts of their army employed in the siege; and Simon, by making frequent sallies, and burning the engines they had brought against the place, that Bacchides grew weary of the undertaking, and considering the renegado Jews as the occasion of his return and disgrace, he was so enraged that he ordered several of them to be put to death.
When Bacchides found the forces under Jonathan and his brother Simon too powerful for him, he was almost distracted at the thoughts of failing in an attempt in which he had imagined himself sure of success; but his greatest concern was how to draw off his army without disgrace either to himself or his sovereign. While he was deliberating in what manner to act, Jonathan sent a messenger to him with proposals for a league of mutual friendship on the condition of an exchange of prisoners. Bacchides saw in those proposals so fair an opportunity of abandoning the siege without disgrace, that he immediately acceded thereto; in consequence of which the prisoners were exchanged on both sides, and the respective commanders bound themselves, by a solemn
oath, that no farther hostilities should take place between them. This agreement being ratified, Bacchides returned to Antioch, and so strictly did he preserve the treaty of peace made with Jonathan, that he never after returned into the country of Judea.
The wars being thus happily over, Jonathan retired to Machmas, a town situated about nine miles to the north of Jerusalem, where he governed the people according to law, cut off all those who had apostatized from their religion and country, and, as far as in him lay, reformed all abuses both in church and state.
While Jonathan remained in this peaceable situation, his power was greatly increased by a very unexpected incident that took place in Syria. Alexander, a son of the late Antiochus Epiphanes, laid claim to the Syrian empire; and, being well supported by foreign powers, made himself master of Ptolemais, a city of Palestine, where he concerted the most likely measures for carrying on his design against Demetrius, and divesting him of the sovereignty.
As soon as Demetrius was informed of the proceedings of his rival, he thought it expedient immediately to make his court to Jonathan, and to obtain him as an ally. To this purpose he dispatched messengers with letters to Jonathan, by which he constituted him General of all Judea, with full authority to raise forces, and to provide them with arms; commanding likewise that all those hostages who had been committed prisoners to the fortress of Jerusalem by Bacchides should be immediately set at liberty.
On the receipt of these dispatches Jonathan left Machmas, and repaired to Jerusalem, in order to execute the commands of Demetrius. As soon as he arrived in the city, he publicly read the contents of the king's letters to the soldiers and people, who were greatly surprized at so sudden a turn of fortune in his favor. Having done this he proceeded to make his levies, and gave liberty to the hostages in the fortress of Acra, strictly ordering that they should be permitted to return in safety to their friends. He now resolved to fix his residence at Jerusalem, and in consequence thereof thoroughly repaired the city, fortified it on every side, and rebuilt those walls
round the temple which had been destroyed during the reign of Antiochus Epiphanes.
In the mean time Alexander (who was no stranger to the valor and courageous actions of Jonathan) assembled his friends together, and represented to them how advantageous it would be to his cause could he form an alliance with him, which there was great reason to think might take place, if proper application was made, on account of the insults he had received from Demetrius, and Bacchides, the general of his forces. The friends of Alexander unanimously agreeing with him in opinion, he immediately dispatched an embassy to Jonathan with a letter to the following purport:
"Alexander the king, to Jonathan his brother, greeting.
"Having long been informed of your character for "honor, faith and courage, and deeming you every way "worthy our best regard, we have dispatched ambassa"dors to offer you our friendship and alliance, and have "commissioned them to treat for the same: and by these "presents, and our royal authority, we constitute and ❝ordain thee high-priest of the Jews, and rank thee in the "number of the king's friends; and we likewise present "thee with a crown of gold and a purple robe, entertain❝ing no doubt of a proper return being made by you for ❝this instance of our regard and esteem."
The emissaries of Demetrius, having got intelligence of this message being sent by Alexander to Jonathan, immediately informed their master of what had passed; upon which Demetrius, resolved, if possible, to gain over Jonathan, by outbidding his rival, dispatched a messenger to him with a letter to the following purpose:
"Demetrius the king, to Jonathan, and the Jewish people, greeting.
"As we have already entered into a treaty of alliance "with you, we would wish to fix it on a lasting and uninterrupted foundation. Wherefore it is our pleasure that your tributes be remitted, and we hereby remit all the "taxes formerly paid to our predecessors or ourselves;