From 156 to 151 BC

- א ו ם -

Jonathan Attains Independence in the Areas Surrounding Jerusalem

From 156 to 151 BC

1 Maccabees 9:62

In 156 BC, the Hellenist Jews ask Bacchides to suppress the Hasmonean revolt. In response, Bacchides recruits a large army to invade Judea. The Seleucids plan to attack the rebel army around the area of Modi’in, the birthplace of the uprising and its current sede. Jonathan prepares for Bacchides’ campaign by fortifying Beth Batzi, a village south of Bethlehem. Then, Simon defends the new garrison from inside while Jonathan gathers supporters from the Nabateans and other tribes to fend off the Seleucid siege. Finally, the Jews and their allies set the enemy’s armament on fire and rout them out. In 155 BC, Bacchides becomes less belligerent and eventually reaches an agreement with the Hasmoneans. Bacchides can now focus on his enemies who are attacking the empire from the north. Jonathan establishes a Jewish autonomous territory in and around Mizpah (north of Jerusalem). However, the Acra fortress remains in Seleucid and Hellenist hands. This state of affairs continues for the next few years. The Seleucids retain the Acra while Jonathan rules the areas surrounding the fortress.

Peace agreements between rivals are preferable to ongoing, abrasive conflicts. Jonathan excels at maneuvering his enemies between a state of peace and a state of war. As such, he successfully achieves independence in Jerusalem. Jonathan acts courageously and builds bridges. He establishes his rule, mobilizes forces, andslowly, but surelymakes alliances. Throughout it all, he raises the spirit of his nation and helps to bolster their enthusiasm. 

 “Then Jonathan with his men and Simon withdrew to Bethbasi in the wilderness; he rebuilt the parts of it that had been demolished, and they fortified it. 63 When Bacchides learned of this, he assembled all his forces and sent orders to the men of Judea. 64 Then he came and encamped against Bethbasi; he fought against it for many days and made engines of war.65 But Jonathan left his brother Simon in the town while he went out into the country, and he went with only a few men. 66 He struck down Odomera and his kindred and the people of Phasiron in their tents. 67 Then he[h] began to attack and went into battle with his forces, and Simon and his men sallied out from the town and set fire to the engines of war. 68 They fought with Bacchides, and he was crushed by them. They pressed him very hard, for his plan and his expedition had been in vain. 69 So he was very angry at the renegades who had counseled him to come into the country, and he killed many of them. Then he decided to go back to his own land.” (1 Maccabees 9:62-70)

Enthusiasm is excitement over the prospect of fulfillment through spiritual work and sharing.