150 BC

- מ י כ -

Jonathan Shrewdly Becomes Allies with Alexander Balas, Expands His Own Territory

150 BC

1 Maccabees 10:84

Demetrius I Soter rises to power in Antioch. His iron-fisted rule soon spurs animosity across the empire and causes Alexander Balas to organize a revolt against him. Alexander Balas begins organizing his armies in Acre. The two competitors to the throne attempt to gain Jonathan’s favor because of his large army and effective government of Judea (the southernmost province of the empire). The Jewish leader ultimately decides to support Alexander Balas, who promises him religious independence and even a certain degree of political autonomy. Alexander Balas defeats Demetrius I in 150 BC and Jonathan profits from this victory. His status is reinforced and his privileges broadened. Demetrius challenges Jonathan and sends his general, Apolonius, to fight him in the Judean foothills. The Jews strike their enemies in the fields between Yavne and Ashdod. Jonathan seizes the momentum and conquers the pagan cities of Ashkelon, Ekron, Jaffa, and Ashdod. Idolatrous temples are uprooted and the Jews are brought to settle the newly annexed areas. The civil war dividing the Seleucid empire presents a golden opportunity for Jonathan to gain more privileges and expand his sphere of influence.

Jonathan behaves wisely. He is not tempted or misled by selfish, fleeting considerations. Instead, he successfully makes alliances with his various rivals.  He amasses the strength necessary to see the truth, undertake brave steps, and successfully cope with a constantly changing reality. Jonathan understands that he must eradicate the negative forces and idolatry infiltrating his areas of rule. It is clear to him that in order to build something new, he must first eliminate all negative forces.

“But Jonathan burned Azotus and the surrounding towns and plundered them, and the temple of Dagon and those who had taken refuge in it he burned with fire. 85 The number of those who fell by the sword, with those burned alive, came to eight thousand. 86 Then Jonathan left there and encamped against Askalon, and the people of the city came out to meet him with great pomp. 87 He and those with him then returned to Jerusalem with a large amount of plunder. 88 When King Alexander heard of these things, he honored Jonathan still more, 89 and he sent to him a golden buckle, such as it is the custom to give to the King’s Kinsmen. He also gave him Ekron and all its environs as his possession” (1 Maccabees 10:84-89)

Purity is achieved by restricting negative impulses and eliminating evil thoughts and deeds.