The Maccabean Conquest: Jonathan and Simon the Maccabees
The Maccabean Conquest: Jonathan and Simon the Maccabees
Abstract and Keywords
Uses material from Josephus (Antiquities xii), and 1 and 2 Maccabees to examine the changes in the high priesthood leading up to the Maccabean revolt, and the careers of the first two Maccabean leaders, Jonathan and Simon. Although Jonathan and Simon both became high priests as well as political rulers, their style of rule was monarchic, and they had already achieved political authority among their own people, by virtue of their military exploits, before they were made high priests. The high priesthood, of itself, did not therefore give them any new powers of governance.
After the obscurity of the Ptolemaic period it is something of a relief to move on to the Seleucid period for which there is a good deal more documentation and where the high priesthood occurs quite frequently. In fact, two of the main sources for the period document the end of the Zadokite high priesthood and the rise of a new family of high priests into the chaos left by the Jews' encounter with Antiochus IV Epiphanes. These sources are, of course, the first and second books of the Maccabees, which together with Josephus provide quite a detailed account of the Hasmonean dynasty of priestly warrior kings1—although naturally the detail does not preclude the need for interpretation, and there are questions which remain difficult to answer satisfactorily. The historicity of 1 Maccabees is generally highly regarded,2 although its detailed narrative is limited, beginning in chapter 2 with Mattathias' resistance to Antiochus' anti‐Jewish decrees and concentrating on Judas, Jonathan, and Simon. It contains nothing about the later Hasmoneans, for which it is necessary to look to Josephus, nor is there any detail about the intrigues involving the high priesthood which took place before the beginning of the resistance movement, for which 2 Maccabees is the most important source. 1 Maccabees is effectively a piece of apologetic (p.267) writing for the new dynasty, which judging from its style and idiom was originally in Hebrew, and which treats its subject matter in the style of the Deuteronomistic History,3 thereby enabling Maccabean rule to be justified by likening it to an accepted Scriptural precedent. The work's favourable attitude towards both the Hasmoneans and Rome, together with its final note about the reign of John Hyrcanus having been recorded in an official chronicle (1 Macc. 16: 23–4), mean that it must have been written after John's death and before either Rome or the Hasmonean dynasty had fallen from favour; this would give it a date of around 100 BCE.4 2 Maccabees, by contrast, is written in the florid style of Greek pathetic historiography,5 which makes quite plausible its (p.268) claim to be an abridgement of the five volumes of one Jason of Cyrene on the same subject (2 Macc. 2: 23). Of the Maccabeans it deals only with Judas, ending with the rebels' defeat of Nicanor, the Seleucid general who had threatened to destroy the Temple (2 Macc. 15: 1–36), but it gives more detail of the initial intrigues involving the last high priests before the rebellion and the establishment of Maccabean leadership (2 Maccabees 3–5). It contains much of the miraculous and spectacular, and dwells in gruesome detail on some of the tortures supposedly inflicted by Antiochus on those who refused to submit to his decrees (2 Macc. 7: 1–42). Like 1 Maccabees, Jason's original composition is unlikely to have been written after 63 BCE because of its favourable attitude to Rome and its assertion that Jerusalem has been in Jewish hands continuously since Judas' victory over Nicanor (2 Macc. 15: 37),6 and indeed its glorification of Judas to the exclusion of the other Hasmoneans would suggest a date of composition earlier rather than later in the Maccabean era. There is, however, no clear indication as to the date of the abridgement.7 3 and 4 Maccabees are of no use for present purposes, being legendary variations on the theme of the Jews remaining unmoved in the face of oppression at the hands of the foreign kings and thereby being vindicated by God. Josephus' narrative of the Maccabean rebellion is based largely upon the account of 1 Maccabees, with the insertion of other (probably Greek) sources for additional details from time to time.
The Hasmonean priest‐kings, who had their origins in the struggle to maintain Jewish religious identity in the face of pressure to adopt Gentile and specifically Hellenistic culture and practice, are often thought to represent the ideal high‐priestly model of civil and religious power being combined in a single individual—the paradigm upon which much speculation regarding the high (p.269) priest's position in post‐exilic Jewish society, particularly during the Persian period, has been based. However, even allowing for the bias of 1 Maccabees, which deliberately presents its subject matter in a royal light, it is arguable that these new priestly rulers had at least as much in common with their pre‐exilic and Hellenistic monarchic counterparts as they did with their post‐exilic high‐priestly predecessors; hence, it is not entirely accurate to view the Hasmonean line as a continuation of the previous traditions of high priesthood which had obtained since the Restoration period. From the picture of Jonathan and Simon in 1 Maccabees it is evident that neither their familial descent nor the eventual style of their office was in accordance with the prevailing traditions of high priesthood in Jewish society, something which may well have led to dissatisfaction among certain segments of the community and contributed to the eventual downfall of the Hasmonean dynasty. Hence, it is necessary to establish more clearly the exact nature of their high priesthood, and this can best be achieved by examining the narrative preserved in 1 Maccabees where the most detailed account of the Maccabees' rise to prominence is to be found.
Before that, though, it is necessary to consider the chaos detailed in Josephus and 2 Maccabees, which formed the preamble to the Maccabean rise. The passing of Judah under Seleucid rule by the end of the Fifth Syrian War in 198 BCE seems to have been greeted by the Jewish population with optimism, although some would simply have been relieved that yet another war was finally over. Doubtless there were a good number who thought that a change of ruling power would be for the better; Onias II's earlier refusal to pay tribute to the Ptolemaic government (Ant. xii. 158) may well have been prompted by the hopeful anticipation of a Seleucid revival and the overthrow of Ptolemaic rule in the light of contemporary political circumstances.8 In the event, the Seleucid revival did not take place quite so quickly, but Onias would surely not have been alone in his dissatisfaction with the Ptolemies. Indeed, the letter of Antiochus to his governor Ptolemy quoted by Josephus (Ant. xii. 138–44) indicates that a good (p.270) many welcomed the eventual reversal of fortune when it arrived, and that the optimism which expressed itself in a friendly reception of Antiochus' forces was initially rewarded with a number of privileges, including tax relief and the right to the ancestral form of Jewish government.9 The first hint of the chaos to come was not until the reign of Seleucus IV (185–175 BCE), Antiochus' successor, under whom the first official interference with the status quo occurred; and ironically enough, according to 2 Maccabees, this was precipitated by one of the Jews themselves. Simon the captain of the Temple (προστάτης του̑ ἱɛρου̑, prostatēs tou hierou—2 Macc. 3:4), after a disagreement with Onias III the high priest, falsely reported the presence of vast sums of wealth in the Temple treasury to the provincial governor Apollonius, suggesting that it might be commandeered for the royal coffers. Apollonius in turn reported it to the king, who sent Heliodorus to remove it (2 Macc. 3: 4–8). The attempt was apparently a failure—as 2 Maccabees would have it, some kind of supernatural intervention overpowered the would‐be plunderer (2 Macc. 3: 22–8)10—but Simon continued to agitate against Onias, forcing Onias himself to appeal to the king (2 Macc. 4: 1–6).
Simon's clash with Onias is significant for this investigation in two ways. In the first place, it can be used to shed some light on the nature of Onias' high priesthood: the implication of the clash between the two men is that they were at least equivalent to each other in their respective powers, since neither initially prevailed over the other. However, Simon's immediate appeal to Apollonius suggests that he was in the position he occupied because he was a Seleucid sympathizer, if not a Seleucid appointee.11 This means (p.271) that to see Onias as the sole ruler of his people, left to govern them undisturbed despite the Seleucid domination, would be a rather naïve reading of the source. In addition, Simon's misrepresentation of the Temple funds implies that the high priest was not entitled to control any revenues which did not accrue via sacrifices, and such a distinction between what came under the high priest's control and what came under the king's control makes it seem unlikely that the high priest was routinely responsible as a kind of government official for financial management in the province. This in turn makes the idea of his having broad‐based, wide‐ranging powers unlikely, since control of the money supply is an important factor in the ability to govern.
This picture of the limitations on Onias' power is also confirmed by the nature of the source material. It is decidedly pro‐Onias, determined to show the high priest in as favourable a light as possible, and yet the picture it presents is of a man powerless to resist the approach of disaster except by divine aid. This is in line with the emphasis elsewhere in 2 Maccabees on the apparently powerless who are tortured to death but who are nevertheless somehow victorious because of their undaunted faith, and the outnumbered forces who are victorious in battle because of divine assistance; the picture painted throughout is of the clash of earthly and heavenly powers, with heavenly power intervening for the righteous where they are otherwise unable to resist inimical earthly powers. The whole point of the story of Onias is that he was powerless in political terms to prevent the seizure of the Temple funds and so had to be aided by heavenly power; had he had earthly power in the first place the story would have been meaningless.
The second area in which Simon's clash with Onias may also have significance is that of the internal factions of Jerusalem and Judah: it may have been a reflex of rivalry between the high‐priestly family of Oniads and the Tobiads. In the previous chapter the Tobiads were mentioned as a wealthy and influential aristocratic family who had had connections with the priesthood and possibly the monarchy for generations,12 and from the Zeno papyri and the Tobiad romance it seems evident that they were quite at home with a more hellenized, assimilationist outlook than would 271 (p.272) have been acceptable to some other segments of the community.13 Given that under Antiochus III the Jews had been granted the right to govern themselves by their ancestral constitution,14 and the declaration granting this right was apparently supplemented by limitations on the kind of animal products which could be brought into Jerusalem (Ant. xii. 145–6), thereby affecting the potential for trade with non‐Jews, Simon's challenge to Onias πɛρὶ τη̑ς κατὰ τὴν πόλιν ἀγορανομίας (‘about the regulation of the city market’, 2 Macc. 3: 4) may have concerned this kind of issue,15 and although there is no mention of it in the text, it is conceivable that the Tobiads with their more liberal outlook may have been in favour of Simon, if not actually encouraging him to take up the issue. According to 2 Macc. 4: 23 Simon's brother was Menelaus, whom Josephus claims to have had Tobiad support against the Oniad Jason (Ant. xii. 239);16 although there is of course no necessary connection between Menelaus' supporters and Simon's, both brothers seem to have been challengers of the stricter Jewish orthodoxy as epitomized by figures such as Onias, and indeed both brothers were challengers of Oniad high priests. Hence, it would not be surprising if both brothers had the support of the same influential group which was another such challenger.
Another factor which would favour the idea of the Tobiads being Simon's supporters is Onias III's remark that some of the funds in the Temple belonged to Hyrcanus the Tobiad (2 Macc. 3:11).17 According to Ant. xii. 228 Hyrcanus was alienated from his (p.273) seven brothers, who had actually made war on him; hence, if Onias were sufficiently kindly disposed towards Hyrcanus to retain his deposits in the Temple, it would be a potential source of rancour between the high priest and the remaining members of the Tobiad family. Tobiad support of Simon's challenge to Onias would therefore be a way for the Tobiads to express their hostility towards Onias because of his co‐operation with their estranged relative, or even an indirect means of revenge on Hyrcanus himself by engineering the confiscation of his wealth along with the other deposits. Simon for his part evidently felt no constraint over the question of whose money was involved when he made his accusations to Apollonius about the deposits in the Temple, and although this need not imply outright hostility towards the depositors, it shows a lack of concern which certainly could not be construed as support for them. This would be doubly true where Hyrcanus' deposits were concerned because Simon was a Seleucid appointee and inevitably a sympathizer, whereas Hyrcanus favoured the Ptolemies (Ant. xii. 209–21).18
With the accession of Antiochus Epiphanes (175 BCE), Jason's bribery in order to gain the high priesthood gives a new twist to the story. According to 2 Maccabees, Simon's continued agitation against Onias III had necessitated Onias' going to Antioch to plead his case before the Seleucid monarch Seleucus IV (2 Macc. 4: 4–6), but before Onias could get to see the king Seleucus was assassinated and soon after succeeded by Antiochus. Jason probably took advantage of Onias' absence from Jerusalem to make his bid for the high priesthood,19 especially as Onias' loyalty to the Seleucid crown had been called into question as a result of Simon's agitation (2 Macc. 4: 1–2) and by Onias' willingness to keep deposits in the Temple from the Ptolemaic sympathizer Hyrcanus. Jason effectively sold the high priesthood to the Seleucids, placing the power of appointment of high priests in the hands of the foreign ruling power; this inevitably meant that the high priesthood became a compromise between Jews and (p.274) Seleucids, and in becoming high priest Jason became a Seleucid agent with the backing of the overlord to carry out what he wanted. As a hellenizer, Jason may well have thought that combining the chief Jewish religious office with Seleucid power would enable him to infiltrate the very heart of Judaism with Greek ideas, giving the ideas the moral authority of the high priesthood and opening the way to a wider acceptance of them among the Jews.20 It was no doubt on this basis that he also appealed to Antiochus for permission to found a gymnasium and the community of the Antiochenes in the city of Jerusalem (2 Macc. 4: 9–10),21 contrary to the decree of Antiochus III which made Jewish law the law of the state.22 In the event, of course, Jason's action not only caused great unrest among the populace but also had the effect of debasing the high priesthood.
It can well be imagined that this new combination of religious authority supplied by the high priesthood itself with civil authority supplied by the backing of the Seleucids made the high priesthood suddenly seem very desirable, even though there is little evidence of its being a significant force in government or civil administration prior to Jason's bid for it. At the same time, as well as increasing the desirability of the high priesthood by his unorthodox actions, Jason had also set the precedent of gaining it by means of bribery, and so it was only a matter of time before Menelaus followed the precedent three years later and bribed Jason out of office, despite having no qualifications for the high priesthood (cf. 2 Macc. 4: 25).23 According to 2 Macc. 4: 23–5: 23 he spent his (p.275) period of office abusing the privileges of his position; he is portrayed simply as a villain, playing off the various authorities against each other in order to protect his own interests (e.g. 2 Macc. 4: 43–50), and the uncompromising verdict given on him is that he had become a traitor both to the Laws and to his country (2 Macc. 5: 15). Although he is not connected explicitly with Jason's hellenizing movement except by Josephus,24 Menelaus must have had at least nominal sympathy for the regime because he is shown as the one appointed to convey tribute money to Antiochus (2 Macc. 4: 23), which would imply that he was quite a trusted member of Jason's administration. Menelaus is also shown assisting Antiochus to plunder the Temple (2 Macc. 5: 15), but this could just as easily have been a way of securing his own position with the king, as a gesture of support for Hellenistic cultural ideals.
The involvement of the Tobiad family in previous disputes concerning the high priesthood has already been noted, as has Josephus' comment about Tobiad support for Menelaus against Jason (Ant. xii. 239), and it is surely a distinct possibility that Tobiad agitation was a factor behind Menelaus' bid for the high priesthood.25 Despite the evidently hostile propaganda against Menelaus in 2 Macc. 4: 23–5: 23, which is only to be expected in a work which is so favourable to Onias, Menelaus must have had at least some support for his bid, and this support must have been from those for whom even Jason's unorthodox tenure of the high priesthood was not radical enough. Jason had broken the accepted line of succession by his bribery to obtain the post of high priest before its previous incumbent had died, and he had introduced what many would have viewed as alien and illegal measures, contrary to the Torah, into the city; but there is no indication that he had taken measures to prohibit traditional observances,26 and he was still a Zadokite, indeed an Oniad; he was still an establishment figure, and a member of the family who were the Tobiads' rivals. (p.276) For the Tobiads to make real headway in the arena of power and to achieve the freedom of a Hellenistic cultural milieu in Judah they needed to do away with the religious conservatism which they saw as backward and stifling; and the way for them to achieve that was to gain control of the high priesthood, which now had the additional status and power of a Seleucid official post. The Tobiad history of close attachment to the high‐priestly family, sometimes for better, sometimes for worse, meant that they had few if any qualms about dealing in the most summary fashion with the high priest; Jason himself had shown them the means of entry into the high priesthood, and they would surely not be slow to follow the precedent. Tobiad support of Menelaus would then be a way of ousting the Oniads from the one position in the country which afforded the facility of breaking through the wall of Jewish conservatism to the more open, more Greek society which they desired.
From his analysis of the causes of the punitive measures and the persecution which were subsequently inflicted on the Jews by Antiochus Epiphanes, Bickerman concludes that they resulted from Jewish factional infighting rather than from any particular Seleucid anti‐Semitism.27 The jilted Jason's failed attempt to regain the high priesthood from Menelaus by force whilst Antiochus was otherwise occupied in a war with Egypt (2 Macc. 5: 5–7) was interpreted as rebellion against the Seleucids (2 Macc. 5: 11), hence the razing of Jerusalem's walls and the imposition of a permanent military garrison in the city, which would have been normal practice when attempting to subdue a rebellious people (1 Macc. 1: 29–35; Ant. xii. 252).28 The subsequent religious persecution was quite uncharacteristic even for Antiochus and affected only the Jews in Judah, ignoring completely Jews elsewhere in the Seleucid empire; it cannot therefore have been prompted by a blanket feeling of anti‐Semitism.29 Even the form of worship which was imposed was not Greek, but proto‐Semitic, which would have been foreign to Antiochus himself but which would none the less have been acceptable to philosophical Greek thought in its conception as it was above all else an attack on Jewish particularism.30 (p.277) Bickerman's suggestion, therefore, for which he claims support from 2 Macc. 13: 4 and Ant. xii. 384, is that the persecution was engineered by Menelaus, a Jewish hellenizer who wanted to force his enlightened, supposedly tolerant and non‐particularist outlook upon his fellow‐Jews as a blow against the superstition and decadence which the barbarous particularism signified.31 Bickerman's views are largely followed by Hengel in his own analysis of the persecution,32 but both are disputed by Millar, who claims that the persecution was an attempt not to reform but to abolish Judaism carried out by Antiochus IV, with no evidence for significant influence upon him from a Jewish reform party, and that the cult imposed in the Temple was not syncretistic but simply pagan.33 In other words, Millar sees the whole episode as the imposition of a completely foreign system of observances on the Jews from outside, rather than as the attempt of one particular Jewish party to gain royal support in imposing their own brand of Semitic observances on the rest of the community.
It seems that there are two interlinked issues which are of relevance for present purposes: what was the root cause of the persecution, and what was Menelaus' position during this period? Antiochus' interpretation of the take‐over bid by Jason as revolt and his resultant forcible intervention in Judah (2 Macc. 5: 11) are quite understandable, and although the persecution does not follow immediately, it can be seen to follow on from that intervention as an attempt to stamp out the elements which were seen to be causing unrest and resistance to the authorities set in place by Antiochus. The continued unrest focused on a Seleucid‐appointed official (cf. 2 Macc. 4: 39–50) in a province bordering on the heart of the Ptolemaic empire would have been a matter of great concern to the king, especially as Antiochus himself had just been humiliated by the Romans in his campaign against Egypt, and it is not unnatural that he would take measures to quell permanently what he saw as the rebellious spirit of the Judaean Jews. Those measures apparently consisted of an attempt to abrogate the ancestral customs of the Jews (2 Macc. 6: 1–2), thereby revoking the concessions made to them by Antiochus III, and to instill into the people loyalty to the Seleucid crown, hence the sacrifices for the king's birthday (2 Macc. 6: 7), which Fischer regards as a test (p.278) of loyalty.34 Menelaus' precise position in all this is unclear. He is certainly shown as guiding Antiochus to plunder the Temple as part of the military action taken against Judah following Jason's abortive coup (2 Macc. 5: 15), and he is subsequently named as one of the governors left by Antiochus to oppress the people (2 Macc. 5: 22–3). He is also, as Bickerman notes, blamed for instigating the unrest after it is all over (2 Macc. 13: 3–8), but there is no mention of him being involved with the persecution at its beginning (1 Macc. 1: 41–50; 2 Macc. 6: 1–2). However, the fact that he apparently managed to remain in office throughout the persecution implies that he did not actively oppose the measures taken by Antiochus, whether or not he actually co‐operated with them or even instigated or suggested them.
The linking of high priesthood with foreign domination marked the end of the high priesthood as it had been formerly known. It was the end of the Zadokite succession of high priests in Jerusalem; the last direct representative of the Oniad line was Onias III's son Onias IV, who never became high priest but who fled to Egypt and established an alternative temple at Leontopolis.35 Neither (p.279) Menelaus, who succeeded the Oniad Jason, nor Menelaus' successor Alcimus were Zadokites.36 It was also the end of the high priest as simply the ceremonial figurehead of Jewish belief, as will become obvious from the study of the Maccabean high priests who emerged in the wake of the persecution.
The last non‐Maccabean high priest was Alcimus, who is once again portrayed as a hellenizer. Although there are conflicting accounts of how he managed to gain office,37 the important points are that Alcimus, like Menelaus, lacked high‐priestly descent, and was dependent upon Seleucid power to gain the high priesthood (1 Macc. 7: 8–11, 21–5; 9: 1). He is portrayed in the pro‐Maccabean rhetoric as a focus for ‘all who were troubling their people’ (1 Macc. 7: 22), which probably means hellenizers or Seleucid sympathizers or both, and left in charge of the country together with Seleucid backing he was apparently able to make a certain amount of headway against the Maccabean forces, although not for very long (1 Macc. 7: 22–5). His attempt to demolish part of the Temple complex (1 Macc. 9: 54) was probably due to a policy of anti‐particularism which would make freer access to the Temple for everyone, and is usually thought to be an attempt to demolish the wall separating the court of the Gentiles from the rest of the Temple.38 However, according to 1 Macc. 9: 55–6 this was his (p.280) undoing; he was struck down by illness and died as the work was about to begin, which 1 Maccabees interprets as divine judgement for his arrogance (ὕβρις?). Once Alcimus was dead Bacchides, the Seleucid general who had been sent along with him into Judah, withdrew (1 Macc. 9: 57), despite having recently undertaken an intensive programme of fortification in Judah and Jerusalem to secure his position together with hostage‐taking to ensure good behaviour (1 Macc. 9: 50–3). This suggests the reciprocity of the Seleucid relationship with the high priesthood and implies that neither party could have done what they did without the help of the other. Alcimus had needed the backing of Seleucid might which enabled him to maintain his position and carry out his policies in the face of opposition from the Maccabean rebels,39 but Bacchides would equally have found it difficult to maintain his own position without a focal person such as Alcimus to assist him and be the rallying point for Seleucid sympathizers.
The next high priest after Alcimus' death in 159 BCE was Jonathan the Maccabee,40 appointed in 152 BCE by Alexander Balas, and it is to Jonathan's rise to power and that of his brother Simon that the discussion now turns.
Jonathan and Simon first appear in 1 Macc. 2: 2–5, presumably during the high priesthood of Menelaus, as two of the five sons of (p.281) Mattathias, a priest of the family of Joiarib who is listed as the ancestor of the first priestly course in 1 Chr. 24: 7.41 Mattathias and his sons were therefore of the line of Aaron in post‐exilic terms, although they were not of the line of Zadok which had been the traditional line of descent for the high priests. However, two other points should be made: first, the list of priestly courses in 1 Chronicles 24 states that sixteen of the twenty‐four courses were supposedly descended from Aaron's son Eleazar (1 Chr. 24: 4), and the traditional Zadokite high‐priestly line was also supposed to have descended from Eleazar via his son Phinehas (cf. 1 Chr. 5: 27–41 (ET 6: 1–15)). Now although 1 Chronicles 24 describes the lot‐casting for the order of priestly courses, there is no indication as to which families were said to have been descended from which ancestor, but there is a two‐to‐one chance that any given family could be Eleazarite. Joiarib therefore could have been a descendant of Eleazar, in which case Mattathias and his sons would have a common ancestor with the high‐priestly line.42
Secondly, there are a number of references in 1 Maccabees to the zeal of Phinehas, who when he killed an Israelite for taking a Midianite wife in contravention of the Law, was promised an eternal (i.e. the high) priesthood as a reward for his zeal (Num. 25: 10–13). The parallel is drawn between Phinehas and the Maccabees who, appalled at ‘the blasphemies being committed in Judah and Jerusalem’ (1 Macc. 2: 6) under the hellenizing programme of Antiochus Epiphanes, were also zealous forcibly to protect the purity of the Law and the Jewish nation against Gentile influence (1 Macc. 2: 26).43 Indeed, Phinehas alone of the famous (p.282) figures of Israel's past mentioned as examples in 1 Macc. 2: 52–60 is described as ‘our ancestor’ (ὁ πατὴρ ἡμω̑ν, ho patēr hēmōn—2: 54), which could either simply refer to common priestly descent, or which could again be a way of implying the Maccabees' close genealogical connection with the high‐priestly line. Phinehas therefore offers both a spiritual and an implied genealogical precedent for the Maccabees' eventual rise to prominence. The overall message is that the Maccabees acted as they did because they were true descendants of Phinehas in both a spiritual and a physical sense (whether or not they were actually descended from him), so that like him they were rewarded by God with the high priesthood because of their zeal for the Law.
Mattathias and his sons, then, begin an unashamedly military campaign to free their country from the imposition of these ‘blasphemies’, and effectively become guerrilla warriors, starting an army of resistance against the Greeks and against those who are either in favour of the Greek influence or who are cowed by it into neglect of their own ancestral customs and laws (1 Macc. 2: 42–8). When Mattathias dies the command is handed over to Judas Maccabeus (2: 66, 3: 1), and when Judas is killed in battle Jonathan is nominated by the people to take over from him. Jonathan therefore begins as a military leader, in accordance with the role he has fulfilled so far during the Maccabean campaign, and his brief is to fight the people's battle (ɛἰς ὺρχοντα καὶ ἡγούμɛνον του̑ πολɛμη̑σαι τὸν πόλɛμον ἡμω̑ν, ‘as ruler and leader to fight our battle’, 9: 30). This is a second difference from the ‘traditional’ path to high priesthood; it is, however, very reminiscent of the beginnings of the monarchy, and indeed a deliberate parallel is drawn between Jonathan's preferment in 1 Macc. 9: 28–30 and the Israelites' demand for a king as recorded in 1 Sam. 8: 19–20 (καὶ δικάσɛι ἡμα̑ς βασιλɛὺς ἡμω̑ν καὶ ἐξɛλɛύσɛται ἔμπροσθɛν ἡμω̑ν καὶ πολɛμήσɛι τὸν πόλɛμον ἡμω̑ν, ‘and our king will judge us and will go out before us and will fight our battle’, 1 Sam. 8: 20b (LXX)). In each case the phrase πολɛμη̑σαι τὸν πόλɛμον ἡμω̑ν (polemēsai ton polemon hēmōn, ‘fight our battle’) is used to define what the people expect of their new ruler. But despite the deliberately Deuteronomistic portrayal in 1 Maccabees it seems indisputable that Jonathan's route to prominence was via military prowess and human leadership skills, rather than because of his priestly ancestry. According to 1 Macc. 9: 3 the battle in which Judas was killed (p.283) took place in 160 BCE, and assuming that Jonathan took over as leader some time fairly soon after that, he would have been in command of the resistance force for some eight years before his eventual rise to the high priesthood in 152; moreover, the high priesthood was granted to him by Alexander, the Seleucid ruler, rather than by his fellow‐Jews (1 Macc. 10: 18–21). Jonathan's primary identity was therefore as a military rather than as a religious leader, although in some ways the distinction is rather arbitrary. Jonathan was the leader of a group which was primarily concerned with religious identity, and which was using military means to express that concern. Later on, of course, the struggle for religious freedom became entangled with the struggle for national freedom, so that the two were inseparable; whilst this may have contributed to the Hasmoneans' rise to power as priest‐kings, it doubtless contributed to the disaffection of some segments of the population as they saw their spiritual life as a nation being compromised.44 Under those circumstances, conquest by Rome in 63 BCE would have served as another ‘exile’ experience, and could have been interpreted in much the same way as the Babylonian Exile, that is, as God's punishment of his people for their faithlessness.
According to the account in 1 Maccabees, when Jonathan first came to military prominence in 160 BCE Alcimus was high priest and was being supported by Bacchides and a Seleucid army (cf. 1 Macc. 7: 8–9). Following Alcimus' death in 159 BCE Bacchides withdrew from Judah (9: 57), possibly to consult in Antioch about the appointment of a new high priest,45 but encouraged by a group of Seleucid supporters in Judah, he attempted to re‐establish Seleucid power in the country two years later. Jonathan and the Maccabean supporters received intelligence of his initial plan for a secret attack on them which they thwarted, but Bacchides still managed to besiege Jonathan in the stronghold of Bethbasi. However, Jonathan outmanœuvred the Seleucid, forcing him to withdraw again (9: 58–69), and followed up the defeat with an embassy to Bacchides. Bacchides accepted the embassy, returning 283 (p.284) the hostages which he had taken earlier (9: 53) and promising to leave Judah in peace (9: 70–2).46
Jonathan's sending, and Bacchides' acceptance, of the embassy marks an important development in relations between the Maccabeans and the Seleucids. It is the first negotiated settlement reached by the two groups, and given that it was initiated by Jonathan it implies not only that Jonathan's support had grown to the extent that he now represented the most powerful faction in Judah, but also that the Seleucids were finally prepared, or maybe forced, to recognize his influence. But despite this, Jonathan did not become high priest, and indeed no further appointment to the high priesthood was made either by the Seleucids or by the Jews themselves until Alexander's nomination of Jonathan in 152, which meant that there was apparently an intriguing seven‐year power vacuum in the high priesthood.47 Alcimus' death and Bacchides' defeat had left Jonathan as the de facto unchallenged (though unofficial) leader in Judah, because the channels through which Seleucid power had been brought to bear in Judah had been removed; but Jonathan is not portrayed as therefore having become high priest or even as a priestly figure at all. Instead, it is reported that he ‘began to judge the people’ (καὶ ἤρξατο Ιωναθαν κρίνɛιν τὸν λαόν, 1 Macc. 9: 73), a portrayal redolent not of priestly authority but of the pre‐monarchic deliverer figures such as Gideon (Judges 6–8) who were supposedly raised up and anointed by God for the task of delivering Israel from outside oppressors (Judg. 2: 16, 18), and who would then rule the delivered people by ‘judging’ them (LXX κρίνςιν, krinein—e.g. Judg. 10: 3; 12:7) to ensure their proper obedience to God.48 Jonathan is pictured as a Maccabean deliverer, raised up to free the people from servitude to an enemy who was trying to impose false gods upon them. Similarly, Jonathan's encounters with Bacchides are couched in terms reminiscent of the Israelites' pre‐monarchic battles to secure (p.285) their position in the land: the phrase in 1 Macc. 9: 57, ‘καὶ ἡσύχασɛν ἡ γη̑ (Ιουδα) ἔτη (δύο)’ (‘and the land (of Judah) had rest for (two) years’), occurs repeatedly in Judges to describe the periods of peace between enemy assaults (e.g. 3: 11, 30; 5: 31; 8: 28), and the emphasis on repelling the enemy from the territory of Judah (1 Macc. 9: 72) matches that throughout the books of Joshua, Judges, and the early part of 1 Samuel on protecting Israel against hostile assaults from the surrounding peoples. The ‘deliverer’ model also appears as the type for the early days of the monarchy: Saul's first task after being anointed king of Israel was to deliver his people from the Ammonites (1 Sam. 11: 1–11), in exactly the same fashion as his deliverer predecessors had eliminated the threat to Israel from other hostile nations. Portraying Jonathan as a deliverer, therefore, is a way of showing him as a king in embryo, and once again it is possible to see a deliberately Deuteronomistic picture of events in order to justify the Maccabeans' eventual rise to ruling power on the basis of already accepted Scriptural precedents. In fact, the monarchic precedent is more important and receives more emphasis overall than the admittedly important initial precedent of Phinehas by which the Maccabean rise to the supreme priestly position was justified, and this in itself points to definite conclusions about the nature of Maccabean rule, as will become clear. Jonathan continued in his ‘deliverer’ role for five years until Alexander's overtures to him finally put a name to his power and called him the high priest.
There are a number of issues which are raised by this scenario, the most obvious of which is the reason for the seven‐year gap between Alcimus' death and Jonathan's appointment to the high priesthood. Since the time when Jason had involved Antiochus IV in the appointment of the high priest, candidates for the office apparently needed at the very least the approval of the imperial authorities, if not royal nomination (cf. 1 Macc. 7: 9; 2 Macc. 4: 7–10, 23–6). But in the seven‐year period between Alcimus and Jonathan it can be imagined that it would have been difficult to find a candidate who was sufficiently acceptable to both sides to take on the position. The internal power politics were such that a pro‐Seleucid candidate would have been opposed by the resistance forces while a Maccabean candidate would have been unacceptable to the Seleucid ruler Demetrius on whose behalf (p.286) Bacchides had tried unsuccessfully to crush Jonathan. From the Jews' own point of view it was probably a time of transition; the hellenizers for their part would probably have been in no position to put foward someone sympathetic to their outlook because of the growing influence of the resistance movement (cf. 1 Macc. 9: 73—Jonathan ‘destroyed the godless out of Israel’), while Jonathan himself, despite his growing influence, may not have been acceptable even to his own supporters as a high priest because of his warrior, non‐Zadokite status—or maybe because the high priesthood had become so firmly linked with the Seleucids that to become high priest a candidate would have to be acceptable to the Seleucids, and therefore unacceptable to the resistance, by definition. Hence, when Alexander nominated Jonathan, he broke the deadlock in favour of the Maccabean party, thereby acknowledging once again the extent to which Jonathan's authority among his own people had grown, but at the same time linking that authority more closely with the foreign power than would be acceptable to all the members of the resistance force.
Secondly, there is the question of whether or not the Jews wanted Jonathan as their high priest, and indeed whether or not Jonathan himself wanted the honour. It has already been remarked that neither the Jews nor Jonathan are shown as making any attempt to institute a Maccabean high priesthood until Alexander gave the honour to Jonathan, and it might well be argued that it was never in Jonathan's mind to gain the high priesthood, at least not when the campaign was begun. For all Jonathan's wiles, he is never shown making a specific effort to gain the high priesthood. The references to Phinehas discussed earlier are probably the eventual author's retrospective attempts to justify the result of the campaigns, which is a very different matter from claiming that Mattathias and his sons started out with the intention of taking over the high priesthood themselves. However, it is difficult to believe that having reached the point of commanding a significant and powerful minority among the people Jonathan would not have thought in terms of obtaining official recognition of his authority in some way, and once Demetrius had effectively given him control of Jerusalem by the concessions made to him (1 Macc. 10: 6–10) the high priesthood was only a step away. It is not inconceivable that when Alexander heard of the concessions made by Demetrius and the battles fought by the (p.287) Maccabees (1 Macc. 10: 15) he did so courtesy of a delegation from Jonathan, who was playing off one Seleucid against the other in an attempt to maximize his own position.49 In fact, this could well be seen as the point at which it became evident that the fight to regain religious freedom had undergone the subtle but inexorable shift to a fight for national sovereignty, and that the leader of the fight was keen to become the sovereign.
From the point of view of the Jewish nation, the intrigues which had taken place earlier with Onias, Jason, Menelaus, and Alcimus would make the non‐hellenizers very wary in their nomination of anyone else as high priest, especially as both Jason and Alcimus had been of priestly stock, and Jason was also the brother of the high priest Onias and therefore of high‐priestly stock himself. Evidently priestly descent was no longer a trustworthy criterion for the choice of a high priest who would uphold the Jewish Law. On the other hand, Jonathan was a priest who, despite his unorthodox interpretation of the Law (cf. 1 Macc. 2: 40–1), seemed to have the presence of God with him and to be fighting to maintain the Law, not to break it down as the others had. And yet it is true that 1 Maccabees makes very little mention of Jonathan's high priesthood once it was achieved,50 nor is there any eulogy of Jonathan as there is of Simon.51 In addition, the letter from Demetrius to the Jews immediately after Alexander's promotion of Jonathan does not mention Jonathan at all (1 Macc. 10: 25–44), a fact which has been taken to indicate that Demetrius was attempting to drive a wedge between the Jews and their new high priest based on their feelings of ambivalence or even opposition towards Jonathan.52 From this it does seem likely that there was a good deal of uncertainty as to whether Jonathan was entitled to become high priest, (p.288) even among those who were basically in favour of the Maccabean cause.
There is also the question of what the seven‐year gap meant for both the Jews and the Seleucid administration. For the Jews it can be imagined that in the case of the high priest's ritual duties some kind of deputizing arrangement was made, such as that which would normally have been made for the high priest before major festivals in case some accidental pollution befell him when there was not enough time left before the festival to purify himself again. Evidence for this kind of deputization can be found in 2 Macc. 4: 29, where Menelaus is said to have left his brother Lysimachus as deputy in the high priesthood when he himself was summoned before the king. For the Seleucid administration, there was no rush to fill the gap, which seems to indicate that the high priesthood was not necessary to them in order to maintain the Judaean provincial administration. Since they apparently were the ones to say who became high priest (or at least had taken it upon themselves to be responsible for the appointments from Jason onwards) the lack of a reappointment must be put down to Seleucid failure (and Jewish powerlessness) to appoint; hence, there must have been other personnel to ensure that Judah's obligations towards the Seleucid empire and the day‐to‐day management of the province were carried out whether or not there was a high priest in post. It was probably better for the Seleucids to have no high priest at all than a rebellious one.
Finally, there is the question of the point at which the official recognition of Jonathan's power can be said to have taken place, given that Demetrius is said to have granted him the power to raise and equip troops before Alexander appointed him the high priest (1 Macc. 10: 1–6). Demetrius was evidently aware of Jonathan's capabilities, having clashed with him on more than one occasion, and his plan at the point of Alexander's invasion was doubtless to secure Jonathan's assistance against Alexander, for which Jonathan would need the capacity to raise troops. In effect, therefore, Demetrius gave Jonathan the same kind of privileges as Alexander gave him, but without granting him any recognized office (and without therefore prejudicing his position in the eyes of the Maccabean supporters). Of course, it was unlikely that having tried to crush Jonathan Demetrius would have been willing to appoint him to any kind of office—he simply wanted Jonathan to (p.289) be able to assist him and to be sufficiently kindly disposed towards him not to form a dangerous alliance with Alexander. But the plan backfired: Alexander was the one who benefited from Demetrius' grant to Jonathan, because an ally who has the power to raise and equip troops must of necessity be more useful than one who does not have that power. Hence, by making Jonathan his own friend and ally and by granting him the high priesthood, Alexander was able to use Demetrius' grant to Jonathan to his own advantage, instead of allowing Demetrius to put it to use against him as was no doubt the original intention.
The nature of the high priesthood to which Jonathan was appointed is an interesting question. Jonathan is shown putting on the sacred robes at the festival of Tabernacles (1 Macc. 10: 21), which implies that there was certainly a ritual element to his high priesthood, but he did not stop his participation in military activity because of it. Immediately after putting on the robes his next reported action is the recruiting and abundant arming of troops, and when Demetrius II's governor Apollonius challenged Jonathan's authority in the hill country (1 Macc. 10: 70–3), Jonathan had no hesitation in choosing an army and going out himself at the head of the troops to meet Apollonius' force (10: 74–85). Such a battle situation with blood and bodies all around would have been impossibly defiling for the kind of high priest depicted in Lev. 21: 11, who was not allowed near any corpse, not even the corpses of his own parents. Much more comparable would be the situation of the monarchy, where the monarch was both a military commander and technically the chief priest of the nation, but had a priestly deputy for everything except the most important festivals, when presumably he would make a special effort to attain a sufficient degree of ritual purity to officiate. Just as the ‘deliverer’ and therefore the monarchic paradigm is stressed more than the ‘Phinehas’ paradigm for the Hasmonean rise to power, in the exercise of their office both Jonathan and his successors are portrayed more as sacral kings than as ruling priests.
This is a conclusion which is borne out by the fashion at the turn of the twentieth century to date the so‐called royal psalms to the time of the Maccabean rebellion. Psalm 110 in particular has been interpreted as referring to Simon the Maccabee, and is perhaps the most interesting example of Maccabean dating for a psalm because of the claims for an acrostic of Simon's name in the first (p.290) four verses.53 But the reason for the vast swing in the proposed dating for these psalms between the Maccabean and the now generally accepted (early) monarchic period must be that the figure depicted in the psalm could have belonged to either period; the Maccabees and the monarchs must have seemed sufficiently alike to confuse a considerable segment of the scholarly community. One particularly interesting point is the reference to Melchizedek in Ps. 110: 4:
This was probably the basis for many scholars' opinion of the psalm as Maccabean; like Melchizedek, Simon was a priest as well as a kingly ruler, and so seemed an obvious subject for the psalm. But so were the pre‐exilic monarchs, and, as argued earlier, the point of the Melchizedek reference is that whoever is being referred to in the psalm is a king whose kingship gives him ex officio priestly duties—not a priest whose priesthood gives him ex officio royal duties.54 The early monarchs took on representative and ritual duties by virtue of being kings; but so, it would appear, did the Maccabees, despite their priestly origins. Jonathan was of priestly descent, but he was the people's military champion and ‘judge’ long before he was high priest, and even allowing for the bias of 1 Maccabees, which tries to portray Jonathan in terms of the earliest recorded monarchs in Israel's history, it cannot be disputed that he gained the high priesthood from the Seleucids both in addition to and because of his de facto authority as a nonpriestly leader.
The Lord has sworn and will not change his mind, ‘You are a priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek.’
A further interesting observation about the nature of the high priesthood concerns the terminology used for the high priest. Given that 1 Maccabees is usually thought to have been translated from a Hebrew original, it is quite instructive to compare with it the LXX renditions of the various titles for high priest found in the MT. The textual information gathered in the course of the present study shows that leading priestly figures are referred to in Leviticus, Numbers, Joshua, 2 Kings, Ezra, Nehemiah, Haggai, Zechariah, and 2 Chronicles, but that the rendition of their titles in the LXX almost nowhere corresponds to the conventions used in (p.291) 1 Maccabees. There are four main designations in the Hebrew, and their corresponding Greek renditions are as follows:
The main question raised by this use of terminology is whether or not it is significant in the attempt to analyse the political realities of the Maccabean era, and in the light of that question there seem to be two main possible explanations for it. The first is that the use of ἀρχιςρςύς (archiereus) was to indicate that those who bore the title were not only priests but leaders as well; in other words, it was a designation which arose with the development of the high priesthood into formerly untouched areas and which was indicative of (p.293) that development. In favour of such an interpretation is the fact that it appears so infrequently in the LXX of the canonical OT literature, which could be taken to indicate that although it was familiar to the then translators, it was inappropriate for what they were translating. If that was the case the natural conclusion is that the Hebrew term underlying the appearance of ἀρχιςρςύς (archiereus) in 1 Maccabees was different from those which occur in the MT. The fact, too, that six times something other than ἀρχιςρςύς (archiereus) is used for ‘high priest’ in a work which was translated from Hebrew in the first instance suggests that the Hebrew underlying ἀρχιςρςύς (archiereus) and that underlying the other Greek terms for ‘high priest’ would have been different, and lends force to the argument that ἀρχιςρςύς (archiereus) came into use to meet the new situation under the Hasmoneans whereby the high priesthood was given to the person who already had the authority of leadership among the people as a way of defining that leadership. The term's appearance could then be due either to a special coinage to render an equivalent coinage in the Hebrew original, or to the use of an already existing Greek term which had previously been inappropriate to the nature of the high priesthood. Of course, such an innovation need not have been entirely due to the translator(s) of 1 Maccabees—it could equally well be a reflection of common parlance, which used the term of these high priests. However, this in itself implies recognition of a difference between the Maccabees and previous high priests, especially when it is noted that Simon the son of Onias is referred to in Ben Sira 50: 1 as ἱςρςύς ὁ μέγας (hiereus ho megas) in a translation which dates from the period 132–117 BCE, that is, during the Hasmonean period. The second explanation of the terminology is that the use of ἀρχιςρςύς (archiereus) in 1 Maccabees is merely a literary or stylistic phenomenon, dependent upon the whim of the translator and having no significance for an attempt to analyse political realities;59 but given the obvious desire to echo the language and style of DH, and the translator's familiarity with phrases and vocabulary from the LXX of DH, as already pointed out, it seems strange that there should be such a radical departure from it in this area. The term ἀρχιςρςύς (archiereus) never once occurs in the LXX of DH, (p.294) and in fact by far the most common designation there for the chief priest is simply ὁ ἱςρςύς (ho hiereus). There seems to be no reason why 1 Maccabees should not also follow that convention. But it does not do so, giving the impression that the terminology used in the Greek of 1 Maccabees at least was chosen with a deliberate aim in mind, namely, to reflect a change in the status of the high priesthood from the picture of it given in DH, a work which in other respects served as such an important model for the history of the Maccabees.
Although the high priesthood had been tainted somewhat by its unfavourable links with the Seleucids, up to the time of Jonathan's appointment it was still a Jewish office with Jewish obligations, and even though Jonathan had been appointed by Alexander rather than by the Jews themselves, he could still be regarded as the Jewish leader of the Jews as long as he conducted himself in a way which was favourable to his nation and its traditions. However, after refusing an alliance with Demetrius, whom Alexander then defeated, Jonathan was summoned to a meeting with Alexander at which Alexander made him ‘general and governor of the province (στρατηγὸν καὶ μςριδάρχην, stratēgon kai meridarchēn)’ (1 Macc. 10: 65), as well as enrolling him as one of the king's chief friends. It might be rather cynically observed that Alexander, as a challenger to the Seleucid throne, was glad of all the help he could get, and therefore his rewarding of someone who had proved faithful to him was less of a genuine reward than an attempt to ensure the continuation of that faithfulness so as to secure his own position. But whatever Alexander's motives, the result was political advancement for Jonathan. This was a significant move, because it meant that Jonathan had definitely crossed the line between being the Jewish head of state and a Seleucid official, which would doubtless have increased antagonism towards the Maccabees in certain quarters as amounting to compromise with the enemy.
Just how closely Jonathan's power at this stage was dependent upon the ruling Seleucid is illustrated by Demetrius II's appearance as a claimant to the throne against Alexander. Demetrius appointed Apollonius as his own governor over Coele‐Syria before he had even engaged Jonathan (1 Macc. 10: 69),60 but Jonathan (p.295) drove Apollonius back (1 Macc. 10: 74–85), thereby protecting both his own position as governor and general and so Alexander's influence over Coele‐Syria. Had Jonathan been defeated, his position would have been reduced once more to that of a rebel leader in Judah because Alexander's claims to sovereignty would have been severely threatened. Given Jonathan's dependence on Alexander for his new increased influence, it is debatable whether he was fighting primarily for himself or on behalf of Alexander, but in the light of Demetrius' aggressive approach (cf. 1 Macc. 10: 70–3) Jonathan must have felt that the Jews were far more likely to benefit under Alexander than under Demetrius, who was aiming to suppress them rather than to make alliances with them. Certainly the immediate result of the battle between Jonathan and Apollonius was financial benefit for the Jews because of the amount of booty they captured from the enemy (1 Macc. 10: 87), coupled with the possession of the Philistine town of Ekron and its environs, given to Jonathan by Alexander as a reward (1 Macc. 10:89).61 But later on Alexander's unsuccessful battle with Ptolemy followed by Ptolemy's death left Demetrius as the new Seleucid ruler (1 Macc. 11: 8–19). At first, Jonathan's boldness in dealing with the inexperienced Demetrius resulted in significant concessions being made to him and the Jewish nation (1 Macc. 11: 20–37), and when Demetrius' troops revolted against him it was the Jews to whom he appealed for help and by whom he was saved. But the initial antagonism returned once the kingdom was secure; the concessions which Demetrius had made to Jonathan never materialized (1 Macc. 11: 52–3), confirming once again the extent to which Judah in general and Jonathan in particular were dependent upon the whim of the greater Seleucid power for their well‐being and status. Nor did the antagonism cease even after Demetrius himself was routed by Trypho and the young Antiochus, who confirmed Jonathan as high priest and increased his powers (1 Macc. 11: 57–8): Demetrius' officers made two unsuccessful attempts to eliminate Jonathan. Jonathan's eventual downfall came at the hands of Trypho, who in the pursuit of his own claim to the throne instead of the young Antiochus first tried (p.296) to overcome Jonathan by military means but then tricked him into dismissing his soldiers and captured him, eventually killing him (1 Macc. 12: 39–48; 13: 12–24).
Following his preferment at the hands of one Seleucid ruler, Jonathan's assassination at the hands of another is a wry comment on how secure his power base was; and yet it is undeniable that he had made significant gains in the fight for independence, as can be seen from the fortunes of Simon, his successor. Simon was apparently able to take up Jonathan's mantle of leadership and to be recognized as high priest without question or qualm by Jews and Seleucids alike; however, it is not entirely clear exactly when or how he became high priest. Like Jonathan, he is shown as being asked to take on the military mantle first of all; his initial commission from the Jews, while Jonathan was still alive but a prisoner at the hands of Trypho, is to ‘fight our battle (πολέμησον τὸν πόλɛμον ἡμω̑ν, polemēson ton polemon hēmōn)’ (1 Macc. 13: 9), once again echoing the words of appointment for the first Israelite king. Nowhere is Simon's investiture as high priest depicted; rather, the first time he appears as high priest is when he is addressed as such in the letter from Demetrius which grants the nation freedom from taxation and tribute (1 Macc. 13: 36). However, the declaration set up by the Jews on Mount Zion in the third year of Simon's high priesthood (1 Macc. 14: 27) claimed that the people themselves made Simon their leader and high priest in gratitude for everything he had done for the nation, and that Demetrius simply confirmed him in the high priesthood (ἔστησɛν αὐτῳ̑ τὴν ἀρχιɛρωσύνην, estēsen autōi tēn archierōsynēn—1 Macc. 14:38). Whether it was Demetrius or the Jews themselves who first regarded Simon as their high priest, though, it was doubtless politically advantageous to Demetrius to deal favourably with Simon in view of the challenge to his own authority from the ambitious and treacherous Trypho, and as had been the case with Jonathan and Alexander, Simon by this time had sufficient authority among his own people to make Demetrius wary of him. It was safer to offer Simon concessions than to risk having him as an enemy.
It is tempting to contrast the enthusiastic eulogizing of Simon in 1 Macc. 14: 32–7 with the rather flat declaration that Jonathan ‘became their high priest’ (1 Macc. 14: 30), as well as the absence of any kind of eulogy for Jonathan as compared with that for Simon (p.297) in 1 Macc. 14: 4–15,62 and it has already been noted that it was the Seleucid Alexander Balas who appointed Jonathan to the high priesthood. Maybe this is a reflection of unease or even disapproval felt in some quarters over Jonathan's preferment at the hands of a foreign power, as suggested earlier. And yet, had Jonathan not been appointed there would have been no precedent for Simon to follow in becoming high priest after his brother, nor would the point of Jewish independence have been reached had Simon not been able to build on the foundations laid by Jonathan as an official recognized and respected by the Seleucids.63 Hence, the treatment of Jonathan in 1 Maccabees would express the ambiguity of the situation in which the Jews found themselves, in that they had leaders whom they trusted and relied upon to maintain their national interests against those who were perceived as a threat to the nation, and yet those same leaders were in place with all their power thanks to the very forces which constituted the opposing threat. The laudatory declaration for Simon could then be a kind of justification which the Jews prepared for themselves as a way of regularizing the situation, actively claiming Simon as their high priest rather than feeling that he had effectively been foisted upon them by the Seleucids because of the precedent set by his brother—a kind of ‘grasping the nettle’, acknowledging the state of affairs and trying to use it creatively in their own interests. But it is interesting that they chose to grant him leadership according to a dynastic model based closely upon the models prevailing at that time in the Hellenistic world (1 Macc. 14: 41–5).64
Simon's first action was to gather together the fighting men and complete the walls of Jerusalem (1 Macc. 13: 10). It should be noted here in passing that the high priesthood in the days of Nehemiah 297 (p.298) lacked either the power or the charisma, or maybe even the inclination, to rally the people for a wall‐building exercise, so that Nehemiah had to come all the way from Persia to oversee the task at the command of the Persian authorities.65 However, if Bickerman's analysis of Antiochus IV's actions is correct,66 the razing of Jerusalem's walls and the building of the Akra as a Greek πόλις (polis) either in or just outside the city meant that Jerusalem as a nearby unwalled settlement would have come under the jurisdiction of the Akra. It was therefore important to complete the walls of Jerusalem as soon as possible to declare the city's independence from the foreign domination exercised via the Akra. Under those circumstances the wall‐building would not have been an official project requiring sanction by the authorities, as in Nehemiah's time, but rather was an act of rebellion against the overlords, undertaken as part of the resistance movement's campaign.
The eulogy of Simon which appears in 1 Macc. 14: 4–15 expresses ideas which are very reminiscent of Psalm 72, another royal psalm,67 which is often interpreted as having messianic connotations with its picture of idyllic, peaceful life. Examples of the reminiscences are as follows (verses from 1 Maccabees 14 are in roman type, and those from Psalm 72 in italics):
4: The land had rest all the days of Simon. He sought the good of his nation; his rule was pleasing to them, as was the honour shown him, all his days. 7: In his days may righteousness flourish and peace abound, until the moon is no more. 15: Long may he live! May gold of Sheba be given to him. May prayer be made for him continually, and blessings invoked for him all day long.
5: To crown all his honours he took Joppa for a harbour, and opened a way to the isles of the sea. 6: He extended the borders of his nation, and gained full control of the country. 8: May he have dominion from sea to sea, and from the River to the ends of the earth.
Once again the parallel is drawn between a Maccabean leader and idealized concepts of monarchy; Simon is shown as the nearest equivalent of the Davidic‐type monarch under the circumstances of foreign domination and the increasingly law‐based religious structures of Judah. Such consistent emphasis on the royal character of Maccabean rule, even though the Maccabeans themselves were never termed kings, suggests that a ruling priest of this kind was previously unknown in Jewish society, and so an appropriate model was sought and utilized because of the need for justification of the Maccabean leadership. However, portraying the Maccabeans in terms of the Davidic monarchy was also a way of making sense of them. 1 Maccabees is not simply concerned with what Jonathan and Simon were, whether kings or priests or warriors, but with the interpretation of what they were by those who saw them. They were warriors, but they were also priests and (p.300) leaders, and for the Jews the most natural interpretation of that combination of qualities was in terms of sacral kingship.
7: He gathered a host of captives; he ruled over Gazara and Beth‐zur and the citadel, and he removed its uncleanness from it; and there was none to oppose him. 9: May his foes bow down before him, and his enemies lick the dust.
8: They tilled their land in peace; the ground gave its increase, and the trees of the plains their fruit. 16: May there be abundance of grain in the land; may it wave on the tops of the mountains; may its fruit be like Lebanon; and may people blossom in the cities like the grass of the field.
11: He established peace in the land, and Israel rejoiced with great joy. 7: In his days may righteousness flourish and peace abound, until the moon is no more.
12: All the people sat under their own vines and fig trees, and there was none to make them afraid. 14: From oppression and violence he redeems their life; and precious is their blood in his sight.
13: No one was left in the land to fight them, and the kings were crushed in those days. 11: May all kings fall down before him, all nations give him service.
14: He gave help to all the humble among his people; he sought out the law, and did away with all the renegades and outlaws. 4: May he defend the cause of the poor of the people, give deliverance to the needy, and crush the oppressor. 12: For he delivers the needy when they call, the poor and those who have no helper. 13: He has pity on the weak and the needy, and saves the lives of the needy.
Interestingly enough, the last thing mentioned in the eulogy is making the sanctuary glorious (1 Macc. 14: 15), which could either indicate how far down the list of priorities Temple and priestly duties were for Simon, or could be a way of putting those duties into a more royal context. Temple maintenance was shared in the pre‐exilic period between the monarch and the chief priest; the monarch built the Temple and was ultimately responsible for its maintenance, but the chief priest had delegated responsibility to maintain it in proper condition and to carry out the necessary work.68 Perhaps the mention of the Temple glorification here is neither specifically royal nor priestly, but is an example of the confluence of the two kinds of responsibility in one person.69
And yet, for all that the Maccabean movement began as a way of maintaining ancestral customs and the purity of Judaism, there are unmistakably Hellenistic traits in the way in which Jonathan and Simon bore themselves—indeed, in the way in which they came to power at all. The Hellenistic monarchies which emerged from the distribution of Alexander's kingdom at the end of the fourth century were brand new, with no long‐standing dynastic succession to back their claims to power; rather, their claims to legitimacy were based on conquest and retention of territory, because that was a tangible way in which they proved their merit for the responsibility of kingship.70 The Maccabees had no royal or priestly ancestral claims to power; rather, they attained their position largely through successful military enterprise, thus proving their merit for the task. As with the Hellenistic monarchs, too, once power was achieved and the merit of an individual acknowledged, the tendency was to transfer the merit to the individual's successors, thereby establishing a dynasty.71 Hellenistic royalty was expected to be glamorous, so that purple robes, diadems, crowns, sceptres, and rings with seal stones were all part of the Hellenistic monarch's apparatus.72 The ideal Hellenistic monarch was victorious, (p.301) a saviour and benefactor, courageous, the guardian of peace, an administrator of justice, generous, magnanimous, pious, accessible to his subjects, supporter of the good, and wealthy in order to be able to benefit others.73 Both Simon and Jonathan are shown as participating in the glamour of kingship with their purple robes (1 Macc. 10: 20, 59–65; 11: 57–8; 14: 43), and the vast wealth acquired by Simon together with his apparent enjoyment of feasting (1 Macc. 16: 15–16) were definitely Hellenistic traits. Despite the notion that royal wealth was to enable others to be benefited, ‘lavish consumption for display was characteristic of the great monarchies’ as a way of advertising the wealth which could and did also serve as a means of exercising power and influence.74 Athenobius was evidently struck by Simon's great wealth when he visited the Jewish leader to deliver Antiochus' ultimatum to him (1 Macc. 15: 32); no doubt Athenobius was forced to re‐evaluate the approach which was appropriate to use with Simon, because the wealth was indicative of greater power than the Seleucids had given Simon credit for.
It is interesting that the high moral traits of the ideal Hellenistic monarch correspond quite closely to those attributed to the messianic ruler of Psalm 72, raising once again the question of the ‘blurred boundaries’ between what was of traditional Jewish conception and what was subtly influenced by the prevailing cultural climate. Certainly where the boundaries were blurred it aided Hellenistic assimilation; for example, the fact that there were so many correspondences between the ideal Hellenistic ruler and the messianic ruler meant that Simon's leadership could be portrayed as being in line with the traditional conceptions whilst in actual fact being based more closely on contemporary models. Such a state of affairs is not at all surprising, especially considering that the memory of an independent Jewish leader would have faded some considerable time ago. In fact, an independent Jewish leader would never even have existed, since the last independent leader would have been the pre‐exilic Judaean king Jehoiakim who had come to grief some 450 years before the Maccabean period (2 Kgs. 24: 1–7). Similarly, the dynastic succession awarded to Simon (1 Macc. 14: 41) could be seen as a return to older precedents of both high priesthood and kingship, and this is the light in (p.302) which it is portrayed by 1 Maccabees, but in reality it probably owed as much to the more recent precedents of the Diadochi and their dynasties as to anything in Israel's past. However, the fact that there had been dynasties of leading figures in Israel's past meant that to this extent Simon could be made the founder of a dynasty without any apparent break with tradition. Where the break came, of course, was in making one with no hereditary kingly or high‐priestly claims to power into the founder of a dynasty which was to take over both positions.
From this examination of the Maccabean high priesthood, then, it seems that the Maccabean high priests were in reality monarchic rulers, and that they should not be seen either as the culmination of the high priesthood's political development or as giving the high priesthood an authority and influence of itself which it had hitherto lacked. They achieved authority among their own people not by virtue of being high priests, but because they were military leaders; and only once they had achieved military and political prominence was the high priesthood granted to them by the Seleucids, as a way of enlisting their military help and as a recognition of alliance between Jews and Seleucids. The ultimate style of their leadership is portrayed in 1 Maccabees as being in line with Scriptural monarchic precedents, although they were probably equally influenced by contemporary Hellenistic dynasts. Hence, the priestly aspect of their position was entirely secondary to the military and governmental one, and they achieved no new power of governance by becoming high priests.
The validity of these conclusions can be tested by examining the history of their successors the Hasmoneans, and that investigation will form the final part of this study.
(1) The term ‘Hasmonean’ for the dynasty which originated out of the rebellion headed by the priest Mattathias and his sons is taken from the name of Mattathias' great‐grandfather, given in Josephus, Ant. xii. 265 as Ἀσαμωναι̑ος (Ἀσαμωναι̑ου) and in rabbinic literature as Hasmonai. The name does not occur in the account of Mattathias' lineage in 1 Macc. 2: 1. For the purposes of this study the term ‘Maccabeans’ will be used to refer specifically to Mattathias and his sons, and ‘Hasmoneans’ to refer to both the dynasty as a whole and where necessary the members of the dynasty from John Hyrcanus onwards (i.e. the generations after the Maccabeans). The context of the references should make it clear exactly who is being referred to in any given instance.
(2) F.‐M. Abel, Les Livres des Maccabées (Paris: Librairie Lecoffre, 1949), pp. xxiv–xxv; Bartlett, The First and Second Books of the Maccabees, CBC (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1973), 16–17.
(4) Hugo Bévenot, Die beiden Makkabäerbücher, Die heilige Schrift des alten Testamentes, iv. 4 (Bonn: Peter Hanstein, 1931), 8–9; Abel, pp. xxviii–xxix; Goldstein, I Maccabees, 62–4. The most common alternative dating proposed for the book is to place it sometime in the reign of John Hyrcanus (135–104 BCE), and view the note in 16: 23–4 as a later addition. See Zeitlin, First Maccabees, 27–32, and J. C. Dancy, 1 Maccabees (Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1954), 8. S. Schwartz, ‘Israel and the Nations Roundabout: 1 Maccabees and the Hasmonean Expansion’, JJS 42 (1991), 16–38, argues for a date of c.130 BCE on the grounds that the work shows strong support for the Hasmonean dynasty, but hostility towards the nations which it would have patronized as a result of the territorial expansion under John Hyrcanus; hence, the work is better dated prior to the main part of the expansion (pp. 33, 36). Joseph Sievers, The Hasmoneans and their Supporters: From Mattathias to the Death of John Hyrcanus I, South Florida Studies in the History of Judaism, 6 (Atlanta, Ga.: Scholars Press, 1990), 3, dates the work to late in the reign of Hyrcanus on the grounds that it shows no signs of there being a Hasmonean kingship as yet. However, as will be argued below, both Jonathan and Simon the Maccabees are portrayed in terms of the ancient Israelite monarchy, presumably as a means of justifying and explaining the character of their rule, which closely resembled that of the monarchs. Hence, the overt claiming of the title ‘king’ by later Hasmoneans was as much a psychological change as an alteration in actual status, since Jonathan and Simon had effectively ruled as kings from the middle of the second century. According to Josephus, the first Hasmonean actually to claim kingship was Aristobulus I, who ruled for only a year in 104–103 BCE (Ant. xiii. 301). Whether it was Aristobulus or his successor Alexander Jannaeus (103–76 BCE) who first claimed the monarchy, though, dating 1 Maccabees to c.100 BCE means that its appearance would coincide with the nominal change in status of the Hasmonean rulers, and could conceivably have been precipitated by the change in an attempt to justify it. See also the discussion on John Hyrcanus' supposed claim to kingship in Ch. 12 below on the Hasmoneans.
(5) Bartlett, Maccabees, 216; Goldstein, I Maccabees, 34. However, Robert Doran, Temple Propaganda: The Purpose and Character of 2 Maccabees, CBQ Monograph Series 12 (Washington, DC: The Catholic Biblical Association of America, 1981), claims that ‘the existence of such a genre is in serious question’ (p. 1), and instead argues that 2 Maccabees ‘is primarily temple propaganda—the defense of the temple and its surroundings by the patron deity’(p. 114). A completely different approach is adopted by Jochen Gabriel Bunge, Untersuchungen zum zweiten Makkabäerbuch: Quellenkritische, literarische, chronologische und historische Untersuchungen zum zweiten Makkabäerbuch als Quelle syrisch‐palästinensischer Geschichte im 2. Jh. v. Chr. (Bonn: Rheinische Friedrich‐Wilhelms‐Universität Druck, 1971). Bunge argues (pp. 181–203) that 2 Maccabees in its present form is a communication sent from Jerusalem to the Egyptian Jews, consisting of a fictitious letter detailing the purification festival initiated by Judas Maccabee (2 Macc. 1: 10b–2: 18), the epitome of Jason's work which explained the circumstances behind the festival (3: 1–15: 39 plus introduction in 2: 19–32), and the covering letter for the whole composition which was added when it was sent to Egypt in 124 BCE (1: 1–10a).
(7) Abel, pp. xlii–xliii, and Bunge, 195–202, date 2 Maccabees to 124 BCE; Zeitlin, Second Maccabees, 27–30, dates it to the period of Agrippa (41–4 CE); and Goldstein, II Maccabees, 83, favours 78–63 BCE. In the light of this, Bartlett's comment is apposite: ‘The book may belong almost anywhere in the last 150 years B.C.’ (Maccabees, 215).
(8) Hengel, 51 (ET i. 27); Goldstein, ‘The Tales of the Tobiads’, in Jacob Neusner (ed.), Christianity, Judaism and Other Greco‐Roman Cults: Studies for Morton Smith at Sixty. Part Three: Judaism before 70, SJLA 12 (Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1975), 85–123 (pp. 97–8); Jagersma, 29; Grabbe, Judaism from Cyrus to Hadrian, 196–7; Schunck, 501.
(9) Although the authenticity of the document has been disputed by some (see Jagersma, 38), it is not intrinsically implausible in its conception. See also Grabbe, Judaism from Cyrus to Hadrian, 246–7, and Bickerman, ‘La Charte Séleucide de Jérusalem’, REJ 100 (1935), 4–35.
(10) Bartlett, Maccabees, 242–3, suggests that the ‘vision’ might have its roots in an attack on Heliodorus by pre‐Maccabean defenders of the faith; alternatively, Thomas Fischer, Seleukiden und Makkabäer: Beiträge zur Seleukidengeschichte und zu den politischen Ereignissen in Judäa während der 1. Hälfte des 2. Jahrhunderts v. Chr. (Bochum: Studienverlag Brockmeyer, 1980), 17–18, suggests that it might be a cult legend designed to show the holiness and inviolability of the place.
(11) See the comments above in Ch. 10 on the financial control of sanctuaries under the Ptolemies. Simon may well have been an equivalent Seleucid official named to monitor the Temple finances in Jerusalem, which would account for his ready appeal to Apollonius. See Schunk, 505. Hengel comments that Onias' failure to override Simon indicates that Simon was an independent official (p. 47 (ET i. 25)).
(13) Examples of Tobiad laxity concerning strict Jewish observances include Tobias' failure to circumcise the household slaves whom he sent to Apollonius (Corpus Papyrorum Judaicarum i., 126–7), the use of the pagan greeting formula πολλὴ χάρις τοι̑ς θɛοι̑ς (pollē charis tois theois, ‘many thanks to the gods’) in the letter to Apollonius (ibid .), Joseph's friendly relations with the Samaritans (Ant. xii. 168), and the close fraternizing of both Joseph and Hyrcanus with the Ptolemies with no mention of any scruples about ritual purity or kosher food (e.g. Ant. xii. 186–9; 210–14).
(15) See Abel, 317; Hengel, 494 (ET i. 271–2).
(16) Josephus' source for this comment is obscure; however, it is not intrinsically improbable, given the acknowledged rivalry between the Oniads and Tobiads. Far more improbable is the scenario he paints whereby both Onias III and Jason were the brothers of Menelaus, but the latter two had exchanged their respective Hebrew names Jesus and Onias for Greek ones (Ant. xii. 238).
(17) Most commentators accept the identification of this Hyrcanus with the one who was son of Joseph the Tobiad and whose exploits are detailed in Ant. xii. 190–236—see Abel, 320; Zeitlin, Second Maccabees, 120–1; Bartlett, Maccabees, 237; Goldstein, II Maccabees, 207. By contrast, Doran, 18 n. 57, rejects the identification, claiming papponymy as a way of explaining the reappearance of the name. However, this seems even more arbitrary than the view which he is attempting to discredit, and although there is no evidence for the identification of the two men, neither is there is any for their dissociation. In the absence of proof of another such illustrious character named Hyrcanus the Tobiad, it seems reasonable to accept the identification as being a common‐sense one.
(18) Goldstein, ‘Tales of the Tobiads’, 100.
(19) Cf. Bartlett, Maccabees, 243.
(20) Cf. Fischer, 20–1.
(21) Cf. Klaus Bringmann, Hellenistische Reform und Religionsverfolgung in Judäa: Eine Untersuchung zur jüdisch‐hellenistischen Geschichte (175–163 v. Chr.), Abhandlungen der Akademie der Wissenschaften, philologisch‐historische Klasse; Folge 3, Nr. 132 (Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1983), 73. In Ant. xii. 240–1 it is Menelaus and the Tobiads who are credited with petitioning the king for permission to build a gymnasium in Jerusalem; however, given that the passage in Josephus is rather confused and that 2 Maccabees is chronologically so much closer than Josephus to the events described, the account in 2 Maccabees is probably to be preferred.
(22) On the necessity of royal authority for Jason to found the gymnasium contrary to the acknowledged state law, see Bickerman, Der Gott der Makkabäer: Untersuchungen über Sinn und Ursprung der Makkabäischen Erhebung (Berlin: Schocken/Jüdischer Buchverlag, 1937), 63–4 (ET The God of the Maccabees, trans. H. R. Möhring, SJLA 32 (Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1979), 41), and Institutions des Séleucides (Paris: Librairie Orientaliste Paul Geuthner, 1938), 137–8. However, Goldstein thinks that Jason did it ‘through . . . his authority as high priest’ (II Maccabees, 228).
(23) See n. 36 on Menelaus and Alcimus, in Ch. 10 above on the Ptolemaic period. Schunck suggests that although Menelaus was not a Zadokite he may have been married to a sister of Jason and Onias III, which was why he was accepted as high priest (pp. 507–8). Given the relative conservatism of both Onias and Jason, however, this would suggest that Menelaus was at least of priestly descent, something for which there is no firm evidence, as argued above.
(25) As Sievers remarks, ‘[Antiochus's] interference in the high priestly succession gave practical importance to and promoted factionalism in the Jerusalem aristocracy which then had far‐reaching repercussions for the whole population’ (The Hasmoneans and their Supporters, 25).
(26) Bartlett, Maccabees, 246; Fischer, 20; Bringmann, 67–8; Goldstein, II Maccabees, 228.
(27) Bickerman, Gott der Makkabäer, 137, 138 (ET, 90, 91).
(28) Ibid. 69–72, 77 (ET, 45–7, 51).
(29) Ibid. 90–2, 121–2 (ET, 61–2, 79–80).
(30) Ibid. 110–11, 115, 120, 133 (ET, 72, 75, 78, 88).
(31) Ibid. pp. 126–33 (ET, 83–8).
(32) Hengel, 503–54 (ET i. 277–303).
(33) Millar, 16–20.
(34) Fischer, 33–5.
(35) The temple at Leontopolis is not mentioned in canonical or apocryphal literature, but appears several times in Josephus (Ant. xii. 387–8; xiii. 62–73; BJ vii. 423–32). Despite BJ vii. 423 it was most probably founded by Onias IV, not Onias III, as both the references in Antiquities are to Onias IV, and according to 2 Macc. 4: 33–4 Onias III was murdered at Daphnis in Antioch for denouncing Menelaus to Apollonius. The temple's somewhat surprising survival is perhaps attributable to its being viewed as a substitute for the Jerusalem Temple which had been profaned; see Felix Stähelin, ‘Elephantine und Leontopolis’, ZAW 28 (1908), 180–2, and Hayward, ‘The Jewish Temple at Leontopolis: A Reconsideration’, JJS 33 (1982), 429–43. There are also links between Leontopolis and Qumran, detailed in S. H. Steckoll, ‘The Qumran Sect in Relation to the Temple of Leontopolis’, Revue de Qumran, 6 (1967), 55–69, and Hayward suggests that Qumran and Leontopolis had a common origin in a Zadokite group which rejected the Jerusalem Temple and priesthood; each of the two communities then restructured traditional temple ideology to symbolize their belief that they had restored the legitimate cultic place and that the divine presence was with them (p. 443). The Leontopolis shrine continued to function until it was closed by the Romans in 74 CE (BJ vii. 433–5), despite being in contravention of the Deuteronomic law of centralized worship; however, it never became influential in the way that its founder probably hoped. Instead, it seems to have represented a rather ignominious end for what had been Judah's most illustrious priestly dynasty. In assessing the temple's significance, Delcor, ‘Le Temple d'Onias en Égypte’, RB 75 (1968), 188–203, draws attention to Onias' dubious motives in building the temple, his political and possibly military services rendered to the Ptolemies which inevitably took him away from priestly duties, and the temple's potential for use by the Ptolemies as anti‐Seleucid propaganda, concluding, ‘Toutes ces compromissions politiques ne durent pas faire prendre en grande estime l'œuvre d'Onias, dont ses contemporains pouvaient sans doute penser qu'il fut un prêtre malheureux, en quête non seulement d'un sanctuaire mais aussi d'une position sociale’ ('All of these political compromises must not have caused Onias' handiwork to be viewed particularly favourably, and his contemporaries most probably thought that he was a miserable priest in search not only of a sanctuary but also of social status') (p. 203). See also the discussion in Bunge, 555–94, and Joseph Mélèze Modrzejewski, Les Juifs d'Égypte, de Ramsès II à Hadrien (Paris: Éditions Armand Colin, 1992), 101–11 (ET The Jews of Egypt from Rameses II to Emperor Hadrian, trans. Robert Cornman (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1995), 121–33).
(37) According to Josephus (Ant. xii. 385) Alcimus was nominated by Antiochus V Eupator after Menelaus had been executed for inciting the persecution under Antiochus Epiphanes, and took office straight away; according to 1 Macc. 7: 5–9, where Menelaus is not even mentioned, Demetrius I made Alcimus high priest for denouncing Judas Maccabeus' guerrilla warfare to the king; and according to 2 Macc. 14: 3–14 Alcimus had been high priest once before, had voluntarily laid down the position, and now, some two years after the death of Menelaus (cf. 2 Macc. 13: 1–7), was hoping to persuade Demetrius to reinstate him, as a way of protecting Demetrius' own interests and of disposing of Judas Maccabeus. Sievers (The Hasmoneans and their Supporters, 61 n. 57) thinks that ἔστησɛν αὐτῳ̑ τὴν ἱɛρωσύνην (estēsen autōi tēn hierosynēn, 1 Macc. 7: 9) should be interpreted to mean that Demetrius merely confirmed Alcimus in the high priesthood to which Lysias had already appointed him. For a full discussion, see Wolfgang Mölleken, ‘Geschichtsklitterung im I. Makkabäerbuch (Wann wurde Alkimus Hoherpriester?)’, ZAW 65 (1953), 205–28.
(38) Bévenot, 114; Zeitlin, First Maccabees, 163; Dancy, 137; Bartlett, Maccabees, 124. Goldstein, I Maccabees, 391–2, suggests that the wall was the one which divided the court of the Israelites from the court of the priests, thereby implying that Alcimus' action arose from internal Jewish sectarian wrangling rather than from the clash between Jew and Gentile. However, the sectarian wrangling could still have been provoked by the clash between Jewish ideas of separateness and Gentile‐influenced ideas of assimilation. See also W. Fairweather and J. Sutherland Black, The First Book of Maccabees, CBSC (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1897), 176. Abel, 174, suggests that Alcimus might have been intending to erect Greek‐style porticoes (portiques) rather than to do away with the barrier altogether.
(39) Fischer, 102–3; Schunck, 510.
(40) According to Josephus (Ant. xii. 413–14) Judas was made high priest by the people following the death of Alcimus during an attempt to pull down the wall of the Temple, and died himself only after having held the high priesthood for three years (Ant. xii. 434). However, it is unlikely that Judas ever became high priest; neither 1 nor 2 Maccabees shows Judas in such a role, and given their evident bias towards Judas together with the fact that chronologically speaking they are much closer than Josephus to the events they describe, they surely would have documented it if Judas had held the high priesthood. Instead, 1 Maccabees puts the death of Judas at the battle of Berea in 160 BCE (1 Macc. 9: 3–4, 18) whereas Alcimus died the following year (1 Macc. 9: 54–6), thus leaving no room for Judas to be high priest at all since he died before there was even a vacancy. Also, in Ant. xx. 237 Josephus contradicts the statement that Judas was high priest by saying that there was no high priest for seven years after Alcimus died, a state of affairs which would coincide with the record of events preserved in 1 Maccabees.
(41) See L. Dequeker, ‘1 Chronicles xxiv and the Royal Priesthood of the Hasmoneans’, in OTS 24 (Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1986), 94–106, for a discussion of the relationship between the present form of the priestly courses in 1 Chronicles 24 and Hasmonean editing.
(42) Dequeker (p.100) argues for a textual emendation which is then interpreted to mean ‘they chose one family for Eleazar, and one more, and one family for Ithamar’—in other words, two Eleazarite families were chosen followed by one Ithamarite, and the same pattern was followed until all families had been allocated a place. This would make Joiarib in its present position an Eleazarite family. Dequeker also identifies the Eleazarites with the Zadokites of Ezekiel 45, so that the house of Joiarib effectively becomes a high priestly family (pp. 97–100).
(43) Cross, ‘Priestly Houses’, 202, argues that the couple slain by Phinehas in the Numbers 25 account were an Israelite man involved in sacred prostitution with a Midianite woman in the Tent of Meeting. Such an interpretation would give even greater significance to the use of Phinehas as a precedent for the Maccabees' violent action, since they like Phinehas were attempting to restore the sanctity of the Temple from its desecration by illegitimate and foreign forms of worship.
(44) The Qumran community is usually thought to be the result of just such disaffection. In particular, the Qumran Habakkuk commentary's reference to the Wicked Priest is generally assigned to one or more of the Hasmonean leaders, who promised a restoration of the Law but who betrayed the trust of those who hoped for that restoration. See for example van der Woude, ‘Wicked Priest or Wicked Priests?’, and George W. E. Nickelsburg, Jr, ‘Simon—A Priest with a Reputation for Faithfulness’, BASOR 223 (1976), 67–8.
(45) Sievers, The Hasmoneans and their Supporters, 71.
(46) Josephus' account, although based on 1 Maccabees, differs in detail from it. He makes no connection between Alcimus' death and Bacchides' withdrawal from Judaea (Ant. xii. 413; xiii. 22); Alcimus had already died by the time Jonathan took over the Maccabean forces (Ant. xiii. 5–6); and Bacchides himself killed the leaders of the pro‐Seleucid conspiracy (Ant. xiii. 25). However, he follows closely the account of the siege and its favourable outcome for Jonathan (Ant. xiii. 26–34).
(48) Abel, 178; Bartlett, Maccabees, 127; Goldstein, I Maccabees, 395, 377, 76.
(49) Abel, 182; Bartlett, Maccabees, 131.
(50) Bartlett, Maccabees, 132.
(51) Ibid. 181.
(52) Sievers, The Hasmoneans and their Supporters, 93–4. See also Bévenot, 119; Zeitlin, First Maccabees, 171; Goldstein, I Maccabees, 405. No doubt part of the difficulty was that Jonathan had been appointed by the Seleucids, which would be a great cause for concern in view of the poor record of the high priests appointed by the Seleucids prior to Jonathan. Instead of freeing the Jews from the undesirable influences of Seleucid rule as brought in by his immediate predecessors, Jonathan was simply continuing the pattern which had caused so much disruption: he was not of high‐priestly descent, yet he had become high priest, and had done so courtesy of the foreign power which had proved so antagonistic to the Jews both directly and indirectly. Under those circumstances, it is not surprising that there were those who felt they had to defend the Maccabees by writing the eulogies of 1 and 2 Maccabees.
(56) 1 Macc. 7: 21; 10: 20, 32, 38, 69; 11: 27, 57; 12: 3, 6, 7; 13: 36, 42; 14: 17, 23, 27, 30, 35, 38, 41, 47; 15: 17, 21, 24; 16: 12, 24 (twice).
(57) Goldstein, I Maccabees, 456–7.
(58) Goldstein suggests that the usage at this point may have been intended as an honorific, ‘the great priest’, rather than as a technical term (ibid. 492).
(60) According to Ant. xiii. 88 Apollonius was Alexander's general rather than Demetrius'.
(61) Goldstein, I Maccabees, 422, comments, ‘The gift of the old Philistine town of Akkaron (Ekron) made Jonathan now similar to David, who had received Ziklag as his heritage in return for his services to a pagan king (1 Sam. 27: 6).’ This is of course another echo of the Deuteronomistic history of Israel's monarchy.
(63) Just how tenuous the ‘independence’ was is illustrated by Antiochus VII's letter to Simon confirming tax relief and other privileges to the nation as if Judah were still part of the royal realm (1 Macc. 15: 1–9), and his later disregard of the concessions he had previously granted when his own situation seemed unfavourable (1 Macc. 15: 27–31).
(64) The declaration of intent that Simon should rule for ever (1 Macc. 14: 41) is usually taken as a designation of hereditary leadership. See Bévenot, 159; Abel, 260; Zeitlin, First Maccabees, 229; Dancy, 186; Bartlett, Maccabees, 197; Goldstein, I Maccabees, 507–8. However, Sievers, The Hasmoneans and their Supporters, 127, suggests that the phrase ‘in perpetuity’ could simply mean for the rest of Simon's life, as there is nothing about his descendants in 1 Maccabees.
(66) Gott der Makkabäer, 72–7 (ET, 47–51).
(67) Once again, as with the close dependence of 1 Maccabees on the Deuteronomistic History for its model of Jewish leadership, the use of a royal type rather than priestly types as the expression of the Maccabees' significance for the Jewish people undermines both the idea of the Hasmoneans as primarily priestly leaders and the idea of the high priest as an influential leader in whom general hope for the nation was vested. There are no psalms of eulogy for the high priest as there are for the king, nor was there apparently any attempt to write them for the Maccabeans, something which in itself emphasizes the high priest's secondary significance as compared with the royal figure in general Jewish ideology.
(69) Bartlett, Maccabees, 191, and Goldstein, I Maccabees, 491, 492, suggest that a parallel is being drawn here between Simon and Solomon.
(70) F. W. Walbank, ‘Monarchies and Monarchic Ideas’, in F. W. Walbank et al. (eds.), The Cambridge Ancient History VII, Part I: The Hellenistic World, 2nd edn. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1984), 62–100 (pp. 63–4, 66).
(71) Cf. ibid. 66.
(72) Ibid. 67.
(73) Ibid. 81–4.
(74) Ibid. 84.