Sacred Texts  Bible  Index  Previous  Next 

Chronicles of Jerahmeel, by M. Gaster [1899], at

XCVII. (1) The following is the contents of the letter which the Romans sent to Judah, the son of Mattathiah:

'Qinṣius Minios, Scipio and Menelaos, princes of Rome, to Judah the Anointed one of battle, and to the elders of Judah greeting to you! for we have heard of your power and of your battles, and are glad, also of what Antiochus and Lysias have given you, and of what they wrote concerning the Jews. Now we also write to ask you whether you will become our associates and friends, but not the friends of the Greeks, who have afflicted you. We are now going to war against Antiochia, therefore hasten to let us know who are your enemies and who your friends.'

(2) The following is the text of the covenant made between the Romans and the Jews:

'Whether on the sea or on land, whenever war is

p. 283

declared against the Romans, the Jews are to assist them with all their power. They are not to supply Rome's enemies with either implements of war, with wheat or any other food, according to the decree of the Consul and the 320 counsellors. And if, on the other hand, war be declared against the Jews, the Romans in their turn are to assist the Jews with all their power, and are not to provide the enemies of the Jews with either implements of war, or wheat or food of any kind. They should themselves not take any food from them unless in trouble. Further, neither party is to add or to diminish what had been decreed by the Consul and the 320 counsellors.'

After that the land had rest for about eight months. At that time Judah began to judge his people, and to weed out the wicked from his people.

(3) At that time the Jews lived in all the cities on the sea-coast, extending from Aza until Acco; but the Macedonian nation and the people of Joppa and Jabneh brought about great evil, for they induced the Jews living among them to board their ships, together with their wives and children, to go and have sports on the sea. The Jews, trusting them, consented to go with them, but when they arrived in mid-ocean they were thrown into the water and drowned, to the number of 200 souls.

(4) When Judah was informed of it he wept and proclaimed a fast. Then, hastening to Joppa, he besieged it, and God delivered it into his hands After separating the Jews, he smote the city with the edge of the sword, man, woman, child and suckling, and burnt the city to the ground. The same he did to Jabneh, besides burning the ships of both cities. The burning and conflagration could be seen as far as Jerusalem, a distance of 240 stadia. He thus avenged the blood of the women and children that were drowned in the sea. Journeying thence, he went to the Arabian desert, and having smitten many Arabs, imposed a tribute upon them.

(5) He then returned to the land of . . . and during

p. 284

the journey had to pass a certain city by name Kaspon (###). It was very strongly fortified, for nations of all kinds dwelt therein. Relying upon their strongholds, they cursed Judah, and uttered countless slanders about Judah's people. At this Judah exclaimed, 'O Almighty God, at the sound of the trumpet Thou didst deliver the city of Jericho by the hands of Thy servant Joshua; now deliver this city into our hands, that I may avenge the reproach they have cast upon the people of God.' (6) Then, taking his shield in his left hand and unsheathing his sword, he marched bravely onwards, followed by the Hasmoneans, at a very quick pace until they reached the gate of the city. After besmearing it with pitch, and placing bushes and thorns of the desert upon it, they set fire to it and it fell to the ground. God delivered the city into his hands, and he effected a slaughter such as has never yet been known, for the pool of blood which flowed from the city as a pool of water was two stadia in length and two in breadth.

(7) Journeying from that place, he travelled a distance of 750 stadia. And Timotheos came out to meet him with 120,000 foot and 1,000 horse. After offering up his supplication to God, Judah marched out against Timotheos with about 10,000 chosen men. A very fierce battle ensued, in which Judah slaughtered 30,000 of Timotheos's army. Timotheos forthwith tried to escape, but Dostios (Dositheus), the captain of Judah's army, and Sosipater, a gallant warrior of Israel, pursued him and brought him back to Judah, who ordered his head to be cut off. But Timotheos wept bitterly, and implored him, saying, 'O my lord Judah, do not kill me, for there are many Jews dwelling in my land, and I swear that I will do good to them all the days of my life.' And he took an oath. Judah had pity upon him and did not kill him, but allowed him to go his way, and Timotheos did no more evil to the Jews all the days of his life, for he kept the oath he had taken.

(8) Journeying thence, Judah marched in the direction of the wilderness, and, meeting the army of the king that

p. 285

had come into Arabia, he smote them, and, pursuing them further, slew 25,000 of their men. He next journeyed to Ephron, a large city, and besieged it, and the Lord delivered it into his hands. He slew 20,000 in the contest.

(9) Marching onwards a journey of 600 stadia, he came to a city the name of which was Scitopolis (###); and the inhabitants of Scitopolis being sorely afraid of them, came out to meet them with entreaties and tears, saying, 'O lord, the Anointed one of battle, do thou, I pray thee, ask the Jews who dwell in our midst whether we have treated them kindly or not. Moreover, in the time of the cruel Antiochus many Jews made their escape to us and we maintained them.' To the truth of this the Jews among them testified. As soon as Judah heard this he blessed them, and desisted from attacking them, and he returned to Jerusalem, arriving there three days before the festival of Pentecost.