JONATHAN THE HASMONEAN

JONATHAN THE HASMONEAN (also called Apphus; d. 143 B.C.E.), head of the Jewish state (160–143); youngest son of mattathias . Jonathan fought, together with his brother Judah Maccabee, in the first battles at the beginning of the Hasmonean revolt and took over the command after the latter's death. In the disastrous encounter at Elasa (160 B.C.E.) Jonathan assumed the command and took refuge with his followers in the wilderness of Tekoa. Here he was ineffectually attacked by bacchides , the Syrian commander, and succeeded in inflicting serious losses on the enemy. Bacchides thereupon returned to Judea. After the death of the high priest alcimus , Bacchides went back to Syria, but was persuaded by the Hellenists to return in the hope of attacking Jonathan by surprise. When the plan failed, Bacchides turned against those who had urged his return, while Jonathan seized the opportunity to proffer a peace pact. This was agreed upon and Jonathan returned the prisoners in his hands. From about 158–157 Jonathan resided at Michmash as the de facto leader of the Jewish people, without any official status. In the civil war between alexander balas and demetrius i for the Syrian throne Jonathan supported the latter, and after receiving various concessions removed his headquarters to Jerusalem (153). The hostages in the acra citadel were released and, to the dismay of the Hellenists, Jonathan was permitted to recruit an army. His first act was to fortify Jerusalem. Alexander Balas, equally anxious to secure Jonathan's support, offered him even more attractive terms than Demetrius, including appointment as high priest. Jonathan accepted, and took up his duties as high priest on the festival of Tabernacles in 153. He remained loyal to his patron   despite further extravagant offers from Demetrius. After Demetrius was killed in battle (150), Balas invited Jonathan to the celebration of his marriage to Cleopatra, daughter of Ptolemy Philometor. Jonathan was royally received and was appointed strategus and meridarch, thus acquiring both military and civil authority. During the ensuing struggle against Demetrius II for the Syrian throne, Jonathan remained loyal to Balas, who rewarded Jonathan with the city of Ekron and its environs for his defeat of the army of Appolonius in a campaign along the coast. After the death of both Balas and Ptolemy Philometor, Demetrius II emerged victorious from the struggle. When Jonathan sought to extend his authority in Judea by besieging the Acra citadel, the irate monarch summoned him to an audience at Acre. Although he did not raise the siege, Jonathan went laden with presents, and an agreement was reached whereby the Samaritan districts of Lydda, Aphaerema (Ephraim), and Ramathaim were added to Judea, the whole of which was exempted from taxes. Jonathan's status as high priest and leader was confirmed. In matters of domestic policy he took care not to appear as the sole ruler, and the "elders of the nation" are always mentioned as supplementing his authority. The internal struggle in Syria flared up again when tryphon sought to wrest the crown from Demetrius II. Jonathan at first gave his support to Demetrius, sending an army to help suppress the rebellion against him in Antioch, but he went over to Tryphon's camp when Demetrius reneged on his agreement to hand over the Acra citadel to him. Uneasy over his ally's strength, Tryphon persuaded him to disband most of his army, promising to award him Acre and other cities. When Jonathan arrived at Acre, Tryphon ordered him seized and his companions put to death. In addition, he took two of Jonathan's sons hostage and extorted large sums of money. In frustration at the failure of his assault upon Jerusalem, Tryphon put Jonathan to death. The fate of his sons is unknown. Jonathan was succeeded by his last surviving brother simeon . Josephus (Life, 4) claimed descent from a daughter of Jonathan. Notwithstanding his tragic end, Jonathan may be regarded as the true founder of the Hasmonean state. -BIBLIOGRAPHY: I Macc. 9:31–12:53; Jos., Ant., 13:1–212; V. Tcherikover, Hellenistic Civilisation and the Jews (1959), 231–4, 236–53; S. Zeitlin, The Rise and Fall of the Judean State (1962), index. (Lea Roth)

Encyclopedia Judaica. 1971.

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