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William Shepard

The Revolt of Trypho

Trypho, the general who had raised Antiochus to power, was a very ambitious man. Seeing that the new king was only a boy, he determined to displace him and usurp the throne of Syria for himself. But, as Jonathan was a friend of Antiochus, he thought it would be best to get him out of the way first. So he gathered up an army, and went out to meet Jonathan at a place called Bethsan. As Jonathan had with him an army of forty thousand men, Trypho was afraid to use force against him, and decided to try stratagem. He therefore persuaded Jonathan that he came only with peaceful intentions, and he advised him to dismiss his army and come with him to the neighboring city of Ptolemais. Jonathan, suspecting nothing, sent his army home, keeping only one thousand men as a guard around him, and rode with Trypho into Ptolemais. But no sooner had he reached it than Trypho closed the gates, slew the men that were with Jonathan, and cast Jonathan himself into prison. Then Trypho went to Antioch, and had the young king put to death, and caused himself to be made king in his place.

When the Jews learned what had happened to Jonathan they were in great distress. They came to Simon, his brother, asking him to become their leader, and he agreed to do so. Simon rebuilt the walls of Jerusalem and fortified them with very high and strong towers, and made everything ready for an attack.

Trypho, learning of all these things, came into Judea with a great army, and brought Jonathan along with him. He sent word to Simon that he would yield up his prisoner for one hundred talents of silver, provided two of Jonathan's children were also sent him as hostages for their father's good conduct. Simon was afraid to trust the wily Trypho, but, fearing that if he refused his offers the people might accuse him of wishing to keep his brother in bondage so that he might himself enjoy the power, he finally sent the money and the two children. Trypho acted as Simon had feared he would. He kept the money and the children and refused to give up Jonathan. The two armies watched each other for a long time. Trypho had intended to march against Jerusalem in order to assist the wicked Jews that were in the citadel, but he finally abandoned the enterprise, and, having killed the brave Jonathan, returned to his own country.

Simon sent some men to get the body of Jonathan, and he buried it with great honor. He also raised a beautiful monument to his father and his brethren, built of white and polished stone, and of so great a height that it could be seen a long way off.

When Trypho had departed, Simon renewed the siege of the citadel with fresh vigor, and soon captured it, and put to death the Jews who had defended it. In order that it might no longer serve as a place of refuge for the enemies of Judea, he pulled down the citadel, and set all the people to work to level the mountain on which it was built. After this had been done, the temple stood on the highest spot in the city.