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Our Young Folk's Josephus by  William Shepard
Table of Contents




[284] DEMETRIUS, who was surnamed Nicator, took the throne of Syria after the defeat of Alexander Bala. At this time Jonathan had laid siege to the citadel of Jerusalem, which was held by his enemies among the Jews who had denied the religion of their fathers. Finding themselves hard pressed and in danger of being overcome, some of these wicked men escaped by night and came to Demetrius and sought to obtain his assistance. Demetrius commanded Jonathan to come to him; and Jonathan, leaving his troops to press the siege, took with him the elders of the people, and the priests, and many presents of gold and silver, and came to Demetrius, and pacified him, and made him his friend. So Demetrius refused to assist the wicked Jews, and he made a treaty of peace with Jonathan on the same terms that Alexander Bala had granted.

Jonathan also chose out and sent three thousand of his soldiers to be a guard to Demetrius. And only a short time afterward it happened that these soldiers saved the life of Demetrius; for that king was very unpopular in his capital city of Antioch, the people of which rose in rebellion against him. They laid siege to his palace, and would probably have taken it had not the Jewish soldiers mounted the roof and shot arrows at the crowd below. The roof was so high up that the Jews were out of reach of the weapons of the citizens, and thus they could shoot without being disturbed. They also shot at the houses that were near the palace, and, having [285] driven the people out of them, they rushed down and set the houses on fire. The houses in the town were built close together, and the fire spread rapidly. The Jews, meanwhile, leaped from one roof to another, and kept up a continual shooting of arrows into the streets. Then the rest of the king's troops, seeing that because of the fires and the arrows of the Jews the citizens had been thrown into a complete confusion, rushed out upon them and slew a great many; and the rest threw down their arms and gave themselves up to the king.

Demetrius gave public thanks to the Jews, and sent them home laden with presents. Yet, a short time afterwards, he forgot all the benefits they had rendered him, and broke his promises to Jonathan, demanding from him the tribute that the high-priests of Judea had formerly paid to the kings of Syria. When Jonathan refused to pay it, Demetrius threatened to make war upon him. And he would have carried out his threat had he not been prevented by new dangers that arose at home.

There was a general, named Trypho, who had fought under Alexander Bala. This man, taking advantage of the hatred felt towards Demetrius by many of his subjects, placed a crown upon the head of a young son of Alexander, named Antiochus, and proclaimed him king. A large army soon collected around the new king, and Trypho led them against Demetrius and defeated him with great slaughter. Demetrius fled away, and Antiochus mounted the throne. The young king sent letters to Jonathan asking him for his assistance and friendship, and promising his own friendship in return. Jonathan gladly listened to these offers, and made a treaty of peace with Antiochus, and agreed to help him in his war with Demetrius. And, in fact, he raised an army which defeated Demetrius in two great battles.

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