Hasmonean prince and high priest; died 135
The successes of the Jews rendered it expedient for the pretenders to the throne of Syria to show them special favor, and therefore Antiochus VI. appointed Simon strategus, or military commander, of the coast region from the Ladder of Tyre to Egypt. As strategus Simon conquered the cities of Beth-zur and Joppa, garrisoning them with Jewish troops, and built the fortress of Adida in the plain (I Macc. xi. 53, 65; xii. 33, 38; "Ant." xiii. 5, §§ 4, 6, 10; 6, § 5).
After the capture of Jonathan, Simon was elected leader (ἡγούμενος) by the people, assembled at Jerusalem; he at once completed the fortification of the capital, and made Joppa secure by expelling its Gentile inhabitants and filling it with Jews (I Macc. xiii. 8, 10, 11; "Ant." xiii. 6, § 4). At Hadid he blocked the advance of the treacherous Trypho, who was attempting to enter the country and seize the throne of Syria. Since Trypho could gain nothing by force, he craftily demanded a ransom for Jonathan and the surrender of Jonathan's sons as hostages. Although Simon was fully aware that Trypho would deceive him, he acceded to both demands, so that the people might see that he had done everything possible for his brother. Jonathan was nevertheless treacherously assassinated, and the hostages were not returned. Simon thus became the sole leader of the people. He had Jonathan's remains buried with honor at Modin, where he subsequently erected a monument to him (I Macc. xiii. 25-30; "Ant." xiii. 6, § 5).Coins.
As the opponent of Trypho, Simon had every reason to side with Demetrius II., to whom he sent a deputation requesting freedom from taxation for the country. The fact that his request was granted implied the recognition of the political independence of Judea. "Thus the yoke of the heathen was taken away from Israel in the hundred and seventieth year" of the Seleucid era (143-142
Simon was still confronted with the task of securing his position in the country. He therefore laid siege to the old and powerful city of Gazara and captured it, after which he expelled the pagan inhabitants, removed the idols from the houses, purified the city, and "placed such men there as would keep the Law" (I Macc. xiii. 43-48; comp. xiv. 34; "Ant." xiii. 6, § 7; Strabo, p. 759). He then attacked the last bulwark of the Syrians in Judea, the Acra of Jerusalem, which was taken on the 23d day of the second month, 142
The country now enjoyed a lasting peace, and the author of the First Book of Maccabees (xiv. 8-15) describes the felicity of the people in glowing colors, adhering closely to the accounts of the blessings promised in the Bible, and carefully including Simon's services to religion. He then speaks of the honor shown the Jewish people by other nations, declaring (xiv. 16-19) that the Romans renewed their friendship with the Jews on their own initiative (although this is improbable), and that the Spartans, at the request of the Jews, made a documentary declaration of their friendship (xiv. 20-23). Willrich regards this record as spurious, like others of a similar nature. The statement (xiv. 24) that Simon sought to win the favor of the Romans by rich gifts through the agency of Numenius is apparently incorrect, for the friendship of Rome has already been noted in a previous passage. An alliance ("amicitia") between the Romans and the Jews is, however, mentioned in other sources (Justin, "Apologia," xxxvi. 3, § 9).Hereditary Prince.
The high esteem in which Simon was held by foreign powers impelled the people to show their appreciation of him, and on Elul 18, 141
Once more Simon became involved in the Syrian imbroglio. Antiochus VII. (Sidetes), the brother of the captive Demetrius, attempted to seize the throne of Syria; in a letter written at Rhodes, before he landed on the Asiatic coast, he confirmed Simon in all the privileges granted him by previous kings, especially in the prerogative of coinage (I Macc. xv. 1-9), although this was apparently a mere sanction of the actual state of affairs. But as soon as Antiochus felt secure from Trypho he changed his attitude. At the siege of Dora he rejected the reenforcements sent by Simon, and demanded either that Simon should surrender Joppa, Gazara, and the Acra, which, he alleged, had been wrongfully taken by the Jews, or that he should pay an indemnity of one thousand talents. The result was a war in which the Syrians under Cendebeus were defeated by Simon's sons Judah and John (136
The age of Simon had led him to entrust this war to his sons, but the hope which he may have cherished, that in his old age at least he would be able to enjoy the reward of his deeds, was doomed to disappointment. In 135
- Winer, B. R.;
- Grätz, Gesch. 4th ed., iii. 50-63;
- Schürer, Gesch. 3d ed., i. 241-255;
- Wellhausen, I. J. G. 4th ed., pp. 272-274;
- Schlatter, Zur Topographie und Gesch. Palästinas, pp. 1 et seq.;
- Willrich, Juden und Griechen vor der Makkabäischen Erhebung, pp. 69-70, Göttingen, 1895.