1 Maccabees 13:43


41 In the one hundred seventieth year the yoke of the Gentiles was removed from Israel, 42 and the people began to write in their documents and contracts, "In the first year of Simon the great high priest and commander and leader of the Jews." 43 In those days Simon encamped against Gazara and surrounded it with troops. He made a siege engine, brought it up to the city, and battered and captured one tower. 44 The men in the siege engine leaped out into the city, and a great tumult arose in the city. 45 The men in the city, with their wives and children, went up on the wall with their clothes torn, and they cried out with a loud voice, asking Simon to make peace with them;

Josephus Antiquities of the Jews Book 13 6:7


7 But Simon, who was made High Priest by the multitude; on the very first year of his High Priesthood set his people free from their slavery under the Macedonians; and permitted them to pay tribute to them no longer. Which liberty and freedom from tribute they obtained after an hundred and seventy years of the Kingdom of the Assyrians: which was after Seleucus, who was called Nicator, got the dominion over Syria. Now the affection of the multitude toward Simon was so great, that in their contracts one with another, and in their publick records they wrote, “In the first year of Simon, the benefactor and ethnarch of the Jews.” For under him they were very happy, and overcame the enemies that were round about them. For Simon overthrew the city Gazara, and Joppa, and Jamnia. He also took the citadel of Jerusalem by siege; and cast it down to the ground; that it might not be any more a place of refuge to their enemies, when they took it, to do them a mischief; as it had been till now. And when he had done this, he thought it their best way, and most for their advantage, to level the very mountain it self, upon which the citadel happened to stand: that so the temple might be higher than it. And indeed when he had called the multitude to an assembly, he persuaded them to have it so demolished; and this by putting them in mind what miseries they had suffered by its garrison, and the Jewish deserters; and what miseries they might hereafter suffer in case any foreigner should obtain the Kingdom, and put a garrison into that citadel. This speech induced the multitude to a compliance; because he exhorted them to do nothing but what was for their own good. So they all set themselves to the work; and levelled the mountain; and in that work spent both day and night, without any intermission; which cost them three whole years before it was removed, and brought to an intire level with the plain of the rest of the city. After which the temple was the highest of all the buildings; now the citadel, as well as the mountain whereon it stood, were demolished. And these actions were thus performed under Simon.

 Notes and References

"... 1 Maccabees 13:43–48 contains a detailed description of the siege of Gaza by Simon the Hasmonean in 142 BCE, its conquest and purification from idol worship and worshippers and its restoration as a fortified Jewish town. The text relates that Simon built a residence in Gaza[ra] and settled there with men who observed the (Jewish) law. He also strengthened its fortifications. This conquest is also mentioned in 1 Maccabees 14:7 and 34, which sum up Simon’s activities. In both cases the site is called Gazara. Therefore, there is no doubt that in the text mentioned above (1 Maccabees 13:43), the name should be filled out from Gaza to Gazara.1 Maccabees 14:34 notes that Simon “fortified Joppa, which is by the sea, and Gazara, which is on the borders of Azotos ... He settled Jews there, and provided them with whatever was necessary for their restoration there.” Gazara is, therefore, a town on the border of Azotos (Ashdod) whose main area extended along the Mediterranean Sea; it is not a settlement located in the interior. Thus, here, too, Tel Ya'oz is better suited to the description than Tel Gezer ... Josephus also documents the events described ..."

Fischer, Moshe Persian and Hellenistic Remains at Tel Yacoz (pp. 123-163) Tel Aviv University, 2008

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