THE supremacy of the Maccabean dynasty is marked by the decree which confirmed Simon in possession of the high-priesthood. This decree, which was engraved on a bronze tablet and set up in the Temple, was issued in the name of "the general assembly of the priests and people, the elders of the people and the dignitaries of the land."1 It recited the benefits conferred upon the land by the Maccabean brothers, especially by Simon. It then declared that for these benefits Simon was to be their leader and high-priest for ever, until a trustworthy prophet shall arise. To him was given command of the army, control over public works, fortresses and munitions of war, and the oversight of the Temple. He was to issue decrees in his own name and had the right to wear purple and gold.
If we inquire wherein this decree added to the rights and dignities possessed by Simon's predecessors, we must remind ourselves that none of the Maccabean brothers had had more than an ad interim authority. To the high-priesthood they had no hereditary claim, and Jonathan's appointment to this office by the Syrian king could not make his title legitimate even in the eyes of his own adherents, much less in the eyes of the Chasidim. The latter party, as we have seen, preferred an Alkimus, hostile as he was to them, because he had hereditary rights. After the death of Alkimus no one seems to have come forward to claim the succession. The awkwardness of having no one to preside over the sacred rites was terminated by the recognition of Simon. It concerns the state that there be an end of litigation. The decree making Simon high-priest for ever was intended to settle the dignity in his family--so far as human recognition could do this. At the same time it was made evident that the popular assembly was not certain that it could do this; the settlement was made till a trustworthy prophet shall arise. Evidently the____________________