Ancient Sparta TheaterThe intent of this letter was to renew an alliance with the Spartan. It mentions the “senate” (Gerousia) of the Jewish nation as distinct from the high priest, the priests, and the rest of the people.

Here is a copy of the letter Jonathan wrote to the Spartans:

Jonathan the High Priest, the national council of leaders, the priests, and the rest of the people of Judea, to our brothers in Sparta, greetings. At an earlier time, your King Arius sent a letter to our High Priest Onias, stating that our two nations are related, as the attached copy shows.Onias received your ambassador with full honors and acknowledged receipt of your letter, which declared our alliance and friendship. And now, although we are not in need of such alliances, since we find our source of strength in the holy books we possess, 10 we have written to renew our ties of brotherhood and friendship with you. We do not wish to become total strangers, and it has now been many years since your last communication. 11 Throughout the years we have taken every opportunity, on our festival days and other suitable days, to remember you when we have offered our sacrifices and made our prayers, as it is fitting and proper for brothers to do.