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2 Maccabees 4

4But the aforesaid Simon, who had informed about the money and betrayed his country, proceeded to slander Onias, alleging that it was he who had maltreated Heliodorus and who had contrived the whole mischief. He dared to accuse of conspiracy the very man who had proved the benefactor of the city, and the guardian of his fellow-countrymen, and a zealot for the laws! And when the feud between them went to such a pitch that one of Simon’s trusted followers actually committed several murders, Onias, recognizing the danger of the contention, and observing that Apollonius, the son of Menestheus, as governor of Coelesyria and Phoenicia, was fanning Simon’s malice, betook himself to the king—not that he went about to accuse his fellow-citizens, but simply with a view to the good of all the people, both public and private; for he saw that, unless the king intervened and interested himself, it was impossible for the State to be at peace, nor would Simon abandon his insensate attempt.

But when Seleucus died, and Antiochus, who was called Epiphanes, succeeded to the kingdom, Jason the brother of Onias supplanted his brother in the high-priesthood, promising in a petition to the king three hundred and threescore talents of silver, besides eighty talents from another fund; in addition to which he undertook to pay a hundred and fifty more, if he was commissioned to set up a gymnasium and ephebeum and to register the Jerusalemites as citizens of Antioch. 10 And when the king had given his assent, Jason at once exercised his influence in order to bring over his fellowcountrymen to Greek ways of life. 11 Setting aside the royal ordinances of special favour to the Jews, obtained by John the father of Eupolemus who had gone as envoy to the Romans to secure their friendship and alliance, and seeking to overthrow the lawful modes of life, he introduced new customs forbidden by the law: 12 he deliberately established a gymnasium under the citadel itself, and made the noblest of the young men wear the petasus. 13 And to such a height did the passion for Greek fashions rise, and the influx of foreign customs, thanks to the surpassing impiety of that godless Jason—no high-priest he! 14 —that the priests were no longer interested in the services of the altar, but despising the sanctuary, and neglecting the sacrifices, 15 they hurried to take part in the unlawful displays held in the palaestra after the quoit-throwing had been announced—thus setting at naught what their fathers honoured and esteeming the glories of the Greeks above all else. 16 Hence sore distress befell them; the very men for whose customs they were so keen and whom they desired to be like in every detail, became their foes and punished them. 17 For it is no light matter to act impiously against the laws of God; time will show that.

18 Now games, held every five years, were being celebrated at Tyre, in the presence of the king, and the vile Jason sent sacred envoys who were citizens of Antioch to represent Jerusalem, 19 with three hundred drachmas of silver for the sacrifice of Heracles. The very bearers, however, judged that the money ought not to be spent on a sacrifice, 20 but devoted to some other purpose, and, thanks to them, it went to fit out the triremes.

21 Now when Apollonius the son of Menestheus was sent to Egypt to attend the enthronement of king Ptolemy Philometor, Antiochus, on learning that the latter was ill-disposed to him, proceeded to take precautions for the security of his realm. 22 Thus he visited Joppa, and travelled on to Jerusalem, where he had a splendid reception from Jason and the city, and was brought in with blazing torches and acclamation. Thereafter, he and his army marched down into Phoenicia.

4:23–50. Intrigues of Menelaus.

23 Now after a space of three years Jason sent Menelaus, the aforesaid Simon’s brother, to convey the money to the king and to remind him of some matters which required attention. 24 But Menelaus got into favour with the king, whom he extolled with an air of impressive authority, and secured the high-priesthood for himself, outbidding Jason by three hundred talents of silver. 25 On receiving the royal mandate, he appeared in Jerusalem, possessed of no quality which entitled him to the high-priesthood, but with the passions of a cruel tyrant and the rage of a wild beast. 26 So Jason, who had supplanted his brother, was in turn supplanted by another man, and driven as a fugitive into the country of the Ammonites. 27 Menelaus secured the position, but he failed to pay any of the money which he had promised to the king, although Sostratus the governor of the citadel demanded it. 28 As the latter was responsible for collecting the revenue, 29 the king summoned both men before him; Menelaus left his brother Lysimachus to act as his deputy in the high-priesthood, while Sostratus left (as his deputy) Crates, the viceroy of Cyprus.

30 At this juncture, it came to pass that the citizens of Tarsus and Mallus raised an insurrection, because they were to be assigned as a present to Antiochis, 31 the king’s mistress; so the king went off hurriedly (to Cilicia) to settle matters, leaving Andronicus, a man of high rank, to act as his deputy. 32 Then Menelaus supposed he had got a favourable opportunity, so he presented Andronicus with some golden vessels which he had stolen from the temple;—others he had already sold to Tyre and the surrounding cities. 33 On ascertaining the truth of this, Onias sharply censured him, withdrawing for safety into the sanctuary of Daphne, close to Antioch. 34 Whereupon Menelaus took Andronicus aside and exhorted him to kill Onias. So Andronicus went to Onias, gave him pledges by guile and also his right hand with oaths (of friendship), and persuaded him, despite his suspicions, to come out of the sanctuary. 35 He then killed him at once, regardless of justice. This made not only the Jews but many people of other nationalities indignant and angry over the unjust murder of the man. 36 So when the king returned from the regions of Cilicia, the Jews of the capital (with the support of the Greeks who also detested the crime) complained to him about the illegal murder of Onias. 37 Antiochus was heartily sorry about it, and was moved to pity and tears for the dead man’s sober and well-ordered life; 38 inflamed with passion, he at once had Andronicus stripped of his purple robe, and led, with rent under-garments, all round the city to the very spot where he had committed the outrage upon Onias; there he had the murderer dispatched, the Lord rendering to him the punishment he had deserved.

39 Now when many acts of sacrilege had been committed in the city by Lysimachus, with the connivance of Menelaus, the report of these spread abroad throughout the country, till the people rose against Lysimachus; for by this time a large number of gold vessels had been sold in all directions. 40 But when the people rose in a frenzy of rage, Lysimachus armed about three thousand men and took the offensive with a bold charge, led by a certain Auranus, a man well up in mad folly no less than in years. 41 On realizing that Lysimachus was attacking them, however, some of the people caught up stones, others logs of wood, and some snatched handfuls of ashes that lay near, flinging them all pell-mell upon Lysimachus and his troops. 42 In this way they wounded many, felled some to the ground, and routed the whole band, slaying the sacrilegious robber himself beside the treasury.

43 In connexion with this affair, 44 proceedings were taken against Menelaus, and when the king reached Tyre, three men sent by the senate laid their accusation before him. 45 Menelaus felt that all was now over with him, but he promised a large sum of money to Ptolemy the son of Dorymenes, in order to get the king talked over. 46 So Ptolemy took the king aside into a gallery, as though to get some fresh air, 47 and induced him to change his mind, the result being that he acquitted Menelaus, who was responsible for all the trouble, and condemned to death the hapless trio, who would have been discharged as innocent, even had they pled before Scythians. 48 This unjust punishment was inflicted instantly upon these spokesmen for Israel’s city and folk and sacred vessels; 49 which moved some Tyrians, who hated the crime, to provide magnificent obsequies for them. 50 Menelaus, however, still remained in power, thanks to the covetousness of the authorities, and, waxing more and more vicious, he proved a great plotter against his fellow-citizens.

5:1–27. Profanation of temple and oppression of Jews by Antiochus Epiphanes.

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