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rivers of water, and as the branches of the frankincensetree in the time of summer; as fire and incense in the censer, and as a vessel of beaten gold set with all manner of precious stones; and as a fair olive-tree budding forth fruit, and as a cypress-tree which grows up to the clouds. When he put on the robe of honour, and was clothed with the perfection of glory, when he went up to the holy altar, he made the garment of holiness honourable.'
As might have been expected, the Syrian kings made repeated efforts to reconquer Palestine, but they were unsuccessful ; even Antiochus III. the Great, an energetic monarch and skilful general, was signally defeated, in a great battle at Raphia, by the Egyptian king Ptolemy IV. Philopator (217). The latter, elated by his victory, and taking possession of many Syrian towns, went to Jerusalem, and wished to force his way into the Temple. In vain the Jews implored him to desist from his unholy purpose; the town was in consternation; the people and elders, the priests and the High-priest Simon, all entreated God in fervent prayer to avert the profanation; but when Ptolemy was on the point of crossing the threshold of the Sanctuary, we are told that he was suddenly paralysed, and was carried away unconscious by his servants; and when he had recovered, he departed with vehement threats, which he partially carried into effect upon his Jewish subjects in Egypt. Yet Antiochus the Great did not abandon his schemes; and when Ptolemy Philopator was succeeded by Ptolemy Epiphanes, a child only five years old, the Syrian king, believing that a favourable opportunity had arrived, undertook a new campaign, and easily conquered Palestine, Phænicia, and Cælosyria (203). Thus the Jews came under Syrian dominion. Antiochus the Great was followed by Seleucus IV. Philopator (187—176), and the High-priest Simon the Just by Onias III. (197). The latter had an inveterate enemy,
a certain Simon, a Benjamite, who went to the Syrian governor Apollonius, and told him that there were immense treasures in the Temple of Jerusalem, which he might acquire without any great difficulty. Apollonins repeated the words of Simon to his master Seleucus, who sent his treasurer Heliodorus to Jerusalem to obtain the money. The High-priest Onias, on hearing the request, replied that the gold and silver were chiefly the deposits of widows and orphans, or belonged to a private person Hyrcanus, the son of Tobias; moreover, the whole amount did not exceed 400 talents of silver and 200 talents of gold. Yet Heliodorus pressed his demand, and fixed a day when the treasures should be given up.
Grief and anguish prevailed in Jerusalem, and people and priests humbled themselves in prayer and fasting. But when the Syrian officer was entering the sacred precincts with his numerous attendants, he is reported, like Ptolemy, to have suddenly been struck down. The Jews broke forth in loud praises of thanksgiving for the miracle, which had saved their Temple from pollution. Entreated by the Syrians, Onias prayed and offered up sacrifices for Heliodorus, who then, restored from his illness, returned to Syria, and thenceforth acknowledged and proclaimed
of the God of Israel, But Onias was accused by his old enemy Simon before Apollonius of having insidiously ordered Heliodorus to be attacked and killed in the Temple. The High-priest deemed it necessary to proceed to the Syrian governor, whom he at last convinced of his innocence. Not long afterwards king Seleucus died, and he was followed by his son Antiochus IV., surnamed Epiphanes or the Illustrious (176—164), whose reign was one of the most memorable in the history of the Jews.
161. THE HOSTILITIES OF ANTIOCHUS
[2 Macc. IV. V.; 1 Macc. I.]
Antiochus combined the love of magnificence and luxury peculiar to the Asiatic despot with the versatile activity of the Greek; but he was, above all, stubborn, reckless, and cruel. He entertained an ardent and almost fanatic enthusiasm for Greek religion, Greek art and poetry, and it was his ambition to convert his country into a second Hellas. He was determined to force Greek notions and habits upon all his subjects alike, whatever their race or creed. The Jews were the special objects of his proselytising zeal. The greater resistance they offered, the more obstinately he persevered in his plans. Treachery and disunion among the Jews themselves hastened a rebellion, which happily grew into a war of independence.
Joshua, the brother of Onias, coveted the dignity of High-priest, and in order to
secure it, he offered Antiochus 440 talents, to which he promised to add the sum of 150 talents more, and requested the king's permission to establish in Jerusalem a gymnasium after the fashion of the Greeks, and a school for training young men in all bodily exercises. He obtained the royal sanction, usurped the High-priesthood under the Greek name of Jason, which he adopted to flatter Antiochus, and began at once to carry out his anti-Jewish measures. He built a gymnasium near the very mountains of Zion and Moriah, summoned the young men of the chief families to attend, and forced them to wear a hat of Hermes, the patron of the palæstra. He deprived the citizens of their old privileges and of their well-secured right of living in accordance with their national institutions.
Grecian habits and Grecian worship became general in Jerusalem ; the Temple and its service were neglected, and Jason went so far as to send 300 drachms of silver to Tyre, where the quinquennial games in honour of Hercules or Baal were celebrated, professedly as a contribution towards the building of ships, but in reality for the sacrifices of Hercules. Antiochus himself visited Jerusalem, where he was received with every demonstration of joy and loyalty.
Three years later, Jason sent Menelaus, the brother of the above-mentioned Simon, to Antiochus with the promised money: Menelaus succeeded in winning the king's favour, offered him 300 talents more than Jason had paid, and thus basely obtained the High-priesthood for himself. Jason, fearing his unscrupulous rival, fled into the land of the Ammonites, whilst Menelaus entered Jerusalem in triumph. In order to pay the purchase-money, he oppressed and heavily taxed the Jews; yet he failed to remit the stipulated sum to Antiochus. He was, therefore, commanded to appear before the king; and when he went, he left his brother Lysimachus behind to represent him as High-priest. In order to bribe the governor Andronicus, who stood in high favour with Antiochus, he took a number of holy vessels from the Temple, and presented them to the governor. Onias, escaping into the sacred city of Daphne, near Antiochia, vehemently denounced that act of impious sacrilege ; but on the instigation of Menelaus, Andronicus cunningly lured him from his safe retreat, and treacherously murdered him. A general cry of indignation rose both from Jews and Syrians against the perpetrator of the crime; Antiochus himself was revolted, and instantly ordered the execution of Andronicus. But Menelaus and Lysimachus continuing in Jerusalem their deeds of oppression and plunder, the people broke out into rebellion, and Lysimachus was slain.
The elders of the Jews now went to Antiochus to accuse Menelaus of cruelty and lawlessness; the king saw and condemned his guilt and his crimes, yet by a bribed official he was persuaded to declare him innocent, to confirm his rights, and even to order the death of the elders. Many unoffending and faithful Jews were killed in Jerusalem, and Menelaus ruled as High-priest with fierce barbarity.
But Antiochus undertook a second expedition against Egypt, where Ptolemy VI. Philometor was then reigning. Soon after his departure, the report of his death was spread. Jason, believing that now an opportunity had arrived for recovering his lost position, suddenly made an attack upon Jerusalem with 1,000 men, and mercilessly cut down his Jewish brethren; yet he was compelled to retreat ; and he fled first to Arabia, from thence to Sparta, where in vain he raised claims of relationship, and finally to Egypt, where he died hated and friendless. A confused account of what had happened in Jerusalem came to the ears of Antiochus; believing that the Jews meditated rebellion, he hastened back from Egypt, causing a fearful slaughter in Judea, and especially in Jerusalem ; and many
Jews he sold as slaves. Led by the impious Menelaus himself, he entered the Temple, polluted the holy implements and vessels, and took away 1,800 talents of silver. The Jews raised bitter cries of anguish and despair. The successful king returned to Antiochia, “meaning in his pride to make the land navigable, and the sea passable by foot, such was the haughtiness of his mind. He left behind him as governor in Jerusalem the cruel Phrygian Philippus, and as High-priest Menelaus, the worst enemy of his people. Soon afterwards he sent bis general Apollonius with 22,000 men into Judea, giving him strict orders to kill all those who might be come dangerous to his rule. Feigning peaceful designs,