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2 Maccabees 3-4 New American Bible (Revised Edition) (NABRE)

III. Heliodorus’ Attempt to Profane the Temple[a]

Chapter 3

Heliodorus’ Arrival in Jerusalem. While the holy city lived in perfect peace and the laws were strictly observed because of the piety of the high priest Onias[b] and his hatred of evil, the kings themselves honored the place and glorified the temple with the most magnificent gifts. Thus Seleucus,[c] king of Asia, defrayed from his own revenues all the expenses necessary for the liturgy of sacrifice.

But a certain Simon, of the priestly clan of Bilgah,[d] who had been appointed superintendent of the temple, had a quarrel with the high priest about the administration of the city market. Since he could not prevail against Onias, he went to Apollonius of Tarsus, who at that time was governor of Coelesyria and Phoenicia, and reported to him that the treasury in Jerusalem was full of such untold riches that the sum total of the assets was past counting and that since they did not belong to the account of the sacrifices, it would be possible for them to fall under the authority of the king.

When Apollonius had an audience with the king, he informed him about the riches that had been reported to him. The king chose his chief minister Heliodorus and sent him with instructions to seize those riches. So Heliodorus immediately set out on his journey, ostensibly to visit the cities of Coelesyria and Phoenicia, but in reality to carry out the king’s purpose.

When he arrived in Jerusalem and had been graciously received by the high priest of the city, he told him about the information that had been given, and explained the reason for his presence, and he inquired if these things were really true. 10 The high priest explained that there were deposits for widows and orphans, 11 and some was the property of Hyrcanus, son of Tobias,[e] a man who occupied a very high position. Contrary to the misrepresentations of the impious Simon, the total amounted only to four hundred talents of silver and two hundred of gold. 12 It was utterly unthinkable to defraud those who had placed their trust in the sanctity of the place and in the sacred inviolability of a temple venerated all over the world.

Heliodorus’ Plan to Rob the Temple. 13 But Heliodorus, because of the orders he had from the king, said that in any case this money must be confiscated for the royal treasury. 14 So on the day he had set he went in to take an inventory of the funds. There was no little anguish throughout the city. 15 Priests prostrated themselves before the altar in their priestly robes, and called toward heaven for the one who had given the law about deposits to keep the deposits safe for those who had made them. 16 Whoever saw the appearance of the high priest was pierced to the heart, for the changed complexion of his face revealed his mental anguish. 17 The terror and bodily trembling that had come over the man clearly showed those who saw him the pain that lodged in his heart. 18 People rushed out of their houses and crowded together making common supplication, because the place was in danger of being profaned. 19 Women, girded with sackcloth below their breasts, filled the streets. Young women secluded indoors all ran, some to the gates, some to the walls, others peered through the windows— 20 all of them with hands raised toward heaven, making supplication. 21 It was pitiful to see the populace prostrate everywhere and the high priest full of dread and anguish. 22 While they were imploring the almighty Lord to keep the deposits safe and secure for those who had placed them in trust, 23 Heliodorus went on with his plan.

God Protects the Temple. 24 But just as Heliodorus was arriving at the treasury with his bodyguards, the Lord of spirits and all authority produced an apparition so great that those who had been bold enough to accompany Heliodorus were panic-stricken at God’s power and fainted away in terror. 25 There appeared to them a richly caparisoned horse, mounted by a fearsome rider. Charging furiously, the horse attacked Heliodorus with its front hooves. The rider was seen wearing golden armor. 26 Then two other young men, remarkably strong, strikingly handsome, and splendidly attired, appeared before him. Standing on each side of him, they flogged him unceasingly, inflicting innumerable blows. 27 Suddenly he fell to the ground, enveloped in great darkness. His men picked him up and laid him on a stretcher. 28 They carried away helpless the man who a moment before had entered that treasury under arms with a great retinue and his whole bodyguard. They clearly recognized the sovereign power of God.

The Restoration and Testimony of Heliodorus. 29 As Heliodorus lay speechless because of God’s action and deprived of any hope of recovery, 30 the people praised the Lord who had marvelously glorified his own place; and the temple, charged so shortly before with fear and commotion, was filled with joy and gladness, now that the almighty Lord had appeared. 31 Quickly some of the companions of Heliodorus begged Onias to call upon the Most High to spare the life of one who was about to breathe his last. 32 The high priest, suspecting that the king might think that Heliodorus had suffered some foul play at the hands of the Jews, offered a sacrifice for the man’s recovery. 33 While the high priest was offering the sacrifice of atonement, the same young men dressed in the same clothing again appeared and stood before Heliodorus. “Be very grateful to the high priest Onias,” they told him. “It is for his sake that the Lord has spared your life. 34 Since you have been scourged by Heaven, proclaim to all God’s great power.” When they had said this, they disappeared.

35 After Heliodorus had offered a sacrifice to the Lord and made most solemn vows to the one who had spared his life, he bade Onias farewell, and returned with his soldiers to the king. 36 Before all he gave witness to the deeds of the most high God that he had seen with his own eyes. 37 When the king asked Heliodorus what sort of person would be suitable to be sent to Jerusalem next, he answered: 38 “If you have an enemy or one who is plotting against the government, send him there, and you will get him back with a flogging, if indeed he survives at all; for there is certainly some divine power about the place. 39 The one whose dwelling is in heaven watches over that place and protects it, and strikes down and destroys those who come to harm it.” 40 This was how the matter concerning Heliodorus and the preservation of the treasury turned out.

IV. Profanation and Persecution

Chapter 4

Simon Accuses Onias. The Simon mentioned above as the informer about the funds against his own country slandered Onias as the one who incited Heliodorus and instigated the whole miserable affair. He dared to brand as a schemer against the government the man who was the benefactor of the city, the protector of his compatriots, and a zealous defender of the laws. When Simon’s hostility reached such a pitch that murders were being committed by one of his henchmen, Onias saw that the opposition was serious and that Apollonius, son of Menestheus, the governor of Coelesyria and Phoenicia, was abetting Simon’s wickedness. So he had recourse to the king, not as an accuser of his compatriots, but as one looking to the general and particular good of all the people. He saw that without royal attention it would be impossible to have a peaceful government, and that Simon would not desist from his folly.

Jason as High Priest. But Seleucus died,[f] and when Antiochus surnamed Epiphanes succeeded him on the throne, Onias’ brother Jason obtained the high priesthood by corrupt means: in an interview, he promised the king three hundred and sixty talents of silver, as well as eighty talents from another source of income. Besides this he would undertake to pay a hundred and fifty more, if he was given authority to establish a gymnasium and a youth center[g] for it and to enroll Jerusalemites as citizens of Antioch.

10 When Jason received the king’s approval and came into office, he immediately initiated his compatriots into the Greek way of life. 11 He set aside the royal concessions granted to the Jews through the mediation of John, father of Eupolemus[h] (that Eupolemus who would later go on an embassy to the Romans to establish friendship and alliance with them); he set aside the lawful practices and introduced customs contrary to the law. 12 With perverse delight he established a gymnasium[i] at the very foot of the citadel, where he induced the noblest young men to wear the Greek hat. 13 The craze for Hellenism and the adoption of foreign customs reached such a pitch, through the outrageous wickedness of Jason, the renegade and would-be high priest, 14 that the priests no longer cared about the service of the altar. Disdaining the temple and neglecting the sacrifices, they hastened, at the signal for the games, to take part in the unlawful exercises at the arena. 15 What their ancestors had regarded as honors they despised; what the Greeks esteemed as glory they prized highly. 16 For this reason they found themselves in serious trouble: the very people whose manner of life they emulated, and whom they desired to imitate in everything, became their enemies and oppressors. 17 It is no light matter to flout the laws of God, as subsequent events will show.

18 When the quinquennial games were held at Tyre in the presence of the king, 19 the vile Jason sent representatives of the Antiochians of Jerusalem, to bring three hundred silver drachmas for the sacrifice to Hercules. But the bearers themselves decided that the money should not be spent on a sacrifice, as that was not right, but should be used for some other purpose. 20 So the contribution meant for the sacrifice to Hercules by the sender, was in fact applied to the construction of triremes[j] by those who brought it.

21 When Apollonius, son of Menestheus, was sent to Egypt for the coronation of King Philometor,[k] Antiochus learned from him that the king was opposed to his policies. He took measures for his own security; so after going to Joppa, he proceeded to Jerusalem. 22 There he was received with great pomp by Jason and the people of the city, who escorted him with torchlights and acclamations; following this, he led his army into Phoenicia.

Menelaus as High Priest. 23 Three years later Jason sent Menelaus,[l] brother of the aforementioned Simon, to deliver the money to the king, and to complete negotiations on urgent matters. 24 But after his introduction to the king, he flattered him with such an air of authority that he secured the high priesthood for himself, outbidding Jason by three hundred talents of silver. 25 He returned with the royal commission, but with nothing that made him worthy of the high priesthood; he had the temper of a cruel tyrant and the rage of a wild beast. 26 So Jason, who had cheated his own brother and now saw himself cheated by another man, was driven out as a fugitive to the country of the Ammonites. 27 But Menelaus, who obtained the office, paid nothing of the money he had promised to the king, 28 in spite of the demand of Sostratus, the commandant of the citadel, whose duty it was to collect the taxes. For this reason, both were summoned before the king. 29 Menelaus left his brother Lysimachus as his deputy in the high priesthood, while Sostratus left Crates, commander of the Cypriots.

Murder of Onias. 30 While these things were taking place, the people of Tarsus and Mallus[m] rose in revolt, because their cities had been given as a gift to Antiochis, the king’s concubine. 31 So the king hastened off to settle the affair, leaving Andronicus, one of his nobles, as his deputy. 32 Menelaus, for his part, thinking this a good opportunity, stole some gold vessels from the temple and presented them to Andronicus; he had already sold other vessels in Tyre and in the neighboring cities. 33 When Onias had clear evidence, he accused Menelaus publicly, after withdrawing to the inviolable sanctuary at Daphne, near Antioch. 34 Thereupon Menelaus approached Andronicus privately and urged him to seize Onias. So Andronicus went to Onias, treacherously reassuring him by offering his right hand in oath, and persuaded him, in spite of his suspicions, to leave the sanctuary. Then, with no regard for justice, he immediately put him to death.

35 As a result, not only the Jews, but many people of other nations as well, were indignant and angry over the unjust murder of the man. 36 When the king returned from the region of Cilicia, the Jews of the city,[n] together with the Greeks who detested the crime, went to see him about the murder of Onias. 37 Antiochus was deeply grieved and full of pity; he wept as he recalled the prudence and noble conduct of the deceased. 38 Inflamed with anger, he immediately stripped Andronicus of his purple robe, tore off his garments, and had him led through the whole city to the very place where he had committed the outrage against Onias; and there he put the murderer to death. Thus the Lord rendered him the punishment he deserved.

More Outrages. 39 Many acts of sacrilege had been committed by Lysimachus in the city[o] with the connivance of Menelaus. When word spread, the people assembled in protest against Lysimachus, because a large number of gold vessels had been stolen. 40 As the crowds, now thoroughly enraged, began to riot, Lysimachus launched an unjustified attack against them with about three thousand armed men under the leadership of a certain Auranus, a man as advanced in folly as he was in years. 41 Seeing Lysimachus’ attack, people picked up stones, pieces of wood or handfuls of the ashes lying there and threw them in wild confusion at Lysimachus and his men. 42 As a result, they wounded many of them and even killed a few, while they put all to flight. The temple robber himself they killed near the treasury.

43 Charges about this affair were brought against Menelaus. 44 When the king came to Tyre, three men sent by the senate pleaded the case before him. 45 But Menelaus, seeing himself on the losing side, promised Ptolemy, son of Dorymenes, a substantial sum of money if he would win the king over. 46 So Ptolemy took the king aside into a colonnade, as if to get some fresh air, and persuaded him to change his mind. 47 Menelaus, who was the cause of all the trouble, the king acquitted of the charges, while he condemned to death those poor men who would have been declared innocent even if they had pleaded their case before Scythians. 48 Thus, those who had prosecuted the case on behalf of the city, the people, and the sacred vessels, quickly suffered unjust punishment. 49 For this reason, even Tyrians, detesting the crime, provided sumptuously for their burial. 50 But Menelaus, thanks to the greed of those in power, remained in office, where he grew in wickedness, scheming greatly against his fellow citizens.

Footnotes:

  1. 3:1–40 This legendary episode about Heliodorus is recounted here for the purpose of stressing the inviolability of the Temple of Jerusalem; its later profanation was interpreted as owing to the sins of the people; cf. 5:17–18.
  2. 3:1 Onias: Onias III was high priest from 196 to 175 B.C. and died in 171 B.C. He was the son of Simon, whose praises are sung in Sir 50:1–21.
  3. 3:3 Seleucus: Seleucus IV Philopator, who reigned from 187 to 175 B.C.
  4. 3:4 Bilgah: a priestly family mentioned in 1 Chr 24:14; Neh 12:5, 18.
  5. 3:11 Hyrcanus, son of Tobias: a member of the Tobiad family of Transjordan (Neh 2:10; 6:17–19; 13:4–8). Hyrcanus’ father was Joseph, whose mother was the sister of the high priest Onias II.
  6. 4:7 Seleucus died: he was murdered by Heliodorus. Antiochus Epiphanes was his younger brother. Onias’ brother showed his enthusiasm for the Greek way of life (v. 10) by changing his Hebrew name Joshua, or Jesus, to the Greek name Jason.
  7. 4:9 Youth center: an educational institution in which young men were trained both in Greek intellectual culture and in physical fitness. Citizens of Antioch: honorary citizens of Antioch, a Hellenistic city of the Seleucid Kingdom that had a corporation of such Antiochians, who enjoyed certain political and commercial privileges.
  8. 4:11 Eupolemus: one of the two envoys sent to Rome by Judas Maccabeus (1 Mc 8:17).
  9. 4:12 Since the gymnasium, where the youth exercised naked (Greek gymnos), lay in the Tyropoeon Valley to the east of the citadel, it was directly next to the Temple on its eastern side. The Greek hat: a wide-brimmed hat, traditional headgear of Hermes, the patron god of athletic contests; it formed part of the distinctive costume of the members of the “youth center.”
  10. 4:20 Triremes: war vessels with three banks of oars.
  11. 4:21 Philometor: Ptolemy VI, king of Egypt, ca. 172 to ca. 145 B.C.
  12. 4:23 Menelaus: Jewish high priest from ca. 172 to his execution in 162 B.C. (13:3–8).
  13. 4:30 Mallus: a city of Cilicia (v. 36) in southeastern Asia Minor, about thirty miles east of Tarsus.
  14. 4:36 The city: Antioch. But some understand the Greek to mean “each city.”
  15. 4:39 The city: Jerusalem. Menelaus was still in Syria.
New American Bible (Revised Edition) (NABRE)

Scripture texts, prefaces, introductions, footnotes and cross references used in this work are taken from the New American Bible, revised edition © 2010, 1991, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Inc., Washington, DC All Rights Reserved. No part of this work may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the copyright owner.

Wisdom 2:12-24 New American Bible (Revised Edition) (NABRE)

12 [a]Let us lie in wait for the righteous one, because he is annoying to us;
    he opposes our actions,
Reproaches us for transgressions of the law[b]
    and charges us with violations of our training.
13 He professes to have knowledge of God
    and styles himself a child of the Lord.
14 To us he is the censure of our thoughts;
    merely to see him is a hardship for us,
15 Because his life is not like that of others,
    and different are his ways.
16 He judges us debased;
    he holds aloof from our paths as from things impure.
He calls blest the destiny of the righteous
    and boasts that God is his Father.

17 Let us see whether his words be true;
    let us find out what will happen to him in the end.
18 For if the righteous one is the son of God, God will help him
    and deliver him from the hand of his foes.
19 With violence and torture let us put him to the test
    that we may have proof of his gentleness
    and try his patience.
20 Let us condemn him to a shameful death;
    for according to his own words, God will take care of him.”

21 These were their thoughts, but they erred;
    for their wickedness blinded them,
22 [c]And they did not know the hidden counsels of God;
    neither did they count on a recompense for holiness
    nor discern the innocent souls’ reward.
23 For God formed us to be imperishable;
    the image of his own nature he made us.
24 But by the envy[d] of the devil, death entered the world,
    and they who are allied with him experience it.

Footnotes:

  1. 2:12–5:23 From 2:12 to 5:23 the author draws heavily on Is 52–62, setting forth his teaching in a series of characters or types taken from Isaiah and embellished with additional details from other texts. The description of the “righteous one” in 2:12–20 seems to undergird the New Testament passion narrative.
  2. 2:12 Law: the law of Moses; “training” has the same meaning.
  3. 2:22 This verse announces the subject of the next section.
  4. 2:24 Envy: perhaps because Adam was in the image of God or because Adam had control over all creation. Devil: the first biblical text to equate the serpent of Gn 3 with the devil.
New American Bible (Revised Edition) (NABRE)

Scripture texts, prefaces, introductions, footnotes and cross references used in this work are taken from the New American Bible, revised edition © 2010, 1991, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Inc., Washington, DC All Rights Reserved. No part of this work may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the copyright owner.

Luke 12:32-59 New American Bible (Revised Edition) (NABRE)

32 Do not be afraid any longer, little flock, for your Father is pleased to give you the kingdom. 33 Sell your belongings and give alms. Provide money bags for yourselves that do not wear out, an inexhaustible treasure in heaven that no thief can reach nor moth destroy. 34 For where your treasure is, there also will your heart be.

Vigilant and Faithful Servants.[a] 35 “Gird your loins and light your lamps 36 and be like servants who await their master’s return from a wedding, ready to open immediately when he comes and knocks. 37 Blessed are those servants whom the master finds vigilant on his arrival. Amen, I say to you, he will gird himself, have them recline at table, and proceed to wait on them. 38 And should he come in the second or third watch and find them prepared in this way, blessed are those servants. 39 Be sure of this: if the master of the house had known the hour when the thief was coming, he would not have let his house be broken into. 40 You also must be prepared, for at an hour you do not expect, the Son of Man will come.”

41 Then Peter said, “Lord, is this parable meant for us or for everyone?” 42 And the Lord replied, “Who, then, is the faithful and prudent steward whom the master will put in charge of his servants to distribute [the] food allowance at the proper time? 43 Blessed is that servant whom his master on arrival finds doing so. 44 Truly, I say to you, he will put him in charge of all his property. 45 But if that servant says to himself, ‘My master is delayed in coming,’[b] and begins to beat the menservants and the maidservants, to eat and drink and get drunk, 46 then that servant’s master will come on an unexpected day and at an unknown hour and will punish him severely and assign him a place with the unfaithful. 47 That servant who knew his master’s will but did not make preparations nor act in accord with his will shall be beaten severely; 48 and the servant who was ignorant of his master’s will but acted in a way deserving of a severe beating shall be beaten only lightly. Much will be required of the person entrusted with much, and still more will be demanded of the person entrusted with more.

Jesus: A Cause of Division.[c] 49 “I have come to set the earth on fire, and how I wish it were already blazing! 50 [d]There is a baptism with which I must be baptized, and how great is my anguish until it is accomplished! 51 Do you think that I have come to establish peace on the earth? No, I tell you, but rather division. 52 From now on a household of five will be divided, three against two and two against three; 53 a father will be divided against his son and a son against his father, a mother against her daughter and a daughter against her mother, a mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law.”

Signs of the Times. 54 He also said to the crowds, “When you see [a] cloud rising in the west you say immediately that it is going to rain—and so it does; 55 and when you notice that the wind is blowing from the south you say that it is going to be hot—and so it is. 56 You hypocrites! You know how to interpret the appearance of the earth and the sky; why do you not know how to interpret the present time?

Settlement with an Opponent. 57 “Why do you not judge for yourselves what is right? 58 If you are to go with your opponent before a magistrate, make an effort to settle the matter on the way; otherwise your opponent will turn you over to the judge, and the judge hand you over to the constable, and the constable throw you into prison. 59 I say to you, you will not be released until you have paid the last penny.”[e]

Footnotes:

  1. 12:35–48 This collection of sayings relates to Luke’s understanding of the end time and the return of Jesus. Luke emphasizes for his readers the importance of being faithful to the instructions of Jesus in the period before the parousia.
  2. 12:45 My master is delayed in coming: this statement indicates that early Christian expectations for the imminent return of Jesus had undergone some modification. Luke cautions his readers against counting on such a delay and acting irresponsibly. Cf. the similar warning in Mt 24:48.
  3. 12:49–53 Jesus’ proclamation of the kingdom is a refining and purifying fire. His message that meets with acceptance or rejection will be a source of conflict and dissension even within families.
  4. 12:50 Baptism: i.e., his death.
  5. 12:59 The last penny: Greek, lepton, a very small amount. Mt 5:26 has for “the last penny” the Greek word kodrantēs (Latin quadrans, “farthing”).
New American Bible (Revised Edition) (NABRE)

Scripture texts, prefaces, introductions, footnotes and cross references used in this work are taken from the New American Bible, revised edition © 2010, 1991, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Inc., Washington, DC All Rights Reserved. No part of this work may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the copyright owner.

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