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Now there was a certain Simon, a political opponent of the noble and good man, Onias, who then held the high priesthood for life. When despite all manner of slander he was unable to injure Onias in the eyes of the nation, he fled the country with the purpose of betraying it. So he came to Apollonius, governor of Syria, Phoenicia, and Cilicia, and said, “I have come here because I am loyal to the king’s government, to report that in the Jerusalem treasuries there are deposited tens of thousands in private funds, which are not the property of the temple but belong to King Seleucus.” When Apollonius learned the details of these things, he praised Simon for his service to the king and went up to Seleucus to inform him of the rich treasure. On receiving authority to deal with this matter, he proceeded quickly to our country accompanied by the accursed Simon and a very strong military force. He said that he had come with the king’s authority to seize the private funds in the treasury. The people indignantly protested his words, considering it outrageous that those who had committed deposits to the sacred treasury should be deprived of them, and did all that they could to prevent it. But, uttering threats, Apollonius went on to the temple. While the priests together with women and children were imploring God in the temple to shield the holy place that was being treated so contemptuously, 10 and while Apollonius was going up with his armed forces to seize the money, angels on horseback with lightning flashing from their weapons appeared from heaven, instilling in them great fear and trembling. 11 Then Apollonius fell down half dead in the temple area that was open to all, stretched out his hands toward heaven, and with tears begged the Hebrews to pray for him and propitiate the wrath of the heavenly army. 12 For he said that he had committed a sin deserving of death, and that if he were spared he would praise the blessedness of the holy place before all people. 13 Moved by these words, the high priest Onias, although otherwise he had scruples about doing so, prayed for him so that King Seleucus would not suppose that Apollonius had been overcome by human treachery and not by divine justice. 14 So Apollonius,[a] having been saved beyond all expectations, went away to report to the king what had happened to him.

Antiochus’s Persecution of the Jews

15 When King Seleucus died, his son Antiochus Epiphanes succeeded to the throne, an arrogant and terrible man, 16 who removed Onias from the priesthood and appointed Onias’s[b] brother Jason as high priest. 17 Jason[c] agreed that if the office were conferred on him he would pay the king three thousand six hundred sixty talents annually. 18 So the king appointed him high priest and ruler of the nation. 19 Jason[d] changed the nation’s way of life and altered its form of government in complete violation of the law, 20 so that not only was a gymnasium constructed at the very citadel[e] of our native land, but also the temple service was abolished. 21 The divine justice was angered by these acts and caused Antiochus himself to make war on them. 22 For when he was warring against Ptolemy in Egypt, he heard that a rumor of his death had spread and that the people of Jerusalem had rejoiced greatly. He speedily marched against them, 23 and after he had plundered them he issued a decree that if any of them were found observing the ancestral law they should die. 24 When, by means of his decrees, he had not been able in any way to put an end to the people’s observance of the law, but saw that all his threats and punishments were being disregarded 25 —even to the extent that women, because they had circumcised their sons, were thrown headlong from heights along with their infants, though they had known beforehand that they would suffer this— 26 when, I say, his decrees were despised by the people, he himself tried through torture to compel everyone in the nation to eat defiling foods and to renounce Judaism.


  1. 4 Maccabees 4:14 Gk he
  2. 4 Maccabees 4:16 Gk his
  3. 4 Maccabees 4:17 Gk He
  4. 4 Maccabees 4:19 Gk He
  5. 4 Maccabees 4:20 Or high place

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