1 The Simon mentioned before as the informer about the treasures of the Tem ple, who was traitor to his country, spoke evil of Onias, accusing him of a plot against Heliodorus and saying that he was responsible for all the troubles. 2 He even dared to lay the blame for everything on Onias who was the great benefactor of the city, the defender of his compatriots and a zealous observer of the laws. 3 The hostility between them reached such proportions that crimes were even committed by some of the supporters of Simon.
4 Onias recognized the dangers in volved in such an unbearable rivalry. Even Apollo nius, son of Menestheus, governor of Coele-Syria and Phoenicia, was instigating Simon to evil. 5 So Onias went to the king, not to accuse his fellow citizens, but for the good of the whole nation. 6 For he saw that it was impossible to maintain peace and stop the foolishness of Simon without the king’s intervention.
7 When King Seleucus died, his son Antiochus who was called Epiphanes, succeeded to the throne. Then, Jason, the brother of Onias the High Priest, usurped the office of high priest. 8 In a conversation with the king, Jason promised three hundred and sixty talents of silver and eighty talents from other revenues. 9 He further committed himself to pay one hundred fifty more talents if he would be allowed to establish on his own account a gymnasium with a Center for the cultural advancement of the youth and if the statute of Antioquian citizenship could apply to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, as well.
10 With the consent of the king and using the power at his disposal, he at once set about encouraging his fellow citizens to adopt the customs of the Greeks. 11 He suppressed the privileges that kings had gran ted to the Jews through John, the father of Eupo lemus, who had established friendship and an alliance between the Romans and the Jews. He overthrew lawful institutions and introduced new customs contrary to the Law.
12 So, he very readily founded a gym nasium right under the Citadel, and per suaded the noblest among the young to be educated in the Greek way. 13 Paganism was propagated through Jason’s influence, who proved to be more of a godless wretch than a high priest.
13 Greek customs were so much in vogue, 14 that priests no longer showed any interest in serving at the altar. They despised the sanctuary and neglected the sacrifices and as soon as the discus throw began they would run to the stadium to take part in athletic competitions prohibited by the Law. 15 They did not value anymore the customs of their ancestors, but held in highest esteem the values of the Greeks.
16 With this, they themselves were put in a difficult situation, for those whom they took as models and whose customs they wanted to imitate in every thing proved to be their enemies and tyrants. 17 For it is not easy to break the divine laws with impunity as the following episodes will show.
18 When the quinquennial games held every five years were going on in Tyre before the king, 19 the wicked Jason sent as envoys some “citizens of Antioch” from the inhabitants of Jeru salem and he entrusted to them three hundred drach mas of silver allotted for the sacrifice to Hercules. When these envoys came, they de cided that it was not fitting to spend the money on the sacrifice, but preferred to spend it on other things. 20 So through the sole initiative of those sent to spend the money for the sacrifice to Hercules, the amount was used instead for the construction of trireme ships.
21 Antiochus had sent Apollon ius, son of Menestheus, to Egypt to represent him in the enthronement of King Philometor. But when Antiochus learned that Philo metor had become his political adversary, Antiochus was worried about his own safety. 22 So, he left Joppa, and went to Jerusalem where he was well received by Jason and the whole city, entering the city in the midst of acclamations and torches. Then, he went with his troops to Phoenicia.
23 After three years, Jason sent Mene laus, brother of the Simon mentioned above, to bring the money to the king and initiate steps to negotiate urgent matters with him. 24 Menelaus presented himself to the king whom he im pressed by his personal bearing as a man of authority, and so obtained the office of high priest for himself, offering three hundred talents more than Jason. 25 After receiving the royal mandate, he returned with nothing worthy of a high priest, but only with the rage of a cruel ty rant or a wild beast. 26 Jason, who had usurped the office of his brother, was now supplanted by another, and had to flee to the land of Ammon.
27 Menelaus held the office but did not pay the amount he promised to the king, 28 although Sostratus, the commander of the Citadel, de manded the payment, since the king had entrusted to him the collection of revenue. The two of them were then summoned by the king be cause of this. 29 Menelaus left his brother Lysimachus as his substitute, and Sostra tus left Crates, the commander of the Cypriots.
Murder of Onias
30 Meanwhile, the inhabitants of Tarsus and Mallus revolted because their cities were given as a gift to Antiochis, the king’s concubine. 31 The king set out at once to reestablish order, leaving Andro nicus, one of his ministers, as his deputy. 32 Menelaus thought of taking advantage of the opportunity, and stole some of the golden vessels from the Temple, which he then gave to Andronicus as gifts. He also managed to sell others in Tyre and in the neighboring cities.
33 When Onias had clear evidence of what Menelaus had done, he sought re fuge in Daph ne near Antioch, a place of asylum, and from there denounced him. 34 For this reason, Menelaus met Andro nicus in private and urged him to kill Onias. Andronicus went to Onias and deceitfully gained his confidence, offering Onias his right hand in oath. He was able to persuade Onias, in spite of the latter’s suspicion, to come out of his place of refuge. Then Andronicus killed him at once without any regard for justice.
35 For this reason, not only Jews but people of other nationalities as well be came indignant and grieved over the un just killing of that man. 36 When the king returned to the regions of Cilicia, the Jews of Jerusalem, together with the Greeks who were for justice, went to see him and complained about the murder of Onias.
37 The king was touched and became sad, and even wept as he remembered the personality and noble conduct of the departed. 38 He became angry with Andro nicus and immediately removed him from office. Then he ordered that Andronicus be divested of his purple robe, tore his garments off him, and led him all around the city up to the place where Andronicus had murdered Onias, and right there the king ordered that he be put to death – God dealing out to him the punishment he deserved.
39 Lysimachus committed much sacrilegious plunder in Jerusalem with the connivance of Menelaus. When this be came known, the populace rebelled against Lysimachus, who had already taken many golden vessels from the city. 40 When Lysimachus saw the people rising up in rebellion and becoming en raged, he armed about three thousand men and began a violent repression, designating as leader a certain Auranus, a man advanced in years but of very little intelligence. 41 So, as the people were attacked by the men of Lysimachus, they reacted by picking up stones and clubs, and even gathered handfuls of ashes lying at hand, and threw everything against the men of Lysimachus. 42 In this way, they wounded many of them, killed some, and put the rest to flight. As for the sacrilegious robber Lysimachus, they killed him near the treasury.
43 Because of all this a charge was brought against Menelaus and 44 when the king arrived at Tyre, three men sent by the council of the elders of Jerusalem told him of Menelaus’ cruelty. 45 Seeing his ruin, Menelaus promised a great amount of money to Ptolemy, son of Dory menes, in order to have the king in his favor.
46 Ptolemy then went with the king privately to a colonnade for some fresh air, and persuaded him to change his mind. 47 The king actually dismissed all the accusations against Menelaus, the cause of all this evil, while he condemned to death Menelaus’ unfortunate accusers who would have been acquitted had a tribunal of barbarians judged them. 48 So those who had defended the cause of the city, the people and the sacred vessels were executed at once.
49 Some Tyrians were so enraged by that crime that they prepared a magnificent funeral for them. 50 But through the corruption of the rulers, Menelaus re mained in power, growing in wickedness and becoming a tyrant towards his own people.