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hope of life. But the high priest fearing lest the king should conceive that some treachery had been used to Heliodorus by the Jews, offered a sacrifice for his health. So Heliodorus, after he had offered a sacrifice unto the LORD, and made gteat. vows unto him that had saved his life, saluted Onias, and returned with his host to the king: Thén testified he to all men, the works of the great God, which he had seen with his eyes." When Heliodorus returned to the king, he informed him of the wonderful transaction, and assured him that the LORD certainly defended the place : then Simon slanderéd Onias to Seleucus, insinuating, that he had tetrified Heliodorus ; on which the good high-priest resolved to go to the king and vindicate himself. Not long after this, Heliodorus, aspiring to the crown, poisoned his sovereign Seleucus, in hopes of succeeding him: but his design was obstructed, and Antiochus Epiphanes, another son of Antiochus the Great, was placed on the Syrian throne.
The Romans, by their conquests over Antiochus the Great, had reduced the kingdom of Syria tò a very low ebb, and had exacted the heavy tribute of a thousand talents annually. The prophet Daniel foretold, that after Antiochus skall stand* up a raiset of taxes in the glory of the kingdom. Seleucus was literally such, for his chief employment was to collect together, by taxing his șubjects, money to pay the tribute to the Romans.
TIE RISTORY OF THE JEWS UNDER THE REIGN OT
ANTIOCHUS Epiphanes was a cruel enemy and persecutor of the Jewsghis character, and the revolutions of his reign, were particularly predicted by the prophet Daniel*; but we have not room to insert this prophecy here.
* Dan, xi, 20,
After the death of Seleucus, ANTIOCHUS his brother was returning from Rome, where he had lived as a hostage from the time the Romans granted peace to his father Antiochus the Great. Whilst on his journey he heard of the death of Seleucus, and the attempt of Heliodorus to seize the crown, and that there were other parties forming. He applied himself to two neighbouring kings, Eumenes king of Pergamus, and Attalus his brother; and, by flattering speeches, and great promises of friendship, prevailed on them to help him against Heliodorus, and by their means he was quietly seated on the throne ; but they could not give him the honours of the kingdom, that is to say, hereditary descent or free election, as Seleucus left a son behind him who was the lawful heir; neither was he the object of the people's choice.
Antiochus was a very vile person, and committed such inconsistent actions, that he was generally esteemed either a fool or a madman. He was very poor when he came to the crown, for his predecessor had been obliged to exhaust the public treasury to pay the tribute to the Romans.
Jason, who was brother to Onias, took advantage of the king's necessities to gratify his own ambitious views, and bribed Antiochus with a large sum of money to dispossess Onias, and make him high-priest in his stead. Jasont, who was an apostate himself, endeavoured to draw as many as he could from the observance of those laws and ceremonies which distin
guished the Jews from all other nations in the world. And he obtained leave of the king to erect a place of public exercise for the training up of youth, according to the customs of the Greeks. These exercises naturally drew them from the service of the altar, and even the priests joined in forbidden customs with the heathens. Of course iniquity spread very fast, which provoked the Lord to recal his people to a sense of their duty, by severe chastisements.
There were every fifth year games celebrated in Tyre in honour of Hercules, a heathen deity; and Antiochus being present at them, he sent several of the Jews who were of his party to be spectators of them, and to offer for him a considerable sum ; but the bearers being afraid of involving themselves in the guilt of idolatry, gave the money to the Tyrians to be employed in repairing their ships*.
Cleopatra, mother to PTOLEMY PHILOMETER, the young king of Egypt, had taken upon herself the go. verment of the kingdom, and the tuition of her infant son, which she managed with great care and prudence; but dying about this time, those who succeeded to the guardianship of the young prince, demanded of Antiochus the provinces of Cælo-Syria and Palestine, pleading Ptolemy's right to them; but Antiochus insisted on his right, and both parties resolved to decide the matter by war. Before either proceeded to hostilities, Philometer being fourteen years old, was declared of age, and great preparations were made for ascending the throne. On this occasion Apollonius, an ambassador, was sent under pretence of congratulating him in the name of Antiochus, who was his uncle, but in reality to see how the court stood affected. His report occa
* 2 Macc, iv.
sioned the king to take a view of the frontiers, towards. Egypt, and put them in a state of defence ; and in this progress came to Jerusalem, where he was received with great marks of respect, and proceeded from thence to Phænicia.
Jason* continued in his office but a short time. He employed Menelaus his brother to carry his tribute to the Syrian court, who treacherously supplanted him, by, offering to pay a larger sum annually; and obtained the king's mandate appointing him high-priest, with which he returned to Jerusalem, and put Jason to flight. Menelaus did not keep his engagement with Antiochus, and was summoned to appear, with the collector of the customs, before the king. When he departed from Jerusalem, he left his brother Lysimachus as his deputy. In the mean time there was an insurrection in Syria, which called for the kmg's attention, and he went with an army to quell it, leaving Andronicus to govern in Antioch, during his absence. Menelaus took this opportunity of stealing some vessels of gold out of the Temple of the LORD, some of which he carried to Antioch, instead of the tribute due from Jerusalem to Syria, and some he sold by way of merchandise to the Tyrians.is
ONIAS † the good high priest, whom Jason had circumventet, resided at this time at Antioch, and finding what Menelaus had done, reproved him for his wickedness, and then took refuge in a place of worship, where he thought he should be safe from the effects of his Fåge. 1. But Menelaus prevailed on Andronicus to assist his cruel purposes, and by his means procured the death of Onias. Not only the Jews, but the surrounding nations, expressed grief and indignation for the murder of this worthy man : even the savage heart of Antiochus felt compassion, and his eyes dropt tears of pity and regret for the good Onias, who by his sober and modest deportment had engaged the esteem and veneration of the very heathens. The
* 2 Macc. iv.
+ Ibid. 34.
anger of the king was kindled against Andronicus for abusing the power he had put into his hand, and as soon as he returned, he commanded him to be stripped of the robes of royalty with which he had been arrayed as his vicegerent, and led through the city, to the very place where he had caused the impious murder to be committed; here he was put to death as his cruelty deserved.
In such a state of affairs, so pious a man as Onias could not have been happy in the high priest's office : and we have reason to suppose, that the malice of his enemies proved the instrument of removing him from a state of grief and anxiety, to a world of everlasting happiness.
Antiochus having been, ever since the return of Apollonius from the Egyptian court, preparing for a war, he resolved to wait no longer, but instead of expecting it in his own territories, determined to carry it into those of the enemy. He therefore marched his forces towards the frontiers of Egypt, where being met by the forces of Ptolemy, a battle ensued, in which Antiochus obtained the victory; and improved his advantage to the utmost, by fortifying that border of his do minions, and retired with his army to Tyre for the winter.
Lysimachus* had been assistant to Menelaus in robbing the Temple ; therefore, as he was present in Jerusalem, the rage of the people for these sacrilegious acts fell upon him; which occasioned an insurrection in
* 2 Macc. iv. 44.