Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers: Series II/Volume XI/Sulpitius Severus/Sacred History/Book II/Chapter 18

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Chapter XVIII.

For, first of all, under king Seleucus, the son of Antiochus the great, a certain man called Simon accused to the king on false charges Onias the priest, a holy and uncorrupted man, and thus tried, but in vain, to overthrow him. Then, after an interval of time, Jason, the brother of Onias, went to Antiochus the king, who had succeeded his brother Seleucus, and promised him an increase of tribute, if the high-priesthood were transferred to him. And although it was an unusual, and indeed, until now, an unpermitted thing for a man to enjoy the high-priesthood year after year, still the eager mind of the king, diseased with avarice, was easily persuaded. Accordingly, Onias was driven from office, and the priesthood bestowed on Jason. He harassed his countrymen and his country in the most shameful manner. Then, as he had sent through a certain Menelaus (the brother of that Simon who has been mentioned) the money he had promised to the king, a way being once laid open to his ambition, Menelaus obtained the priesthood by the same arts which Jason had employed before. But not long after, as he had not furnished the promised amount of money, he was driven from his position, and Lysimachus substituted in his stead. Then there arose disgraceful conflicts between Jason and Menelaus, until Jason, as an exile, left the country. By examples like these, the morals of the people became corrupted to such an extent, that numbers of the natives begged permission from Antiochus to live after the fashion of the Gentiles. And when the king granted their request, all the most worthless vied with each other in their endeavors to construct temples, to sacrifice to idols, and to profane the law. In the meantime, Antiochus returned from Alexandria (for he had then made war upon the king of Egypt, which, however, he gave up by the orders of the senate and Roman people, when Paulus and Crassus were consuls), and went to Jerusalem. Finding the people at variance from the diverse superstitions they had adopted, he destroyed the law of God, and showed favor to those who followed impious courses, while he carried off all the ornaments of the temple, and wasted it with much destruction. That came to pass in the hundred and fiftieth year after the death of Alexander, Paulus and Crassus being, as we have said, consuls, about five years after Antiochus began to reign.