1 WHEN the holy city was inhabited with all peace, and the laws were kept very well, because of the godliness of Onias the high priest, and his hatred of wickedness, 2 it came to pass that even the kings themselves did honor the place, and glorify the temple with the noblest presents; 3 insomuch that even Seleucus the king of Asia of his own revenues bare all the costs belonging to the services of the sacrifices. 4 But one Simon of the tribe of Benjamin, having been made guardian of the temple, fell out with the high priest about the*ruling of the market in the city. 5 And when he could not overcome Onias, he got him to Apollonius the son of†Thrasaeus, who at that time was governor of Coelesyria and Phoenicia:6 and he brought him word how that the treasury in Jerusalem was full of untold sums of money, so that the multitude of the funds was innumerable, and that they didn’t pertain to the account of the sacrifices, but that it was possible that these should fall under the king’s power.7 And when Apollonius met the king, he informed him of the money whereof he had been told; and the king appointed Heliodorus, who was his chancellor, and sent him with a commandment to accomplish the removal of the aforesaid money. 8 So forthwith Heliodorus took his journey, under a color of visiting the cities of Coelesyria and Phoenicia, but in fact to execute the king’s purpose. 9 And when he was come to Jerusalem, and had been courteously received by the high priest‡ of the city, he laid before§them an account of the information which had been given him, and declared wherefore he was come; and he inquired if in truth these things were so. 10 And the high priest explained to him that there were in the treasury deposits of widows and orphans, 11 and moreover some money belonging to Hyrcanus the son of Tobias, a man in very high place,*and that the case was not as that impious Simon falsely alleged; and that in all there were four hundred talents of silver and two hundred of gold; 12 and that it was altogether impossible that wrong should be done to them that had put trust in the holiness of the place, and in the majesty and inviolable sanctity of the temple, honored over all the world. 13 But† Heliodorus, because of the king’s commandments given him, said that in any case this money must be confiscated for the king’s treasury.
14 So having appointed a day, he entered in to direct the inquiry concerning these matters; and there was no small distress throughout the whole city. 15 And the priests, prostrating themselves before the altar in their priestly garments, and lookingtoward heaven, called upon him that gave the law concerning deposits, that he should preserve these treasures safe for those that had deposited them.16 And whoever saw the mien of the high priest was wounded in mind; for his countenance and the change of his color betrayed the distress of his soul. 17 For a terror and a shuddering of the body had come over the man, whereby the pain that was in his heart was plainly shown to those who looked upon him. 18 And those who were in the houses rushed flocking out to make a universal supplication, because the place was like to come into contempt. 19 And the women, girded with sackcloth under their breasts, thronged the streets, and the virgins that were kept in ward ran together, some to the‡ gates, others to the walls, and some looked out through the windows. 20 And all, stretching forth their hands toward heaven, made their solemn supplication. 21 Then it would have pitied a man to see the multitude prostrating themselves all mixed together, and the expectation of the high priest in his sore distress.
22 While therefore they called upon the Almighty Lord to keep the things entrusted to them § safe and sure for those that had entrusted them,23 Heliodorus went on to execute that which had been decreed. 24 But when he was already present there with his guards near the treasury, the Sovereign of spirits and of all authority caused a great* apparition, so that all that had presumed to come in with him, stricken with dismay at the power of God, fainted and were sore afraid. 25 For there was seen by them a horse with a terrible rider upon him, and adorned with beautiful trappings, and he rushed fiercely and struck at Heliodorus with his forefeet, and it seemed that he that sat upon the horse had complete armor of gold. 26 Two others also appeared to him, young men notable in their strength, and beautiful in their glory, and splendid in their apparel, who stood by him on either side, and scourged him unceasingly, inflicting on him many sore stripes. 27 And when he had fallen suddenly to the ground, and great darkness had come over him, his guardscaught him up and put him into a litter,28 and carried him, him that had just now entered with a great train and all his guard into the aforesaid treasury, himself now brought to utter helplessness, manifestly made to recognize the sovereignty of God. 29 And so, while he, through the working of God, speechless and bereft of all hope and deliverance, lay prostrate, 30 they blessed the Lord, that made marvelous his own place; and the temple, which a little before was full of terror and alarm, was filled with joy and gladness after the Almighty Lord appeared.
31 But quickly certain of Heliodorus’s familiar friends implored Onias to call upon the Most High, and grant life to him who lay quite at the last gasp. 32 And the high priest, secretly fearing lest the king might come to think that some treachery toward Heliodorus had been perpetrated by the Jews, brought a sacrifice for the deliverance of the man. 33 But as the high priest was making the atoning sacrifice, the same young men appeared again to Heliodorus, arrayed in the same garments; and they stood and said, Give Onias the high priest great thanks, for for his sake the Lord has granted you life; 34 and do you, since you have been scourged from heaven, publish to all men the sovereign majesty of God. And when they had spoken these words, they vanished out of sight. 35 So Heliodorus, having offered a sacrifice to the Lord and vowed† great vows to him that had saved his life, and having graciously received Onias, returned with his army to the king. 36 And he testified to all men the works of the‡great God which he had seen with his eyes.
37 And when the king asked Heliodorus, what manner of man was fit to be sent yet once again to Jerusalem, he said, 38 If you have any enemy or conspirator against the state, send him there, and you shall receive him back well scourged, if he even escape with his life; because of a truth there is about the place a power of God. 39 For he that has his dwelling in heaven himself has his eyes upon that place, and helps it; and those who come to hurt it he strikes and destroys.
40 And such was the history of Heliodorus and the keeping of the treasury.