1WHEN 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,
2it came to pass that even the kings themselves did honour the place, and glorify the temple with the noblest presents;
3insomuch that even Seleucus the king of Asia of his own revenues bare all the costs belonging to the services of the sacrifices.
4But 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.
5And when he could not overcome Onias, he gat him to Apollonius the son of Thrasaeus, who at that time was governor of Coelesyria and Phoenicia:
6and 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 did not pertain to the account of the sacrifices, but that it was possible that these should fall under the king’s power.
7And 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.
8So forthwith Heliodorus took his journey, under a colour of visiting the cities of Coelesyria and Phoenicia, but in fact to execute the king’s purpose.
9And 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.
10And the high priest explained to him that there were in the treasury deposits of widows and orphans,
11and 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;
12and that it was altogether impossible that wrong should be done unto them that had put trust in the holiness of the place, and in the majesty and inviolable sanctity of the temple, honoured over all the world.
13But Heliodorus, because of the king’s commandments given him, said that in any case this money must be confiscated for the king’s treasury.
14So having appointed a day, he entered in to direct the inquiry concerning these matters; and there was no small distress throughout the whole city.
15And the priests, prostrating themselves before the altar in their priestly garments, and looking toward heaven, called upon him that gave the law concerning deposits, that he should preserve these treasures safe for those that had deposited them.
16And whosoever saw the mien of the high priest was wounded in mind; for his countenance and the change of his colour betrayed the distress of his soul.
17For a terror and a shuddering of the body had come over the man, whereby the pain that was in his heart was plainly shewn to them that looked upon him.
18And they that were in the houses rushed flocking out to make a universal supplication, because the place was like to come into contempt.
19And the women, girt 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.
20And all, stretching forth their hands toward heaven, made their solemn supplication.
21Then it would have pitied a man to see the multitude prostrating themselves all mingled together, and the expectation of the high priest in his sore distress.
22While therefore they called upon the Almighty Lord to keep the things intrusted to them safe and sure for those that had intrusted them,
23Heliodorus went on to execute that which had been decreed.
24But when he was already present there with his guards over against the treasury, the Soverign 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.
25For there was seen by them a horse with a terrible rider upon him, and adorned with beautiful trappings, and he rushed fiercely and smote at Heliodorus with his forefeet, and it seemed that he that sat upon the horse had complete armour of gold.
26Two other also appeared unto 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.
27And when he had fallen suddenly unto the ground, and great darkness had come over him, his guards caught him up and put him into a litter,
28and 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 recognise the sovereignty of God.
29And so, while he, through the working of God, speechless and bereft of all hope and deliverance, lay prostrate,
30they blessed the Lord, that made marvellous his own place; and the temple, which a little afore was full of terror and alarm, was filled with joy and gladness after the Almighty Lord appeared.
31But quickly certain of Heliodorus’s familiar friends besought Onias to call upon the Most High, and grant life to him who lay quite at the last gasp.
32And 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.
33But as the high priest was making the propitiation, 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 hath granted thee life;
34and do thou, since thou hast been scourged from heaven, publish unto all men the sovereign majesty of God. And when they had spoken these words, they vanished out of sight.
35So Heliodorus, having offered a sacrifice unto the Lord and vowed great vows unto him that had saved his life, and having graciously received Onias, returned with his host to the king.
36And he testified to all men the works of the great God which he had beheld with his eyes.
37And when the king asked Heliodorus, what manner of man was fit to be sent yet once again to Jerusalem, he said,
38If thou hast any enemy or conspirator against the state, send him thither, and thou shalt 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.
39For he that hath his dwelling in heaven himself hath his eyes upon that place, and helpeth it; and them that come to hurt it he smiteth and destroyeth.
40And such was the history of Heliodorus and the keeping of the treasury.