Other problems for the Jews (2 Macc 12:1-12:2)

“When this agreement had been reached, Lysias returned to the king. The Jews went about their farming. But some of the governors in various places, Timothy and Apollonius son of Gennaeus, as well as Hieronymus and Demophon, and in addition to these Nicanor the governor of Cyprus, would not let them live quietly and in peace.”

Everything was settled with Antioch and the Seleucid Empire. However, there were others who would not leave the Jewish people live in peace. Timothy had already arrived on the scene, and had already been killed off earlier in chapter 10 of this book. This appears to be a different Apollonius, who was the brother of Timothy. Nicanor had already fought with the Jews. Here he was called the governor of Cyprus. The others are even more difficult to identify.

The second attack on Jerusalem (2 Macc 5:24-5:26)

“In his malice toward the Jewish citizens, King Antiochus sent Apollonius, the captain of the Mysians, with an army of twenty-two thousand. The king commanded him to kill all the grown men. They were to sell the women and boys as slaves. When this man arrived in Jerusalem, he pretended to be peaceably disposed. He waited until the holy Sabbath day. Then, finding the Jews not at work, he ordered his men to parade under arms. He put to the sword all those who came out to see them. Then he rushed into the city with his armed warriors. He killed great numbers of people.”

As in 1 Maccabees, chapter 1, King Antiochus IV sent a “chief collector” to Jerusalem. There it was 2 years later, but here there is no exact time period. There he was unnamed tax collector, but here it is Apollonius, who was a Mysian of Asia Minor with a huge army. However, in both stories there is the idea that he came peacefully, but then struck the people of the city. Here there is the added dimension that he did this destruction on the Sabbath when the Jews were not working. In both cases, he killed many people and took others into slavery.

King Antiochus IV is welcomed at Jerusalem (2 Macc 4:21-4:22)

“When Apollonius son of Menestheus was sent to Egypt for the coronation of Philometor as king, King Antiochus learned that Philometor had become hostile to his government. The king took measures for his own security. Therefore upon arriving at Joppa, he proceeded to Jerusalem. He was welcomed magnificently by Jason and the city. He was ushered in with a blaze of torches and with shouts. Then he marched his army into Phoenicia.”

Apollonius, the governor, was sent to Egypt for the coronation of the new King Ptolemy VI the Philometor about 175 BCE. The mother of King Ptolemy VI, Cleopatra I, had died when he was only 10 years old. His father King Ptolemy V had died in 180 BCE so that he technically was king when he was 5 years old. However, he ruled with his mother until she died. In 174 BCE, at the age of 11, he married his sister Cleopatra II. He ruled in Egypt until 146 BCE. However, Apollonius learned that King Ptolemy VI and his advisors had turned anti-Syrian rather than pro-Syrian like his mother and father. Then King Antiochus IV (175-164 BCE) decided to make a trip to Joppa and Jerusalem. Jason and the people of Jerusalem warmly welcomed him, before he went to Phoenicia.

Simon and Onias (2 Macc 4:1-4:6)

“The previously mentioned Simon, who had informed about the money against his own country, slandered Onias. Simon said that it was Onias who had incited Heliodorus. Onias had been the real cause of the misfortune. Simon dared to designate as a plotter against the government the man who was the benefactor of the city, the protector of his fellow countrymen, and a zealot for the laws. His hatred progressed to such a degree that even murders were committed by one of Simon’s approved agents. Onias recognized that the rivalry was serious. Apollonius son of Menestheus, and governor of Coele-syria and Phoenicia, was intensifying the malice of Simon. So he appealed to the king, not accusing his compatriots but having in view the welfare, both public and private, of all the people. He saw that without the king’s attention public affairs could not again reach a peaceful settlement. Simon would not stop his folly.”

Simon, the one who complained about the money in the Temple treasury, then slandered Onias. He said the Onias was the cause of the problem when he incited Heliodorus to look for the money. Simon was calling the kettle black. He was the one who started the investigation, but he was saying the Onias was the one who started the problem. Some of Simon’s men committed murder. Onias realized that Apollonius, the governor of the area, was siding with Simon. He decided that he would go directly to the king. Otherwise, there was no way to stop Simon. By this time Onias and Heliodorus were good friends, which bothered Simon also.

Jonathan fights at Azotus (1 Macc 10:77-10:81)

“When Apollonius heard of Joppa, he mustered three thousand cavalry and a large army. He went to Azotus as though he were going farther. At the same time he advanced into the plain. He had a large troop of cavalry and put confidence in it. Jonathan pursued him to Azotus. There the armies engaged in battle. Now Apollonius had secretly left a thousand cavalry behind them. Jonathan learned that there was an ambush behind him. They surrounded his army. They shot arrows at his men from early morning until late afternoon. His men stood fast, as Jonathan had commanded, but the enemy’s horses grew tired.”

Apollonius heard about what was going on at Joppa. He took his 3,000 cavalry and his large army to Azotus, which apparently is the old Philistine city of Ashdod between Gaza and Joppa. However, when Jonathan followed Apollonius, Apollonius had 1,000 cavalry behind him that put Jonathan into an ambush. However, Jonathan and his group fought all day as the horses got tired.

Jonathan goes to Joppa (1 Macc 10:74-10:76)

“When Jonathan heard the words of Apollonius, his spirit was aroused. He chose ten thousand men and set out from Jerusalem. His brother Simon met him to help him. He encamped before Joppa, but the men of the city closed its gates. Apollonius had a garrison in Joppa. So they fought against it. Then the people of the city became afraid. They opened their gates so that Jonathan gained possession of Joppa.”

When Jonathan heard the words of the message from Apollonius who represented King Demetrius II, he was annoyed. This time Jonathan had a large force of 10,000 men when he also met with his brother Simon. He decided to go to Joppa, one of the ancient Mediterranean seaports, about 35 miles northwest of Jerusalem. Apollonius had a garrison there, but Jonathan fought against them. The people in the city became afraid so that they opened the gates and let Jonathan take over.

Demetrius II appears on the scene (1 Macc 10:67-10:69)

“In the one hundred sixty-fifth year, Demetrius son of Demetrius came from Crete to the land of his ancestors. When King Alexander heard of it, he was greatly distressed. He returned to Antioch. Demetrius appointed Apollonius the governor of Coele-syria. He assembled a large force and encamped against Jamnia.”

About 3 year later in 147 BCE, the son of Demetrius I called Demetrius II, the grandson of King Seleucus IV, came from the island of Crete. King Alexander I was upset and returned to Antioch in Syria. Demetrius II assembled a large army force in Jamnia.   He named the Philistine Apollonius the governor of this area.   Coele-syria means Hollow Syria, the area around Palestine with the sea coast town of Jamnia.