King Antiochus III turned back to Syria. However, he stumbled and fell. In other words, he died. Then, his son, Seleucus IV (187-175 BCE), took over as king of Syria and Babylon. However, he sent one of his officials, Heliodorus, to take money from the Temple treasury in Jerusalem. However, this official was not successful. He died, not in anger or battle, but was a broken man. Actually, Heliodorus assassinated King Seleucus IV in 175 BCE.
“King Antiochus was elated in spirit. He did not perceive that the Lord was angered for a little while because of the sins of those who dwelt in the city. This was the reason that the Lord was disregarding the holy place. But if it had not happened that they were involved in many sins, this man would have been flogged and turned back from his rash act as soon as he came forward. Remember what happened to Heliodorus, whom King Seleucus sent to inspect the treasury. But the Lord did not choose the nation for the sake of the holy place, but the place for the sake of the nation. Therefore the place itself shared in the misfortunes that befell the nation and afterward participated in its benefits. What was forsaken in the wrath of the Almighty was restored again in all its glory when the great Lord became reconciled.”
The Lord let King Antiochus IV succeed because of the sins of the people of Jerusalem. He could have had the king flogged, but the people of Jerusalem were so involved in sin. This is an attempt to explain why this Seleucid king got away with his actions, when the Lord was so severe with Heliodorus unde King Seleucus IV in chapter 3 of this work. This author reminded the people that the people were not chosen because of the place, but the reverse is true. The place was chosen for the people. The place of Jerusalem suffered the wrath of God for the sins of the people, but it would enjoy the glory of the people at its restoration. Clearly this biblical author was not afraid to express his opinion and belief.
“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.
“People also hurried out of their houses in crowds to make a general supplication because the holy place was about to be brought into dishonor. Women, girded with sackcloth under their breasts, thronged the streets. Some of the young women who were kept indoors ran together to the gates, and some to the walls, while others peered out of the windows. Holding up their hands to heaven, they all made supplication. There was something pitiable in the prostration of the whole populace and the anxiety of the high priest in his great anguish. While they were calling upon the Almighty Lord that he would keep what had been entrusted safe and secure for those who had entrusted it, Heliodorus went on with what had been decided.”
Not only the priests were upset, the whole town was in turmoil. They gathered in small crowds as they worried about the dishonor to their holy Temple. The women wore sackcloth under their breasts. This was the common clothing of those in mourning. Here it seems only the women were wearing these goat hair robes. They young unmarried women were kept indoors. However, they were trying to find out what was going on, as they ran to the gates and walls, and peeked out the windows. They all prayed to heaven. The biblical author called them pitiable, since even the high priest was in anguish. This anxiety was about honor and money. They called upon the Almighty Lord to keep their treasures safe. Nevertheless, Heliodorus was determined to do what he had decided to do, to inspect the Temple finances.
“A man named Simon, of the tribe of Benjamin, who had been made captain of the temple, had a disagreement with the high priest about the administration of the city market. When he could not prevail over the high priest Onias, he went to Apollonius of Tarsus. He at that time was the governor of Coele-syria and Phoenicia. He reported to him that the treasury in Jerusalem was full of untold sums of money. The amount of the funds could not be reckoned. They did not belong to the account of the sacrifices. It was possible for them to fall under the control of the king. When Apollonius met the king, he told him of the money about which he had been informed. The king chose Heliodorus, who was in charge of his affairs. He sent him with commands to effect the removal of the reported wealth. Heliodorus at once set out on his journey, ostensibly to make a tour and inspection of the cities of Coele-syria and Phoenicia, but in fact to carry out the king’s purpose.”
Simon, a Benjaminite and not a Levite, was a grandson of Tobias, who married a sister of the high priest Onias II. Thus this captain of the Temple position was somehow hereditary. He had a disagreement with the high priest Onias III about how the city market was run. He did not prevail. Instead, he went to the governor of that area of Coele-syria and Phoenicia. The capital of this area was in Tarsus with Apollonius as the governor. Apollonius was the governor of Samaria in 1 Maccabees, chapter 10, when he had a dispute with Jonathan, the brother of Judas Maccabeus. Simon told Apollonius that there were large sums of money unaccounted for in Jerusalem that did not belong to the sacrifices but should have gone to the king. Apollonius then told King Seleucus IV who then sent his man in charge of these affairs, Heliodorus, to look into these charges.