1 When the holy city was inhabited with unbroken 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 honored the place and glorified the temple with the noblest presents,
3 so that even King Seleucus of Asia bore all the costs belonging to the services of the sacrifices out of his own revenues.
4 But a man named Simon of the tribe of Benjamin, having been made guardian of the temple, disagreed with the high priest about the ruling of the market in the city.
5 When he couldn’t overcome Onias, he went to Apollonius of Tarsus, who at that time was governor of Coelesyria and Phoenicia.
6 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 When Apollonius met the king, he informed him of the money about which he had been told. So the king appointed Heliodorus, who was his chancellor, and sent him with a command to accomplish the removal of the reported money.
8 So Heliodorus set out on his journey at once, ostensibly to visit the cities of Coelesyria and Phoenicia, but in fact to execute the king’s purpose.
9 When he had come to Jerusalem and had been courteously received by the high priest of the city, he told him about the information which had been given, and declared why he had come; and he inquired if in truth these things were so.
10 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, 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 those who 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 command 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 The priests, prostrating themselves before the altar in their priestly garments, and called toward heaven upon him who gave the law concerning deposits, that he should preserve these treasures safe for those who had deposited them.
16 Whoever saw the appearance 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, by which the pain that was in his heart was plainly shown to those who looked at him.
18 Those who were in the houses rushed out in crowds to make a universal supplication, because the place was about to come into dishonor.
19 The women, girded with sackcloth under their breasts, thronged the streets. The virgins who were kept indoors ran together, some to the gates, others to the walls, and some looked out through the windows.
20 All, stretching out their hands toward heaven, made their solemn supplication.
21 Then it was pitiful to see the multitude prostrating themselves all mixed together, and the anxiety of the high priest in his great distress.
22 While therefore they called upon the Almighty Lord to keep the things entrusted to them safe and secure for those who 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 manifestation, so that all who had presumed to come with him, stricken with dismay at the power of God, fainted in terror.
25 For they saw a horse with a frightening rider, adorned with beautiful trappings, and he rushed fiercely and struck at Heliodorus with his forefeet. It seemed like he who sat on 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 When he had fallen suddenly to the ground, and great darkness had come over him, his guards picked him up and put him on a stretcher,
28 and carried him—this man who had just now entered with a great retinue and all his guard into the aforesaid treasury, himself now brought to utter helplessness, manifestly made to recognize the sovereignty of God.
29 So, while he, through the working of God, speechless and bereft of all hope and deliverance, lay prostrate,
30 they blessed the Lord who acted marvelously for his own place. 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 some of Heliodorus’s familiar friends implored Onias to call upon the Most High to grant life to him who lay quite at the last gasp.
32 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 recovery 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. They stood and said, “Give Onias the high priest great thanks, for for his sake the Lord has granted you life.
34 See that you, since you have been scourged from heaven, proclaim to all men the sovereign majesty of God.” 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 who had saved his life, and having bidden Onias farewell, returned with his army to the king.
36 He testified to all men the works of the greatest God, which he had seen with his eyes.
37 When the king asked Heliodorus what sort 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 will receive him back well scourged, if he even escapes with his life; because truly there is some power of God in that place.
39 For he who has his dwelling in heaven himself has his eyes on that place and helps it. Those who come to hurt it, he strikes and destroys.”
40 This was the history of Heliodorus and the keeping of the treasury.