It took a year to read the Bible, then almost 9 months to read the Apocrypha. Now, I'm going to try to offer reflections on the Narrative Lectionary. But, I won't be posting daily--at least, for a while.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Sacrilege, Crime, Punishment, a reflection on 2 Maccabees 4:21-50

Jason sent Menelaus, Simon's brother, to carry money to the king and to conduct other business. Menelaus used the opportunity to bribe his way into supplanting Jason as high priest.  So, Jason, who had supplanted his own brother, was himself supplanted by another man and driven out of the country. Menelaus had no qualifications for the position; rather, he was well qualified to be a tyrant. Also, he neglected to pay the taxes due to the king making him unhappy.

Menelaus stole from the temple to get the funds for his bribe. When Onias learned of this and other malfeasances, he publicly exposed them then withdrew into a place of sanctuary. Menelaus sent Andronicus to kill him. Eventually, the angry king had the assassin executed.

Other nations, and not just the Jews, were grieved and displeased by the murder of Onias. Antiochus was so angry that he immediately stripped off Andronicus's purple robe (a sign he belonged to the favored group Friends of the King) and then the rest of his clothes and led him around the whole city to the very place where he had murdered Onias. There Antiochus executed him.

Many acts of sacrilege were committed including theft of gold vessels. Crowds collected. The deputy high priest gathered an army of 3,000 to attack the citizens. During the battle, many were wounded and some were killed; the rest put to flight. The temple robber was among the ones who were killed.

Charges were brought against Menelaus. Recognizing that his chances were not good, he offered a bribe to the king. It worked; Menelaus was acquitted and was able to remain in office, where he became even more wicked.

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