Simon was a political opponent of the high priest Onias. When his attempts to slander Onias failed, Simon went to Apollonius, governor of Syria, Phoenicia, and Cilicia, to get help in overturning Onias.
Simon told the governor that the Jerusalem treasure had huge deposits that belonged to King Seleucus. When he was informed of this, the king authorized Simon to seize those funds.
The people protested the raid of what they considered a sacred treasury. Apollonius persisted. The priests together with women and children prayed to God to shield the holy place. Angels on horseback sent lightning bolts, knocking him half-dead. He stretched out his hands toward heaven and begged the Hebrews to pray for him that the heavenly army would leave him alone. In his prayer, he admitted his sin but said that if he were spared, he would protect the temple.
Moved by these words, Onias, with some doubts, also prayed that Apollonius be spared.