~ An Amazing Life ~ 

A book by Rich Van Winkle

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An Amazing Life: Jesus and the Nozerim

Appendix XVIII – Onias and the Land of On

 (This is still an early draft and includes my notes at the end).

http://www.ancient-wisdom.co.uk/Images/countries/Egyptian%20pics/heliopolis%20old.bmp

 

Relevance to Jesus:

If there is any area within the scholarly realm related to Judaism and Jesus where I think more work needs to be done, it is in regard to Onias, the Oniads, and the Temple at On. I hope that I might contribute something worthwhile to that effort and that this Appendix serves as more than mere background for the book. In that light, this is a more detailed document than needed for the story, but it is an interesting and neglected story that I believe is worthy of our time and interest. (There is additional related content in Appendix VII (The Jewish High Priesthood) and in Appendix XIII (The Jewish Temple)

Our story takes the young Jesus to Egypt where he knew its Jewish Temple and its priesthood. Later, he has contacts from that community and their associates at Qumran. These influence his views and give him a broader perspective on religion. Because the greatest healers of the time were the Therapeutae from Alexandria, I also propose a tie to them. And, I propose that there is an ancestral tie between Jesus and Hananeel.

The Short Version (Overview):

According to Jewish scripture the title of High Priest was to remain in the family of Levi even if there was no son (Ex. 28:1-2; 29:4-5; Lev. 6:15) and, thus, from the first High Priest (Aaron, the brother of Moses) it had been passed down through the generations[1]. King Solomon broke this tradition when he deposed Abiathar and appointed Zadok (a descendant of Eleazar) in his stead (1 Kings 2:35; 1 Chron. 24:2-3). Onias I (aka Honio ben Jaddua) was a descendant of Zadok who was the High Priest in Jerusalem from 323 to 300 BCE. His son Simon I (“the Just”) succeeded him until he died in 260 BCE. His son, Honiyya ben Shimon (Onias II), was still a minor and so Simon’s brothers Eleazar and then Manasseh officiated as high priest (Josephus, Ant." xi. 8, §§ 2-4; xii. 4, § 1) until 250 BCE. This is when a new problem and rivalry arose.

According to Josephus (who I contend was a Tobiad), Onias II was a covetous man of limited intelligence whose foolish actions placed Judea at risk. Thus, in 233 BCE, Joseph bar Tobias (a nephew of Onias) went to Ptolemy III Euergetes to smooth things out[2]. It seems more likely that this was the first bid to be named as High Priest by bribe. Joseph didn’t secure the priesthood, but managed to secure for himself the most lucrative position in Judea – tax collector. Onias and Joseph apparently died almost simultaneously around 218 BCE. Onias named his son Simon II as his successor and then, “all hell broke loose”…

In 195 BCE Ptolemy V Epiphanes and Antiochus III signed a treaty that left the Seleucid king in possession of Coele-Syria and Judea (along with Cleopatra I as a wife). Meanwhile, the Judeans had trouble of their own.  The Samaritans were flourishing and took land claimed by the Judeans. Simon II chose a course of conciliation and assigned many Tobians (Samaritans and Benjamites) to important posts. When he was replaced by his son, Onias III, in 190 BCE, the intrigue of the High Priesthood would reach its apex and the line of succession would be broken again.

The Tobiads aligned themselves with the new king Antiochus IV Epiphanes and brought on the deposition and exile of Onias III and the appointment of their own partisan, Jason as High Priest. Jason sought to ingratiate himself with Antiochus through the Hellenizing of Judea (such as the building of an arena/gymnasium adjacent to the Temple). Jason’s trusted friend Menelaus offered a greater bribe to Antiochus and was awarded with the title High Priest in 171 BCE. He also instigated the murder of Onias III whereupon his young son, Onias IV, fled to Egypt.

 

In Egypt, the young Onias IV was granted exile and much more by the young Ptolemy VI Philometor; he was given permission to establish a Jewish Temple in the ancient Land of On (then, the Heliopolite Nome on the eastern side of the Nile delta).

Being convenient to the very large Jewish population at Alexandria and having the legitimate High Priest, the Jewish Temple built at Leontopolis/Bubastis prospered. When the Hellenists despoiled the Jerusalem Temple in 171 BCE, Jews could not worship there and the Temple of Onias became the center of Judaism. The Maccabees revolted against the Hellenists in 168 BCE and restored the Jerusalem Temple in 165 BCE (Kislev 25 – the origin of Hanukkah), but they chose to keep the High Priesthood for themselves and the war with the Syrians continued.

Eventually the Maccabees prevailed (beginning the Hasmonean dynasty) and there was a failed effort to bring the Egyptian priests to Jerusalem. The Oniad leader in Judea was held in exile at Qumran through the reign of the Hasmoneans. With the death of the last Ptolemy, Cleopatra VII (along with Mark Antony), and Roman occupation of Egypt, the Jewish community in On declined. However, Herod, the Roman appointed king of Judea, made Hananeel (an Oniad) High Priest in Jerusalem. This would seem to restore legitimacy to the office, but many other factors made the appointment more political than religious. At least the Qumran community became free of its holds and a group of Zadokites there sought restoration of the proper Temple.

The Land of On:

The names On, Onam, Onan, and Ono point to the existence of an area likely named for a clan referred to in several passages in the scriptural Prophets[3]. The ancient capital city of the thirteenth Nome of Lower Egypt , with the hieroglyphic name "Oon" (Heliopolis as it was known later in Greek) was a center of worship and place of great learning[4]. The Pharaoh Sesostris I erected a number of obelisks at On[5] and he may well have been the Pharaoh under whom Joseph was vizier. This helps make sense of Genesis 41:45: "Then Pharaoh gave Joseph a new Egyptian name, Zaphenath-paneah. He also gave him a wife, whose name was Asenath. She was the daughter of Potiphera, the priest of On. So Joseph took charge of the entire land of Egypt."

On-Heliopolis was situated very near the southeastern end of the Delta, east of the Pelusiac branch of the Nile. It was one of the most ancient and holiest cities in Egypt. There were several Temples erected in the area including “the House of the Prince” where a sacred tree was identified from which the sun-god rises every morning. The divinity worshipped there included Atum, Re, Harmachis and a god identified as the Heliopolitan form of Osiris. The high reputation of the Heliopolitan astronomers and astrologers led to visits by some of the great thinkers including Plato and Eudoxus of Cnidus.  Even before the foundation of Alexandria, Heliopolis undoubtedly ranked high among cities with a Jewish population. Being situated near the western end of Goshen (on the road from Goshen to Memphis), On was well known to ancient travelers who were headed either south or west from Pelusium.

Ptolemy I Soter captured Judea around 320 BCE and led some 100,000 Jewish captives to Egypt (Letter of Aristeas to Philocrates, 12-13). From these captives, he armed tens of thousands and made them part of his army (who were often rewarded for their service with land). Ptolemy II Philadelphus (~285 BCE) initiated a program which freed the Jews and offered them religious tolerance. That combined with favorable immigration practices attracted many Jews away from the Judean battlefield (due to the Syrian Wars) to the fertile soil of the Nile Delta. Egypt became home to over a million Jews, most of who lived in Alexandria[6] and the ancient land of Goshen.

The ancient city walls of Heliopolis were made of crude brick that may still be seen in the fields. They give us an idea of the city’s dimensions and shape: a trapezium of about 1200 meters west to east, and 1000 meters north to south. The walls were over 15 meters thick and 12 meters high – 3 meters thicker than the outer walls of the Temple of Amun in Karnak (measuring a mere 480 by 550 meters). We will take a look at the Jewish Temple, below.
The Onias Dynasty:

According to Jewish scripture the title of High Priest was to remain in the family of Levi even if there was no son (Ex. 28:1-2; 29:4-5; Lev. 6:15) and, thus, from the first High Priest (Aaron, the brother of Moses) it had been passed down through the generations[7]. King Solomon broke this tradition when he deposed Abiathar and appointed Zadok (a descendant of Eleazar) in his stead (1 Kings 2:35; 1 Chron. 24:2-3). Onias I (aka Honio ben Jaddua) was a descendant of Zadok who was the High Priest in Jerusalem from 323 to 300 BCE. His son Simon I (“the Just”) succeeded him until he died in 260 BCE. His son, Honiyya ben Shimon (Onias II), was still a minor and so Simon’s brothers Eleazar and then Manasseh officiated as high priest (Josephus, Ant." xi. 8, §§ 2-4; xii. 4, § 1) until 250 BCE. This is when a new problem and rivalry arose.

There are several dubious stories in history that relate to Onias I, including that he greeted Alexander the Great in Jerusalem (who probably never passed through it) and who is said to have received a friendly letter from Arius, ruler of the Spartans. What is known is that during Onias' High Priesthood Palestine and Judea were in the middle of continual conflicts between the former generals of Alexander[8] (Ptolemy and Seleucid) who led the forces in Egypt and Syria. Because of the unsettled conditions during this period, many Jews left Judea for the newly founded city of Alexandria (Egypt).

Onias was succeeded by his son Simon I (High Priest from 300-270 BCE) who was extolled in the Jewish literature[9] as “Simon the Just”. He was a leading Hassidim (later the Pharisees) who initiated what seemed to be a golden era of peace[10]. Simon’s chief maxim was "The world exists through three things: the Law, worship, and beneficence". He was an opponent of the Nazarites and was deeply interested both in the spiritual and in the material development of the nation, refurbishing both the city of Jerusalem and the Temple.

Simeon the Just is called one of the last members of the Great Synagogue[11] (or Anshei Knesset HaGedolah “The Men of the Great Assembly”). It instituted the prayers and blessings for Israel as well as the benedictions for Kiddush and Habdalah”. They also established of the Feast of Purim. As an example of the change that resulted, after Simeon’s death, men ceased to utter the Tetragrammaton (“YHWH”) aloud (Yoma 30b; Tosef. Soah, xiii).

When Simon died (270 BCE) his son, Onias II, was still a minor so his uncle Eleazar bar Jaddus served as High priest for a short period, but he died within a couple of years. After him Manasseh bar Jaddus officiated as High Priest (even though the very old Jaddus was still alive).

At this point, it may be useful to divert from the main theme and examine three related matters: the feud between the Oniades and the Tobiades, the schism between the Orthodox Jews and the Hellenists, and the debate between the “pious ones” or Hassidim and the modernists or Sadducees.

It was then as it is now, the foundation of governing is taxation. Different schemes may exist for taxation and governments may range from benevolent to wholly corrupt, but their essence remains: take money from those who they govern and use that money for their own purposes and priorities[12]. The gist of all the political struggles and in-fighting from this era (and all others) is to expand the power of taxation. One simply cannot get a proper view of history without close examination of who collects taxes and how they collect them. When we talk about a king taking and occupying some new territory, it is for the purpose of expanding or protecting taxation. Judeans were historically prosperous and thereby a frequent target of others.

During the times that Judea was under foreign control, they almost always had to pay some “tribute” to the foreign leader – even when they had their own “king” or ethnarch. From their origin, the Temple and the priesthood had the power of taxation. During the times that the Jews had a combined King and High Priest, it was difficult or impossible to distinguish taxes that were “political” and taxes that were “religious” (tithes). Sometime around the time of Solomon and Zaddok, the taxes became more easily distinguished and there was a need for tax collection separate from tithes.

We don’t know the details of their history, but between the time of Zaddok and Onias there emerged a powerful family of tax collectors in Judea – the Tobiads. They were generally Aaronites but not Levites and they had a central line descended from Manasseh with strong ties to the Samaritans. They intermarried with the Zaddokites and held positions of trust within the priesthood and government (such as Temple treasurer). As the “establishment” publicans they even collected taxes or tributes for foreign powers, making them wealthy, powerful, and unpopular.

Greek civilization was the dominant world culture from the time of Alexander the Great well into the Roman era and there were many Jews who found the Grecian or Hellenist culture preferable. That was due to three basic facts: the majority of Jews in the world lived within Greek societies[13] (the largest grouping of Jews in the world was in Alexandria), Greek was the language of commerce, government, and most intellectuals, and pro-Hellenistic leaders were in control of both Syria and Egypt. Among the younger Jews, a growing number leaned more and more towards Hellenization creating a rift with traditionalists and the more orthodox. Obviously, there existed a full range of absorption with varying cultural elements, but there would eventually evolve clear lines of distinction.

There were numerous political factions, sects or “parties” within Judea and Judaism, two of which will be important to the succession of the High Priest. The first may generally be designated as the Chasidim (Assidean/Hassidim/Pharisee). They were self designated as “the pious” and Jewish tradition distinguishes between the ' earlier' and the ' later' Chasidim – who began the Pharisee Rabbinical movement. The Hassidim were more liberal and progressive, seeking ways to adapt Judaism to newer ideas. The second sect were the Sadducees (or Tzedukim, sons of Zadok), a priestly group associated with the aristocrats and the leadership of the Temple in Jerusalem. Originally, the Sadducees were the “fundamentalist” or conservative Jews who held to the more traditional beliefs and practices. Later, the name seems to have been purloined or corrupted such that it took on different meanings.

During this period, Judea was (as Josephus says) like a storm-tossed ship on the ocean. In the “First Syrian War”, (274-271 BCE) Antiochus I, the Seleucid king, was trying to expand his empire's holdings in Syria and Anatolia. Ptolemy II scored a major victory and re-took the areas in coastal Syria (including Judea) and southern Anatolia. The “Second Syrian War” (260-253 BCE) had little military significance and was ended when Antiochus II (Theos) married Ptolemy's daughter Berenice Syra[14]. In each of these wars, Judea was caught in the middle.

It would appear that Manasseh gained and held his position by courting the favor of the Ptolemies (who had controlled Judea since the death of Alexander the Great).  But when he married Nicaso, a daughter of Sanballat (III) the Samaritan Governor, Jaddus gave Manasseh the alternative of divorcing his wife or leaving the priesthood. Manasseh went to Sanballat who promised him that if he would retain his daughter as wife he would build a temple upon Mount Gerizim where Manasseh would officiate as high priest. Manasseh, accordingly, remained with his father-in-law and became high priest in the Samaritan temple[15]. Thus, Onias II finally became High Priest around 250 BCE.

 Antiochus II was likely poisoned by Laodice in 246 BCE and in a competition to put their respective sons on the throne, Laodice claimed that Antiochus had named her son heir while on his deathbed but Berenice argued that her newly born son was the legitimate heir. Thus came the “Third Syrian War” (246-241 BCE) between Ptolemy III (Euergetes) and Queen Laodice.  Berenice asked her brother Ptolemy III, the new Ptolemaic king, to come to Antioch and help place her son on the throne, but when Ptolemy arrived Berenice and her child had been assassinated. Ptolemy declared war on Laodice's newly crowned son, Seleucus II, and campaigned against him (and his brother) with great success.

Upon reaching the peak of their dynasty (240-225 BCE), the Ptolemies were to be significantly weakened by court intrigue and public unrest. Ptolemy III reigned from 246-222 BCE. Onias II died in 240 BCE and was succeeded by his son Simon II[16]. Ptolemy IV Philopator inaugurated his reign (221-204 BCE) with the murder of his queen and mother Berenice II. The young king succumbed to the influence of imperial courtiers and ministers who used their positions for their own self-interest (at the people's expense). In this context, we have the start of the great Jewish feud and historical fraud.

Josephus[17](the Jewish/Roman historian of the first century) provides fascinating reading regarding this period, although it is clear that he was less concerned about the truth  than making his point and advancing his cause. We are left to wonder about the biases and sources (apparently Samaritan and pro-Tobian) of the historian. Josephus paints a picture that often makes little sense (along with getting names and dates wrong), but he does provide some useful information about another powerful Jewish family that we should know about, the Tobiades.

Joseph bar Tobias (apparently a descendant of Tobiah the Ammonite -Neh. 2: 19) was the nephew of Onias II (his mother was the sister of Onias I) who served as Temple treasurer. His father (Tobias) was the chief tax collector. Parsing the work of Josephus, we learn how Tobias got this position…

When the day came on which King Ptolemy was to let the taxes of the cities to farm  and the principals of several countries [Coele Syria, Phoenicia, Judaea, and Samaria] were to bid for them, [Tobias] accused the bidders of conspiring to under-estimate the value of the taxes [which came to eight thousand talents] and bid twice their offer. The king was pleased and said he would confirm the sale of the taxes, but asked [Tobias] what sureties that would be bound for the payment of the money. Tobias answered: "I will give such security, and those of persons good and responsible, and which you shall have no reason to distrust:  thyself and thy wife - and you shall be security for both parties."  Ptolemaeus laughed at the proposal, and granted him the farming of the taxes without any sureties.

The Jews would have been delighted to have non-foreign tax collectors[18] and the Tobians initially gained favor with the Jewish people. We don’t know the dates involved, but Josephus tells us that the Tobians were the Egyptian tax collectors for at least 22 years (probably from around 240-214 BCE). To show the power involved in such, Josephus offers these details (parsed):

Joseph took with him two thousand foot soldiers to Ascalon and demanded the taxes. They refused to pay anything; upon which he seized upon about twenty of the principal men, slew them, gathered what they had together, and sent it all to the king.  Ptolemaeus... gave him leave to do as he pleased. When the Syrians heard of this, they willingly admitted Joseph and paid their taxes. When the inhabitants of Scythopolis would not pay him taxes without disputing about them, he slew the principal men of that city and sent their effects to the king. He gathered great wealth by this farming of the taxes and made use of what estate he had thus gotten in order to support his authority. He privately sent many presents to the king, to Cleopatra, to their friends, and to all that were powerful about the court, thereby purchasing their good-will. (Ibid).

The Tobias family naturally favored continued Egyptian control, but the Onias family favored the Syrians and the improved possibility of greater independence they offered. When Antiochus III took the Seleucid throne in 223 BCE, he set out to restore the possessions lost by his predecessors and two more Syrian Wars (the Fourth from 220-217 BCE and the Fifth from 202-195 BCE) ensued. Joseph was followed by an ambitious son, Hyrcanus.

Simon II (named “the Just” by some historians in contrast to the prior Simon) held the High Priesthood from 220-190 BCE). Antiochus III (“the Great” - brother of Seleucus II) entered into Palestine in 218 BCE by defeating Ptolemy III but was then defeated by in the battle of Raphia (near Gaza) in 217 BCE. The Ptolemaic  victory was also a loss since the native Egyptians who had fought at Raphia broke from Ptolemy in what is known as the Egyptian Revolt and establishing their own kingdom in Upper Egypt. This would preoccupy the Ptolemies, along with other economic problems and rebellions, through the next decade.

Ptolemy IV died in 204 BCE and a bloody conflict over the regency followed (beginning with the murder of the dead king's wife and sister by the ministers Agothocles and Sosibius). Agothocles held the regency for a couple of years - until he was lynched by an Alexandrian mob. The regency was passed from one adviser to another, the nativist movement expanded with the support of Egyptian priests, and the kingdom was in a state of near anarchy

Antiochus III put together a new alliance (with Philip V of Macedon) and undertook a new invasion of Coele-Syria which earned him the important port of Sidon and delivered a crushing blow to the Ptolemies.  He then prepared to invade Egypt itself, but the Romans would suffer no disruption of their grain imports from Egypt and demanded a settlement. The parties willingly complied and in 195 BCE Ptolemy and Antiochus signed a treaty that left the Seleucid king in possession of Coele-Syria and Judea.

Meanwhile, the Judeans had trouble of their own.  The Samaritans were flourishing and took land claimed by the Judeans (Josephus). Simon II chose a course of conciliation and assigned many Tobians (Samaritans and Benjamites) to important posts. When he was replaced by his son, Onias III, in 190 BCE, the intrigue of the High Priesthood would reach its apex and the line of succession would be broken again.

Onias III (known as “the Pious One”) was surrounded by international conflicts and confronted by increasing intra-family tensions, but he repeatedly demonstrated his ability to preserve the prosperity of the country along with the religious and secular authority of his family. He saw the Egyptian-Syrian settlement as an opportunity to change alliances and so he withheld payment of the Egyptian tribute against the advice of his Tobian advisors. The kings of Syria and Egypt were both wanting to have the support of the Jews and so they both honored the Jerusalem Temple and presented it with expensive gifts.

Antiochus III (‘the Great”) was soundly defeated by the Romans in several battles between 191 and 189 BCE and was forced to enter into the Treaty of Apamea in 188 BCE. As part of that treaty, one of Antiochus’ sons was delivered to the Romans as a hostage. However, within a year, Seleucus IV Philopator (the oldest son of Antiochus III) followed his father onto the throne and so the Romans exchanged their hostage, the younger Antiochus IV, for his nephew Demetrius I Soter (the son and heir of Seleucus).  Onias gained the favor of Seleucus and was on such friendly terms with him that the King collected no Temple Tax and even made contributions to the cost of "services of the sacrifices."

The Tobians easily changed loyalties and were becoming more and more Grecianised. Being unable to collect taxes for the Egyptians, they sought favor with the Syrians in a contest for power and wealth against the Oniades. The contest reached a turning point when the head of the Temple - a Tobian named Simeon (bar Bilgah, a Benjamite) - demanded the post of commissioner (“Agoranomos”)[19]  from Onias. (II Macc. 3:4). Onias refused and Simeon turned to Apollonius, son of Thraseas of Tarsus and governor of Coelesyria and Phoenicia, to inform him about "untold sums of money[20]" held in the Temple treasury. Appolonius told Seleucus and the King dispatched Heliodorus, his chancellor, to investigate and take the money if it was found. When Heliodorus arrived in Jerusalem and made his inquiries, Onias remonstrated that the funds held in the Temple were primarily "deposits of widows and orphans" but also included a substantial sum belonging  to Hyrcanus, son of Joseph bar Tobias[21]. Nevertheless, Heliodorus persisted in his mission and sought to see and abscond with the funds (supposedly consisting of 30,000 pounds of silver and 15,000 pounds of gold) (II Mac. 3).

According to legend (and the Book of the Maccabees), when Heliodorus entered the Temple God intervened in the form of a horse mounted apparition that scared the wits out of Heliodorus. Onias interceded to save Heliodorus, but he was no longer willing to enter the Temple.  Heliodorus returned to Seleucus empty handed and advised the king to send an enemy on this mission instead of him.

The traitor Simeon (the Tobian) then advised Seleucus that Onias had actually tricked Heliodorus to avoid giving up the treasure. His unholy action led to bloodshed between their followers and families. The Oniades won the minor civil war and cast the Tobians out of Jerusalem. Simeon (and followers) ran to Seleucus with further allegations against Onias and asked him to make use of them as his leaders of an expedition into Judea to settle the dispute (Jos. Wars,   ). Instead, Seleucus allowed the Tobians their own little empire east of the Jordan River (in the vicinity of Heshbon) where they built the castle of Tyre, carried on war with the Arabs, and ruled during the remaining seven years of Seleucus’ reign.

With victory over the Tobians came defeat within Onias’ family. With the Tobians gone, other members of Onias’ family assumed vacated positions. Onias’s son Jason obtained access to Temple funds and then went to Seleucus offering an extraordinary sum[22] for the title of High Priest. That might not have been enough, but Jason was as willing to sell out his religion as his family and so he also promised to convert Jerusalem into a Hellenized city and to do away with Jewish services. Seleucus took the deal and Onias was forced into exile.

Jason proved good to his promises: he built a gymnasium near the Temple and instituted the full range of Greek culture[23] and corruption. He set aside the existing Syrian and Roman concessions[24] to the Jews and modified the Temple and its services. Seleucus was so pleased that he granted the citizens of Jerusalem the privileges and title of citizens of Antioch.

Heliodorus assassinated Seleucus and seized the throne for himself, but soon thereafter, the brother of the Seleucus, Antiochus IV Epiphanes re-took the throne with the help of the Pergamon monarch Eumenes II[25]. (The true heir Demetrius, son of Seleucus, was being retained in Rome as a hostage so Seleucus’ infant son, named Antiochus, was formal head of state for a few years until Epiphanes had him murdered). Jason offered to pay Antiochus in order to be confirmed as the new High Priest in Jerusalem and Antiochus accepted the offer, banishing Onias III. Jason sought to create a Greek-style Polis in Jerusalem (re-named Antioch after the king) and abandoned ordinances granting the Judeans religious freedom given under Antiochus III. It is little wonder that Orthodox Jews, including the later Essenes, would view Jason as “the Evil One” and imposter to the high priesthood.

Jason's time as High Priest ended unexpectedly in 172 BCE when he sent Menelaus, the brother of Simon the Benjaminite, to deliver tribute to Antiochus. Menelaus took this opportunity to "outbid" Jason for the priesthood[26] and Antiochus appointed Menelaus (who was not an Aaronite), as the “High Priest” (given the title but not the religious authority). At this point, we see the bifurcation of the high-priest lineage and confusion among historians regarding the name Onias.

After receiving the king's orders he returned to Jerusalem possessing no qualification for the high priesthood, but having the decree of King Seleucus and the enforcement of his army. Thus, Jason supplanted his own brother by bribery and was then supplanted by another through bribery. He was driven out of Jerusalem as a fugitive and ended up in the land of Ammon.

Menelaus held the title to the office, but he was unable to regularly pay the money promised to the king.  Seleucus ordered his general of the Jerusalem citadel, Sostratus, to demand payments past due or to bring Menelaus to Antioch. Unable to pay, Menelaus was forced to leave left his brother Lysimachus to act as the High Priest while he was away. With his life on the line, Menelaus returned to Jerusalem desperate for funds and so he stole the golden vessels belonging to the Temple.

It was in the year 170 BCE that Onias decided that he must go to Seleucus and intercede on behalf of his people. But, before a decision was given, Seleucus was opportunistically assassinated by his minister and "friend" Heliodorus while an accomplice, Andronicus, murdered Seleucus's infant son (the available legitimate heir). But, their coup failed when Antiochus IV Epiphanes returned from Rome and took advantage of the murder to install himself as King Antiochus IV Epiphanes[27].

Menelaus took advantage of the timing and conspired with Heliodorus to have his accomplice Andronicus entice Onias from his sanctuary at Daphne and treacherously slay him. This action caused great indignation among both the Jews and the Greeks (2 Macc 4:34). Nevertheless, Menelaus managed to remain in office[28] and further abrogate the Jewish observances. The new King ordered Andronicus put to death and Heliodorus banished.

Upon the killing of Onias III, a group of supporters took his young son, Onias IV, and fled to Egypt[29] (many Jews believed that salvation would come from Egypt) to seek sanctuary from the Court of Alexandria: King Ptolemy VI Philometor and Queen Cleopatra I[30]. The royals gladly gave refuge to such a prominent personage who was the enemy of an enemy[31].

Then, in 167 BCE, the deposed High Priest Jason gathered a small army and made a surprise attack on the city of Jerusalem forcing Menelaus to flee. Meanwhile, Antiochus had taken his army to the Sinai with the intent of settling the long-term feud with the Ptolemies. However, he and his army were turned away[32] from their attack and upon hearing about Menelaus’ situation he took his army to Jerusalem and restored Menelaus as “High Priest”. As punishment for the complicity on the Jews, Antiochus  executed thousands of men, women and children, built a citadel near the Temple called the Acra (rebuilt by the Hasmoneans as “Baria/Baris” and partly used later by the Romans as “Antonia”[33]), and decreed most Jewish religious practices unlawful. (See 2 Maccabees 6:1-11). The Temple was desecrated and services were stopped. Judaism in Judea was outlawed and there was no Jewish High Priest in Jerusalem.

This began centuries of “religious civil war” that divided Judea and Judaism into hostile camps— the Orthodox versus the Hellenists. The war was directly related to who should be High Priest and was still being waged during the time of Jesus. There are many indications that the family of Joseph was deeply involved and, therefore, aspects of history related to this feud deserve more detailed explanation.

Once given sanctuary in Egypt, Onias IV soon requested permission to build a Temple in Egypt modeled after the Temple at Jerusalem. There he would reinstate the legitimate Jewish priesthood based upon the Levitical/Aaronite priesthood and orthodox traditions. He sold the idea to Ptolemy by suggesting that building an alternative Temple and place of offering would draw many Jews away from the Syrians and the Jewish oppression in Jerusalem. For Ptolemy, a big selling point for accepting the Jewish Temple was  the claim that the Jews it attracted would be willing soldiers ("B. J." vii. 10,§2). This was clearly indicated by the fact that Onias also proposed to build a fortress around the temple in order to protect the surrounding territory and to serve Ptolemy with his Jewish army. Ptolemy not only agreed to Onias’ plans, but also provided substantial funding for the "Oneion" project ("B. J." vii. 10, § 3). Thus,  Leontopolites[34]   became a Jewish center and the area’s ancient temples were restored for use by the Jews. (See note regarding “Temple of Onias”).

Onias’ timing could hardly have been better since soon after work began on the new Temple and its altar the Jerusalem Temple was taken over by the Hellenists and Jewish services were cut off. With a temple in Egypt, Alexandrian Jews – the largest Jewish population in the world at that time – had a more convenient place for services. Judean Jews had no other choice; not only was their Temple desecrated, their fundamental religious practices were punishable by death. There was no dispute that Onias was a legitimate High Priest (if not the only legitimate one) and the Egyptian Temple became the center of Judaism for several years.

Antiochus's religious persecution proved to be a major miscalculation as it provoked a full-scale revolt (starting in 167 BCE). Mattathias, a Jewish priest, and his five sons Jochanan, Simeon, Eleazar, Jonathan, and Judah (together known as the Maccabeans) led a rebellion against Antiochus. By 166 BCE Mattathias had died, and Judah (who became known as Yehuda HaMakabi "Judah the Hammer") became the leader of the revolt.  Through the heroic achievements of Judah (defeating several large and well-equipped armies of Antiochus[35]) the Jewish revolt against the Seleucid monarchy gained remarkable success: in 165 BCE, the Temple was liberated, rebuilt according to the Torah, and rededicated to worship (the festival of Hanukkah[36] was later instituted to commemorate this triumph).

We don’t know who presided over the Temple during this time and it is interesting that the historical record is lacking in such a critical detail. It is a good guess that the information was intentionally removed from the records because of controversy and changing “victors”. Reading between the lines and creating a likely scenario (relying mostly  upon what we are told by Josephus, the Maccabee books, and other sources, we suppose the following…

Despite his temporary success, Judah was caught between strong opposing forces in Jerusalem: Hellenists, Hasidim[37], Zadokites, Syrians, and Ptolemaics. He also knew that eventually, Antiochus’ main army could return from Parthia. In an effort to appease as many as possible, he selected an Aaronite (but not of the high-priestly line) Hellenist named Alcimus[38] as High Priest. This turned into a disaster for everyone involved: Alcimus was too much of a Hellenizer for the Hasidim and not enough of a Zadokite for most[39]. Even worse, he was cruel and over- ambitious. He got himself ousted from Jerusalem and went promptly to Judah’s Syrian enemy Antiochus Eupator seeking re-instatement. But Antiochus had other bigger problems to deal with and died in 164 BCE before acting upon Alcimus’ request.

Since Alcimus didn’t act as High priest for at least a year, we know that somebody filled in during his absence - and it may well have been an Oniad. Demetrius I Soter replaced Antiochus as the Syrian King and he accepted whatever promises and claims Alcimus made. And, although Judah had gained a remarkable victory, he still didn’t control all of Jerusalem, much less Judea. He was repelled, in 164 BCE, when he attempted to drive the Syrian garrison out the Acra (fortress) in the lower city.  In 162 BCE, Demetrius sent an army under his general Bacchides to re-establish Alcimus to the High Priesthood in Jerusalem[40]. With twenty thousand infantry and two thousand cavalry, Bacchides met and killed Judah at the Battle of Elasa (161 BCE). The Hellenists were again in charge of Jerusalem.

Many Jews welcomed the idea of peace and the hope that a priestly High Priest would bring a return to proper Temple worship. Bacchides left a strong garrison in Jerusalem and returned to Antioch along with most of his army. Jonathan (the youngest son of Mattathias and brother of Judah) took over the Maccabean leadership. He barely eluded capture by the Syrians and started reorganizing the Judean resistance.  Alcimus died miserably of “palsy” in 159 BCE - the Jews believed that it was God acting in response to Alcimus’ desecrations of the Temple.

When Demetrius was overthrown, Jonathan courted more gentile allies and took control of more territory. He even invaded southern Galilee. Despite spectacular external political gains, Jonathan's policies created religious discord among conservative/orthodox Jews, many of whom viewed his claim to the high-priesthood as illegitimate. The orthodox Jews had not forgotten who the legitimate High Priest was (Onias IV).

Onias had not only enjoyed the favor of the Egyptian court, he had succeeded in elevating Egyptian Judaism to a position of greater respect and significance. As he had suggested, a large number of Judeans (called "inhabitants" by the Egyptians) had either accompanied him to Egypt or had followed later. These inhabitants performed military service and served the Ptolemies well enough to be given tracts of land for their own. ("Ant." xi. 8,§6). The district even became known as the "country of Onias" Like the Maccabees (Tobiades), Onias had an army and had fought on behalf of his benefactors. (Egypt had the same type of intrigue and in-fighting as the Syrians). (Josephus, "Contra Ap." ii. 5).

The situation in Egypt changed when peace came to Judea and Ptolemy VI Philometor died in 145 BCE.  His wife, Cleopatra II, proposed joint rule with Ptolemy VIII Euergetes II (aka “Ptollemy II Physcon”) and he became Pharaoh in 144 (after murdering Cleopatra’s son). The new Pharaoh had been opposed by Alexandrian intellectuals and Jews[41] and he took his revenge on them, engaging in mass purges and expulsions. With the changes in politics in both Egypt and Judea, there were good reasons for the Egyptian Jews to think that it was the right time to restore the legitimate High Priest to the Jerusalem Temple. The Tobiades had other ideas. But first, we should return to Jonathan Maccabee and the Syrian throne.

In 175 BCE, the unimaginable happened again -  God’s anointed High Priest (Onias III) was replaced by an usurper who was not qualified to hold the post – his brother (or nephew) Jason (aka Jesus bar Simon). When Antiochus Epiphanes ascended to the throne of the Seleucid Empire (which controlled Judea at the time), Jason bribed the new King for appointment to the position of Jewish High Priest (aided by his cousin Menelaus bar Manasseh).

When Onias III was killed in 172 BCE, loyalists managed to save his son (Onias IV in some writings) and take him to Egypt. There, Ptolemy VI (an enemy of Antiochus) and Cleopatra V gladly granted him asylum and even approved his building of a Temple at an ancient temple site in the Nome of Heliopolis (some say the City of Leontopolis, the modern Tell al-Yahudi[42]). Supposedly, Onias sold the idea to the royal court based upon the prediction of the prophet Isaiah (Is. 19:19) that a Jewish temple would be erected in Egypt[43].

Menelaus and Jason were both corrupt and careless, raiding the Temple treasures to buy armies and pay bribes. By 170 BCE, the Jerusalem Temple was hardly recognizable as a Jewish institution. In 168 BCE, Antiochus Epiphanes finally became fed up with the Jews and decided it was time to utterly destroy Judaism. He went to Jerusalem, devastated the city and its citizens, defiled the temple (sacrificing swine on the altar), destroyed all the holy writings that could be found, erected an altar to Zeus in the temple and forbade circumcision or worship of the Shabbat (Sabbath) on pain of death[44].  The city was fully converted to Hellenistic ways, including the building of a gymnasium (with nude athletics). Judaism in Jerusalem was essentially dead. Was it merely fortunate “coincidence” that a new Temple had just opened in Leontopolis with the legitimate High Priest and a large body of Levites and priests?

The Onias temple was only similar to the Temple at Jerusalem: it was smaller and had at its center a high tower (obelisk?) – a remant of the ruined temple of Bubastis. The interior arrangement was also simpler: it had a hanging lamp instead of a candelabrum. We don’t know if it had a “Holy of Holies”, but it would be surprising that it wouldn’t. There was a court (τέμενος) which was surrounded by a brick wall with stone gates. The entire Temple area was surrounded by fortifications (χύρωμα) and there was a separate fortress (θρωύριον).

For five years (the “inter-sacerdotium” period), the Egyptian Temple was the only place where Jews could worship and sacrifice to their God. But then, in 165 BCE, Judas Maccabeus re-captured Jerusalem and purified and rededicated the Jerusalem Temple (the origin of the Jewish "Festival of Lights" or Hannukkah). Many Jews believed that this would lead to the restoration of the proper High Priesthood in Jerusalem, but Judas had other ideas – he appointed his younger brother Jonathan to the post instead. However, neither the war nor the dispute was over.

Many Jews were tired of war and, having their Temple restored, saw little reason to continue fighting. Judas and his brothers sought to expand Jewish control in a larger region, had control of the military, and also had great popularity. The new Seleucid king, Demetrius I Soter, found favor with Alcimus[45]  of the Hellenizing party. According to 1 Maccabees (7: 14) he was an Aaronite but not in the high-priestly line. Demetrius sent an army to establish Alcimus in the high priesthood at Jerusalem, but soon after the Syrian army left, Judas Maccabee attacked and drove Alcimus to Syria. Two armies and attacks on Jerusalem later (in 163 BCE), the Syrians defeated and killed Judas and restored Alcimus as high priest. They also left a strong garrison in Jerusalem to ensure his power and their Hellenistic control[46]. The Jews had been granted “religious freedom” by Demetrius, but their religious leader was still in Egypt.

Then along came the Romans…

The Egyptian Temple of Onias:

The major rift between the Judeans and the Samaritans had to do with the scriptural location of the Jewish Temple first and a legitimate priesthood second. The Onias Temple in Egypt was just the opposite. Because its story focuses upon the Jewish High Priesthood and that story is told in Appendix VII, I will summarize it here. But first, another warning: most of the information we have about the Onias Temple comes from Josephus and Judean sources that sought to downplay its significance and minimize the matter of the illegitimate High Priesthood in Jerusalem. We must read their history with that in mind.

We should also note the importance of ritual sacrifice (and offerings) within Judaism – and the scriptural limitation regarding its practice. In essence, the specific rituals involving Jewish sacrifice require a functioning priesthood and that priesthood may only be led by an Aaronite in proper descendancy. In other words, a Jewish temple offering sacrifice that didn’t have a proper priesthood wasn’t a Jewish Temple at all and those who sacrificed there could receive no divine benefit. Thus, the greatest claim the Onias Temple could make was this it was the only legitimate place for divine ritual sacrifice[47] and the fact that many went there for that purpose (and that the Judeans didn’t argue that sacrifice there was illegitimate[48]) speaks volumes. Regardless of what was said by the Judeans, it is readily apparent that many Jews during that time believed that the Onias Temple was the legitimate one[49].

Origins:  The story of the Onias Temple begins in 195 BCE with the signing of a treaty after a series of wars between Ptolemy (Egypt) and Antiochus (Syria). The treaty left the Seleucid King Antiochus III in possession of Coele-Syria and Judea. Meanwhile, the Samaritans took land claimed by the Judeans (Josephus). The High Priest Simon II chose a course of conciliation and assigned many Tobians (Samaritans and Benjamites) to important posts. Jason’s son, Onias III, would be the last High Priest of his line to serve in Jerusalem until the reign of Herod.

Onias III (known as “the Pious One”) was surrounded by international conflicts and confronted by increasing intra-family tensions, but he repeatedly demonstrated his ability to preserve the prosperity of the country along with the religious and secular authority of his family (contrary to the history written by his opponents). With the Egyptians and the Syrians wanting Jewish support they honored both the Jewish Temples (Jerusalem and Mt. Gerizim) by presenting them with expensive gifts. Onias then allegedly withheld payment of the Egyptian tribute (against the advice of his Tobian advisors and tax collectors)[50].

The Tobians sought favor with the Syrians in a contest for power and wealth against the Oniades. The contest reached a turning point when the head[51] of the Temple - a Tobian named Simeon (bar Bilgah, a Benjamite) - demanded the post of commissioner (“Agoranomos”)[52]  from Onias. (II Macc. 3:4). Onias refused and Simeon went to the Syrian King Seleucus and told them about "untold sums of money[53]" held in the Temple treasury. Seleucus dispatched Heliodorus, his chancellor, to investigate and take the money if it was found. Onias remonstrated that the funds held in the Temple were primarily "deposits of widows and orphans" but also included a substantial sum belonging  to Hyrcanus, son of Joseph bar Tobias[54] (supposedly consisting of 30,000 pounds of silver and 15,000 pounds of gold) (II Mac. 3).

The traitor Simeon then advised Seleucus that Onias had actually tricked Heliodorus to avoid giving up the treasure. His led to bloodshed between the Oniades and Tobians resulting in the Tobiads being chased out of Jerusalem. Simeon (and followers) ran to Seleucus with further allegations against Onias and asked him to make use of them as his leaders of an expedition into Judea to settle the dispute. Instead, Seleucus allowed the Tobians their own little empire east of the Jordan River (in the vicinity of Heshbon) where they built the castle of Tyre (some sources term this a “temple”), carried on war with the Arabs, and ruled during the remaining seven years of Seleucus’ reign.

With victory over the Tobians came defeat within Onias’ family. With the Tobians gone, other members of Onias’ family assumed vacated positions. Onias’s son Jason obtained access to Temple funds and then went to Seleucus offering an extraordinary sum[55] for the title of High Priest. Even that might not have been enough, but Jason was as willing to sell out his religion as his family and so he also promised to convert Jerusalem into a Hellenized city and to do away with Jewish services. Seleucus took the deal and Onias III was forced into exile (at the sanctuary in Daphne).

Jason proved good to his promises: he built a gymnasium near the Temple and instituted the full range of Greek culture[56] and corruption. He set aside the existing Syrian and Roman concessions[57] to the Jews and modified the Temple and its services. Seleucus was so pleased that he granted the citizens of Jerusalem the privileges and title of citizens of Antioch. But then intrigue shifted the Syrian leadership
and the new King Antiochus required Jason to pay in order to remain High Priest in Jerusalem. Jason continued the conversion of Jerusalem into a Greek-style Polis (re-named Antioch after the king) and abandoned ordinances granting the Judeans religious freedom. Orthodox Jews, including the later Essenes, would view Jason as “the Evil One” and imposter to the High Priesthood.

But then, in 172 BCE, Jason's sent Menelaus, the brother of Simon the Benjaminite, to deliver tribute to Antiochus. Menelaus took this opportunity to "outbid" Jason for the priesthood[58] and Antiochus appointed Menelaus (who was not an Aaronite), as the “High Priest” (given the title but not the religious authority). At this point, we see the unquestionable bifurcation of the High-Priest lineage and the trigger of much confusion among historians regarding the name Onias. After receiving the king's orders he returned to Jerusalem possessing no qualification for the high priesthood, but having the decree of the Syrian King and the enforcement of his army. Thus, Jason supplanted his own brother by bribery and was then supplanted by another through greater bribery.

Menelaus held the title to the office but he was unable to pay the promised bribe. In 171 BCE, Antiochus required Menelaus to appear before him and with his life on the line and desperate for funds, Menelaus stole the golden vessels belonging to the Temple. He left his brother Lysimachus to act as the High Priest while he was away. This started a revolt in Jerusalem and Onias decided that he must go to Antioch and intercede on behalf of his people. But an attempted coup failed when Antiochus IV Epiphanes returned from Rome and installed himself as King Antiochus IV Epiphanes[59]. Menelaus took advantage of the timing and conspired to have Onias assassinated. This action caused great indignation among both the Jews and the Greeks (2 Macc 4:34)[60]. Nevertheless, Menelaus managed to remain in office[61] and further abrogate the Jewish observances.

Upon the killing of Onias III, a group of supporters took his young son, Onias IV, to seek sanctuary from the Court of Alexandria: King Ptolemy VI Philometor and Queen Cleopatra I[62]. The Egyptian royals gladly gave refuge to such a prominent personage who was the enemy of an enemy[63]. Onias IV requested permission to build a Temple in Egypt modeled after the Temple at Jerusalem, reinstating the legitimate Jewish priesthood based upon orthodox traditions. He sold the idea to Ptolemy by suggesting that building an alternative Temple and place of offering would draw many Jews away from the Syrians and the Jewish oppression in Jerusalem. For Ptolemy, a big selling point for accepting the Jewish Temple was  the claim that the Jews it attracted would be willing soldiers ("B. J." vii. 10,§2). This was clearly indicated by the fact that Onias also proposed to build a fortress around the temple in order to protect the surrounding territory and to serve Ptolemy with his Jewish army[64]. Ptolemy not only agreed to Onias’ plans, but also provided substantial funding for the "Oneion" project ("B. J." vii. 10, § 3). Thus, in 170 BCE, Leontopolites[65]   became a Jewish center within Egypt and construction began on a new Jewish Temple.

Then, in 167 BCE, the deposed High Priest Jason gathered a small army and made a surprise attack on the city of Jerusalem forcing Menelaus to flee. Antiochus took his army to Jerusalem and restored Menelaus as “High Priest”. As punishment for the complicity on the Jews, Antiochus  executed thousands of men, women and children, built a citadel near the Temple called the Acra (used later by the Romans as “Antonia”) and decreed most Jewish religious practices unlawful. (See 2 Maccabees 6:1-11). The Temple was desecrated and services were stopped. Judaism in Judea was outlawed and there was no Jewish High Priest in Jerusalem.

All of this seemed to support the prophecy of Isaiah:  “In those days, five of Egypt's cities will follow the Lord of Heaven's Armies. They will even begin to speak Hebrew, the language of Canaan. One of these cities will be Heliopolis, the City of the Sun. In that day there will be an altar to the LORD in the heart of Egypt, and a monument to the LORD at its border. It will be a sign and witness to the LORD Almighty in the land of Egypt. When they cry out to the LORD because of their oppressors, he will send them a savior and defender, and he will rescue them. So the LORD will make himself known to the Egyptians, and in that day they will acknowledge the LORD. They will worship with sacrifices and grain offerings; they will make vows to the LORD and keep them. (Is. 19:18-21).

Just as the Onias Temple (with the legitimate High Priest) was consecrated (in 169-168 BCE), the corrupted Temple in Jerusalem was closed. The Judean historians conveniently neglect to record the historical fact: there were several years during this time when Jews who wanted to practice their temple-based religion had no choice but to go outside of Jerusalem. Some would have gone to the Samaritan Temple, but most would have gone to Leontopolis and in doing such would have accepted its Temple’s legitimacy.

The Temple at Leontopolites:

When Onias appeared before Ptolemy and Cleopatra, he not only had the prophecy of Isaiah as a basis for a Jewish Temple in Egypt, he had an ancient history and a modern foundation to build upon. Egypt had special significance to the Jews as “Goshen” was the home of Abraham[66], Joseph[67], and Moses[68]. The part of Egypt which included the area southeast from the Pelusian arm of the Nile towards Arabia and the Red Sea[69], with the Wilderness of Shur on the Sinai Peninsula forming a “no-man’s land” region eastward, was the home of the Israelites from the time of Jacob to that of Moses. Israelites shared Egyptian blood and had deep roots in Egyptian soil.

The ancient capital city with the hieroglyphic name "Oon" (Heliopolis as it was known later in Greek) was a center of worship and place of great learning[70]. The Pharaoh Sesostris I erected a number of obelisks at On[71] and he may well have been the Pharaoh under whom Joseph was vizier. This helps make sense of Genesis 41:45: "Then Pharaoh gave Joseph a new Egyptian name, Zaphenath-paneah. He also gave him a wife, whose name was Asenath. She was the daughter of Potiphera, the priest of On. So Joseph took charge of the entire land of Egypt."

Ptolemy I Soter captured Judea around 320 BCE and led some 100,000 Jewish captives to Egypt (Letter of Aristeas to Philocrates, 12-13). From these captives, he armed tens of thousands and made them part of his army (who were often rewarded for their service with land). Ptolemy II Philadelphus (~285 BCE) initiated a program which freed the Jews and offered them religious tolerance. That combined with favorable immigration practices attracted many Jews away from the Judean battlefield (due to the Syrian Wars) to the fertile soil of the Nile Delta. Egypt became home to over a million Jews, most of who lived in Alexandria[72] and the ancient land of Goshen.

Ptolemy made Onias Ethnarch and Alabarch of the Jews and gave Onias much more than a place to build a temple; he offered an entire region (known as the “Land of Onias” or “Oneion” in Greek) which included “numerous Jewish villages”[73]. The Land of Onias was located in the Nome[74] of Heliopolis and included one of the ancient cities known as “Leontopolis”. (Josephus says that the Onias Temple was in Leontopolis in the Heliopolite Nome and makes reference to Bubastis. There was more than one Egyptian city called “Leontopolis” (city of the lion)[75] and more than one “Heliopolis” (city of the sun). In Ptolemy and Onias' time, the best known Leontopolis was the capital of the Leontopolite Nome and Jospehus confused this). The archeological site of the city of Onias is north of the best known Heliopolis[76] at a place called “Tel el-Yahood or Yahudiya” (“Mound of the Jews" in Arabic) in the cultivated land near Shibbeen.

In more ancient times, Heliopolis, Leontopolis (modern Tel el-Muqdam), and Bubastis were primary religious centers. Heliopolis was once the spiritual centre of ancient Egyptian sun (“Ra”) worship. Tefnut[77] was worshiped there as one of the members of that city's great Ennead[78] (related to the purification of the wabet or priest). Her sanctuary there was known as the “Lower Menset”. Heliopolis flourished as a seat of learning during the Greek period; the schools of philosophy and astronomy are claimed to have been frequented by Orpheus, Homer, Pythagoras, Plato, Solon, Eudoxus and other philosophers. It was there that the Greek mathematician Ichonuphys, lecturing in 308 BCE, learned the true length of the year and month.

The Bubastis temples (in use through the time of King David) also included obelisks and a tower-like structure built with large stones (recorded as 60 cubits or 120 feet in height). Herodotus provided us with an eye-witness description of Bubastis as it appeared shortly after the period of the Persian invasion (circa 525 BCE) (Herodotus ii. 59, 60).

"Temples there are more spacious and costlier than that of Bubastis, but none so pleasant to behold. It is after the following fashion. Except at the entrance, it is surrounded by water: for two canals branch off from the river, and run as far as the entrance to the temple: yet neither canal mingles with the other, but one runs on this side, and the other on that. Each canal is a hundred feet wide, and its banks are lined with trees. The propylaea are sixty feet in height, and are adorned with sculptures (probably intaglios in relief) nine feet high, and of excellent workmanship. The Temple being in the middle of the city is looked down upon from all sides as you walk around; and this comes from the city having been raised, whereas the temple itself has not been moved, but remains in its original place. Quite round the temple there goes a wall, adorned with sculptures. Within the enclosure is a grove of fair tall trees, planted around a large building in which is the effigy (of Bast). The form of that temple is square, each side being a stadium in length. In a line with the entrance is a road built of stone about three stadia long, leading eastwards through the public market. The road is about 400 feet (120 m) broad, and is flanked by exceeding tall trees. It leads to the temple of Hermes."

Here is a sketch of the basic layout of the ruins[79].

 

                              Plan of Tel Basta

And this map shows the location in general…

         

According to Josephus, the Temple of Leontopolis was situated in the Heliopolitan Nome (Ant. 13:3, 2), 180 stadia (20 miles) northeast of Memphis (Wars, 7:10, 2-4). Thus, it could not have been far from the city of Heliopolis itself. At this place, the modern Bilbeis (map above), there was a temple to the goddess Bast and in the neighborhood there is a Tell el-Yehudiyyeh. Another Tell el-Yehudiyyeh with a Jewish cemetery has been found near Heliopolis. French archaeologist Edouard Naville (~1900) identified this as the capital of “the land of Onias” while Josephus’ “Camp of the Jews” (Ant. 14:8, 2) was also northwest of Memphis[80]. There is every reason to accept that an area resplendent with old pagan temples was given to Onias and remodeled by him. Given the historical strategic importance of this area and the variety of ruins and ancient settlements surrounding the cities of On[81], Tanis, and Memphis, we should recognize that the Onias Temple was only a part of a much larger fortified area that would have included the city and Temple of Bubastis as well as the “Babylonian Fort[82]” east of the Nile (in the modern suburb of Cairo known as Heliopolis). The Temple of Onias was built with stone and brick probably using material from other local ruins[83].  These ideas are supported in a letter written by Onias to Ptolemy (recorded by Josephus - Ant. 8:3):

"Having done many and great things for you in the affairs of the war, by the assistance of God, and that in Celesyria and Phoenicia, I came at length with the Jews to Leontopolis, and to other places of your nation, where I found that the greatest part of your people had temples in an improper manner, and that on this account they bear ill-will one against another, which happens to the Egyptians by reason of the multitude of their temples, and the difference of opinions about Divine worship. Now I found a very fit place in a castle that hath its name from the country Diana; this place is full of materials of several sorts, and replenished with sacred animals; I desire therefore that you will grant me leave to purge this holy place, which belongs to no master, and is fallen down, and to build there a temple to Almighty God, after the pattern of that in Jerusalem, and of the same dimensions, that may be for the benefit of thyself, and thy wife and children, that those Jews which dwell in Egypt may have a place whither they may come and meet together in mutual harmony one with another, and he subservient to thy advantages; for the prophet Isaiah foretold that "there should be an altar in Egypt to the Lord God; and many other such things did he prophesy relating to that place."

Some details regarding the construction of the Onias Temple was recorded by historians (Ant., 13.3.1-3; 6; Wars 7.10,3; and Against Apion 2.5). The main area was roughly triangular with a 767’ stone wall on the east side, an entrance to the enclosure at the west acute angle, and the temple at the south point. The entire enclosure covered between three and four acres. The temple had an inner court that was sixty-three feet long by thirty-two to twenty-seven feet wide and an outer court forty-four feet long by twenty-seven to twenty-one feet wide. The architecture was basically Corinthian with Syrian features. The area was generally proportioned like that of the Jerusalem Temple, but at a reduced scale[84].

But its position atop a hill made it appear larger…

 

  

The entire circuit of the walls was some three miles in extent. Within the walled enclosure, archeologists have found a large pile of granite-blocks which appear, from their forms and sculptures, to have belonged to numerous obelisks and gigantic propyla. A long ramp (stairs?) led through the walls and up the 400’ vertical slope to the Temple and fortress. Rising above the surrounds, the Fortress and Temple would have appeared more formidable.

The altar and the offerings were similar to those at Jerusalem, but in place of the seven-branched candlestick there was a single lamp of gold suspended by a golden chain. The service was performed by priests and Levites of pure descent; and the temple possessed considerable revenues, which were devoted to their support and to the adequate celebration of the divine ritual (War, 7:10,3; Ant. 13:3,3).

The reputation which the temple of Onias enjoyed is indicated by the fact that the Septuagint (Isaiah 19:18) terms the city of Onias as the "city of righteousness[85]" (πόλις σεδέκ or ‘ir-ha-zedek). The Judean view of the Temple of Onias was mixed: in later times, it was questioned whether the services there were idolatrous (Jeruf. Jinan, 43 ff) but the Mishna decided the point favorably as priests who had served at Leontopolis were forbidden to serve at Jerusalem, but were not excluded from attending the public services. To give us an idea of how mixed the feelings about the temple were, the rulings held that vows could be discharged rightly at Leontopolis as well as at Jerusalem, but it was not enough to discharge it at the former place only (Menach. 109 n, ap. Jost. as above).

 

 

Fate of the Temple:

Onias’ timing could hardly have been better since soon after work began on the new Temple and its altar the Jerusalem Temple was taken over by the Hellenists and Jewish services were cut off. With a temple in Egypt, Alexandrian Jews – the largest Jewish population in the world at that time – had a more convenient place for services. Judean Jews had no other choice; not only was their Temple desecrated, their fundamental religious practices were punishable by death. There was no dispute that Onias was a legitimate High Priest (if not the only legitimate one) and the Egyptian Temple became the center of Judaism for several years.

Antiochus's religious persecution proved to be a major miscalculation as it provoked a full-scale revolt (starting in 167 BCE). Mattathias, a Jewish priest, and his five sons Jochanan, Simeon, Eleazar, Jonathan, and Judah (together known as the Maccabeans) led a rebellion against Antiochus. By 166 BCE Mattathias had died, and Judah (who became known as Yehuda HaMakabi "Judah the Hammer") became the leader of the revolt.  Through the heroic achievements of Judah (defeating two large and well-equipped armies of Antiochus in 165 BCE) the Jewish revolt against the Seleucid monarchy gained remarkable success: the Jerusalem Temple was liberated, rebuilt according to the Torah, and rededicated to worship (164 BCE) - the December festival of Hanukkah[86] was later instituted to commemorate this triumph. Josephus (Ant. 20:10) relates that the office of High Priest was vacant during this time, but this is highly unlikely since the High Priest was a necessary part of the rites on the Day of Atonement. We don’t know who presided over the Temple during this time, but it may well have been Onias IV.

Some think that “the Wicked Priest” of the Dead Sea Scrolls (Jonathan) attacked and killed the High Priest known as the “Teacher of Righteousness” on the Day of Atonement (when Jews were forbidden by the Law of Moses to defend themselves) and that the Teacher of Righteousness was an Oniade whose name was wiped out by the Maccabeans. That would make sense in the larger historical context.

Later, Ptolemy’s son-in-law Alexander Balas petitioned Jonathan Maccabeus for his support in his bid to become King of Syria and offered him appointment as High Priest and the title of Prince. Jonathan accepted Balas’ offer and during the Feast of Tabernacles in 153 BCE Jonathan put on the High Priest's garments and officiated for the first time (1 Maccabees 9:73-10:66). This was the start of the Hasmonean dynasty in Judea which combined civil rule with the High Priesthood. The orthodox Jews, however, never forgot that the legitimate High Priest was an Oniad.

Onias had not only enjoyed the favor of the Egyptian court, he had succeeded in elevating Egyptian Judaism to a position of greater respect and significance. As he had suggested, a large number of Judeans (called "inhabitants" by the Egyptians) had either accompanied him to Egypt or had followed later. These inhabitants performed military service and served the Ptolemies well enough to be given tracts of land for their own. ("Ant." 11:8,§6). Like the Maccabees and Tobiads, Onias had an army and had fought on behalf of his benefactors. Despite some efforts at reconciliation, the Oniads wouldn’t return to Judea without regaining the High Priesthood, so the Onias Temple continued in operation.

The situation in Egypt changed when peace came to Judea and Ptolemy VI Philometor died in 145 BCE.  His wife, Cleopatra II, proposed joint rule with Ptolemy VIII Euergetes II (aka “Ptollemy II Physcon”) and he became Pharaoh in 144 (after murdering Cleopatra’s son). The new Pharaoh had been opposed by Alexandrian intellectuals and Jews[87] and he took his revenge on them, engaging in mass purges and expulsions. With the changes in politics in both Egypt and Judea, there were good reasons for the Egyptian Jews to think that it was the right time to restore the legitimate High Priest to the Jerusalem Temple.

It appears as though there was movement in that direction during the reign of Salome Alexandra (who ruled Judea from 75–67 BCE) as she was obviously unable to function as High Priest. But her son John Hyrcanus II was favored by the Sanhedrin (which was controlled by the aristocratic Hellenist Sadducees) and he was made High Priest. The Egyptian Jews supported Julius Caesar at Alexandria, leading him to grant privileges to Jews throughout the Roman Empire in 47 BCE. Thus, when Herod I became King of Judea (37 BCE), he appointed Hananiel/Ananeel[88], an Egyptian Oniad, to the position of High Priest in Jerusalem (under what might be viewed as the worst of circumstances).

The Jewish troops in Egypt were taken over as Roman auxiliaries after 30 BCE and Jewish names in papyri from several places in the Nile Delta suggest a continued Jewish military presence into the 1st century CE.  Early in the 1st century, Strabo found the city and temples of Heliopolis almost deserted (unidentified priests were still present).

After the Jewish revolt in 66 CE and destruction of the Jerusalem Temple, some of the fugitives from Palestine attempted an uprising in Alexandria.  Although it failed entirely, it gave the Romans an excuse for plundering and (later, in 71 CE) closing entirely the temple at Leontopolis (Josephus, War, 7: 10)[89]. However, the closure of the temple at Leontopolis by Vespasian did not necessarily destroy the Jewish community around it. And although that community was dispersed after the revolt of 115-17 CE, we note that the Babylon Fort (noted above) was then occupied by Coptic “Christians”.

As a final note that has some tie to our story, I will mention “Atum of the sycamore tree” in Heliopolis. This tree was worked into Christian legend where it became “the Tree of the Virgin”, a sycamore that is said to have been planted in 1672 from the shoot of an older tree. According to Coptic Christian tradition, Joseph, Mary, and Jesus rested beneath it on their excursion to Egypt and, even today, it remains a place of pilgrimage. “Heliopolis: Egypt’s radiance“ by Philip Coppens at http://www.philipcoppens.com/heliopolis.html; see also “Gods of the Egyptians” by E. A. Wallis Budge, Kessinger Publishing, (2003), p.107.

 

Other sources used for this section include: “A Dictionary of the Bible” by Sir William Smith, S.S. Scranton & Co. (1898); "Temple and Rival Temple: The Cases of Elephantine, Mt. Gerizim, and Leontopolis" by Jorg Frey in Gemeinde Ohne Temple (1999); “Women Leaders in the Ancient Synagogue” by Bernadette Brooton (BJS 36, Chicho, Scholar’s Press – 1982) p. 78-83:  Tombstone inscription at Leontopolis: “O Marin, priest (“hierisa”) and good friend to all.” (feminine forms) – a female priest?? (1982), pp. 73f, 88f, 134; “Joseph and Aseneth and the Jewish Temple in Heliopolis” by Gideon Bohak, Atlanta (1996); “The Manners and Customs of the Ancient Egyptians” by John Garner Wilkinson, Volume 3, London: John Murray (1837); “Building Jewish in the Roman East” by Peter Richardson, Baylor Univ. Press (2004) - Women in priestly roles – Therapeutae, sacrificed at temple, diagram. @ p. 168-175.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

The Jewish Temple in Egypt

Solomon’s Temple on Mt. Moriah in Jerusalem (The Jerusalem Temple) was the focus of Judaism for over 1,000 years and as the House of God, it served as gathering place, the place or worship, the place for sacrifice, and the home of both the High Priest and the Jewish High Court (Sanhedrin). Its significance to the Jews is incomparable to any other Temple of the time or any time. There was, however, a little known period when it was closed and its functions were moved to Egypt.

In 175 BCE, the unimaginable happen in Judaism – God’s anointed High Priest (Onias III) was replaced by an usurper who was not qualified to hold the post – his brother (or nephew) Jason (aka Jesus bar Simon). When Antiochus Epiphanes ascended to the throne of the Seleucid Empire (which controlled Judea at the time), Jason bribed the new King for appointment to the position of Jewish High Priest. He was aided by his cousin Menelaus bar Manasseh who then used the bribe money he was asked to deliver to Antiochus as part of his own bribe to replace Jason as High Priest. Gads!

Thus, in 172 BCE, the “High Priest” Menelaus sought to consolidate his position by having the rightful High Priest (Onias III) killed (while under the protection of Temple sanctuary in Daphne). But, loyalists managed to save the son of Onias (known as Onias IV) and take him to Egypt. There, Ptolemy VI (an enemy of Antiochus) and Cleopatra V gladly granted him asylum and even approved his building of a Temple at an ancient temple site in the Nome of Heliopolis (some say the City of Leontopolis, the modern Tell al-Yahudi[90]). Supposedly, Onias sold the idea to the royal court based upon the prediction of the prophet Isaiah (Is. 19:19) that a Jewish temple would be erected in Egypt[91]. I suggest that he also offered to provide some military advantages to Ptolemy (the Temple also served as a fortress).

We don’t know much about the Temple at Leontopolis, but what we do know surprises most. First and foremost, the Jews were faced with the paradox that the Jerusalem Temple was the place of their worship, but the legitimate High Priest (as God’s representative on Earth and the only person who could properly sanctify the Temple) was at the Egyptian Temple. Secondly, a much larger majority of Jews lived in Egypt, perhaps 4-6 times as many as in Judea, and they had long hoped for a more convenient place to worship. And finally, the circumstances in Jerusalem soon gave them no choice.

Menelaus was both corrupt and careless. Jason continued to seek return of his title. They raided the Temple treasures to buy armies and pay bribes. By 170 BCE, the Jerusalem Temple was hardly recognizable as a Jewish institution. In 168 BCE, Antiochus Epiphanes finally became fed up with the Jews and decided it was time to utterly destroy Judaism. He went to Jerusalem, devastated the city and its citizens, defiled the temple (sacrificing swine on the altar), destroyed all the holy writings that could be found, erected an altar to Zeus in the temple and forbade circumcision or worship of the Shabbat (Sabbath) on pain of death[92].  The city was fully converted to Hellenistic ways, including the building of a gymnasium. Judaism in Jerusalem was essentially dead. What a fortunate “coincidence” that a new Temple had just opened in Leontopolis with the legitimate High Priest and a large body of Levites and priests.

The Onias temple was only similar to the Temple at Jerusalem: it was smaller and had at its center a high tower (obelisk?) – a remant of the ruined temple of Bubastis. The interior arrangement was also simpler: it had a hanging lamp instead of a candelabrum. We don’t know if it had a “Holy of Holies”, but it would be surprising that it wouldn’t. There was a court (τέμενος) which was surrounded by a brick wall with stone gates. The entire Temple area was surrounded by fortifications (χύρωμα) and there was a separate fortress (θρωύριον).

Ptolemy endowed Onias and the Temple with large revenues and trusted the Jews to protect the surrounding territory, which was given the designation "Oneion". For five years (the “inter-sacerdotium” period), the Egyptian Temple was the only place where Jews could worship and sacrifice to their God. But then, in 165 BCE, Judas Maccabeus re-captured Jerusalem and purified and rededicated the Jerusalem Temple (the origin of the Jewish "Festival of Lights" or Hannukkah). Many Jews believed that this would lead to the restoration of the proper High Priesthood in Jerusalem, but Judas had other ideas – he appointed his younger brother Jonathan to the post instead. However, neither the war nor the dispute was over.

Many Jews were tired of war and, having their Temple restored, saw little reason to continue fighting. Judas and his brothers sought to expand Jewish control in a larger region, had control of the military, and also had great popularity. The new Seleucid king, Demetrius I Soter, found favor with Alcimus[93]  of the Hellenizing party. According to 1 Maccabees (7: 14) he was an Aaronite but not in the high-priestly line. Demetrius sent an army to establish Alcimus in the high priesthood at Jerusalem, but soon after the Syrian army left, Judas Maccabee attacked and drove Alcimus to Syria. Two armies and attacks on Jerusalem later (in 163 BCE), the Syrians defeated and killed Judas and restored Alcimus as high priest. They also left a strong garrison in Jerusalem to ensure his power and their Hellenistic control[94]. The Jews had been granted “religious freedom” by Demetrius, but their religious leader was still in Egypt.

Thus, a new group – the “Nationalist Party” - was formed. We would call them the Zealots and they would continue to oppose the Hellenists until the Jewish Revolt of 66 CE. The Roman Emperor Vespasian ordered Paulinus, the governor of Egypt, to destroy the Egyptian Temple soon after the destruction of the Temple at Jerusalem (the Jerusalem Temple in 70 CE and the Egyptian Temple in 73 CE[95]) because he thought that it might become a new center for Jewish rebellion. Its furnishings and wealth were confiscated for the Roman treasury and the formal Jewish High Priesthood ended.

 

 

 

 

 

Raw Notes…

 

Temple of Onias - CCG

The construction of the last Temple there in Egypt is recorded (at one stage incorrectly dated at 1 BCE) by The Companion Bible at Appendix 81. The construction is recorded by Josephus (Antiquities of the Jews, 13.3.1-3; 6; The Jewish Wars 7.10,3; and Against Apion 2.5). The summation is that, because of the wars between the Jews and the Syrians, the High Priest, Onias IV, fled to Alexandria. He actively supported Egypt against Syria. He was welcomed there by Ptolemy Philometor because of that fact. He was made prince over the Jews there and made Ethnarch and Alabarch. He asked permission of Ptolemy and Cleopatra to build the Temple there in fulfilment of Isaiah. He asked permission to people it with his own priests and other Levites. The letter he wrote and the reply of the king and queen is recorded in the above Appendix.

 

The Temple in Jerusalem had been defiled by the presence of Greek gods placed there by Antiochus Epiphanes. Jerusalem became highly Hellenised in this period and the system was corrupted.

 

Onias came to Leontopolis in the Heliopolite district or nome. The site of the Temple was the place where Israel had light in their dwellings when Egypt was in darkness. The purpose here was to represent Messiah who would be the light in the darkness. The Temple functioned for more than 200 years from 160 BCE to 71 CE, when it was closed by order of Vespasian. The site was referred to in the LXX as the city of righteousness (‘ir-ha-zedek). The Jews were intensely jealous of this Temple and altered the letters of the words the city of the sun to read the city of destruction (cheres to heres).

 

The five cities referred to in Isaiah 19:18 are probably Heliopolis, Leontopolis, Daphne, Migdol and Memphis.

 

 

Encyclopaedia biblica: a dictionary of the Bible

 By Thomas Kelly Cheyne, John Sutherland Black

Onias, On, and Egypt

Cyclopaedia of Biblical, theological, and ecclesiastical literature, Volume 7

 By James Strong (1894)

 

5. The son of Onins III, who sought a refuge in Egypt from the sedition and sacrilege which disgraced Jerusalem. The immediate occasion of his flight was the triumph of "the sons of Tobias," gained by the interference of Antiochus Epiphanes. Onias, to whom the high-priesthood belonged by right, appears to hare supported throughout the alliance with Egypt (Josephus, War. i, 1, 1). and receiving the protection of Ptolemy Philomi-lor, he endeavored to give a unity to the Hellenistic Jews which seemed impossible for the Jews in Palestine. With this object he founded the temple at Leontopolis. which occupies a position in the history of the development of Judaism of which the importance is commonly overlooked; but the discussion of this attempt to consolidate Hellenism belongs to another place, though the connection of the attempt itself with Jewish history could not be wholly overlooked (Josephus, Ant. xiii. 3; War, i, 1, 1; vii. 10. 2; comp. Ewald, Getch. iv, 405 sq.; Herzfeld, Gesch. ii, 460 so., 557 sq.).

ONUS, CITY or KEGION OF, the city in which stood the temple built by Onias, and the region of the .Jewish settlements in Egypt. Ptolemy mentions the city as the capital of the Heliopolitic Nome: 'HXiojroXin/£ I'm,-.,;,, Kai fjtjrpuirtiXiv 'Oviou (iv. o, § 53); where the reading 'HAi'ov is not admissible, since Heliopolis is afterwards mentioned, and its different position distinctly laid down (§ 64). Joseph us speaks of "the region of Onias." 'Oviov x^P" (^ "'• x'v> ", 1 i Wr<»', >, 9, 4; comp. vii, 10, 2), and mentions a place there situate called " the Camp of the Jews," 'lovoaitav aTpetTuirilov (.Int. xiv, 8, 2; War, 1. c.). In the spurious letters given by him in the account of the foundation of the temple of Onias. it is made to have been at Leontopolis in the Heliopolitic Nome, and called a strong place of Bubastis (Ant. xiii, 3, and 1,2); and when speaking of its closing by the Romans, he says that it was in a region 180 stadia from Memphis, in the Heliopolitic Nome, where Onias had founded a castle (lit. watch-post. poul'ptov. War, vii, 10, 2-4). Lcontopolis was not in the Heliopolitic Nome, but in Ptolemy's time was the capital of the Leontopolitic (iv, o, § 51). and the mention of it is altogether a blunder. There is probably also a confusion as to the city Bubastis; unless, indeed, the temple which Onias adopted and restored was one of the Egyptian goddess of that name.

The site of the city of Onias is to be looked for in some one of those to the northward of Heliopolis which are called Tell el- Yehud, " the Mound of the Jews," or TM tl-Yehudiyeh, "the Jewish Mound." Sir Gardner Wilkinson thinks that there is little doubt that it is one which stands in the cultivated laud near Shibln, to the northward of Heliopolis, in a direction a little to the east, at a distance of twelve miles. " Its mounds are of very great height." He remarks that the distance from Memphis (29 miles) is greater than that given by Josephus; but the inaccuracy is not extreme. Another mound of the same name, standing on the edge of the desert, a short distance to the south of Belbeis, and 24 miles from Heliopolis, would, he thinks, correspond to the Vicus JutUeorurn of the /liiifrdry nf A ntoniitus (see Modtrn Egypt and Thebes, i, 297-300). During the years 1842-1M49 excavations were made in the mound supposed by Sir Gardner Wilkinson to mark the site of the city of Onias. No result, however, was obtained but the discovery of portions of pavement very much resembling the Assyrian pavements now in the British Museum.

From the account of Josephus, and the name given to one of them, " the Camp of the Jews," these settlements appear to have been of a half military nature. The chief of them seems to have been a strong place; and the same is apparently the case witli another, that just mentioned, from the circumstances of the history even more than from its name. This name, though recalling the "Camp" where Psamnietichus I established his Greek mercenaries (Magdolus), does not prove it was a military settlement, as the " Camp of the Tynans" in Memphis (Herod, ii, 112) was perhaps in its name a reminiscence of the Shepherd occupation, for there stood there a temple of " the Foreign Venus," of which the age seems to be shown by a tablet of Amenoph II (H.C. cir. 1400) in the quarries opposite the city in which Ashtoreth is worshipped, or else it may have been a merchant settlement. We may also compare the Coptic name of El-Glzeh, opposite Cairo, Persioi, which has been ingeniously conjectured to record the position nf a Persian camp. The easternmost part of Lower Egvpt, be it remembered, was always chosen for great military settlements, in order to protect the country from the incursions of her enemies beyond that frontier. Here the first Shepherd king Salmis placed an enormous garrison in the stronghold Avaris, the /oan of the Bible (Manetho, ap. Josephus. c. A p. i, 14). Here foreign mercenaries of the Saitic kings of the 26th dynasty were settled; here also the greatest body of the Egyptian soldiers had the lands allotted to them, all being established in the Delta (Herod, ii, 164-lu'C).

Probably the Jewish settlements were established for the same purpose, more especially as the hatred of their inhabitants towards the kings of Syria would promise their opposing the strongest resistance in case of an invasion. The history of the Jewish cities of Egypt is a very obscure portion of that of the Hebrew nation. We know little more than the story of the foundation and overthrow of one of them, though we may infer that they were populous and politically important. It seems at first sight remarkable that we have no trace of any literature of these settlements; but as it would have been preserved to us by either the Jews of Palestine or those of Alexandria, both of whom must have looked upon the worshippers at the temple of Onias as schismatics, it could scarcely have been expected to have come down to us. See Frankel, "Zur Forschung liber den Omaftempfl," in the MonaUictir.Jiir Wiss. d. Judenth. i, 273 sq. See Egypt.

On, the name of a man, and also of a city.

1. (Heb. id. "px, strength, as Job xviii, 7; Sept. Avv.) A son of Peleth, and a chief of the tribe of Reuben, who was one of the accomplices of Koran in the revolt against the authority of Moses and Anron. B.C. cir. 1637. He is mentioned among the leaders of this conspiracy in the first instance (Numb, xvi, 1), but does not appear in any of the subsequent transactions, and is not by name included in the final punishment. "Possibly he repented; and indeed there is a Kahbinical tradition to the effect that he was prevailed upon by his wife to withdraw from his accomplices. Abendana's note is, ' Behold On is not mentioned again, for he was separated from their company after Moses spake with them. And our rabbins of blessed memory said that his wife saved him.' Josephiis (.4 nl. iv, 2, 2) omits the name of On, but retains that of his father in the form <t>nXaoi>c, thus apparently identifying Peleth with Phallu, the son of Keuoen."

2. An important city in Egypt. In the following account we depend largely upon the elucidation which modern researches have afforded.

tfame^-This in the Heb. is the same as the above, •IX, Gen. xli, 50, or in the condensed form 'X, Gen. xli, 45, 50; xlvi, 20 (Sept.'HXiouiroXic; Vulg. Heliopolii), which is doubtless of Coptic etymology. But ill Ezek. xxx, 17, it is Hebraized •£», A'ven (q. v.), i.e, wickedness (Sept. and Vulg. as before).

The same city is also mentioned in the Bible as Bkth-shkmesh, d"'^ T'3 (Jer. xliii, 13), corresponding to the ancient Egyptian sacred name HA-KA, "the abode of the sun;" and perhaps it is likewise spoken of as Ih-ha-heres, DjiW "^"i or O"JHf1 —, the second part being, in this case, either the Egyptian sacred name, or else the Hebrew D"?n, but we prefer to read "a city of destruction." The two names were known to the translator or translators of Exodus in the Sept., where On is explained to be Heliopolis ('Qv if iariv 'HXioujroXic, i, 11); but in Jeremiah this version seems to treat Beth-shcmesh as the name of a temple (rot't (rruXouc 'HXiouTroXtwc, rot'C. iv "Qy, xliii, 13, Sept. 1,13). The Coptic version gives On as the equivalent of the names in the Sept., but whether as an Egyptian word or such a word Hebraized can scarcely be determined. The latter is perhaps more probable, as the letter we represent by A is not commonly changed into the Coptic 0, unless indeed one hieroglyphic form of the name should be read ANU, in which case the last vowel might have been transposed, and the first incorporated with it. Brugsch (G?oyr. Insclir. i, 254) supposes AN and ON to be the same, "as the Egyptian A often had a sound intermediate between a and i>." But this docs not admit of the change of the a vowel to the long vowel o, from which it was as distinct as from the other long vowel i, respectively like X and r, and''.

The ancient Egyptian common name is written An, or An-t, and perhaps Amt; but the essential part of the word is An, ami probably no more was pronounced. There were two towns called An: Heliopolis, distinguished as the northern, An-mehjt, and Hcrmonthis. in Upper Egypt, as the southern, An-hes (Brugsch, Gemjr. Imehr. i, 254, 255, Nos. 1217 n,b, 1218. 870,1225). As to the meaning, we can say nothing certain. Cyril, who, as bishop of Alexandria, should be listened to on such a question, says that On signified the sun ("Qv ci tffrt tear' ai'rorc o tyXtoc, tid //"£. p. 145), and the Coptic fluoini (Memphitic), Outin, Outtlin (Sahidic), "light," has therefore been compared (see La Croze, Lex. p. 71, 189), but the hieroglyphic form is Uben, "shilling," which has no connection with An.

Scriptural \oticrt.—The first mention of this place in the Bible is in the history of Joseph, to whom we read Pharaoh gave " to wife Asenath, the daughter of Poti-pherah, priest of On" ((Jen. xli. 45. comp. ver. 50; ' and xlvi, 20). Joseph was possibly governor of Egypt under a king of the fifteenth dynasty, of which Memphis was, at least for a time, the capital. In this case he would doubtless have lived for part of the year at Memphis, and therefore near to Heliopolis. The name of Ascnnth's father was appropriate to a Heliopolite, and esjwcially in a priest of that place (though according to some he may have been a prince), for it means " Belonging to Ra," or " the sun." The name of Joseph's master Potiphar is the same, but with a slight difference in

he Hebrew orthography. According to the Sept. On was one of the cities built for Pharaoh by the oppressed Israelites, for it mentions three " strong cities" instead of the two "treasure cities" of the Heb., adding On to I'h Iimiii .-iini Kaamses (Kai iffoSufa>aav ir<iX«c 6\vpat rtfi 4>apa</j. ri}v Ti Hti3w, Kai 'Pa/utrtrrj, cai "Qv, // iariv 'HXiou:roXi£,~ Exod. i, 11). If it be intended that these cities were founded by the labor of the people, the addition is probably a mistake, although Heliopolis may tave been ruined and rebuilt; but it is possible that they were merely fortified, probably as places for keeping stores. Heliopolis lay at no great distance from the land of Goshen and from Kaamses, and probably Pithom also.

Isaiah has been supposed to speak of On when he prophesies that one of the five cities in Egypt that hould speak the language of Canaan should be called Ir-ha-heres, which may mean the City of the Sun, whether we take "heres" to be a Hebrew or an Egyjc tian word; but the reading "a city of destruction" seems preferable; and we have no evidence that there was any large Jewish settlement at Heliopolis, although there may have been at one time from its nearness to the town of Onias (q. v.).—Jeremiah speaks of (m under the name Bcth-shemesh, " the house of the sun" (comp. "oppidum soils," Pliny. Hut. \tit. v, 11). where he predicts of Nebuchadnezzar, " He shall break also the pillars [? P13JTO, but perhaps statues] of Bethshemesh, that [is] in the land of Egypt: and the houses of the gods of the Egyptians shall he burn with fire" (xliii, 13). By the word we have rendered "pillars," obelisks are reasonably supposed to be meant, for the number of which before the temple of the sun Heliopolis must have been famous; and perhaps by "the houses of the gods," the temples of this place are intended, as their being burned would be a proof of the powerlcssness of Ka and Atum, both forms of the sun, Shu, the god of light, and Tafnet, a fire-goddess, to save their dwellings from the very element over which they were supposed to rule.—Perhaps it was on account of the many false gods of Heliopolis that, in Ezekiel, On is written A veil, by a change in the punctuation, if we can here depend on the Masorctic text, and so made to signify ''vanity," and especially the vanity of idolatry. The prophet foretells, "The young men of Aven and of I'i-be-selh shall fall by the sword: and these [cities] shall go into captivity" (xxx, 17). Pibeseth, or Bubastis, is doubtless spoken of with Heliopolis as in the same part of Egypt, and so to be involved in a common calamity at the same time when the land should be invaded.

After the age uf the prophets we hoar no more in Scripture of Heliopolis. Local tradition, however, points it out ns a place where our Lord and the Virgin came, when Joseph brought them into Egypt, and « very ancient sycamore is shown as a tree beneath which they rested. The Jewish settlements in thi» part of Egypt, and es|>ecially the town of Onias, which was probably only twelve miles distant from HeliopolU in a northerly direction, but a little to the eastward {Modern Kyypl find Thebes, i, 297, 29(<\ then flourished, and were nearer to Palestine than the heathen towns, like Alexandria, in which there was any large Jewish population, so that there is much probability in this tradition. And perhaps Hcliopolis itself may have had a Jewish quarter, although we do not know it to have been the Ir-ha-heres of Isaiah.

Monumental History.--The oldest monument of the town is the obelisk, which was set up late in the reipn of Sescrtesen I, head of the 12th dynasty, dating B.C. cir. 2050. According to Manetho, the bull Mnevis was first worshipped here in the reign of Kaiecho*. second king of the 2d dynasty (B.C. cir. 2400). In the earliest times it must have been subject to the first dynasty so long as their sole rule lasted, which was perhaps for no more than the reigns of Menes (B.C. cir. 2717) and Athothi*; it doubtless next came under the government of the Memphites, of the 3il (B.C. cir. '2640), 4th, and Gth dynasties; it then passed into the hands of the Diosiwlites of the 12th dynasty and the Shepherds of the 15th ; but whether the former or the latter held it first, or it was contested between them, we cannot as yet determine. During the long period of anarchy that followed the rule of the 12th dynasty, when Lower Egypt was subject to the Shepherd kings, Heliopolis must have been under the government of the strangers. With the accession of the 18th dynasty it was probably recovered by the Egyptians, during the war which Aiihmes, or Amosis, head of that line, waged with the Shepherds, and thenceforward held by them, though perhaps more than once occupied by invaders (eomp. Chabas. Pupyntf .Miiffique //<nti'.«), before the Assyrians conquered Egypt, Its position near the eastern frontier must have made it always a post of especial importance. See No-amon.

The chief object of worship at Heliopolis was the sun, under the forms Ra, the sun simply, whence the sacred name of the place, HA-HA, " the abode of the sun," and A turn, the setting sun, or sun of the nether world. Probably its chief temple was dedicated to both. Shu, the son of Atum, and Tafnet, his daughter, were also here worshipped, as well as the bull Muevis, sacred to Ra, Osiris, and Isis; and the l'h<.vnix, lieimu, probably represented by a living bird of the crane kind. (On the mythology, see Brugsch. p. 254 sq.) The temple of the sun, described by Strabo (xvii, p. W)5. HOG), is now only represented by the single beautiful obelisk, which is of

[graphic]

Plain and Obelisk of On.

red granite, 68 feet 2 inches high above the pedestal, and bears a dedication showing that it was sculptured in or after his 30th year (cir. 2050) by Sesertesen I, first king of the 12th dynasty (B.C. cir. 2080-2045). There were probably far more than a usual number of obelisks before the gates of this temple, on the evidence of ancient writers, and the inscriptions of some yet remaining elsewhere, and no doubt the reason was that these monuments were sacred to the sun. From the extent of the mounds it seems to have been always a small town.

An imperfect monumental inscription of the time of Thothmes III mentions the city of On in the following terms: "In his thirty-fifth year the king (Thothmes III) sent forth an army often full cohorts against llnli. Then he marched against the city of On, where the unclean race were assembled . . ."—alluding perhaps to the Shepherds, whom Thothmes finally expelled from

Egypt. There are other indications of this Pharaoh having been at Heliopolis or On. Two of the obelisks removed by the Kotnans from that ancient city bear the well-known cartouche of Thothmes III. The one stands upright before the cathedral of St.John at Home, the other in the Atmcidan at Constantinople. Osburn declares " that it becomes a historical fact that the patron of Joseph, Pharaoh Apophis. had possession <if Heliopolis. and for a long perind held his regal state there" (J/wium. Hist, of Kgypl. ii,87). See Egypt.

Later fi'otiftt. — The traces of this city which are found in classic authors correspond with the little of it that we know from the brief intimations of Holy Writ. According to Herodotus (ii, 59), Heliopolis was one of the four great cities that were rendered famous in Egypt by being the centres of solemn religious festivals, which were attended by splendid processions and homage U> the gods. In Heliopolis the observance was held in honor of the sun. The majesty of these sacred visits may be best learned now by a careful study of th« temples (in their ruins) in which the rites were performed (Wilkinson, Anc. Egypt.). Heliopolis had its priesthood, a numerous and learned body, celebrated before other Egyptians for their historical and antiquarian lore, and occupying extensive buildings around the temple; it long continued the university of the Egyptians, the chief seat of their science (Kenrick, f/erod. ii. 3; Wilkinson); the priests dwelt as a holy community in a spacious structure appropriated to their use. In Strabo's time the halls were to be seen in which Eudoxus and Plato had studied under the direction of the priests of Heliopolis. A detailed description of the temple, with its long alleys of sphinxes, obelisks, etc.. may be found in Strabo (xvii; Josephus, c. Apion. ii, 2), who says that the mural sculpture in it was very similar to the old Etruscan and Grecian works. In the temple a bullock was fed—a symbol of the god Mnevis. The city suffered severely by the Persian invasion. From the time of Shaw and Pococke the place has been described by many travellers. At an early period remains of the famous temple wtre found. Abdallatif (A.D. 1200) saw many colossal sphinxes, partly prostrate, partly standing. He also saw the gates or propylsea of the temple covered with inscriptions; he describes two immense obelisks whose summits were covered with massive brast*,

around which were others one half or one third the size of the first, placed in so thick a mass that they could scarcely be counted, most of them thrown down. This city furnished works of art to Augustus for adorning Rome, and to Constantine for adorning Constantinople. Ritter (Krdtumlr, i. 823) says that the Bole remaining obelisk bears hieroglyphics which remind the beholder of what Strabo terms the Etruscan style. "The figure of the cross which it bears (mix aasaln) has attracted the special notice of Christian antiquaries" (Kilter).

Heliopolis was situate on the east side of the Pelusiac branch of the Nile, just below the point of the Delta, and about twenty miles north-east of Memphis. It was before the Human time the capital of the Heliopolitic Nome, which was included in Lower Egypt (Pliny. Hist. A'lif. v. 9; Ptolem. iv, 5). Now its site is alwve the point of the Dilta, which is the junction of the Phatmetic, or Damietta branch, and the Bolbitine, or Kosetta, and about ten miles to the north-east or Cairo. The site is now marked by low mounds, enclosing a space about three quarters of a mile in length by half a mile in breadth, which was once occupied by houses and by the celebrated Temple of the Sun. This area is at present a ploughed field, a garden of herbs; and the solitary obelisk which still rises in the midst of it is the sole remnant of the former splendors of the place. In the days of Edrisi and Abdallatif the place bore the name of .4 in Sfarnz; and in the neighboring village, Matariyeh, is still shown an ancient well bearing the same name. Near by it is the above-mentioned very nlJ sycamore, its trunk straggling and gnarled, under which legendary tradition relates that the holy family once rested (Robinson, Kiblical Researches, i, 3G).

ONI'AS'S TEMPLE. A sanctuary built at Leontopolis in Egypt by the Jewish high priest Onias, probably not long after the desecration of the temple at Jerusalem by Antiochus IV., Epiphanes, in December, u.c. 168. According to Josephus, this Lcontopolis was situated in the Hi'liopolitan nome (Ant., xiii. 3, 2), 180 stadia northeast of Memphis (lid. Jud., vii. 10, 3), and is not to be confused with the wellknown Leontopolis in the Delta. It consequently cannot have been far from the city of Heliopolis itself. In the Ilinerarium Antonini a Virus Judtnorum is mentioned that may have belonged to the Nome of Heliopolis, but is 464 stadia from Memphis. At this place, the modern Belbeis, there once was a temple of the goddess Bast, and in the neighborhood there is a Tell el-Yehudiyyeh. Another Tell el-Yehudiyyeh, however, is found near Heliopolis with a Jewish cemetery. This has been identified by Naville as the capital of 'the land of Onias,' and it is probably identical also with the (lastra Juilrrorum mentioned in a Notifia Dignitatitm Orienti», c.25 A.d., while the яо-ealled Camp of the Jews (Ant., xiv. 8, 2) was in another direction, northwest of Memphis. A temple of Bast is perhaps more likely to have been allowed to fall into ruins there than nearer to Bubastis. There is no reason for doubting that an old pagan temple was given to Onias and

remodeled by him. The tower-like shape indicates this. If it had been a new structure, th» pattern of the temple in Jerusalem would i»i doubt have been followed in regard to the exu-ri' r as well as the interior.

As to the identity of the Jewish high priest there is still some uncertainty. In his Jtirixk War, written a few years after the fall of Jerusalem, Josephus states that Onias. tan of Simon, fled from Antiochus IV.. Epiphanes, to Egypt, and built the temple of Leonto¡»ilb (i. l, l, vii. 10, 2-4). He would consequently be Onias III., son of Simon the Just. With this agree Theodore of Mopsuestia, in his commentary on Psalm lv., the references in the Palestinian Talmud (Yoma vi. 3), and the Babylonian Talmud (Menachoth 109 a). On the other hand, Josephus declares in his Antiquities (м:. 5, 1; xii. 9, 7; xiii. 3, 1-3; xiii. 10, 4; xx. 10) that the builder was a son of Onias III., who tied to Egypt in the time of Antiochus V., Eupator (B.c. 164-162), when Menelaus was deposed, an.l Alcimus (q.v.) took his place. As the Antiquities were written c.95 A.d., and therefore may I* thought to represent more careful research, and it is told in 11. Mace. iv. 33 sqq. how Onias III. was murdered by Andronicus in a sanctuary at Daphnie, near Antioch, and bitterly lamented by Antiochus IV., many scholars have credited the later account rather than the earlier. But neither Josephus himself nor Theodore, who е!чwhere follows II. Maccabees, mentions any íuch murder of Onias, and Baethgen. Willrich, and Wellhausen have strongly argued that the noti'V is unhistorical, being either a confusion with the murder of Menelaus or a transference to the Jewish high priest of the tragic fate of a *m of Seleucus murdered by Andro^iicus at Daphn.T and naturally mourned by Antiochus. Josephus may, in his old age, have been misled by a poorer source or an altered tradition, a change of attitude toward the temple at Leontopolis being clearly discernible on the part of the Jewish teachers.

If it was Onias III. who in B.c. 170 fled to Egypt, it is natural to suppose that the desecration of the temple in Jerusalem and its dedication to Zeus Olympius in u.c. 168 led him to ask Ptolemy VII., Philometor, and Cleopatra I. for t Iip temple of Bast at Leontopolis. For three years the legitimate high priest and ethnarch would then have officiated in a temple dedicated to tho worship of Yahweh before the restoration of the Yahweh cult in Jerusalem in December, B.c. 165. Onias not only had with him numerous emigrants who formed military colonies, but left l>ehind many sympathizers. This is evident from Isaiah xix. 18-25, probably written in B.c. 150, when Jonathan sat by the side of Alexander Balas, as he was married to Cleopatra. Here reference is made to five cities in Egypt occupied by Hebrews, one of them called Lrontopolis (the city of the Lion), and to an altar nnd sacred stone (or 'tower.' if the word is read Mizpah) at the border of Egypt, where th.Egyptians are expected to offer sacrifices to Yahweh. The feeling of the Greek translator toward Leontopnlis is seen in his rendering the ñamo 'The City of Righteousness.' It has been sii|> posed that the Sibylline Oracles (v. 492 seq. l refer to this temple, but that is probably wrong. Early regulations preserved in the Mishna (Menachoth xiii. 10) provide that a sacrifice promised to this temple should be offered there, and that priests of the temple should not lose their priestly dignity or share of the offerings if they саше to Jerusalem. It is only after the destruction of the temple, and especially by rabbis of the second and third centuries, that the cult there was condemned (Menachoth, 109 b ). After the fall of Jerusalem in A.d. 70 it seems to have enjoyed such favor that the Komuns had reason to fear it, and after AJ). 72 Lupus closed it, and some time later, possibly A.i>. 7Л, Paulinus destroyed it (Bel. Jud., vii. 1U, ¿-4). Josephus states that it had then stood 343 years. This is no doubt an error for 243, which would place its consecration as a Yahweh sanctuary in B.c. 168. Consult: Cassel, D« Templo Ónice Heliopolitano (Bremen, 1730) ; Herzfeld, Geschichte des Volkes Israel, vol. п., p. 557 seq. (Leipzig, 1863) ; Ewald, Geschichte des Volkes Israel, vol. iii., p. 405 seq. (Göttingen, 1S52) ; Graetz, Geschichte der Juden (4th ed., Leipzig, 1888) ; Baethgen, in Zeitschrift für alttextamentliche Wissenschaft, vol. vii. (G ¡essen, 18SÖ) ; Willrich, Juden und Griechen vor der makkabaischen Erhebung (Göttingen, 1895) ; id., Judaica (Göttingen, 1900) ; Bertholet, Die Stellung der Israeliten und der Juden au den Frem<<pn (Leipzig, 1896) ; Schürer, Geschichte des jüdischen Volkes, vol. iii. (3d ed., Leipzig, 1898) ; Ut-renbourg, Essai sur l'histoire et la géographie de ¡a Palestine ( Paris, 1867 j ; NavUle, Seventh Memoir of Egypt Exploration Fund (London, 1888) ; Wellhausen, Israelitische und jüdische Geschichte (3d ed., Berlin, 1899) ; Hamburger, in Real-Encyclopédie des Judenthum» (Strelitz, J896).

 

 

 

Under the reign of Ptolemy Philometor, as has been stated, Onias, (son of that Onias who was murdered by Menelaus,) the rightful heir of the High-Priesthood, fled into Egypt. He rose high in favor with the king and his queen, Cleopatra; and, being deprived of his rightful inheritance, Onias conceived the design of building a temple for the use of the Egyptian Jews. The king entered into his views, whether to advance his popularity with his Jewish subjects, or to preserve the wealth, which, as tribute or offering to the Temple, flowed out of his dominions to Jerusalem. He granted to Onias a ruined temple in Leontopolis, in the Heliopolitan nome, and a tract of land for the maintenance of the worship. Both temple and domain remained unviolated till the reign of Vespasian. Onias reconciled his countrymen to this bold innovation by a text in Isaiah (xix. 18,19). In this passage it is predicted that there should be an altar to the Lord in the midst of the land of Egypt. According to the interpretation of Onias, the very place was designated. That which in our translation appears as " the city of destruction," was interpreted, perhaps not inaccurately, the City of the Sun (Heliopolis). Thus then the Jews of Alexandria claimed divine authority for their temple, and had unquestionably the legitimate High Priest as their officiating minister. The Aramean Jews looked on their Egyptian brethren with assumed contempt, but inward jealousy: perhaps the distance

On the persecutions attributed to Ptolemy Philopator and Ptolemy Phr* oun, gee below.

34 SEPTUAGINT TRANSLATION. Book X.

un\y prevented a feud, almost as deadly as that with the Samaritans.1

Alexandria being the retreat of Grecian learning, the Jews turned their attention to literature, and even to philosophy. But in some respects they were in an unfortunate situation, with great temptations and great facilities to substitute fiction for truth. They were pressed on all sides, by Egyptians, by Greeks, and by the Aramean Jews. The former denied their antiquity as a nation, and reproached them with the servitude and base condition of their ancestors in Egypt, which they grossly exaggerated ; the Greeks treated their national literature with contempt; the rigid Jews could not forgive their adoption of the Greek language and study of Greek letters. The strange legend about the origin of their version of the Scriptures, commonly called the Septuagint, evidently originated in their desire to gain a miraculous sanction for their sacred books, and thus to put them in some degree on the same footing with the original Hebrew Scriptures. This work, which probably was executed at different periods, by writers of various abilities and different styles, was reported by a certain Aristeas to have been the work of seventy-two translators, deputed by the grand Sanhedrin, at the desire of Ptolemy Philadelphus, who were shut up in separate cells, yet each rendered the whole work, word for word, in the same language.*

1 The older Mischna says, " Priests who have officiated in the Temple ol Onias cnnnot officiate in Jerusalem: they are to be looked on as priests who have infirmities (Gebrechen); they mny participate and eat of tlie offerings, but cannot offer." It appears from this that the service in the Onias Temple wns not considered idolatry, hut aa sacrifice in an unhallowed place. A man who has vowed an offering, if he offers in tho Onias Temple has not fulfilled his vow. See the rest of the passage. .lost, i. 118.

The history of the Jews: from the earliest period down to ..., Volumes 2-3

 By Henry Hart Milman

On, a town of Lower Egypt, which is mentioned in the Bible under, at least two names, Beth-shbmesh (Jer. xliii. 13), corresponding to the ancient Egyptian sacred name HA-RA, "the abode of the sun," and that above, corresponding to the common name AN, and perhaps also spoken of as Ir-ha-heres. The ancient Egyptian common name is written AN, or AN-T, and perhaps ANU; but the essential part of the word is AN, and probably no more was pronounced. There were two towns called AN: Heliopolis, distinguished as the northern, AN-MEHEET; and Hermonthis, in Upper Egypt, as the southern, AN-RES. Heliopolis was situate on the east side of the Pelusiac branch of the Nile, just below the point of the Delta, and about twenty miles north-east of Memphis. It was, before the Roman time, the capital of the Heliopolite Nome, which was included in Lower Egypt. Now its site is above the point of the Delta, which is the junction of the Phatmetic, or Damietta branch and the Bolbitine, or Rosetta, and about ten miles to the north-east of Cairo.

Heliopolis was anciently famous for its

learning, and Eudoxus and Plato studied under its priests; but, from the extent of the mounds, it seems to have been always a small town. The first mention of this place in the Bible is iu the history of Joseph, to whom we read Pharaoh gave " to wife Asenath the daughter of Poti-phcruh, priest of On" (Gen. xli. 45, comp. ver. "> >, and xlvi. 20).

Jewish settlement at Heliop i, although there may have been at one time, from its nearness to the town of Onias. Jere midh speaks of On under the name lieth shemesh, "the house of the sun" (xliii. 13) Perhaps it was on account of the many falst

8ids of Heliopolis, that, in Ezekiel (xxx. 17), n is written Aven, by a change in tie panetuation, and so made to signify "vanity, and especially the vanity of idolatry. After the age of the prophets, we hear no more in Scripture of Heliopolis. Local tradition, however, points it out as a place where our Lord and the Virgin came, when Joseph brought them into Egypt.

 

ONIAS

Encyclopaedia biblica: a dictionary of the Bible  By Thomas Kelly Cheyne, John Sutherland Black

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with the Simon [I.] the Just, already mentioned, or with Simon [II.] whose father, according to Josephus (Ant. xii. 410 [§ 224]). would seem also to have been named Onias (see below, § 7/). The splendid eulogy passed in Ecclus. 501 /• gives the idea of an important personality whose merits did not allow him to be forgotten by posterity. Now, unquestionably the history supplies us with only one man answering such a description—Simon the Just; Josephus also praises Simon [I.] though briefly (Ant. xii. 2s [§ 43]). whilst as regards Simon II. he chronicles only his father's name, his sons' names, and his death (Ant. xii. 5i [§237] 410 [§225]). In all probability, therefore, those scholars are right who take Ecclus. 501 as referring to Simon [I.] the Just (see, however, EcclesiAsticus, § 7). In that case we shall do well to place him somewhere not too early in the third century. If Simon lived somewhere about 250 B.C. then the approximate date for his father, Onias I., will be about 280 B.C.

(*) Onias //.—According to Jos. Ant. xii. 4i-io

(§§ I56-224), Onias II., at first sight, appears to have

n . been contemporary with Ptolemy III.

n Tt Euergetes (247-221), Ptolemy IV. Philo

umas u. pator (23I.a04)> and Ptolemy V. Epiphanes (204-181). His father was Simon [I.] the Just, but he did not succeed his father immediately, being under age at the time of his death. On this account, according to Ant. xii. 2s (§ 44) and 4i (§ 157). the high-priestly dignity was held first by Eleazar, brother of Simon and son of Onias I., the high priest of the Epistle of Aristeas, and afterwards by Mrxnasseh, an uncle of Eleazar (perhaps a brother of Onias I.?). Whether the succession of high priests, and in particular the minority of Onias II. here given, rests really upon tradition has been rightly doubted by Willrich (no/) and Blichler (40^). Josephus seems to have assumed the minority of Onias simply in order to make room for the Eleazar of the epistle of Aristeas ; of Manasseh nothing is elsewhere known. It is therefore, to say the least, doubtful whether these data have a historical character. On the other hand, we do possess a trustworthy narrative—however amplified and distorted by various unhistorical anecdotes—in the association of Onias II. with the rise of the Tobiad Joseph as farmer of taxes (Ant. xii. 4i-io). Willrich (•)(>/.) takes the narrative as referring to the opposition between Menelaus (= Joseph) and Jason (= Onias). Wellhausen regards it (//Gi3>, 242) as being 'on the whole unhistorical although not on that account altogether worthless.' Buchler (43 ff., 91 /'.), on the other hand, has successfully shown that the twenty-two years of the revenue-farming of Joseph can be understood only of the time of the Egyptian kings Ptolemy IV. Philopator (221-204 B-c-) and Ptolemy V. Epiphanes (204-181 B.C.) and must be placed somewhere about 220-198 B.C.

This does not harmonise indeed with the words with which Josephus (Ant. xii. 4i [§ 154^) introduces the story; the reference to the marriage of Cleopatra the daughter of Antiochus III. (222-187) with Ptolemy V. Epiphanes allows us to reckon backwards only from 103. Nevertheless, the Egyptian revenue-farmer Joseph and the things attributed to him in the story, are compatible only with a period of Egyptian lordship in Palestine, in other words before 198 B.c. We may regard it as made out that the mention of Euergetes the father of Philopator in 4i(§i58) is a later (and erroneous) insertion in the text (see Niesc, ad loc.).

From this narrative (Ant. xii. 4i-io) can be drawn the following details of the circumstances and conditions

. Tt|o „«,„•.! then existing.—After the Egyptian

0. His omcifU govcrnor of coelesyria, Theodotus the

position. ^toijan, had in 219 invited Antiochus

III. to the conquest of the Coelcsyrian province, and

its southern portion had received Syrian garrisons in the

course of 218, Onias II. discontinued payment of twenty talents of tribute to Ptolemy IV., believing that the Egyptian suzerainty over Jerusalem was at an end (Ant. xii. 4i [§ i^B/.]). Though this sum is spoken of as in behalf of the people (6 inrip Tov XooB ipbpm), we are not to understand by it the tax or tribute which the Jews as a whole had to pay to Ptolemy, but only a due which Onias II. had to pay on his own account, and which therefore he provides out of his private revenue (in r&v loiuv). It is closely connected with the personal position of Onias II., which is sometimes described as a presidency (irpoaTaala Tov XaoO) and as a rulership (&pxtu>), sometimes as a high-priestly dignity (dpx^fpanKrj ri/i.jl or as a high-priesthood (dpxteptaavrri)(Ant. xii. 4a[§§ 161-163]). If he goes on with the payment he retains his dignity ; if he discontinues, he loses his office and at the same time exposes to peril the Jewish inhabitants of the land (§ 159). We thus see that the dignity he holds is dependent on the king and mixed up with politics, and thus is not in any necessary connection with the Jewish high-priesthood.

Such a state of matters is easily intelligible so far as the expressions ' presidency' (irpoerratria Tou Aaou) and ' rule' (apxeir) are concerned; but the phrases 'high-priestly dignity* (opy.i«paTtirij rijbi>}) and ' high-priesthood' (dp^wpcotrvw)) are surprising ; the position of ' ruler ' depended on the will of the foreign overlord of the Jews, but that of high priest was purely an internal affair of the religious community. The narrative of Ant. 124, however, proceeds on the view that the presidency (ir/>o{rTa<ria Tou Aaov) and the high-priesthood (apxtr/Mxrvrq) over the Jews were now at last inseparable, so that a high priest who should become divested of his political position (at the head of the people) conferred by the king was thenceforth no longer in a position to retain the spiritual office.

Buchler seeks to solve the difficulty with regard to the chief-priesthood (dpxifpuffuvrj) by supposing that the Ptolemies and Seleucids nominated for the separate provinces governors-general (ittparityol) who, in addition to their own proper (political) designation, bore also the title of chief priest (dpxtcpci/;) or even—so far as Jerusalem was concerned —had to exercise certain rights as regarded the sanctuary (cp 2 Mace. 84: Simon is ' overseer of the temple' [ayxxrTdrijs Tov Icpou] as an official of the king). According to this view—in support of which BUchler (33) adduces certain inscriptions in addition to 3 Mace. 84—in Ant.xiiAi/. it is only this political chief-priesthood (dp^tcpiiKrupT;) that comes into account, not the spiritual headship of the Jewish community. Onias II. must in that case have been chief priest (Apxiepcvs) in a double sense ; but this is hardly credible.

The decision of Onias II. to go over to Antiochus

III. was premature. His grand-nephew, the Tobiad

„. . Joseph, judged the situation more ac

i- *? e^. ' curately. He cast in his lot unreservedly

tlOIi tO LOO • 1 rt * 1 •,*- I

_ . . , with the Ptolemies, was skilful enough lo nat a. to jngrat;ate himself with the Egyptian envoy in Jerusalem, and received from Ptolemy IV. the official positions which until that time had been held by Onias [Ant. xii. 4a (§ lya/.)] (and, moreover, had nothing to do with the farming of the taxes in southern Syria [44 (§ 175^)]). This occurrence had an important bearing upon the position of the high priests of the Jews in Jerusalem. Until now the spiritual head of the community had been at the same time its representative in its political relations with the foreign overlord ; now the care of these ' foreign affairs' was dissociated from the priestly office and committed to a secular person—the Tobiads were Benjamites (2 Mace. 84; and see § 12). The change meant a substantial diminution of the high priest's power and gave rise to many disputes within the community, Joseph having asserted and maintained his new position as fully as he could as against the high priest.

The struggle between the elder sons of Joseph and the youngest, Hyrcanus, as also the setting-up by Hyrcanus of a dominion of his own in the trans-Jordanic territory (182 B.c.), where in 175 he commmitted suicide from fear of Antiochus IV. (Ant. xii. 47-911 [§§196-222, 228-236]) render it very probable, if not even certain,

that Hyrcanus held by the Ptolemies to the end whilst his elder brothers went over, very likely before 198, to the side of the Seleucids. Only under such a presupposition can we understand the political attitude ot persons with whom 2 Mace, makes us acquainted. The brothers Simon, Menelaus, and Lysimachus, that is to say, necessarily (on account of Menelaus) belong to the Tobiads; according to Buchler (34^) they are the sons of Joseph with whom the narrative of Ant. xii. 4911 (§§ 218 ff., 228/:) deals. Simon under Seleucus IV. (187-175) has the position of 'overseer of the temple' (TpoffTdrijj Tou lepou: a Mace. 84); they must already, therefore, at some earlier date have abandoned the cause of the Ptolemies. The high priest Onias, on the other hand, according to 2 Mace. 3io stands in connection with the ' Tobiad' Hyrcanus ; he is the opponent of the elder brothers and now, therefore, in all probability is a friend of the Ptolemies. According to 2 Mace. 3 the mission of Heliodorus, who is represented as having attempted at the command of Seleucus IV. to violate the temple treasure in Jerusalem, ought to fall within the time of his priesthood. The legend, it would seem, is designed in its own fashion to establish the actual fact that in spite of the royal command the treasure remained untouched. How this immunity was secured remains uncertain ; perhaps it was on account of the excellent relations subsisting betwen Heliodorus and Onias II.

The personality of Onias II. appears in totally different lights in Ant. 12 4 and in a Mace. 3/. In Josephus he: figures as a narrow, covetous man, in 2 Mace, as celebrated for his piety, his zeal for the law, and his effective solicitude for the city and the community. This diversity of judgment is lo be accounted for by the difference of the sources. The narrative of Josephus is written in the interest of Joseph the tax-farmer, perhaps by a Samaritan {Willrich, 99; Buchler, B6ff.); in 2 Mace. $/. we hear the voice of an uncompromising friend of the temple at Jerusalem.

(6 and c). In what has been said above, the Onias _ T - t.. of 2 Mace. 3 has been identified with

of O 'as II Onias "' The correctness of this ident'd III fication must b* further examined.

On the data of Josephus it is more natural to take 2 Mace. S/. as relating to Onias III. For, according to Ant. xii. 410 (§ 224), Onias II. died in the reign of Seleucus IV., he was succeeded by his son Simon (II.), who in turn was succeeded by his son Onias (III.) who died at the beginning of the reign of Antiochus IV. Epiphanes (Ant. xii. 5i). On this view the close of the high-priesthood of Onias II., the whole of that of Simon II., and nearly the whole of that of Onias III., all fell within the period of Seleucus IV.

According to 2 Mace. 4, on the other hand, no Jewish high priest dies in the beginning of the reign of Antiochus IV.; it is only at the instance of Menelaus (after 172) that Onias is murdered (430^!), that is to say, at a period when, according to Jos. Ant. xii. 51, Onias III. had already been dead for some years. If, accordingly, the Onias III. of Josephus is the person intended in 2 Mace. 3/, it would be necessary to suppose that the events of 2 Mace. 3/. happened precisely in the closing years of Seleucus IV. Even so, however, the contradiction between Josephus and 2 Mace, with regard to the death of this Onias would remain.

A further circumstance, moreover, requires to be noticed. Josephus names Simon (II.) as having been high priest between Onias II. and Onias III. (Ant. xii. 410 [§ 224]) and informs us (4 n [§ 229]) that Simon II. held with the elder sons of Joseph on account of relationship, and thus not with Hyrcanus. This statement remains unintelligible if we hold this Simon to have been an Oniad ; for the Tobiad brothers were all alike related to the Oniads through the mother of their father Joseph (An/, xii. 4s [§ 160]).

BUchler (39^) seeks to dispose of this difficulty by supposing the Simon II. of Josephus to be in truth the ' overseer of the temple' (T/xxrrdTjjs Tou lepou) named in 2 Mace. 84, the Tobiad who 'for kinship's

 

 

sake' held by his full brothers, not his half-brother Hyrcanus (Ant. xii. 46 [§ t86f\); that in the source followed by Josephus he was called chief priest (4/>x»tpfiii)—as a king's officer named by the Seleucids—that Josephus had understood the word wrongly as referring to the Jewish high-priesthood, and thus included Simon in the list of the high priests. The statement of Josephus in Ant. xii. 4n [§ 229] really does speak in favour of this supposition. In that case, Simon II. would have to be deleted from the list of Jewish high priests. This would carry with it the further consequence that Onias II. was immediately succeeded by Onias III. It is contrary, however, to old-Jewish customs for father and son to bear the same name. Thus we are led finally to the supposition that Onias II. and Onias III. are one and the same person. The same conjecture has already been put forward by Schlatter and Will rich (114).

The murder of Onias, however, spoken of in 2 Mace. 4y>f. is open to grave doubt. He is there represented

8 Murder of as navinf> been crafti'y Put to death by ' . „ Andronicus at Daphne near Antioch ' after the expulsion of Jason (175-173). Formerly this datum used to be regarded as so certain that, as a rule, the obscure words in Dan. 9a6—rns1 n'ro—were explained by reference to it. Of late, however, great doubts have been expressed. Wellhausen and Willrich have pointed out that, according to Diodorus Siculus (xxx. 7?) and Johannes Antiochenus (ap. Muller, Fr. Hist. Gr. 4, p. 558) the regent Andronicus puts to death the son of Seleucus IV. at the instance of king Antiochus IV., and subsequently is himself punished with death. Both scholars are of opinion that' the circumstances of the murder of the prince have simply been transferred to the high priest,' and therefore that the narrative of 2 Mace. 4 yff. as to the death of Onias is false. Certainly the account just given of the end of Andronicus is more credible than the story in 2 Mace. Strictly, however, it does not follow that the murder of Onias at Antioch is a pure invention : it is possible still to hold it true even if one were to come to the conclusion that the participation of Andronicus or other details in 2 Mace. 4 are unhistorical.

It Is surprising, it must be admitted, that Josephus should know nothing of this singular end of a Jewish nig_h priest. The words in Dan. 9 26 are, taken by themselves, so indefinite that they cannot supply confirmation of what is said in 2 Mace. 4. Moreover, they have recently, and doubtless with greater truth, been taken by such scholars as Kenan, Baethgen, and Wellhausen as referring to the cessation of the legitimate highpriesthood altogether, in parallelism to v. 25, where the inauguration of the high-priesthood after the exile is brought into prominence.

Thus, the question of the death of Onias turns wholly upon that as to the degree of confidence we can repose in 2 Mace, as to this matter (see below, § 10).

According to another view this Onias did not die at all as high priest in Jerusalem, but having fled from the

o T/\ anh hostility of his many enemies in Jeru

andOniaa IV salem' the Tobiads' founded in Egypt, under the patronage of Ptolemy VI. Philometor, the Jewish temple in Leontopolis. This view is based upon the short statement in BJ i. 11 (§§ 3'-33). and has recently been advocated principally by Willrich and Wellhausen. Elsewhere (israel, § 69 b, col. 2261) will be found a brief statement of the construction to be put on the events of 175-170 B.C. according to this view. The struggle between Onias and his brother Jason, of which neither Josephus nor 2 Mace, have anything explicit to say, is after Willrich (88^1) to be drawn from the narrative which Josephus (xi. 7i) gives regarding the high priest Johannes ( = Onias) and his brother Jesus (= Jason).

The present writer is now. however, inclined to question the justice of this view. In any case it must be carefully borne in mind that Josephus nowhere affirms that the founder of the temple at Leontopolis ever held the high-priestly office in Jerusalem. In Ant.

xii. 9 7 (§387) 51 (§237) xiii. 3i(§62) and xx. 10 j (§ 336) the Onias who migrated to Egypt is represented as having been son of the high priest Onias III. to whom at home the path to the high-priesthood was barred. Id BJ vii. 102 (§ 423) this Onias is the son of Simon (so also in Talmud: ZATW6rti), 'one of the chief priests in Jerusalem' (th Tuh> it 'ItyxxroXv/iots ipx^cpiur). this addition is found also in BJ \. li (§31) (tit rw? dpxtcptup); only in § 33 does the phrase run, more briefly, 'the chief priest Onias' (6 S' dpxitptin 'Ovlat). There can be no question that this last expression has to be interpreted in the light of what is said in § 31 : Onias is there for Josephus not one who is actually discharging, or has discharged, the functions of a high priest, but simply a member of one of the ' chosen families out of which the high priests were selected' (Schtirer, GJV& 2221.^ ; cp BUchler, 118). Nor does the fact that he is described as son of Simon carry us any further than this. An opinion has indeed been expressed that ' Onias, son of Simon' ('Ovlar Sf^uiN'Of riuti is here only short for ' Onias, son of Onias, son of Simon' ('Onat Tov 'Ortov rov 21/uiirot). This, however, is nothing more than a harmonising co-ordination with Ant. xii. 9 7 xiii. 31 and no reliance can be placed on it. Whether Simon the father be really the high priest Simon (Ant. xii. 4io [§ 224]) or another person, it is impossible to determine. In any case this at least is certain : the Onias who migrates to Egypt is nowhere spoken of by Josephus as baring held the high-priestly office. We are therefore compelled, in the end, to distinguish this Onias from Onias III.

It can hardly be merely accidental that 2 Mace, says nothing of a flight of Onias into Egypt, but on the TYu t- contrary relates the murder of the ' pious' l*i- h'gh Priest Onias at Daphne, whilst

f 2 Ma J056?1!"5 repeatedly recurs to the flight 'of Onias but says nothing of the violent end of a high priest at Daphne. This suggests that the author of 2 Mace, (or his source) may have intended to depreciate the worth of the Onias-temple in Egypt and for that purpose makes Onias the brother of Jason, who was regarded as the founder of the Onias-temple, to be murdered near Antioch so that the connection between the high-priestly Onias and the temple in Leontopolis may be completely severed. Such an intention would be in excellent agreement with the tendency of 2 Mace, to uphold the dignity of the temple of Jerusalem. It would result that the murder of Onias itself, not merely the attendant details, had been invented.

Baethgen (ZA TWd [1886] 280) has adduced the execution of OnUs-Menelaus (.-)«/. xii. 97 [f 384/1) to explain the origin of the statements in 2 Mace. 4 30 //.. With this narrative, however, fall to the ground at the same time two other assumptions: namely, that the murdered Onias is identical with the high priest Onias (II. or III.) and that Jason (2 Mace. 47) raised himself to the high-priesthood as opponent of Onias. This is of importance for out-understanding of the events of the period. The last high priest Onias, according to Ant, xiL 4 10 (f 224), died in the beginning of the reign of Antiochus IV.

The result of our discussion of Onias II. and III. may be summed up as follows. Onias II. was prob

11 rv«,,,i,,,,(„„„ ab|y the last legitimate b'gh Priest of 11. Conchisions. th/Jewish conTmuni,y in Jerusalem.

He held this office for a long time, having entered upon it in the time of Ptolemy IV. Philopator,—at latest in 220, and continued in the discharge of it till the beginning of the reign of Antiochus IV. (175-4 B.c.), that is to say, some forty or fifty years. From this period begins the series of those high priests whom the Seleucid kings nominated in virtue of their own might and in defiance of Jewish right: Jason, Menelaus, Alcimus: the author of the book of Daniel refuses to take account of them.

As objections to this solution of the problem may conceivably be urged the length of the term of office assigned to Onias, also the disappearance of the Simon

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named in Ant. xii. 4 10. The student who finds these objections too formidable to be overcome, may hold by the statements of Ant. xii. 4io. According to what we read there, Onias II. will have been high priest until the first year of Seleucus IV., then Simon II. will have held the office for a short time and been succeeded by Onias III. as the last legitimate high priest till 175-4. In that event the statements also of 2 Mace. 3 /. will have to be understood of Onias III., not as was said above (§§ 5-8) of Onias II. On such a view, it is true, one must abandon hope of explaining why it was that Simon held by the elder sons of Joseph (Sid rijp avyyfrttav : Ant. xii. 4io [§ 229]).

For the sake of completeness it ought also to be mentioned that in Josephus {Ant. xii. 4 10 [it 225.327!) Onias III. receives a letter of the king of Sparta, Areas, in which the Jews are invited, on account of relationship through Abraham, to enter into close alliance with the Lacedaemonians. The transaction thus alleged vanishes on examination into air ; Areus I. reigned in 309-205, Areus II. died somewhere about 255, aged eight years. Cp Disi-ersion, f 21, and Buchlcr, 126^, who explains the fable of relationship between the Lacedaemonians and the Jews by the settlement of Jews in the Dorian Cyrenaica.

(d) Onias IV. — We have already seen that Josephus nowhere designates Onias IV. as an actual high priest.

9 above)' In B) 'll (§ 3l) il is

the

fobiads from Jerusalem. The same action is intended as is referred to in Ant. xii.Si (§239/1) and 2 Mace. 5s/. where it is attributed to Jason. Jason and Onias, according to Ant. xii. 61 (§237/) a Mace. 47. are brothers. The historical accuracy of this relationship may be doubted ; for the closely connected assumption that Onias III., Jason, and Onias= Menelaus, were all of them the sons of Simon the high priest (Ant. xii. 5 1 [§ 238 /. ]) is certainly false.

Two brothers with the same name are at priori unlikely ; Menelaus < = Onias) is the well-known leader of the Tobiads (I 239 ; 2 Mace. 5 23^".') and does not belong at all to the highpriestly families (cp the contrast in Alcimus, 2 Mace. 14 3). Josephus erroneously reckoned him as so belonging because he felt bound to infer his high-priestly descent from the fact of his bearing the high-priestly dignity ; but 2 Mace. 4 n/. is here plainly right : Tijs-yi- apgicpttxrvirr? oufi«F afto? 6«pciii>. Jason is represented alike by Josephus and by 2 ^lacc. 4 as the adversary of the Tobiads ; doubtless he belonged to the party of the Oniads ; he and the Onias who migrated to Egypt were party allies; whether they were brothers as well must be left undetermined. It is at least possible, if not probable, that Josephus inserted Jason's name in the list of Jewish high priests for the same reason as that mentioned already in the case of Menelaus. Jason was in any case, however, an Oniad and belonged as such to the high-priestly families. Nevertheless the question of his relationship to Onias III. is in a different position from the same question as regards Menelaus.

The attempt to expel the Tobiads from Jerusalem brings us down into the very thick of the conflicts under Antiochus (cp B/vi\. 102 [§ 423]). It happened about 170 B.C. when Antiochus IV. had undertaken his first expedition against Egypt and the report of his death was being circulated in southern Syria. Jason hurried back from the trans-Jordanic territory whither he had withdrawn from Menelaus in 172-1, received the support of the people of Jerusalem, and compelled Menelaus and his followers to take to flight. These betook themselves to Antiochus IV. and induced him to restore Menelaus at the point of the sword. This was done as Antiochus was returning from Egypt in 170. Jason fled first to the E. of the Jordan and subsequently to Egypt, probably to Cyrene (Buchler, 126^!). whilst Onias betook himself to the court of Ptolemy VI. Onias' flight thus falls to be dated in 170-169 B.C. The situation is stated quite differently in Josephus (Ant. xii. 9? [§ 387] xx. 10s

[§ 236])

Onias Is represented in Jos. as not having left Jerusalem until Alcimus had been raised to the high -priesthood by Antiochus V. Eupator, and he saw himself superseded. This date (163-2 B.c.) appears to be too late. Still the intervention of the Romans in 168 did bring about a certain cessation of hostilities between the Seleucids and the Ptolemies, so that political fugitives from Syria could no longer hope so readily for a favourable reception at the court of Alexandria. Moreover, in Judiea itself, about 163 the national resistance to the Seleucids was

already organised, and it is difficult to see any reason why Onias should at that date set off for Egypt in order to cool his hatred of the Greeks.

According to what we learn from Josephus (c. Ap. 2 5 [§ 49^]) the Jews who accompanied Onias to Egypt seem

13 The temule to have played a Prominem P31"' in

in HelioSSiB the army of Ptolemy VL JoscPhus " "' U°P°U8' s|x.-aks of Onias and Dositheus as

generals of the entire army and adds that in the war between Ptolemy (VII. Physkon) and Cleopatra (the widow of Ptolemy VI.) Onias adhered to Cleopatra and took successful part in the operations in the field. The sons also of Onias, Helkias and Ananias, were entrusted by queen Cleopatra (i08 and 104 B.c.) with the conduct of the war against her son Ptolemy Lathurus (Ant. xiii. 10 4 [§§ 285 - 287] — following Strabo — 13 i [§ 348^])- Special interest attaches to the building of the Jewish temple in Egypt which is attributed to Onias. It is fully dealt with in what so far as we can judge is a genuine passage in BJ\i\. 162-4 (§ 420^). Onias seeks to gain Ptolemy VI. to his purpose by urging political considerations ; the building of a Jewish temple, and full freedom granted to Jews for the exercise of their religion there, would win over all Jews to the Egyptian side. Ptolemy accordingly granted him a site in the nome of Heliopolis, 180 stadia from Memphis. Onias caused this site to be fortified and erected his temple in such style that it had the appearance of a citadel sixty cubits high. As a whole it did not resemble the temple in Jerusalem ; only the altar and the sacred vessels ia.va0rifj.aTa), apart from the golden candlestick, were the same as in Jerusalem. The temple was endowed with land so that the priests had a liberal income. Jealousy of Jerusalem is represented by Josephus as Onias's motive. The whole district was called ' Onias's land' (^ 'Ovttiv [xifyw]). This temple lasted longer than that of Jerusalem.

The Jewish diaspora in Egypt was profoundly moved by the fall of Jerusalem m 70 A.D.; and Lupus the governor fearing that the temple of Onias might become a religious centre for revolutionary movements, received from Vespasian, in answer to his own representations, orders to demolish the structure. Lupus at first merely closed the temple; but his successor Paulinus made it completely inaccessible after having plundered it of its furniture (araP^paraX This was in 73 A.D. Josephus represents it as having stood for 343 years, on which reckoning it must have been founded about 270 B.c. This date, however, is absolutely excluded by the foregoing data of Josephus himself; there must be some error in the figures. It is usual to assume 243 as the original reading ; this would give 170 n.c. as the year of foundation. We may conjecture that the plan and its execution were not earlier than the desecration of the temple in Jerusalem by Antiochus IV. in 168, but also earlier than the granting of freedom of worship by Antiochus V. in 163.

The data supplied by Josephus in Ant. xiii. $\ff. (§§ 66-70) 104 (§ 285) exhibit considerable discrepancies. The two letters incorporated—that of Onias to Ptolemy and Cleopatra, and their answer to it—are both without a doubt mere literary fabrications, of which the answer is still more worthless than the other. In Onias's letter the site for which he asks is an old disused sanctuary in the enclosure (cixvpu/ia) of rural Bubastis (dypia B«/j3o<mt); in the answer it is a ruined sanctuary of rural Bubastis (dypla Bov/favrit) in Leontopolis in the district of Heliopolis (cp Ant. xii. 9? xx. 163). It is customary in accordance with this last statement to speak straightway of the temple in Leontopolis; it is questionable, however, whether the various definitions of the site exactly agree. According to Ant. 3i (§ 67), 104 (§ 285), the temple was built after the model of that in Jerusalem. The sole motive, according to 3i (§ 63) was the personal ambition of Onias ; its erection is spoken of (32 [§ 69]) as sinful and a transgression of the law. The discrepancy of the accounts gives Buchler (239^) occasion to conjecture the real question to be whether it was a (Jewish) temple of Onias or a (Samaritan) temple of Dositheus that was actually built. From the indications regarding the temple in BJ vii. 10 Buchler is rather inclined to conclude that it was Samaritan (255). Against this inference, however. weighty considerations can be urged. Had the temple been Samaritan, assuredly the allusion to it in Is. 19 18 would not have been admitted into the Jewish Canon, and the Mishna would not have found it necessary to discuss the question whether sacrifices and vows in connection with the Onias temple were valid also for the temple of Jerusalem (Schurer, GJWSgg).

(<•) For the Onias named by Josephus in Ant. xii. 5 i (I 238^) as the youngest son of Simon U., see Menei.aus.

1-eMdes the works on the History of Israel cited in Israel,

i 116, see Baethgen in ZA Til' 6 277-282 (1886); A. Schlalter,

in St.fCr, 1891, pp. 633^, in Jason von

14. Literature. Kyrtnt, 1891, and in -?r(;nFHi45 JT.

(1894); H. Willrich, Judtn a. Griechtn,

iSo,; Wellhausen, GGA, 1895, pp. 947-957; A. Buchler, Die

Tooiatien u. die Oniadcn hit II. Makttal^aerbucke u. in tier

Vfnuandtenjiidisck-ftfttenistiscktn Literatvr, 1890; B. Nicsc,

Kritik tier beiden MakkablUrbiichcr, 1900; H. Willrich,

Juiiaua, 1900. H. G.

The new Schaff-Herzog encyclopedia of religious knowledge: embracing ...

 By Johann Jakob Herzog, Philip Schaff, Albert Hauck (1901) pp. 458-59

http://books.google.com/books?id=PGn6gnoa4rAC&pg=PA458&dq=onias&cd=3#v=onepage&q=onias&f=false

LEONTOPOLIS: The name of a place in Lower Egypt important in connection with Jewish history as the site of the temple built Reports of by an Onias (III. or IV.) either c. 170 Josephus. or c. 154 B.C. The place mentioned is apparently located by Josephus (War, VII., x. 3) 180 stadia (about twenty miles) from Memphis, in the nome of Heliopolis. The sources

of information are Josephus, War, I., i. 1, VII., x. 2 sqq.; Ant., XII., ix. 7, XIII., iii. 1-3, cf. XII., v. 1. According to War, I., i. 1 " Onias the high priest " was compelled under Antiochus Epiphanes to flee from Jerusalem and took refuge in Egypt with Ptolemy Philometor, who gave him a location in the nome of Heliopolis, where he " built a city resembling Jerusalem, and a temple that was like its temple." In Ant., XII., ix. 7 Josephus says that it was the son of " Onias the high priest " who, being " left a child when his father died . . . fled to Ptolemy," and received the gift in the nome named wherein he built a temple like that at Jerusalem. With this agrees Ant., XII., v. 1, which says that the son whom Onias left " was yet but an infant." Ant., XIII., iii. 1-3 affirms that Onias " the son of Onias the high priest " fled to Ptolemy Philometor, and that, stimulated by the prophecy of Isaiah (xix. 19) uttered 600 years earlier, this Onias wrote a letter to Ptolemy and Cleopatra, which letter Josephus professes to give. In this Onias asks that a ruined sanctuary be given him that he may purge it and erect on its site a temple which may serve as a place where the Jews may meet, implying that this will gain for the king the favor of the Jews against the Syrian king. The reported reply of the two sovereigns grants the ruined temple at Leontopolis, " named from . . . Bubastis." The second of these letters, at any rate, is generally recognized as spurious. In War, VII., x. 2 Josephus affirms that " Onias, son of Simon, one of the Jewish high priests " fled from Antiochus, was received kindly by Ptolemy, obtained leave to build a temple, saying that " the Jews would be readier to fight against Antiochus," built the temple not like that at Jerusalem but to resemble a tower, sixty cubits high, furnished it in the same manner, only substituting a suspended golden lamp for the candlestick, and surrounding the structure with a wall of burnt brick, though the gate (ways) were of stone. The king :.lso gave a large endowment in lands to furnish the requisite revenues for the support of the temple. In § 4 of this chapter Josephus reports that Lupus, governor of Alexandria, and his successor Paulinus (which places the date at 70-73 A.d.) stripped and closed the temple after it had been open for worship " 343 years."

These accounts by the same writer raise three difficulties. (1) Who was the Onias who built the temple ? Two of the accounts distinctly imply Onias III., especially Ant., VII., x. 2, Three which calls him " son of Simon." With Difficulties, this goes War, I., i. 1, " Onias the high priest," since the son of this Onias never served as high priest, at least in Jerusalem, being, as Josephus says elsewhere (Ant., XII., v. 1), left an infant. But the other passages cited oppose this, stating that it was the son of Onias the high priest, commonly known as Onias IV. This latter position is supported by the testimony of II Mace. iv. 33-34, according to which Onias III. was slain after being enticed from the well-known sanctuary of Daphne near Antioch. (2) The second difficulty concerns the date of the building of the temple, and its solution depends upon the soLeprosy

lution of the first difficulty. If Onias III. was the builder, 170-163 must be the period of erection; if Onias IV., then c. 154 must be accepted. The statement in Aid., VII., x. 4 that the temple was open for 343 years is usually regarded as a mistake for 243, which would place the founding of the structure c. 170 B.C. But this calculation may be bound up with Josephus' evident confusion as to the person of the founder, and the later date may l>e regarded as correct. (3) The site is by the statements of Josephus and all earlier indications left a matter of doubt. Ant., XIII., iii. 2 seems to fix it definitely at " Leontopolis, in the nome of Heliopolis . . . named from the country Bubastis." This can not be the well-known Leontopolis, which was the capital of a province north of that of Heliopolis. Moreover, in War, VII., x. 3 the location is given as 180 stadia (about twenty miles) from Memphis. But a Leontopolis is not known in the region, apart from the capital already mentioned.

In the Itinerarium Antonini (ed. G. Parthey and M. Pinder, Berlin, 1848) appears mention of a Vicus Judworum, which is placed thirty-four Roman miles northeast of Heliopolis. E. Naville finds that in this neighborhood a temple to Bast (the lion-headed goddess from whom Leontopolis took its name) once stood, and tliat near by is a Tel al-Yehudiyeh, " Mound of the The Jew," though at the time he investiTemple gated (1887) he found no traces of a Found. Jewish temple there (The Academy, Feb. 25,1888, pp. 140-141; Egypt Exploration Fund, Seventh Memoir, pp. 20, 22). Another place of the same name is found farther south, where a sepulchral inscription, Oniou pater, was discovered (The Academy, 1888, pp. 49-50, 140142, 193-194; Egypt Exploration Fund, ut sup.). The Nolitia dignitatum orientis, chap, xxv (ed. E. Bucking, Bonn, 1839), knows a Castra Judmorum, possibly identical with the more southern of the two places. Finally, in 1905, near the station Shibin al-Kanater, 20 miles from Cairo (Baedeker's Egypt, p. 166, 1908), investigation at a mound called Tel al-Yehudiyeh (20 miles from Cairo) found the traces of the temple in question. The ground showed a settlement roughly in the shape of a triangle, on the east side a wall of stone 767 feet long, with the entrance to the enclosure at the west acute angle, while the temple ruins were at the south point. The entire enclosure covered between three and four acres. The temple showed a structure of which the inner court was sixtythree feet long by thirty-two to twenty-seven feet wide, and an outer court forty-four feet long by twenty-seven to twenty-one feet wide; the architecture was Corinthian in style with Syrian features; the area was proportioned like that of the temple at Jerusalem. The traces of sacrifice were present in the shape of huge sunken cylinders of pottery which show that they were used for sacrifice, alternate layers of earth and burnt material showing that fresh earth was thrown on each sacrifice of fire so as to deaden it. The pottery of the mound outside the old town belongs to the second century B.C., the coins are of the period of Ptolemy Philometor, and sherds show Jewish names.

These data, reconciling differences and agreeing

with the conditions required, set finally at rest the

question of the fact and the place of this interesting

episode of Jewish history. Geo. W. Gilmoke.

Bibliography: Egyptian Research Account, vol. xii., W.

M. Flinders Petrie, Hyksos and Israelite Cities, London,

1906; Schurer, Qeschichte, iii. 97-100, Eng. tranal., II..

ii. 286-288 (contains older literature); A. Buchler, Die

Tobiaden und die Oniaden in 11. M akkabderbuch, Vienna,

1899; Jews' College Jubilee Volume, pp. 39-77, London,

1906 (collects discussions of the Onias Temple); C. H. H.

WriKht, Light from Egyptian Papyri before Christ, ib.

1908; J. G. Duncan, Exploration of Egypt and the O. T.,

New York, 1909; 1CB, iii. 3507-11.

 

 

 

In their book “Archaeology of the Hidden Qumran, The New Paradigm” archaeologists Minna Lonnqvist and Kenneth Lonnqvist, who had carried out a survey in situ at Qumran, argued that the scrolls and the settlement are associated to an Essene-type of group which, however, finds the closest parallels in the contemporary Jewish Therapeutic group known to have lived in Egypt.

 

Now this class of persons may be met with in many places, for it was fitting that both Greece and the country of the barbarians should partake of whatever is perfectly good; and there is the greatest number of such men in Egypt, in every one of the districts, or nomes, as they are called, and especially around Alexandria; and from all quarters those who are the best of these therapeutae proceed on their pilgrimage to some most suitable place as if it were their country, which is beyond the Maereotic lake.

— Philo, Ascetics III

Philo is a primary source for the Therapeutae. How he managed to avoid all mention of Leontopolis has no explanation. His brother is Julius Alexander Lysimachus, the Alabarch.

 

Ptolemy & Leontopolis

Cyclopaedia of Biblical, Theological, and Ecclesiastical Literature, Volume 8 by John McClintock and James Strong ,Harper, 1879

Ptoi.kmy VI, Philomftor (<f>i\o^?yrwp, i. e. motherloring). On the death of Ptolemy Epiphanes, his wife, Cleopatra, held the regency for her young son, Ptolemy PhilomeUtr, and preserved peace with Syria till she died, B.C. 173. The government then fell into unworthy hands, and an attempt was made to recover Syria (comp. 2 Mace. iv. 21). Antiochus Epiphancs seems to have made the claim a pretext for invading Egypt, The generals of Ptolemy were defeated near Pelusiiim, probably at the close of B.C. 171 (Clinton, F. //. iii,319; 1 Mace, i, 16 sq.); and in the next year Antiochus, having secured the person of the young king, reduced almost the whole of Egypt (comp. 2 Mace, v, 1). Meanwhile Ptolemy Euergetes II, the younger brother of Ptolemy Philometor, assumed the supreme power at Alexandria; and Antiochus, under the pretext of recovering the crown for Philometor. besieged Alexandria in B.C. 169. By this time, however, his selfish designs were apparent: the brothers were reconciled, and Antiochus was obliged to acquiesce for the time in the arrangement which they made. But while doing so,

These campaigns, which are intimately connected with the visits of Antiochus to Jerusalem in B.C. 170, 168, are briefly described in Dan. xi, 25-30: "Ue [Antiochus] shall stir vp his power and his. courage against the king of the south with a great army ; and the king of the south [Ptolemy Philometor] shall be stirred up to battle mth a very great and mighty army; but he shall not stand: for they [the ministers, as it appears, iu whom he trusted] shall forecast decicts against liim. Yea, they that feed of the portion of his meat thull destroy him, and his army shall melt aicay, and tmtny tbuH fall dotrn slain. A nd both these kings' hearts shall he to do mischief, and they shall speak lies at one table [Antiochus shall profess falsely to maintain the cause of Philometor against his brother, and Philometor to trust in his good faith]; but it shall not prosper [the resistance of Alexandria shall preserve the independence of Egypt] ; for the end shall be at the time afipointrd. Then shall he [Antiochus] return into his land, and hii heart shall be against the holy covenant; and he shall do exploits, and return to his own land, A t the time appointed he shall return and come lou-ard* the south; but it shall not be as the former, so a/so the latter time. [His career shall be checked at once.] For the ships of Chittim [comp. Numb, xxiv, 24 : the Roman fleet] thull come against him: therefore, he shall be dismayed and return and have indif/itation against the. hti/y roroHM/."

After the discomfiture of Antiochus, Philometor was for some time occupied in resisting the ambitious designs of his brother, who made two attempts to add Cyprus to the kingdom of Cyrcne. which was allotted to him. Having effectually put down these attempts, he turned his attention again to Syria. During the brief reign of Antiochus Enpator he seems to have supported Philip against the regent L} sias (comp. 2 Mace, ix, 29). After the murder of Eupator by Demetrius I, Philometor espoused the cause of Alexander 1 fa las, the rival claimant to the throne, because Demetrius had made an attempt on Cyprus; and when Alexander had defeated and slain his rival, he accepted the overtures which he made, and gave him his daughter Cleopatra in marriage (B.C. 150: 1 Mace, x, 51-58). Yi-t, according to 1 Mace, xi, 1.10, etc., the alliance was not made in good faith, but only as a means towards securing possession of Syria. According to others, Alexander himself made a treacherous attempt on the life of Ptolemy (comp. 1 Mace, xi, 10), which caused him to transfer his support to Demetrius 11, to whom also he gave his daughter, whom he had taken from Alexander. The whole of Syria was quickly subdued, and he was crowned at Antioch king of Egypt and Asia (1 Mace, xi, 13). Alexander made an effort to recover his croirn, but was defeated by the forces of Ptolemy and Demetrius, and shortly afterwards put to death in Arabia. But Ptolemy did not long enjoy his success. He fell from his horse in the battle, and died within a few days (1 Mace, xi, 18), B.C. 145.

Ptolemy Philomctor is the last king of Egypt who is noticed in sacred history, and his reign was marked also by the erection of the temple at Leontopolis. The coincidence is worthy of notice, for the consecration of a new centre of worship placed a religious as well as a political barrier between the Alexandrian and Palestinian Jews. Henceforth the nation was again divided. The history of the temple itself is extremely obscure, but even in its origin it was a monument of civil strife. Onias, the son of Onias III (Josephus, in one place [ War, vii, 10, 2], calls him " the son of .Simon," and he appears under the same name in Jewish legends; but it seems certain that this was a mere error, occasioned by the patronymic of the most famous Onias [comp. Herzfeld, Gesrli. <l. JuJent/i. ii, 557] ). who was murdered at Antioch 1!.C. 171, when he saw that he was excluded from the succession to the high-priesthood by mercenary intrigues, fled to Egypt, either shortly after his father's death or upon the transfer of the office to Alcimus, B.C. 1G2 (Josephus, Ant. xii, 9, 7). It is probable that his retirement must be placed at the later date, for he was a child, Traic (.losephus, Ant. xii, 5), at the time of his father's death, and he is elsewhere mentioned as one of those who actively opposed the Syrian party in Jerusalem (Josephus, I)'or, i, 1). In Egypt, he entered the service of the king, and rose, with another Jew. Uositheus, to the supreme command. In this office lie rendered important services during the war which Ptolemy Physcon waged against his brother; and he pleaded these to induce the king to grant him a ruined temple of Diana (r»)c riypif/c Bov/3«<T7Fwc) at Leontopolis as the site of a temple which he proposed to build " after the pattern of that at Jerusalem, and of the same dimensions." His alleged object was to unite the Jews in one body who were at the time "divided into hostile factions, even as the Egyptians were, from their differences in religious services" (Josephus, A nt. xiii, 3,1). In defence of the locality which he chose, he quoted the words of Isaiah (Isa. xix, 18. 19), who spoke of ''an altar to the Lord in the midst of the land of Egypt," and, according to one interpretation, mentioned '• the city of the Sun" (D"inn "H") by name. The site was granted and the temple built, but the original plan was not exactly carried out. The A'aos rose " like a tower to the height of sixty cubits" (Josephus, War, vii, 10.3, iri'ipyi(j iropa7T\>j<7iov . . . tie i£i]KOVTa 7njx*'C avtffrijKura). The altar and the offerings were similar to those at Jerusalem, but in place of the seven-branched candlestick was ;i a single lamp of gold suspended by a golden chain." The service was performed by priests and Levitcs of pure descent; and the temple possessed considerable revenues, which were devoted to their support and to the adequate celebration of the divine ritual (Josephus, War, vii, 10,3; A nt. xiii, 3,3). The object of Ptolemy Philometor in furthering the design of Onias was doubtless the same as that which led to the erection of the "golden calves" in Israel. The Jewish residents in Egypt were numerous and powerful; and when Jerusalem was in the hands of the Syrians, it became of the utmost importance to weaken their connection with their mother city. In this respect the position of the temple on the eastern border of the kingdom was peculiarly important (Jost, Cesch. des Judnithumf, i, 117). On the other hand, it is probable that Onias saw no hope in the hellcnized Judaism of a Syrian province; and the triumph of the Maccabees was still unachieved when the temple at Leontopolis was founded. The date of this event cannot, indeed, be exactly determined. Josephus says (War, vii, 10, 4) that the tcmpla had existed "343 years" at the time of its destruction, A.D. cir. 71; but the text is manifestly corrupt. Eusebius

(ap. Hieron. viii, p. 507, ed.Migne) notices the flight of Onias and the building of the temple under the same year (B.C. 162), possibly from the natural connection of the events without regard to the exact date of the latter. Some time at least must be allowed for the military service of Onias, and the building of the temple may, perhaps, be placed after the conclusion of the last war with Ptolemy Physcon (B.C. cir. 154), when Jonathan "began to judge the people at Machmas" (1 Mace, ix, 78). In Palestine the erection of this second temple was not condemned so strongly as might have been expected. A question, indeed, was raised in later times whether the service were not idolatrous (Jeruf. Jinan, 43 rf, ap. Jost, Cach. dts Judrnthumt. i. 119); but the Mishna, embodying, without doubt, the old decisions, determines the point more favorably. " Priests who had served at Leontopolis were forbidden to serve at Jerusalem, but were not excluded from attending the public services." "A vow might be discharged rightly at Leontopolis as well as at Jerusalem, but it was not enough to discharge it at the former place only" (Menach. 109 n, ap. Jost. as above). The circumstances under which the new temple was erected were evidently accepted as in some degree an excuse for the irregular worship. The connection with Jerusalem, though weakened in popular estimation, was not broken; and the spiritual significance of the one Temple remained unchanged for the devout believer (Philo, De Monarch, ii, § 1, etc.). See Alexandria.

 

The Jewish colony in Egypt, of which Leontopolis was the immediate religious centre, was formed of various elements and at different time?. The settlements which were made under the Greek sovereigns, though the most important, were by no means the first. In the later times of the kingdom of Judah many "trusted in Egypt," and took refuge there (Jer. xliii. (j, 7); and when Jeremiah was taken to Tahapanes. he spoke to "all the Jews which dwell in the land of Egypt, which dwell at Migdol and Tahapanes, and at Noph, and in the country of Pathros" (Jer. xliv. 1). This colony, formed against the command of God, was devoted to complete destruction (Jcr. xliv, 27); but when the connection was once formed, it is probable that the Persians, acting on the same policy as the Plolemies, encouraged the settlement of Jews in Egypt to keep in check the native population. After the Return, the spirit of commerce must have contributed to increase the number of emigrants; but the history of the Egyptian Jews is involved in the same deep obscurity as that of the Jews of Palestine till the invasion of Alexander. There cannot, however, be any reasonable doubt as to the power and influence of the colony; and the mere fact of its existence is an important consideration in estimating the possibility of .Jewish ideas finding their way to the West. Judaism had secured, in old times, all the treasures of Egypt, and thus the tirst instalment of the debt was repaid. A preparation was already made for a great work when the founding of Alexandria opened a new era in the history of the Jews. Alexander, according to the policy of all great conquerors, incorporated the conquered in his armies. Samaritans (Josephus, Ant. xi. 8, G) and Jews (.Josephus, Ant. xi, 8, 5; Hecat. ap. Joseph. C. A p. i, 22) are mentioned among bis troops; and the tradition is probably true which reckons them among the tirst settlers at Alexandria (Josephus, War, ii, 18, 7; C. Ap. ii, 4). Ptolemy Soter increased the colony of the Jews in Kgypt Iwith by force and by policy; and their numbers in the next reign may be estimated by the statement (Josephus, Ant. xii, '2, 1) that Ptolemy Philadelphus gave freedom to one hundred and twenty thousand. The position occupied by Joseph (Josephus, A nt. xii, 4) at the court of Ptolemy Eucrgctcs I implies that the Jews were not only numerous, but influential. As we go onward, the legendary accounts of the persecution of Ptolemy Philopator bear witness at least to the great number of Jewish residents in Egypt (3 Mace, iv, 15,17), and to their dispersion throughout the Delta. In the next reign many of the inhabitants of Palestine who remained faithful to the Egyptian alliance- fled to Egypt to escape from the Syrian rule (comp. Jerome, ad Dan. xi, 14, who is, however, confused in his account). The consideration which their leaders must have thus gained accounts for the rank which a Jew, Aristobulus, is said to have held under Ptolemy Philometor as "tutor of the king" (cicaataXof, 2 Mace, i, 10). The later history of the Alexandrian Jews has already been noticed. See AlexaxDbia. They retained their privileges under the Komans, though they were exposed to the illegal oppression of individual governors, and quietly acquiesced in the foreign dominion (Josephus, H'ur, vii, 10, 1). An attempt which was made by some of the fugitives from Palestine to create a rising in Alexandria after the destruction of Jerusalem entirely failed; but the attempt gave the Romans an excuse for plundering, and afterwards (B.C. 71) for closing entirely, the temple at Leontopolis (Josephus, War, vii, 10).

 

 

 

Moses at Heliopolis

His foster-mother (to whom the Jewish tradition gave the name of Thernuilhif, Josephus, A ill. ii, 9, 5; Artapanus, Prtep. A'e. ix, 27, the name of Mrrrhis,and the Arabian traditions that of Asial, Jalaiaddin, ]x 387) was (according to Artupanus, Euscbius, f'rcfp. ]•:>•. ix, 27) the daughter of Palmanothes, who was reigning at Heliopolis, and the wife of Chenephres, who was reigning at Memphis. In this tradition, and that of Philo (('. M. i, <!), she has no child, ami hence her delight at finding one.

He was educated at Heliopolis (comp. Strabo, x\ii.l and grew up there as a priest, under his Egyptian nit of Osarsiph (Manetho, ap. Josephus, c. Ap. i, 26. if, 31 or Tisithen (Chseremon, ib. 32). He was (acconuu*: to these accounts) taught the whole range of Greek. Chaldee, and Assyrian literature

According to the Et-yr'11 tradition, although a priest of Heliopolis, he «l«ay<;»'formed his prayers, in conformity with Ihe cuMi-ra his fathers, outside the walls of the city, in the open Bi turning towards the sun-rising (Josephus, Apian, ii, 2).

Mc Clintock and Strong cyclopaedia By John McClintock, James Strong Harper, 1876 p. 678.

 

 

 

 

 

According to the Torah, only a priest descended from Aaron could be the high priest of Jerusalem. Jonathan’s father Mattathias had been nothing more than a lowly rural priest from Modiin, so this no doubt would have brought on a great amount of controversy, especially from the Onias family. This may be why 2 Maccabees ended with the defeat of Nicanor: everyone could agree that Judas was a national hero, but Jonathan’s name was probably not so universally supported. The book is written from a pro-Hasmonean perspective, so there is no mention of who was deposed in order to give Jonathan the position. Amazingly enough, the normally meticulous nature of Jewish record-keeping fails to reveal who took the position as high priest after Alcimus was executed, despite a full record starting from the end of the Babylonian Exile in 515 B.C. Antiquities of the Jews says that the position was held by Judas, but he was already dead by the time Jonathan was given the priesthood. Some scholars, including Jerome Murphy-O'Connor, have suggested that it was the Teacher of Righteousness and that his name was expunged from the records by the Hasmonian priesthood.

In the 3rd chapter of Book 13, Josephus says:

But then the son of Onias the high priest, who was of the same name with his father, and who fled to king Ptolemy, who was called Philometor, lived now at Alexandria, as we have said already. When this Onias saw that Judea was oppressed by the Macedonians and their kings, out of a desire to purchase to himself a memorial and eternal fame he resolved to send to king Ptolemy and queen Cleopatra, to ask leave of them that he might build a temple in Egypt like to that at Jerusalem, and might ordain Levites and priests out of their own stock. The chief reason why he was desirous so to do, was, that he relied upon the prophet Isaiah, who lived above 600 years before, and foretold that there certainly was to be a temple built to Almighty God in Egypt by a man that was a Jew. Onias was elevated with this prediction, and wrote the following epistle to Ptolemy and Cleopatra: ‘Having done many and great things for you in the affairs of the war, by the assistance of God, and that in Celesyria and Phoenicia, I came at length with the Jews to Leontopolis, and to other places of your nation, where I found that the greatest part of your people had temples in an improper manner, and that on this account they bare ill-will one against another, which happens to the Egyptians by reason of the multitude of their temples, and the difference of opinions about Divine worship. Now I found a very fit place in a castle that hath its name from the country Diana; this place is full of materials of several sorts, and replenished with sacred animals; I desire therefore that you will grant me leave to purge this holy place, which belongs to no master, and is fallen down, and to build there a temple to Almighty God, after the pattern of that in Jerusalem, and of the same dimensions, that may be for the benefit of thyself, and thy wife and children, that those Jews which dwell in Egypt may have a place whither they may come and meet together in mutual harmony one with another, and he subservient to thy advantages; for the prophet Isaiah foretold that ‘there should be an altar in Egypt to the Lord God; and many other such things did he prophesy relating to that place.’”

The prophecy by Isaiah referenced here says, “In that day the Egyptians will be like women. They will shudder with fear at the uplifted hand that Yahweh of Armies raises against them. And the land of Judah will bring terror to the Egyptians; everyone to whom Judah is mentioned will be terrified, because of what Yahweh of Armies is planning against them. One of them will be called the City of the Sun.” (19:19) The title City of the Sun refers to Heliopolis, the same city that Joseph became a priest of after interpreting Pharaoh’s dreams, called On in the Book of Genesis (41:45). This is also the city of the Egyptian god Atum, who would later be revised as the monotheistic sun god Aten under the pharaoh Akhenaten. Akhenaten, who ruled in the 1300’s B.C., also had two viziers named Yuya and Ramose, comparable to the names Joseph and Moses.

This interpretation as given by Josephus no doubt conflicted with the belief of most Jews since the Egyptian temple would have provided an alternative to the one in Jerusalem. Jews copying the Masoretic text seem to have been conscious of this, since most copies of the Masoretic text use the term “City of Destruction” instead, no doubt to dissuade readers away from Onias IV’s interpretation. However, the reference to Heliopolis remained in the Septuagint, the Dead Sea Scrolls, and in some versions of the Masoretic text.

Josephus goes on to say that Ptolemy and his wife Cleopatra wrote to Onias giving him permission to re-establish the temple in Heliopolis, which he did, although Josephus describes it as “smaller and poorer” and was attended by Alexandrian Jews. Despite Onias’ desire for “mutual harmony,” Josephus says there was a sedition between the Alexandrian Jews and the Samaritans over whether Mount Zion or Mount Gerizzim in Samaria was the true mountain on which Moses had received the Law. Two men Sabbeus and Theodosius argued for the Samaritans while a man named Andronicus argued for the Jews, each taking an oath to tell the truth on pain of death. Andronicus’ arguments given to Ptolemy included a list of the successions of high priests and how all the kings of Asia had honored the Jerusalem temple with donations. Ptolemy ruled in favor of Andronicus and put the other two men to death.

In the book War of the Jews, Josephus refers to the area in which Onias built his temple as Onion. In Chapter 10 of Book 7, he writes:

Onias, the son of Simon, one of the Jewish high priests fled from Antiochus the king of Syria, when he made war with the Jews, and came to Alexandria; and as Ptolemy received him very kindly, on account of hatred to Antiochus, he assured him, that if he would comply with his proposal, he would bring all the Jews to his assistance; and when the king agreed to do it so far as he was able, he desired him to give him leave to build a temple some where in Egypt, and to worship God according to the customs of his own country; for that the Jews would then be so much readier to fight against Antiochus who had laid waste the temple at Jerusalem, and that they would then come to him with greater good-will; and that, by granting them liberty of conscience, very many of them would come over to him.

So Ptolemy complied with his proposals, and gave him a place 180 furlongs distant from Memphis. That Nomos was called the Nomos of Hellopolls, where Onias built a fortress and a temple, not like to that at Jerusalem, but such as resembled a tower. He built it of large stones to the height of 60 cubits; he made the structure of the altar in imitation of that in our own country, and in like manner adorned with gifts, excepting the make of the candlestick, for he did not make a candlestick, but had a [single] lamp hammered out of a piece of gold, which illuminated the place with its rays, and which he hung by a chain of gold; but the entire temple was encompassed with a wall of burnt brick, though it had gates of stone. The king also gave him a large country for a revenue in money, that both the priests might have a plentiful provision made for them, and that God might have great abundance of what things were necessary for his worship. Yet did not Onias do this out of a sober disposition, but he had a mind to contend with the Jews at Jerusalem, and could not forget the indignation he had for being banished thence. Accordingly, he thought that by building this temple he should draw away a great number from them to himself.

The lamp is also a common symbol used in light/darkness duality adherent both in Christian and Essene writings, and is commonly referenced in the gospels, and can also be found in 2 Peter and Revelation. The most common lamp saying from the Synoptic gospels is “no one after lighting a lamp covers it.” Contention with the high priests of Jerusalem is likewise a constant theme of the Synoptic gospels.

Onias Notes

Jonathan then reaffirmed his alliance with the Romans and the Spartans. The First Book of Maccabees relates two very strange letters, claiming them to be copies of letters sent Jonathan sent Arius, the king of the Spartans:

“Jonathan the high priest, the senate of the nation, the priests, and the rest of the Jewish people to their brethren the Spartans, greeting. Already in time past a letter was sent to Onias the high priest from Arius, who was king among you, stating that you are our brethren, as the appended copy shows. Onias welcomed the envoy with honor, and received the letter, which contained a clear declaration of alliance and friendship. Therefore, though we have no need of these things, since we have as encouragement the holy books which are in our hands, we have undertaken to send to renew our brotherhood and friendship with you, so that we may not become estranged from you, for considerable time has passed since you sent your letter to us. We therefore remember you constantly on every occasion, both in our feasts and on other appropriate days, at the sacrifices which we offer and in our prayers, as it is right and proper to remember brethren. And we rejoice in your glory. But as for ourselves, many afflictions and many wars have encircled us; the kings round about us have waged war against us. We were unwilling to annoy you and our other allies and friends with these wars, for we have the help which comes from Heaven for our aid; and we were delivered from our enemies and our enemies were humbled. We therefore have chosen Numenius the son of Antiochus and Antipater the son of Jason, and have sent them to Rome to renew our former friendship and alliance with them. We have commanded them to go also to you and greet you and deliver to you this letter from us concerning the renewal of our brotherhood. And now please send us a reply to this.

“This is a copy of the letter which they sent to Onias:

“Arius, king of the Spartans, to Onias the high priest, greeting. It has been found in writing concerning the Spartans and the Jews that they are brethren and are of the family of Abraham. And now that we have learned this, please write us concerning your welfare; we on our part write to you that your cattle and your property belong to us, and ours belong to you. We therefore command that our envoys report to you accordingly.”

Antiquities of the Jews lists a very similar letter and ascribes it to Onias III, but King Arius ruled from 309 to 265 B.C., so he would have been a contemporary of Onias I, who was high priest from 320 and 280. In fact, there was no king of Sparta while Onias III was high priest. The last king, Nabis, had been assassinated by the Aetolian League in 192, causing Sparta to join the Achaean League, which itself was dissolved by Rome in 146. Opinion on whether the letters are authentic or not are mixed.

 

Nome Number

Egyptian Name

Translation

Capital

1

Aneb-Hetch

White Walls

Memphis

2

Khensu

Cow's thigh

Khem

3

Ament

West

Alexandria

4

Sapi-Res

Southern shield

Ptkheka

5

Sap-Meh

Northern shield

Sais

6

Khaset

Mountain bull

Xois

7

A-ment

East harpoon

Pithom

8

A-bt

West harpoon

Hermopolis

9

Ati

Andjeti

Busiris

10

Ka-Khem

Black bull

Athribis

11

Ka-heseb

Heseb bull

Leontopolis

12

Theb-Ka

Calf and Cow

Sebennytus

13

Heq-At

Prospering Sceptre

Heliopolis

14

Khent-abt

Eastmost

Pelusion

15

Tehut

Ibis

Hermopolis Parva

16

Kha

Fish

Mendes

17

Semabehdet

The throne

Diospolis Inferior

18

Am-Khent

Prince of the South

Bubastis

 

 

Isaiah 19:20: Savior and Great One: This verse has some interesting original language variations and the LXX adds an interpretation to indicate that they did not think it was a messianic prophecy. The Hebrew text says "He will send them a savior (moshiy'a) and a high one." "High one" is from (Rab), the word for Rabbi .The LXX reads: (Kai apostelei autois, kurios anthropon hos sosei autous, krinon sosei autous] Which means: "And he shall send to them a human lord who will save them, one judging will save them." The LXX is an interpretive translation and it indicates that the Hebrew translators in 285 BC did not think the passage refers to the Messiah and they made it clear that the one spoken of here is not a divine personage like the Messiah. They did this by adding words to the text. The LXX was translated more than 100 years before Onias built the altar in Egypt. For more detail of Onias as the "deliverer" spoken of here see note under verse 25.

 

Zaphnath-paaneah - The meaning of this title is as little known as that of abrech in the preceding verse. Some translate it, The revealer of secrets; others, The treasury of glorious comfort. St. Jerome translates the whole verse in the most arbitrary manner. Vertitque nomen ejus, et vocavit eum, lingua Aegyptiaca, Salvatorem mundi. "And he changed his name, and called him in the Egyptian language, The savior of the world." None of the Asiatic versions acknowledge this extraordinary gloss, and it is certainly worthy of no regard. The Anglo-Saxon nearly copies the Vulgate: And named him in Egyptian, The healer of the world. All the etymologies hitherto given of this word are, to say the least of them, doubtful. I believe it also to be an Egyptian epithet, designating the office to which he was now raised; and similar to our compound terms, Prime-Minister, Lord Chancellor, High-Treasurer,

 

Heliopolis: ('Sun City', 'Anu', 'Lunu', 'On').

Shows evidence of occupation since pre-dynastic times (1).

Heliopolis was once one of the largest cities in ancient Egypt, It was the capital of the cult of Amon-Ra, second only in size by Thebes (Karnak). The chief deity of Heliopolis was the god Atum, who was worshipped in the primary temple, which was known by the names Per-Aat (pr-at; "Great House") and Per-Atum (pr-ỉtmw; "Temple [lit. "House"] of Atum")

Several of the obelisks in Rome originated from Heliopolis, as did both the Cleopatra's needles in London, and New York.

The ancient city of Heliopolis, the city of 'On' in the Bible, was the chief town of the 13th nome of Egypt (These nomes were ancient administrative borders with roots tracing right back to the unification by Menes (c. 3,100 BC). In Egyptian mythology its name was lunu, meaning 'pillar' and it was thought to be the location of the 'mound of creation' from which the world arose from the waters.

http://www.ancient-wisdom.co.uk/Images/countries/Egyptian%20pics/Djoser-Heliopolis%20small.jpgThe position of the great temple is marked by a single obelisk, being one of a pair set up by Senusret I, the second king of the Twelfth Dynasty) and a few granite blocks bearing the name of Ramesses II.  Now buried almost directly under the sprawling city of Cairo, the archaeological context of this city remains are going to remain difficult to interpret.

We know that there was a religious centre dedicated to Djoser Netjerikhet of the 3rd Dynasty. Several fragments of very fine limestone relief were found in the temple area at Heliopolis excavated in 1903 by Schiaperelli. Now exhibited in the Turin Egyptian museum, the fragments show lines of text naming Netjerikhet, and stress the importance of the solar cult at that time.

Herodotus stated that the priests of Heliopolis were the best informed in matters of history of all the Egyptians. Heliopolis flourished as a seat of learning during the Greek period; the schools of philosophy and astronomy are claimed to have been frequented by Orpheus, Homer, Pythagoras, Plato, Solon, and other Greek philosophers (1)

The city was largely destroyed in the Persian invasion of 525 BC.

The significance of the city was lost following the founding of Alexandra in 332 BC. The old monuments were plundered and the remains were used as a quarry for building much of medieval Cairo, and other civil projects since.

http://www.ancient-wisdom.co.uk/Images/countries/Egyptian%20pics/heliopolis%20old.bmp

Though only fragments of Heliopolis’ city walls remain, they were easily discernable at the time of the French Expedition in 1798, portions of these walls stood ten to twelve meters high.

 

Today, all that remains of this once great city is the single (20.4m high, 121 ton), obelisk, originally one of a pair erected at the entrance of a huge temple to mark the 12th dynasty king Senusret I's 30th anniversary at around 1940 BC. (and a few granite blocks bearing the name of Ramesses II).

References to Heliopolis in the Bible.

Genesis (41:45) - And Pharaoh called Joseph's name Zaphnathpaaneah; and he gave him to wife Asenath the daughter of Potipherah priest of On. And Joseph went out over all the land of Egypt. (King James Bible)

Ezekiel (30:17) - "The young men of On and of Pi-beseth Will fall by the sword, And the women will go into captivity.

On was the name for Heliopolis in the Bible.

Jeremiah 43:13 - He shall break also the images of Bethshemesh, that is in the land of Egypt; and the houses of the gods of the Egyptians shall he burn with fire. (King James Bible)

Beth-shemesh is, "the house of the sun," in Hebrew; called by the Greeks "Heliopolis".

 

Heliopolis - Egypt’s radiance

Heliopolis was ancient Egypt’s most magnificent temple. Today, nothing remains, its stones dispersed over various buildings of medieval Cairo. Equally, its true importance lies scattered in various ancient accounts, from Diodorus Siculus, Plato, and many others.

Philip Coppens


http://www.philipcoppens.com/heliopolis_1.jpgIt is said that those who fly too close to the sun, get burned. In the case of the priests of Heliopolis, it is reported that of all temples of ancient Egypt, theirs was the most magnificent; that their temple had a floor that was so perfect, that one could see the night’s sky reflected upon it.
Alas, of its temple, nothing survives. Though it was the home of the mythical phoenix, Heliopolis, once destroyed, never rose from its ashes to be reborn again. The greatest temple of all has totally disappeared – its stones used for the construction of medieval Cairo. But even in Ptolemaic times, the Greeks used Heliopolis as a quarry to use its stones for the construction of the Pharos lighthouse in the harbour of Alexandria. In Roman times, its obelisks were taken away to adorn Alexandria, and were sailed across the Mediterranean to Rome, including the famed Cleopatra’s Needles that now resides on the Thames embankment, London and Central Park, New York. Nearly half of the thirteen obelisks now in Rome came from Heliopolis, meaning that there is more of Heliopolis in Rome, than in Heliopolis itself.

But when “Cleopatra’s Needle” was erected in Heliopolis on the orders of Thutmose III around 1450 BC, it was already late in the life of the town. As with so many temples of ancient Egypt, when Heliopolis was born will remain forever shrouded in the mists of time, but we know it existed from the very first Dynasties, with likely origins in Predynastic Egypt.

Heliopolis, however, was the name the Greeks gave it, and is its most modern name. The city’s Egyptian name was Iunu, “place of pillars”, which in biblical Hebrew was corrupted as On. The site – roughly near Cairo Airport – is now known to the Arabs as Ain Shams, “the well of the sun”. The ancient city walls of crude brick are still to be seen in the fields, giving us an idea of the city’s dimensions and shape: a trapezium of about 1200 meters west to east, and 1000 meters north to south. The funerary stela of Djedatumiufankh states that the thickness of the walls was 15.6 meters. In comparison, the outer walls of the Temple of Amun at Karnak measure 480 by 550 meters, and are less than twelve meters thick.
Though only fragments of Heliopolis’ city walls remain, they were easily discernable at the time of the French Expedition, and even in 1898, portions of these walls stood ten to twelve meters high. Today, of the temple complex itself, only a sole obelisk remains (one of a pair set up by Senusret I, the second king of the 12th Dynasty), as well as a few granite blocks bearing the name of Ramesses II. Preservation work on the obelisk occurred in the 1950s, when the Antiquity Department gave some attention to Heliopolis. Efforts in the 1970s were done to improve accessibility, but only under Zahi Hawass has Heliopolis been tackled with the respect it is due. Alas, most of the discoveries that have been made date from the Saite period – very late in the history of the temple.

http://www.philipcoppens.com/heliopolis_2.jpgArchaeologists have only been able to locate two of the five known temples that existed. The sun temple itself has never been located. With little to no archaeology, Heliopolis is therefore more part of history than Egyptology, and is hence often an underrepresented and underappreciated site. Only in more recent years has some accommodation been made for tourism, but progress is slow.

Hence, to properly understand its importance, we need to turn to the pages of history, and the accounts of those visitors who visited it when it was still alive. One ancient visitor was Diodorus Siculus, who, in 60 BC, wrote that Heliopolis was built by Actis, one of the sons of Helios and Rhode, who named the city after his father. It was also reported that while all Greek cities were destroyed during the flood, the Egyptian cities, including Heliopolis, survived. We probably need to take this legend with a grain of desert sand, for it is known that though the sun was important in Heliopolis, the chief deity of Heliopolis was the creator god Atum, who soon became known as Atum-Ra – revealing indeed a link with the solar cult, which was, however, secondary. In origin, Atum was the self-begotten creator god, who created the universe through masturbation – seeing he was, after all, totally alone in the universe.
Atum created the so-called Ennead, the group of nine gods that embodied the creative source and chief forces of the universe. Though the Ennead is quite well-know within the alternative field (if only through such books as The Stargate Conspiracy), it is less-known within the world at large. Still, the Ennead, the Nine Principles through which the Pharaoh ruled and ordered the forces of the universe, dominated Egyptian thought from the Old Kingdom onwards, for no less than three thousand years. It is therefore the longest living theology that ever existed.
Atum was worshipped in the site’s primary temple, which was known by the names Per-Aat, “Great House” and Per-Atum, “the House of Atum”. Another temple in Heliopolis was the “Mansion of the Benben”, also known as the “Mansion of the Phoenix”, which is believed to have been a sacred precinct in which in the middle of an open courtyard, stood a stone pillar, on top of which sat the “benben stone”. It was seen as the solidified seed of Atum, the Stone of Creation, a magical stone, and some have concluded that it was of meteoric origin, “shining” in the sky, but when fallen on earth, black. Alas, the stone itself has at one point in time – no-one is quite sure when precisely – disappeared and is hence impossible to study. It was on this stone that the phoenix – the Greek rendition of the Egypt benu bird – was said to return periodically, whereby he was reborn from his ashes – heralding a new era. Ancient accounts differ as to the number of years that passed between his visits, some dates apparently linked with a calendar linked to the precession of the equinoxes, others with the stellar calendar, dominated by Sirius.

http://www.philipcoppens.com/zoser.jpgIn charge of the religious life of the community was the Heliopolitan priesthood, which is known to have been very influential. This is in evidence in the case of the architect of Zoser’s step pyramid, Imhotep, a High Priest of Heliopolis, who project managed the construction of the first pyramid ever. Egyptologists are in general agreement that the Pyramid Age came about with and through the rise in power of the Heliopolitan priesthood. Some even note that the shape of the benben stone might have been similar to the shape of the pyramid, though there is no general consensus on this issue. There is consensus that the pyramidion – the capstone of the pyramid – did symbolise the benben stone.
However, the connection between the pyramids and Heliopolis is easily demonstrable, as Mark Lehner pointed out that the pyramids of the 5th Dynasty, at Abusir, were aligned to Heliopolis. Dr. Gerhard Haeny of the Swiss Institute of Archaeology in Cairo has added that the pyramids of Giza align to the obelisk of Heliopolis, which replaced the Temple of the Phoenix, where the benben stone had previously been kept. Furthermore, Giza and Heliopolis were connected by the “Sacred Roads of the Gods”. It links Giza directly with Heliopolis, and it is a very important connection.

Zoser's pyramid

So, the Heliopolitan creation myth focused on the self-begotten Creator God Atum, who created the world from the primeval island through the act of masturbation. Where is Atum’s primeval hill? Though the Greek geographer Strabo stated that Heliopolis was situated on top of a noteworthy mound, it seems likely that the primordial hill of their mythology was not located in Heliopolis itself, but at Giza. The strong link between both sites is not only noted by Haeny, it was also picked up by Robert Bauval in “The Orion Mystery”, quoting Robin J. Cook: “The Giza group probably represents a symbolic expression of the Heliopolitan myth.” Noted Egyptologist I.E.S. Edwards has remarked that the Sphinx was said to guard the “Splendid Place of the Beginning of All Time”, which is of course the primeval hill – the Mound of Creation.
As the primeval hill was a place of descent for the Creator God, was the myth of Atum descending to Earth related to the Giza plateau? There is an account of how Khufu mentions that an old sycamore tree that grew near the Sphinx was damaged “when the Lord of Heaven descended upon the Place of Hor-em-Akhet”, the latter translated as “the place of the Falcon God (Horus) of the Horizon”, identified with the Sphinx. This tree was linked to Atum and in Heliopolis there was a chapel to “Atum of the sycamore tree”. The cult of the sycamore tree was – as usual – worked into Christianity: it became the Tree of the Virgin, which is a sycamore that is said to have been planted in 1672 from the shoot of an older tree. According to Coptic Christian tradition, the Holy Family on their journey through Egypt rested beneath this tree after crossing the desert, and today, it remains a place of pilgrimage.
This suggests that Giza and Heliopolis were two aspects of the cult of the Creator God Atum and that the “sacred precinct” of Heliopolis did not stop at the temple walls, but extended to the Giza plateau – if not further afield. I.E.S. Edward also believed that the primeval hill was the Giza plateau. He thus stepped in the footsteps of Diodorus Siculus, who wrote that during the construction of the Great Pyramid “a cut was made from the Nile, so that the water turned the site into an island”. Though archaeologists have often focused on the engineering and practical aspects of diverting the Nile, within a religious framework, the plateau was thus turned into an island, to forcefully portray the creation myth of the primeval hill that rose from the Waters of Chaos, an event that must have been most profound at the time of the Flooding of the Nile.

http://www.philipcoppens.com/imhotep.jpgImhotep

Imhotep was not the only “ace priest” of Heliopolis. According to some scholars, the biblical Moses was a high priest there too. Another important priest was Manetho, who in the 3rd century BC, was tasked with codifying the Egyptian religion in such manner that it would be comprehensible to the Greeks that had just conquered Egypt.
It makes it clear that of all the priesthoods that were attached to the various temples along the river Nile, those of Heliopolis were regarded as primus inter pares. And historical accounts confirm this conclusion. In 449-440 BC, when Herodotus visited and met the priests, he praised them for their wisdom. Plutarch wrote that the “priests of the Sun at Heliopolis never carry wine into their temples, for they regard it as indecent for those who are devoted to the service of any god to indulge in the drinking of wine whilst they are under the immediate inspection of their Lord and King. The priests of the other deities are not so scrupulous in this respect, for they use it, though sparingly.” But in 25 BC, when Strabo visited Egypt, he wrote: “At Heliopolis we saw large buildings in which the priests lived. For it is said that anciently this was the principal residence of the priests, who studied philosophy and astronomy. But there are no longer either such a body or such pursuits.”
Though little was left, as late as the 4th century AD, another Heliopolitan priest, Ammonius Saccas, taught two Greek philosophers, Plotinus and Origen, who would develop what is now known as Neoplatonism. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the Greek philosopher Plato himself stated that he studied at Heliopolis. It appears that by the 4th century, most priests of Heliopolis had actually moved to Alexandria, the new capital.

From Ammonius, we learn that Egyptian priests wrote nothing down and passed everything on orally. He also had his students vow absolute secrecy. Alas – at least in the eyes of Ammonius – both Plotinus and Origen broke this vow and their doctrine, which was more than likely close to the “true Heliopolitan doctrine”, was passed down to us.
Ammonius fled Alexandria when its “pagan” temples were attacked by Christian mobs, who also set fire to the Library of Alexandria. Unlike the phoenix, that did not arise from its ashes either. But the Christian attack was but the final attack in a long series, begun when the Persians under Cambyses razed Heliopolis in 525 BC, both to destroy the power of the priests and to take a strategic position for entering into the south of the land.

Ammonius was a favourite scholar of the 19th century founder of theosophy, Helena P. Blavatsky. She wrote how Ammonius and his followers had labelled themselves the “Philalethians”, lovers of the truth, and how Ammonius had declared that all moral and practical wisdom was contained in the books of Thoth of Hermes Trismegistus.
And it is with Thoth that we stumble upon another key aspect of the Heliopolitan priesthood: their role in the Pyramid Texts. These texts adorned the walls of several pyramids and are largely identical, repetitive sequences of magical utterances, to be spoken by the Pharaoh during his voyage in the Duat, the Egyptian Afterlife, on his way to Heaven – where he will meet, and become one with, the gods, and the creator deity Atum specifically. Most recently, it was Robert Bauval who popularised the notion that this voyage was also depicted in the sky and it is widely known that the Heliopolitan priesthood was famous for its astronomy (as well as mathematics) – some give them credit as the primary body that was able to calculate – predict – the heliacal rising of Sirius, meaning they would have been largely in charge of the religious and civil calendars: they controlled time, or rather, were in charge of “keeping time”. That the temple was a centre of astronomical knowledge was also reflected in the title of its high priest, “Chief of Observers” or “Greatest of Seers”, a titled carried by Imhotep.

http://www.philipcoppens.com/thoth_01.jpgAll writing in Egypt was dedicated to Thoth, the scribe of the gods, and the inventor of hieroglyphs, the sacred language. Interestingly, Egyptologist Maspero has stated that King Khufu, the builder of the Great Pyramid of Giza, was apparently looking for the origins of the Pyramid Texts, which according to the Westcar Papyrus, were kept inside a flinty chest in a chamber called the Investigation Hall, which was somewhere in Heliopolis. Maspero wrote that “the likeness between what was copied in the various Pyramid Texts suggests that some of their information were directly derived from old written sources”… which were held in Heliopolis.
In the Westcar Papyrus, Khufu consults a “magician” – no doubt a high priest of Heliopolis – Djedi, asking “What of the report that you know the number of the ipwt of the wnt of Thoth?” Djedi replies: “I know not the number thereof, but I know the place where it is… in a box of flint in a room called ‘Revision’ in Heliopolis.” Maspero’s interpretation is just one of several; others have included “keys”, or “the secret chambers of the sanctuary of Thoth”. The important aspect is, however, that the builder of the Great Pyramid was searching for information and that this information was held in Heliopolis.
We know that Khufu afterwards went into the Per Ankh, the “House of Life”, but also a library, in search of information regarding the number of the chambers of Thoth. And though the priests were forbidden to commit things to writing, it is clear that some priests at some time had been allowed to write down their knowledge. And it is likely that it was this library that would later be transferred and/or copied, to become the famous Library of Alexandria.

The books of the library went up in flames; over the previous centuries, the priests, knowledge and monuments had been transferred, dispersed – largely in efforts to preserve. Heliopolis might have survived the Deluge, but its element of destruction was obviously fire – so closely linked with the sun. Just like the night will extinguish the last rays of the sun, so the City of the Sun entered into the shadows of history. A new dawn might be on the horizon, but it might merely be a false hope. Perhaps it never will; perhaps Heliopolis just shone too brilliantly, and its spark can never be reignited.

This article is based upon a much different article that appeared in Frontier Magazine 6.3 (May-June 2000)

 

 

 

Livia Capponi, Il tempio di Leontopoli in Egitto: Identità politica e religiosa dei Giudei di Onia (c. 150 a.C-73 d.C.). Pubblicazioni della Facoltà di Lettere e Filosofia dell'Università di Pavia 118.   Pisa:  Edizioni ETS, 2007.  Pp. 255.  ISBN 9788846719430.  €18.00 (pb).  



Reviewed by David Noy, University of Wales Lampeter (d.noy@lamp.ac.uk)
Word count: 1623 words

There have been numerous chapter-length and book-length studies of the Jews of Graeco-Roman Egypt published recently. Livia Capponi goes into a more localised aspect of the topic with a monograph on the history of the Jews of Leontopolis near Heliopolis in the Nile Delta. The evidence with which she has to work is scanty: some passing references by Josephus (who is quite able to contradict himself and is unlikely to have had any personal knowledge or particular interest), a few late sources, and just over 90 inscriptions that can be attributed to the site or to nearby Jewish settlements. There are no papyri, and Philo notoriously says nothing whatsoever about Leontopolis, provoking the question of whether this indicates hostility between Alexandria and Leontopolis or just lack of interest.

Capponi begins with the Egyptian and Jewish historical background before looking in detail at the evidence for the foundation of the Jewish temple at Leontopolis. She argues plausibly that there was already a significant Jewish population in the area around Heliopolis before the temple was created, thus resolving some chronological problems created by Josephus. Like most scholars, she prefers Josephus' attribution of the foundation to Onias IV in Ant. (dating it to shortly after Jonathan Maccabeus became High Priest in 152 BCE) to his reference to the ejected High Priest Onias III in B.J. She attributes the latter version to a hostile Jewish-Egyptian source. Onias IV was never High Priest and had his hopes of holding the office thwarted by the Hasmoneans, but Capponi believes that his temple in Egypt was not intended to be schismatic. Unlike the Samaritan temple on Mount Gerizim, it did not attempt to replace Jerusalem as a focus of loyalty and was more concerned with introducing greater "rigour" to Egyptian Judaism, a point which the author stresses repeatedly. Even though this foundation was originally based on hostility to the Hasmoneans and a desire to keep the office of High Priest within the traditional family group, it shared their "counter-reform" ideas, in opposition to the views of Alexandrian Jews expressed in the Letter of Aristeas. There was a rapprochement with Jerusalem at a date somewhere between 124 and 103 BCE, after which Leontopolis appears to have worked in Jerusalem's interests.

Capponi thinks that the main criticism of Leontopolis from Jerusalem would have been that it was built in an impure place because of the site's association with Egyptian cult. She argues (103) that the description of the Temple in Jerusalem as "the great temple" in 2 Macc. 2.18 implies the existence of lesser temples, but that argument seems like saying that Jews who described their god as Theos Hypsistos believed in the existence of lesser gods. The contravention of the one-temple principle for Judaism would surely have been a source of hostility, even if later rabbinic references show that Leontopolis was not considered idolatrous. Leontopolis seems to have been a centre of Jewish scholarship, and other writers have suggested that various works of literature were produced there. Capponi follows Gideon Bohak (Joseph and Aseneth and the Jewish Temple in Heliopolis, Atlanta, 1996) in finding a close connection with Joseph and Aseneth, and also links the Testament of Job, 3 Maccabees and the 3rd Sibylline Oracle to the Jews of Leontopolis. Unfortunately none of these works can be used as independent evidence for Leontopolis without the argument becoming circular.

The author also deals with the end of the Ptolemaic period and the Roman era. Capponi suggests that various references to Jewish military forces in Egypt during the 1st century BCE are likely to refer to the Oniads based in and around Leontopolis. Jewish support was crucial in rescuing Julius Caesar at Alexandria, leading him to grant privileges to Jews throughout the Roman Empire (which, it might be noted, did not then include Egypt) in 47 BCE. Cleopatra was not as pro-Jewish as has sometimes been claimed on the basis of her knowledge of Hebrew. It is likely that the Jewish troops in Egypt were taken over as Roman auxiliaries after 30 BCE, and apparently Jewish names in papyri from several places in the Nile Delta suggest a continued Jewish military presence in the 1st century CE. The closure of the temple at Leontopolis by Vespasian in 73 CE was a propaganda measure which did not necessarily destroy the Jewish community around it, although that community no doubt disappeared after the revolt of 115-17 CE.

The most original part of the book is a study of the theology of the epitaphs: "una teologia mistica?". Capponi thinks that there are traces of mysticism, without messianic or eschatological messages but with a spirituality based on love for family and community and a belief in reward in the afterlife. Her views are based mainly on the verse epitaphs: 12 out of a total of 91 epitaphs attributed to the Jews of the southern Nile Delta. She argues that they show ideals which are not found in other metrical epitaphs from Egypt, and that they should therefore not be dismissed as too Hellenised to provide evidence for Jewish beliefs. The deceased are praised for moral qualities and values that in some cases seem to be specifically Jewish and can be compared to those found in the Letter of Aristeas, such as wisdom and justice. The author suggests that some show beliefs about the afterlife that seem more Pharisaic than Sadducean, contrary to what has previously been suggested. She thinks that references to "burning" can be taken literally as showing the use of cremation, rather than being metaphors or conventional language used out of context. It is true that there is evidence for cremation from Alexandria, as the author notes, but it is from a necropolis in which Jews were buried rather than a "Jewish necropolis". Since it would be difficult to use the exact wording of the epitaphs to claim that Jews literally believed in deities called Hades and Tyche, it is also difficult to be sure that they literally practised "burning", and the question will probably remain open until a cremation urn is found with a clearly Jewish name written on it.

As with the Jewish catacombs of Rome, it is not possible to be certain that all the deceased commemorated in the epitaphs were Jewish; it would be arbitrary to omit the minority without clearly Jewish names when there is evidence of Jewish and non-Jewish names being used in the same family. As Capponi observes (134), we can only speak of people belonging to a community of predominantly Jewish soldiers. Many of the inscriptions are also difficult to date. She notes that the dating formula "year x, month, day y" disappeared during the reign of Tiberius, which provides a terminus ante quem for most of the inscriptions, but she also suggests that they are distributed across the whole period from 150 BCE to 117 CE. In fact, the homogeneity of style and formulae may indicate that many belong to a more limited chronological range, since it is unlikely that fashions of commemoration would not have changed over 250 years. The author thus proposes that metrical inscriptions may have been replaced by shorter, formulaic ones in prose during the Augustan period.

The author also discusses, in Appendix 3, "the site of Leontopolis", looking at the archaeological evidence found in the 1890s and early 1900s at Tell el-Yahoudieh, the place identified as Leontopolis on most maps including Capponi's own, and at other possible locations of the Leontopolis described by Josephus. She concludes that the "land of Onias" comprised the whole area around Heliopolis and that there were numerous Jewish villages, but she ultimately refrains from arguing whether Tell el-Yahoudieh is really Leontopolis.

All ancient texts are given in Greek or Latin as well as Italian translation. Each chapter is clearly set out, with conclusions restated at the end. All the inscriptions are given in full in Appendix 1, with critical apparatus, and there are some that have appeared since the publication of JIGRE (W. Horbury & D. Noy, Jewish inscriptions of Graeco-Roman Egypt, Cambridge, 1992) and can be attributed to Leontopolis. This appendix in itself therefore makes the book very useful.

The 2nd-century BCE papyri of the Jewish politeuma of Heracleopolis (P. Polit. Iud.) were published recently (J. Cowey & K. Maresch, Urkunden des Politeuma der Juden von Herakleopolis, Cologne, 2001). These documents have substantially advanced scholars' understanding of how one Jewish community was organised, with the implication that others such as that at Leontopolis may have worked on similar lines, even if Heracleopolis was a long way further south and its Jewish community did not have such an august founder. Heracleopolis had a politarch and a council of archons in the city and elders in the surrounding villages, and Capponi makes some comparisons (141-2) with this structure. Unfortunately, it was not normal at Leontopolis for epitaphs to record the deceased's communal office (unlike the Jewish epitaphs of Rome). The one exception, the epitaph of Abraham, "politarch of two places" (JIGRE 39) has had great weight placed on its exact choice of language, but the Heracleopolis model may offer greater insight now.

Capponi concludes the main part of the book with a section on "problems still open": whether the practice of Judaism developed differently at Onias' temple; how important the temple was in affirming Jewish monotheism. From a historical rather than theological perspective, there is much else that would be good to know about Leontopolis: the size and organisation of the community; the relationship between the temple and the secular authorities; how exclusively Jewish the population was. These are questions that are unlikely to be answered directly, but the small amount of evidence, clearly set out and discussed in this book, still yields a lot of information.

 

 

Notes on the Temple of Onias at Leontopolis ABRAHAM WASSERSTEIN

 

 

 

Rabbinic literature written in Hebrew and Aramaic is a largely untapped

source for the history of the ancient world. Here and there it has been used

with some measure of success for the critical reconstruction of literary, legal

and — to some extent — social history of ancient Jewry in Babylonia,

Palestine and some adjoining regions by, e.g., Gedalya Alon, Saul

Lieberman and, more recently, Martin Goodman. But, on the whole, the

difficulties inherent in the sources seem to have deterred ancient historians

from systematically examining and exploiting for their purposes what is one

of the largest bodies of literature surviving from antiquity. The reasons for

that are varied: There are superstitious fears about linguistic difficulties and

superstitious delusions no less unjustified and deceptive about the allegedly

narrow range of rabbinic literature. One glance at the works of learned

scholars like Paul de Lagarde and Eduard Schwartz suffices to make one

aware of the loss of opportunities due not only to prejudice, animosity and,

occasionally, wilful and hence invincible ignorance, but to a general lack of

awareness of the breadth and depth of the materials to be found in the

records of ancient rabbinic Jewry. In this paper I shall confine myself to

examining a problem of no more than minuscule, local, toponomastic

interest in early Byzantine Egypt. I shall argue that even what is obviously

a mistake in a rabbinic source may, in one way or another, contribute to our

knowledge.

 

Few things are as certain about Jewish attitudes to liturgical

arrangements in the late biblical period and in proto-rabbinic Judaism as the

exclusive attachment to the Temple in Jerusalem. The Temple was not only

the primary centre of divine worship but the one place in which sacrifices

could be offered. It was strictly and strenuously distinguished from pagan

and sectarian cult locations, the more so if the latter pretended to be

authentically Jewish like, for instance, the Samaritan temple on Mount

Gerizim.^ Pagan gods, even though they might have a special connexion

 

' This was destroyed, according lo Josephus, by John Hyrcanus, apparently in 129/8 B.C.

See Josephus, AJ 13. 254 ff.; cf. Megillai Ta'anit, cap. IX sub 21 Kislew. See also E. Schiirer,

Geschichte des jUdischen Volkes im Zeitalter Jesu Christi I (4ih ed., Leipzig 1901) 264 (Engl,

tr.: G. Vermes and F. Millar [edd.]. The History of the Jewish People in the Age of Jesus

 

 

 

120 Illinois Classical Studies 18 (1993)

 

with a particular, perhaps pre-eminent, shrine or place, would have temples

and altars in many places. Not so the God of Israel: It was in Jerusalem

that He had promised to dwell with His people forever, in Zion that there

would be the habitation of His honour and the seat of His throne. And as

God was jealous of other gods, so was He also jealous for Jerusalem, the

abode He had chosen in which to set His name. No other place was worthy

to be His dwelling.^

 

For the Persian period, we have, of course, the well-known

papyrological sources concerning a temple at Elephantine near Syene

(Assuan) in Upper Egypt.^ Of this temple we have no archaeological

remains and it has left no traces in ancient literature. Our evidence indicates

that it was used by the small military colony of Aramaic-speaking Jews and

their families; but it cannot have had any more than local significance.

 

In the Hellenistic period the evidence for Jewish shrines outside

Jerusalem is meagre. Apart from the Samaritan temple on Mount Gerizim

mentioned above and the temple of Onias in Egypt, the location of which is

the subject of this paper, recent work enables us to conclude that substantial

literary or archaeological information about Jewish shrines outside

Jerusalem is practically non-existent.''

 

Two sites are principally concerned, at Lachish and at 'Araq el-Emir.

The so-called Solar Temple at Lachish, which Aharoni had thought was a

Hellenistic structure used for Jewish cult purposes, probably was, in the

Hellenistic period, not a Jewish sanctuary at all;^ it therefore need not detain

us here any further.

 

 

 

Christ, 175 B.C. -AD. 135 I [Edinburgh 1973] 207). We learn from Josephus. AJ 12. 257 ff..

and from 11 Maccabees 6. 2 ihal the temple had already in 167/6 B.C., at the request of the

SamariUns themselves (but see on this Alt, quoted by Habicht; see below), been consecrated

by Antiochus IV Epiphanes to the cult of Zeus Xenios; cf. R. Marcus in LCL Josephus, VII

132-35. See also C. Habicht in 2. Makkabderbuch, Jiidische Schriften aus hellenistisch-

romischer Zeit, Bd. I, Lieferung 3 (Giitersloh 1979) 229, ad loc, and literature there cited.

 

2See, e.g.,Jer. 3. 17. 17. 12. Ez. 43. 7-9. Joel 4. 17. 4. 21. Zach. 2. 14-15. 8. 3, Ps. 26. 8.

74.2, 132. 13-14, 135. 21,Neh. 1. 9, 1 Chr. 23. 25. H Chr. 6. 6 ff. For the general tendency in

the Hebrew Bible to confine the sacrificial cult to one place, cf. Dl. 12. 5 ff.. 1 1-14. 18, Jos. 22.

10 to end of chapter. And see Philo, Spec. leg. 1. 67, Josephus, Ap. 2. 193 (see on this

especially the note ad loc. by J. G. MiJller, Des Flavius Josephus Schrifi gegen den Apion

(Basel 1877; repr. HUdesheim-New York 1969] 314) and AJ 4. 200-01.

 

^ E. Sachau, Aramdische Papyrus und Oslraka in einer jiidischen Milildrkolonie zu

Elephantine (Leipzig 1911); A. E. Cowley, Jewish Documents of the Time of Ezra (Lx)ndon

1919); idem, Aramaic Papyri of the Fifth Century B.C. (Oxford 1923); E. G. H. Kraeling, The

Brooklyn Museum Aramaic Papyri (New Haven 1953); B. Porlen, Archives from Elephantine:

The Life of an Ancient Jewish Military Colony (Berkeley 1968); for a fuller bibliography see

EJ VI 610.

 

â– * See, e.g.. E. F. Campbell, Jr., "Jewish Shrines of the Hellenistic and Persian Periods," in F.

M. Cross (ed.). Symposia Celebrating the Seventy-Fifth Anniversary of the Founding of the

American Schools of Oriental Research, 1900-1975 (Cambndge, MA 1979) 159-67 and

literature quoted there.

 

See for this Campbell (previous note) 166.

 

 

 

Abraham Wasserstein 121

 

Excavations at 'Araq el-Emir in Jordan have uncovered what some

scholars^ have thought to be the remains of an unfinished temple built by

one of the Tobiads, Hyrcanus the son of Joseph, in the second century B.C.

The arguments adduced do not seem to be convincing; but in any case, even

if we accepted the dating and the identification of the structure as a temple

we should still have to ponder the relationship of this building to one that is

mentioned by Josephus (AJ 12. 230; see Campbell 162-63) as having been

built by that same Hyrcanus and called a "fortress," papiq iax^)pa. It was

pointed out long ago by Amaldo Momigliano that the Tobiads had, even in

the Persian period, been hostile to Jerusalem; that the papi<; had been in

existence as early as the third century; and that its construction should be

attributed not to Hyrcanus in the second century but to another Tobiad, a

contemporary of Ptolemy II Philadelphus (regn. 285-46).' The unreliability

of Josephus or his source^ in this matter, combined with the weakness of the

archaeological evidence, allows us to discount, in any inquiry on Jewish

shrines outside Jerusalem in the period of the Second Commonwealth, the

case made for the existence of a Jewish temple at 'Araq el-Emir.^ There is

no need to conclude (with Campbell 163) from the evidence that "the

building must have been used by Jews if a Tobiad built it, and furthermore it

probably had more than purely local significance." It is indeed interesting

that Campbell refers (ibid.) to the likelihood that "vestiges of the old

Tobiad-Samaritan association persisted." But it is not clear why Campbell

is so certain that in this region "there must have been a large number of

Jews increasingly disenchanted with the Jerusalem temple and pohtically

opposed to the Jerusalem alignments, for whom the 'Araq temple would

have become the religious center." We have nothing here that could

strengthen an argument purporting to show that there were in the Hellenistic

period any significant Jewish shrines in the Palestinian region outside

Jerusalem.

 

We come now to the Samaritan temple on Mount Gerizim. From the

point of view of mainsfi-eam Judaism the building of that temple must have

signalled the separation of the Samaritans from the people of God. This

judgment is supported both by explicit rabbinic statements and by historical

 

See Campbell (above, note 4) 162-64 for details and literature; for other, earlier, scholars

who have identified the structure on the site as a temple, see Momigliano, Quinlo contributo

(next note) 605 with notes.

 

"I Tobiadi nella preisloria del moto maccabaico," Alii delta Reale Accademia delle Scienze

di Torino 67 (1931-32) 165-200 = Quinlo contributo alia storia degli sludi classici e del

mondo antico I (Rome 1975) 597-628.

 

* See on this also D. Gera, "On the Credibility of the History of the Tobiads," in A. Kasher,

U. Rappaport and G. Fuks (edd.), Greece and Rome in Eretz Israel (Jerusalem 1990) 21-38,

esp. 24 f. and nn. 15 f.

 

^ Even were one to assume that at some lime in the early Hellenistic epoch there existed a

"Jewish" temple on the site of 'Araq el-Emir, there can be no doubt that it would have been a

dissident temple; see Momigliano, Quinlo contributo (above, note 7) 606.

 

 

 

122 Illinois Classical Studies 18 (1993)

 

parallels. We are told in Massekhet Kuttim, cap. II, ad fin., that it is by

giving up their attachment to Mount Gerizim that the Samaritans can gain

re-admission to the fold,^^ and we are, I submit, entitled to compare

Samaritan separatism (as exemplified in the building of their own temple) to

the hostility of the Qumran sectarians towards the Temple in Jerusalem. It

was this, rather than their idiosyncratic messianic and apocalyptic doctrines,

that marked the latter off as sectarians who would in the end sever

themselves from the community of the House of Israel." The temple on

Mount Gerizim was the clearest possible monument to the separation of the

Samaritans from the body of the Jewish people.

 

In view of the strong evidence for the concentration of the sacrificial

cult in Jerusalem it is all the more noteworthy that at the very time of the

religious and national re-awakening associated with the resistance to

Seleucid rule in Palestine there existed a Jewish temple in Egypt established

by a member of the high-priestly family descended from Simon Justus.

This temple was founded, in the second century B.C., under Ptolemy VI

Philometor (c. 186-45; regn. 180-45) by a son of the High Priest Onias III.

This man is conventionally referred to as Onias IV, although he did not, in

fact, serve as High Priest in Jerusalem. ^^ j^e had fled to Egypt (c. 162-60)

for reasons which are not wholly clear. Josephus reports fear of the

Seleucid ruler Antiochus IV Epiphanes.^^ Tcherikover suggests the enmity

towards Onias of Jewish hellenizers in Jerusalem as motivating his flight.^'*

According to rabbinic accounts, his flight was occasioned by an intra-family

feud about the succession to Onias III.'^ In Egypt Onias was hospitably

 

10 -i:]! D'''7\i;n''n mm tDn-'-ii inn na3WD?Dn'iK fViriQ ''rid''KD.

 

*' We must not be misled by ihe romanticising, archaeology -fed nostalgia and enthusiasm

aroused by the discoveries in the Judean desert into thinking that the sectarians there were

authentically Jewish. They had strong Jewish roots, like the Samaritans and the Christians;

like both these offshoots of Second Commonwealth Judaism they developed intense enmities

to the normative stream of the religion of Israel. Since we have gained from these discoveries

so much that enriches our knowledge of the period as well as a good deal of literature written

in the ancient language of the Jews, we tend, sometimes unthinkingly, to adopt these securians

as authentically Jewish and to forget that they were inveterate heretics and enemies of the

Jemsalem establishment.

 

'^See on this, e.g., V. Tcherikover, Hellenistic Civilization and the Jews (Philadelphia

1959; repr. New York 1970) 276 ff. and M. Stem, Greek and Latin Authors on Jews and

Judaism I (Jerusalem 1974) 405 f.; but see also B. Schaller, "Onias," in Der Kleine Pauly IV

(Munich 1979) 303-04; Schaller, Uke some other scholars before him, argues that the Onias

who founded the temple in Leonlopolis was Onias HI, and that Onias IV may never have

existed ("ist wahrscheinUch eine fingierie Crosse").

 

'3 Josephus, BJ 1. 33, 7. 423, AJ 12. 387. Antiochus IV had died in 164/3. In the BJ ,

though not in the AJ, Josephus may have been thinking of Onias III; see Tcherikover (previous

note) 276.

 

'^ See Tcherikover, CPJ I (1957) 2, who, however ([above, note 12] 44), points out that

Onias IV may himself have been a hellenizer in spite of his opposition to the heUenistic party

in Jemsalem.

 

*^ PT Yoma 43d and BT Menahoi 109b ff.

 

 

 

Abraham Wasserstein 123

 

received by Ptolemy and Cleopatra, who granted him some land in the nome

of Heliopolis. There he founded a military colony for Jewish settlers and a

temple for their use. These settlers may have come with him from Palestine

or he may have raised a Jewish military force after his arrival in Egypt;

indeed he may have founded the colony and the temple as late as 145 B.C.,

shortly before Ptolemy's death. '^ There is no foundation for the suggestion

that Ptolemy Philometor intended to found a cultic centre for the Jews in the

Delta to counterbalance the importance and attraction of the temple in

Jerusalem,^'' and there is no evidence whatsoever that the temple of Onias

had at any time more than merely local significance.'^ The temple at

Leontopolis existed until after the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem; it

was demolished on the orders of Vespasian in A.D. 73. '^

 

Apart from the rabbinic references (see below), our main source for the

history of Onias and his temple is Josephus.^^ The temple is never

mentioned by Alexandrian writers and it seems that Egyptian Jewry was not

much interested in this Palestinian immigrant foundation. ^^

 

We have a number of rabbinic reports referring to the shrine of Onias.-^^

These regularly describe the temple of Onias asVlJlh JT"!. The word

JT'l, though it does not univocally = temple, naturally is capable of being

used in a phrase referring to a temple; cf., e.g., 'h JT"!, D''pl'7K i:i^'2.,

 

'^ See Tcherikover (above, note 12) 279 f.

 

1^ H. Kees."'Ov{o\)."/?£XVffl.l (Stuttgart 1939)477-79.

 

'* This should be weighed in any consideration of the argument put forward by A.

MomigUano (Aegyptus 12 (1932] 161-72. and esp. 170-71) that there existed or that there may

have existed a Greek translation of the Old Testament in the Temple of Leonlofx^lis different

from the Septuagint; that this version ("accolta o curata dai sacerdoti leontopolilani") was

circulating in Egypt in competition with the LXX; and that the legend of the Greek translation

of the Bible propagated by the author of the Letter ofAristeas had a polemical purpose directed

against the Leontopolitan temple. I know of no evidence that would support any part of this

argument. In any case, it is to be noted that MomigUano relies not only on a fairly late dale for

the work of Ps.-Arisleas but, more seriously, on what seems to me a vastly inflated estimate of

the importance of the Leontopolis temple; we cannot even say that the population for whom

this temple was built was Greek -speaking rather than Aramaic-speaking; for all we know they

spoke Egyptian. Though there is evidence that the Greek Bible was read in the countryside in

the second century B.C.. it seems clear on the whole that the Jews living in the chora were

assimilating fast to their Egyptian-speaking neighbours. See Tcherikover, CPJ I (1957) 43^6.

 

'"Josephus, 57 7.421.

 

2° fly 1. 33, 7. 421-36, AJ 12. 387-88. 13. 62-73. 285. 20. 236. Ap. 2. 5. 2 f. On the

problems that arise from a collation of these passages, see Tcherikover (above, note 12) 275 ff.

et aUbi, e.g.. 392 ff.

 

^' We may disregard Sibylline Oracles 5. 501, 507, where some scholars have seen an

allusion to the temple of Onias; see Tcherikover (above, note 12) 499 n. 28 and, more

generally, idem in CPJ I (1957) 20 f. and 44 ff., with notes (and hlerature cited in his n. 1 17)

and idem, Jews and Greeks in the Hellenistic Period (Tel Aviv 1963) 220 ff. and nn. (Hebrew).

Cf. P. M. Eraser, Ptolemaic Alexandria (Oxford 1972) 1 83 with nn. 301 ff. (in vol. II, pp.

162 f.).

 

"Mishna Menahot 13. 10, PT Yoma 43d, BT Menahot 109a ff., BT Megilla 10a, BT

AZ 52b.

 

 

 

124 Illinois Classical Studies 18 (1993)

 

\£; T p b n JT' n. For 1 •' U 1 n we sometimes find the spelling ( 1) 1 '' 3 1 h IP

Interestingly, where the actual construction of the temple is reported, the

word hUTD = altar is used, thus making it quite unmistakable that the

reference is to a foundation meant to be used for the performance of

sacrifices.-^'* Similarly, Josephus speaks of the temple as a veox; or vao^ and

lepov; and in the same context he refers to Isaiah 19. 19 f. as predicting the

KaTaaKE\)fi xot>5e xot) vaot).^ Isaiah actually has there Kinn dl"*!!

d''^>td yiK linn 'n*? nntd n''ri\ it is interesting that this same

passage is quoted also in both Talmudim, in the same context.^^ The LXX

translates ri!lTd correctly as G-uoiaaxTipiov, and Josephus, too, knows that

text: eoxai Gvaiaorripiov ev Aiyuntcp K-upio) tw Bew (AJ 13. 68). A few

paragraphs earlier (AJ 13. 64) Isaiah is said to have foretold that a vaoq

would be built in Egypt. Occasionally Josephus mentions a Pcoiioq.^^

 

There can be no doubt that both the rabbinic sources and Josephus are

speaking about a temple, i.e. a cult place in which sacrifices were

performed, not merely a meeting house for prayer and study, i.e. a

synagogue.-^^

 

The temple of Onias is known to us as having been located at

Leontopolis. Josephus mentions Leontopolis (in the nome of Heliopolis),

by that name, only in AJ 13. 65, in Onias' petition addressed to Ptolemy VI

Philometor and Cleopatra, and in 13. 70, in the sovereigns' reply. The other

passages in the works of Josephus refer only to the nome of Heliopolis

without further specification of the place. The repetition of the phrase

containing the place-name in the royal reply to the petition simply conforms

to what is a natural feature of chancery style, namely to repeat the

formulations contained in the original petition. We are thus left with what

is, in effect, a single occurrence of the name Leontopolis.-^^ Now, it is

 

"Cf.,c.g.,PTYoma43d.

 

^ PT Yoma 43d and BT Menahot 109b.

 

"E.g. fly 7. 424. 431 and 432.'

 

^ Above, noie 24.

 

AJ 13. 72: Onias built iepov Kal Pcojiov xw 0c(p. Compare also BJ 1. 428.

 

^^ Fraser's repeated references to a "synagogue" at Leontopolis-Tell el-Yahoudiyah

([above, note 21) I 83, II 162-63 nn. 302 and 306) must be due to a lapsus calami; the point is

that a synagogue is not a temple: The two serve different functions and have always had a

different sutus from each other. This confusion is found also in the index (but not in the text

or in the English original) of the French translation of E. R. Bevan's Hisloire des LMgides

(Paris 1934) 438. In rabbinic literature I know of only one passage in which il appears that the

writer has confounded a synagogue with a temple: In the late JTl''l'7l 1\if^ WlTD

(version II), published by A. Jellinek in Bel ha-Midrasch (3rd ed., repr. Jerusalem 1967) V

113-16 (see 115 and also [version I] IV 135), the language used is unmistakably conflated with

that of the famous description of the great Alexandrian synagogue in Tosefla Sukka 4. 6 el alibi

(see below, note 31); the author mentions an altar (in Alexandria) and speaks of sacrifices

being performed there.

 

^^ The correspondence quoted by Josephus is generally regarded as a Hellenistic forgery;

see Tcherikover (above, note 12) 499 n. 30, who, though for a different purpose and in a

different context, rightly notes that even a forged document may contain some kernel of

 

 

 

Abraham Wasserstein 125

 

interesting that those rabbinic sources that do name the location of the Onias

temple speak of it as having being located in Alexandria?'^ The Rabbis are

certainly not confusing theVilh n**! with the Alexandrian Synagogue

which is mentioned elsewhere in talmudic literature;^' on the contrary, in a

number of passages they make it quite clear that they understand that the

Onias foundation was a temple, a cult place in which sacrifices were

performed, and we even find the opinion expressed that, whatever the status

of that temple may have been, it was not an idolatrous temple, and some of

the sacrificial acts performed there were, under certain circumstances, to be

regarded as valid. ^^ It is thus inconceivable that the Rabbis might have

confused the temple with the Alexandrian Synagogue.

 

On the other hand, though the possibility of a simple mistake

concerning the location of the temple arising from guesswork or ignorance

cannot be discounted, it is certainly possible that the Rabbis drew on their

own contemporary knowledge that Leontopolis was in the early Byzantine

age an alternative designation for Alexandria.^^ The equation Leontopolis =

Alexandria lends itself to confusion in both directions.

 

We are told by Stephanus of Byzantium (fl. probably c. 528-35) that

"Alexandria was called Rhakotis, and Pharos, and Leontopolis . . ."

Similarly, Eustathius of Thessalonike (12th century) reports that

Leontopolis was one of a number of alternative names for Alexandria.^'*

 

 

 

historical irulh; thus, the name Leontopolis may well be correct. In any case, there seems to be

no doubt about the reliability of the references to the location of the temple in the Heliopolitan

nome, and it is generally accepted that the Onias temple was in fact located in the countryside,

quite possibly at a place to be identified with the modem Tell el-Yehudiyeh, at a distance of ca.

30 miles NE of Memphis. See R. Marcus on Josephus, A/ 13. 65 (LCL VII 258-59), with the

literature there quoted, esp. Schiirer (above, note 1) 3rd ed., HI (1898) 97 ff. with note 25

(Engl.tr.:ffl.l 145 f., esp. n. 33).

 

3° PT Yoma 43d, BT Menahot 109b.

 

^' Tosefta Sukka 4. 6, BT Sukka 51b, PT Sukka 5. 1 = 55 a-b; cf. S. Krauss. Synagogale

AUerlumer (Berlin-Vienna 1922) 261 ff., 336.

 

^2 See, e.g., Mishna Menahot 13. 10, BT Menahot 109a-b, BT AZ 52b, BT MegUla 10a.

 

^^ RE s.v. "Leontopolis 10" and A. Calderini, Dizionarlo del nomi geografici e lopografici

ckll'Egitto greco-romano I (Cairo 1935) 58.

 

^* Slephani Byzantii Ethnicorum quae supersunl ex recensione August i Meinekii I (Berlin

1849; repr. 1958)70: 'AXe^dv6peiai 7i6A,eii; 6)cxcoKai6eKa. npiovi] r\ Aiyvnxia f{Xoi Ai^vaaa,

djq 01 Tto^oi, anb 'AA,e^dv5pou to\) <I>iA.in7tov. 'Idocov Se 6 xov Piov xf\q 'EXA^Sot; ypdvi/aq

ev 6' PiPXicp cprioi "tov jiev oijv totiov -0]^ noA-ecoq ovap e%pTiono6oxfi9ri omot;

 

vT\aoc, CTteixd xiq eoti Tio^uKXiiaTcp evi Ttovtcp

Aiy\)7ixo\) TtpoTtdpoiGe, 4>dpov 8e e laicXfiatcouaiv.

(Homer, Od. 4. 354 f.)

 

EKeXcuae 6e 5iaYpd<peiv to oxfi}xa xouq dpxitCKTOvaq- ouk exovxeq 8e A-cuktiv yfjv dXtpixoic;

5ie7pa<pov, 6pvi6e<; 6e Kaxanxdvxeq xd dA.(pixa al'cpvrif; 5ifip7taaav. xapaxQexc, ouv

'AXe^av6poq (sic) oi jidvxeiq Gappeiv eXcyov Ttdvxcov ydp xfiv noXiv xpocpov yevrioeoBai."

xavxa Kai 'Appiavoi;. eKA.ri9ri 8e 'PaKcoxK; xal Odpoq Kal AcoyxonoXic; 5id x6 xnv xfjq

â– OA.\)n7tid5o(; yaoxepa eocppayiaBai Xeovxoq eiicovi. Cf. Arrian, Anab. 3. 1-2, Plut. Alex. 2.

 

 

 

126 Illinois Classical Studies 18 (1993)

 

Eustalhius clearly draws, directly or indirectly, on Slephanus of Byzantium

(or his source?).^^ It is thus evident that we have here not two teslimonia

but what is in fact one. Such papyrological evidence as we have consists of

the single letter lambda in a fourth-century papyrus, where we read dc, tt^v

'AA.e^dv5pEiav titoi A[eovx67ioA.iv].^ It is manifest that this reading of the

papyrus, so far from establishing or confirming the identification of

Alexandria with Leontopolis, is itself based on that identification. ^'^

 

The evidence for the alternative name of the great city is thus seen to be

extremely meagre; but if the Rabbis indeed confused Alexandria with

Leontopolis this very confusion, though leading them into error, would

paradoxically enable us to see in it a further piece of evidence, both for the

use of Leontopolis as an alternative name for Alexandria and for the placing

of the Oniad temple in Leontopolis (the latter, as we have seen, attested

otherwise only by Josephus, AJ 13. 65-70). Since our Greek evidence is so

poor on both these points any additional evidence from rabbinic sources is

to be welcomed, more especially as our talmudic texts are completely

independent of the Byzantine tradition. We must, of course, remember that

neither the Jerusalem Temple nor that of Onias at Leontopolis existed any

longer at the time the Rabbis discussed the sacrifices performed there. Their

discussions are thus purely academic, and though they will have been

nourished by plentiful and zealously preserved information about the

activities of the Jerusalem priesthood, they cannot have drawn on more than

scattered memories of the Oniad foundation. Hence, since in their period

Leontopolis was known to be an alternative name for Alexandria, the great

city with its vastly numerous Jewish population, any fleeting memory of the

name Leontopolis in connexion with the temple of Onias, or any mention in

 

 

 

4—5. My colleague Dr. Deborah Gera has reminded me of Herodotus 6. 131, where a

somewhat similar motif occurs in a story concerning the mother of Pericles; cf. Plut. Per. 3. 2.

 

Eustathius (C. Miiller [ed.], Geographi Graeci Minores U [Paris 1882] 261) writes on the

words Maicn66viov 7tTO^{e9pov (which appear in the text of Dionysius Periegetes, line 254 =

Geographi Graeci Minores II 1 16): o eaxiv ti xo\> MaKe56vo<; 'AX,eE,dv5po-o bjicovujiot; noXit;,

Ev Ti Kul exdcpTi . . . dpiBnovvxai 6e ev xaic; laxopiait; 'AXe^dvSpeiai UTtep xdq ScKaoKxco.

xoiixcov (i{a Kai a\ixT|, noXic, Ai^vcaa t\xo\ Aiyvnxia. xat)XT|v 6e Kai dXXoii; ^ev ovonaai

6ia<j)6poiq KX,ri9fivai (paoi tioxe, ovo^aoBfivai 5e Kai AcgvxotioXiv 6id xov xf\c, 'OX\)fi7tid8o(;

Kai xoiixo 'AA,e^av8pov (?), i\c, r\ yaaxfip iaifpayioQax. Xiovzoc, eiKovi Xiyctai, k.x.X. For the

possible sources of Stephanus, for the question why the great city was called l^onlopoUs, and

for related matters, see C. Miiller (ed.), Pseudo-Callislhenes (Paris 1865) xix f., with notes;

also C. MiiUer (ed.), Scriplores Alexandri Magni (Paris 1865) 160 (lason Argivus, fr. 2).

 

^^ We have only an epitome, dating from between the sixth and the tenth centuries, of the

Elhnica; it has been suggested (J. F. Lockwood in OCD s.v. "Eustathius") that Eustathius may

in fact draw in his commentary on the complete text of Stephanus. R. Brownmg in the same

work (2nd ed., p. 1012) suggests that Eustathius used the surviving epitome of the Elhnica.

 

^^ Pap. Oxy. 1660, line 2, in The Oxyrhynchus Papyri XIV (London 1920) 1 1 4-1 5.

 

The reading A[eovx6TcoA,ivl, though attractive and quite possibly right, does not by

necessity impose itself and is not universally accepted: see P. J. Sijpestcijn, "Notes on Two

Papyri," ZPE 87 (1991) 257-58, who suggests eiqxfiv 'AA.e^dv6peiav fixoi A.|ifieva jieyav tou

EijvoGxou].

 

 

 

Abraham Wasserstein 127

 

some recondite source of the location of that temple in that place, could

easily explain the confusion — ^but only if the temple was really located in

Leontopolis.

 

There are further facts to be considered: Leontopolis was located in the

Heliopolitan nome. By a curious and in itself unremarkable coincidence the

city of Heliopolis (in Hebrew called I'X)^^ bore the Egyptian name ywnw. It

is manifest that to the eyes and ears of users of Aramaic or Hebrew this

would constitute an irresistible invitation to confuse the Egyptian name with

the Semitic name for "Greek" or "Greece," ywn, which itself was sometimes

confused with Alexandria: See the passages cited below from Tosefta

Nidda 4. 17 and BT Nidda 30b.

 

The Hebrew/Jewish Aramaic/Syriac ( n) K '' TT 5 D !] *? K, like the Greek

'AA,e^dv5peia and the Latin Alexandrea (-ia), can refer to towns other than

the great city: Thus, e.g., an Egyptian city called K!l, mentioned a number

of times in the Hebrew Bible,^^ is generally identified by the Septuagint

translators with Diospolis (Thebes in Upper Egypt). Some rabbinic sources

 

^* Gen. 41. 45, 41. 50, 46. 20. Cf. also Ez. 30. 17. where the vocalization is different, but

see Symmachus and Theodotion for the Greek transcription Avv. (The Septuagint has

"Heliopolis.")

 

" Jer. 46. 25: Hebr. K3(Q); for LXX. see Jer. 26. 25; Syr. K''Cl(T)! It may be oT interest

that in Ez. 30. 17 f IK "'1111^ the LXX has veavioKoi 'IRiox) noXctix,. The vocalization of

nK need not detain us here; but it is noteworthy that the Peshitta translates K''D V^l

KTITl Tnni My colleague Professor Jonas Greenfield has pointed out to me that the

Peshitta reading K''£3 in Ez. 30. 17 may be due to a misreading of the Hebrew C]Cl1\ the last

word in the preceding verse Qeil untranslated there). Ez. 30. 14: Hebr. K3(;i); LXX

Ai6o7toXi<;; Syr. 13(1)- Ez. 30. 15: Hebr. Ki; LXX Mejicpiq; Syr. 13(1). Ez. 30. 16: Hebr.

K3(1); LXX Ai6onoA.i(;; Syr. 13(1). Nah. 3. 8: Hebr. pDK k!i(C3); LXX Ajicov; Syr. (TO

 

TiDKT n*- .

 

See also the citations in R. Payne Smith, Thesaurus Syriacus I (Oxford 1879) s.v. '(^'*

PDKX coll. 1579-80 (from medieval Syriac-Arabic lexicographers): e.g., Tl flbK^ P''

K"''TnD:]'7K "-m Kn'lD^i''ini K'-m KT\"nyT. (The reference is clearly to our

passage in Nah. 3. 8.) For other identifications with Alexandria, see ibid. Mejicpiq in Ez. 30.

15 seems to be based on the reading ^3 (instead of the masoretic K3), borrowed from 30. 13

(Hebr. n'l3;Syr. D9D ^tl), which is translated there by Mencpic; (LXX). The LXX translation

in Nah. 3. 8 is, of course, no more than a transcription of the second part of the double name in

the Hebrew Vorlage. It is to be noted that rabbinic sources understand the reference in Nah. 3.

8 too to be to Alexandria (see Pesikta Rabbati 156b. cited below). Note also that extra-

septuagintal Greek translators did not hesitate to transcribe the Hebrew name K3 in one way or

another rather than to give a Greek equivalent for it: No (Symmachus in Ez. 30. 14, 15). Noiu;

(Theodotion. ibid.), Nco (Aquila in Ez. 30. 15); compare also Aquila: Bavco for K3(l) in Ez.

30. 14. (The place-name Mejicpiq stands variously for f]D. K3 or ^3 in the Septuagint; for

examples see Supplement to Hatch and Redpath. Concordance to the Septuagint 112b, .y.v.

Mcficpiq.)

 

 

 

128 Illinois Classical Studies 18 (1993)

 

on the other hand identify K 3 anachronistically with Alexandria:

 

Both the Greek and the Syriac traditions have preserved the mennory of

the multiplicity of places called Alexandria: Stephanus of Byzantium

(above, note 34): 'AXE^dv6pEiai tzoXeic, 6KTC0Kai6EKa (cf. Eustathius of

Thessalonike [above, note 34]: . . . dpiGp-ovvxai 8e ev xaiq laxopiaK;

'A^E^dvSpEiai -uTiEp xojc, 6EKaoKTco).'*^ For Syriac, see Payne Smith, col.

209, s.v. K •' ^ 1 H D :i *? K for two towns called Alexandria: K "^ IT 3 D !] *? K

Knn'l = the city in Egypt and Kn'Tl^3T K''^T:iD!]'?K = Alexandretta

(Iskenderun).

 

It is also the case that, occasionally, Alexandria, in Greek, Hebrew and

Aramaic (both Jewish and Christian), may refer to the whole land of Egypt,

or, rather, may stand for it, pars pro toto. Thus, Payne Smith (ibid.) also

cites the use in Syriac of the name Alexandria pro tola Aegypto. Similarly,

in Lamentations Rabba 1. 5. 246 (p. 65 Buber) it seems easy to understand

nK*'"l'T!JD^'7KT DI^IT as referring to the commander of the troops

from Egypt as a whole and not only of those from Alexandria. So also, one

may wanttoreadinToseftaNidda4. 17 K'-ITUDriVK t\'2^h nitl5l'7l

(=K"ltdaiK''Vp) instead of M "^ "I T U D 1] *? K of the older editions, or instead

of D 1 "I T U D !] *? K or of n*' H 11 "^ in the parallel passages (both in BT Nidda

30b: D1^T:iD:d'7K ni^h K^tiaiK*'*7ti and, on the same page,

JT'111'' n-n^h Kltl^'pp); or instead of D ''^T:iD:]'7K as read by

Zuckermandel (p. 645)."*^

 

Note also that Rashi on BTAZ 8b (KH^'pd K^tia*?^! "'t!''!!) writes,

citing the passage in BT Nidda 30b, ^DKi:: K'^^TIDriVK *7\y

nTI n^DDin'paCim. This suggests either the ease with which the

place-name Alexandria insinuates itself into such a context or the possibility

that Rashi read a text different from that in our printed editions.

 

But all this does not, in the end, affect our problem: One is not

surprised that Alexandria may, as is so often the case elsewhere, stand for

the country of which it is the chief city;"*^ nor that its name may be applied

confusedly and thus wrongly, because of the great number of places that

bear the same name. What is argued here is simply that the confusion that

we are dealing with is of a peculiar kind, namely that occasionally the name

Alexandria, in our rabbinic sources, comes in place of another name which

 

^° Sec Pesikia 63b, with Ruber's note ad loc.. Pesikia Rabbali, cap. 17, p. 87a and see also p.

156b (Friedmann-[Ish Shalom]). Gen. R. 1. 1 (p. 1 Theodor/Albeck), Targum to Ezekiel 30.

14-16, Targum lo Jeremiah 46. 25, Targum lo Nahum 3. 8.

 

"' RE has twenly-one entries for places called Alexandria.

 

*^ Such confusions are easy in our sources: Thus in Seder 01am Rabba some editions are

said (see Krauss, Lehnworler \ 55, s.v. DTTT3D:d*7K) to have in chapter 30 the spelling

m'TT5D3'7K for the proper name Dn'nC7:]'7K.

 

^^ Cf., in Arabic, Misr for Egypt and also for its capital; similarly al-Sham for Syria and its

capiul. See also Syriac P"I\JD, which is used both for the whole of Egypt and for any city

which may at any given time be its capital, e.g. Fustat (Old Cairo) or Alexandria.

 

 

 

Abraham Wasserstein 129

 

is itself, in the early Byzantine age, an alternative name of the Ptolemaic

capital.

 

Considered by themselves the points made here are small and perhaps

insignificant. Nonetheless, if I am right in suggesting that the confusion of

the Rabbis arose out of the fact that Alexandria was also called, in their

time, Leontopolis, this would make it unnecessary to suspect the Rabbis of

completely uninformed guesswork. This alone would be a conclusion of

some value. But there is more: If the suggestion made here is indeed

acceptable, then this would add strength to the confidence with which we

expect to find in the recesses of rabbinic literature a good deal more such

material. Handled with discretion and discrimination, this is likely to

provide confirmation and corroboration of what we learn otherwise only

through remarks dispersed here and there over pagan and Christian writings

of antiquity and the early Byzantine age.

 

The Hebrew University, Jerusalem

UNIV. ILLINOIS CLASSICAL STUDIES VOLUME XVIII 1993 EDITOR 
David Sansone 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ptolemy Philomctor is the last king of Egypt who is noticed in sacred history, and his reign was marked also by the erection of the temple at Leontopolis. The coincidence is worthy of notice, for the consecration of a new centre of worship placed a religious as well as a political barrier between the Alexandrian and Palestinian Jews. Henceforth the nation was again divided. The history of the temple itself is extremely obscure, but even in its origin it was a monument of civil strife. Onias, the son of Onias III (Josephus, in one place [ War, vii, 10, 2], calls him " the son of .Simon," and he appears under the same name in Jewish legends; but it seems certain that this was a mere error, occasioned by the patronymic of the most famous Onias [comp. Herzfeld, Gesrli. <l. JuJent/i. ii, 557] ). who was murdered at Antioch 1!.C. 171, when he saw that he was excluded from the succession to the high-priesthood by mercenary intrigues, fled to Egypt, either shortly after his father's death or upon the transfer of the office to Alcimus, B.C. 1G2 (Josephus, Ant. xii, 9, 7). It is probable that his retirement must be placed at the later date, for he was a child, Traic (.losephus, Ant. xii, 5), at the time of his father's death, and he is elsewhere mentioned as one of those who actively opposed the Syrian party in Jerusalem (Josephus, I)'or, i, 1). In Egypt, he entered the service of the king, and rose, with another Jew. Uositheus, to the supreme command. In this office lie rendered important services during the war which Ptolemy Physcon waged against his brother; and he pleaded these to induce the king to grant him a ruined temple of Diana (r»)c riypif/c Bov/3«<T7Fwc) at Leontopolis as the site of a temple which he proposed to build " after the pattern of that at Jerusalem, and of the same dimensions." His alleged object was to unite the Jews in one body who were at the time "divided into hostile factions, even as the Egyptians were, from their differences in religious services" (Josephus, A nt. xiii, 3,1). In defence of the locality which he chose, he quoted the words of Isaiah (Isa. xix, 18. 19), who spoke of ''an altar to the Lord in the midst of the land of Egypt," and, according to one interpretation, mentioned '• the city of the Sun" (D"inn "H") by name. The site was granted and the temple built, but the original plan was not exactly carried out. The A'aos rose " like a tower to the height of sixty cubits" (Josephus, War, vii, 10.3, iri'ipyi(j iropa7T\>j<7iov . . . tie i£i]KOVTa 7njx*'C avtffrijKura). The altar and the offerings were similar to those at Jerusalem, but in place of the seven-branched candlestick was ;i a single lamp of gold suspended by a golden chain." The service was performed by priests and Levitcs of pure descent; and the temple possessed considerable revenues, which were devoted to their support and to the adequate celebration of the divine ritual (Josephus, War, vii, 10,3; A nt. xiii, 3,3). The object of Ptolemy Philometor in furthering the design of Onias was doubtless the same as that which led to the erection of the "golden calves" in Israel. The Jewish residents in Egypt were numerous and powerful; and when Jerusalem was in the hands of the Syrians, it became of the utmost importance to weaken their connection with their mother city. In this respect the position of the temple on the eastern border of the kingdom was peculiarly important (Jost, Cesch. des Judnithumf, i, 117). On the other hand, it is probable that Onias saw no hope in the hellcnized Judaism of a Syrian province; and the triumph of the Maccabees was still unachieved when the temple at Leontopolis was founded. The date of this event cannot, indeed, be exactly determined. Josephus says (War, vii, 10, 4) that the tcmpla had existed "343 years" at the time of its destruction, A.D. cir. 71; but the text is manifestly corrupt. Eusebius

 

(ap. Hieron. viii, p. 507, ed.Migne) notices the flight of Onias and the building of the temple under the same year (B.C. 162), possibly from the natural connection of the events without regard to the exact date of the latter. Some time at least must be allowed for the military service of Onias, and the building of the temple may, perhaps, be placed after the conclusion of the last war with Ptolemy Physcon (B.C. cir. 154), when Jonathan "began to judge the people at Machmas" (1 Mace, ix, 78). In Palestine the erection of this second temple was not condemned so strongly as might have been expected. A question, indeed, was raised in later times whether the service were not idolatrous (Jeruf. Jinan, 43 rf, ap. Jost, Cach. dts Judrnthumt. i. 119); but the Mishna, embodying, without doubt, the old decisions, determines the point more favorably. " Priests who had served at Leontopolis were forbidden to serve at Jerusalem, but were not excluded from attending the public services." "A vow might be discharged rightly at Leontopolis as well as at Jerusalem, but it was not enough to discharge it at the former place only" (Menach. 109 n, ap. Jost. as above). The circumstances under which the new temple was erected were evidently accepted as in some degree an excuse for the irregular worship. The connection with Jerusalem, though weakened in popular estimation, was not broken; and the spiritual significance of the one Temple remained unchanged for the devout believer (Philo, De Monarch, ii, § 1, etc.). See Alexandria.

 

The Jewish colony in Egypt, of which Leontopolis was the immediate religious centre, was formed of various elements and at different time?. The settlements which were made under the Greek sovereigns, though the most important, were by no means the first. In the later times of the kingdom of Judah many "trusted in Egypt," and took refuge there (Jer. xliii. (j, 7); and when Jeremiah was taken to Tahapanes. he spoke to "all the Jews which dwell in the land of Egypt, which dwell at Migdol and Tahapanes, and at Noph, and in the country of Pathros" (Jer. xliv. 1). This colony, formed against the command of God, was devoted to complete destruction (Jcr. xliv, 27); but when the connection was once formed, it is probable that the Persians, acting on the same policy as the Plolemies, encouraged the settlement of Jews in Egypt to keep in check the native population. After the Return, the spirit of commerce must have contributed to increase the number of emigrants; but the history of the Egyptian Jews is involved in the same deep obscurity as that of the Jews of Palestine till the invasion of Alexander. There cannot, however, be any reasonable doubt as to the power and influence of the colony; and the mere fact of its existence is an important consideration in estimating the possibility of .Jewish ideas finding their way to the West. Judaism had secured, in old times, all the treasures of Egypt, and thus the tirst instalment of the debt was repaid. A preparation was already made for a great work when the founding of Alexandria opened a new era in the history of the Jews. Alexander, according to the policy of all great conquerors, incorporated the conquered in his armies. Samaritans (Josephus, Ant. xi. 8, G) and Jews (.Josephus, Ant. xi, 8, 5; Hecat. ap. Joseph. C. A p. i, 22) are mentioned among bis troops; and the tradition is probably true which reckons them among the tirst settlers at Alexandria (Josephus, War, ii, 18, 7; C. Ap. ii, 4). Ptolemy Soter increased the colony of the Jews in Kgypt Iwith by force and by policy; and their numbers in the next reign may be estimated by the statement (Josephus, Ant. xii, '2, 1) that Ptolemy Philadelphus gave freedom to one hundred and twenty thousand. The position occupied by Joseph (Josephus, A nt. xii, 4) at the court of Ptolemy Eucrgctcs I implies that the Jews were not only numerous, but influential. As we go onward, the legendary accounts of the persecution of Ptolemy Philopator bear witness at least to the great number of Jewish residents in Egypt (3 Mace, iv, 15,17), and to their dispersion throughout the Delta. In the next reign many of the inhabitants of Palestine who remained faithful to the Egyptian alliance- fled to Egypt to escape from the Syrian rule (comp. Jerome, ad Dan. xi, 14, who is, however, confused in his account). The consideration which their leaders must have thus gained accounts for the rank which a Jew, Aristobulus, is said to have held under Ptolemy Philometor as "tutor of the king" (cicaataXof, 2 Mace, i, 10). The later history of the Alexandrian Jews has already been noticed. See AlexaxDbia. They retained their privileges under the Komans, though they were exposed to the illegal oppression of individual governors, and quietly acquiesced in the foreign dominion (Josephus, H'ur, vii, 10, 1). An attempt which was made by some of the fugitives from Palestine to create a rising in Alexandria after the destruction of Jerusalem entirely failed; but the attempt gave the Romans an excuse for plundering, and afterwards (B.C. 71) for closing entirely, the temple at Leontopolis (Josephus, War, vii, 10).

http://books.google.com/books?id=FU4XAAAAYAAJ&pg=PA765&lpg=PA765&ots=Q6nGbNDx0r&dq=onias+simon+II&output=text#c_top

Cyclopaedia of Biblical, theological, and ecclesiastical literature, Volume 8

 By John McClintock, James Strong

1. Simon Onias I, 242-240 B.C. (bought the office from Ptolemy)
2. Joseph Ben Tobias (and family) 240-180 B.C. (bought the office from
Ptolemy)--purchased with tax money
2. Simon Onias II, 180-180 B.C. (bought the office from Antiochus)--purchased
with tax money
3. Onias III, 180-174 B.C. (bought the office from Ptolemy)--purchased with tax
money
4. Jason/Joshua Onias,175-172 B.C. (bought the office from
Antiochus IV)--

purchased with tax money

5. Menelaus Onias, 172-162 B.C. (bought the office from Antiochus IV)--purchased
with tax money
6. Jason/Joshua Onias 162-164 B.C. (Restored by Antiochus IV)--purchased with
tax money

End of the Onias family reign and control of the high priesthood

7. Alcimus, 164-159 B.C. (bought the office from Antiochus IV)
8. Jonathan, 159-152 B.C. (bought the office from Seleucid pretender Alexander
Balas
9. Simon, 152-135 B.C. elected by the people to be the high priest
10. John Hyrcanus I, 134-104 B.C. inherited the office from his father Simon
11. Aristobulus I, 104-103 B.C. inherited the office from his father John
Hyrcanus
12. Alexander Jannaeus, 103-76 B.C.
13. Hyrcanus II, 76-67 B.C.
14. Aristobulus II, 67-63 B.C.
15. Hyrcanus II, 63-40 B.C. (bought the office from Herod the Great)

The Jewish High Priests from Herod the Great to the Destruction of Jerusalem

16. Antigonus, 40-37 B.C. (bought the office from Herod the Great)
17. Jonathan 37-36 B.C. (Killed by Herod the Great)
18. Ananel, 36-35 B.C. (bought the office from Herod the Great)
19. Aristobulus III, 35 B.C.
20. Joshua, son of Phiabi, ? -22 B.C.
21. Simon, son of Boethus, 22-5 B.C.
22. Matthias, son of Theophilus, 5-4 B.C.
23. Joseph, son of Elam, 5 B.C.
24. Joezer, son of Boethus, 4 B.C.
25. Eleazar, son of Boethus, 4-1 B.C. - (bought the office from Herod Archelaus)
26. Joshua, son of Sie, 1 - 6 A.D.
27. Annas, 6-15 A.D. (Appointed by Quirinius)
28. Ishmael, son of Phiabi I, 15-16 A.D. (bought the office from Valerius Gratus)
29. Eleazar, son of Annas, 16-17 A.D.
30. Simon, son of Kamithos, 17-18 A.D.
31.
Joseph Caiaphas 18-37AD (bought the office from Herod). In the New
Testament, Caiaphas was the Jewish Pope and high priest to whom Jesus was
taken after his arrest in the garden of Gethsemane. John the Baptist refused to
serve under his false administration. He played a decisive role in Jesus'
crucifixion. In Matthew chapter 26, Caiaphas, other priests, and the Sanhedrin
are shown looking for "false witnesses and evidence" with which to frame Jesus
(26:59). Once Jesus declared he was the Messieh (Mark 14:61-62), Son of the
Blessed, Caiaphas and the other men charge him with blasphemy. Caiaphas then
rent his pontifficial robe to signal the death penalty (Matthew 26:5). Any high
priest of Aaron would know according to Leviticus 21:10 he was commanded

NOT TO REND HIS PONTIFFICIAL GARMENT. The Sanhedrin upon this

signal called for his crucifixion and Jesus was ordered to be beaten in their
midst. We are absolutely sure God would NEVER accept an atonement sacrifice
from this demon called Joseph Caiaphas. The crucifixion of Jesus made him
guilty of murder by manufactured consent and disqualified him even if he was of
the seed of Aaron. Since the high priest remains such until his death, we are sure
Caiaphas died in the year 37AD when his son Jonathan succeeded him to the
office of national Pope and high priest.

32. Jonathan, son of Annas, 37 A.D. (bought the office from Vitellius was also one
of those guilty in the crucifixion of Jesus)
33. Theophilus, son of Annas, 37-41 A.D. (bought the office from Herod)
34. Simon Kantheras, son of Boethus, 41-43 A.D. (bought the office from Herod

Agrippa I)
35. Matthias, son of Annas, 43-44 A.D. (bought the office from Herod)
36. Elionaius, son of Kantheras, 44-45 A.D. (bought the office from Herod)
37. Joseph, son of Kami, 45-47 A.D. (bought the office from Herod of Chalcis)
38. Ananias, son of Nebedaius, 47-55 A.D.
39. Ishmael, son of Phiabi III, 55-61 A.D. (bought the office from Herod Agrippa
II)
40. Joseph Qabi, son of Simon, 61-62 A.D.
41. Ananus, son of Ananus, 62 A.D.
42. Jesus, son of Damnaius, 62-65 A.D.
43. Joshua, son of Gamal iel, 63-65 A.D.
44. Matthias, son of Theophilus, 65-67 A.D.
45. Phinnias, son of Samuel, 67-70 A.D. (Elected by The People)

 

An introduction to the critical study and knowledge of the Holy ..., Volume 2

 By Thomas Hartwell Horne

 

 

Israel

A Nation Without God or High Priest

By Pastor G. Reckart

Copyright 2004 All Rights Reserved



[1] That is until it passed to the family of Eleazar's brother Ithamar during the time of Eli (1 Sam. 2:23).

[2] Perhaps a hint at the “ones who seek smooth things” mentioned later.

[3] “On is affrighted, the tents of Cushan are in dread, the tent curtains of Missur tremble.” (Hab. 3:7, restored version). There was also a Palestinian area named On and some think that On is a corruption of the Egyptian “Iunu” for “place of pillars”.

[4] Alexander the Great, on his march from Pelusium to Memphis, visited Heliopolis (Arrian, iii. 1).

[5] Although most of the obelisks were removed (London, Paris, and New York) one still stands where it did thousands of years ago and is known today as the Pillar of On.

[7] That is until it passed to the family of Eleazar's brother Ithamar during the time of Eli (1 Sam. 2:23).

[8] Antigonus first took Judea following the death of Alexander but Ptolemy I (Soter) seized Jerusalem in 320 BCE.

[9] Sirach 1:1 and Ab. i. 2.

[10] Peace is a relative term here and is relevant only to the Jews in Judea. Over a century of war would ensue after the death of Alexander the Great as his generals divided up his kingdom (especially Seleucid in Syrian and Ptolemy in Egypt). Judea was caught in the middle and was passed back and forth until Antiochus defeated the Ptolemies in 198 BCE and took control for most of the next 150 years.

[11] An assembly of 120 scribes, sages, and prophets that had existed from the end of the era of prophets.

[12] Of course, in “representative” type governments, the idea is that the government officials use the taxes in a manner consistent with the purposes and priorities of the people they represent (ideally).

[13] With the translation of Jewish scripture into Greek (the “Septuagint” from Alexandria beginning in 300 BCE) and its widespread dissemination, there was a decentralization of Jewish learning and religious teaching akin to what happened when King James had the Bible translated into English.

[14] Antiochus repudiated his previous wife, Laodice (who was also his cousin), but turned over substantial domains to her.

[15] The High Priesthood of the Samaritans is not significant in the life of Jesus and is therefore not a subject of this work. Certainly, the history of dispute between the Samariatns and the Judeans was significant and it seems clear that Jesus and the Samaritans were friendlier than expected – he travelled freely through Samaria and spoke favorably of them.

[16] The historical record, and thus some historians, confuse the names and dates during this period such that Onias is sometimes called Simon and the designations of Onias II, III, IV, and V are confused.

[17] Josephus seemed to be descended through the Tobian line and wanted to establish their Davidic lineage and legal ascension to the high priesthood for his own purposes. His works that he wrote for the Romans regarding Jewish history, include  “Jewish Antiquities” (Book 12), where he offers what has become known as the Tobian Romance. See “Did Moses speak Attic?: Jewish historiography and scripture…” by Lester L. Grabbe  2001 (pp 137-38). His pro-Samaritan stance is readily recognized elsewhere.

[18] Under non-Jewish tax collection, the taxes included crown-money (tribute paid by the local government), one third of the field-crops, half of the produce from lumber, and a tax on the Levitical tithes and on all revenues of the Temple. There was a royal monopoly on salt and the forests so 100% of their production was taxed in some fashion. We don’t know how this changed under the Tobians, if at all.

[19] The commissioner controlled such things the price of goods and public employment – acting effectively as mayor of Jerusalem.

[20] “In the treasuries of Jerusalem are stored many thousands of private deposits, not belonging to the temple account, and rightfully the property of King Seleucus.” (IV Mac. 2:19).

[21] Joseph had seven sons by his first wife but then married the daughter of his Alexandrian brother Solymius. Their son, Hyrcanus, was his father's favorite and primary heir.

[22] 440 talents of silver and other bribes.

[23] “He induced the noblest of the young men to wear the Greek hat.”

[24] The Roman concessions had been secured under the leadership of Onias by John, the father of Eupolemus, who had travelled to Rome and established friendship and alliance with the Romans.

[25] Heliodorus is a fascinating character in history – he later served as ambassador to King Antialkidas (Antialcidas), travelled to India, converted to Hinduism, and befriended King Kasiputra Bhagabhadra.

[26] By three hundred talents of silver.

[27] Seleucus' true heir, Demetrius, was still a hostage in Rome.

[28] Josephus (Ant., XII, v, 1) says that "on the death of Onias the high priest, Antiochus gave the high-priesthood to his brother Jesus (Jason)," but the account of 2 Macc given above is the more probable and is followed herein.

[29] It is clear that both the authors of the books of the Maccabbees (along with Josephus) intended to depreciate the worth of the Temple of Onias in Egypt and consistent with that intention tends to uphold the dignity of the temple of Jerusalem. Related details were ignored and invented.

[30] Antiochus (III) knew that the Romans would not permit him to keep the lands taken during his attack in 200 (and victory at Panium 198 BCE), so he told them that he wanted to make peace with Ptolemy (V) and offered the marriage of his daughter Cleopatra (I) as a showing of good faith.

[31] The Ptolemy and Seleucid families had been at war almost continuously since the death of Alexander the Great in 323 BCE. See the Syrian Wars… http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fifth_Syrian_War.

[32] In 172 BCE, Antiochus initiated another attack on Egypt but before he reached Alexandria a Roman ambassador delivered a message from the Roman Senate directing Antiochus to withdraw his armies from Egypt (and Cyprus) or consider himself at war with Rome. Antiochus wisely chose to not cross the line drawn in the sand by the ambassador. Rabbinical sources refer to him as הרשע harasha ("the wicked").

[33] See "Topography of Jerusalem" by E. Robinson, Bibliotheca Sacra and Theological Review, Vol. XII (1846), pp. 630-631.

[34] There were two ancient cities named Leontopolis in Egypt and a nome named Leontopolites (the 11th nome). They are often confused by historians. The nome of Leontopolites was the site of the City of Onias and the Temple.

[35] Antiochus was busy in Parthia and had sent a large force to Judea under Lysais, Ptolemy bar Dorymenes, Nicanor and Gorgias. Judah defeated the armies of Nicanor and Gorgias near Emmaus in 166 BCE and then defeated Lysias and Ptolemy at Bethsura the following year.

[36] An eight day celebration of songs, lights, and sacrifices.

[37] Also known as the “Assideans”. According to First Maccabees, the forces of Lysias massacred a group of Hasidim  who had fled but would not resist or fight on the Sabbath. (1 Macc. 2:42 and note 2 Macc. 8:1).

[38] Also known as Jacimus , Joachim or the Hebrew Eliacim. There is confusion about the time period during which Alcimus held this office because different dates (and even descriptions of the office) have been offered in the primary sources (I Mac. 7:21, II Mac. 16:13, and Josephus). Alcimus described his title as being inherited from his ancestors (II Macc. xiv. 7), but this is surely ficticious since only the Oniades properly held the High Priesthood lineage. Alcimus could only have meant that his forbearers held some other high priestly office. Some scholars and writers seem to overlook this fact and perpetuate Alcimus' uncertain status.

[39] Although First Maccabees tells us "the Assideans were the first who sought peace" after the appointment of Alcimus. (1 Macc. 7:13).

[40] There is doubt about what office Alcimus held because different terms have been used to describe it in different sources (I Mac. 7:21, II Mac. 16:13, and Josephus). Alcimus describes his title as being inherited from his ancestors (II Macc. xiv. 7). Since there is no doubt that only the Oniades properly held the high-priesthood, Alcimus could only have meant some higher priestly office that had been held in his family for some generations. Some scholars seem to overlook this issue and perpetuate Alcimus' uncertain high-priesthood.

[41] We don’t know how well Physcon distinguished Alexandrian from Oneon Jews, but we do know that but both Chelkias and Ananias, the sons of Onias, performed military service and acted as generals under Cleopatra III. (117-81; "Ant." xiii. 10, § 4). Thus, it is reasonable to assume that Onias did not suffer the same disfavor as most Alexandrian Jews.

[42] In the Flinders Petrie dig of 1905/6, he identified remains of this temple.

[43] Actually there had already been a Jewish Temple at Elephantine a century or so after the time of Isaiah.

[44] The “abomination of desolation” referenced in the Dead Sea Scrolls.

[45] Also called Jacimus, or Joachim (άκειμος); Alcimus is from the Greek Alkimos (λκιμος), "valiant" or Hebrew Elyaqum, "God will rise". 

[46] Because of conflicting historical references and the dispute over the high priesthood, there is some question of whether or not Alcimus actually held the title of High Priest. Thus, the listing of Jewish High Priests for this period varies or is incomplete. Alcimus died in 161 BCE - while the wall of the Temple that divided the Court of the Gentiles from the Court of the Israelites was being torn down.

[47] As well as the fact that the Temple tribute was collected in Egypt with no less punctuality than in Palestine. (Philo, de monarch. ii. 3).

[48] “The Jews of Egypt: from Rameses II to Emperor Hadrian” by Joseph Modrzejewski, Jewish Publication Society, (1995), p.128; but compare m. Menah. 13:10.

[49] We might also recall that over 1 million Jews lived in Egypt – more than in Palestine. In the 1st century, more Jews lived in Alexandria than in Jerusalem.

[50] Since Jerusalem was under Syrian control, the tribute to Ptolemy made little sense.

[51] An administrative position instead of a priestly one – remember the Temple was more than a religious institution.

[52] The commissioner controlled such things the price of goods and public employment – acting effectively as mayor of Jerusalem.

[53] “In the treasuries of Jerusalem are stored many thousands of private deposits, not belonging to the temple account, and rightfully the property of King Seleucus.” (IV Mac. 2:19).

[54] Joseph had seven sons by his first wife but then married the daughter of his Alexandrian brother Solymius. Their son, Hyrcanus, was his father's favorite and primary heir.

[55] 440 talents of silver and other bribes.

[56] “He induced the noblest of the young men to wear the Greek hat.”

[57] The Roman concessions had been secured under the leadership of Onias by John, the father of Eupolemus, who had travelled to Rome and established friendship and alliance with the Romans.

[58] By three hundred talents of silver.

[59] Seleucus' true heir, Demetrius, was still a hostage in Rome.

[60] Josephus also makes it clear that the death of Onias III was a fact of historical importance: As a result, not only the Jews, but many people of other nations as well, were indignant and angry over the unjust murder of the man. It’s said that the Greeks and Jews told Antiochus IV about this and that the king wept in memory of the noble Onias and had Andronicus led around the city and put to death in the same spot Onias was killed.

[61] Josephus (Ant., XII, v, 1) says that "on the death of Onias the high priest, Antiochus gave the high-priesthood to his brother Jesus (Jason)," but the account of 2 Macc given above is the more probable and is followed herein.

[62] Antiochus (III) knew that the Romans would not permit him to keep the lands taken during his attack in 200 (and victory at Panium 198 BCE), so he told them that he wanted to make peace with Ptolemy (V) and offered the marriage of his daughter Cleopatra (I) as a showing of good faith.

[63] The Ptolemy and Seleucid families had been at war almost continuously since the death of Alexander the Great in 323 BCE. See the Syrian Wars… http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fifth_Syrian_War.

[64] The sons of Onias Chelkias ben Onias and Ananias ben Onias, performed military service and acted as generals under Cleopatra III.

[65] There were two ancient cities named Leontopolis in Egypt and a nome named Leontopolites (the 11th nome). They are often confused by historians. The nome of Leontopolites was the site of the City of Onias and the Temple. However, Ptolemy mentions “Onias” as the capital of the Heliopolite Nome. See “A Dictionary of the Bible” by Sir William Smith, S.S. Scranton & Co. (1898) under “Onias”.

[66] Abram was born in Ur, but traveled to Egypt and married Hagar, the daughter of a Pharaoh (Gen. 16). Among his sons were Ishmael and Isaac (or Yitzchak in Hebrew) – the father of the Jewish people and grandfather of Jacob (aka Yisrael or "Israel"), the father of Joseph/Yosef).  

[67] Joseph was sold into Egyptian slavery by his jealous brothers, but managed to become the most powerful man in Egypt next to the Pharaoh. He married Asenath, the daughter of Potipherah the Priest of On. He brought the “sons of Israel” down to Egypt, where they settled in the Egyptian country called “Goshen” (Gen. 31; 41ff).

[68] Moses was adopted as a foundling by the Egyptian royal family near Rameses/Tanis, where the exodus began.

[69] Cellaring, Shaw, and others, suppose it to be the region around Heliopolis, not far from the modern Cairo, whereas Bryant places it in the Saitic Nome. But most modern interpreters agree that it was the part of Egypt eastward of the Delta. Josephus evidently reckons Heliopolis to Goshen (Ant. ii. 7:6) and the Septuagint version of Exodus (1: 11) lists the cities built by the Israelites including On. Dictionary of the Holy Bible By Augustin Calmet, Crocker and Brewster, 1832, pp. 464, 714.

[70] Alexander the Great, on his march from Pelusium to Memphis, visited Heliopolis (Arrian, iii. 1).

[71] Although most of the obelisks were removed (London, Paris, and New York) one still stands where it did thousands of years ago and is known today as the Pillar of On.

[73]Il tempio di Leontopoli in Egitto: Identità politica e religiosa dei Giudei di Onia” by Livia Capponi, Pubblicazioni della Facoltà di Lettere e Filosofia dell'Università di Pavia 118, (2007).  

[74] Today's use of the Greek Nome rather than the Egyptian term Sepat came about during the Ptolemaic period.

[75] Eustathius of Thessalonike (probably citing Stephanus of Byzantium) (12th century) reported that Leontopolis was even an alternative name for Alexandria. See “Notes on the Temple of Onias at Leontopolis” by Abraham Wasserstein, Illinois Classical Studies Vol. 18 (1993), p. 126.

[76] This Heliopolis was well known to the ancient Greeks and Romans, being noted by most major geographers of the period, including: Ptolemy, iv. 5. § 54; Herodotus, ii. 3, 7, 59; Strabo, xvii. p. 805; Diodorus, i. 84, v. 57; Arrian, Exp. Alex. iii. 1; Aelian, H. A. vi. 58, xii. 7; Plutarch, Solon. 26, Is. et Osir. 33; Diogenes Laertius, xviii. 8. § 6; Josephus, Ant. Jud. xiii. 3, C. Apion. i. 26; Cicero, De Natura Deorum iii. 21; Pliny the Elder, v. 9. § 11; Tacitus, Ann. vi. 28; Pomponius Mela, iii. 8. The city also merits attention by the Byzantine geographer Stephanus of Byzantium.

[77] Who was also worshiped with Shu as a pair of lions in Leontopolis.

[78] The group of nine gods that embodied the creative source and chief forces of the universe.

[79] These ruins are situated southwest of Tanis to the east of the Pelusiac branch of the Nile. The tombs at Bubastis were the principal depository of the mummies of various feline deities.  On the north side of the city, Pharaoh Neco’s Great Canal (between the Nile and the Red Sea) began. In 352 BCE, Bubastis was taken by the Persians who dismantled its walls. Significant ruins would have remained.

[80] According to James Strong, the town of Onias was probably only twelve miles distant from Heliopolis in a northerly direction, but a little to the eastward. “Cyclopaedia of Biblical, Theological, and Ecclesiastical Literature”, Volume 7 by James Strong (1894).

[81] On (or Onion by Ptolemy) was also known as Heliopolis (where Moses was from). In Genesis (41:45 and 46:20) it is known as “Beth Shemesh” - the temple or city of the sun. Jeremiah (43:13) also agrees with the Egyptian name.

[82] The so called Babylon Fortress was an ancient fortress city located in the area known today as Coptic Cairo. It was situated in the Heliopolite Nome near the commencement of the Pharaonic Canal (also called Ptolemy's Canal and Trajan's Canal) which linked it with the Red Sea. The fort was expansive with forty foot high outer walls, two monumental gates, a moat, and a very successful port (taxes for river traffic and use of the canal were collected there). The fort's name has been a matter of controversy - the dominant is that the name was a corruption of the ancient Egyptian “per-hapi-n-On” (House of the Nile of On). See “Fort Babylon In Cairo” by Jimmy Dunn at http://www.touregypt.net/featurestories/babylon.htm.

[83] Other masonry material came from an immense stone wall of an ancient Hyksos cam which was close to the Onias settlement. See “Hyksos and Israelite Cities” by Sir William Matthew Flinders Petrie, John Garrow Duncan, British School of Archaeology University College, London (1906) – the definitive archeological work on the area.

[84] “The New Schaff-Herzog Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge” by Johann Jakob Herzog, Philip Schaff, Albert Hauck (1901), pp. 458-59.

[85] The intensely jealous Judeans altered “cheres” to “heres” to make “city of the sun” read “the city of destruction”. There is an issue regarding the timing of the related references – whether the reference was written before Onias came to Egypt or afterwards.

[86] An eight day celebration of songs and sacrifices.

[87] We don’t know how well Physcon distinguished Alexandrian from Oneon Jews, but we do know that but both Chelkias and Ananias, the sons of Onias, performed military service and acted as generals under Cleopatra III. (117-81; "Ant." xiii. 10, § 4). Thus, it is reasonable to assume that Onias did not suffer the same disfavor as most Alexandrian Jews.

[88] Although termed “the Babylonian”, this was an incorrect reading or misunderstanding – he was from Egypt.

[89] Josephus says that the Onias Temple had existed "343 years" at the time of its destruction, but it is clear that the text is corrupt and should have said 243 years (War, 7:10, 4).

[90] In the Flinders Petrie dig of 1905/6, he identified remains of this temple.

[91] Actually there had already been a Jewish Temple at Elephantine a century or so after the time of Isaiah.

[92] The “abomination of desolation” referenced in the Dead Sea Scrolls.

[93] Also called Jacimus, or Joachim (άκειμος); Alcimus is from the Greek Alkimos (λκιμος), "valiant" or Hebrew Elyaqum, "God will rise". 

[94] Because of conflicting historical references and the dispute over the high priesthood, there is some question of whether or not Alcimus actually held the title of High Priest. Thus, the listing of Jewish High Priests for this period varies or is incomplete. Alcimus died in 161 BCE - while the wall of the Temple that divided the Court of the Gentiles from the Court of the Israelites was being torn down.

[95] Josephus tells us that the temple existed for 243 years (misprinted as 343 in most versions) – 170 BCE-73 CE.

 



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