PTOLEMY Epiphanes succeeded Philopater, and was made king when he was only five years of age. Of course he could take no part in the administration of the government, and Egypt was virtually without a king. Antiochus the Great, king of Syria, taking advantage of this state of affairs, wrested Palestine from Egypt. 

The Egyptians then sought the aid of the Romans against the encroachments of Antiochus. The Romans had just ended the second Carthaginian war by the utter defeat of Hannibal, and were becoming formidable to the nations around them.

By the aid of a Roman army the Egyptians drove Antiochus from their country, but Palestine still remained under the control of Syria. Antiochus the Great, having been slain by his own people for plundering a temple, was succeeded by Seleucus Philopater, who, after a reign of twelve years, was followed by Antiochus Epiphanes The title "epiphanes" means Illustrious, and this man was certainly illustrious for his cruelty.

A good man by the name of Onias was at this time high priest at Jerusalem; but Jesus, a brother of Onias, bought the priest's office of Antiochus for 360 talents, and Onias fled to Egypt, where he built a temple and offered sacrifices. This Jesus was a bad man. He encouraged the heathen worship of the Greeks, and tried to put down the Hebrew customs and religion. Not liking his Hebrew name, he changed it to the Greek name, Jason. Jason was supplanted by another brother, who took the Greek name of Menelaus, and favored Greek customs even more than Jason had done.

"Antiochus now undertook an expedition into Egypt, and was successful. While he was there, the Jews heard a report of his death, at which they showed signs of great joy. Hearing of this, Antiochus, on leaving Egypt, went to Jerusalem to chastise them. He besieged and took the sacred city; slew forty thousand Jews, and sold a like number as slaves; and to show his contempt for the Jewish religion, entered the holy of holies, sacrificed a sow on the altar of burnt-offering, and sprinkled broth made of its flesh all over the building."

Attempting another invasion of Egypt, he was met and sent back by a Roman ambassador. 

This put him in a bad humor, and, ''to chastise the Jews, he sent to Jerusalem a general named Appollonius, who executed his commission with terrible rigor. Waiting till the people were all assembled in their synagogues on the Sabbath, he made a frightful massacre, slaying the men, seizing the women and children as slaves, demolishing the city and its walls, and building the fortress of Acra with the ruins."

Antiochus consecrated the temple at Jerusalem to Jove, and set up a statue of Jupiter Olympus on the altar of burnt-offering. For more than three years the worship of the true God was excluded from the temple. An edict was issued requiring all people under his dominion to worship the Greek gods; and to observe any of the Jewish customs was made a capital offense. "Two Jewish women that were found to have circumcised their children, were led through the streets with their children fastened to their necks, and cast headlong over the steepest part of the walls. At the feast of Bacchus, the god of wine, the Jews were forced to join, carrying ivy, and taking part in the abominations of the festival."