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Apocrypha

What happened when Ptolemy visited the Jews in Jerusalem?

At first, the Jewish people were happy to see him. After all, he was the enemy of their enemy. However, when Ptolemy entered the temple to pay his respects, he said he wanted to go into the inner sanctuary as well. Upon being told that no one was allowed to go in there except for the high priest, and that only rarely, Ptolemy continued to insist that he be allowed to enter. The Jews became upset at Ptolemy’s insistence. They did not want the inner sanctuary to be sullied, so they prayed to God to help them in this situation. Simon the high priest prayed as well. Then, “God, who oversees all things, the first Father of all, holy among the holy ones, having heard the lawful supplication, scourged him who had exalted himself in insolence and audacity. He shook him on this side and that as a reed is shaken by the wind, so that he lay helpless on the ground and, besides being paralyzed in his limbs, was unable even to speak, since he was smitten by a righteous judgment.” (NRSV, III Maccabees 2: 21-22). Ptolemy recovered, but was not made humble by the experience. Instead, “he by no means repented, but went away uttering bitter threats.” (NRSV, III Maccabees 2: 24).



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