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Battle of Raphia
1Now Ptolemy Philopator learned from those who had returned that Antiochus had captured some of Ptolemy’s territory. Ptolemy gave orders to all his forces, foot soldiers and mounted soldiers, to break camp. Along with all his forces, and accompanied by his sister Arsinoë, he set out for the region of Raphia where Antiochus’ troops had set up camp.
2Now a certain Theodotus made up his mind to carry out a plot to kill Ptolemy. He took the best of the weapons that had been assigned to him from Ptolemy’s own arsenal. He crossed over by night to Ptolemy’s tent, intending to put an end to the war by killing him single-handedly. 3But Dositheus, known as Drimylus’ son, had led Ptolemy away and arranged for an unimportant person to sleep in the king’s tent. This person then met the fate intended for Ptolemy. (Now this Dositheus was a Jew by birth, but he had changed his mind about their customs and had turned away from the teachings of his ancestors.)
4When a fierce battle arose, and things were going rather well for Antiochus, Arsinoë went out to Ptolemy’s army with pathetic cries and with her hair all in disarray. She urged them to rescue themselves and their children and wives, and bravely promised to give to each man two manehs of gold if they won the battle. 5And so it turned out that the enemies were destroyed in hand-to-hand combat, and many were taken prisoner. 6After overcoming the plot, Ptolemy decided to visit the neighboring cities to encourage them. 7By doing this and by distributing gifts for their sacred shrines, he reassured his subjects.
Ptolemy Philopator at the temple
8The Jews had sent elders and members of the council to greet him, to bring gifts of friendship, and to congratulate him on recent events. As a result he was even more eager to come to them as soon as possible. 9So he traveled to Jerusalem, sacrificed to the supreme God, made thank offerings, and did what was appropriate for the temple. As he entered the temple, he was struck with amazement at its brilliance and beauty. 10And as he admired the orderly arrangement of the temple, he conceived a notion to enter into the holy place. 11But they said that it wasn’t right to do this since even those of their own nation weren’t permitted to enter it. Not even all the priests were allowed, but only the chief priest, who was in charge over all, and he could do so only once a year. But Philopator wasn’t at all persuaded. 12Even after the law was read to him, he continued to claim that it was necessary for him to enter, saying, "Even if those persons are denied this honor, I shouldn’t be." 13He asked why, when he was entering every other sacred place, none of those present prevented him. 14And someone said (without thinking) that he was wrong to speak of this as a sign. 15"But even if for some reason this were true," Philopator replied, "why should I, of all people, not enter, whether they are willing or not?"
The Jews’ reaction
16But the priests fell to the ground, still in their sacred robes. They filled the temple with crying and tears, praying to the supreme God to help them and to change the mind of the one who was wrongly imposing himself. 17Those who were left in the city were troubled and hurried out, thinking something mysterious was happening. 18The young girls who had been kept secluded at home rushed out with their mothers. They sprinkled their hair with dust and began to fill the streets with weeping and groaning. 19Even the young women who had just been adorned for their weddings left the bridal bedrooms that had been prepared for the marriage night. Neglecting all proper modesty, they came together in the city in a wild rush. 20Mothers and nurses left newborn children here and there, some in houses, some in the streets, and crowded together into the most high temple without looking back. 21The people who assembled offered all kinds of prayers on account of the evil plot of the king. 22Some of the bolder citizens weren’t going to put up with his intended plan or fulfill what he had in mind. 23They rallied each other to attack with weapons and to die courageously for the sake of the law of their ancestors, creating a great uproar in the holy place. The old men and the elders were barely able to restrain them, but turned them at last to the same stance of prayer.
24Now the crowd in front of the temple was occupied in praying, 25but the elders standing near the king tried in many ways to turn his arrogant mind from the scheme that he had conceived. 26But he, being made bold and ignoring all their arguments, began to make his approach, determined to carry out his plan. 27So when those who were near him saw this, they turned together with the people to appeal to the one who was fully able to come to their aid and not to overlook this insolent transgression. 28An immense roar went up from the intensity and passion of the crowd’s concerted shouting. 29Indeed it seemed that not only the people but also the walls and the entire land were echoing, because at that time all were prepared to accept death instead of making the holy place impure.