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ISBE: HERCULES
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Hercules

HERCULES [ISBE]

HERCULES - hur'-ku-lez (Herakles): The process of Hellenizing the Jews which began at an earlier date was greatly promoted under Antiochus Epiphanes (175-164 BC). Jason, who supplanted his brother Onias in the office of high priest by promising Antiochus an increase of tribute, aided the movement by setting up under the king's authority a Greek palaestra for the training of youth in Greek exercises, and by registering the inhabitants of Jerusalem as citizens of Antioch (2 Macc 4:8 f). Certain of these Antiochians of Jerusalem Jason sent to Tyre, where games were held every five years in honor of Hercules, that is, the national Tyrian deity Melcart, identified with Baal of Old Testament history. According to Josephus (Ant., VII, v, 3) Hiram, king of Tyre in the days of Solomon, built the temple of Hercules and also of Astarte. Jason s deputies carried 300 drachmas of silver for the sacrifice of Hercules, but they were so ashamed of their commission that they "thought it not right to use the money for any sacrifice" and "on account of present circumstances it went to the equipment of the galleys" (2 Macc 4:18-20).

J. Hutchison


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