1 Now it was that the high priest Simon bowed his knees near the holy place, spread out his hands in reverent form, and uttered the following prayer: 2 “O Lord, Lord, King of the heavens, and Ruler of the whole creation, Holy amongst the holy, sole Governor, Almighty, give ear to us who are oppressed by a wicked and profane one, who celebrates in his confidence and strength. 3 It is you, the Creator of all, the Lord of the universe, who are a righteous Governor, and judge all who act with pride and insolence. 4 It was you who destroyed the former workers of unrighteousness, amongst whom were the giants, who trusted in their strength and daring, by covering them with a measureless flood. 5 It was you who made the Sodomites, those workers of exceedingly iniquity, men notorious for their vices, an example to later generations, when you covered them with fire and brimstone* or, sulphur. 6 You made known your power when you caused the bold Pharaoh, the enslaver of your people, to pass through the ordeal of many and diverse inflictions. 7 You rolled the depths of the sea over him when he pursued with chariots and with a multitude of followers, and gave a safe passage to those who put their trust in you, the Lord of the whole creation. 8 These saw and felt the works of your hands, and praised you, the Almighty. 9 You, O King, when you created the immeasurable and measureless earth, chose this city. You made this place sacred to your name, even though you need nothing. You glorified it with your illustrious presence, after constructing it to the glory of your great and honourable name. 10 You promised, out of love for the people of Israel, that if we fall away from you, become afflicted, and then come to this house and pray, you would hear our prayer. 11 Truly you are faithful and true. 12 When you often aided our fathers when hard pressed and humiliated, and delivered them out of great dangers, 13 see now, holy King, how through our many and great sins we are crushed and made subject to our enemies, and have become weak and powerless. 14 In our low condition, this bold and profane man seeks to dishonour this your holy place, consecrated out of the earth to the name of your Majesty. 15 Your dwelling place, the heaven of heavens, is indeed unapproachable to men. 16 But since it seemed good to you to exhibit your glory amongst your people Israel, you sanctified this place. 17 Don’t punish us by means of the uncleanness of their men, and don’t chastise us by means of their profanity, lest the lawless ones should boast in their rage, and exult in exuberant pride of speech, and say, 18 ‘We have trampled upon the holy house, as idolatrous houses are trampled upon.’ 19 Blot out our iniquities, do away with our errors, and show your compassion in this hour. 20 Let your mercies quickly go before us. Grant us peace, that the downcast and broken hearted may praise you with their mouth.”
21 At that time God, who sees all things, who is beyond all Holy amongst the holy, heard that prayer, so suitable, and scourged the man who was greatly uplifted with scorn and insolence. 22 Shaking him back and forth as a reed is shaken with the wind, he threw him down on the pavement, powerless, with limbs paralysed, and by a righteous judgement deprived of the ability to speak. 23 His friends and bodyguards, seeing the swift recompense which had suddenly overtaken him, struck with exceeding terror, and fearing that he would die, speedily removed him. 24 When in course of time he had come to himself, this severe punishment caused no repentance within him, but he departed with bitter threatenings.
25 He proceeded to Egypt, grew worse in wickedness through his previously mentioned companions in wine, who were lost to all goodness, 26 and not satisfied with countless acts of impiety, his audacity so increased that he raised evil reports there, and many of his friends, watching his purpose attentively, joined in furthering his will. 27 His purpose was to inflict a public stigma upon our race. Therefore he erected a stone pillar in the courtyard, and caused the following inscription to be engraved upon it: 28 “Entrance to this temple is to be refused to all those who would not sacrifice. All the Jews were to be registered amongst the slaves. Those who resisted are to be forcibly seized and put to death. 29 Those who are thus registered are to be marked on their persons by the ivy-leaf symbol of Dionysus, and to be reduced to these limited rights.” 30 To do away with the appearance of hating them all, he had it written underneath, that if any of them should elect to enter the community of those initiated in the rites, these should have equal rights with the Alexandrians.
31 Some of those who were over the city, therefore, abhorring any approach to the city of piety, unhesitatingly gave in to the king, and expected to derive some great honour from a future connection with him. 32 A nobler spirit, however, prompted the majority to cling to their religious observances, and by paying money that they might live unmolested, these sought to escape the registration, 33 cheerfully looking forward to future aid, they abhorred their own apostates, considering them to be national foes, and depriving them of common fellowship and mutual help.
*2:5: or, sulphur