Archaeologists have discovered what is apparently the lower portion of the Heliodoros Stele in excavations at Maresha (inside the Beit Guvrin National Park). This discovery demonstrates that the stele, which is privately owned, was originally found at Maresha.
The Heliodoros Stele is a royal Greek inscription consisting of 23 lines inscribed on limestone bearing a proclamation by the Seleucid king, Seleucus IV (father of Antiochus IV). The inscription sheds light on the Seleucid government’s involvement in local temples. Heliodoros is mentioned in 2 Maccabees 3 as a representative of Seleucus IV who tried to steal the wealth of the Jerusalem Temple. The inscription reads:
Dorymenes to Diophanes greetings:
The copy of the letter given us by Heliodorus who is in charge of the affairs is enclosed. You will do well therefore if you take care that everything is carried out according to the instructions. Year 134, 22 of the month of Gorpiaius (August 178 BCE)
Heliodorus to Dorymenes his brother greetings:
The copy of the order given us by the king concerning Olympiodorus is placed below. You will do well therefore if you follow the instructions. Year 134, 20(?) of the month of Gorpiaius (August 178 BCE)
King Seleucus to Heliodorus his brother greetings:
Taking the utmost consideration for the safety of our subjects, and thinking it to be of the greatest good for the affairs in our realm when those living in our kingdom manage their lives without fear, and at the same time realizing that nothing can enjoy a fitting prosperity without the good will of the gods, we have given orders from the outset that the sanctuaries founded in the other satrapies receive the traditional honors with the care befitting them. But since the affairs in Koile-Syria and Phoinike stand in need of the appointment of someone to take care of these (i.e. sanctuaries) . Olympiodorus … .
(Translated by Prof. Hannah Cotton-Paltiel and Prof. Michael Woerrle)
See also: Hershel Shanks, “Inscription Reveals Roots of Maccabean Revolt,” BAR 34:06, Nov/Dec 2008.
Photo courtesy of the Israel Antiquities Authority.