Antiochus Takes the Witness Stand Chanukah 2015
Prosecuting Attorney to Jury:
Ladies and Gentlemen of the Jury:
We have succeeded in capturing the notorious mass murderer, Antiochus, and have brought him here to stand before this court. The evidence against him is overwhelming:
Expropriated the religious ceremonies of the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem.
Confiscated the funds of the treasury.
Forced the imposition of foreign worship and beliefs.
Denied an entire nation its legitimate rights to follow its religious conscience.
Forbade such essential Jewish practices such as infant male circumcision.
Forced removal of civilian populations.
Mass executions and ethnic cleansing.
However, because we believe in justice, we have brought him to you, the jury, for a fair trial.
I call upon the accused, Antiochus, to take the witness stand:
|Mug shot of the defendant|
You are such an arrogant lawyer. You are full of what we Greeks call hubris.You call it chutzpah. You dare threaten a god!
First, introduce by my correct title, King Antiochus The IV, Deo Epiphanes. Deo Epiphanes means "the god manifest" and I have been sent by the gods to restore civilization and all the great values that Alexander the Great sought to bring to the world when he set forth on his great conquest.
Attorney To jurors:
You may strike that from the record. It is well known that he is actually called, by people in the know, as Antiochus “ Epimanes”, which means Antiochus the Mad One.
Lies, Lies, all spread by my enemies who doubt my sanity, but I say that they are all demented. They don’t understand me. I am a Man of great vision and talent; I have even performed in the theater; once in. Antioch, I even got up on the stage and danced together with the actors.
I am a likeable man with a sense of humor. I like to walk out into the streets and mingle with the people, chat with them, converse with them, sometimes, even play jokes on them. Once, I went to the bath house and poured oil all over the heads of all the bathers. You should have seen them tripping and falling all over themselves, me included! I also like to throw gold rings into the crowds, and join any good drinking party around.
Believe me, if we had Saturday Night Live in our day, I would be starring on it all the time.
You realize that we could arrange for change of venue. This is a Jewish jury, a Jewish court:
I know what I am doing. First, I can get myself a Jewish attorney, that’s the first step. Then, you Jews are really such patsies when it comes to law and order. You don’t even execute terrorists you capture. You exchange them at a rate of a 1000 to one. Then, you have the strictest rules about evidence submitted in a murder case, and on top of that, I don’t have to pretend I was just following orders. I just have to admit that I was giving orders, and that is not a capital crime in your law codes while following orders is! Hah!
I want to go back to this line of “ Epiphanes”. You make this claim of being a god in the flesh. Can you explain what that means?
You understand we have inherited the civilization of Alexander the Great, who was so great that he deserved worship as a god. Hellenistic rulers first instituted the worship of Alexander, and then, well- why quibble- we all decided we were gods! We had our statues in all the temples, offerings and libations. My father made the cult of the ruler a central pillar of our Seleucid Empire. I just followed suit by being the first of our dynasty to stamp coins with my name as a god, Theos Epiphanes. Believe, the public loves it—that how we become celebrities.
Attorney: How do you explain your rise to power if you are so nice?
My older brother, Seleucis IV, was assassinated, so I took over the thrown after him. Why should I have waited for his son, Demetrius. He was being held in Rome as a hostage, so I did the only honorable thing to do. Of course, I had a cover- I appointed Seleucis’ infant son as co-regent, and then , a few years later, had him done away with.
Please, don’t look at me like that! That’s the way things are done in our part of the world.
You have a sloppy track record as a king. Some wins, some losses—but the biggest loss- Jerusalem. How do you explain your performance as a king?
You have to realize that being King is not easy, even for a god-king.
To the West, I have those barbarians who call themselves Romans. They really have no culture,
Their whole civilization is built on conquest and warfare. I should know; I was held by them in Rome as a hostage when my father lost to them. They are imperialists with their eye on everything. You know what they did to those Carthaginians! They have already taken the Western Mediterranean and have their eyes
Now, I have to balance them off against yet a worse enemy, the Ptolemys of Egypt. They are even worse.
At least with the Romans, I know they are barbarians, but the Egyptians? They claim to be civilized Greeks, just like us in Syria--but they are so inferior. They have adopted all of those foolish Egyptian. customs and way of dress, and they too are such-war mongers, also eyeing our territory to the south. I should know- I also lived among them for a while. They are also relatives, so I get the inside scoop.
I almost had them cornered in the last war . I was up to the gates of Alexandria, when the Romans took their side. Do you know the famous “drawing a red line.” Your President didn’t invent that phrase, the Romans did—but they meant it. The Roman Consul drew a line in the sand around me and said, "Before you cross this circle I want you to give me a reply for the Roman Senate". In public! I had to withdraw. So humiliating! And just then, you Jews cheered in Jerusalem when you thought I had been killed! Oh, I don’t forget these things!!
In the last wars, we also lost our territories to the east, where the Persians sit. Oh, those Persians, Have you ever tried to negotiate an anti- catapult treaty with them!
Look, we are a peace loving people, but we have been stabbed in the back too often; we must have our living space.
Did you have any long range goals?
All my actions are for the sake of progress and civilization and science. If
I wish to preserve our nation and the values that it stands for, then I must,
once and for all, complete the task that Alexander the Great began, in cultivating the devotion to
philosophy, science, and wisdom of the Greek culture. That is what we call “Hellenization.”
I have granted every Greek living in my territory special privileges and I have established a new Temple in Athens. I have founded new cities just for Greeks. I am erasing non-Greek culture and having all these subjects restructure their cities into Greek ones. We must work to further the interests of the master civilization.
You were able to implement these policies?
I think that everything would have proceeded smoothly, had it not been for those
Judeans. They will send me to an early death, for sure. I have nothing against Judeans,
just as I have nothing against Idumeans or Phonenicians, but I cannot understand their behavior.
They are completely irrational and consequently a danger to civilization.
You are profiling an entire people!
First of all, there are some good Jews. However, a great -number of them just refuse to assimilate. They refuse to adopt Greek names, or offer a libation to Zeus, or any other activity that a self-respecting pagan would do. They won’t celebrate my cult as a god, for sure. I really think they hate human beings. They won’t take our women for wives unless they brain-wash them first! They won't eat our food; they take off one day a week out of laziness. They pretend to be modest and saintly, but they are simply racists. They just can't stand anyone who is different. They won’t just go along, like the other barbarians.
But you have engaged in disproportionate actions to attain your ends!
Disproportionate! For a Syrian ruler! Till today, the rulers of Syria use poison gas and mass bombardments on their own people. That’s the normal way to create social harmony and peace.
You know, the more I think of it, the more I think they deserved it when I marched into Jerusalem, slaughtered thousands of the pests, and sold the rest into slavery. They were cheering when they thought the Romans did me in!
Some people would call you the first real anti-Semite.
Anti-Semite? All my subjects are Semites. It is just these miserable Judeans who will be the death of me for sure.
They don't even belong in the land they call Israel; they claim their ancestors got it centuries ago, but they really took the land from the native Philistinians. They are a nation of robbers. They should be expelled and sent back to Mesopotamia where they all came from.
They are everywhere. In every position, in every town, I find someone who is a Jew. I know there were Jews who even infiltrated Aristotle’s and Pythagoras's schools, and who allowed pernicious notions to slip into our society. Ideas like” All men are created equal”, aah!. It is all part of a Jewish plot.
They are also savages.
Do you know what they do to Greeks? I will tell you. My intelligence agency has just uncovered it, and I am about to send a Tweet on it. Yes, we use “Twitter” but it is with real messenger birds! Every year, they capture a Greek, keep him jailed in their Temple, stuff him full of food, and sacrifice him. They also keep a statue of Moses riding a donkey in their Temple. It was this Moses who gave them laws to hate all of us. It is really my duty to solve the Jewish problem. I must come up with a final solution.
Do you have any character witnesses?
Yes, I would like to call on the stand my dear friend, Menelaus, the High Priest of your own Jerusalem!
I call to the stand, Menelaus, High Priest, Kohen Gadol, originally known as Menahem, or Mendele to his mother.
Hello, there, Menelaus is my name, assimilation is my game. As you know, I call myself Menelaus; it's such a beautiful Greek name, a hero in the Iliad by Homer. I dropped my old Jewish sounding name, which I never use and have even forgotten what it was. I picked Menelaus because it sounds so-lovely; everything the Greeks produce is so lovely. Did you ever read Homer? It's so lovely, but, to tell you the truth, I haven't read it yet myself because my Greek is not good enough yet.
What made you decide to go along with Antiochus plans?
I told my friends, "look what kinds of troubles we are bringing on ourselves. All this anti-Judeanism that we are suffering from; it's all our fault.” I told them, "Let's make a covenant with the nations around us; let's be like everyone else! It's only since we have cut ourselves off from the others that we have all this trouble!"
I told them my plan, and they really liked it. You have no idea how many hundreds, or even thousands of intelligent, sophisticated Judeans, from the finest families have seen the light. They have realized that it is about time to leave off our old ways and superstitions and be progressive. We are progressive, we are modern, we are cool, we are hipsters.
So Antiochus’ plan was really your plan?
For sure! It was a matter of competition between me and Jason, the other High Priest, as to who is more Greek! The first step, of course, was to make the capital, Jerusalem, look like a real Greek town. We needed a gymnasium, just like everywhere else, so we built it. Not a Bally’s or a Gold’s Gym but a real Greek Civic Center -- a place for drama, theater, music, and sports. A stadium where all the finest young men run around, wearing the hat of the runner, Hermes. I have heard some complaints about our boys running around naked; it's true, but how else can you run? Besides, these Judeans are so uptight!
Now, of course, in order to look all right, we have to get rid of that custom of circumcision. It makes our runners look ridiculous and some of them have even had to undergo plastic surgery so they wouldn't look so Jewish.
This had political implications?
Of course, we had to change our city government. We established a polis, called it Antioch, not Jerusalem, and run it through a council of Elders, gerousia, on the Greek model. Then, we could have the authority to really bring everyone into line.
Those Judeans who still call their children by names like Judah or Mattathias, and who still keep kosher and keep the Shabbat---well, they will either have to toe the line or leave town, because we can't let these unregenerate primitives ruin our image.
What religious agenda have you considered?
We must, above all else, reform our worship. The way the old priests mumble in the sacrifice! And there is absolutely no decorum ! Everybody just runs around wherever he pleases, and the talking! Every five minutes a messenger comes in ringing a bell . We will change that.
For example, we cannot go on calling our God just by his Hebrew name. This is a new and open society. We will call him Zeus Olympius; this way, we can recog¬nize that all religions, polytheist, and monotheist, are at core, the same. Now we won't put up any idols in the Temple, because that is out of fashion even with the Greeks, but we will put up a sacred stone just like in any good Temple. I be¬lieve that we should reform the service as well, doing things in the sacrifice which make sense to us, not to our ancestors, things which are relevant, like pouring libations of wine, or sacrificing that which the Greeks sacrifice everywhere, a pig, in honor of the king.
What did you expect to gain in the long run?
Believe me, if we do these, then we will finally be accepted in the right circles. We will be able to move into the best neighborhoods, join all the Greek clubs, move into the best positions in business, and there won't be any anti-Semitism.
Thank you. I call Antiochus back on the stand. Antiochus, do you have any other witnesses?
Yes, I want the jury to seek what nudniks I had to deal with. I call upon Honi to speak for the Hasidim. Now you will see what I had to deal with.
Mr Honi, Please introduce yourself to the jury.You are considered a Hasid, a Pious man.
Me, a Hasid? A pious man? I am not so arrogant as to call myself that. I am just a simple Jew who wishes to follow what God has commanded me to observe; that is all. I like to bring offerings to the Temple, or at least I used to, till they turned it into a pagan playground.
I mediate an hour before and after every prayer, three times a day nine hours every day, and I am very careful about Shabbat. If I have to bury any thorns or glass in the ground, I make sure that I dig it at least a foot deep, so my plow won't push it up to the surface. God forbid, someone should trip on it and then get hurt on my account!
What do you feel is the cause of your suffering?
As for our woes, they have come upon us as a consequence of our sins which are so many. The Holy One, Blessed be He, is chastising us for our falling by the wayside, just as he punished our ancestors when they followed idols, and as a result, the Temple was burned to the ground. Once again, we have sinned. So many Jews have abandoned the commands of the Bible, have abandoned their beliefs, their practices, their names. They go gallivanting naked without shame; they eat anything and offer up terrible abominations in the very Temple itself. Eyen the high Priests live and think like gentiles,
What did you do about this?
As for me, I want nothing of it. I have gone off, with hundreds of others like myself, into the wilderness, where I can be together with Jews like myself, who will still follow the commandments, In the wilderness, in our little caves, we will be able to keep Shabbat and circumcise our children, and bide our time. Some of us talk about taking up arms against the Syrian overlords and our Hellenized Jews, but I am against it. This is all part of God's plan, and if in the course of it, we must suffer, then so be it. Surely, speedily, and in our day, God will send us once again, his anointed King, the Moshiach, who will destroy the rule of wickedness, when in the end of days, the sons of light will champion over the sons of darkness.
In the meantime, we shall be patient. If they come to attack us during the week, we will defend ourselves, but if they attack us on the Shabbat, then let us die, obeying God's command, rather than desecrate the holiest day by taking up arms in our defense.
Thank you, Mr. Honi
You see, I told they were cuckoo! And those are the pacifists. The militants are a thousand times worse! They see flaming chariots flying down from the skies to fight for them! They believe they will come back from Hades!
No outburst in the courtroom. Just answer the questions.
Now, Antiochus, one last question. If you were beaten in battle by the Romans, it was by a vastly superior army. But you were defeated by an old man and five brothers and a few followers with no military training. How do you explain that?
This a shame that I will never be able to live down. My death is rumored to be of horrible disease that afflicts me when I hear of my armies defeat.
They used unfair tactics, what you call guerilla warfare. A hand full of volunteers could defeat the greatest armies. I predict people will be teaching this Judah-fellow’s tactics in military school two thousand years from now.
I will tell you how he did it. You know, we Greeks have the best method for conventional warfare—the Phalanx- we run our men in rows of 16 men across, 16 deep, each holding a long lance, up to 20 feet long. We march with multiple units of those on an open field, and we just walk over the enemy. But those treacherous Jews! They wouldn’t fight in flat open fields—they fight in the mountains. They fight us from on top, the sides, and behind. Have you ever tried to turn a mass of 250 men, locked tight, in a narrow canyon, as the spears get in the way? Our guys were sitting ducks!
Then, where are the PETA people when you need them. We march down on their armies with our trained elephants (yes, we trained them long before the Ringling Brothers) and their soldiers go under the elephants’ bellies and slash them from below. I assure you that no elephants were harmed by our side.
You have one last chance to call up the Macabees and cross-examine them. Do you wish to do so?
Oh, No. Please spare me. I can't stand the thought of them. Hang me please, so I don't ever have to hear of them again!
That concludes the testimony from the defense. Antiochus has had the benefit of the best attorneys his empire could provide in preparing him for this deposition. I turn to the jury and ask,” What say ye?”