HERCULES (̔Ηρακλη̂ς, 2 Macc. 4:19). During the Seleucid period there was an “evangelistic” attempt to turn West Asia to Hel. customs and culture. This was esp. the situation under the reign of (176-164 b.c.) or who established Gr. educational centers in W Asian cities.
Jason, who changed his name to the Gr. form from the Heb. name Joshua, was able to seize the high priesthood in Jerusalem from his brother Onias III in 175 b.c. by allying himself to Antiochus. To further the Hellenization of the city, Jason obtained the authority to form a Gr. city-state within Jerusalem called Antiochia. He also established a gymnasium in Jerusalem which led to the weakening of Jewish life.
Once every five years games were held in Tyre of Phoenicia in honor of the god Hercules. Jason sent delegates who were citizens of Antiochia (Jerusalem) to represent Jerusalem and to bear silver for the sacrifice of Hercules. However, those who were bearing the tribute felt that this was an evil use of the money, so they spent it instead on shipbuilding (2 Macc. 4:18-20). This would indicate that Jason’s reforms were not as effective in changing Jewish religious life as he thought.
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915)
The process of Hellenizing the Jews which began at an earlier date was greatly promoted under