Sunday, November 16, 2008

Everything has a Price

After the death of the Jewish High Priest Onias III in the 2nd century BC, Onias III’s brother Jason approached the Seleucid ruler Antiochus (IV) Epiphanes and offered him a “tribute” to become the next High Priest. Antiochus accepted the money and installed Jason as the new High Priest of the Jewish Temple. In the book of 2nd Maccabees we are told about the event and how much was paid:

“But Seleucus died, and when Antiochus surnamed Epiphanes succeeded him on the throne, Onias' brother Jason obtained the high priesthood by corrupt means: in an interview, he promised the king three hundred and sixty talents of silver, as well as eighty talents from another source of income.”
- 2 Maccabees 4:7-8
Curious as to how much 440 talents of silver would be in today’s money I looked up a few things and this is what I found:

1 talent = 75 lbs.
1 lb = 16 oz
1 oz of silver = $9.50

So 440 talents of silver = 33,000 pounds of silver = $5,016,000.00!

Jason had paid a little over 5 million dollars (today’s money I understand) to become the High Priest for one year. Unfortunately for Jason, about three years after this he was removed as High Priest after his friend Menelaus outbid him. Menelaus, not really having the money he promised, ended up stealing from the Temple funds to make payment. And this all lead to the Maccabean revolt, but that’s another story.

Now to me, $5 million seemed like an amazing amount of money to pay for a position for one year. But then I looked up the money spent by the 2008 McCain and Obama campaigns for president. And while not technically “buying” the position, you’ll have to argue pretty hard to convince me that it’s that far off. At least they’re getting four years out of the deal.

Senator John McCain: $293 Million
President-Elect Barack Obama: $573 Million*
*Winner

And while I’m at it, why don’t we hear anyone asking the “Do you know how many hungry people we could feed for …” question? I guess the answer to that would depend on how you'd define “hungry people” (if you get my drift). And don't think the Republican's wouldn't have outspent the Democrats if they would have had the chance.

“What has been, that will be; what has been done, that will be done. Nothing is new under the sun. Even the thing of which we say, "See, this is new!" has already existed in the ages that preceded us.”
- Ecclesiastes 1:9-10

1 comment:

BruceC said...

And Jesse Jackson Jr. wanted to pay Gov Blogoj....whatever... $500,000 to get Obama's seat. A bargain considering. Just found this blog too, St. Michael is soo cool! Thanks Fr.Mike!