Antiochus IV Epiphanes is a moderately important bible character, even though he doesn’t even appear in many versions of the bible. Antiochus is the main antagonist in the war against the Jews that culminated in the events that are now celebrated as Hanukkah.
The story about the Maccabean revolt is chronicled in the books of Maccabees, deuterocanonical books held as cannon by the Catholic and Greek Orthodox churches. The books are not considered cannon by the Protestants and — interestingly enough — the Jews. As legend tells us, Antiochus lost the war, dying suddenly four years before it was finished. But how did he die? In order to answer this we should look at the books of Maccabees, but unfortunately doing so will only confuse us.
First in 1 Maccabees 6:8-16 we find the Jews cursed Antiochus with grief and worry, which led to his death.
Then in 2 Maccabees 1:16-17 we find Antiochus entering a temple to get married. Unbeknownst to him, some Jewish assassins were waiting for him, having entered the temple through a secret door. The Jews stoned Antiochus and his men, decapitated them, and chopped them into pieces.
But apparently not even decapitation could kill Antiochus because he appears in the book again. In 2 Maccabees 9 god gets pretty pissed at Antiochus after he gets in his chariot to flee from battle. God’s had enough of the leader’s shenanigans, striking him down in a classic god of Abraham way; god gave Antiochus uncontrollable diarrhea. So terrible was this diarrhea that Antiochus fell from his chariot, breaking several bones. The feces attracted a swarm of worms, which feasted on Antiochus’ flesh. The stink was so awful that his men couldn’t get near to save him. He became so desperate that he asked god to save the Jews in exchange for relief. God said not a word, so Antiochus, covered in shit, wrote a letter to the Jews, freeing them from persecution. And then he died.
That’s a pretty crazy story. What makes it even crazier is it was Antiochus’ third death.
As I mentioned above, this is considered cannon by the Catholics and the Greek Orthodox church. The Jews and the Protestants do not consider this story cannon. Perhaps it’s because this contradiction was so glaring they decided to cut the entire story from the bible. Who knows? It’s still pretty funny that it’s in some bibles!