THE MACCABEAN REVOLT & HASMONEAN RULEThe Jewish people as a whole wouldn’t be the same without the Maccabees. Without their bravery andloyalty to their god, the Jewish religion might have died. It was the Maccabees’ revolt that saved theJewish people. The historical rebellion of the Maccabees, which took place near modern day Israel afterthe Jews were released from the Babylonian Exile, can be broken down into three periods. Theseperiods can be referred to as the pre-rebellion, rebellion, and post-rebellion. Despite all the political oppression which the Jews experienced, they had always enjoyed religious freedom. The first real sustained attack on their religion came from Antiochus. The attack resulted to a revolt led by the Maccabean family headed by Mattathias.The Pre-RebellionDuring this period the Ptolemies and the Seleucids controlled what was formerly Alexander the Greatsempire. According to Kleckley and Kemerling, the Ptolemies focused their energy on improving theircountry, while the Seleucids tried to convert everyone in their country to the religion of the Greeks. TheJews who lived in Egypt and Jerusalem were ruled by the Ptolemies. However, in the year 198 BCE, theSeleucids took over Jerusalem and oppressed the Jewish people which ended their religious freedom.The king of the Seleucid Empire was Antiochus IV, whom the Jews referred to as Epiphanes. Along withbringing the religion of the Greeks, Antiochus plundered the temple to fund a war against the Ptolemies.Some of the ways that Antiochus tried to take away the Jews religious freedom was: he outlawed circumcision altars to Greek idols were placed in every Jewish town those who didnt convert were put to death he sacrificed unclean animals in the temple in Jerusalem, and he forced all the Jews to worship him as their god
The RebellionThe rebellion was started by an old Jewish priest in 167 BCE in the town of Modin. A Greek official triedto make him give a sacrifice to a Greek God, but the old man refused. One of the Jews who hadconverted quickly jumped to the occasion. The old priest, disgusted, killed the official and the convertedJew.That old priests name was Mattathias. After Mattathias killed the two men, he jumped up and was saidto say, "Follow me....every one of you who is zealous for the law and strives to maintain the covenant" (IMaccabees 2:27). Mattathias and his five sons waged war on the Seleucid troops. a This picture illustrates Mattathias killing the converted Jew.His five sons were: Eliezer Simon John Judah Jonathan
After Matthathiass death, a year after the rebellion had begun, command was shifted to his son Judah. Because of his great fighting ability, Judah was nicknamed Maccabeus, "The Hammer." Exactly three years after the Greeks desecrated the temple, the Hebrews re-conquered, purified, and rededicated it. This day was the 25 of Kislev, 165 BCE, and marks the day that Jews began the festival of Chanukah. Other than the wonderful stories of how the little bit of oil lasted the Jews eight days, the holiday of Chanukah celebrates: the defeat of Antiochus the eight days that the temple was rededicated, and the Jews regaining their freedom of religionThe Post-RebellionOf Mattathiass sons, Judah was the first leader, then his brother Jonathan, and then Simeon. Alltogether, the three brothers ruled for about thirty years. Simeons son, John Hyrcanus I, took over afterhim. He ruled for another thirty years. John Hyrcanus I was replaced by his eldest son, Judah AristobulusI, for about a year. When Judah Aristobulus died, his brother Alexander Yannai took over and married hiswidow, Salome Alexandra. This was required by Jewish law. He also ruled for about thirty years. Hemanaged to restore the country to the size it was when the original twelve tribes had settled there.Salome Alexandra took control for about nine years when Alexander Yannai died. She had two sons. Theolder son was named Hyrcanus II and the younger one was named Aristobulus II. When she ruled, shetried to create a stricter observance of the Torah. After her, the power shifted to her two sons.Although, after a very long dispute between the two men, a man named Herod took control of thecountry. Being an Edomite, he ended the Maccabeans rule over Judea.The Maccabees successful revolt against Antiochus antisemitic persecution was ended about a hundredyears later by their own self-destruction. Their downfall was due to greedy family members who wantedthe country for themselves. If it werent for the Maccabees, Judaism might have been just somethingyou learned about on the internet. If it had not been for them standing up for what they believed in, theJewish religion and the Hebrew people may have been blotted out by the Paganism of the Greeks.
THE HOSMONEAN FAMLY Judas (Judas Maccabeus)– was a Kohen (priest) and a son of the Jewish priest Mattathias, succeeded his father and earned for himself the second name of “hammer”. After three years, he restored the religious freedom and the daily sacrifice: likewise, he purified the temple. After his death his brother, Jonathan, took over his leadership over the people. Jonathan (Jonathan Apphus) – the name Apphus means “the Wary” or “the Diplomat. He was the youngest of the five sons of Mattathias. He achieved political independence and assumed the office of highest priest. He was treacherously arrested and killed. Simon, his brother succeeded him. Simon (Simon Thassi) – was the second son of Mattathias. The name “Thassi” has an uncertain meaning (“the Director”, “the Guide”, “the Man of Counsel”, and “the Zealous” are all possible meanings of the term). He obtained a rescript in 1421 B.C. and that Year I of the new independent state. Like his brother, he was treacherously murdered. His son John Hyrcanus I succeeded him.
From John Hyrcanus I onwards, the Maccabean princes were known as the “Hasmoneans”, afterHashmon, an ancestor of the family. Hyrcanus I extended much as the boundaries of the Jewishkingdom. It was during his reign that a group from the Hasidim began to oppose him. This group formedthe Pharisees. Those who compromised their religious principles and collaborate with Hyrcanus Ipolitically became the so-called Sadducees.