Starting in the 7th century B.C. the Jewish people had been placed under various foreign powers. Their subservient state would last for nearly 500 years up until the time of the Maccabee Revolt. This revolt started around 167 B.C. when a Greek Seleucid king named Antiochus III decided to disregard the Jews way of life and try to Hellenize its culture and religion.
It appears on the Bible Timeline during the second century BC. Antiochus IV was a Seleucid ruler who gained the throne in 175 BC. Shortly after he became the new king of the Seleucid Empire, he began to pass a series of anti-Jewish laws through a Jewish high priest and the governor named Jason, who bribed the king to gain this position.
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Jason had a brother named Onias III who was going to remain the high priest of Judah. Jewish people believe that the high priest was selected directly from God and not from any Earthly powers. So when Jason became the high priest, this naturally caused the people of Judah to become outraged with the Seleucid Dynasty.
After Jason took over his duties as high priest and governor he had his brother Osias III murdered. Now that Jason was the high priest and governor, Antiochus III decided to use him in his quest to convert Judah into a Hellenized territory. He wanted to make the city of Jerusalem the capital of this newly formed Greek state.
He then began to initiate a series of changes that attacked the Jews way of life and their religion. Jason had Hellenized Solomon’s Temple so the people would now have to worship Greek gods, and they would have to adhere to Greek culture. There was a priest who worked at Solomon’s Temple during these events, and his named was Matthias. The Jewish priests were being replaced by Hellenistic Jewish priest and the new clergy was leading the people of Judah into idolatry.
They were trying to get the people to worship the Greek gods by offering sacrifices to them. One day a Greek official told Matthias to make a sacrifice to one of the Greek gods in the temple, but Matthias had enough of this desecration, and he killed him. Once this happened it set off a chain of events that would start a Jewish revolt. Matthias had 5 sons and they all helped their father to start a revolt against the King Antiochus III. Matthias had to flee to the wilderness (open desert) to avoid arrest and when he did he called upon the people to follow him.
The people responded, and he had a small army. The Jewish rebels realized that they couldn’t take on the Greek army in open battle so they decided to use a small force that would fight with guerilla tactics. The Maccabeus army defeated various Seleucid forces that included Assyrians, Parthian, and the Samarians. Judas Maccabeus had won a huge victory against the Seleucid army and forced them to retreat from Judah at the Battle of Emmaus. The Seleucid army tried once again to defeat Judah, but they were routed each time that they came back to the area.
The Jews finally forced the Seleucids to leave permanently Judah alone in 164 B.C. Now that Judah had gained its independence from foreign rulers they cleansed their temple of the idols, and they made Judas their leader. Originally the Maccabees were known as the Hasmoneans, and they earned the name Maccabees because of their style of fighting. They attacked their enemies with powerful battle tactics that beat their enemies with lightning fast maneuvers and powerful force.
The Maccabees also stopped helped a lot of the Jewish persecution that was happening at the time in foreign lands. Judas was a high leader in Judah until 160 B.C. when he died in battle against the Assyrians. By 130 B.C., the Jews had regained their independence, and they established the Hasmonean Dynasty that was the first group of Jewish kings to rule their own land since the exile had taken place. The Hasmonean rulers controlled Judea with Simon Maccabeus being the first king. These Jewish people held their independence for about 103 before they were brought under Roman power. The Jewish holiday known as Hannukah is celebrated by the people in memory of this event.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hasmonean_dynasty http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mattathias http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Judas_Maccabee#Renewed_fighting http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Timeline_of_Jewish_history#1st_century_CE http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antiochus_III_the_Great#mediaviewer/File:Antiochos_III_coin.jpg