The Maccabean Revolution
Between the books of Malachi and Matthew, the Maccabees fought for the rights and freedom of the Jewish nation. At that time the Jews were under massive oppression by the Seleucid rulers. One in particular was Antiochus, he tormented the Jews in the hope of Hellenizing them, and to top it off he used their own religious beliefs against them in massive slaughter and humiliation. The Maccabees however, against all odds, freed the nation of Judah, and successfully regained their rights. This is the Maccabean revolution.
It all began in 166 BC when Antiochus, the king of the Seleucids sent out an order for pigs to be sacrificed on the altars of the Jewish temples. This disgraced the beliefs of the Jews, because pigs were unclean for a Jew to even touch, yet they were to be sacrificed on the altars of their Lord. In the small village of Modi’in, when a small group of soldiers arrived at the Temple there to carry out Antiochus’ order. They sought out the High Priest, who was Mattathias, and ordered him to sacrifice a pig on the altar in the temple. Though the soldiers pleaded and bribed, Mattathias stayed true to the Lord, and refused to do the sacrifice. However because of Mattathias’ rejection a villager offered to do the sacrifice himself. At these words Mattathias was enraged. He grabbed the sacrificial knife and killed the man. Because the soldiers were caught off guard, Mattathias, his five sons, and several villagers succeeded in killing the soldiers, taking their gear, and retreating up into the hills. The revolt had begun.
Many of the surrounding villages joined in the revolt, and the band of men created a small guerilla force, that attacked at night. Since Mattathias died early in the revolution, his son Judas took command. Later in the revolution Judas took on the name “Judas Maccabee”, because maccabee meant hammer in their language, as he was the hammer against the Seleucids.
The early attacks of the Maccabean revolt were against small patrols. The Seleucids eventually took notice of the rebels in the hills, and sent General Appollonius with 2,000 men and a small cavalry unit to put down the group of bandits. Judas, not to be out done, attacked Appollonius with only 800 men, and through superior leadership, Judas defeated and killed Appollonius.
As soon as this startling news reached the officials, they were startled. However, because king Antiochus was away at war with the Parthians, his commander Seron was given command of a squad of 4,000 infantry and a small cavalry to put down the rebellion. This time Judas was outnumbered four to one. But once again being a bold commander, Judas Maccabee attacked at Beth Huron. Defeating the army, and killing Seron, the rebellion was beginning to take momentum in Judah, and was being acknowledged as a serious threat in the capital.
Lysias was the regent who was ruling in place of Antiochus, and when this news reached him, he sent...