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fashion to adopt ostentatiously Greek customs: Hebrew names were exchanged for Greek, Joshua or Jesus became Jason, Eliakim became Alkimos; an influential and growing Hellenizing party sprang up, who made it their aim to obliterate the distinctive characteristics of their nation. Naturally innovations such as these intensified the rigour of the opposite or conservative party, and led them to cling together the more closely for the purpose of maintaining the integrity of their national institutions; and the crisis was precipitated by the accession of Antiochus Epiphanes.
Jesus, or, as he preferred to call himself, Jason, brother of the high-priest, Onias III, was the principal leader of the Hellenizing party; and by means of a large bribe, induced Antiochus not only to depose his brother and confer the vacant office upon himself, but also to grant permission for a ‘gymnasium,' or exercise-ground, to be constructed in Jerusalem, in which the Jewish youths might emulate the Greeks in athletic contests, and to bestow the citizenship of Antioch upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem (175 or 174 B.C.). 'And when the king had given assent, and he had gotten possession of the office, he forthwith brought over them of his own race to the Greek fashion. And setting aside the royal ordinances of special favour to the Jews..., he brought in new customs forbidden by the Law: for he eagerly established an exerciseground under the citadel itself, and caused the noblest of the young men to wear the (Greek) cap [the petasus, a broadbrimmed hat, such as appeared on statues of Hermes, the patron-god of the palaestra]. And thus there was an extreme of Greek fashions, and an advance of an alien religion, by reason of the exceeding profaneness of Jason, that ungodly man and no high-priest,' so that even the priests, it is said, leaving their sacrificial duties unfinished, hastened down from the Temple-court to take part in the spectacle, as soon as they heard the signal for throwing the discus, with which the games were opened (2 Macc. iv. 7—14; cf. 1 Macc. i. 11—15).
Jason continued high-priest for three years (till 172 or 171); and under his patronage, the Hellenizing Jews naturally became
bolder. At the end of this time, one Menelaus, an unscrupulous adventurer, whom Jason had employed as his agent to carry the promised money to Antiochus, outbid his master, got him expelled from the high-priesthood, and secured the office for himself. Jason fled across the Jordan, and took refuge with the Ammonites: Menelaus, who is described as 'having the passion of a cruel tyrant, and the rage of a savage beast' (2 Macc. iv. 25), stole some of the vessels of the Temple for the purpose of meeting his obligations to Antiochus, and when rebuked by the late high-priest for sacrilege was said to have procured his murder (see on ix. 26). The sacrileges of Menelaus occasioned riots in Jerusalem: he was arraigned before Antiochus at Tyre, but managed by judicious bribery to get himself liberated, and his accusers condemned. Menelaus consequently remained for the time in power (2 Macc. iv. 43—50). Soon afterwards a rumour reached Palestine that Antiochus had been killed in Egypt; and Jason, thinking that now his opportunity had come for recovering his position in Jerusalem, attacked the city with 1000 men, shut up Menelaus in the citadel, and slew many of the citizens, but was obliged before long to retire. Antiochus, thinking Judaea to be in revolt (2 Macc. v. 11), and (Jos. B. J. I. 1) invited also by Menelaus and his friends, on his return from Egypt in 170 made a détour · by way of Jerusalem: the gates of the city were opened to him by Hellenizing sympathisers within (Jos. Ant. XII. v. 3); he led his army in, slew many of the inhabitants, under the guidance of Menelaus 'entered presumptuously into the sanctuary,' and carried away most of its golden vessels, as well as whatever other valuables he found in it: having done this, he proceeded home to Antioch, leaving, as governors in Jerusalem, Menelaus, and a Phrygian, named Philip, described as being 'more barbarous than him that set him there' (1 Macc. i. 20-28; 2 Macc. v. 11-16, 21-23: cf. Jos. ll. cc.; Dan. xi. 28 b).
Two years afterwards, in 168, after his final withdrawal from Egypt, partly perhaps through disappointment at his failure to secure that country, partly on account of reports received from his Hellenizing friends in Jerusalem (cf. Dan. xi. 30), Antiochus d
sent Apollonius, a 'chief collector of tribute,' who, pretending that his intentions were peaceable, surprised the city on a sabbath-day: a massacre took place in the streets: numbers of women and children were sold into slavery; many of the houses and fortifications were demolished; and a Syrian garrison was established in the citadel overlooking the Temple, for the purpose of controlling and overawing the city. The immediate result was that many of those who had escaped massacre or servitude took to flight, and their places were filled by strangers (1 Macc. i. 29-—40). In the pathetic, semipoetical words of 1 Macc., 'And the inhabitants of Jerusalem fled because of them; and she became a habitation of strangers; and she became strange to them that were born in her, and her own children forsook her. Her sanctuary was laid waste like a wilderness, her feasts were turned into mourning, her sabbaths into reproach, her honour into contempt' (vv. 38, 39).
Soon after this, Antiochus adopted energetic measures to give effect to his scheme for the religious unification of his empire, ‘that all should be one people, and that each should forsake his own laws' (ib. v. 41). Jerusalem, and the Jewish people, were to be completely Hellenized. All practices of the Jewish religion were to be prohibited under pain of death; the Temple was to be transformed into a sanctuary of Zeus Olympios (2 Macc. vi. 2); altars dedicated to heathen gods were to be set up, not only in Jerusalem, but also in the country towns of Judah; the Jews were to be compelled to sacrifice upon them, and also to eat of food ceremonially 'unclean'; and officers were appointed to see that all these injunctions were duly carried out (1 Macc. i. 41-53). On the 15th of Chisleu (Dec.) B.C. 168, an 'abomination of desolation,' i.e. a small heathen altar, was erected upon the altar of burnt-offering, and on the 25th of the same month the first sacrifices were offered upon it (1 Macc. i. 54, 59; see further the notes on Dan. xi. 31). Books of the Law were burnt; and women who had their children circumcised were put to death. Many of the Jews, it is added, conformed the requirements of Antiochus (1 Macc. i. 43-61; cf. Dan. xi. 30 b—32 a).
The distress among the loyal Jews was naturally intense. Many, as has been already mentioned, had abandoned their homes in the city, when Apollonius took possession of it: others now followed their example, taking refuge in hiding-places in the country (1 Macc. i. 53; cf. ii. 29–31). The dirge over the desolation of Jerusalem, placed in the mouth of Mattathias (1 Macc. ii. 7-13), no doubt represents truly the feelings of faithful Jews at the time. Nevertheless, they were quite determined, even at the risk of their lives, not to yield to the demands of Antiochus. The consequence was that there were numerous martyrdoms (1 Macc. i. 62, 63; ii. 31-38, etc.: Dan. xi. 32 6, 33, 35). But the 'little help' (Dan. xi. 34) before long appeared (167). The brave Mattathias, a priest, resident at Modin, a town about 18 miles N.W. of Jerusalem, when ordered by the king's commissioner to do sacrifice, stoutly refused, and slew both an apostate Jew who came forward to do it in his stead, and the king's officer as well. The flame of revolt soon spread. The national party, who were now known as the ḥasīdim or 'godly' (1 Macc. ii. 42, vii. 13; 2 Macc. xiv. 6)1, rallied round Mattathias and his five sons, and organized themselves for concerted action. At first they remained on the defensive, fleeing to the mountains, and taking refuge in inaccessible hiding-places. In one case, a party of 1000 allowed themselves to be cut off without resistance, rather than profane the sabbath by fighting. But as their numbers increased they grew bolder, and began soon to assume the aggressive. Traversing the country, they destroyed heathen altars, enforced circumcision, and hunted down apostates. In 167 Mattathias died, after exhorting his sons, in a parting charge, to continue the struggle bravely (1 Macc. ii.).
His son Judas, the 'Maccabee,' a man of singular ability and strength of character, assumed now the leadership of the
1 The word is a frequent one in the Psalms (as Ps. iv. 3, xii. I; A.V., R.V. often 'saints'); and in some of the later ones (as cxvi. 15, cxlix. 1, 5, 9) may denote the same party. It is the party which developed ultimately into that of the Pharisees' (D, 'separated ones,' or, as we should say, 'separatists'): see Schürer2, ii. 334 f. (§ 26).
patriotic party. His enterprises were almost uniformly successful. Within a year, he defeated and slew the two Syrian generals, Apollonius and Seron, who had successively invaded Judah (1 Macc. iii. 10-24). Exasperated by these disasters, Antiochus (166) entrusted his general, Lysias, with half of his entire army, commissioning him to extirpate entirely the Jewish nation, and to people their land with strangers (1 Macc. iii. 34-36). But his efforts were of no avail: though Lysias despatched against Judah an army of 4000 infantry, and 7000 cavalry, under three generals, they were discomfited by Judas, with great loss, at Emmaus (15 m. W.N.W. of Jerusalem); and when, in the following year (165), he took the command in person with an army of 65,000 men, he met with no better fortune, but was defeated at Beth-zur (16 m. S.S.W. of Jerusalem), and returned to Antioch (1 Macc. iv. 1-35). As a consequence of these successes, the Jews were in a position to restore the 'desolated' sanctuary, the gates, it is said, were burnt, the priests' chambers pulled down, and shrubs were growing in the courts,-and to re-dedicate the altar. I Macc. iv. 36-60 describes how this was done, amid great rejoicings, on the 25th of Chisleu (Dec.), 165, exactly three years after the first heathen sacrifices had been offered upon it. The heathen neighbours of Judah, Idumaeans, Ammonites, and others, were jealous of these successes, and 'took counsel to destroy the race of Jacob': but Judas and his brother Simon took the field against them (164), and gained important victories in Galilee and Gilead, and smaller successes in Idumaea and Philistia (1 Macc. v.). In the same year (164), Antiochus, who had made an expedition into the far East for the purpose of replenishing his exchequer (1 Macc. iii. 28-31, 37), died, somewhat suddenly, at Tabae (a little S.E. of Ecbatana), after a futile attempt to rob a temple in Elymais (1 Macc. vi. 1-16; see also the note on p. 197). Lysias made another determined effort to stamp out the rebellion in Judah, and succeeded in capturing the fortress of Beth-zur; but being anxious, for political reasons, to get back to Antioch, he agreed to sign a treaty with the Jews, granting them complete religious freedom