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The Maccabean Revolt, 167-160 BC

Background Information

Cyrus of Persia, a great emperor responsible for freeing the Jewish people from Nebuchadnezzar's rule, rebuilt the Temple in Jerusalem, let the Jewish people keep their belief's, and allowed the Jews to prosper under Persian rule.


Alexander the Great, arguably the most successful military general in the history of the world, conquered Egypt and the whole Persian Empire with "lightning speed". He kept conquering, eventually making it to India and the end of the known world.


The entirety of the Greek empire was Hellenized (the Greeks called themselves "Hellenes" and the name spread throughout their newly conquered empire) and the new ruler, Alexander the Great, had little respect for cultures other than his.


Alexander dies very young, leaving no successor to keep his empire together. It soon split into three parts: one centered in Greece, one centered in Egypt, and one centered in the old Persian Empire.


The Greeks in Egypt, known as the Ptolemies, would be the first to rule Palestine. The Greeks in the old Persian Empire, known as Seleucids, would then be the second. This led to factions being developed in Jerusalem and people began to take part in aiding a certain empire.


Antiochus IV, a new king, called himself Epiphanes, Greek for "God Manifest". He thought more highly of himself than his subjects did. They called him Epimanes - Greek for "Out of His Mind".


It was Antiochus' greatest ambition to make the entire known world Greek, where Greek culture and Greek religion would be brought to every province.


Under Antiochus' empire, the Jewish high priest was the secular ruler of his people. It was a powerful position, and Antiochus, a power hungry tyrant, sold it to the highest bidder.


Now, the priesthood was in the hands of the rich Hellenists. Even the priests joined the fun, neglecting the sacrifices so they could go to the arena and watch wrestling. The high priest stole from the revenue of the Temple to buy sacrifices to Hercules.


The people did not like this at all. Mattathias and his five sons organized a resistance and soon began to take back parts of territories. Within three years, the faithful Jews were able to rededicate the temple, and today is celebrated as a holiday known as Hanukkah. About 125 years before the birth of Christ, an independent Israel has finally been restored.

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Maccabean Revolt