Bible Time Period: Maccabean Revolt
Mattathias and his sons stood up against the threats of Hellenization: Help me resist worldliness in the culture and follow only you.
The Babylonian exile came to an end when Cyrus, King of Persia, came to power and freed the Judeans to return and rebuild the Temple. Those who made the journey south did so in three stages. Under the leadership of Zerubbabel, Ezra, and Nehemiah, they rebuilt the Temple and the Jerusalem walls and learned from God’s Law. At the close of our reading, we saw the people confess their sins and make another covenant – a binding agreement – with the Lord.
After this “remnant” of Jews returned to the land, they lived in relative peace for a century and were quite faithful to the Covenant. Around 336 BC, Alexander the Great swept across Asia, conquering nations and extending the rule of a new power, Greece. He aimed to unify the world under Greek language and culture – a process we know as hellenization. This practice continued to a varying extent under his successors and reached its height under Antiochus Epiphanes, who came to power in 175 BC. He began a policy of radical hellenization under which he determined to eradicate the Jewish religion. This sets the scene for our next period: Maccabean Revolt. The time period begins with the actual revolt of the Maccabees and takes us up to the end of the Old Testament.
Historical note: the crowning event of this period comes in chapter 4 with the purification of the Temple three years after its desecration. According to the Talmud, oil that was only enough for one lamp lasted miraculously eight days. The event is commemorated today as Hanukkah – the Festival of Lights.
Explain the threat Israel faces in chapter 1. What does Judas Maccabeus depend upon to win against armies far greater than his own (chapter 3)?
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