09 12 . 12
The Revolt of
PART OF THE HISTORY OF CHANUKAH " FESTIVAL OF LIGHTS "
After Antiochus issued his
decrees forbidding Jewish religious practice, a rural Jewish priest from Modiin,Mattathias the Hasmonean sparked the revolt against the Seleucid Empire by refusing to worship the Greek gods. Mattathias killed a Hellenistic Jew who stepped forward to offer a sacrifice to an idol in Mattathias' place. He and his five sons fled to the wilderness of Judah. After Mattathias' death about one year later in 166 BCE, his son Judah Maccabee led an army of Jewish dissidents to victory over the Seleucid dynasty in guerrilla warfare, which at first was directed against Jewish collaborators, of whom there were many. The Maccabees destroyed pagan altars in the villages, circumcised children and forced Jews into outlawry. The term Maccabees as used to describe the Jewish army is taken from its actual use as Judah's surname.
The revolt itself involved many individual battles, in which the Maccabean forces gained infamy among the Syrian army for their use of guerrilla tactics. After the victory, the Maccabees entered Jerusalem in triumph and ritually cleansed the Temple, reestablishing traditional Jewish worship there and installing Jonathan Maccabee as high priest. A large Syrian army was sent to quash the revolt, but returned to Syria on the death of Antiochus IV. Its commander Lysias, preoccupied with internal Syrian affairs, agreed to a political compromise that restored religious freedom.
The Jewish festival of Hanukkah celebrates the re-dedication of the Temple following Judah Maccabee's victory over the Seleucids.