The Maccabean Revolt

During much of the time between the Old and New Testaments, the land of Israel was under the rulership of the Greek empire (see Ancient Empires - Greece and Daniel's Statue), either by Alexander the Great himself (see Alexander The Great In Prophecy), or the military commanders and their successors who had divided up his kingdom after his early death (see The Seleucids and The Ptolemies). Seleucus was the commander who took control of the Syrian region of Alexander's empire, thereby establishing the Seleucid dynasty. Antiochus IV was the eighth of the Seleucid kings, ruling from about 174-164 BC. Antiochus certainly had a very high opinion of himself; he took the name of "Epiphanes," which presumed to have meant "Select of God." Many of the people of his kingdom had a different name for him however - they called him "the madman."

Antiochus IV and The Maccabees

Once again, because of its position at the Crossroads Of The Earth, the land of Israel had been contested between two branches of the former Greek kingdom - the Ptolemies to the south in Egypt (Queen Cleopatra was in later years one of its most famous members, see also Antony and Cleopatra), and the Seleucids to the north in Syria. Earlier, Israel was included in the Ptolemaic kingdom. During the reign of King Philadelphus of Egypt, the Jews of Jerusalem provided a translation of the Torah from Hebrew into Greek for the royal library in Alexandria. We know it today as the Septuagint. This benign attitude toward the Jews changed dramatically after the Seleucids took over Israel in 198 B.C.

When he came to power, Antiochus IV soon proved himself to be no friend of the Jews. He mounted an effort to destroy them and all worship of the true God. He had any Jew who would not worship the Greek idols put to death. Praying to God, or observing the Sabbath according to The Fourth of The Ten Commandments were also capital offenses. Mothers found with circumcised infants, according to Jewish law, were killed along with the child. He had many scrolls of the Holy Scriptures burned, although many were very likely saved by being hidden out in the wilderness in a manner similar to the Dead Sea Scrolls.

The greatest outrage committed by Antiochus IV occurred in 167 B.C. when he entered the Temple (see Temples) in Jerusalem, erected an altar to the pagan god Zeus, and sacrificed a pig on it. That desecration, dated as the 25th of Kislev according to the Bible Calendar, triggered the Maccabean Revolt by the Hasmoneans (see The Maccabees). Their eventual victory and cleansing of the Temple is still commemorated by Jews today by the annual Festival of Hanukkah.

According to Jewish tradition, at the time of that rededication there was not enough undefiled oil available for the Menorah in the Temple, which was supposed to burn continuously each night. Nevertheless, the single day's supply of oil that remained burned miraculously for eight days, until a fresh supply became available. The eight-day festival was begun in commemoration of the miracle, and has continued right to the present time.

Fact Finder: Why did Jesus Christ call the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem "My Father's House"?
See "My Father's House"

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This Day In History, September 14

1262: Cadiz, Spain, was captured by Alfonso X of Castille, ending a 500-year occupation of the city by the Moors.

1741: The German-born English composer George Frederick Handel finished his "Messiah" oratorio, after working on it non-stop for 23 days.

1752: Britain and its colonies adopted the Gregorian calendar.

1812: Napoleon's invasion of Russia reached Moscow to find that the entire city had been abandoned and set on fire by retreating Russian forces.

1814: Francis Scott Key, witnessing the British bombardment of Fort McHenry, wrote the words which eventually became "The Star-Spangled Banner." It became the U.S. national anthem in 1931.

1829: The Russo-Turkish War ended with the signing of the Treaty of Adrianople.

1854: British and French forces landed in the Crimea to fight the Russians, who had started the Crimean War with their invasion of Turkey in July 1853.

1901: U.S. President William McKinley died at age 58, a week after being hit by an assassin's bullet while standing in a reception line in Buffalo, New York. Upon his death, Vice-President Theodore Roosevelt was sworn-in as president.

1939: The first functional helicopter, Igor Sikorsky's VS-300, made its first flight.

1944: Belgium, Luxembourg and part of Holland were liberated from Nazi occupation by American, British and Canadian troops.

1948: Construction of the United Nations buildings in New York began.

1959: The Soviet Union's unmanned Luna-2 became the first spacecraft to land on the Moon.

1960: Iraq, Iran, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia formed OPEC.

1973: Israel shot down 13 Syrian MIG-21s.

1982: Princess Grace of Monaco was killed in an automobile accident. The American-born Grace Kelly was 52.

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