The Political and Social Background Of Palestinian Judaism (2)
The Maccabean Revolt:
There were still some Jews who refused to give up their faith but preferred to suffer. These groups were known as Hasidions – Pious ones. These Hasidions were killed because they would not fight on Sabbath day. A new spirit arose amidst the Hasidions, saying we would not allow this deflation to continue. In Modein was an old Priest called Mattathias; Antiochus sent his officials to Modein to force Mattathias to sacrifice swine, which he refused. So Mattathias and his five sons killed the king’s officials and ran to the mountains with those loyal to them. They came out in the night to fight. Forcefully circumcise children and offer protection to those that follow the Mosaic law. He withstood this for eight years.
Mattathias died in 166 BC urging his sons to fight on, show zeal for the LORD, and defend his father’s faith. 1 Maccabees 2: 49-51 “Now the days drew near for Mattathias to die, and he said to his sons: “Arrogance and scorn have now become strong; it is a time of ruin and furious anger. Now, my children, show zeal for the law and give your lives for the covenant of our ancestors. Remember the ancestors’ deeds they did in their generations, and you will receive great honor and an everlasting name.”
Mattathias handed over to his third son, known as Hammer (Judas Maccabee). He didn’t want to engage in a Pitch battle with the Syrian-only Gorila war; he avoided the day and came out at night. A Syria general named Lysius in 165 BC came to fight Judas Maccabee. Still, before this battle could start, news came of Antiochus’ death, who was also engaged in a fight with Barthians, so Lysius withdrew and reached a compromise with the Jews. At this point, the temple in Jerusalem was purified. It was completed in 164 BC, and the temple was rededicated. The cleansing and rededication of the temple is the feast of Hannukkah. John 10:22″ Then came to the Feast of Dedication at Jerusalem. It was winter”. The Dedication feast commemorated the temple’s cleansing under Judas Maccabeus in 165 BC after Antiochus Epiphanes had defiled it by sacrificing a pig on the altar of a burnt offering. The Jews, after, wanted independence. Judas died in 160 BC, and his brother. Jonathan assumed the command of the army.
During his leadership, Syria had internal conflict; he began seeking their help. Jonathan strengthened his internal and external position through treaties with the Romans and Parthians. Jonathan was treacherously murdered by Trypho; leadership fell on Simon, the last son of Mattathias. In 142 BC, another king of Syria, Demetrius II, granted the Jews complete political independence. Coins were bearing the name of Simon. Contracts were also dated Simon the Great. 1 Maccabees 13:42. This freedom lasted for about 80 years; the only period of independence the Jews knew was from 586 to the middle of the 20th century. During this period, the Jewish Nation lacked a leader who could unite the Nation and the people.
On the one hand, those that accepted (supported) the Hassidons; that aimed at Political powers were the Sadducees. On the other hand, they were the descendants of those that supported Judas Maccabees until the Dedication of the temple in 164 BC, who then withdrew that religious freedom was the only thing they wanted out of this group arose the Pharisees. Political power naturally remained with the Sadducees. Simon the Great and two of his sons were treacherously/wickedly murdered by his son-in-law Ptolemy. Only one of his sons escaped (John Hycanus). John Hycanus was a wealthy man. He took over from his father, embarked on a program of conquest or expansion, and defeated the Jordan territory. He also compelled the Idumeans to adopt Judaism, a step that was to have severe consequences for the Jews centuries later. He also defeated Samaria, to the North captured Shechem then destroyed the Samaritan temple and Garrison. So after a long and prosperous reign 134-104BC, he died a natural death and was succeeded by his son Aristobulus.
Aristobulus was cruel, wicked, and unprincipled. He went as far as killing his mother and brother, so he changed Theocracy into Kingdom and made himself king while retaining the priesthood. His reign lasted only one year, during which the Galileans, whose population was only Gentile, were forced to embrace/convert to Judaism. The following year, Judah was torn by dissension between the Pharisees and Sadducees, and as a result, a civil war broke out. They became easy prey for foreigners. Rome has been seriously trying to cage Syria and its surrounding allies. Rome, through its general Pompey, conquered Jerusalem. The Jewish kingship was abolished, and Judah became subject to Rome. Judah was required to pay taxes to Rome but then was left to them to be governed by a native ruler.
When John Hycanus died, the problem began in his family regarding who would take over. The two sons are Aristobulus (Elder) and Jonathan. It was Aristobulus that won the war and began to reign. When Aristobulus died, his brother took over and changed his name from Jonathan to Alexander Janaeus. Salome, the wife of Aristobulus, became Janaeus’s wife after the death of Aristobulus. When Alexander died in 76BC, Salome took over the kingship and concentrated power on her sons:
- Hyrcanus II, and
Salome’s brother Simon Ben Shetah was among the Pharisees and became the president of the Sanhedrin. Under the leadership of Simon Ben Shetah, the Sanhedrin decreed that every young man should receive an education. Elementary School was started in every town and village; education was built around Old Testament and Scriptures, and schools were usually held in the synagogue. When he won, John Hyrcanus II was abandoned by his people, moving to the more influential group. An arrangement was made by the two brothers where the dignity of a king and High Priesthood passed to Aristobulus II. Even at that, the hatred did not die down because John Hyrcanus would not let go.
Somebody named Antipater, a governor in Idumea under Alexander Janaeus began to side with John Hyrcanus II; with him, they enlisted the support of the Nabataen king (Aretas). He promised that if he succeeded, he would return all the cities taken away from Alexander Janaeus, so the king, with Antipater, marched. Still, before they could succeed in their mission, Rome intervened, and as a more substantial power, Rome won the battle, and from then, Rome was to determine the faith of whatever happened in the Ancient East.
Rome conquered Antipater and Nabataen king; the two parties fighting in Judah appeared before the Roman General Pompey. The two wooed him to their sides and told him he had the right to abolish kingship and restore the ancient priesthood. Pompey was not in haste to decide and instead waited to see how events would turn out.