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10. A Jewish King Reigns In Jerusalem

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After word spread of the Abomination of Desolation, the tension between Judah and its Seleucid Hellenist overlords was so great, it wouldn’t have taken much of a spark to set off a rebellion. Chapter 2 of 1 Maccabees describes the events that took place in the town of Modein where a priest, Mattathias performed the first act of rebellion

What Specifically Started the Jewish Revolt?

The first chapter of 1 Maccabees * up the events between the time of Alexander and the time of Antiochus IV. It describes Antiochus IV attempts to Hellenize Judah. It also

describes Antiochus’ theft of Temple goods and the Abomination of Desolation

* Catholic Bibles

contain Books 1 and 2 of the Maccabees in their Old Testament. Some Orthodox Bibles add Books 3 and 4. These books do not appear in the Hebrew Scriptures or in the Old Testament of Protestant Bibles.

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How Did Mattathias Begin the Revolt?

• Mattathias, a descendant of a man named Asmoneas (the source of the name

Hasmonean that would later be applied to a dynasty of Jewish kings

descended from Mattathias), was a priest in the town of Modein.

Mattathias (d. 166 BCE)

John Simon (r. 143-134 BCE) (d. 134 BCE)

HP, E

Judas (r. 166-160 BCE)

(d. 160 BCE) Jonathan (r. 160-143 BCE)(d. 143 BCE) HP 152-143

Eleazar

• Mattathias refused and killed a fellow townsman who tried to obey the King’s

command. He next killed the King’s legate. Finally, he called on the people of Modein to flee with him to the mountains and resist the command of the King to apostatize. He and his sons formed a guerilla force in the mountains. Mattathias died soon after and was replaced by his son, Judas Maccabee (the Hammer) This story is described in Chapter 2 of 1 Macc.

• A legate sent by Antiochus IV came to Modein to enforce the King’s command that

all men must offer sacrifice to pagan gods. Mattathias was the town’s priest and so was asked to serve as an example and step up to be the first man in Modein to obey the King’s command.

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What Role Did Judas Maccabeus Play in the Revolt?

• Against overwhelming odds Judas defeated

several generals of the Seleucid army including a general named Lysias.

Mattathias (d. 166 BCE)

John Simon (r. 143-134 BCE) (d. 134 BCE) HP, E Judas (r. 166-160 BCE) (d. 160 BCE) Jonathan (r. 160-143 BCE) (d. 143 BCE) HP 152-143 Eleazar

• When Antiochus IV died, Lysias became the regent

of the new Seleucid child-king Antiochus V. Lysias defeated Judas in a second battle but, because his forces were needed elsewhere, Lysias agreed to a truce that allowed the Jewish people to be exempt from earlier decrees of Hellenization and were allowed to maintain their traditional culture and worship. Judas’ brother Eleazar died in this second battle with Lysias.

• Judas captured Jerusalem and much of the

surrounding land. He cleansed the Temple that had been defiled by Antiochus IV (origin of Hanukkah).

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What Happened to Judas Maccabeus?

• Demetrius I, took the Seleucid throne away from

the child Antiochus V. Some of the Jewish people, happy under the Seleucids (not all Jews were anti-Hellenist), opposed Judas and asked Demetrius I for protection.

Mattathias (d. 166 BCE)

John Simon (r. 143-134 BCE) (d. 134 BCE) HP, E Judas (r. 166-160 BCE) (d. 160 BCE) Jonathan (r. 160-143 BCE) (d. 143 BCE) HP 152-143 Eleazar

These stories of Judas Maccabeus are described in 1 Macc. 3:1-9:22 • Judas fought back but was killed in a series of

reprisals. His men regrouped in the mountains

• Demetrius I appointed their candidate, Alcimus

who claimed to be a Zadokite related to Onias (2 Macc. 14:7), as High Priest. Judas opposed the appointment but the Hasidim, who been key

supporters of Judas, broke with him on this issue. They favored Alcimus because of his alleged

lineage. To show his appreciation, Alcimus later slaughtered a number of his Hasidim supporters proving Judas right.

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What Role Did Judah’s Brother Jonathan Maccabeus Play?

• More a politician than his brother Judas, Jonathan

did not immediately act but bided his time. He finally acted when yet another “Game of Thrones” broke out among the Seleucids.

Mattathias (d. 166 BCE)

John Simon (r. 143-134 BCE) (d. 134 BCE)

HP, E

Judas (r. 166-160 BCE)

(d. 160 BCE) Jonathan (r. 160-143 BCE)(d. 143 BCE)

HP 152-143

Eleazar

• As a reward, Jonathan was named governor of

Judah and High Priest in Jerusalem. His brother Simon was named Governor of the region of the Philistines

• At first, Jonathan played both sides against the

other but, at just the right time, he gave his

support to the eventual winner, Alexander Balas.

• Jonathan’s forces expanded the amount of

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What Happened to Jonathan?

• Alexander Balas’ victory was short-lived. The

“Game of Thrones” continued as Alexander’s rival, Demetrius II, won the day but, for some reason, Demetrius II chose not to confront Jonathan.

Mattathias (d. 166 BCE)

John Simon (r. 143-134 BCE) (d. 134 BCE)

HP, E

Judas (r. 166-160 BCE)

(d. 160 BCE) Jonathan (r. 160-143 BCE)(d. 143 BCE)

HP 152-143

Eleazar

These stories are described in 1 Macc. 9:23 through 12:53

• Antiochus VI was the next Seleucid to step to

the plate. He claimed the throne against Demetrius II. Trypho, a supporter of

Antiochus VI, was worried about Jonathan’s political skills, especially his political

exchanges with Rome which were first undertaken by his brother Judas. Trypho schemed to capture and kill Jonathan to get him out of the way. He succeeded.

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• Simon succeeded Jonathan and aligned himself

with Demetrius II over Antiochus VI in this latest internal battle of the Seleucids. Demetrius II won. When he took the throne @143 BCE, he granted Jewish independence. “the yoke of the heathen was lifted from Israel” (1 Mac. 13:41)

Mattathias (d. 166 BCE)

John Simon (r. 143-134 BCE) (d. 134 BCE)

HP, E

Judas (r. 166-160 BCE)

(d. 160 BCE) Jonathan (r. 160-143 BCE)(d. 143 BCE) HP 152-143

Eleazar

These stories are described in Chapters 13 through 16 of 1 Macc.

What Role Did Jonathan’s Brother Simon Maccabeus Play?

• Simon became the political leader (King,

though he did not take that title), religious leader (High Priest) and military commander of the newly independent land. The goal of the Maccabean family had finally been

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What Happened to Simon Maccabeus?

• The new kingdom did not last long. About five years

after taking a leadership role in Judah, Simon was killed by his son-in-law, Ptolemy, who conspired with the Seleucid supporters of Antiochus VI.

Simon (r. 143-134 BCE) (d. 134 BCE)

HP, E

Mattathias (d. 166 BCE)

John Judas (r. 166-160 BCE)

(d. 160 BCE) Jonathan (r. 160-143 BCE)(d. 143 BCE) HP 152-143

Eleazar

These stories are described in Chapters 13 through 16 of 1 Macc. 2 Macc. Does not go beyond the events pf 1 Macc. rather looks at those same events from a different perspective

• As a side note; the fifth son of Mattathias, John

also called Gaddi, died on what was thought to be a peaceful mission to the Nabateans

• Simon expanded even further the territory governed

from Jerusalem. Since Simon didn’t actually claim the title of king, some claim that he did not begin the

Hasmonean line of Jewish kings. Others dispute that claim

• Simon’s son John managed to escape but Judah,

though independent, was once again a client kingdom of the Seleucids

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Who Was the First Hasmonean to be King in Jerusalem?

Simon (r. 143-134 BCE) HP, E (d. 134 BCE)

John Hyrcanus I (r. 134-104 BCE) HP, E (d. 104 BCE)

• During the first seven years of Hyrcanus’ rule, the

Kingdom, though independent, still relied heavily on the favor of the Seleucids, now ruled by

Antiochus VII. In 128 BCE Antiochus VII died, and the independence of the Jewish nation was now guaranteed by their new ally, Rome.

• Those who do not believe that Simon Maccabee

was the first Hasmonean king hold that this honor belongs to Simon’s son, John who took the name Hyrcanus. After his escape, John returned and managed to reclaim his father’s throne. Unlike his father Simon, John also took the title of King. A Jewish King once again ruled in Judah. Nearby territories such as Samaria, Perea and Idumea came under the rule of Jerusalem in Judah

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Was John Hyrcanus a Hellenist or a Traditional Jewish King?

Simon (r. 143-134 BCE) HP, E (d. 134 BCE)

John Hyrcanus I (r. 134-104 BCE) HP, E (d. 104 BCE)

• John Hyrcanus was a devout Jew and, as he

expanded his kingdom, he imposed the Mosaic law on those whom he conquered. This is very likely when the family of an Idumean man named Antipater, whom we will encounter later, converted to Judaism. He was also maintained good relations with Rome and Ptolemaic Egypt.

• The Sadducees, who favored the Hellenistic culture

of the Seleucids, opposed Hyrcanus’ reforms

• John put scribes from the Hassidim in charge of

imposing the law. The Pharisees grew out of this movement as did the Essenes, though they

chose to isolate themselves from politics

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The Hasmoneans and the Messiah

Yes. In a very real sense they were not unlike the Judges who saved Israel over and over again after the death of Joshua were Messiahs

These men took advantage of internal strife with the once mighty Seleucid Empire and brought a King to the throne in Jerusalem who ruled a Kingdom not much different in size than that of David and Solomon defeated

As we view these events through twenty-first century eyes, it does seem silly. You must remember, though, that Judah had just defeated another once mighty empire by taking advantage of a civil war. Less that twenty years after Roman occupation, Rome went through its own series of civil wars. This did not escape anyone’s attention

Did the Jewish people actually believe they could defeat the mighty Roman Empire?

As we shall soon see, Rome took advantage of internal strife within the Hasmonean Kingdom to assert their dominance over it. But Rome did not immediately do away with the King. That took time.

When they finally did away with a King, a few years after Jesus’ birth, the desire for a King burned again in many hearts in Judah

How did this affect Jewish yearnings for a Messiah during the Roman occupation? Were the members of the Maccabees family, the Hasmoneans, messiahs?

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What Happened to the Kingdom After Hyrcanus Died?

(Judah) Aristobulus I (r. 104-103 BCE) HP,E

(d. 103 BCE) (Jonathan) Alexander Janaeus (r. 103-76 BCE) HP, K(d. 143 BCE) married Salome Alexandra (r. 76-69 BCE) Q

(d. 69 BCE)

John Hyrcanus I (r. 134-104 BCE) HP, E (d. 104 BCE)

• John Hyrcanus was an effective King and devout Jew who was aligned with the

Pharisees. His children however, raised in the luxury of the palace, were less devout and more at home with the Hellenistic culture so loved by the Sadducees

• By this time, the Hellenist Sadducees and the Hebrewist Pharisees had developed

into true political parties. Alexander, more at home with the Sadducees, decided to “make peace” with Pharisees. Shortly thereafter Alexander slaughtered 800

Pharisees at a dinner supposedly in their honor

• The surviving brother, Jonathan, succeeded Aristobulus. He married Alexandra, his

brother’s widow. Jonathan took the Greek name Alexander Janaeus.

• John died in 104 BCE. His wife ought to have become Queen and his son, Judah (who

preferred the Greek name Aristobulus) to become the High Priest. Instead, Aristobulus had his mother and all his brothers arrested. All but one starved to death in prison. Aristobulus himself died a year after taking power

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A Coin From the Time of Alexander Janaeus

Note that the coin’s inscription uses the Paleo-Hebrew script based on the

Phoenician alphabet rather than the Hebrew Block Script in use at the time. The

Hebrew script in use today is known as square script, block script or Assyrian

script. One entry in the Talmud suggests that Ezra introduced the modern block

script into Hebrew. Paleo-Hebrew was never abandoned by the Samaritans and

continues to be used today by the few hundred Samaritans that remain in Israel

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Who Ruled Judah After Alexander Janaeus?

• On his deathbed, Alexander Janaeus, repented of his Hellenistic ways and advised his

wife, the new queen Salome (age 64 at the time) to avoid the Sadducees and rule according to traditional Jewish laws

Aristobulus I (r. 104-103 BCE) HP,E

(d. 103 BCE) (Jonathan) Alexander Janaeus (r. 103-76 BCE) HP, K(d. 76 BCE)

married Salome Alexandra (r. 76-69 BCE) Q (d. 69 BCE)

John Hyrcanus I (r. 134-104 BCE) HP, E (d. 104 BCE)

Aristobulus II (r. 69-63 BCE) HP,K (d. 49 BCE)

Hyrcanus II (r. 47-41BCE) E (76-69 and 63-41) HP (d. 30 BCE)

• When Salome Alexandra died, the same kind of internal strife that caused the

Seleucids so much pain started in Judah

• During Salome’s reign, the Pharisees held the upper hand over the Sadducees. Being

a woman, Salome could not serve as High Priest. She appointed her son, Hyrcanus II, to that post. He was rumored to have a somewhat weak personality. Her other son, Aristobulus II was appointed as commander of the military

(16)

Internal Strife in Judah

• Hyrcanus II, the High Priest at the time of Salome’s death, ruled as King. Aristobulus

II, immediately led an army of Sadducees against Jerusalem . Hyrcanus II and the Pharisees were caught by surprise and surrendered without a fight. Aristobulus II then proclaimed himself to be both King and High Priest over the Jewish nation

Salome Alexandra (r. 76-69 BCE) Q (d. 69 BCE)

Aristobulus II (r. 69-63 BCE) HP,K (d. 49 BCE)

Hyrcanus II (r. 47-41BCE) E (76-69 and 63-41) HP (d. 30 BCE)

Alexandra (d. 27 BCE) ---- m --- Alexander (d. 49 BCE) Antigonus (r. 40-37 BCE) HP, K (d. 37 BCE)

• Hyrcanus II may well have managed to regain his throne so Aristobulus II, sensing

defeat, decided to appeal to his ally, Rome, for help

• The two bothers tried to resolve their differences. They sealed this

reconciliation by the marriage of their children. The reconciliation didn’t last.

Hyrcanus II fled to Nabatea and there met a man named Antipater, the governor of the Jewish province of Idumea (ancient Edomites among whom Ishmael and later Esau lived). Antipater urged Hyrcanus II to reclaim his throne. Hyrcanus and allies from Nabatea laid siege against Aristobulus II in Jerusalem

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An Important Life Lesson

Who is more dangerous, your brother who wants to regain his position as

King and High Priest or this man?

Hi, I’m

from the Roman Government and I’m

here to help!

References

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