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madman at defiance and professed their belief that “ The King of the World would raise up to everlasting life those who died for his laws;" and threatening their tormentor that " he should have no resurrection to lise, but receive the just punishment of his pride through the judgment of God.” Never before were the Jews exposed to so furious a persecution—indeed it is the first time in which they can be said to have been persecuted on account of their religion. It was undoubtedly made instrumental in ihe then great mission of the Jews in calling the attention of the heathen to the great principles of doctrine of which they had been the special conservators. The mere fact of this conspicuous persecution for opinion, which was a new thing to the heathen, and still more the historical results of this persecution, were calculated to draw the aitention of every reflecting mind among the heathen to those religious peculiarities on behalf of which such numbers of the Jewish people were willing to peril their lives.
The persecution had lasted about six months, when God raised up a deliverer for a people whom he had not yet abandoned, in the noble family of ihe Asamoneans. MATTATHIAS was the son of John, the son of Simon, the son of Asamonias, from whom the family took its name. He was a priest of the course of Joarib, the first of the twenty-four courses appointed by David (1 Chron. xxiv. 7), descended from Phineas, the son of Eleazer, the elder branch of the family of Aaron (1 Macc. ii. 55). He had five sous, whose names were JOHANAN (John), Simon, JUDAS, Eleazer, and JONATHAN. He was one of the principal inhabitants of Modin, a town near the seashore, about a mile from Joppa (Jafia), and four miles from Lydda or Diospolis. To this city a roval officer named Appelles was sent to enforce the edict. With many fair promises, he endeavored to induce Mattathias, as a leading man in the place, to set ihe example of sacrificing to the idul. But the undaunted priest repelled his offers with indignation and abhorrence, and with a loud voice, in the hearing of the whole assembly, proclaimed his refusal to sacrifice. At this juncture a certain Jew passed toward the aliar with the intention of sacrificing, when Mattathias, in obedience to the law, struck him down with his own hand, as a rebel against Jehovah. This was the earnest-blood of the great war which followed. Kindled by his own act, the zealous priest and his sons, assisted by the citizens, whom their daring act emboldened, rushed upon the commissioner and his retinue, slew them on the spot, and tore town the idolatrous allar. Alive to the consequences of this deed, Matiathias proclaimed through the city, “ Whosoever is zealous for the law, and a maintainer of the covenant, let him follow me!” Thus he and his sons fled to the mountains of Judea. They were only ten in number at first, but were soon joined by many Jews who were de ermined to maintain the religion of their fathers.
These conscientious persons were disposed to construe the obligations of the law all the more rigidly and literally, out of opposition to the loose principles of those who had joined the Greeks-it being the tendency of all great struggles to produce extreme parties. They hence held it to be imperative to abstain from the use of arms on the sabbath day. In consequence of this a thousand persons, who had taken refuge in a large cave not far from Jerusalem, allowed themselves to be slaughtered on that day without the least resistance. This event opened the eyes of Matiathias and his adherents; who, after mature deliberation, determined that it was not only lawful, but their duty, to stand on their defence on the sabbath day; although they still thought themselves bound from voluntarily becoming on that day the assailants. They took every means of making this resolution known throughoui the country, so that from that time no scruples on the subject were entertained.
Meanwhile the party of Mattathias went on steadily increasing, until it amounted to a considerable body of men, who were prepared to hazard everything in defence of their religion. This ardor could not long be restrained, and Mattarhias, emerging from his concealment, went with them throughout the Jewish cities, and everywhere de: molished the idolatrous altars, circumcised the children, slew the apostate Jews and the officers appointed to execute the decree of Antiochus, recovered many of the copies of the law which the oppressors had taken away, and gained several important advantages over the enemy. While engaged in these expeditions the heroic priest died, in the year B. C. 167. Before his death he appointed his third and bravesi son, Judas, to be military leader; associating with him Simon, his second and most prudent son, as counsellor. Judas is supposed to have derived his celebrated surname of Maccabeus from a cabalistic word formed of M. C. B. I., the initial letters of the He
brew text Mi Chamoka Blalim Jehovah, Who is like unto thee among the gods, 0 Jehovah !" (Exod. vi. 11), which letters might have been displayed on his sacred standard: like the S. P. Q. R. for Senutus populus que Romanus on the Roman ensigns.
The noble war for the rights of opinion commenced by Mattathias was carried on for twenty-six years by his illustrious sons-counting from the first stroke at Modinwith five successive kings of Syria. Within this period Judas and his brothers established the independence of their country and the aggrandizement of their family, afier destroying above iwo hundred thousand of the best troops of the Syrian kings: “Such a triumph of a petty province over a great empire is hardly to be paralleled in the annals of history.” (Hales ii. 551.)
The first enterprise of Judas, and his comparatively small but resolute band, was against Apollonius, whose barbarous exploiis at Jerusalem have lately been recorded. He was at the head of a large army, but was defeated and slain by Judas, who took his sword, with which he afterward fought all his life long.
The next exploit of Judas was the defeat of Seron, a Syrian general, with a large host of Græcising Jews and apostare Samaritans. The small force with which he achieved this victory was encouraged by the hero in the words of Jonathan, the son of Saul, “ With the God of Heaven it is all one to deliver with a great multitude or a small company :"adding the emphatic words, We fight for our lives and our laws." This battle was fought near Betheron.
Antiochus was filled with rage and indignation at these successes of an adversary which seemned so contemptible, but whose fame had now spread into all the neigh. boring nations. He formed large plans of vengeance, but finding these checked by the exhausted state of his treasury-for he had squandered wealih like a madman, as he was-he resolved to proceed into the easiern provinces to recruit his finances. His son, the heir of his crown, then about seven years old, he committed to the care of Lysias, “a nobleman, and one of ihe blood royal,” and appointed bim regent of all the wesiern provinces, from the Euphraies to Egypt, and commissioned him to raise and mareh an army to extirpate the Jews, and to plant a foreign colony in their room, B. C. 166.
The next year Lysias was able to send a large army of forty thousand foot and seren thousand horse into Judea, under the command of Nicanor and Gorgias. So confident were they of victory thai Nicanor proclaimed a sale of the captive Jews beforehand, at the rate of ninety for a talent, or about two pounds sierling a head. This drew a crowd of merchants from the coast to the Syrian camp at Emmaus, near Jerusalem, to make a cheap purchase of slaves. This was not a peculiar circumstance; for it was then usual (according to Polybius) for the march of armies to be attended by slave-dealers. Under these alarming circumstances Judas and his party assembleu ai Mizpeh-that ancient place of concourse-where they tasied and prayed; after which Judas, in obedience to the law, dismissed all such of his mien as had in the course of the preceding year built houses, betrothed wives, or were planting vineyards, or were fearsul; and this strong act of faith reduced his small army from six thousand to three thousand men.
The Syrian generals deemed it superfluous 10 employ their large force against so small a body. Gorgias, therefore, with a chosen army of five thousand fooi and one thousand horse, marched by night to surprise the arny of Judas. But that vigilant commander was apprized of the design, and determined to take advantage of the separation of the iwo generals. He marched therefore early in the evening, and fell by night upon the camp of Nicanor. Not the least expectation of an attack being entertained, the whole camp was thrown into confusion, and the soldiers fled. Three thousand Syrians were slain, and many soldiers and slave-dealers made prisoners. Early in the morning Gorgias, returning from his abortive march to Mizpeh, beheld the Syrian camp in flames, which th his soldiers into such a panic that they be took ihemselves to instant flight; but were pressed upon so vigorously by the conquering Jews, that in all they destroyed that day vine thousand of their enemies, and wounded many more. Nicanor escaped in the disguise of a slave to Antioch, declaring his conviction that a mighty God fought for ihe Jews. In the camp of the Syrians the latter found great quantities of gold and silver, including the money which the slave-dealers had brought to purchase iheir persons. This viciory was celebrated by a feast of thanksgiving.
On the news of this defeat, the regent Lysias assembled a larger army of sixty thousand choice infantry, and five thousand horse, and marched himself at their head, to invade Judea in the south. He entered Idumea, which name must be understood as distinguishing the more modern territory of the Edomites, from their older and more southern territory of Edom, in Mount Seir, which the Nabathæans now occupied. Idumea was now, then, confined to the region west and southwest of the Asphaltic lake, which had in former times belonged to the tribes of Simeon and Judah. But after the Captivity it had been occupied by Edomites from Arabia Petræa, the ancient Edom, who made Hebron their capital, and rebuilt, on their northern frontier, the strong fortress of Bethsur, or Bethsura, which had been originally built by Rehoboam. (2 Chron. xi.7.) At this last-named very advantageous post, Lysias encamped, and was there set upon by the dauntless Judas, who, with only ten thousand men, gained a most important victory, slaying five thousand inen on the spot, and putting the rest to flight. Observing that the Jews fought like men who were determined to conquer or die, Lysias did not venture to renew the engagement, and indeed his soldiers were so disheartened that he was
soon obliged to return to Antioch, and there issue orders that recruits for a new expedition should be raised in distant countries, B. C. 165.
This victory made Judas master of Judea ; and he determined to return to Jerusalem, to repair and beautify the temple, which was then deserted and dilapidated. In the neglected courts of the Lord's house shrubs were growing “as in the forest or on the mountain.” The whole host cast ashes on their heads, and cried toward heaven, when they beheld the desolation of that holy place. The work of restoration was commenced with ardor; new utensils were provided for the sacred services; the old altar, having been defiled by idolatrous sacrifices, was taken away, and a new one erected in its place; and the sacrifices were recommenced precisely three years after the temple had been dedicated to Jupiter Olympius. A feast of eight days celebrated this new dedication, and an annual festival was instituted in honor of the event.
The castle on Mount Zion soon, however, proved a serious annoyance to the people, as it was still in the hands of the Syrians, who lost no opportunity of disturbing ihe services of the temple. The army of Judas was too small to allow him to blockade the castle, but he foruified the temple-mount against their aggressions with high walls and towers. He also strengthened the important fortress of Bethsura, to protect the frontier toward Idumea, as it lay about mid-way between Jerusalem and Hebron.
When Antiochus Epiphanes received intelligence of the success of the Jewish arms, and the defeat of the Syrian hosts, he was at Elymias in Persia, detained by an insurrection occasioned by his plundering the celebrated temple in which his father Antiochus the Great had lost his life. Transported with ungovernable passion at the news, he hastened his homeward march to Antioch, devoting the Jewish nation to utter destruction. But while his mouth utiered the deep curses and fell purposes of his heart, he was smitten with sore and remediless tormenis in his inner paris. Yet on he went, until he fell fror his chariot, and suffered much from the fall. He was then carried on a litter, but his disease acquired such a loathsome character that his person became an abhorrence to himself and to all who had occasion to be near him. În a disease so timed and so peculiar, the proud monarch was led to perceive the kand of God, and to acknowledge that his barbarities and sacrileges were justly punished by the torments which he endured and by the death which lay before him. He died early in the year 164 B. C., and in him perished a man whose wild extravagances dissolute and undignified character, savage cruelties, and capricious alternations of temper, abundantly justified the nickname of Epimanes, “madman” by which in his later years his assumed title of Epiphanes “illustrious” was ridiculed.
Antiochus V., surnamed Eupator“ well-fathered”, then a child nine years of age, was set up for king by his guardian Lysias, and his succession received the important sanction of the Romans; for although Demetrius (the son of Seleucus Philopator), still a hostage at Rome, and then twenty-three years of age, failed not to urge his claims upon the attention of the senate, that sage body decided that it was more for the interests of Rome that a minor should occupy the throne of Syria, than the ardent and able Demetrius.
In the year 164 B. C., the war against the Maccabees was renewed by the regent Lysias. He invaded Judea with an army of eighty thousand foot, eighty elephants, and a large body of cavalry. He laid siege to Beihsura, but was repulsed by Judas, with the loss of eleven tnousand foot, and one thousand six hundred horse, and his whole army was broken up. This defeat convinced Lysias that the Jews could not be overcome, because of the almightiness of the God by whom they were helped. He therefore offered them peace, on the condition of their being loyal to the staie ; on their acceptance of which, he issued a decree in the name of the king, which allowed them the free exercise of their own customs and worship, and permitted them to live according to their own laws. The apostate high-priest Menelaus, who had been all this while with the Syrians, and had exerted bimself in promoting this peace, was now sent back to the Jews to be reinstated in his pontificate. It is of some importance to note that the Roman ambassadors at the Syrian court used their efficient aid in obtaining this treaty for the Jews.
The peace thus afforded was of no long continuance: for although, formally, the war with the kingdom had ceased, the governors of the Syrian provinces were not backward in giving the Jews all the molestation in their power, and in encouraging such of the neighboring nations as were, from old or new enmities, disposed to disturb them—such as the Joppites, the Jamnites, the Arabians, and the Idumeans, all of whom were successively reduced by Judas, after a bloody warfare, the particulars of which are recorded in 2 Macc. x. 14-38; xi. 1-33.
All this time the citadel on Mount Zion, garrisoned by Syrians and renegade Jews, continued to prove a great annoyance to the temple worship, which at last proved so intolerable, that Judas was induced to lay siege to it, after his return from the defeat of Gorgias the governor of Idumea. But some of the besieged, forcing their way through in a sally, hastened to the court at Antioch, and complained of the continued hostiliiy of the Jews to the Syrian government, as eviuced by this attempt upon the Syrian garrison; and by dwelling on this and other matters, contrived io stir up Lysias to undertake a new war against them. The Syrian army which was raised for this war in B. C. 163, consisted of one hundred thousand foot, iwenty thousand horse, thirtytwo elephants, and three hundred chariots armed with scythes—a prodigious force in that age, when, on account of the extravagant wages which soldiers received, it was difficult to keep more than eighty thousand men in the field. The young king was present in the camp, but of course Lysias was the actual commander. The Jews did not venture to attack the royal army in the open field. But while the Syrians laid seige to Bethsura, Judas fell upon them in the night, slew four thousand of them before they well knew who was among them, and drew off safely by break of day. The day after, a battle took place, in which the Syrians lost six hundred men; but Judas, fearing to be surrounded by the numbers of the enemy, thought proper to retire to Jerusalem, the fortifications of which he now strengthened and put in a state of defence. In this battle Judas lost his brother Eleazer. That valiant man perceiving one of the elephants more splendidly caparisoned than the others, mistakenly supposed it to be that of the king, and fought his way to it, got under it, stabbed it in the belly, and was crushed to death by the fall of the huge beast upon him.
It being a sabbatic year of rest to the land, Bethsura soon after surrendered for lack of provisions; and Jerusalem, which was next besieged, must have shared the same fate, and all the advantages which had been gained appeared now to be on the point of being lost for ever; when providentially the young king and his guardian were recalled by a civil war at hoine, commenced by Philip, who had been appointed regent by Antiochus Epiphanes before his death, to the exclusion of Lysias, whose ill success in the former war with the Jews had been highly displeasing to him. When this intelligence reached the camp, the king and council hastily concluded a peace with ihe Jews on the former terms—that they should be allowed io live according to their own laws. The siege was then broken up, but the treaty was violated by the Syrians in the demolition of the strong walls of the mount on which the temple stood. The royal army was then marched against Philip, who had gotten possession of Antioch, the metropolis, but who was defeated and slain.
Now at last the traitor and a postate Menelaus met the fate he had long deserved. At the approach of the Syrian army he had abandoned his countrymen, and had stimulated the operations against them by his advice and counsel, in the secret hope of being made governor of the province, if Judas and his party were destroyed. But the intended mischief recoiled on his own wicked head. On the conclusion of the peace, he was viewed by the king and regent as the author of all these unhappy wars,