Bible Time Period: Maccabean Revolt
Mattathias and his sons stood up against the threats of Hellenization: Help me resist worldliness in the culture and follow only you.
After Jonathan’s death, his brother Simon, the last remaining son of Mattathias, becomes supreme leader of the Jews under Roman authority. He is named at the same time high priest, governor, and Ethnarch*. That the roles of king and priest are combined in one man is unique to this time. Simon Maccabeus’ son John Hurcanus serves, like his father, as both king and high priest. He is the founder of the Hasmonean dynasty.
I Maccabees takes the story up to 135 BC. The Hasmoneans continued to rule semi-autonomously for a number of years and became essentially independent in about 110 BC. In 63 BC, two brothers fought for the throne and Rome intervened. The battle ended with Hyrcanus II (a Hasmonean) in power but with Judah a Roman protectorate. Hasmonean rule ended in 37 BC when the pro-Roman Herod the Great was made king of the Jews.
1 Maccabees is more than a history of the leadership and battles of the Maccabees (and the Hasmonean dynasty) during the 2nd century BC. Its greater purpose is to showcase the providence and protection of God and the importance of staying true to the Covenant even to death. This period helps to set the scene for the fulfillment of God’s promises in the New Testament. With the Maccabean Revolt, the Old Testament periods end on a high note with great examples of courage and faith.
*An “ethnarch” is a political ruler over a common ethnic group. It was used at this time to refer to rulers of vassal kingdoms.
Key Verse to Remember from the Period of the Maccabean Revolt
“And Mattathias and his friends went about and tore down the altars … They rescued the law out of the hands of the Gentiles and kings, and they never let the sinner gain the upper hand” (1 Macc 2:45,58).
Think back to the promises God made to Abraham (see Day 6 of this reading challenge). At the end of the Old Testament – what progress has been made?
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