King provoked revolt

One of the most spectacular periods of Jewish history came during the Maccabees' revolt against Syria.

The revolt was rooted in history. In about 233 B.C., Antiochus III, surnamed the Great, became king of Syria, continuing the dynasty founded by Seleucus, one of Alexander's generals. Antiochus attempted to wrest control of lower Syria, Phoenicia and Palestine from Egypt, whose monarch was Ptolemy IV.After Ptolemy IV died in 203 B.C., Antiochus IV invaded the Holy Land and, in 198 B.C., added Palestine to the Selecuid Empire. Before long, however, Antiochus IV was forced to pay a heavy tribute to the Roman emperor.

"To raise this money," states The Bible Almanac, published by Thomas Nelson Publishers,

Antiochus IVT decided to sell the office of Jewish high priest. First, he sold it to Jason, a brother of the high priest Onias III. Two years later, Jason's friend Menelaus offered to pay 300 talents more for the office; Antiochus deposed Jason and put Menelaus in his place.

"Antiochus then went on a rampage. He confiscated the property of Jerusalem's citizens and ransacked the temple to fill his treasury. Then he set up a pagan altar in the temple, where he sacrificed a pig - an outright violation of Mosaic Law. Antiochus ordered his subjects to build Greek altars in all the villages of Palestine. He outlawed Mosaic rituals, punishing those who attempted to observe them.

"The insults of Antiochus IV enraged the Jews of Palestine. In 166 B.C. a group of rebels gathered around Mattathias and his five sons in the village of Modein, a few miles northwest of Jerusalem. They began a series of attacks on Antiochus and his successors. Historians call this conflict the Maccabean Wars, after Mattathias' son, Judas Maccabeus."

The period of the Maccabees lasted a about 100 years, from 164 B.C. to 63 B.C.

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