Theology Thursday ... On Friday: The Maccabean Revolt

"The Maccabees," by Wojciech Stattler (ca. 1842)

Many Christians don’t send time reading the so-called Old Testament “apocryphal books.” These are a series of works (the number varies, depending on the source) which appeared in versions of the Greek Old Testament in the 400 years or so before Christ’s advent. Protestants have not traditionally considered these as canonical, but they’re an invaluable historical bridge to help us better understand the intertestamental period.

In this excerpt from 1 Maccabees 1:54 – 2:70,1 we read about how the Maccabean Revolt began as the Seleucids, under Antiochus Epiphanes IV (yes, the one from the Daniel commentaries) attempted to Hellenize the region of Judea by force in 169 B.C., desecrating the temple and outlawing the Israelite religion.

And on the fifteenth day of Chislev, in the one hundred and forty-fifth year, they set up upon the altar an ‘abomination of desolation’, and in the cities of Judah on every side they established high-places; and they offered sacrifice at the doors of the houses and in the streets. And the books of the Law which they found they rent in pieces, and burned them in the fire. And with whomsoever was found a book of the covenant, and if he was (found) consenting unto the Law, such an one was, according to the king’s sentence, condemned to death. Thus did they in their might to the Israelites who were found month by month in their cities.

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