The Maccabees

The Jews were the first people, of whom we know, who were so devoted to their own religion as to refuse to worship or even admit the existence of other gods. This brought down upon them the first religious persecution. About a century and a half before Christ, their political masters, no longer Persians, but Greeks, sought to compel them to worship the Greek gods. At once these hitherto submissive subjects became the most resolute of rebels. Martyr after martyr suffered death by torture sooner than surrender the faith. An aged village priest, Mattathias, slew upon the alter the first of his parishioners who attempted to obey the hated command to sacrifice to the Grecian gods. Then Mattathias led his little community into the depths of the hills and defied the government. Many of the refugees died from hunger and exposure, as did their aged leader; but his sons took command of the devoted little band of survivors and defeated an army that was sent against them.

This was the beginning of the wars of the "Maccabees," as the sons of Mattathias were called. After many battles and a display of most devoted heroism the Maccabees succeeded in making the Jews once more free. They set up a second "Kingdom of Judea," which lasted until Rome took forcible possession of the country almost a century later.

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Read about The Maccabees in the The Story of the Greatest Nations and the Worlds Famous Events Vol 1

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