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death the instrument by which it was effected, and sent messengers to Antiochus, complaining of its vile author.
In strict fulfilment of the divine prediction in Daniel xi. 25, this vile king advanced with his armies, and conquered Egypt. Ptolemy Philometer fell into his hands, but he was not destroyed. On the contrary, he had his liberty, and sat at the table of Antiochus, as Daniel predicted he would, v. 27.-" And both these kings' hearts shall be to do mischief, and they shall speak lies at one table.” The Jews had a false report of his death, and Jason immediately marched into the city with a thousand men, to avenge himself on Menelaus. Antiochus hearing of this, and of the rejoicings in Jerusalem, supposed that the whole city and nation had revolted from him, and hastily marched into Jerusalem, put to death 40,000 persons, and sold an equal number for slaves. He broke into the Holy of holies, robbed the temple of the altar of incense, the shew-bread, table, and the candlestick of seven branches, which were all of gold; the recent gifts of friendly monarchs; and to show his contempt and hatred of the Jewish religion, he sacrificed a hog upon the altar of burnt offering. He made Philip, a man of ferocious spirit, governor of Judea, and restored Menelaus to the High Priesthood. Jason died a miserable vagabond. In about two years, the Egyptians revolted from Antiochus, and he again fell furiously on them. But the Romans interposed, and demanded a cessation of hostilities. Antiochus, having read the decree of the senate, said he would consult with his friends about it. But the Roman Ambassador drew around him a circle in the sand, and required his answer before he passed its bounds. Afraid of this bold and rising power, he acquiesced; but he turned and wreaked his vengeance on the unoffending Jews. He sent twenty-two thousand men under Appollonius, to sack Jerusalem. The inhabitants were unaware of his horrid intentions, until the Sabbath after his arrival; when all being assembled for worship, he let loose upon them his troops, who butchered all the men within their reach, took the women and children to sell for slaves; set fire to the houses; demolished the walls, and carried away all the treasure. The Temple was suffered to stand, but a fortress was built near it, for the molestation of all who should approach it, so that no one dared to come near, and the daily sacrifice ceased. Such as escaped the carnage fled to the mountains, and lived in great distress and hardships.
Antiochus gloried in the greatest barbarities. In the language of Daniel, he had “peculiar indignation against the holy covenant," and he determined to destroy the Jewish religion, or extirpate the nation. He issued, therefore, a decree, that all nations within his dominions should forsake their former rites and usages, and should conform to the religion of the king, and worship as he worshipped, under the severest penalties. To ensure success, he placed inspectors in every province, and directed them to treat the disobedient, (and these he knew would be Jews only,) with the greatest severity. An old and cruel minister, one Atheneas, was sent to Jerusalem with a commission to destroy any one who offered sacrifices to the God of Israel, or observed the Sabbath, or practised circumcision. He consecrated the temple of Jehovah to Jupiter Olympus, and set up his statue upon the altar of burnt-offering. He also set up altars, groves, and statues in all parts of his dominion, and required an absolute uniformity of worship, or the forfeiture of life. It was one of the boldest attempts to extirpate the religion of a nation, ever made.
But God was in the midst of his church, and the gates of hell could not prevail against her. The land might be desolate; the Temple might be shut up or polluted; the daily sacrifice might cease, but there were many temples of the Holy Ghost in which the fire of devotion burned with unwonted brightness. It was, however, an awful season for the Jews. They were hid in the caves of the rocks, where they worshipped God, and subsisted on roots and herbs. Hypocrites threw off their disguises and proclaimed themselves heathen; and the Samaritans, who had said to the Jews in their prosperity, we will go with you, for we are bone of your bone, now ran to Antiochus, and declared themselves not to be Jews, and requested that their temple might be dedicated to the Grecian Jupiter. When the saints were brought to martyrdom, their intrepid firmness filled the tyrant with rage and madness. Among others who were put to a violent death, were the venerable Eleazer, and an aged woman, with her seven sons.* Their triumphant deaths strengthened their brethren, and the tyrant found it was not in his power to destroy the worship of Jehovah.
To violence, Antiochus added the most seducing arts to bring the Jews to a compliance with his orders. Among
* See plate 1.
his chief officers was one A pelles, whom he sent to the city of Modin, there to establish the heathen worship. Apelles assembled the people, and addressing Mattathias, a venerable priest, of the Asmonean family, endeavored by compliment and promises, to induce him to lead the way in apostatizing from God and sacrificing to the idol. But Mattathias feared God; and, with a loud voice, declared, in hearing of all the people, that “no consideration whatever, should induce him or any of his family, ever to forsake the law of their God; but that they would still walk in the covenant, which he had made with their forefathers, and observe all its ordinances, and that no commands of the king should make any of them depart from it.” Of such a man the world was not worthy. He stood for God in defiance of the greatest dangers. Looking round, he beheld an apostate already bowing before the idol which Apelles had set up. Immediately, with the zeal and spirit of Phinehas, and in obedience to the law of Moses, he ran upon him and slew him. By the assistance of his sons, he slew also Apelles, and those who attended him, destroyed the idol, and then filed to the, mountains.
It was the signal for revolt. It was the commencement of a defensive war, which terminated in the deliverance of Judah. Large numbers of Jews flocked immediately to his standard, and made a bold and vigorous defence of their civil and religious privileges. Finding that the royal army took great advantage of the Sabbath, Mattathias and his party agreed to defend themselves on that holy day. Their adversaries, therefore, had no opportunity to gain advantages over them as before; but were struck with terror at their boldness and fortitude, and every where yielded before them. The graven images were destroyed; the Jewish synagogues were opened;, the law and the prophets* were read; the practice of circumcision was revived; and, in the short space of a year, there was a general restoration of religious order.
Mattathias was permitted to enjoy but a little season his holy triumphs. The close of the year 166 B. C., saw him resting from his labors. With his dying breath he exhorted his sons to constancy and courage in defence of their liberties and the religion of their fathers. His son Judas,
* Antiochus forbade the reading of the law in the synagogues, and the Jews substituted the prophets. From this time both the law and the prophets were read every Sabbath day.
was appointed his successor. He raised a small but resolute army, and erected his standard, on which was inscribed a motto from Exodus XV.-6. Who is like unto thee among the gods, O Jehovah.” This was written by an abbreviation, formed by putting the initial letters of the Hebrew words together, which made the word MACCABEES. Hence all who fought under this standard were called Maccabees or Maccabeans.
Judas was an illustrious warrior. He soon made the Sy. rians, the Samaritans, and apostate Jews tremble before him. Powerful armies were sent against him, but were obliged to retire in ignominy. In his last battle he gained a signal victory with about 3,000 men, over Lysias, the Syrian governor, with an army of 65,000. The latter, abandoning all attempts to subdue the victorious Maccabees, they marched to Jerusalem, destroyed the idols which Antiochus had set up; pulled down the altar which the heathens had erected; purified the Temple, made a new altar, candlestick and table, of pure gold; hung a new veil before the Holy of holies, and caused the worship of God, which had been interrupted for three years and a half, to be resumed in its primitive splendor. In commemoration of this event, an annual festival was appointed, called the feast of dedication, which was continued until the days of our Savior, and honored by his presence. The Jews, however, were unable to take the tower, which overlooked the Temple. This, and the continual incursions of the surrounding nations, who were exasperated at the re-establishment of the Jewish nation and religion, marred exceedingly the happiness of the people, kept them humble, and tried their confidence in God, amid - the most astonishing victories.
While the Maccabees had been regaining their liberties, Antiochus was engaged in wars in the east; but no sooner had intelligence reached him of their boldness and success, . than he was filled with violent rage, and he resolved upon the entire extirpation of the whole house of Israel. But no sooner had he made his vow and set out upon his march towards the devoted nation, than he was seized with an incurable and horrid disease, which soon put an end to his life, 164 B. C. With his dying breath, he acknowledged that his sufferings were justly inflicted by the God of Israel, for his bitter persecutions of that people. This vile prince, and great oppressor of the Church, was more particularly pointed out by Daniel, in his eleventh chapter, from the twenti
eth verse, than any other ruler whom he noticed. Porphyry, one of the most bitter enemies to Christianity, acknowledged that no prophecies were ever delivered more clearly, or fulfilled more exactly, but said they were written after the events foretold had taken place, and were no other than historical narratives. But Daniel's prophecies were written in Chaldee, and had actually been translated into Greek before any of these events transpired.
About this time, the Grecian Empire, denoted by the belly and thighs of brass of Nebuchadnezzar's image, was overthrown, and the Roman, marked out by the legs of iron, and the feet part of iron and part of clay, established. The Romans founded their city, 753 B. C.; yet they were but little known in the east until about 274 B. C. when, hearing of their victories over the nations around them, Ptolemy Philadelphus, king of Egypt, sent ambassadors to make an alliance with them. This led them to interfere in the contentions of the eastern monarchs, until, finally, they brought them all under their dominion, and established the most extensive and powerful empire the world had seen. But the feet were part of iron and part of clay. As the Romans extended their dominion, they embraced in their empire vast hordes of barbarous nations, which so weakened it, that it was ultimately divided into ten lesser kingdoms, denoted by the ten toes of the image. The efforts of Judas, after the death of Antiochus, to defend himself against the heathen nations around Jerusalem, who had confederated to destroy all who worshipped Jehovah, were uniformly successful. This exceedingly enraged Lysias, the guardian of the young monarch, Antiochus Upator, who immediately brought against Jerusalem an army of 80,000 men, with all the horse of the kingdom, and eighty elephants, determining to make Jerusalem an habitation for the Gentiles, set the high priesthood for sale, and make gain of the Temple. But Judas and his army, having, as usual, implored aid from heaven, fell upon him, slew eleven thousand foot and sixteen hundred horsemen, and put all the rest to flight. Peace ensued. Through the influence of the Romans, the Jews were no longer obliged to conform to the religion of the Greeks, but were permitted every where to live according to their own laws. This was the first time the church of God ever felt the power of Rome, B. C. 163.
But this peace was of short duration. The war was first renewed by the men of Joppa. Judas was again success