Explain the significance of the Maccabean revolt?
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The Maccabean revolt, was the beginning of the end for the Seleucid dynasty of Alexander's Empire.
When Alexander the great died unexpectedly when his Eastward push was repelled at the Indus River, his empire split into 3 dynasties. The ancient nation of Israel was caught between the Ptolemaic dynasty in Egypt, and the Seleucids in Syria. The Seleucids were opposed by the Maccabeans for trying to force the Greek paganism upon the monotheistic Jews. The Ptolemies were much more tolerant of these differences, but didn't have as much influence North of the Negev.
During the course of this, the Maccabean leadership led to a changed understanding of the Jewish Sabbath. In the early days of the revolt, the Greeks always initiated battles on the Sabbath, knowing that the Jews wouldn't fight on the Sabbath. Judas Maccabeus said that the Sabbath only applied to offense, not defense. They could fight on the Sabbath, but strictly defensively.
Also during this the feast of Channukah was born. Antiochus IV invaded Jerusalem in 167BC, and filled the temple with Pagan gods, and tried to force the Jews to worship these idols. The Jews refused to do this, and ultimately defeated Antiochus in 164 BC. For 8 days, now believed to be Dec 6-14, Judas Maccabeus and his followers removed the pagan gods, tore down the desecrated altar, built a new altar and reconsecrated the temple. Some stories say that they only had enough oil for one night, but that the lamp stayed burning for all 8 nights. This is the origin of the Jewish feast of Channukah.
The Maccabeans ultimately allied with the fledgling Roman Republic cc 142 BC, and that led to the occupation of Jerusalem by Rome in 63 BC, and shortly thereafter, opinions of Rome turned South.
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