Worship

1 Maccabees

After Alexander the Great, his empire was divided amongst 5 of his generals. Palestine eventually fell under the authority of the Ptolemies for over a century, then it was taken over by the Seleucids from Syria. The latter had a very different and hostile policy towards the Jews. They forcefully tried to impose hellenistic religion and culture on the Jews of Palestine. The peak of these hostilities occurred in 167 BC, when Antiochus IV Epiphanes issued a decree that the Greek deities were to be offered sacrifices throughout the Jewish region. He erected a pagan altar in the holy place of the Jerusalem temple. Mattathias, an elder and priest from the Hasmonean family, launched the revolt against the Syrians, and later his third son Judas Maccabeus was able to rededicate the temple. That event is celebrated in the Jewish Festival of Hanukkah (Rededication).