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C.D. Warner, et al., comp.  The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes.  1917.
 
Origin of the Asamonean or Maccabæan Revolt
By Josephus (37–100)
 
From the ‘Antiquities’

WHEN the emissaries of the King [Antiochus] came to Modin … to compel the Jews to offer [pagan] sacrifice as the King commanded, they wished Mattathias [priest, great-grandson of Asamoneus, and father of Judas Maccabæus and four other powerful sons]—a person of the highest consideration among them on all grounds, and especially as having so large and meritorious a family—to begin the sacrifice; because the populace would follow his example, and the King would bestow honors upon him for it. But Mattathias said “he would not do it; and if every other people obeyed Antiochus’s orders, either from fear or self-seeking, he and his sons would not desert their country’s religion.” But when he had finished speaking, another Jew came forward and began to sacrifice as Antiochus had commanded. Mattathias was so incensed that he and his sons, who had their swords with them, fell on the sacrificer, and slew both him, Apelles (the King’s general who had enforced the sacrifice), and several of the soldiers. Then he overthrew the pagan altar, and cried out, “If any one has zeal for the lands of his country and the worship of God, let him follow me;” and fled to the desert with his sons, abandoning all his property in the town. Many others followed him, and dwelt in caves in the desert with their wives and children. When the King’s generals heard of this, they took the troops in the citadel at Jerusalem and went in pursuit of the fugitives; and having overtaken them, tried first to persuade them to take counsel of prudence and not compel the soldiers to treat them according to the laws of war. Meeting with a refusal, they assailed them on the Sabbath, and burnt them unresisting in the caves…. Many of those who escaped joined Mattathias and appointed him their ruler…. So Mattathias got a great army about him, and overthrew their idolatrous altars, and slew those that broke their laws, all he could lay hands on.  1
 
 
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