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Monday, August 13 2012
Israel In History and Prophecy: Hasmonean Judea
The Rebellion Against Antiochus Epiphanes
Antiochus IV, or Antiochus Epiphanes (lived 215-164 BC), was the king of the Seleucid Empire (see A History Of Jerusalem: Greeks, Ptolemies, Seleucids) from about 175-164 BC. Antiochus committed the original "abomination of desolation" - an outrageous act of desecration in Jerusalem that produced three major consequences.
The first was the present-day observance of Hanukkah, by the people of Judah (see Israel In History and Prophecy: Hanukkah), which began after the time that they purified the Temple of the desecration by Antiochus in 167 BC.
The second is that the Messiah (see Who Is The LORD?) referred to the original "abomination of desolation" by Antiochus in a prophecy of someone who is going to do something very similar in the days just prior to Christ's return (see the Fact Finder question below). Antiochus was a conquering emperor, a king of other people's nations and their religion. What Antiochus did wasn't merely a malicious act of vandalism to the religion of the people of Judah; it was a "devoted" observance of his own idea of religious "truth," in the Temple of the LORD i.e. Antiochus sacrificed a pig to his own Greek god "Zeus." While doing so in the Temple of God, he assumed the position of high priest for himself. The Levitical high priest was a living prophecy of the Christ; Antiochus then made himself a living prophecy of the antichrist, hence the reason that Jesus Christ used that event, and that man, in describing the end-time antichrist.
The third consequence is that when the people of Judah rebelled against Antiochus, they were more successful than they at-first expected that they would be - they took back the Temple and purified it, which was their goal, but they also found themselves with the opportunity to drive the Seleucid military forces of Antiochus out of Jerusalem, and even a large part of Judea. Led by the "Maccabees," the people of Judah established what has become known as the Hasmonean Kingdom, or the Hasmonean Dynasty. It was a relatively autonomous area, that, while still within the Seleucid Empire, was left alone, not because they became overall more powerful than the Seleucid "superpower," but because the Seleucids regarded the cost of taking Judea back to be too high i.e. you don't necessarily have to be bigger than your enemy, just smarter and more deadly if need be.
The Hasmonean Kingdom Of Judea
The Hasmonean Kingdom existed for about a century, gradually growing even beyond Judea, primarily because the Seleucid Empire was then beginning to corrupt and deflate (it was eventually taken over by the Roman Empire). From 63 BC, the Hasmonean Kingdom was absorbed by the rising Roman Empire and its Herodian Dynasty in Judea (as we will cover in subsequent detailed studies in this series).
Some key events related to the Hasmonean Kingdom:
The Hasmonean Kingdom was not without the many internal intrigues and struggles common to all political and/or religious entities. It was also during the Hasmonean Kingdom era that the Pharisees grew to social and political (moreover than religious) prominence, in effect requiring the general population to observe the symbolic rituals (see Israel In History and Prophecy: Judaism) that only Temple Levites, not the general public, or the Pharisees themselves, were to, or had any right to, observe. Their supposed justification may have been an overzealous extension of the purification act and meaning of Hanukkah, but they went too far - for which the Messiah rebuked them decades later:
""7:3 For the Pharisees, and all the Jews, except they wash their hands oft, eat not, holding the tradition of the elders. 7:4 And when they come from the market, except they wash, they eat not. And many other things there be, which they have received to hold, as the washing of cups, and pots, brazen vessels, and of tables. 7:5 Then the Pharisees and scribes asked him, Why walk not thy disciples according to the tradition of the elders, but eat bread with unwashen hands? 7:6 He answered and said unto them, Well hath Esaias prophesied of you hypocrites, as it is written, This people honoureth me with their lips, but their heart is far from me. 7:7 Howbeit in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men. 7:8 For laying aside the commandment of God, ye hold the tradition of men, as the washing of pots and cups: and many other such like things ye do. 7:9 And he said unto them, Full well ye reject the commandment of God, that ye may keep your own tradition" (Mark 7:3-9 KJV)
The end of the Hasmonean Kingdom was brought about by the rise the Roman Empire and the "client kings" that they appointed for Judea. The Herodian Dynasty, perhaps most well-known by the infamous Herod the Great, became the new rulers of Judah. The reason that Herod wanted to kill the newborn King of the Jews is because Herod claimed that title for himself, as we will cover in detail in a subsequent study in this series.
"2:1 Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem, 2:2 Saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him.
Fact Finder: How long will the prophesied "abomination of desolation" last before Christ returns to purify the Temple, just as the Maccabees did?
This Day In History, August 13
554: Justinian's "Pragmatic Sanction" confirmed and increased the papacy's temporal power, and gave guidelines for regulating civil and ecclesiastical affairs in Rome and Italy (see also A History Of Jerusalem: Constantine and Muhammad).
1516: The Treaty of Noyon between France and Spain was signed. Francis I of France recognised Charles's claim to Naples, and Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor, recognised Francis's claim to Milan.
1521: Spanish explorer Hernando Cortes captured and destroyed Tenochtitlan (Mexico City) after a three-month siege.
1535: French explorer Jacques Cartier discovered the St. Lawrence River.
1624: Cardinal Richelieu was appointed Chief Minister of France by Louis XIII.
1704: French and Bavarian forces were routed by a combined British, German and Dutch army at Blenheim, Germany. The victors lost 6,000 soldiers compared with 21,000 French and Bavarian troops.
1787: The Ottoman Empire declared war on Russia (listen to our Sermon The Ottoman Empire).
1788: Prussia joined the Anglo-Dutch alliance to form the Triple Alliance to prevent the spread of the Russo-Swedish War of 1788-90.
1792: In France, revolutionaries imprisoned the French royal family.
1814: The Cape of Good Hope was formally ceded to the British by the Dutch.
1961: East Germany's communist government began building the Berlin Wall after more than 3,000,000 of its citizens fled to the west. The wall snaked 103 miles (166 kilometers) around West Berlin.
1964: The last hangings in Britain took place when two men were executed for murder at Liverpool and Manchester.
1996: Data sent back by the Galileo space probe indicated there may be water on one of Jupiter's moons, heightening the possibility it could support a primitive life form.