This week, we’re going to finish off the portion of our study that is found in the Old Testament reading through the rest of the Book of Maccabees. We’ll read this week about the end of Judas’ military campaigns against the Seleucids and, following his death, Johnathan’s challenges in navigating the power struggles and drama that arose between those vying for power all around Jerusalem. After the death of Johnathan and the last of Mattathias’ sons, Simon, one of Simon’s sons – John Hyrcanus – who becomes leader over the Jews and high priest in Jerusalem in 134 BC. One of the things that is clear is that John is much less concerned with the Greek influence (“Hellenization”).
John’s lax approach to Hellenization contributes to a later conflict between the Pharasaic movement of Jews who were zealous for the Torah, and the Hasmonean Dynasty. The Hasmonean movement takes its name from one of Mattathias’ ancestors, and their rulers were more open to Hellenization. This movement included another group of Jews we’ll hear more about later: the Sadducees. When these two groups end up in a civil war four generations later, the Romans step in, capturing Jerusalem in 63 AD. All of this sets the stage for the Roman occupation we see during New Testament times, the conflicts we see there, and the eventual destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D.
Here are the readings for the coming week: