The Family of Mattathias
1About this time, Mattathias,#2.1 Mattathias: Greek “Mattathias the son of John and the grandson of Simeon.” a priest from the family of Joarib, moved from Jerusalem to Modein.
2-5Mattathias had five sons, whose names were John, Simon, Judas, Eleazar, and Jonathan. Each son had a nickname. John was called Gaddi, Simon was known as Thassi, and Judas was called Maccabeus.#2.2-5 Maccabeus: Means “hammer,” or more likely “chosen by the Lord.” Eleazar was nicknamed Avaran, and Jonathan was known as Apphus.
Mattathias Is Sad
6When Mattathias found out that the people of Judea and Jerusalem were rejecting God's Law, 7he said:
Why have I lived to see
enemies crushing my people
and the holy city?
Foreigners now occupy Jerusalem;
they have taken over the temple,
8making it a place of shame.
9All of its sacred objects
have been dragged away.
Young people are slaughtered
by enemy swords,
and our streets are covered
with the bodies of children.
10Is there any nation
that hasn't robbed us
and stolen our treasures?
has lost its beauty
and is now a slave.
12The holy temple was our pride
and our joy,
until foreigners ruined it
with their filthy idols.
13We'd be better off dead!
14Mattathias and his five sons cried bitterly; they tore their clothes and put on sackcloth#2.14 sackcloth: A rough cloth made from goat or camel hair and used to make grain sacks. It was worn in times of trouble or sorrow. to show their sorrow.
Mattathias Starts a War
15The king's officials were trying to force everyone to break the Law of Moses by offering pagan sacrifices. And one day the officials went to the town of Modein, 16where many of the people came out to meet them, including Mattathias and his sons. 17The officials said to Mattathias:
You're an important and honored leader in this town, and your relatives will follow your example. 18So why don't you obey the king and accept his religion, just as every Gentile and Jew in Judea and Jerusalem has already done? Then you and your family will be known as “Trusted Friends of the King,”#2.18 “Trusted Friends of the King”: This was a title that Greek kings gave to special advisors and officials. These friends received gifts, honors, and other privileges. and you will be rewarded with gold and silver and other gifts.
19Mattathias answered in a loud voice:
What do I care if everyone in the king's entire kingdom turns from their own religion and starts obeying his laws? 20My family and I will always keep the promises our ancestors made to God. 21-22We will never give up our faith or disobey even one of God's laws. We will not obey Antiochus!
23When Mattathias finished speaking, everyone watched as a Jew from Modein stepped forward to obey the king by offering a sacrifice on the altar. 24Mattathias was furious, and he was so eager to see justice done that he rushed over to the altar and killed the man. 25Then he destroyed the altar and killed the official who ordered the sacrifice. 26#Nu 25.6-15. Indeed, Mattathias showed that he loved God's Law as much as Phinehas,#2.26 Phinehas: According to Numbers 25.6-15, Phinehas killed a man and his bride-to-be who disobeyed God's Law. who had killed Zimri the son of Salu many years ago.
27Mattathias shouted to everyone in Modein, “Follow me, if you truly love the Law of Moses and want to keep our agreement with God!” 28Then Mattathias and his sons ran to the hills, leaving behind everything they owned.
One Thousand Jews Are Killed
29-30Many of the Jews were now in serious trouble for trying to obey God and live right. So they took their families and livestock and moved to the desert. 31But the king's officers and soldiers in the fortress at Jerusalem found out what these Jews had done. 32#2 Macc 6.11. So a large number of the troops went after them and camped nearby. Then on the Sabbath 33they said to the Jews, “This is your last chance! Come out and obey the king's orders, or you will die.”
34The Jews answered, “We're not coming out! And we refuse to break the laws of the Sabbath by obeying the king's orders!”
35At once the enemy forces attacked. 36But the Jews did not try to defend themselves; not one of them threw a rock or even tried to pile up rocks in front of the caves. 37They just said, “We've done nothing deserving death! Everyone in heaven and on earth knows that you are wrong to kill us.”
38On that Sabbath 1,000 Jewish men, women, and children were slaughtered, together with their sheep and goats.
Mattathias Takes Charge
39 # 3 Macc 1.22. When Mattathias and his followers heard what had happened, they mourned a long time. 40Then they said to each other, “We can't let that happen to us! We've got to defend ourselves and our way of life, even on the Sabbath. If we don't, the Gentiles will soon wipe us out.” 41On that very day they made up their minds not to die like their relatives in the caves, and they decided to fight anyone who attacked them on the Sabbath.
42About this time a very devout group of Jews#2.42 devout group of Jews: The Greek text has “Hasideans,” which translates the Hebrew word “hasidim,” meaning “devout,” and referred to Jews who were especially faithful to their religion. joined Mattathias; they were some of the nation's best fighters and were willing to die for God's Law. 43In fact, many others had found themselves in trouble with the Gentiles, and they also went to Mattathias, who soon had a large force. 44Then those angry troops violently attacked the unfaithful Jews, forcing those who escaped to run to the Gentiles for protection.
45Mattathias and his followers tore down every altar they found. 46They had the young boys in Israel circumcised, 47and they terrorized their arrogant enemies. Everything went well for Mattathias and his troops, 48because they defended their laws against the Gentiles and Antiochus. No evil person stood a chance.
The Death of Mattathias
49Right before Mattathias died, he said to his sons:
The Gentiles are proud and violent, and we're going to have a horrible time. 50But you, my sons, should be faithful to God's Law and be willing to die for the agreement that our ancestors made with God.
51Keep in mind their brave deeds, and you will be famous forever. 52#Gn 15.6; 22.15-18. Abraham was faithful when God tested him, and so God accepted him. 53#Gn 39.1—45.28. Joseph obeyed God in a time of trouble, and he became ruler of Egypt. 54Because our ancestor Phinehas obeyed everything in God's Law, the men of our family have become priests forever.
55 # Nu 13.1—14.12. Joshua followed God's orders and became a leader of Israel. 56Caleb told the people of Israel the truth, and God gave him some of the land. 57#2 S 7.16. David's family will rule as kings forever because David had mercy on others.
58 # 2 K 2.9-12. Elijah obeyed God's Law and was taken to heaven. 59#Dn 3.1-30. Hananiah, Azariah, and Mishael trusted God, so he saved them from the flames. 60#Dn 6.1-24; Bel 31-42. Daniel was rescued from the hungry lions because of his loyalty to God.
61Think about these past heroes. They trusted God and were strong. 62Don't let the threats of that brutal Antiochus frighten you! He may be famous, but he's nothing but food for worms. 63He talks big now, but soon you won't hear that loud mouth anymore. Dust is all that will remain of him and his plans.
64My sons, you must find courage and strength in God's Law; then everyone will honor you.
65Your brother Simon is wise. So always obey him, just as you would obey me. 66Judas Maccabeus has been a brave fighter all his life. Now he will command your army and lead you in battle.
67Find soldiers who love God's Law and then lead them to punish everyone who has mistreated your people, 68including the Gentiles. Always follow God's teaching.
69-70Mattathias blessed his sons, and then he died. His family buried him in their tomb near the town of Modein. This happened in the year 146#2.69,70 year 146: That is, 166 b.c. of the Syrian Kingdom, and everyone in Israel mourned for a long time.