Jewish Personalities

Judah Maccabee

1. In the year 161 BCE, Judah the Maccabee was born in the town of Modi’in in the Judean Mountains. He was the third of the five sons of Mattisyahu the Hasmonean. It was during the Second Temple era.

2. At that time, Antiochus IV sought to force Greek culture on the people of Israel. He forbad Jews to study Torah, to observe Shabbat and to keep the commandment of circumcision.

3. Mattisyahu the Hasmonean decided to raise the banner of revolt. A year later, before his death, he passes the leadership to his son Judah. The slogan of the rebellion: “Who is among the mighty ones like the Lord”, whose acronym spells the name “Maccabi.”

4. Led by Judah, the Maccabees fought the Greeks by ambushing them. In one ambush, the Maccabees surprise Apollonius’s army and destroys it.

5. Antiochus subsequently sent his general Siiron with an army twice the size of Apollonius’s army, which filled the Maccabees with trepidation.

6. Yehuda fortified the Maccabees’ spirit and told them these words of encouragement: “They trust in their numerous soldiers to destroy us … but we’ll defend ourselves and fight for our lives and our Torah. Do not fear and be intimidated, because G-d will destroy them before our eyes.”

7.  The Maccabis surprise Siiron’s army too, and in the pass near Beit Choron they laid in ambush for the Greeks and won in the battle. The commander Siiron was killed by Judah.

8. in Emmaus [Latrun], the Maccabees fight against the mighty army of Gorgias. The Maccabees pretend they are in flight and arrive in surprise to Gorgias’s camp, where they are disoriented by his mighty army.

9. Judah Maccabee turns to the Maccabees and strengthens their spirit: “Remember our ancestors whom G-d saved at the Red Sea when Pharaoh pursued them with his chariots and riders. Get up and let us cry out to the Lord our G-d for grace and mercy, and to remember His covenant which He made ​​with our fathers, so He will destroy this army before us … “

10. The Maccabees won this battle too, which encouraged other Jews to join them and accept Judah’s leadership. The Maccabees go on to liberate Jerusalem, purify the Temple, experience the miracle of the oil and establish the holiday of Chanukah.


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