Brief Summary of 1-4 Maccabees

Alexander the Great went to the ends of the earth and conquered the nations. On his deathbed he divided his kingdom among his officers. Each officer reigned over his individual territory. From them arose:

Antiochus Epiphanes
175 BCE

In those days there were lawbreakers in Israel who seduced many. They made an alliance with the Greeks. The King authorized them to introduce the way of the Greeks. Therefore they:
Abandoned the Covenant
Covered over their circumcision
Allied with the Greeks
Sold themselves to wrongdoing

After Antiochus was defeated in Egypt, he went to Israel enraged by his defeat and he invaded the Sanctuary, took away the golden altar, lampstand, offering table, cups, bowls, golden censers, crowns and golden ornaments. He took all the hidden treasures.


The King (Antiochus) sent Mysian his commander to Israel. He came speaking peace.
Instead, he attacked Jerusalem, plundered it and set fire to it and took captive the women and children. He built up the City of David with high walls and massive towers. It became their citadel. He also:
Defiled the Sanctuary
Shed innocent blood around the Sanctuary

Antiochus declared that there was to be ONE PEOPLE AND ONE CUSTOM.

Many Israelites followed his declaration and sacrificed to idols. Antiochus:
Prohibited Sacrifice
Profaned the Sabbath and Feast Days
Desecrated the Sanctuary and Priests
Built pagan altars
Sacrificed swine and unclean animals
Prohibited circumcision
Israel was to forsake the Law and change observances

In 168 BCE, an image and altar of Zeus was erected on the altar of sacrifice. On the 25th day of each month they were to sacrifice to Zeus. The scrolls of the Torah were torn up and burned. Whoever observed the law or had a Torah were put to death. Women who had their sons circumcised were put to a torturous death. Their families and the one who performed the circumcision were also killed. (2 Mac 6:1-11)


Mattathias of Modi’in

Mattathias had five sons. One was named Judah – also called Maccabee or Hammer. As a result of the desecration of the Temple and the willing assimilation of their fellow Jews, Mattathias and his sons tore their garments, put on sackcloth, and mourned bitterly.

The King’s messenger came to Modi’in to enforce the sacrifices to Zeus. Mattathias REFUSED. A Jew came forward to obey the command. Mattathias killed him and the messenger and tore down the altar.

He gathered all who were zealous for the Law and fled to the mountains. But some went to the desert. Soldiers were sent to the desert and attacked the Israelites on the Sabbath. Because it was the Sabbath, they did not fight back. They all died – men, women, children, and cattle.

Mattathias mourned. He declared they would fight on the Sabbath. He went out destroying altars and killing sinners.

Mattathias died. He told his sons to be courageous for the Law, for by it they would be glorified. JUDAH, Mattathias’ son, was named leader of the army and carried on the war. Judah said:
“It is easy for the many to be overcome by a few; in the sight of Heaven, there is no difference between deliverance by many or by a few; for victory in war does not depend upon the size of the army, but on strength that comes from heaven.” (1 Macc.3:18-19)
(Lev. 26:8; Josh. 23:10; 1 Sam.17:47; 2 Chron. 20:15,17; 32:8; Ps. 20:7-8; Ps. 24:8; Prov. 21:31)

Antiochus sent Lysius with 40,000 troops to invade Israel. Judah recognized this critical situation. He went to Mitzpah to pray. He put on sackcloth and ashes and cried out to G-d.
Judah and his army put Lysius to flight and burned his camp. Judah’s 3,000 overcame 5,000 of Lysius’ men.

The following year Lysius came with 65,000 men. Judah’s army numbered 10,000. Judah prayed and reminded G-d of the victory He gave David. 5,000 of Lysius’ men fell and he retreated.

Judah and his army then went to Mount Zion to purify and rededicate the Temple. He found the Sanctuary desolate and the altar desecrated. He tore his clothes and sprinkled ashes on his head and cried out to heaven. He rebuilt the altar with new stones. The old stones were stored away until a prophet would come and tell them what to do with them. He repaired the Sanctuary, purified the courts, brought in the lampstand and all the vessels, the showbread, and the curtains.

On the 25th day of Kislev (165 BCE), three years after the temple was defiled, they sacrificed on the altar. This was the anniversary of the day the Greeks defiled the Temple. They celebrated for eight days, patterned after the “Camping Out”/Sukkot festival. (2 Macc. 10:5-8)

Judah and his brothers and all the people declared these eight days to be observed every year.

“Then came Hanukkah in Yerushlayim. It was winter, and
Yeshua was walking around inside the Temple area in Shlomo’s Colonnade.”
Yochanan (John) 10:22

First Candle:

Genesis 1:3-4 describes the creation of the first light: “G-D said, ‘Let there be light,’ and there was light. And G-D saw that the light was good; and G-D separated the light from the darkness.”

Second Candle:

Exodus 13:21-22 reveals that G-D is the source of Israel’s light: “And the L-RD was going before them in a pillar of cloud by day to lead them on the way, and in a pillar of fire by night to give them light, that they might travel by day and by night. He did not take away the pillar of cloud by day, nor the pillar of fire by night, from before the people.”

Third Candle:

King David reminds us that G-D Himself is the source of our own individual light: “The
L-RD is my light and my salvation: whom shall I fear? The L-RD is the defense of my life; whom shall I dread? (Psalm 27:1)

Fourth Candle:

Psalm 119:105 and Psalm 119:130 described the light that comes from G-D’s Word: “Your word is a lamp to my feet, and a light to my path. The unfolding of your words gives light; it gives understanding to the simple.”

Fifth Candle:

Messiah Yeshua is the greatest light of all; “In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.” (John 1:4-5)
Yeshua declared, “I am the light of the world; he who follows me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.” (John 8:12)

Sixth Candle:

After we come to know Messiah, we are to be a source of light for the world. King Messiah tells us in Matthew 5:14-16: “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden . . . Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.”

Seventh Candle:

The prophet Isaiah speaks of the future glory of a restored Israel. In Isaiah 60: 1-3:
“Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the L-RD has risen upon you . . . . And nations will come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your rising.”

Eighth Candle:

Revelation 21:22-24 gives us a description of our glorious eternal dwelling place in the New Jerusalem: “And I saw no temple in it, for the L-RD G-D, the Almighty, and the Lamb, are its temple. And the city has no need of the sun or of the moon to shine upon it, for the glory of G-D has illumined it, and its lamp is the Lamb. And the nations shall walk by its light, and the kings of the earth shall bring their glory into it.”