Apr 19, 2007

Abomination of Desolation

In 200 BC, the Selucid King of Syria Antiochus III defeated Ptolemy V of Egypt. His son, Antiochus IV, insisted his subjects worship him as Zeus, taking the name Epiphanes (manifestation of god). His subjects, which included the Jews, secretly referred to him as Epimanes (madman).

At this time Jewish High Priest Onias II was ousted by his conniving brother Jason, who started the Hellenization of the Jewish Temple. Antiochus replaced Jason with Menelaus, who super-Hellenized the Temple to the point of defilement; a Greek alter replaced the Alter of Sacrifice, a nude statue of Antiochus IV was brought in for worship as Zeus, and pigs were made the official sacrificial animal.

Mathathias, of the Hashmon family, stabbed to death one of the Hellenist priest as he ascended to the altar. Rebellion broke out. Mathathias’ died but his son Judas soon took over. Judas’ hammer-like attacks on the Selucid occupiers were so successful they earned him the Greek moniker "makkabios". The two Deutero-Canonical books on Judas Maccabee recount the horrible tortures Antiochus IV brought upon the Jews – and inspired the early Christians who were persecuted in a similar manner by the Romans to actually canonize the Maccabees as saints.

After Antiochus’ death, the Maccabees were not so magnanimous in rule as they were in war. The Hashmonian family of Judas, a Levite, grabbed both the High Priesthood (which rightfully belonged to the Levite descendants of Aaron’s son Eleazar), and the Kingship (which rightfully belonged to the Lion of the Tribe of Judah, King David). To legitimize the Hashmon claim to the High Priesthood, the Maccabees took to calling themselves the sons of King David’s High Priest, Zadok. These so-called Sons of Zadok, Zadokim in Hebrew, Saddoukaion in Greek, are known to us as Sadducees. Less than 160 years later at the time of Jesus Christ, the former zealous Maccabees had become the deniers of the resurrection, of angels and of spirits, the Sadducees.

The Sadducees, well versed in the art of naming themselves to create a legitimacy they lacked, also took to renaming the faithful Chasidim Jews who were refuting the Hellenization of Judaeism as "the separatists", P’rushim in Hebrew, p’rishayya in Aramaic, pharisaion in Greek, Pharisee in English.

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