Remember the Light
Our story begins long ago during the time of the 2nd Temple. After over 100 years of benevolent rule by the Greeks beginning with Alexander the Great, a king named Antiochus IV came to power. He was cruel and was contemptuous of religions and cultures that were not his own.
The Greeks defiled the Temple and devoted to Zeus complete with the sacrifice of pigs. The High Priest Yochanan tried to organize a rebellion against the Greeks while Antiochus was at war with Egypt, but most was too afraid of Antiochus’ reprisal. When the Romans spread a rumor of Antiochus IV’s demise in battle, the Jews began following Yochanan and revolted.
Imagine the Jews’ horror when the rumor proved false and Antiochus returned. He was enraged by the Jewish rebellion and ordered his army to strike out against the Jews killing thousands.
Then a great darkness began to spread across the land as Antiochus IV ordered a series of extremely harsh decrees against the Jewish people and religion. All Jewish worship was forbidden under penalty of death including observing Shabbat, performing Brit Milah, and abiding by Kashrut under.
No one else dared to stand up to the Greeks. That is until Mattiyahu.
In town after town the Greek soldiers built their pagan idols and forced the Jewish inhabitants to worship them and even eat the flesh of pigs. Then they arrived in a town called Modiin. In this town just outside of Jerusalem was an old, great priest named Mattiyahu who defied Antiochus’ soldiers. A Hellenistic Jew approached to worship and Mattiyahu struck him down with his sword. The citizens of Modiin then sprung on the soldiers killing some and chasing the rest away