“The Jewish uprising that began in 167 B.C. against the ruling Seleucid kings was headed by a family of high priests from the Temple in Jerusalem. Known as the Maccabees, their establishment of the independent Hasmonaean dynasty, and their refusal to accept the imposition of Greek Seleucid culture, left a deep mark on the popular imagination. A century later, when the Romans tried to impose dominance on the Hasmonaeans, partisans rose up in the Galilee, dubbing themselves the new “Maccabees”.”
- The memory of Antiochos IV
In any case, whatever the relationship between Josephus and the books of the Maccabees (= even if we consider that for the revolt of the Maccabees, Josephus depends exclusively on The First Book of Maccabees and not at all on The Second Book of Maccabees) the story of Herod’s death bears numerous analogies with the death of Antiochos IV, the prototype of the religious persecutor. For Josephus’ reader, the persecution of young Jews by Herod inevitably evokes the memory of Antiochus IV’s persecution: Herod’s illness is the re-edition of Antiochus’ end and the death of 2 kings is a just punishment for their impious and tyrannical conduct towards the Jews. Eusebius, who was familiar with the books of the Maccabees and the posterity of the topos of the persecutor’s death in Christian literature, completely isolates Herod’s death from its cultural and religious context.
According to the National Geographic’s article,
“How King Herod Transformed the Holy Land”, those known as ‘new Maccabees’ rose up in Galilee:
The Jewish uprising that began in 167 B.C. against the ruling Seleucid kings was headed by a family of high priests from the Temple in Jerusalem. Known as the Maccabees, their establishment of the independent Hasmonaean dynasty, and their refusal to accept the imposition of Greek Seleucid culture, left a deep mark on the popular imagination. A century later, when the Romans tried to impose dominance on the Hasmonaeans, partisans rose up in the Galilee, dubbing themselves the new “Maccabees.” In 47 B.C. Herod, who was then governor of the region, was charged with putting down the threat. Rebels had hunkered down in near-inaccessible caves, but Herod ordered them to be stormed by lowering crate after crate containing soldiers. On their capture, Herod ordered all the prisoners to be killed. Angry protests erupted in Jerusalem, and Herod was called before the religious authorities to answer for his actions. In a sign of the clashes that he would later face as king, Herod asserted his authority, and narrowly escaped being condemned to death. ….
Compare Antiochus’s and Herod’s ‘pushing of Hellenization’, at:
“In 175 BC Antiochus Epiphanes came to power as the Seleucid Ruler with an agenda to expand the empire. He attacked and overthrew the Ptolmaic Empire in Egypt, thus Judea came under Seleucid control. Antiochus Epiphanes was also determined to push Hellenization. We learn from 1 Maccabees what the Jews faced and what they thought about being “Hellenized.”
In those days lawless men came forth from Israel, and misled many, saying, “Let us go and make a covenant with the Gentiles round about us, for since we separated from them many evils have come upon us.” This proposal pleased them, and some of the people eagerly went to the king. He authorized them to observe the ordinances of the Gentiles. So they built a gymnasium in Jerusalem, according to Gentile custom, and removed the marks of circumcision, and abandoned the holy covenant….
After subduing Egypt, Antiochus returned…He went up against Israel and came to Jerusalem with a strong force. He arrogantly entered the sanctuary and took…the silver and the gold, and the costly vessels; he took also the hidden treasures which he found. Taking them all, he departed to his own land. He committed deeds of murder, and spoke with great arrogance. – 1 Macc 1:11-15, 20-24
This marks the beginning of The Maccabean Revolt, a period of Jewish rebellion provoked by a Gentile ruler denying religious freedom and persecuting the Jewish nation. It was brutal on the part of the Seleucids, heroic on Israel’s part, and the emotional/nationalistic effects of this conflict were felt into the time of Jesus and even the early Christians as they endured similar Roman persecution”.
“Herod pushed Hellenization: he had many Greek building projects all around his kingdom in Galilee, Samaria and in Jerusalem. Herod ruled until 4 BC and towards the end of his reign he became more and more willing to act rashly, punish and kill anyone who stood in his way and was perfectly willing to sacrifice family as well. All of this only inflamed the Jewish hatred for this Jewish pretender who ruled Judea. …”.
Daniel T. Unterbrink writes, in “Judas the Galilean”:
According to the Slavonic Josephus, Matthias and Judas [the Galilean] said this to their followers:
“Come, men of Judaea, now is the time for men to behave like men, to show what reverence we have for the Law of Moses. Let not our race be shamed, let us not bring disgrace on our Law-giver. Let us take as the model for [our] exploits Eleazar first and the seven Maccabee brothers and the mother who made men [of them]. For, when Antiochus had conquered and subjugated our land and was ruling over us, he was defeated by these seven youths and [their] old teacher and an old woman. Let us also be worthy of them, let us not prove weaker than a woman. But even if we are to be tortured for our zeal for God, a greater wreath has been plaited for us. And if they kill us, our souls as it leaves [this] dark abode will return to [our] forefathers, where Abraham and his offspring [dwell].”
(After War 1.650) (Emphasis mine) ….