Just this week, a mystery over two thousand years in the making has finally been answered. Not only does it validate biblical and historical legitimacy, it also serves as a harbinger that those who forget the past are often condemned to repeat it.
After searching for over one-hundred years, archaeologist in Israel have finally unearthed the Greek fortress Akra which dates to around 200 BC. According to the ancient historian Josephus, and the writings of the Maccabees, the stronghold was built by Antiochus IV (Epiphanes) to control the city of Jerusalem.
The additional uncovering of arrowheads, sling stones and other items also corroborates the authenticity of the Maccabean revolt. The revolt of the Maccabees – and the origin of Hanukah – has been disputed by many historians. This find serves as evidence that the stories are more than legends.
Antiochus Epiphanes is considered by many Jews to be one of the most evil men who ever lived. His moniker “Epiphanes” means “god manifested” showing his high regard for himself. Many of his contemporaries could not have disagreed with his assessment more strongly. Many mockingly called him Antiochus Epimanes which means “The Mad One”.
During his tenure as King, Antiochus IV took sides in the cultural divide between the Jews who were committed to the traditions of their faith and ones who wanted to go with the cultural flow. It was easier to adapt to the polytheistic worldview of the day, than it was to hold-fast to beliefs that affected alienation from the people and rulers around them. The strain between the two beliefs was palatable.
Antiochus played into these tensions and promoted the politically correct crowd while marginalizing and finally persecuting the faithful. By the time was all said and done, the ruler had:
· Outlawed the sacrifice to and worship of Jehovah
· Outlawed Jewish religious rites, laws and traditions
· Ordered the worship of Zeus as supreme god
· Forbade the keeping of the Sabbath
· Forbade the celebration of Jewish feasts which were commanded by Jehovah
· Forbade a person’s identification as a Jew
· Ordered other cities to force Jews into compliance with Zeus worship
· Dispatched the army to enforce his new executive orders
· Dedicated the Jewish Temple to Zeus
· Destroyed Jerusalem
· Established Akra as a military fortress
· Brought unholy objects into the temple of Jehovah
· Sacrificed pigs on the Temple altar – Complete desecration!
During the time of these unholy edicts, two woman were publically humiliated and then killed by being thrown from the top of the city wall for having their babies circumcised. A group of people who had secretly met in a cave to observe the Sabbath were burned to death.
Out of this hostile environment the Maccabees rose in rebellious protest against Antiochus and his religious purge. Following much fighting and bloodshed, Antiochus positioned his armies against Jerusalem to completely eradicate those who were completely committed to God, but in a miraculous answer to prayers, Antiochus died suddenly of disease. His nearly eleven year reign of terror was over.
These events were foretold by the Prophet Daniel about 350 years before they actually took place. If you look closely, there are many lessons to consider lest we are caught off-guard in our own times.