A power struggle over who should be the high priest in Jerusalem convinced Antiochus that peace would be achieved by the rigorous enforcement of Hellenism on the people and an equally rigorous attack on what in his eyes was an unimportant local sect, that of the Jews (Rivkin 49-50). He allowed his troops to plunder and kill in Jerusalem, and the city walls were pulled down. The Books of the Law were destroyed and possession of them was made a capital offense (Dimont 86). The Temple was attacked, and treasure was taken away. The worst indignity came when a symbol of the pagan god of heaven (equivalent to the Greek Zeus) was set up and a pig, abhorrent to the Jews, sacrificed to it (Feuerlicht 23-24). (This was probably "the abomination of desolation" mentioned in Daniel 11:31.)
Because of this persecution, Mattathias and his five sons took to the hills where they were joined by other zealots and started a guerilla campaign against Antiochus. This was the beginning of the heroic Maccabean Revolt, so named after Mattathias' son Judas Maccabus, who took over when his father died. Their success was considerable, and they managed to defeat the professional troops of Antiochus and to retake Jerusalem in a relatively short time (Dimont 87-88). The Feast of Lights of Hanukkah (rededication) celebrates the rededication of the Temple.
The Book of Daniel was written at about this time as a way of assuring the faithful that they would be rewarded and that their efforts would not be wasted. The book consists of six stories and four dream-visions set in earlier times, stories that illustrated the act that Jews who remained faithful and preserved their beliefs and culture defeated their enemies in time. This was, of course, a major tenet of the Diaspora, and keeping the beliefs alive was an important act on the part of the scattered peoples of Israel. The stories show that the writer has a serious purpose and is trying to teach...
Jews Living Outside of Israel. (1969, December 31). In LotsofEssays.com. Retrieved 20:26, October 31, 2014, from http://www.collegetermpapers.com/viewpaper/1303917253.html