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    The Books of Maccabees

    scrollThe Books of the Maccabees are not part of the Tanach.

    They are rarely featured in synagogue services, nor are they a continuous narrative like the Books of Kings or Chronicles.

    The First Book of Maccabees depicts a rising of faithful Jews against the oppressive Seleucid regime.

    The Second Book paints a picture of a conflict between ideologies – a tug-of-war between Judaism and Hellenism.

    The view of many modern scholars is that the struggle was not so much between Jews and outsiders, but between two camps within Judaism, those who stood for tradition and those who wanted more assimilation to Hellenistic thinking.

    The traditionalists for their part refused to abandon the Torah and its practices such as circumcision and the dietary laws. Why the outsiders mixed in was in order to support the Hellenistic Jews against the traditionalists.

    The Syrian Greeks came down hard on the traditional Jews, which was unusual for a regime that generally showed tolerance for the religious beliefs and practices of subject peoples.

    Because the battle grounded had shifted, the Maccabees now had to contend not only with another internal Jewish group but with an external power, which turned the struggle into one for Jewish nationalism.

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