Mattathias

Mattathias, a Jewish priest, the father of the Maccabees, who in 170 B.C., when asked by a Syrian embassy to offer sacrifice to the Syrian gods, not only refused to do so, but slew with his own hand the Jew that stepped forward to do it for him, and then fell upon the embassy that required the act; upon which he rushed with his five sons into the wilderness of Judea and called upon all to follow him who had any regard for the Lord; this was the first step in the war of the Maccabees, the immediate issue of which was to the Jew the achievement of an independence which he had not enjoyed for 400 years.

Definition taken from The Nuttall Encyclopædia, edited by the Reverend James Wood (1907)

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