| Light iron-age reading|
|Gabbin' with God|
The Maccabees provided the instigators of the Jewish rebellion against Antiochus Epiphanes.
After Alexander the Great died, his territory was divided into four sub-kingdoms. The area containing the modern state of Israel was under the control of the Seleucid dynasty. Antiochus IV (self styled Epiphanes, which means something like "the glorious manifestation of god") wanted to Hellenize the Jews. He prohibited circumcision, put idols to Greek gods in the Temple in Jerusalem, and banned the study of the Torah.
A rebellion started, initially led by the priest Mattathias, and later by his sons, especially Judah. After a seven-year guerrilla struggle, the Maccabees finally prevailed and purged the Temple of the idols. When they arrived at the Temple, they found that there was enough holy oil to keep it lit for one day, and replacements would not arrive for more than a week. According to tradition, God made the oil for one day last for eight days, hence the length of the holiday of Hanukkah.
First Maccabees or 1 Maccabees is most famous for being the source of the Jewish holiday of Hanukkah. Despite this, it is not included as canon in the Tanakh. It is a deuterocanonical work in Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox tradition, and apocryphal in Protestant tradition. Unlike most of the Books of the Maccabees, 1 Maccabees was written in Hebrew and translated into Greek as part of the Septuagint. The Hebrew version was lost for many years, but was rediscovered in 1886.
This book was not included in the Bible, probably not because of objectionable content, but because, from the perspective of the compilers of the Bible, it was "too recent" or because it was written in Greek (rather than Hebrew or Aramaic). Also, the Maccabees created the Hasmonean dynasty, of which the unpopular king Herod was a descendant, so politics could have had something to do with it too. Protestants may have disliked some of the "proof texts" used by Catholics taken from the work.