17.—End of the Maccabean Heptade


This epoch is particularly interesting as the end of Ezekiel’s 430 years (Ezek. 4:1–8). The house of Israel and the house of Judah had been great transgressors of the Covenant of the Holy, from the foundation of the temple, in the fourth year of Solomon, to the sack of the city and temple in the 19th of Nebuchadhezzar (Jer. 52:12). This was a period of 430 years, which was divided into two unequal periods; namely, one of forty years, from the foundation of the temple to the apostasy of Rehoboam and Judah; the other of three hundred and ninety from this apostasy to the destruction of the temple. The God of Israel determined that this long national transgression should be punished by as long a retribution. He, therefore, gave Israel “a sign” of what was coming upon them. This sign consisted in Ezekiel’s lying on his left side 390 days, and then upon his right for 40 days more. By this was represented the prostrate condition of Judah and his companions from the other tribes, for 430 years. The 430 years of transgression had not quite ended when the sign was appointed, in the fifth of Jehoiachin’s captivity. The thing signified began to take effect in the sacking of Jerusalem. Judah then began to “eat their defiled bread among the Gentiles”; so that the 430 years would end b.c. 160. These four centuries of punishment were a very calamitous period of Judah’s history. They endured a captivity in Babylon for 70 years; for several years longer their times were “troublous”; they were vassals to the Ram dynasty of the kingdom of Babylon till it was superseded by Alexander the Great, the Notable Horn of the Macedonian Goat: afterwards, as we have seen, they were alternately subject to the Greek kings of Egypt and Assyria, and “the holy” became a field of battle for the hosts of these contending powers, who defiled the temple, and finally converted it into a house for the worship of the Olympian Jupiter. At length, and after all these terrible vicissitudes, and about seven years before the 430 years were about to expire, Judas Maccabæus, as the chieftain of a weak, but patriotic, intelligent, and devout, party of his countrymen, having a zeal for the Deity and his holy law, commenced a war against Antiochus Epiphanes, illustrious for his zeal for Gentilism, his warlike propensities, and his cruel and bitter hatred of the Jews. The war ended in the deliverance of Jerusalem from his desolating abomination, the purification of the temple from the insignia of idolatry, its rededication to Yahweh, and the conversion of the Commonwealth into an independent kingdom, under the Levitical family of Asmoneus, in which the sovereignty continued for 129 years, till it was transferred to Herod the Idumean by the Romans, b.c. 39.