Historically this feast is the last to be established by our forefathers during the Greek empire, that is why it is not explicitly mentioned in the writings of Moses. Leviticus 23:2 “Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, Concerning the feasts of the LORD, which ye shall proclaim to be holy convocations, even these are my feasts.” Although it is not mentioned in Leviticus chapter 23, it is evident by the prophecies that any feasts found within the Scriptures are holy and ordained by God. For example the Passover was a prophecy, predicted by Moses before it was instituted. See, Exodus 5:1. By the common decree of our fathers was the Passover kept holy, being blessed by the Spirit they were able to perceive that it was the will of God. Wisdom of Solomon 18:9 “For the righteous children of good men did sacrifice [the Passover] secretly, and with one consent made a holy law, that the saints should be like partakers of the same good and evil, the fathers now singing out the songs of praise.” In like manner so it was with all the feasts ordained after Moses.
As we were all taught in history class, the Greek empire began with Alexander the Great, the first king over Greece (circa 336 BC). 1st Maccabees 1:1 “And it happened, after that Alexander son of Philip, the Macedonian, who came out of the land of Chettiim, had smitten Darius king of the Persians and Medes, that he reigned in his stead, the first over Greece,” This Scripture in the Apocrypha shows the fulfillment of prophecies. Daniel 8:21 “And the rough goat is the king of Grecia: and the great horn that is between his eyes is the first king.” The prophecy continued to state that the great horn meaning Alexander was to be broken. Daniel 8:22 “Now that being broken, whereas four stood up for it, four kingdoms shall stand up out of the nation, but not in his power.” The rule of Alexander was short lived and when he was aware of his upcoming death he divided his kingdom into four. 1st Maccabees 1:9 “And after his death they all put crowns upon themselves; so did their sons after them many years: and evils were multiplied in the earth.”
The successors warred among each other, as they sought to expand their power they caused Jerusalem to be a city plagued by their wars. Daniel 8:23 “And in the latter time of their kingdom, when the transgressors [sinners] are come to the full, a king of fierce countenance, and understanding dark sentences, shall stand up.” Verse 24: “And his power shall be mighty, but not by his own power: and he shall destroy wonderfully, and shall prosper, and practise, and shall destroy the mighty and the holy people.” Many years after, a fierce king arose that would multiply evil in the land of Jerusalem, his name was Antiochus Epiphanes (circa 175 BC). The accounts of his plunder of the temple, the carrying away of women and children into slavery, and great massacre of the holy people is documented in 1st Maccabees 1:16-32.
After he destroyed much of Israel, then they began to build a mighty tower in Jerusalem to continue attacking the people and enforce his enterprises. 1st Maccabees 1:33 “Then builded they the city of David with a great and strong wall, and with mighty towers, and made it a strong hold for them.” Verse 34: “And they put therein a sinful nation, wicked men, and fortified themselves therein.” Verse 35: “They stored it also with armour and victuals [food], and when they had gathered together the spoils of Jerusalem, they laid them up there, and so they became a sore snare:” Verse 36: “For it was a place to lie in wait against the sanctuary, and an evil adversary to Israel.” The existence of this tower was a constant threat to the people, it did not allow them to have peace, not even to worship the Heavenly Father.
1st Maccabees 1:37 “Thus they shed innocent blood on every side of the sanctuary, and defiled it:” Verse 38: “Insomuch that the inhabitants of Jerusalem fled because of them: whereupon the city was made an habitation of strangers, and became strange to those that were born in her; and her own children left her.” Verse 39: “Her sanctuary was laid waste like a wilderness, her feasts were turned into mourning, her sabbaths into reproach her honour into contempt.” Verse 40: “As had been her glory, so was her dishonour increased, and her excellency was turned into mourning.” In the midst of this confusion there was a righteous man, whose family lived according to the laws of God. His name was Mattathias and he raised five sons, of which one was Simon surnamed Thassi.
1st Maccabees 2:1 “In those days arose Mattathias the son of John, the son of Simeon, a priest [a Levite of the lineage of Aaron] of the sons of Joarib, from Jerusalem, and dwelt in Modin.” Verse 2: “And he had five sons, Joannan, called Caddis:” Verse 3: “Simon; called Thassi:” Verse 4: “Judas, who was called Maccabeus:” Verse 5: “Eleazar, called Avaran: and Jonathan, whose surname was Apphus.” Mattathias is a great example of fatherhood and the well ordering of an house. During his time, many Israelites fell away to follow Greek customs, however his family was united in the covenant.
1st Maccabees 2:7 “He said, Woe is me! wherefore was I born to see this misery of my people, and of the holy city, and to dwell there, when it was delivered into the hand of the enemy, and the sanctuary into the hand of strangers?” Verse 8: “Her temple is become as a man without glory.” Verse 9: “Her glorious vessels are carried away into captivity, her infants are slain in the streets, her young men with the sword of the enemy.” Verse 10: “What nation hath not had a part in her kingdom and gotten of her spoils?” Verse 11: “All her ornaments are taken away; of a free woman she is become a bondslave.” Verse 12: “And, behold, our sanctuary, even our beauty and our glory, is laid waste, and the Gentiles have profaned it.” Verse 13: “To what end therefore shall we live any longer?” Verse 14: “Then Mattathias and his sons rent their clothes, and put on sackcloth, and mourned very sore.” In his despair, Mattathias never imagined that he would lead his sons to liberty and the founding of a dynasty.
Before his death he instructed his sons, and said, 1st Maccabees 2:64 “Wherefore, ye my sons, be valiant and shew yourselves men in the behalf of the law; for by it shall ye obtain glory.” Verse 65: “And behold, I know that your brother Simon is a man of counsel, give ear unto him alway: he shall be a father unto you.” This is a man who knew his sons well and recognized that Simon was wise and fit to give his brothers counsel like a father. Apocrypha Ecclesiasticus 30:3 “He that teacheth his son grieveth the enemy: and before his friends he shall rejoice of him.” This is why we should not take for granted teaching our children the wisdom of the most High. Apocrypha Ecclesiasticus 30:4 “Though his father die, yet he is as though he were not dead: for he hath left one behind him that is like himself.” Verse 5: “While he lived, he saw and rejoiced in him: and when he died, he was not sorrowful.” Verse 6: “He left behind him an avenger against his enemies, and one that shall requite kindness to his friends.”
Among our people fatherhood is not esteemed as it should be. By the example of Mattathias we could see what great achievements are possible, a (Hasmonean) dynasty. His sons believed in the many prophecies that spoke of their generation; through this wisdom, Israel was led to a time of liberty and prosperity. This great moment was captured by this feast, which is named after Simon the son of Mattathias. Herein we will declare the account of the feast according to the Scriptures.
1st Maccabees 13:1 “Now when Simon heard that Tryphon had gathered together a great host [army] to invade the land of Judea, and destroy it,” Antiochus Epiphanes has been dead for some time now, and his descendants continue to seek the destruction of the holy people (circa 142 BC). Tryphon was an ambitious general who saw an opportunity to get dominion. 1st Maccabees 11:39 “Moreover there was one Tryphon, that had been of Alexander’s [son of Antiochus Epiphanes] part afore, who, seeing that all the host murmured against Demetrius, went to Simalcue the Arabian that brought up Antiochus the young son of Alexander,” Verse 54: “After this returned Tryphon, and with him the young child Antiochus, who reigned, and was crowned.” Please read also, 1st Maccabees 12:39-53.
1st Maccabees 13:2 “And saw that the people was in great trembling and fear, he went up to Jerusalem, and gathered the people together,” Verse 3: “And gave them exhortation, saying, Ye yourselves know what great things I, and my brethren, and my father’s house, have done for the laws and the sanctuary, the battles also and troubles which we have seen.” Verse 4: “By reason whereof all my brethren are slain for Israel’s sake, and I am left alone.” The people feared greatly because they had no leader to stand up against the invading army. As Simon addressed them he reminded them of the triumphant victories that his father's house previously achieved. Before him, his brother Judas Maccabeus led the people and successfully recovered the temple. This is celebrated as the Feast of Dedication of the Altar. He also defended the temple, the city of Jerusalem, and the people in a memorable way, thus we celebrate the Destruction of Nicanor. After Judas, was Jonathan Apphus who gained great honor among the people as a good leader and was feared by the nations as military commander.
1st Maccabees 13:5 “Now therefore be it far from me, that I should spare mine own life in any time of trouble: for I am no better than my brethren.” Verse 6: “Doubtless I will avenge my nation, and the sanctuary, and our wives, and our children: for all the heathen are gathered to destroy us of very malice.” Verse 7: “Now as soon as the people heard these words, their spirit revived.” We are instructed in the Scriptures to seek exhortation daily because it will strengthen your spirit. The words will give you comfort and revive your hope. See, Hebrews 3:13-15. 1st Maccabees 13:8 “And they answered with a loud voice, saying, Thou shalt be our leader instead of Judas and Jonathan thy brother.” Verse 9: “Fight thou our battles, and whatsoever, thou commandest us, that will we do.”
With the support of the people, Simon is able to prepare against Tryphon, making decisions based on wisdom. Proverbs 24:5 “A wise man is strong; yea, a man of knowledge increaseth strength.” Verse 6: “For by wise counsel thou shalt make thy war: and in multitude of counsellors there is safety.” As the Scriptures state, wisdom is better than weapons of war, this will become evident by the actions of Simon. 1st Maccabees 13:10 “So then he gathered together all the men of war, and made haste to finish the walls of Jerusalem, and he fortified it round about.” As he was expecting an invasion, he ensured that the city of Jerusalem would be protected and able to defend against any attacks.
1st Maccabees 13:11 “Also he sent Jonathan the son of Absolom, and with him a great power, to Joppa: who casting out them that were therein remained there in it.” Joppa was a port city by the Mediterranean Sea, with a broad view of the coastline, thus making it of strategic importance in military history. Simon sent a great army to capture Joppa, and with his soldiers in possession of it, he could now be warned if Tryphon planned to enter the land by sea. Instead of waiting for Tryphon at Jerusalem and possibly being enclosed in a siege, Simon could war against him at Joppa, away from the holy city.
1st Maccabees 13:12 “So Tryphon removed from Ptolemaus with a great power to invade the land of Judea, and Jonathan was with him in ward.” Since Joppa is now occupied by Israelite soldiers, Tryphon came from the port city of Ptolemaus. It was believed among the people and by Simon that his brother Jonathan was dead but reports from Tryphon stated that he was a prisoner. 1st Maccabees 13:13 “But Simon pitched his tents at Adida, over against the plain.” Verse 14: “Now when Tryphon knew that Simon was risen up instead of his brother Jonathan, and meant to join battle with him, he sent messengers unto him, saying,” Simon had a reputation of a great warrior and military commander, therefore Tryphon acknowledged the readiness by sending messengers.
1st Maccabees 13:15 “Whereas we have Jonathan thy brother in hold, it is for money that he is owing unto the king’s treasure, concerning the business that was committed unto him.” Verse 16: “Wherefore now send an hundred talents of silver, and two of his sons for hostages, that when he is at liberty he may not revolt from us, and we will let him go.” Verse 17: “Hereupon Simon, albeit he perceived that they spake deceitfully unto him yet sent he the money and the children, lest peradventure he should procure to himself great hatred of the people:” Tryphon cowardly tries to use psychological warfare, with the pretense of securing a tribute owed to the king. He laid upon Simon an immense ransom in exchange for Jonathan and two of his nephews as hostages. If he refused to comply even though he knew it was deceit, the people would accuse him of wanting to continue in power in the stead of his brother, thus causing division to easily conquer.
1st Maccabees 13:18 “Who might have said, Because I sent him not the money and the children, therefore is Jonathan dead.” Verse 19: “So he sent them the children and the hundred talents: howbeit Tryphon dissembled neither would he let Jonathan go.” Now that he sent the ransom, the people would be united without distraction. Since they could clearly see that Tryphon was dealing deceitfully by not letting Jonathan go. Also the invasion continued after the payment, therefore it was not because of money owed to the king.
1st Maccabees 13:20 “And after this came Tryphon to invade the land, and destroy it, going round about by the way that leadeth unto Adora: but Simon and his host [army] marched against him in every place, wheresoever he went.” Again, instead of waiting for the invading army at Jerusalem, Simon brought the fight to them. Not giving them an opportunity to reach the holy city and lay siege upon it. Their manliness and courageousness, ready to fight for their country, caused the invaders not to try the matter by the sword.
1st Maccabees 13:21 “Now they that were in the tower sent messengers unto Tryphon, to the end that he should hasten his coming unto them by the wilderness, and send them victuals [food].” Verse 22: “Wherefore Tryphon made ready all his horsemen to come that night: but there fell a very great snow, by reason whereof he came not. So he departed, and came into the country of Galaad.” The tower that terrorized the holy people since the day of Antiochus Epiphanes was running low on food because of a siege [blockade] laid by Israel. The Heavenly Father who sent the snow, is beginning to show mercy to the holy people. Psalms 147:15 “He sendeth forth his commandment upon earth: his word runneth very swiftly.” Verse 16: “He giveth snow like wool: he scattereth the hoar frost like ashes.” Verse 17: “He casteth forth his ice like morsels: who can stand before his cold?”
1st Maccabees 13:23 “And when he came near to Bascama he slew Jonathan, who was buried there.” The enterprise of Tryphon has failed and come to an end, unfortunately also was the life of Jonathan. 1st Maccabees 13:24 “Afterward Tryphon returned and went into his own land.”
In the eyes of the people there was no victory yet, it was a time of mourning for the loss of a great leader. 1st Maccabees 13:25 “Then sent Simon, and took the bones of Jonathan his brother, and buried them in Modin, the city of his fathers.” Verse 26: “And all Israel made great lamentation for him, and bewailed him many days.” Verse 27: “Simon also built a monument upon the sepulchre of his father and his brethren, and raised it aloft to the sight, with hewn stone behind and before.” Verse 28: “Moreover he set up seven pyramids, one against another, for his father, and his mother, and his four brethren.” Verse 29: “And in these he made cunning devices, about the which he set great pillars, and upon the pillars he made all their armour for a perpetual memory, and by the armour ships carved, that they might be seen of all that sail on the sea.” Verse 30: “This is the sepulchre which he made at Modin, and it standeth yet unto this day.” Note that he built pyramids as a monument to remember his dead relatives. A good example of how Israelites built pyramids, as those in Egypt and the Americas.
1st Maccabees 13:31 “Now Tryphon dealt deceitfully with the young king Antiochus, and slew him.” Verse 32: “And he reigned in his stead, and crowned himself king of Asia [Minor], and brought a great calamity upon the land.” Initially, Tryphon thought of Jonathan as an obstacle in his quest to obtain the crown. But now that he is dead, he betrayed the young king, knowing that he caused enmity and Simon would not care for the young king. As calamity befell in his realm, the holy people continued to build themselves up. 1st Maccabees 13:33 “Then Simon built up the strong holds in Judea, and fenced them about with high towers, and great walls, and gates, and bars, and laid up victuals therein.”
Before this time period wars among the Greeks for the Seleucid Empire was prevalent. The reputation of Judas and Jonathan as warriors caused kings to seek an alliance with Israel for fear that they will join their enemies against them. Tryphon who was not of the royal lineage, will have to face those contenders of the throne. Simon used this information to his advantage and sent emissaries to king Demetrius a descendant of Seleucus.
1st Maccabees 13:34 “Moreover Simon chose men, and sent to king Demetrius, to the end he should give the land an immunity [exemption or freedom], because all that Tryphon did was to spoil [rob and destroy].” Verse 35: “Unto whom king Demetrius answered and wrote after this manner:” Verse 36: “King Demetrius unto Simon the high priest, and friend of kings, as also unto the elders and nation of the Jews, sendeth greeting:” Verse 37: “The golden crown, and the scarlet robe, which ye sent unto us, we have received: and we are ready to make a stedfast peace with you, yea, and to write unto our officers, to confirm the immunities which we have granted.” Verse 38: “And whatsoever covenants [agreements] we have made with you shall stand; and the strong holds, which ye have builded, shall be your own.” Verse 39: “As for any oversight or fault committed unto this day, we forgive it, and the crown tax also, which ye owe us: and if there were any other tribute paid in Jerusalem, it shall no more be paid.” Verse 40: “And look who are meet among you to be in our court, let them be enrolled, and let there be peace betwixt us.”
This Scripture shows what freedom truly is, since the majority of the time it is believed that we have been emancipated. The form of bondage suffered by our people today is not that different from chattel slavery, where shackles are worn. A slave is a person forced to work, most would emphasize without pay however paying taxes to those that control the money will cause the same conditions. Since a tribute is an obligated payment of your wealth (food, money, etc..) without receiving anything in return; it is physical shackles through the policies of a society. In some cases if you do not pay the tribute you could lose most if not all your property. For example, imagine you fully own a home and the land, with no debt except that you MUST pay taxes. This would force you to work for those in power, because if the taxes are not paid you could lose your home. See, 1st Esdras 4:6.
1st Esdras 4:49 “Moreover he wrote for all the Jews that went out of his realm up into Jewry, concerning their freedom, that no officer, no ruler, no lieutenant, nor treasurer, should forcibly enter into their doors;” Verse 50: “And that all the country which they hold should be free without tribute; and that the Edomites should give over the villages of the Jews which then they held:” Prior generations understood what freedom meant; restoring stolen or lost property, removing the threats of force, thus allowing the people to create their own government in their land. Finally, abolishing tribute (tax) made the people free from serving in the interest of others.
1st Maccabees 13:41 “Thus the yoke of the heathen was taken away from Israel in the hundred and seventieth year.” Verse 42: “Then the people of Israel began to write in their instruments and contracts, In the first year of Simon the high priest, the governor and leader of the Jews.” Although Simon’s brothers ruled previously, most scholars consider this the beginning of the Hasmonean Dynasty (named after an ancestor). Seeing that the people were truly free from the yoke of the heathen.
Simon perceived that their liberty will be short lived if they did not remove their enemies that were in fortified cities, in the land of Israel. 1st Maccabees 13:43 “In those days Simon camped against Gaza and besieged it round about; he made also an engine of war, and set it by the city, and battered a certain tower, and took it.” In his past experience, there were cases when laying a siege was unsuccessful. Therefore he made engines of war, which are machines used to break down walls or get over the walls. In this example he might of used siege catapults and battering rams to break down the wall of the certain tower. Engines of war were invented by cunning men in ancient Israel to expedite a siege. See, 2nd Chronicles 26:14-15.
1st Maccabees 13:44 “And they that were in the engine leaped into the city; whereupon there was a great uproar in the city:” Here we could see that a siege tower was used to go over the wall and get inside the city, possibly with a built in battering ram. Once the people within the city saw that their walls could not protect them, they surrendered. 1st Maccabees 13:45 “Insomuch as the people of the city rent their clothes, and climbed upon the walls with their wives and children, and cried with a loud voice, beseeching Simon to grant them peace.” Verse 46: “And they said, Deal not with us according to our wickedness, but according to thy mercy.” Verse 47: “So Simon was appeased toward them, and fought no more against them, but put them out of the city, and cleansed the houses wherein the idols [false gods] were, and so entered into it with songs and thanksgiving.”
Unlike the Greeks that massacred, took captives, and dealt wickedly with the innocent; Simon was merciful by granting them leave. In this era, our people are taught that laws of cleanliness are “nailed to the cross”. However uncleanness is the result of the houses of idols, as it was then. 1st Maccabees 13:48 “Yea, he put all uncleanness out of it, and placed such men there as would keep the law, and made it stronger than it was before, and built therein a dwelling place for himself.” In the laws we are taught that uncleanness would turn God away from us. See, Deuteronomy 23:9-14. Our forefathers understood that good success comes from keeping the laws. Please read, Joshua 1:8-9. Through wisdom (laws) were all the accomplishments achieved that we have read thus far. Therefore if sinful men were placed in the city all the progress would be destroyed. Ecclesiastes 9:18 “Wisdom is better than weapons of war: but one sinner destroyeth much good.”
1st Maccabees 13:49 “They also of the tower in Jerusalem were kept so strait, that they could neither come forth, nor go into the country, nor buy, nor sell: wherefore they were in great distress for want of victuals, and a great number of them perished through famine.” This tower was the cause of all troubles in Jerusalem, especially since it was a place to lie in wait against the sanctuary. Earlier in the chapter, the people in the tower requested help from Tryphon, but because of the snow he was unable to bring them food. They have been besieged all this time; through starvation a great number of them died. Therefore seeing how merciful Simon dealt with those in Gaza, they also decided to surrender. 1st Maccabees 13:50 “Then cried they to Simon, beseeching him to be at one with them: which thing he granted them; and when he had put them out from thence, he cleansed the tower from pollutions:”
This mighty tower was built about 26 years ago under the reign of Antiochus Epiphanes. Numerous attempts to take this tower by force were unsuccessful. 1st Maccabees 13:51 “And entered into it the three and twentieth day of the second month in the hundred seventy and first year, with thanksgiving, and branches of palm trees, and with harps, and cymbals, and with viols, and hymns, and songs: because there was destroyed a great enemy out of Israel.” The feast is kept every year on twenty second day at evening of the second month (the second new moon). A year has passed since the yoke of the heathen was removed and the most High granted victory to Simon without having to lift up a weapon. It was not by might nor by the power of Israel, but by the Spirit was the great enemy destroyed.
1st Maccabees 13:52 “He ordained also that that day should be kept every year with gladness. Moreover the hill of the temple that was by the tower he made stronger than it was, and there he dwelt himself with his company.” Within this chapter we are able to see that Simon was a commendable leader, because of his counsels, mercy and righteousness. But many question, could he ordain a feast and it to be of the most High God?
We must remember that many had fallen in those days to the pollution of the Greeks, as the prophecies declared. Daniel 11:32 “And such [of Israel] as do wickedly against the covenant shall he [Antiochus Epiphanes] corrupt by flatteries: but the people that do know their God shall be strong, and do exploits.” While those that continued in the law fulfilled prophecies, by being strong and doing notable deeds (exploits).
Daniel 11:33 “And they that understand among the people shall instruct many: yet they shall fall by the sword, and by flame, by captivity, and by spoil, many days.” Our forefathers that understood were not doing their own will, but fulfilled the desire of the most High. Beginning with Judas Maccabeus that instructed the nation of Israel in accordance to the law, to keep the Feast of Dedication and the Destruction of Nicanor. Unto Simon who continued devoted unto the law and believed the Scriptures that spoke of their generation. This feast promotes the keeping of the laws; it is a memorial to our generation of the history that affected well the Messiah and the prophecies of our time. By their great example we learn how to be faithful to the most High God in adversity. Therefore they are instructing many, as it was written.
This solemn (holy) feast day that is celebrated with great gladness, is a Sabbath. Therefore our people come together to pray and to study the Scriptures. On this day we are forbidden from doing our own business or to work, save that which every man must eat, that only may be done of you. As with all the Sabbaths buying and selling is prohibited. See, Nehemiah 10:31. The only way it differs from the weekly Sabbath is that we are allowed to cook. Cooking on the weekly Sabbath, the seventh day of the week is not allowed. See, Exodus 35:2-3. This means that if the Day of Simon coincides with the weekly Sabbath you must prepare the meal before the Sabbath; since you will not be able to cook. Please refer to the Sabbath report for more information.
1st Maccabees 14:35 “The people therefore seeing the acts of Simon, and unto what glory he thought to bring his nation, made him their governor and chief priest, because he had done all these things, and for the justice and faith which he kept to his nation, and for that he sought by all means to exalt his people.” Verse 36: “For in his time things prospered in his hands, so that the heathen were taken out of their country, and they also that were in the city of David in Jerusalem, who had made themselves a tower, out of which they issued, and polluted all about the sanctuary, and did much hurt in the holy place:” Verse 37: “But he placed Jews therein. and fortified it for the safety of the country and the city, and raised up the walls of Jerusalem.”
Today we take courage against all the different troubles, which might be our own strong tower that we must overcome. We are reminded to remain faithful since our affliction is light in comparison to our forefathers. If these men resisted unto blood, striving against sin, then it is possible for us to be good soldiers of Christ. By the power of the Lord which is wisdom we could overcome our own spiritual battles (strong tower). Please read, 2nd Corinthians 10:3-6. Therefore if any choose not to keep the day holy it is because they are in sin. James 4:17 “Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin.” Finally by the wisdom gained from this feast, we are passing down understanding to our children of how to build a dynasty. 1st Maccabees 13:53 “And when Simon saw that John his son was a valiant man, he made him captain of all the hosts; and he dwelt in Gazera.” Shalam (Peace)!