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  • Dr. David Neiman

History of the Sadducees Part 10

Another family in the priestly line of descent from Aaron was that of the Kohanim of Modi'in, whose patriarch was Mattityahu. They too were barred from Temple duties and lived in Modi'in, some fifteen kilometers southwest of Jerusalem. The sons of Mattitahyu. led by Judah Maccabee, later played a prominent role in the history of the Jewish People, as we shall see.

The High Priests of Jerusalem who served during the reign of the emperor Antiochus IV Epiphanes had betrayed Judaism and the Jewish People when they agreed to compromise their rôle as High Priests and, by implication, as guardians of the Jewish religious tradition, by adopting Pagan practices and creating a syncretism between Judaism and Hellenic Paganism. Thus, when the Maccabean Rebellion started, the Tzadukian=Sadduceean High Priests became the enemies of those who fought to preserve traditional Judaism. The fighters for the Jewish tradition against the Hellenistic compromisers were the Hasmonean priests of Modiin and the Hasidim, the pietists who joined them in their struggle against the Hellenistic priesthood.

The conflict between the Hasmonean leaders of the Maccabean Rebellion and the Hellenizers ended in total victory for those who fought to preserve and reëstablish the religious traditions and interpretations of the Torah. These traditions, which had been developed in the Babylonian communities and transplanted to the land of Israel by Ezra and Nehemiah and the group which accompanied them from Babylonia, had continued to be the leading philosophy of Judaism; traditional Judaism.

As a result of this conflict, the Hasmonean victors, being Kohanim of the priestly family of Mattityahu Hashmonaï of Modin, assumed the rôle of the leading priests of the Temple in Jerusalem. Thus Shimon Hashmonaï, the only one of the brothers who survived the war, was installed as Kohen Gadol, as High Priest of Israel. It was the Hasmonean Dynasty, the descendants of Simon Hasmonean, who retained the position of High Priests of Israel and the functioning priests of the Temple in Jerusalem until its destruction in the year 70 of the Common Era.

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