As we reach back in our search to uncover our true Israelite history, there is yet another renown father that cannot go unmentioned, that is Simon the son of Mattathias. Simon was also the brother of Judas Maccabeus (1 Maccabees 2:1-4). After Alexander the Great gained control of the entire known world in 333BC, his successors entered into Jerusalem destroying the sanctuary and holy records (laws) of the children of Israel. The Israelites were tortured, enslaved, brainwashed and forced to follow the pernicious ways of the Greeks (1 Maccabeees 1:15). This also caused Israelites to be scattered among other Greek provinces and territories like Corinth, Galatia, Egypt and Thessalonica. It was around this time that the children of Israel began to be absorbed among the “gentile” population only later to be themselves called “gentiles” or “Greeks” in the New Testament (1Maccabees 1:43-49).
As the Children of Israel were weakened by the wicked plots of such Greek kings as Antiochus, Nicanor, and Gorgeous, the Levite family of Mattathias refused to be subdued. Armed with the laws of the Most High and great faith, Mattathias and his sons courageously strengthened the children of Israel to refuse the ways and practices of the Greeks and to instead rely upon the commandments of the Most High and fight against their enemies. After many battles and much bloodshed, Israel with the leadership of the Maccabean family, was victorious against the Greek king Gorgias. The holy sanctuary and altar of YHWH were rebuilt and cleansed. The priests rededicated the holy temple back to YHWH and Israel which is known as the Feast of Dedication or Hanukah. The Greek’s pride would not allow them to be defeated so they assembled another army to fight against the children of Israel. Previous wars had claimed the lives of many Israelites including Judas Maccabeus and all of his brothers except for Simon. The Israelites were sorrowful at the loss of their leaders, but it was the encouragement of Simon that gave the Israelites confidence in the Most High again and he was exalted as a father in Israel.
1 MACCABEES 13:1-7:
“NOW WHEN SIMON HEARD THAT TRYPHON HAD GATHERED TOGETHER A GREAT HOST TO INVADE THE LAND OF JUDEA, AND DESTROY IT, AND SAW THAT THE PEOPLE WAS IN GREAT TREMBLING AND FEAR, HE WENT UP TO JERUSALEM, AND GATHERED THE PEOPLE TOGETHER 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. BY REASON WHEREOF ALL MY BRETHREN ARE SLAIN FOR ISRAEL’S SAKE, AND I AM LEFT ALONE. 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. 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. NOW AS SOON AS THE PEOPLE HEARD THESE WORDS, THEIR SPIRIT REVIVED. AND THEY ANSWERED WITH A LOUD VOICE, SAYING, THOU SHALT BE OUR LEADER INSTEAD OF JUDAS AND JONATHAN THY BROTHER. FIGHT THOU OUR BATTLES, AND WHATSOEVER, THOU COMMANDEST US, THAT WILL WE DO.”
Simon’s commitment to the Most High won him the respect and hearts of the children of Israel. He was prepared to die for his people and do all that the Lord would allow to deliver his people from their afflictions. He led an army of Israelites against Tryphon and defeated the Greeks giving Israel a great and well needed victory over their enemies. Upon Israel’s victory, Simon ordered a feast unto the Most High giving praise and thanks for deliverance.
1 MACCABEES 13:51-52:
“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. 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.”
The memorial of Simon is kept on the 23rd day of the 2nd month. We must remember the pain and victories of our fathers and how the Almighty delivered His people from their enemies. All Praises to the Most High.