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The father of five sons and the founder of the Maccabees family. The Greek king attempted to eliminate all traces of the Jewish religion, killing all those who stubbornly resisted. Mattathias bitterly resented these efforts and refused "to sit by, while the Holy City is delivered over to her enemies and the sanctuary into the hands of foreigners" (I Maccabees 2:7). When the king's edict was enforced in the city of Mattathias, he killed the king's commissioner and fled with his five sons. He organized a fighting force and inspired his sons to continue the campaign of defiance after his death. so successful were they that for years the Maccabee brothers preserved the religious and political liberties of Israel (I Maccabees 2).
All items in this dictionary are from Fr. John Hardon's Modern Catholic Dictionary, © Eternal Life. Used with permission.