The Greek successors to Alexander became very oppressive and in 168 BC desecrated the Temple and forbade the reading of the Torah and the honoring of the Sabbath. Some Pious under the leadership of a priestly family, named Hasmonea, who had remained loyal to Judaism, rebelled and won. However in just a few years they were again under Greek Seleucid domination until 64 BC when Rome took over at the invitation of Herod Hyrcanus II. Although the Hasmoneans were descendants of Aaron they continued to rule and never appointed someone from another tribe to be king. Power corrupts so eventually the Hasmoneans became corrupt and compromised, said by some rabbis to be the result of their not being from the tribe of Judah. This is because Jacob said to Judah in Gen. 49:10 The.. scepter will not depart from between his (Judah’s) feet.. meaning that the scepter, the sign of kingship, would always belong to the tribe of Judah.
Herod the Great was a son of the Hasmonean prince Hyrcanus II, also called Antipater, who was military governor of Idumea (Edom). Herod was so extraordinarily successful at courting Roman favor that he was the first to be called “King of the Jews” and his descendants became the puppet rulers for Rome throughout the 1st century AD. Herod the Great reigned from 37 BC – 4 BC.
Since the Sadducees were Hellenists, they are referred to frequently in the New Testament. The Hellenists are also seen in Acts 6:1; 9:29; 11:20, and 21:37. This puts into perspective John 11:50 when Caiaphas said and you do not consider that it profits you that one man should die on behalf of the people so then the whole nation would not be lost. The coming of Messiah would have totally destroyed the world of the Hellenist rulers in Israel. Remember that Pontius Pilate and Quirinius appointed Annas and Caiaphas as High Priests and they only appointed politically powerful Hellenists.
The friction between the Hellenists and the Pharisees ran deep and can even be seen in the fledgling church in Acts 6:1-6, when the Hellenists complained that the congregational leaders were overlooking the needs of the Hellenists.
The Hanukkah feast celebrates the victory of the Parush over the Greek forces that were backed by the Hellenists. This was the first rebellion waged for a principle, for freedom to worship the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. The rebellion lasted three years, ending in a victory for those who chose to align themselves with the teachings of God over those who aligned themselves with appeasement and tolerance of pagan beliefs. As we see in Isaiah 5:20. Woe to those who call bad, good and good, bad, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter! That parallels today’s spiritual battle in the US and the world of those loyal to God’s teachings vs. those who tolerate all manner of evil, accepting homosexuality as another “life-style” and abortion as “choice.” They encourage teaching occult and false religions in our public schools, but forbid the teaching and practice of Christianity, all in the name of “multiculturalism.” Our battle will not be won with the weapons of war, but will be won in the hearts of Americans as revival takes root.