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The Creator of heaven and earth, in His mercy towards fallen man (Genesis 1-3), had made a covenant with their father Abraham, in virtue of which his seed, and in his seed all the peoples of the earth, should be blessed (Genesis 12, 18; II Esdras 9).From that time forth, He had watched over them with jealous care. C.), Juda was conscious of having inherited the religion of pre-Exile Israel.Thence they naturally drew the conclusion that, cost what it may, they must prove faithful to Yahweh, so as to avert a like punishment in the future.The latter party strenuously maintained these positions.Its extreme wing was made up of Zealots always ready to welcome any false Messias who promised deliverance from the hated foreign yoke; while its rank and file earnestly prepared by the "works of the Law" for the Messianic Age variously described by the Prophets of old, the apocalyptic writings and the apocryphal Psalms of the time, and generally expected as an era of earthly felicity and legal righteousness in the Kingdom of God.Its great centre was Jerusalem, the "Holy City", whither repaired in hundreds of thousands Jews of every part of the world, anxious to celebrate the yearly festivals in the "City of the Great King".
At the beginning of our era, Judaism was in external appearance thoroughly prepared for the advent of the Kingdom of God.
It remains true, however, that in the time of the Machabees, the children of Israel escaped being throughly hellenized only through their attachment to the Law.
Owing to this attachment, the fierce persecutions which they then underwent, confirmed instead of rooting out their belief in the true God.
Much less happy results followed on the contact of Jewish Monotheism with Greek Polytheism on Palestinian soil.
There, worldly and ambitious high-priests not only accepted, but even promoted, Greek culture and heathenism in Jerusalem itself; and, as already stated, the Greek rulers of the early Machabean Age proved violent persecutors of Yahweh worship.