Definitions for mattathiasˌmæt əˈθaɪ əs
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Mattathias ben Johanan was a Jewish priest whose role in the Jewish revolt against the Syrian Greeks is related in the Books of the Maccabees. Mattathias is accorded a central role in the story of Hanukkah and, as a result, is named in the Al Hanissim prayer Jews add to Grace after meals and the Amidah during the festival's eight days.
The Nuttall Encyclopedia
a Jewish priest, the father of the Maccabees, who in 170 B.C., when asked by a Syrian embassy to offer sacrifice to the Syrian gods, not only refused to do so, but slew with his own hand the Jew that stepped forward to do it for him, and then fell upon the embassy that required the act; upon which he rushed with his five sons into the wilderness of Judea and called upon all to follow him who had any regard for the Lord; this was the first step in the war of the Maccabees, the immediate issue of which was to the Jew the achievement of an independence which he had not enjoyed for 400 years.
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