Introduction to Maccabees
The name Maccabee, probably meaning “hammer,” is actually applied in the Books of Maccabees to only one man, Judas, third son of the priest Mattathias and first leader of the revolt against the Seleucid kings who persecuted the Jews. Traditionally the name has come to be extended to the brothers of Judas, his supporters, and even to other Jewish heroes of the period, such as the seven brothers. The two Books of Maccabees contain independent accounts of events that accompanied the attempted suppression of Judaism in Palestine in the second century B.C. The vigorous reaction to this attempt established for a time the religious and political independence of the Jews. First Maccabees was written about 100 B.C., in Hebrew, but the original has not come down to us. Instead, we have an early, pre-Christian, Greek translation full of Hebrew idioms. The author, probably a Palestinian Jew, is unknown. He was familiar with the traditions and sacred books of his people and had access to much reliable information on their recent history (from 175 to 134 B.C.). He may well have played some part in it himself in his youth. His purpose in writing is to record the deliverance of Israel that God worked through the family of Mattathias—especially through his three sons, Judas, Jonathan, and Simon, and his grandson, John Hyrcanus. The writer compares their virtues and their exploits with those of Israel’s ancient heroes, the Judges, Samuel, and David.
TUESDAY July 4
1 Maccabees, Chapter 2, Verse 62
Do not fear the words of sinners, for their glory ends in corruption and worms.
Maccabean wars were fought for religious freedom. Reflect today on our own Declaration of Independence for freedom from the English Crown.
We hold these truths to be self-evident:
That all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness; that, to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed; that whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new government, laying its foundation on such principles, and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shown that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same object, evinces a design to reduce them under absolute despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such government, and to provide new guards for their future security.
Almighty God, Father of all nations, for freedom you have set us free in Christ Jesus (Gal 5:1). We praise and bless you for the gift of religious liberty, the foundation of human rights, justice, and the common good. Grant to our leaders the wisdom to protect and promote our liberties; by your grace may we have the courage to defend them, for ourselves and for all those who live in this blessed land. We ask this through the intercession of Mary Immaculate, our patroness, and in the name of your Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, with whom you live and reign, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
Independence Day commemorates the signing of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776. Independence Day is the most important secular holiday held in the United States. Americans take this day to celebrate all that is American, remembering the great sacrifices of our forefathers as they fought and won our independence from Great Britain. The holiday is also referred to as 4th of July, named after the date on which it is celebrated each year.
Independence Day Facts & Quotes
· In July 1776, there were approximately 2.5 million people living in the new nation.
· The first public reading of the Declaration of Independence didn't occur until July 8, 1776. It was sent to the printers on July 4th.
· The original Declaration of Independence can be viewed by visiting the National Archives, Washington D.C. The original copy is severely faded and sits under special glass in the Rotunda for the Chambers of Freedom.
· The Statue of Liberty is a great symbol of American Freedom. It was given to the US by France in 1886. It was delivered in 214 crates and assembled on what is known as Liberty Island, in New York Harbor.
· Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, to assure the survival and success of liberty. - John F. Kennedy
Independence Day Top Events and Things to Do
· Attend or host a Barbeque.
· Watch Fireworks. Large cities such as New York, Miami, Chicago and Los Angeles all have large firework displays.
· Read or recite the Preamble to the Declaration of Independence.
· Watch or attend Nathan's famous Hot Dog eating contest in Coney Island.
· Watch a Parade. Most local cities host parades to celebrate Independence Day.