of the attempts to make Jews adopt Greek customs, the deaths of
the Jewish martyrs, and the victories of Judas Maccabeus.
2 Maccabees begins with
letters to the Jewish community in Egypt, inviting them to celebrate the
purification of the Temple that was accomplished by the Maccabees. The book
recounts the Syrian attempts to impose Greek customs on the Jews and the
defilement of the Temple. Heroes of the story include Eleazar the priest,
a mother and her seven sons, all of whom suffered death rather than violate
the Jewish law. Judas Maccabeus led a campaign of military resistance that
resulted in the Jews regaining control of the Temple. The purification of
the Temple was commemorated by the festival of Hanukkah.