In our next weeks the first readings will have to do with the rebellion of the Maccabees against their Greek rulers. And, to get any grasp on the readings, we must first learn who those Greek rulers were.
First off, there was Alexander the Great who came out of Macedonia in northern Greece, going on to conquer the whole of the Middle East from India to Egypt. He did all of that in ten years, beginning his conquests in 333 B. C., and dying in 322 B.C. .
After Alexander's death, his generals fought for control of his kingdom, with two of them coming out on top. One of them, General Ptolemy, took control of Egypt, while General Seleucus took over the rest of the Middle East.
In 312 Seleucus built his capitol City of Antioch, ninety miles north of Jerusalem, and he called that year 312 the year one in the new kingdom of the Greeks.
When his dynasty had been in charge for 128 years, the ninth king, Antiochus, thought he was strong enough to subjugate Greece. But when his army had marched half way across Asia Minor toward Greece, a Roman army swooped down on them, surrounding them, and threatening to wipe them out if they did not pay Rome an immense sum in gold every year thereafter. And to keep Antiochus paying, Rome took his five oldest sons as hostages.
After that, to gt the gold for Rome, Antiochus turned to robbing temples every year, eventually bringing his son to robbing the temple in Jerusalem. After that, the son profaned the temple, turning it into a shrine for the Greek gods.