Illustration from

The Leiden I Maccabees manuscript / Codex Per F 17

Folio 9v


Mattathias kills the apostate who is sacrificing a pig

Featuring blocks of spearmen
44 And the king sent letters by messengers to Jerusalem and the towns of Judah; he directed them to follow customs strange to the land, 45 to forbid burnt offerings and sacrifices and drink offerings in the sanctuary, to profane sabbaths and festivals, 46 to defile the sanctuary and the priests, 47 to build altars and sacred precincts and shrines for idols, to sacrifice swine and other unclean animals, 48 and to leave their sons uncircumcised. They were to make themselves abominable by everything unclean and profane, 49 so that they would forget the law and change all the ordinances. 50  “And whoever does not obey the command of the king shall die."
(I Maccabees 1:44-50)
Click for a large image.

Previous      Next

15 The king’s officers who were enforcing the apostasy came to the town of Modein to make them offer sacrifice. 16 Many from Israel came to them; and Mattathias and his sons were assembled. 17 Then the king’s officers spoke to Mattathias as follows: “You are a leader, honoured and great in this town, and supported by sons and brothers. 18 Now be the first to come and do what the king commands, as all the Gentiles and the people of Judah and those that are left in Jerusalem have done. Then you and your sons will be numbered among the Friends of the king, and you and your sons will be honored with silver and gold and many gifts.”
  19 But Mattathias answered and said in a loud voice: “Even if all the nations that live under the rule of the king obey him, and have chosen to obey his commandments, every one of them abandoning the religion of their ancestors, 20 I and my sons and my brothers will continue to live by the covenant of our ancestors. 21 Far be it from us to desert the law and the ordinances. 22 We will not obey the king’s words by turning aside from our religion to the right hand or to the left.”
  23 When he had finished speaking these words, a Jew came forward in the sight of all to offer sacrifice on the altar in Modein, according to the king’s command. 24 When Mattathias saw it, he burned with zeal and his heart was stirred. He gave vent to righteous anger; he ran and killed him on the altar. 25 At the same time he killed the king’s officer who was forcing them to sacrifice, and he tore down the altar. 26 Thus he burned with zeal for the law, just as Phinehas did against Zimri son of Salu.
(I Maccabees 2:15-26)

Book of Maccabees I, Saint Gall, Switzerland, second half of 9th–early 10th century, Universiteitsbibliotheek, Leiden, Codex Perizoni
This codex contains the first book of Maccabees and the fourth book of the Epitoma Rei Militaris by Vegetius. It was probably started in the Abbey of Saint Gall and finished at the Abbey of Reichenau. It is famous for its 28 illuminated pages, thought to be early depictions of a historical battle: the incursions of the Magyars in southern Germany.

Back to Leiden I Maccabees manuscript / Codex Per F 17